Farmers may use animal by-products in feed again

The European Union is keen to reintroduce practices banned on farms since the 'mad cow' scandal broke

Controversial practices for the feeding of livestock not seen since the days before mad cow disease rocked the nation could be reintroduced after a change of heart in Brussels.

MEPs will vote this week on whether to lift the ban on feeding animal by-products to pigs, chickens and farmed fish. They have been urged to back the move by an influential EU committee, which called in a recent draft report for the feed ban to be revised.

The document, from the European Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, stops short of altering the status quo on cattle feed, pointing out that because cows are vegetarian they should not be fed so-called "processed animal proteins" (PAP). The same goes for sheep.

The potential U-turn comes as concerns escalate about how the world will continue to feed itself against a backdrop of rapidly inflating food prices and a soaring population. At the moment, animal feed producers import vast quantities of soya from countries in South America, grown on land that could otherwise be used to feed people living there. Demand for soya-based animal feed is also fuelling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Although altering the composition of animal feed would make ecological sense, Britain's livestock industry fears that the move would prove commercial suicide. A debate at the annual Pig & Poultry Live event earlier this month revealed many farmers were horrified by the EU proposal. A vote by 400 farm business leaders revealed that two-thirds of delegates at the event thought PAP posed more of a problem to the industry than it would solve.

Kelly Watson, chief poultry adviser at the National Farmers' Union, said yesterday that although the science behind the rethink was sound, serving up animal feed made from animal by-products was "not something consumers or retailers are ready to accept". She added: "The poultry sector has a good name in terms of food safety and we wouldn't want anything to jeopardise that."

Philip Graves, an expert in predicting consumer behaviour, said the public would be unlikely to stomach the change. "From a consumer perspective, it's very easy to understand why there would be a potentially adverse reaction," he said. "Consumers have a simplistic and partially media- and supermarket-driven perspective about what agriculture and farming is about. They think chickens should just eat corn because they see corn-fed chickens for sale at supermarkets that are a nice colour. But the fact that chickens don't eat protein at the moment is a problem, and means they're not as strong as they should be. From the attitude of sustainability and animal welfare, there are some very strong arguments for introducing PAP into diets," Mr Graves added.

Rosemary Moon, a food writer and consultant to Waitrose, said: "Logic says it isn't right to feed animal waste products to animals, but many animals are carnivorous. We simply can't afford to go on wasting food, for humans or animals, in the way we do."

Despite the threat posed by the BSE scare, far fewer people have succumbed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease – vCJD – than was initially feared. In the past two decades, 171 people have died, with a further four people still alive who have vCJD. Yet a report in The Lancet medical journal has warned that cases could still emerge until as late as 2056.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss