Random checks for BSE rejected
Opening a Commons debate on bovine spongiform encephalopathy, David Clark, Labour's agriculture spokesman, said there was no reason why Ministry of Agriculture scientists could not select routinely slaughtered cow heads for examination.
'It would be a precautionary measure and assuming no cows are found positive it would be most reassuring to the general public. If, of course, infected cows were to be found to have slipped through into the human food chain, then other action might be necessary,' he said.
The Government's own scientists had recommended random sampling, Mr Clark said, adding that it would be an 'acid test' of ministers' assertions that there was no problem and policies were working 100 per cent.
David Curry, Minister of State for Agriculture, repeated the claim, insisting the Government had 'got it right from the start'. After peaking in late summer and autumn, the number of BSE cases would be 'on the downward path'. Over the last four weeks the number of cases had been running at an average 700 a week - 'there is no hidden horror'.
Rejecting random testing of heads - BSE is carried in brains - Mr Curry said a high proportion of (live) cows were already inspected for clinical signs of the disease. 'It would not add to our comprehensive public health precautions,' he said, pointing to the ban on offal from cattle over six- months old entering the food chain.
'All that random testing would do is redirect resources in terms of expertise away from more important work,' he added.
Speaking before the debate, Mr Clark said ministers had got the scale of the problem wrong. 'They said there would be 20,000 cases; it is likely to be 100,000. That means that if any animals are slipping through into the human food chain, the chances of them doing so are increased fivefold.'
He added that there was a built-in financial incentive if infected cows were sold into the human food chain. 'It's not as great as it was,' he said, 'but there certainly is an incentive; probably a couple of hundred quid a cow.'
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Pornhub star Mia Khalifa receives death threats after being ranked the site's top adult actress
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A teacher of Science is required by this 11...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are working with this Co-educatio...