21 March 1997

All parties behind campaign for common EU regulations

farmers weekly has obtained cross-party support from MPs for its Safe Food for Europe Campaign, launched last week.

MPs from all three main parties backed the calls for a ban on all specified bovine material from the food chain and a ban on the inclusion of mammalian meat and bonemeal in feed for all farm animals.

Gavin Strang, Labours shadow farm minister, said that while the party had highlighted problems in the UKs 600 abattoirs, there was a strong case for tightening the MBM and SBO regulations across Europe.

"We in the Labour party welcome this initiative from farmers weekly. Living in a single market, it is important there are basic European standards."

Paul Tyler, Lib Dem rural affairs spokesman, who set down an early day motion in the Commons calling for harmonised regulations to prevent the spread of BSE, urged the UK and the European Commission to insist on the same standards for certified herds, enabling beef to be traded freely within the EU.

Mr Tyler said double standards were unacceptable: "We will be putting all the pressure we can on the commission… and the Council of Ministers to recognise that harmonisation will be essential if market confidence is to be fully established throughout the whole of the EU."

Sir Jim Spicer (Conservative, Dorset West) said it was ridiculous the UK was still importing over 30-month-old cattle from the rest of EU when their MBM and SBO records were so poor.

&#8226 NFU leader Sir David Naish is supporting FWs campaign. "I believe firmly that the government should ensure any beef imports from anywhere in the world should be SBM-free and should be guaranteed to be from animals that have not eaten rations that included MBM."

Sir David added that until the beef ban is lifted he is determined to make British consumers realise that British beef is the safest in the world due to the UKs rigorous safety precautions.

The NFUs role in prompting consumers to demand British beef is to make sure retailers, caterers, manufacturers and consumer groups have all the facts.