4 December 2000
Europe bans bonemeal in feed

By Philip Clarke in Brussels

EUROPEAN agriculture ministers have agreed to ban meat and bonemeal in all animal feed as one of a number of new measures to control the spread of BSE.

The decision was made in Brussels on Monday (04 December).

Only Finland and Sweden voted against the ban, arguing that they did not have a BSE problem.

But a controversial plan to include fishmeal as an outlawed feedstuff was overturned at the insistence of the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland.

Apart from the cost implications of a ban, they argued that removing fishmeal from poultry rations could encourage chickens to start pecking each other.

Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers Union of England and Wales, welcomed the meat and bonemeal ban as a sensible measure against BSE.

Checks should ensure that fishmeal supplies were not being diluted with meat and bonemeal, as has been practised by some unscrupulous traders, he said.

Having dealt with the meat and bonemeal ban, the 15 farm ministers then commenced talks on other measures to deal with the BSE crisis.

These include a European Commission proposal for a “purchase for destruction scheme” for over-30-month cattle which have not been tested for BSE.

European farm commissioner Franz Fischler told the agriculture ministers that such a scheme would be cheaper than conventional intervention.

“The aim of my proposal is to contribute to a re-establishment of a market equilibrium by trying to regain the confidence of consumers, as well as taking away from the market a considerable part of the surplus supply”.

Talks were expected to run late into the night and any final decisions may well be passed to heads of state at their Nice summit later this week.