Germany leads calls for total E.U. ban on feeding meat and bone meal to animals

April 24, 2001 Deutsche Presse-Agentur

German Agriculture Minister Renate Kuenast on Tuesday spearheaded calls for a blanket European Union ban on feeding meat and bone meal to all animals as a permanent measure to combat BSE or "mad cow" disease.

E.U. consumers, shocked at animal-feeding practices across the bloc, had turned away "in horror" from the European practice of feeding processed meat products to ruminants, Kuenast told a meeting of the bloc's farm ministers in Luxembourg.

Germany wanted an "unlimited extension" of a current E.U. ban on feeding processed animal proteins to all animals - including cattle, sheep and goats but also to BSE-free pigs and poultry - the German farm minister said.

Kuenast's calls are being backed by German farmers and others within the 15 nation bloc who want stronger E.U. measures to combat the risk of "cross contamination" of cattle feed with products used to feed other animals.

But others are worried that a blanket ban on the use of meat and bone meal in feedstock will make the bloc too dependent on imports of vegetable proteins, including soya, from the United States.

BSE-free Nordic nations are also insisting that they should be allowed to use animal proteins in feedstock meant for pigs and poultry.

The use of meat and bone meal and other waste from slaughterhouses as a feed additive is widely blamed for the spread of BSE in Europe.

The E.U. banned the feeding of meat and bone meal to cattle, sheep and goats in 1994.

Fears that European governments had been lax in ensuring proper implementation of the controls and helped spread BSE, prompted ministers last December to extend the measures to also cover feedstock meant for pigs and poultry.

But the new measures were only put into place for a six-month period, ending on June 30 this year.

E.U. Consumer Affairs Commissioner David Byrne said he would use the six month period to investigate the "true position" in member countries as regards implementation of the 1994 ban.

Byrne's report suggests that only high quality meat and bone meal - from animals deemed good enough for human consumption - should be used as a feed additive for pigs and poultry.

Kuenast also urged E.U. governments to give up the current practice of transporting live animals across the bloc in a bid to restrict spread of the contagious foot and mouth disease which has devastated herds in Britain and parts of France and the Netherlands.

Instead of sending live animals thousands of miles across Europe, it would be better to export meat, she said.

The new German farm chief - appointed earlier this year after the country discovered its first cases of BSE - has emerged as a leading critic of the E.U.'s Common Agricultural Policy.

But Germany's call for a radical reform of E.U. farm policies faces tough opposition in France which faces national legislative elections next year.

Both contenders for the French presidency - the incumbent Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin - rely heavily on the rural vote and are unwilling to embark on a massive overhaul of agricultural practices ahead of the election.

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