Conservatives set to strengthen EU bird flu directive

From: Conservatives in the European Parliament
Published: Mon Nov 28 2005


Brussels, 28 November 2005 Ė The European Parliament is expected to adopt a Conservative MEPís report this week approving a new EU directive to prepare Europe for a bird flu outbreak.

Neil Parish MEP, Conservative agriculture spokesman in Brussels, has drafted a report that mostly supports European Commission proposals to create logistical restrictions preventing an outbreak from spreading, but he will seek MEPsí backing to significantly amend one aspect of the directive that could devastate the poultry industry - an industry worth over £1 billion pounds and employing around 70,000 people in the UK.

The Commissionís existing proposals for a directive would permit poultry infected with low-pathogen bird flu to be sold in British supermarkets. The European Food Standards Agency has argued that current scientific evidence asserts poultry meat infected with low-pathogenic bird flu would pose no threat in the food chain.

But Mr Parish Ė who is a farmer himself - has argued that in reality, few consumers would be prepared to purchase poultry if it could be infected with any type of bird flu. He is eager for MEPs to support his proposals which would result in the destruction of all infected meat, with co-financed compensation for affected farmers.

Mr Parish said:

"This directive focuses on ways to prevent an outbreak of bird flu from spreading.

"We want to see the development of a cost-effective, multi-strain, orally administered vaccine to keep bird flu out of poultry so that we can keep it out of humans. This directive acts as a catalyst for the scientific research essential to developing a new vaccine.

"My main concern about this directive is the lack of common sense towards poultry with less serious forms of bird flu.

"There is scientific evidence showing itís safe to eat poultry infected with certain strains of bird flu. But in reality, are people going to choose poultry products unless they have complete confidence in their safety?

"If bird-flu infected poultry is allowed onto our supermarket shelves, we risk destroying public confidence in poultry and that would devastate the industry."

ENDS

Notes to editors

The full-Parliament will vote on the directive this Thursday, 1st December at 12pm. Mr Parish will hold a press conference at 13.30 pm in room PHS 0A50 of the European Parliament in Brussels.

For a full copy of Neilís European Parliament report, go to: http://www.europarl.eu.int/omk/sipade3?PROG=REPORT&L=EN&SORT_ORDER=D&S_REF_A=%25&LEG_ID=6&AUTHOR_ID=4528

For a copy of the background briefing outlining the measures encompassed by the EU directive, please contact the Press Office on the contacts below.

Key elements of the directive include:

* Compulsory surveillance in the Member States for low pathogenic avian influenza.
* Improvement of early warning systems.
* Contingency plans restricting transport of birds and eggs, creation of protection zones, disinfection etc in the event of an outbreak.
* Research into new multi-strain orally-administered vaccines to make vaccination efficient, cost-effective and animal-friendly.
* Co-financing arrangements for compensating farmers affected by an outbreak.

If adopted by the European Parliament this week, the directive is set to be adopted by the Council of Ministers before Christmas. The directive will be formally enacted on the 1st January 2007 but there are provisions to immediately enact the provisions within the directive in the event of an outbreak within the EU.

Contact: Neil Parish MEP, tel: +32 (0) 2 284 5392, Mobile: +44 (0) 7788 443 231, nparish@europarl.eu.int; Stephen Jones - Conservative Press Office - tel: +32 (0) 2 284 2574 or +32 (0) 473 861762, sjones@europarl.eu.int; James Holtum - Conservative Press Office - tel: +32 (0) 2 283 1138 or +32 (0) 473 211174, jholtum@europarl.eu.int.


Company: Conservatives in the European Parliament
Contact Name: Neil Parish MEP
Contact Email: nparish@europarl.eu.int
Contact Phone: +32 473 211 174

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