17 May 1996

MAFF policy cuts to vets

on food and

is attacked

SHADOW farm minister Gavin Strang launched an attack on MAFFs deregulation policy, and ongoing cuts in the state veterinary service, and research and development during his keynote speech at the two-day conference.

Dr Strang said the whole policy of deregulation within the food industry had been misguided, adding that food safety had to be paramount.

"Of course nobody wants unnecessary burdens on business, but the safety of food, when one takes into account more intense levels of production, means adequate regulations are essential."

He told delegates that cuts in the state veterinary service, which has been rationalised and partially privatised in recent years, had left it needing to be rescued.

"Twenty years ago the SVS led the world, but now it is a shadow of its former self," he said.

Cuts in research and development were also criticised by Dr Strang, who said that if the governments cuts continued at the current rate until May 1997, the number of public sector agricultural and food scientists would have been halved since 1979.

He said the present BSE-crisis was not only affecting the beef industry, but also the dairy sector, claiming Pacific Rim nations were rejecting UK products. And he claimed that if the BSE ban was lifted, beef products could immediately be sent to Italy.

Gavin Strang: Backing for R&D