replaces BSE row ministers
-- Germany's Chancellor has appointed the co-leader of the Green
party as agriculture minister following resignations over the mad
cow disease crisis.
Schroeder named Renate Kuenast as agriculture minister with new
responsibilities for consumer protection, replacing Karl-Heinz Funke,
an old ally of Schroeder and a fellow Social Democrat who quit on
crisis was sparked by opposition charges of government inaction
about the safety of sausages as well as the discovery of several
cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) among German cattle.
Wednesday's reshuffle, he also appointed Ulla Schmidt, a senior
SPD parliamentarian, to the health portfolio vacated by Green politician
Andrea Fischer the day before.
BSE crisis has made it compellingly clear that we have to make several
organisational, and not just personnel, changes," Schroeder
told a news conference on Wednesday.
said the agriculture ministry would be reorganised and improved
with consumer protection becoming a key aspect of the revised ministry.
Kuenast called for agriculture to be brought "close to nature,"
but warned there were no quick answers to the mad cow crisis.
Greens, the junior partner in the governing coalition, are seen
as having have strong stands favouring consumer protection and organic
the next few months, we have to determine all the things that were
done wrong in the recent years, and systematically develop concepts
for what should be done differently," Kuenast said.
lobbyists were also urging leaders to meet on Wednesday to discuss
the crisis and the effects the resignations could have on farmers.
Belgian authorities said a new round of testing for mad cow disease
suggested the rate of infection in the country could be five times
higher than previously thought.
examined meat from more than 2700 cattle aged more than 30 months
and found 14 suspected cases of the disease -- pointing to an infection
rate of one in every 200 animals.
from Germany's environmentalist Greens party, admitted the government's
handling of the outbreak of BSE had done nothing to restore consumer
said: "I hope that by resigning I can contribute to an end
of the revelations and help promote a return to business as usual."
said she was resigning because the public had lost faith in her
ministry, but also said the real fault lay with modern factory farming
meanwhile, said his resignation had been tendered in a "friendly
to Berlin after a meeting with farmers in his home state of Lower
Saxony, he said: "I want to clear the way for a new beginning
in agriculture politics.
have been forced to acknowledge that the farming policies I consider
to be appropriate were no longer supported by a majority in the
coalition," Funke said.
had been thought that BSE was not present in Germany, but 10 confirmed
cases have been found since November.
had faced growing opposition calls to resign after admitting that
a warning by government experts about sausage industry practices
"apparently lay around for 10 days" in her ministry.
should take responsibility for their own mistakes," Fischer
said at the news conference, adding that a decision on her successor
had not been made.
from European Union officials last month forced Fischer to call
on food producers to withdraw sausages from stores suspected of
containing possibly infected beef.
dramatic developments in Germany came as the mad cow disease scare
continued to send shockwaves around Europe.
believe eating products from animals infected with BSE causes variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the fatal, brain-wasting human
form of mad cow disease.