EU scorns British foot and mouth errors

UK - Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, is facing fresh embarrassment after a senior European Union official said that biosecurity at the government site blamed for the foot and mouth outbreak was a "parody".
calendar icon 16 September 2007
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The European commission is to send officials to investigate the causes of the resurgence of the disease, which the National Farmers’ Union estimates is costing farmers £10m a day.

Alf-Eckbert Füssel, of the animal health unit at the European commission, said: "Last time it was clear it was an isolated incident, but this is different. Now we have to be afraid about further spread."

He warned that under a strict interpretation of the rules the government-funded laboratory at Pirbright in Surrey should have been closed until it complied with EU standards.

Füssel said EU investigators would fly in tomorrow to monitor attempts to control the disease and later to examine biosecurity at Pirbright, where the Institute for Animal Health, a government-funded body, and Merial, a private company, have laboratories dealing with foot and mouth disease (FMD).

"All such laboratories have to comply with the security standards and we can see at Pirbright they have had a failure of these standards," said Füssel. "[The institute] could be struck off annex II [of the European directive that allows it to handle FMD]."

Source: The Times
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