Russia has stepped up its attention to mad cow disease over the last week; including a ban on cattle imports from certain areas of Germany and the seizure of imported beef carrying signs of potential BSE contamination. On Tuesday, the Russian agriculture ministry reported that imports of beef plummeted by 53% during 2000, to 429,200 tonnes worth a total of US$495.3m. For poultry, meanwhile, imports rose by 180% to 588,200 tonnes, worth US$316.2m, giving some suggestion of increasing consumer fears of mad cow disease, and its possible link to vCJD, the deadly human illness.