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Agriculture: Bluetongue

Volume 712: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ban the importation of cattle and livestock from areas in Europe affected by bluetongue. [HL4427]

Defra has no plans to impose an import ban on cattle and livestock from areas in Europe affected by bluetongue. Provided that EU movement rules for bluetongue susceptible species are being complied with, the risk posed by bluetongue in other member states is very low, and does not justify such a ban. Also, BTV-8 is being effectively managed through vaccination in most EU member states.

Movements of bluetongue susceptible species are governed by EC Regulation 1266/2007, which was developed with the best available scientific advice, balancing risks proportionately against impact on trade. Where new evidence has become available, rules have been adjusted. We will continue to consider emerging evidence and any implications for movement conditions.

As of 3 November 2008, all of Great Britain became a single confluent restricted zone for Bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV-8). We are therefore effectively in the same BTV-8 restricted zone as neighbouring EU member states. Animals can be moved freely within this restricted zone, and to and from other BTV-8 restricted zones in Europe provided that they meet the generic import/export requirements and are accompanied by an export health certificate which has been signed by an official veterinarian. In the case of BTV-1, we are not part of this restricted zone which currently includes France and Spain. In this case movement controls into the UK are much stricter.

We have implemented a robust post-import testing regime for all imported livestock, and where livestock test positive for Bluetongue, appropriate risk management action will be taken, depending on the serotype detected. Since December 2008 no imported livestock have tested positive for bluetongue. We urge industry to consider the risks and check the health and vaccination status of livestock when sourcing susceptible animals from abroad.