June 6 - Spain has asked for compensation for its farmers after being wrongly blamed for an E.coli outbreak which has killed 22 people in Europe. Andrew Potter reports.
A farm outside the German city of Hamburg which has become the centre of world attention. It's been shut down after German health officials said its bean sprouts were one source of Europe's deadly E.coli outbreak. SOUNDBITE: SPOKESPERSON FOR THE STATE AGRICULTURE MINISTRY IN LOWER SAXONY, HANS GERT HAHNE, SAYING (German): "The farm is of course closed and they cannot trade. He was caught being perhaps a bit sloppy." But the farmer who operates the property denies it is to blame and German scientists say identifying the source of the outbreak is proving increasingly difficult. E.coli tests on 23 of the 40 samples taken from the farm have proved negative. If they farm is cleared it wouldn't be the first time authorities have been wrong. Germany originally blamed cucumbers from Spain for the E. Coli outbreak. Overnight demand for Spanish vegetables plummeted. The Spanish government puts the cost at 200 million euros a week, with as many as 70,000 people out of work. The crisis couldn't come at a worse time for Spain, which is already struggling with the highest unemployment in the euro zone. Spain's health minister has been meeting her European counterparts in Brussels. SOUNDBITE: SPANISH HEALTH MINISTER, LEIRE PAJIN IRAOLA, SAYING (Spanish): "Spain will ask for compensation for the serious and irreversible economical damages. And we will also ask the Europe Commission to strengthen and improve the mechanisms of the food warning system of the European Union." So uncertainty continues and so does the pressure on Germany over its handling of the outbreak. Andrew Potter, Reuters