By: Dennis Normile and Ding Yimin


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China has lifted its four-month ban on trade in an animal suspected of spreading severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

The move to put masked-palm civets back on the country’s menus has surprised the World Health Organization. With a team of Chinese researchers, the WHO found a coronavirus similar to the SARS virus in civets sold in Guangdong Province, near Hong Kong, earlier this year.

But China’s forestry administration, with experts from various ministries, found no scientific evidence to corroborate the finding. The government’s decision to allow trade in farmed civets and 53 other banned species will relieve many market traders who lobbied against the ban.

Link to news story in Science

Reference: Science, 301, 1031 (2003)

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