MEP IN CALL FOR BRAZILIAN BEEF BAN11:00 - 15 July 2006
Fears over the quality and safety of Brazilian beef have prompted a call for a Europe-wide import ban. Brazil is the largest exporter of beef to Europe, sending about 270,000 tonnes of meat annually. The demand for a ban has come from Westcountry MEP Neil Parish following a report by the European Union's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) which revealed a catalogue of concerns over the quality, safety and traceability of Brazilian beef. The FVO voiced similar concerns about Brazilian pork, honey and eggs.
Mr Parish said: "There is no point in us having stringent traceability and safety standards for our own farmers when imported meat from Brazil is well below standard."
Mr Parish, who is the Conservative agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, has written a letter to Peter Mandelson, the EU trade Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, agriculture commissioner, and Markos Kyprianou, the health commissioner. The European Parliament's agriculture committee chairman, French MEP Joseph Daul, has agreed to call Mr Kyprianou before the committee to discuss their concerns.
Mr Parish said that similar problems were highlighted by European vets three years ago. "The European Commission needs to slap an immediate ban on Brazilian beef, honey, eggs and pig meat," he said. "After BSE and foot and mouth, the EU has had to ensure meticulous standards and our farmers have had considerable pressures placed upon them.
"Brazil has had three years to bring its standards up to scratch. Brazilian products should be banned from entering the EU until they start living up to the standards we expect of our own farmers."
Problems raised in the FVO report including inadequate ear tagging of cattle, making them virtually untraceable, and use of medicines banned from EU meat.
Mr Parish's fears were supported by beef farmer Martin Howlett, who farms near Callington and is a former National Farmers' Union (NFU) regional livestock chairman.
"The NFU has raised these concerns on many occasions," he said.
"We know full well that the quality and standards of Brazilian and Argentine beef are not the same as the hoops that British farmers have to jump through. If it is going to appear on supermarket shelves side by side with British beef then it should be labelled accurately."
NFU South West spokesman Ian Johnson said that while it might be unrealistic to throw a "protective ring" round Europe, Mr Parish's demand highlighted the problems British farmers faced from imports. "If, as Defra says, farmers will have to pick up the bill for disease control, they should have a say over what is allowed in to this country," he said.
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