SBS documentary blasts Brazilian beef import fiascoThe Brazilian beef import fiasco has come back to haunt the Federal Government, with a SBS special investigation last night revealing how close Australia came to catching foot and mouth disease.
On SBS's Dateline program, the reportors had travelled to
Brazilto investigate the credibility of Brazil's internal quarantine measures that is relying on to prevent the spread of FMD. Australia
Several provinces within
Brazilhave FMD, but under international quarantine and trade laws, is allowed to export beef, to some countries, from cattle in "non-FMD infected states". Brazil
The credibility of the zones was at the centre of a Senate Inquiry earlier this year when Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan raised allegations that Heinz Watties, which at that time had an import permit for Brazilian beef following a change in
's regulations by Biosecurity, had dumped imported product at the Wagga tip. Australia
SBS's investigation last night was startling.
It found the so-called 'FMD-free zones' within
are highly porous. Brazil
Indeed, at the time of the import into Australia of Brazilian beef, a new FMD outbreak had been reported in one of the supposed "FMD-free zones".
That was the reason Heinz Watties was asked by Biosecurity, after the beef was imported, not to process the beef.
SBS showed, on screen, in a startling sequence, how cattle are able to wander into
from countries with a history of the disease, because of the 800km of land borders adjoining FMD countries. Brazil
Jose Severino Durey from
's animal health agency IAGRO said, on screen that, with those "800km of dry borders, there's no way that police can control" the movement of cattle and disease. Brazil
The Dateline program revealed that Biosecurity Australia, at the time, did not inspect conditions in
, prior to relaxing import restrictions, and subsequently issuing the import licence to Heinz. Brazil
Central theme of the SBS program was: is
's clean, green agricultural image being compromised in the interests of opening up our borders in the name of free trade? Australia
The program also investigated recent Biosecurity
's handling of the pork import permit case currently before the Federal Court. Australia
The case invloves the threat of the untreatable post-weaning multi-systemic wasting disorder (PMWS) disease in pigs, not present in
The syndrome was recently at the centre of a Federal Court dispute between Australian Pork Ltd (APL) and the Department of Agriculture over pork import permits.
APL had successfully argued the nation's clean herd was at an unacceptable risk of being infected, because of weaknesses in the import risk analysis.
The Commonwealth has appealed the decision - and, in the meantime, pork imports are still allowed in.
While the case is being argued in court, two suspected cases of PMWS in
have been reported. Australia
One in SA has since been cleared as a false alarm. The other, in NSW, is still under investigation.