7 February 2000
No reason to ban France — Brown

AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown says there is no reason to ban French beef despite a report which accuses France of doing too little to prevent BSE.

European Union scientists claim that French farmers are feeding cattle on banned feed-stuffs and are too slow to report suspected cases of BSE.

The report, by European veterinary experts, suggests that BSE may be more widespread than previously thought because the controls in France are too lax.

French farmers are unwilling to report cases of the fatal disease and often only do so after considerable reluctance, it says.

The document is embarrassing for France which wont accept imports of British beef, even though the global ban on shipments was lifted six months ago.

British agriculture minister said he had yet to read the report but indicated that he felt it would give Britain no grounds for a tit-for-tat embargo on French beef.

If the French situation was serious, Westminster would have been informed immediately by government advisors, Mr Brown tolf ITVs Dimbleby programme.

“I want to see the report and see the professional advice that accompanies it.”

The beef industry would have been notified straight away had the situation put human health at risk, he said.

A spokesman for the commission said there was no reason to suggest that French beef posed a risk to human health.