EU bans British pork

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The Independent Online

The European Union has slapped a temporary, protective ban on exports of live pigs and pig semen from England after an outbreak of swine fever there, the French Agriculture Ministry announced Monday.

The European Union has slapped a temporary, protective ban on exports of live pigs and pig semen from England after an outbreak of swine fever there, the French Agriculture Ministry announced Monday.

A ministry statement said the E.U. Commission's veterinary committee will meet Aug. 22 to decide whether the ban should be continued or whether new measures need to be adopted.

France, which currently holds the E.U. presidency, is "very happy" with the decision, French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany said in a statement. Glavany is also president of the Council of Agriculture Ministers of the EU.

Belgium and the Netherlands, which have banned imports of live pigs from Britain as a precautionary measure, requested the meeting. Spain has also banned imports of pigs from Britain, and French farmers are also calling for a ban.

In Brussels, a Commission spokeswoman said Monday that the delay in holding the meeting was partly to allow the British government to provide information on the outbreak.

A ban on the exports of pigs would depend on how widespread the outbreak is, she said, noting that so far it has been contained to a few holdings in Eastern England. If it was found to have spread across the country, the committee could impose a Europe-wide ban on all exports of pigs from Britain.

She noted that Britain has destroyed all the infected pigs so they won't move into the food chain, even though swine fever isn't harmful to humans. Some 6,000 animals have already been killed.

Swine fever cannot be transmitted to human beings, the French Agriculture Ministry statement said, "so the safety of the consumer is not threatened."

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