BSE kills two ministers
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's federal cabinet suffered its most serious blow in two years when two ministers stepped down this week as a result of their failure to handle the BSE crisis
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Health Minister Andrea Fischer of the Green Party (she is, however, completely unrelated to left-wing-rioter-turned-Foreign-Minister Joschka Fischer) and the Social Democratic Minister for Agriculture, Karl-Heinz Funke, succumbed to mounting public criticism of their allegedly incompetent treatment of the problem.
Two women will succeed the outgoing ministers: Ulla Schmidt (Social Democratic Party) will shoulder the legacy of her unfortunate predecessor, Fischer. Renate Künast, who for a couple of months was the Greens' chief Speaker (this term is also known as chairwoman in more "traditional" parties) will seek to revamp the "Ministry for Consumer Protection and Agriculture" as an agency for alternative farming.
It isn't easy being Green
It is ironic that the Greens, who during their two years in Schröder's government, who have had to take one humiliation after another, should be driven by the BSE crisis to reinvent themselves as the card-carriers of environmentalism once more.
However, this potential revival is going to be tainted from the outset by the EU decision to kill about two million cows (of which about 400,000 are in Germany) as a radical way to stop the further spread of BSE. This measure would obviously go far beyond the actual scope of the disease and be motivated basically (again) by commercial interests.
Also, in general terms, this sort of mass slaughter is quite at odds with long-harboured convictions in the Green Party and large sectors of the Social Democrats that vertebrate animals should be recognised as "fellow creatures" They should therefore enjoy some basic rights and protection even though they continue to be killed for the purpose of human consumption.
Jens Boysen, 13 January 2001
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