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Fram Hansard 9th January 2007

Bovine Cohort Culling

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to implement (a) the strategic goals of the TSE Road-map and (b) the goals relating to cohort culling in bovine animals; what recent discussions he has had with European Union counterparts on (i) the strategic goals and (ii) the goals relating to cohort killing in bovine animals; and if he will make a statement. [113070]

Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA participates in regular meetings with the European Commission and other member states through the Commissions Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Working Group, which meets approximately every two months. DEFRA also attends the Commissions Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, which meets approximately every two weeks.

An amendment to Commission Decision 999/2001, enabling member states to apply for a derogation to allow the culling of cohorts to be deferred until the end of their productive lives, will come into force later this month. However, we would need to consider carefully whether to apply for such a derogation. Any changes to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy control legislation must be carried out on the basis of a thorough risk assessment, based on sound science. It is unlikely that any change could be made before 2008 at the earliest. Meanwhile, we are required to enforce the legislation that is currently in place.