26 November 2000
Minister steps up pressure over BSE

By Alistair Driver

AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown has stepped up the pressure for a European Union-wide ban on the inclusion of animal protein in livestock feed.

Speaking at the Royal Smithfield Show, Mr Brown welcomed a decision by Germany to ban meat and bonemeal, which is widely blamed for spreading BSE.

The move followed the confirmation of Germanys first case of the disease.

Asked whether meat and bonemeal (MBM) should now be banned across Europe, Mr Brown quoted from Lord Phillips recent report from the BSE Inquiry.

He said: “Lord Phillips said the BSE epidemic was the result of an intensive farming practice – the recycling of ruminant protein in MBM.”

Mr Brown said cross-contamination of cattle feed in feed mills by animal protein destined for pig and poultry feed was a major factor in spreading BSE.

But while no animal protein is allowed in British animal feed, non-ruminant protein can still be included in animal feed in other European countries.

Mr Brown said: “We need to make sure that regulatory measures are taken to extinguish the condition [BSE] in the EU herd and to protect the EU citizen.”

The minister revealed that he has sent copies of the 16-volume BSE inquiry report to his counterparts in all the other 14 European Union countries.

And he reiterated his position when faced with calls to ban imports of French beef from Britain, following rising concerns that it may not be free from BSE.

“We want to deal with this issue in a rational way across the EU. But if [the Food Standards Agency] advises the government to act, we will act,” he said.