Mixed views in Brussels on Brazil beef ban

EU - The Scottish and Irish farmers and representatives of the meat trade who lobbied the EU's council of farm ministers in Brussels yesterday, calling for an immediate end to all imports from Brazil, received minimal understanding of their concerns.
calendar icon 17 July 2007
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The Scots and Irish have raised major concerns about beef from Brazil, which they says lacks traceability and is frequently raised using growth hormones, while disease control measures, especially relating to foot-and-mouth, are haphazard.

Mariann Fischler Boel, the EU commissioner for agriculture and the environment, is on the record echoing those concerns. However, they were apparently not shared by her colleague Markos Kyprianou, the commissioner in charge of consumer affairs. In a press statement released hours before the Scots and Irish made their pitch to MEPs, it was clear that Brussels intended to take a detached stance.

Kyprianou said: "Overall, we feel that the allegations are to a large extent based on incorrect interpretation of EU requirements for beef imports. The information is not new and is misleading. The European Commission's food and veterinary office is broadly satisfied with the controls of the Brazilian authorities. Consequently, many of the conclusions of the Irish Farmers Association are not valid."

Pekka Pesonen, the secretary-general of COPA, the confederation of EU farming unions, was more circumspect.

She said: "We are very concerned about the implications on European consumer safety. As a precautionary measure, the commission must immediately increase the frequency of physical checks for Brazilian beef. If these serious failures are found to be widespread, the EU must be ready to introduce further measures, such as a complete ban on Brazilian beef without hesitation."

Matt Dempsey, editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, which was one of the co-sponsors of the investigation in Brazil, said: "This is utter nonsense from Brussels. Farmers and consumers are entitled to far more than the bland words of Kyprianou."

The Irish case was strongly supported by the Scottish Beef Cattle Association (SBCA), and was clearly one that found favour with Alyn Smith MEP, of the Scottish National Party. He said: "The SBCA, alongside their Irish colleagues, made an excellent case and have obviously rattled the Commission into acting. We have seen that Fischler Boel may be more in line with the industry's thinking than Kyprianou, but it is not acceptable that we are getting two different opinions on this major issue.

Source: Scotsman
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