NFU Cymru Calls On EU To Ease TSE Controls

UK - Consumer safety and confidence will always be paramount to Welsh farmers but National Farmers' Union (NFU) Cymru believes the time is now right, 14 years since bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) hit the headlines, to re-evaluate the restrictions still constraining beef and lamb producers.
calendar icon 12 August 2010
clock icon 2 minute read
National Farmers Union

Peter Davies, a livestock farmer from Glamorgan and NFU Cymru Livestock Board Chairman said, “NFU Cymru has always recognised the importance of consumer safety and ensuring their confidence in the food that Welsh farmers produce. That is why we have been supportive of the robust controls that have been in place following BSE in the 1990s.

“We feel the time is now right, however, to call on the European commission to move forward with the unwinding of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) restrictions across Europe along the lines of the Commission’s TSE roadmap two, published recently. This second roadmap has been published following on from the continuing decline of BSE across Europe.

Speaking at Glamorgan show Mr Davies said: “Recent years have seen a gradual unwinding of these restrictions on the basis of scientific advice and in line with recommendations within the original roadmap. Along the lines of the recommendations of the second roadmap we believe that the time is right to re-evaluate remaining controls and move forward on the basis of sound scientific advice.”

NFU Cymru particularly welcomes the roadmap’s call to continue to adapt the BSE monitoring system in bovine animals, in particular considering the gradual increase in the age limits for testing of healthy slaughtered animals. Mr Davies said, “Ideally I would like to see the age for BSE testing lifted from 48 months and, at the same time, a review of specified risk material removal ages.”

The roadmap also calls for further adaptations to scrapie eradication measures and highlights that the European Food Standards Agency is currently conducting a reassessment of the pertinence of current TSE controls in small ruminants (sheep and goats) with a final opinion available by the end of the year.

Peter Daves said: “NFU commissioned work has shown that the splitting of sheep carcasses to remove the spinal cord is costing the UK industry up to £34 million annually. BSE has never been found to be naturally occurring in sheep. I sincerely hope that the publication of this roadmap and the work of EFSA will be the driver that will eventually see this requirement removed or at least lifted from the current 12 months.”

He concluded: “Consumer safety and protection must always be the primary consideration, and any changes to current restrictions must be based on the best available scientific data, but they must also be proportionate and not unnecessarily add cost to the supply chain. NFU Cymru, through our office in Brussels, will now ensure that pressure is put on the commission to progress on the issues as outlined in the second roadmap.”

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