Meat and bone meal will not be banned from pig feed throughout the EU ­ not yet, anyway. Agriculture ministers' decision on Tuesday to turn down a request by the French government for mbm to be prohibited in all member states following its own imposition of a ban as an anti-BSE measure is seen as almost certain to increase tensions especially in the UK. Feeding mbm to ruminant animals is already against EU law, but only the UK, Portugal and now France have extended the ban to poultry and pigs. On the face of it this means French producers will suffer the same loss of competitiveness as British pig farmers claim has inflicted severe financial damage on the industry in this country. Mbm is said to be a highly cost effective ingredient, and British producers therefore regard its use by suppliers of imported pigmeat as unfair trading. Although the Danes and Dutch say most of their product shipped to the UK is mbm-free, they privately acknowledge the inconsistency of regulation across the EU is a trade distortion. Imposition of the ban in France might spark a new dispute between France and Spain. However, possible implications for the UK are ambiguous. British producers could be expected to welcome the French government's move as meeting their demand for "a level playing field". But such a clear declaration of quality equivalence by an increasingly important exporter to this country might be interpreted by consumers as weakening the UK's claim to offer pigmeat produced to uniquely high standards. {{MEAT }}