Commissioner Byrne updated ministers on the general situation in the EU. In 2001, 4,6 million of rapid BSE tests were done on cattle and 381 cattle found positive. The highest incidence of BSE continues to be found in at risk and dead-on-farm and emergency slaughtered animals. He further mentioned the non-results of a UK research on BSE in sheep in the UK last week and indicated to ministers further measures to be proposed by the Commission on sheep (statistical survey, improved identification, genotyping and breeding programmes for resistance, rapid tests to distinguish BSE/scrapie,). He presented also preliminary results of a questionnaire sent by the Commission to Member States on practical questions relating to meat-and-bone-meal (MBM) and highlighted the lack of disposal capacity in Member States and the difference in the costs for disposal and storage (the preliminary report is available on request to the press).
(see also SPEECH/01/480)
The representative of the British Minister stressed that a very wide research programme on BSE in sheep was on progress in the UK and that the mistake revealed last week concerned only a very small part of it. A scientific audit has been launched to clarify certain questions relating to last week's findings.
Commissioner Byrne presented the Commission's approach on zoonoses following its recent report which led the Commission to propose an update of the current Directives on food-borne diseases (See 1 August 2001). The current situation of foodborne infections in humans in the EU is not acceptable. The proposed directive will extend the monitoring and reporting to cover a large number of zoonotic agents like salmonella, e-coli, lysteria, while the proposed regulation introduces a new approach towards foodborne zoonoses. (see IP/01/1167)
Member States generally supported the approach of the Commission and welcomed the initiative.
Genetically modified organisms
The two Commission proposals on labelling and traceability of GMOs were presented (See 11 July 2001). A general support to the Commission's proposals was expressed.