Smith Welcomes Bluetongue Move

13 June 2011
SNP MEP and member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has today welcomed the decision to declare freedom from bluetongue 8 (BTV8) as of Tuesday 5th July 2011 in Scotland, England and Wales.

From this date it will not be legal to use vaccine in Scotland or the UK and animals moving out of the country will be free to do so without vaccination.

Following the bluetongue outbreak in south-east England in 2007, Scotland has remained free of the bluetongue virus. However, the bluetongue virus is still circulating in continental Europe, and it is crucial that livestock keepers remain vigilant against signs of the disease.

There are other northern EU countries that have already declared freedom or will do shortly following successful eradication campaigns, and this will result in unrestricted EU trade in terms of bluetongue restrictions. Imports to Scotland from other bluetongue zones will need to meet strict import requirements.

Smith said:

"This is good news for Scotland's farmers, and underlines our excellent record in the fight against bluetongue. While we must continue to remain absolutely vigilant, in line with the precautionary principle, this is a big step towards relieving the pressure on our farmers.

"Now we need to see the EU rules change to give us the flexibility to vaccinate in bluetongue free areas too. While there was good reason to restrict the use of vaccination a decade ago when the law was first introduced, as vaccines at the time were "live attenuated vaccines" and therefore carried the risk of the virus circulating. We are now fortunately in a position where new inactivated vaccines have been developed which do not pose such a risk.

"The recent vote in the European Parliament allowed for this change although, frustratingly enough, the final modification of the regulation is being delayed due to the co-decision process here. Meantime I will continue to press for movement on this so that the bluetongue regime in Scotland works in the best interests of our farmers and our livestock."