17 May 1996

No to inquiry into BSEban question

FARM minister Douglas Hogg has refused to hold a public investigation into the large number of BSE cases found in cattle born after the ban on ruminant-derived protein in ruminant feed.

Mr Hogg told Labours farm spokesman Gavin Strang that there was no need to carry out a full investigation, even though evidence shows that 67% of BSE cases during the first quarter of the year were in cattle born after the ban in July 1988.

Up until Apr 24, a total of 26,721 of the 160,000 cattle slaughtered due to BSE have been animals born after the ban.

Mr Hogg admitted in the Commons that there had been a continuous flow of contaminated feedstuffs in cattle after the ban was introduced, adding that he hoped the further tightening of the ruminant feed ban to include all livestock last month would help improve the situation.

Dr Strang said he was angry with the governments short-sighted response, claiming an investigation into the younger BSE cases could have revealed some animal feed mills who were failing to keep the BSE agent out of animal feed.

Speaking during a tour of Northern Ireland, Dr Strang said: "The government is already committed to an additional slaughter programme. Identifying these feed mills and their customers may well allow a more closely targeted, selective slaughter policy."

Tony McDougal

"Improving our ability to identify cattle at greatest risk of getting BSE would enable use to have a bigger impact on reducing the number of confirmed BSE cases in the future.

"This would certainly do the UK no harm when it comes to convincing our European counterparts that BSE is under control and that the ban on our beef should be lifted."