8 February 2000
No early end to beef ban — Glavany

By Donald MacPhail

FRANCE will not lift its ban on British beef in the near future, insists French agriculture minister Jean Glavany.

Mr Glavany also said there would be no ban on French beef, despite claims by a team of EU inspectors that French cattle are still fed animal-based feed.

It is widely believed that BSE is transmitted through animals eating feed containing infected animal proteins.

Mr Glavany told French newspaper La Croix that banning French beef was “out of the question”.

He insisted: “Its all the more irrelevant because our actions are aimed at making French beef the safest in Europe.”

With four reported cases of BSE in France last month, Mr Glavany admitted the risk from the disease still existed.

“There are still unknowns, and were trying to limit them to the maximum,” he said.

“To cut risks, we outlawed animal flour. The ban on British beef stems from the same logic.

“Therefore, theres no question of lifting the embargo in the short term.”

Mr Glavany questioned the fairness of the EU inspectors report. He would like to compare it to checks in other countries, some of which he said have not banned animal-based feeds.

Last month, France announced that it is to screen its national herd for BSE, even where animals show no sign of the disease.

National Farmers Union president Ben Gill said this fuelled suspicions that the French BSE problem is more serious than previously admitted.

Mr Gill also questioned the effectiveness of the French test, claiming EU scientific advisors had found nothing to back claims for its accuracy.

The EU lifted its three-and-a-half year ban on British beef in August last year. France and Germany have continued embargoes citing health concerns.

The upper house of the German parliament will vote next month on whether to lift its ban.

The European Commission has started a legal case against France at the European Court of Justice.

Last year 31 cases of BSE were reported in France. In the same period around 1000 cases were diagnosed in the UK.