18 June 1998
Scientists unearth new fears
over beef ban proposal
VETERINARY experts at the Scottish Office have warned that the worldwide export ban on British beef could remain “indefinitely” unless changes are made to the European Commissions proposals.
And if European vets, meeting in Brussels today (18 June) to discuss the lifting of the ban, accept the proposal, an unworkable end to the ban could result.
Farmers and the meat industry last week welcomed a decision by the EC to accepted Britains date-based export scheme – albeit cautiously. However, in an environment where politics still dominates science, their caution was well-founded.
After scrutinising the proposal, Scottish Office experts realised some additional points had been added.
One relates to animals born after 1 August, 1996, whose mothers have later developed BSE. To avoid any risk of maternal transmission of BSE the offspring must be identified and slaughtered.
This was acceptable for individual animals. But elaboration of this point by the EC specified that a cull of all possibly infected offspring, whether for export or not, must be made, and the slaughtered animals incinerated and rendered, before exports could resume.
With 500 offspring in Scotland coming from mothers with BSE, and a further 5,000 in England, the tracking down of potentially-infected cows could take forever.
The second clause destine to cause problems has to do with beef on the bone. The EC has said bones must be removed, incinerated and rendered from all beef animals, whether they are going for export or for domestic use.
The UK, under the Governments infamous beef-on-the-bone legislation, already removes bones – but the Government sees no need to render or incinerate these bones.
Scottish Office officials are primarily concerned that this clause could enshrine the beef-on-the-bone legislation – set up as a temporary measure – into European Union law for the UK to adhere to. In years to come, this could become a competitive disadvantage for the UK livestock sector.
- The Scotsman, 18/06/98/, page 30