The outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad-cow disease, in Japan has allowed U.S. pork exports to rise this year, according to USDA.

U.S. pork exports to Japan increased 26 percent in the first 10 months of 2001, compared to the same time period for 2000. The U.S. share of Japan’s pork market strengthened to 39 percent from 30 percent last year.

USDA says the increase is due mainly to consumer reaction over BSE. Three cows have tested positive for BSE in Japan since September. Beef sales in Japan have decreased by about 50 percent since this time.

That is not to say that BSE always has a positive effect on pork demand. In other cases an outbreak of a disease such as BSE could reduce demand for all meat or all red meat. BSE only affects cattle, but misinformation can sometimes cause consumer mistrust of all meat or all red meat, regardless of the facts.