Berlin protests over dioxin scandal
Thousands of German protesters marched in Berlin on Saturday to demand a change in farming methods and vent their anger at a food scandal in which cancer-causing dioxin was found in some eggs, poultry and pork.
The scandal, caused by contaminated animal feed, has outraged consumers, triggered international health alerts and hit sales of German eggs and meat.
Organizers said 22,000 people took part in the demonstration, entitled "We are sick of it. No to genetic engineering, animal factories and dumping exports." Onlookers put the turnout at close to 10,000.
"We had such softening of environment and animal standards in the past years, said Reinhild Benning of Germany's Friends of the Earth. "That's a risk for consumers -- as we are seeing now with the dioxin scandal -- and something they don't want."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekly video podcast she welcomed her government's steps to close gaps in the system of checks and safety.
The government is separating the production of oil and fats for industrial and agricultural use, and introducing a new licensing system. Thousands of hens have been culled.
China, South Korea and Hungary have already announced restrictions on German meat imports following the affair that broke on Jan 3. Russia has expressed its concern and has been holding talks with German officials. Dioxins are poisons formed by burning waste and through other industrial processes, which have been shown to contribute to increased cancer rates and to affect pregnant women.
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