Minutes of the Committee meeting:

The role of the EC. instituted: The commission, The Council and other institutions.

 

Speech of David Byrne:

Mainly points

 

The origin of the outbreak

The illegal use of swill, containing contamined animal materile. This material could only have been illegally imported to the EU. There is an obvious need to look again at controls at imports in the light of this illegal import. Swill feeding hs also been banned in 13 of the 15 Member States. There is an argument that swill feeding, under properly controlled conditions, is safe. An EU wide ban on swill feeding is sceduled to come into eefct on 1 november. However, Parliament recently voted an amendment in its opinion on the Council' s common position on animal By-Products which would allow for its continuation. Conciliation now appears inevitable on this sensitive subject.

The epidemiological evidence now suggests that there were more than 50 outbreaks before the virus was firts discovered. The subsequent outbreaks in france, the Netherlands and Ireland all had their origin in animal movements which took place before this discovery. (Absolute dynamite ! FMD was here MONTHS before they admitted !)

Vaccination

The commission did not follow a non-vaccination policy throughout the outbreak as is sometimes, falsely, alleged. The COuncil directive provides for emergency vacination and the commission maintained a bank of 39 million does of antigen for potential formulation into vaccine.

The commission agreed the conditions for emergency vaccination in both the Netherlands and the UK on the basis of the existing directive. We also signalled agreement in principe to belgium and Germany but neither Member State followed through with formal requests

It is not credible to suggest that prophylactic vaccination should have been carried out. There were suggestions that the crisis could have been avoided through such a generalised vaccination of the livestock population. It was aqually suggested that it was a mistake to abandon the possibility for such an approach in 1991.

The fact is that the Member States collectively agreed at that time that vaccination should serve only as a tool to eradication of FMD.

The Commission cannot necessitates vaccination one has Member State. The legislation simply does not allow the commission to make such an imposition. If any Member State unilaterally introduced vaccination, others Member States and third countries would immediately impose restrictions to preserve their own disease-free status.

Culling of animals

The most disturbing aspect of the outbreak was the slaughter and destruction of large numbers of livestock. This destruction was indeed difficult to defend before public opinion in the countries concerned. The proposition that this process was unnecessary and could be avoided trougn vaccination did not help. The commission position is clear, culling of infected animals and in contact animals is a clear requirement of the current approach towards FMD. it is also the approach recommended by the OIE.

Is there can be no argument overthe slaughter these animals, the case for slaughter of contact animals is more controversal.

The Irish authorities published a comprehensive analysis of their FMD outbreak. This study estimated the cost in Ireland at 0,2% of GDP. However, the same study estimated that a widespread outbreak of FMD would have reduced GDP by between 1% and 5%.

The Netherlands is drawing its own conclusions on its experience. But the hard reality is that painful as the outbreak may have been, it still fell very far short of the outbreak of swine fever in 1997. One of the major lessons of the 1997 outbreak was that the suspension of the preventive killing of suspected holdings resulted in a massive spread of infection.

In the United Kingdom, it is also clear that solid progress in eradicating the outbreak only began with the effective implementation of the so-called 24/48 hours rule. That is to say, ounce infected holdings were slaughtered wthin 24 hours and suspected holdings within 48 hours. It is considerable that the Department of Environnement, defend Food and Rural Affairs continuous to its culling approach in its offcial the contribution to "lessons learned"inquiry being carried out by Professr Anderson.

 

 

Budget

The expenditure involved is potentially very considerable. Last year alone, over 420 million euro was paid by the commission towards the costs incurred. A broadly similar amount has been budgeted for this year to deal with the remaining costs.

Economic impact

The question of compensation from the eu budget for the losses arising to the non-farming sector has not arisen. Its appears that this is a subsidiarity issue which Member States prefer to keep within their own range of responsibilities. In any event, given the nature of EU expenditure, it is not clear if and how such compensation costs could be financed within the existing financial arrangements. (Answer NONE ! Blair will never compensate US !)

 

Next Steps

The Commission' s intention is, by mid 2003 at the latest, to have a new startegy in place which will learn from the lessons of last year. To repeat the objectives i highlighted at the recent Internationa conference on FMD, we must aim for the following:

- Strengthening our defences against further outbreaks. This will require more effort and ressources to tackle illegal imports of potentailly contamined products

- a livestock population which is managed with the prospect of infectious diseases like FMD in mind. This objective will require improved identification and traceability and more restrictions on animal movements

- Improved surveillance and control measures to ensure that outbreaks are spotted quickly and that decisive action is taken to eradicate them before they take hold.

- Revised contingency plans which take on board the lessons of the recent outbreak and which provide for a more inclusive response to any future outbreaks.

- The exploitation of the news tests to ensure that vaccination is a more effective tool in combating FMD and that the unnecessary slaughter and destruction of healthy animals can be avoided

- a more coherent international framework, working with the OIE, in particular which allows trade to take place but also takes account of other legitimate concerns, including enlargement.

 

 

Answers of the questions and comments of the Members of Parliament.

 

Status of the free FMD countries

Europe imports Argentina meat while this country is not untouched of FMD since it practises vaccination. Imports cover only certain products, which reduces the risk of contamination.

Vaccination

A new generation of vaccine, which will allow the distinction between vaccinated animals and sick animals, still is being studied and will not be on the market before several years.

Contamination by cattering waste

Regulation on the swine fever which prohibits the use of cattering waste in animal feed has to apply. It then there the problem of the control to the borders which is of the responsibility for the Member States.

late detection of the disease

There was monitoring defect among owners. (More like a defect among MAFF ! They missed FMD in Bobby Waugh`s Pigs !)The FMD is very difficult to detect among sheep. (And obviously Pigs !)The reaction of the English administration took place while 50 farms were already affected by the FMD. The British veterinary services played their role in the slaughterhouses, they are not present in the farms.

Application of the rule of the 24./48h

The rule of the 24./48h showed its effectiveness. It allowed a clear retreat of the illness. (Who said ?) The application of the rule of destruction of the suspect animals in contact (48h) require a major analysis. All the livestocks, were slaughtered under good conditions. ( Absolute rubbish !) The Netherlands experiment concerning its non-slaughter policy did not give good results. (Pardon ?)

 

A representative of the veterinary Office in Dublin supplemented the position of the Commission. The Dublin office does not have vocation to check the practices of the farmers but to inspect the inspectors. The office does not proceed therefore to slaughterhouse visits. The viterinaire present confirmed the difficulty of detecting the FMd at the sheep. Confirmation also only according to him, no cruelty act were made at the time of the slaughters. These British colleagues were exceeded by the breadth of the madadie, which would have been the case in any countries of the Union. (Except Holland !)