French BSE study condemns British animal feed trade

Click to follow
The Independent Online

An official French report on the spread of BSE yesterday attacked the "unjustifiable attitude" of the British government of 1988-90, which allowed potentially contaminated animal feed to be exported legally to the Continent.

An official French report on the spread of BSE yesterday attacked the "unjustifiable attitude" of the British government of 1988-90, which allowed potentially contaminated animal feed to be exported legally to the Continent.

But the report, by a committee of inquiry of the French Senate, also rounds on successive French agriculture ministers and the European Commission for putting agricultural economics ahead of human health.

The 362-page report said that four French agriculture ministers, between 1993 and 2000, including Jean Glavany, the current minister, failed to take adequate measures to protect animal and human health from BSE.

The French agriculture ministry had delayed the adoption of controls on feedstuffs and the human consumption of cattle offal, said the report.

The report also undermines the arguments made by the French government when it defied EU orders in 1999 and banned limited imports of "young" British beef which had been declared safe by Brussels.

Paris said, at that time, that it was pursuing a policy of zero tolerance of risks to human health. The report says that, in fact, the French government had consistently ignored warnings that its own protective measures against BSE, and its human variant, CJD, were not effective enough.

The committee says that the "principal cause" of the spread of BSE to France was the import of contaminated British animal feed in the late 1980s. The report points out that the then Thatcher government in Britain banned the use of ground-up cattle remains in cattle feed in July 1988.

It decided, however, to allow the feed to be sold to the Continent, even though it knew that the likely result would be the export of the disease. This was an "unjustifiable attitude", the French report said.

The French government did not ban imports of British bone meal for use in cattle feed for another year.

Comments