France has banned imports of live pigs and related products from the U.S. and other countries in an attempt to keep a deadly virus that has killed millions of piglets in North America and Asia from spreading. The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus has spread rapidly since the first U.S. case was reported last year.
The virus has killed pigs in at least 25 U.S. states and parts of Canada. As WBUR's Here & Now reported in March, "The U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered its pork projections for this year, and hog prices recently reached a record high."
France's ban, which covers pigs and products from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Japan, goes into effect Saturday. From Paris, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports for our Newscast unit:
"France is the first E.U. country to restrict imports of U.S. pig products. The ban aims to contain the spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus.
"The disease was first identified in the United States almost a year ago, and has killed around 7 million young pigs. As a result, hog supplies are down, causing prices to soar. Agriculture officials suspect that animal feed has been a factor in transmitting the disease in the U.S.
"In France, the focus is on imports of live pigs and feed containing byproducts, such as plasma from pig blood. The French ban does not include pork for human consumption, because the disease does not pose any danger to humans."
The French government says only a small number of live pigs are imported from the U.S. and Canada, according to Le Point. The ban's main target is pig feed.