BEEF AT RISK: NFU call for action

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The Independent Online
Farmers called on the Government to come clean on all its research into BSE amid fears that the disclosure of links between deaths and infected beef will severely affect their livelihoods.

The National Union of Farmers said public confidence in beef could only be maintained by assurances from ministers, and called on the Government to publish all the advice it receives from experts and to act it on it fully.

Sir David Naish, president of the NFU, said: "Consumer confidence in the quality of the meat they eat is paramount."

He said new evidence of a link between the human form of mad cow disease and BSE-infected beef would have serious implications for cattle farmers and promised to raise the matter with the Agriculture Minister, Douglas Hogg.

Brian Frith, a Kent farmer whose herd of cattle has never had a case of BSE, said the impact on the beef trade could have been avoided had the Government taken early claims of risks more seriously and set up a programme of slaughtering infected cows. "We do not know if there are risks to humans but infected meat has got into the food chain and beef sales have slumped. All the Government has succeeded in doing is putting the frighteners on the public and threatening the livelihood of beef farmers."