EC vows to protect poultry industry

Related tags Influenza

David Byrne, the European Commissioner for health and consumer
protection, has outlined the measures that have been taken to
protect Europe's poultry industry. Speaking at the European
Parliament yesterday, he claimed that safeguards were now in place
that would prevent against any possible introduction of the Avian
flu virus that has decimated parts of Asia and has now surfaced in
the US.

Byrne said that the Commission would shortly publish a working paper on pandemic influenza preparedness and response planning, setting out a series of steps to be taken by Member States and the European Community to address the threat of an Influenza pandemic.

"The Commission has immediately taken safeguard measures to ensure adequate protection against possible disease introduction in the territory of the Community via imports of live birds and poultry products from the concerned countries,"​ he said.

Fresh and frozen Thai poultry products will remain barred from the economic bloc until 15 August 2004. The ban also covers imports of pet birds from Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Pakistan, China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. The EC says that the decision is in line with OIE (International Organisation of Animal Health) guidelines.

"We must all remain vigilant and member states must ensure that the import ban is fully respected at ports and airports,"​ said Byrne. "Our ban is designed to keep the disease out of Europe so that neither our citizens nor poultry stocks should be at risk."

Byrne also said that Commission services at all levels are in dialogue with the World Health Organisation, Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Organisation for Animal Health and local authorities.

Avian Influenza has affected poultry populations in nine countries in Asia so far, namely Cambodia, the people's Republic of China including the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. According to a FAO/WHO/OIE expert panel held on 3 to 4 February in Rome, the current epidemic is still evolving and not yet under control.

In total, Asia has around 40 per cent of the world's poultry population and accounts for 25 per cent of world trade in poultry. The knock-on effects of the crisis are substantial and already the situation is affecting the world's grain and meat markets.

As of today, the disease has taken 18 human lives in Vietnam and Thailand, but a new virus fully transmittable to humans and capable of spreading from human to human has not yet emerged.

Byrne warned that the disease impact is likely to be most felt by small holders and owners of backyard forming their main food supply. "It may be more difficult to prevent the disease in these flocks compared to larger commercial units,"​ he said. "This has the potential to accelerate trends towards the industrialisation of poultry operations in the affected countries and therefore could have some negative social and environmental consequences."

Byrne said that the Commission is collaborating closely with the affected countries to identify areas where help is needed and where it can provide the greatest benefit. "Right now the Commission is preparing a major Community contribution to support Vietnam efforts against avian influenza by financing of up to €1 million worth of protective and laboratory equipment under two ongoing EC assistance programmes,"​ he said.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more