BRIEFS

BRIEFS

BRITAIN STARTS PROBE

OF MAD COW DISEASELONDON - Britain launched a wide-ranging inquiry on Monday to try to identify the causes of mad cow disease and its deadly human equivalent.

The inquiry, set to last 18 months, will attempt to give a definitive account of one of Britain's worst public health scandals, which has crippled the beef industry and dented Britain's standing in Europe.

The inquiry into mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, chaired by senior judge Sir Nicholas Phillips, was ordered by Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham.

The ruling Labour Party accuses the previous Conservative government of overseeing lax animal feed regulations that allowed the disease to take hold in the late 1980s, and of failing to act quickly enough to contain the crisis.

ALCAN ALUMINUM POSTS

RECORD RECYCLING VOLUME

WASHINGTON - Alcan Aluminum Corp. said it recycled a record 18.5 billion aluminum beverage cans in 1997, helping move the industry closer to its nationwide recycling goal of 75 percent of all aluminum cans.

On a weight basis, Alcan's can recycling volume also reached a high, climbing to more than 575 million pounds, or 5 percent from the 1996 level.

Edward Dougherty, Alcan's vice president of can stock sales and marketing, said capital expansion projects over the past several years have enabled the company to increase participation in the growing aluminum recycling market. In the United States, Alcan recycles cans at its facilities in Berea, Ky.; Greensboro, Ga., and Oswego, N.Y.

GOOD WEATHER BOLSTERS

ITALIAN SPRING CROP START

ROME - Unusually fine weather in Italy, with temperatures five to 10 degrees higher than the average, had planting of sunflower, sorghum, maize and soya off to a good start last week, sources said.

Farmers have been planting sunflowers in the center-north, and sorghum, maize and soya in northern regions, particularly Piedmonte, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and the Veneto, one Bologna-based trader said.