Food Law News - EU - 1999

12 April 1999: BSE - Warning that the BSE crisis is not over

EP Briefing : 12 April 1999

Warning that the BSE crisis is not over

Reimer Böge (D, EPP) and Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (D, PES) for the Agriculture and Environment Committees have issued a stark warning that the BSE crisis is not over and a further spread of new- variant CJD cannot be ruled out. The warning comes in their joint resolution on the Commission's second half-yearly BSE follow-up report. While they are pleased with the Commission's progress in implementing a number of its recommendations for eradicating BSE, they point to the "catastrophic picture" of the failure by 13 member states to implement BSE-related EU measures which is revealed by the legal proceedings brought against them by the Commission and they cite "negligence and omissions in the policy on combatting BSE".

They are "extremely concerned at the sharp rise in cases of BSE in Portugal", which prompted the Commission to ban exports of live cattle, meat-and-bone meal and beef and veal from Portugal in November 1998, and demand that those responsible for illegal exports of British beef are prosecuted. They also condemn the "totally unacceptable conduct of member states" in refusing to cooperate with the Commission by providing information on the numbers of food and veterinary inspectors they have. They go on to demand a proper legislative role for Parliament in agriculture under the codecision procedure, instead of its present consultative role, and the power to censure individual Commissioners. They also insist that preventive health and consumer protection must be given top priority in all the measures taken to tackle BSE. They advocate the radical approach of removing complete herds from the food chain in order to eradicate the disease. They press the Commission to complete its work on diagnostic tests for BSE in bovines without delay. They also call for a ban on the general use of antibiotics in feeding stuffs as growth promoters and insist that they should only be administered on veterinary prescription.

Criticisms of the Commission centre on its poor personnel management which, they say, has left vacancies unfilled, and on its lack of accountability to Parliament However, the two reporters regard the creation of a scientific steering committee as a welcome step forward.

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