Smith Welcomes Committee Vote On Bluetongue Rules

05 April 2011
Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, has expressed his satisfaction with yesterday's positive committee vote to give Member States the flexibility to make the use of vaccination against bluetongue easier for animals outside of restriction zones.
The rule changes will allow Scotland and the UK to move to bluetongue-free status, thus allowing the freer movement of animals with the associated cost savings, but continue to vaccinate against bluetongue. Currently, vaccinations are only allowed in areas subject to animal movement restrictions. The new rules will be approved by the full European Parliament session on Thursday.
Smith said:
"This is an excellent example of evidence-based policy-making with the legislation following the science after calm reflection of the best scientific advice balanced with the commercial needs of the industry as well as the animal health implications.
"There was good reason to restrict the use of vaccination a decade ago when the law was first introduced, as the vaccines available at the time, "live attenuated vaccines", carried the risk of undesirable circulation of the virus. Since that time, new inactivated vaccines have been developed, which do not pose such a risk. It makes sense to allow the wider use of these vaccines, outside of the restricted areas - giving farmers more flexibility and choice in determining how to protect their livestock, without having an expensive movement restriction regime imposed.
"Scotland has an excellent record in the fight against bluetongue. Our geography has helped, but we have been bluetongue-free since 2008, and monthly surveillance samples have shown that the disease is not circulating - we are well on the road to achieving complete bluetongue-free status. While we must continue to remain absolutely vigilant, in line with the precautionary principle, we also should be taking steps to relieve the pressure on our farmers, and the Commission's proposal, supported last night by the Agriculture Committee, will help achieve this."