15 November 1999
Britain ‘ready for mass slaughter to beat BSE’ — Glavany

By FWi staff

FRANCE claims Britain is prepared to slaughter entire herds of cattle where a case of BSE is discovered in order to get the French beef ban lifted.

French agriculture minister Jean Glavany said this concession was made at a meeting on Friday, reports the London Evening Standard.

But Downing Street categorically denied this, dismissing the statement as point-scoring.

In France if a cow shows signs of BSE the whole herd is slaughtered. But in Britain only the animal showing the symptoms and cohorts — animals reared with the suspected BSE case and likely to have been exposed to the same risk in feed — are culled.

If the British government did adopt the French culling procedure it would open itself to severe criticism.

The Conservative Party and sections of the media have already fiercely attacked the government for agreeing to clarify technical issues with France.

They saw this as a climbdown after European Commission scientists had unanimously said there were no grounds for the French ban.

The latest twist emerged ahead of the scheduled meeting between agriculture minister Nick Brown and Mr Glavany this afternoon.

The Evening Standard says there are suspicions that even if Britain did not stage such a dramatic climbdown, it was ready to unveil several smaller-scale concessions to avoid taking France to court.

The news wire service Agence France Presse today quoted Mr Glavany saying that on Friday, at an experts meeting, the British had indicated they were ready to agree to the slaughter of entire herds where a case of mad cow disease had been detected.

AFP quoted M Glavany saying that the “positive note” was “in line with the guarantees sought by France”.

A British official in Brussels said: “We have not agreed to a Whole Herd Slaughter Scheme or selective cull.

We do have plans to deal with the cohorts born in 1996. So far no such cases have been found.”

Meanwhile the Prime Minister welcomed “positive” weekend talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki over the lifting of his countrys ban on British beef exports.