Thailand has agreed to lift a ban on beef from 18 EU Member States, imposed in 2002 after the BSE outbreak. The move was hailed by Commission officials who had urged the country to lift the restriction. As part of the negotiations a rice produced in north east Thailand has become the 14th non-EU product to gain a protected geographical indication status. It has a slightly sweet taste and aroma.
The EU's complaints watchdog has launched an investigation into allegations from four NGOs (including Greenpeace) that the Commission has failed to tackle conflicts of interest when staff take up jobs as lobbyists and consultants. The EU Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandouros will look into the claim the Commission has not dealt properly with such "revolving door" cases over the past three years.
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Live pigs from the USA will be allowed into the EU for breeding and production, following the Commission's adoption of new rules. Pigs destined for export to the EU must be tested individually for vesicular stomatitis before they leave the US, though outbreaks there are rare.