Canadian farmers have launched a C$7bn (US$5.67bn ) class-action suit against Canada's federal government for negligently allowing BSE to devastate the country's cattle sector.

The lawsuit claims the government's monitoring system for preventing BSE from spreading to Canadian herds failed because it lost track of animals it catalogued as being imported from BSE-ridden Britain.

The lawsuit also targets Ridley Corp. Ltd., an Australian company that allegedly made cattle feed from imported British cattle, saying that it knew or should have known, that its feed could be contaminated. Also, the lawsuit notes that while Britain banned using cattle remains in feed, Canada passed a 1990 regulation permitting the practice.