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AGRICULTURE: FARM COMMITTEE SUPPORTS DIRECTIVE ON FOOT-AND-MOUTH.

The European Commission's proposal of December 13, 2002 was for a Directive on measures to control the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease, amending Directive 92/46/EEC. It gives the Commission greater powers to implement emergency vaccination, allowing the EU executive to act immediately in the case of an outbreak by proposing the strategy to Member States instead of waiting for them to request it. The Parliament's Agriculture Committee has said it is "satisfied" with the shape of the Directive, and its view will be forwarded to plenary in July. A move by British Green Party deputies to make an amendment stopping mass culling from featuring in FMD eradication programmes was defeated.

The calls for emergency vaccination to have a key role in tackling FMD have been increased by the development of a test which can differentiate between infected and vaccinated livestock. Previously there has been resistance to the use of vaccination because it could affect farm exports if countries refused meat which contained FMD antibodies, even if they had come from vaccinated animals. The World Animal Health Office, OIE, has also cut the export ban on animals and meat products to six months following the last FMD case or completion of vaccination.

The legislative proposals come in response to the 2001 FMD epidemic in the UK which resulted in the slaughter of over four million animals and is estimated to have cost the country around four billion sterling. The disease spread from the UK to France, the Netherlands and Ireland though on a smaller scale. There was a huge debate over vaccination but the British government rejected the option in the face of huge opposition from farmers' organisations and the agri-food business. This meant the UK continued its mass slaughter policy of animals to stamp out the disease. The Netherlands decided to carry out emergency vaccination but then slaughtered all the livestock anyway.

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Title Annotation:European Commission
Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4E
Date:May 3, 2003
Words:315
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