29 October 1999

Permanent BST ban call

A PERMANENT ban on the milk boosting hormone bovine somatotrophin has been proposed by the EU Commission, replacing the moratorium which has been in place for the past 10 years.

Justifying the call – which will take effect from Jan 1, 2000 – consumer affairs commissioner, David Byrne, pointed to the animal welfare problems associated with regular injections of the drug.

A report from EU scientists earlier this year showed that BST raises the risk of clinical mastitis, (and the treatment duration), increases the incidence of foot and leg disorders, adversely affects reproduction and can cause severe reactions at the injection site. The ban does not apply to imports of milk, dairy products or meat from countries already using the chemical, however, as, so far, no human health problems have been identified. But the commission says there are still gaps in scientific knowledge on this subject and is making further studies.

Mr Byrne denied the EU was being protectionist by banning BST for good. "The EU has simply given a higher priority to animal health than to lower cost milk production."

EU farm ministers are expected to vote on the proposal at their November council meeting, once the European parliament has given its opinion. The legislation is expected to encounter little opposition. &#42