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Reply sent from DEFRA May 2010

Thank you for your email of 26 April about Foot and Mouth (FMD) biosecurity arrangements.  I have been asked to reply.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) are responsible for anti-smuggling controls at the GB border on Products of Animal Origin. This includes checks on passengers, post and freight.  Defra and UKBA continue to work together to ensure that UKBA delivers an enforcement strategy that targets the entry routes that pose the greatest threat of introducing animal disease and responds flexibly to changing patterns in risk.  Defra provide UKBA with a global risk map which categorises countries into RED, AMBER and GREEN risks according to the prevalence of animal diseases that can be transmitted in products and assists customs targeting of traffic from high risk countries and regions. This has been updated to reflect the current situation with regards to FMD in Asia.

UKBA also use other information to assist targeting including historical data on type of products; high-risk routings and origin; methods of concealment and risk trends; specific intelligence; results of operational checks; and information from other enforcement agencies.

Defra have also alerted the Local and Port Health Authorities who are responsible for veterinary checks at Border Inspection Posts on commercial imports of products.

UK import control measures must be proportionate and appropriate for the circumstances in each country and, as part of the European Union (EU) the UK must apply the same rules as other EU Member States. The Government of New Zealand (for example) have chosen to take a different approach to the EU to animal and plant health import controls. The volume of trade and practicalities dictate a risk-based approach as opposed to the blanket check approach employed by some countries such as New Zealand.

I hope this is helpful.

Yours faithfully,