EU pledges bird flu aid

Brussels has offered grants totalling 80m (55m) to help in the world fight against avian flu, plus a further 20m (14m) to go towards further research.

The awards were made at this week’s international conference on avian flu and a possible human pandemic held in Beijing, China.

EU consumer affairs commissioner Markos Kyprianou said the money would be used to increase surveillance, improve communications between vets and doctors, boost contingency planning and foster information sharing.

Most of the money would go to Asian and African countries, though 4m (2.75m) was being advanced to Turkey, which is tackling a serious outbreak of avian flu.

Combined with another 114m (78m) pledged by EU member states and further grants from the rest of the international community, the total fund to combat avian flu now stands at 1.52bn (1.04bn).

That more than covered the funding gap identified by the World Bank, said Mr Kyprianou.

France is offering its poultry producers 6m (4.1m) in national aid to help offset income losses due to a 20% drop in consumption.

But the Confederation of French Poultry Producers puts the losses over five months at over 70m (48m) and is calling for more aid.