30 March 2000
European BSE test next year

By Philip Clarke

TESTING for BSE throughout Europe is due to begin next January as the Commission steps up its efforts to eliminate the disease from cattle.

A new proposal, passed by commissioners on Wednesday (Mar 29), calls for post-mortem BSE tests to be carried out on fallen stock.

The intention is to test 10% of these casualties – about 65,000 animals a year – throughout the European Union.

However, individual member states will be encouraged to go beyond this 10% minimum on cattle over two-years-old.

Consumer affairs commissioner David Byrne said: “It is of utmost importance to learn as much as possible about the scale of the disease in Europe.”

Little opposition is anticipated against the measure which will be presented to the Brussels-based standing veterinary committee on April 5.

France is in the process of launching its own post-mortem testing, focusing on about 40,000 fallen stock in the regions with the greatest concentration of BSE.

“We are ahead of the game and are happy the rest of Europe is to follow us, so we know if they have the same problems,” said one French representative.

Germany will also support the proposal, since testing was one demand the Berlin government made in the argument over whether to readmit British beef.

This is despite the risk that BSE testing will show the disease to be much more widespread in Europe than previously suspected.