SRM exclusion moves blocked

20 March 1998

SRM exclusion moves blocked

EFFORTS to ban the use of specified risk materials from the human food chain throughout Europe ground to a halt this week.

Controls were due to have come into force from Jan 1. But continued objections from countries such as Germany, Austria and Finland, which claim to have had no indigenous cases of BSE, saw the start date delayed, first to Apr 1 and then to July 1.

The EU Commission also offered these countries exemptions, if they could prove they only had a low BSE risk.

But this still proved unacceptable to EU farm ministers meeting in Brussels this week. "Council is deadlocked between those member states who want to see more stringent measures in place and those who do not want to apply any measures at all," said a disappointed UK farm minister, and council president, Jack Cunningham. "Some member states want to see regional solutions, while some believe that, in a common market, we should have just one set of rules."

Technically the commission could introduce its ban anyway. But that would mean overriding the wishes of 15 farm ministers, which seems unlikely. In particular, ministers want to examine new scientific evidence on BSE and SRMs from the Paris-based International Office of Epizootics, due in May.

Meanwhile, existing UK legislation banning the use of SRMs from cattle and sheep over a year old will continue. &#42

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