The scheme would lift the export ban for all cattle born after 1 August 1996 and clear the way for British beef farmers to re-enter world markets. The plan has now been formally submitted to the European Commission. Dr Cunningham said:
"This is a positive step in our new approach to lifting the beef export ban. The main way in which cattle have been infected with BSE is through feed. Since August 1996 the UK has enforced very strict controls to make sure that feed does not contain meat and bone meal, through which infection can be carried. Tests have confirmed their effectiveness. For animals born after 1 August 1996 the only known possible risk of BSE is through maternal transmission. So we are also today proposing the compulsory slaughter of all offspring from BSE infected cows born on or after 1 August 1996."
The Date Based Export Scheme proposed by the Government, together with the cull of animals potentially at risk of BSE through maternal transmission, sets strict rules under which beef exports could resume. The proposals still have to be approved by the relevant EC Committees. Detailed consultation on the proposals, including compensation for farmers, will only take place after European approval.
Dr Cunningham said:
"Lifting the export ban is a priority. It can only be achieved by co-operation and constructive dialogue. Our new approach to the European Council, Commission and European Parliament has already paid dividends. I am determined to achieve progress on the basis of sound science and strict regulation of our beef."
The news release adds the following notes: