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Cancer-causing dioxin in cattle continues to trouble Italian south

NAPLES, Italy (AFP) - Police in Italy said they had seized hundreds of head of cattle from farms in the southern region of Naples after tests showed abnormally high levels of deadly dioxin in both the animals and the soil.

Officers from the Italian police sanitation unit took away 700 animals from seven different herds in the region, which is known for its production of milk products including the popular buffalo mozzarella cheese, a court source said Tuesday.

The seizures bring the total number of animals removed from farms to 10,000 since March in an on-going investigation into dioxin levels in the region.

Tests carried out by the nationally recognised preventive disease organisation the Terramo Institute have showed that levels of dioxin in the milk, fodder, grass and the soil in the area were all above European norms.

In all more than 20 herds of buffalos, cows and sheep have been identified in the probe.

Dioxin can be produced during the incineration of waste and has adverse effects on the long-term health of humans: the World Health Organisation has classified dioxin as a product that causes cancer.

Further tests are being carried out by the Italian authorities to try to ascertain the extent of the contamination and where it could have originated.

Investigators have turned their attention to an illegal plastics incineration plant near the polluted land.The management and recycling of waste in the Naples region has long been a favourite activity the local mafia, known as the Camorra.

 
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