10 May 2001
Stop personal meat imports – Union

By Isabel Davies

THE National Farmers Union has backed calls for a ban on personal meat import allowances, which it believes let foreign diseases into the country.

NFU president Ben Gill told journalists at a briefing in London on Thursday (10 May) that said he could see no reason for people to import meat.

Mr Gill said he was also concerned that imports of plant material and meat risked bringing in a range of exotic diseases and pests such as Colorado Beetle.

The foot-and-mouth crisis, which has seen millions of livestock slaughtered is believed to have been triggered by infected meat illegally imported into Britain.

Mr Gill said he believed Britain was still at risk from imported disease because society is increasingly global. He pledged to raise the matter with Brussels officials.

“Biosecurity is something we have ignored in this country to our detriment.”

Mr Gills comments came as he launched the NFU General Election Manifesto which urges the next government to help farmers get the industry back on its feet.

Foot-and-mouth crisis had highlighted that there was a real need for greater investment in agricultural-related research, he said.

There should have been a modern vaccine available to tackle the epidemic but there wasnt because of cutbacks in research budgets, said Mr Gill.

“A few million Pounds spent in the 1990s could have saved us the very much more number of millions spent today,” he suggested.

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