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Food: Contamination

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) funded into the effect of animal disease on food security in the last 12 months. (242886)

DEFRA has not commissioned/funded any work specifically into the effect of animal disease on food security. However, we continue to fund research, to the value of £1.6 million annually, on a number of major endemic diseases of livestock, including cattle, sheep, pig and poultry, which seriously affect or are a serious potential threat to livestock production and thus food security. In addition, there is a programme of research, costing in the region of £8 million annually, on exotic diseases aimed at protecting UK livestock from exotic disease incursions.

One of the ways in which we are able to minimise the effects of animal disease on UK food security is by having a supply of livestock products from a wide range of countries, including the UK, which effectively spreads the risk. Disease outbreaks in the UK or elsewhere in the world affecting our trading partners should prompt a swift response in trade flows as the market seeks to offset the impacts of any supply disruption.