U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is joining trade officials from Canada and Mexico in seeking an end to bans on pork due to the H1N1 influenza outbreak.

The officials stress that pork is safe to eat and the virus cannot be transmitted by handling or consuming pork. In all, 16 countries have bans on pork or pork products. China, which is the largest, has banned pork and pork products from 38 states including important pork production states such as Iowa and North Carolina.

Trade officials warn that the ban may result in trade disruptions and significant economic damage.

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