17 May 2000
MAFF cool on whole-herd cull fears

By FWi staff

THE Ministry of Agriculture has attempted to allay fears that Britain will be forced to adopt a whole-herd slaughter policy to restrict BSE.

MEPs voted on Wednesday (17 May) to extend to all European Union member states the policy of slaughtering all cows in herds where BSE is found.

The Commissions plans could also lead top a re-introduction of the beef-on-the-bone ban, which would be a body-blow to British farmers.

Although the Commissions proposals are not yet law, the MEPs decision will carry weight when the plan is put before the Council of Ministers.

A spokeswoman for MAFF said it was the ministrys understanding that a final decision on whether to extend the slaughter scheme would be some way off.

Ministry officials understood that the Council of Ministers were looking at more lenient proposals which would not result in whole-herd slaughter of cattle.

“We oppose these proposals – our scientists have advised us all along that these measures are unnecessary to protect public health,” said the spokeswoman.

“There is an awful lot of talking to be done yet. This vote is far from having any final implications.”

But the Meat and Livestock Commission, said the vote was worrying because it showed people hadnt accepted the science behind BSE controls.

Colin Breed, agricultural spokesman for the Liberal Democrats called for sense to prevail, saying that British beef was among the safest in the world.

“Action on this scale would only damage our hard-pressed farmers even more,” he told Farmers Weekly.

“It is now up to the Council of Ministers to revent the re-introduction of the ban on beef on the bone. Good sense must prevail.”