WASHINGTON (DTN)--The Japanese farm ministry ignored and left aside until late last year a warning by two experts five years ago about using meat-and-bone meal (MBM) in relation to mad cow disease, according to minutes of a government panel meeting made available Dec. 7, and reported by Kyodo.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had delayed discussions on the warning that called for legal prohibition of the use of MBM as feed for cows to prevent mad cow disease, the minutes showed.

The ministry presented the minutes to the government's investigative panel on the MBM issue which held a meeting Dec. 7.

The minutes contradict the ministry's explanations in 1996 when reports surfaced that mad cow disease could infect humans. The ministry said at that time that it issued an administrative guidance to limit the use of MBM but did not take stricter measures after listening to opinions from experts.

According to the minutes, the two experts issued the warning at a meeting in April 1996 of a livestock subcommittee of the Agricultural Material Council.

The investigative panel was established after the discovery of Japan's first case of mad cow disease in September. Two other cases have been confirmed since then.

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