24 May 2002

Stop and search

FARMERS have described new powers allowing enforcement officers to search personal baggage at ports and airports for illegal food imports as a step forward but insisted more still needs to be done.

DEFRA has fulfilled its promise to give environmental health officer greater powers to search personal baggage, it confirmed on Wednesday (May 22).

Michael Seals, chairman of the National Farmers Unions food standards committee said powers to stop and search were a major step forward.

But it was crucial that sufficient manpower and technology were made available so the system of inspecting baggage was effective, he said. &#42

"Without more being done the UK will remain vulnerable to diseases which threaten animal welfare and can decimate native plant species."