SNP MEP Presses European Commission On Beef From Brazil

09 October 2007
Scotland's only full member of the European parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith MEP has today pressed European Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou to implement a precautionary ban on beef imports from Brazil amid rising concern over Brazilian animal welfare standards.

Mr Kyprianou was invited before the Agriculture Committee in Brussels to face MEPs concerned after an investigation by the Irish Farmers Association, supported by the Scottish Beef Cattle Association, found serious deficiencies in the Brazilian animal welfare regime.

Mr Smith drafted a Written Declaration calling on the Commission toimplement a ban until Brazil can prove that it complies with the necessary EU standards, and this was discussed throughout the three hour meeting having been supported by a number of MEPs.

The Commissioner made a number of constructive points.

In particular he said;

"I will not hesitate to take any measure, regardless of the affecton trade internally or externally, if there is any risk to animal health"

Mr Smith welcomed the Commissioner's comments but remains concerned that the Commissioner still holds the view that the deficiencies found do not constitute a sufficiently serious threat to EU animal health to justify a ban.The Commissioner also admitted that the EU Foreign Veterinary Office has made a number of inspections and remains unhappy with the Brazilian rules, and that the Brazilians have until the end of 2007 to rectify them and the FVO will make a further three inspections in November.

He was less clear on how definitive these inspections would be.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Smith said:

"This was a useful meeting.The Commissioner is clearly taking this seriously but I intend to keep up the pressure.

"He agrees that Brazil has deficiencies, but he is not currently minded to implement a ban. I believe the deficiencies more than merit a ban,on the grounds of a risk to EU animal health from importation of FMD, on the clear gaps in traceability of Brazilian animals prior to slaughter, and on a more straightforward equity point that we cannot have one rule for Scots farmers and another for the Brazilians.

"The FVO has made 7 inspection trips to Brazil because they keep finding deficiencies, they remain unhappy about the Brazilian regime. I question what sort of urgency another FVO inspection will engender if it is not backed up with at least a credible threat of a ban.

"We have seen for Scotland's, and the UK's farmers, that officialdombadly let them down over the Pirbright Laboratory outbreak in England,and I for one intend to ensure that no stone is left unturned to keep any risk of this disease entering the EU."