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office of the South-East England's Green MEP Caroline Lucas
EU TO PROBE UK HANDLING OF BIRD FLU OUTBREAK
'PREMATURE RE-OPENING OF SUFFOK FARM BREACHES EU LAW'
THE EU today faces
calls to investigate the Government's decision to allow
poultry processing to
resume at the Bernard Matthews farm at the centre of
the Suffolk bird flu
outbreak - a possible breach of EU rules designed to
prevent the spread of
the deadly virus.
Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas, who has demanded that
Commission investigate the possible safety breach, said:
"Despite all its
talk of 'the best bio-security in the world' the Government
has failed to
test a single wild bird within 50 miles of the affected Bernard
factory farm for the H5N1 virus.
"It would appear that this
is in breach of EU regulations designed to stop
the spread of the disease -
and as such it is an appalling dereliction of
duty which could cost British
"If the government doesn't follow EU rules it is British
farmers who will
pay the price, as this failure means the disease is more
likely to strike
again - and the EU will be able to blame the UK Government
and deny any
compensation claims. I have today demanded the European
investigate the Government's decision to allow the plant to
Dr Lucas, who is a member of the European
Environment Committee and served as Vice-President
of the parliament's
Committee of Inquiry into the Government's handling of
the 2001 Foot and
Mouth Disease outbreak, made her comments after reports in
the UK national
press that DEFRA officials admitted wild gulls had been
from bins at the farm - and could be spreading the disease
to other flocks -
but that they had not been tested at all.
"It is extraordinarily complacent for the Government to allow the
start processing meat destined for the dinner table so quickly.
decision is premature, both in terms of preventing further outbreaks
protecting consumers' health. It seems as though it might be taken too
for the law as well."