China Disputes Milk Import Bans

At a World Trade Organization meeting Thursday, China criticized countries that have banned Chinese milk since discovering that some of the country’s dairy products were contaminated.

GENEVA (AP) -- China used a World Trade Organization meeting Thursday to criticize countries that have banned Chinese milk since the discovery that some of the country's dairy products were laced with the industrial chemical melamine.

Chinese officials said milk powder and other dairy products that were found to contain melamine were accidentally contaminated, contradicting a WHO claim that the chemical was added deliberately.

China is trying to deal with the problem, and no contamination has been detected since Sept. 20, Chinese officials told the meeting in Geneva.

They urged the WTO's 153 members to base import restrictions on scientific risk assessments, and to make use of the global trade body's official notification mechanism if they impose any ban.

More than 30 countries have limited the import of Chinese dairy products, and in some cases all Chinese food exports, since the contamination was first detected last month.

Milk containing melamine has been blamed for the deaths of four babies in China, and for sickening 54,000 others with kidney stones and other illnesses. Some 10,700 children across the country remain hospitalized, according to the country's health ministry.

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