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Scotland Questions Bluetongue Controls

31 December 2007

SCOTLAND - Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has today called for an urgent review of export controls on bluetongue susceptible animals to prevent the virus spreading.

Bluetongue virus was found on December 29 in one of 35 cattle imported to a farm near Kirkcudbright from Germany. The remaining 34 animals have tested negative.

Movement restrictions have been put in place on the affected premises are under the Animal and Animal products (imports and exports) (Scotland) Regulations 2007.

Mr Lochhead has written to Secretary of State Hilary Benn calling on his commitment to obtain a review of the robustness of existing safeguards and work with the European Union to tighten export rules.

He said:

"Over the last three weeks, three consignments of animals transported to the UK from Bluetongue Restricted Zones in Europe have tested positive for the virus - the most recent being one of 35 cattle imported to Scotland from Germany.

"While it is fortunate that the virus was picked up by our strict post import testing protocols, it highlights some serious questions about the robustness and relevance of the current EU regulation and controls designed to prevent such animals being exported to disease free areas.

"Scottish officials have been working closely with their UK counterparts on this issue. It is absolutely vital that a robust regime for the management of bluetongue is in place and that lessons from these incidents are learnt at EU level. Scotland's livestock sector may pay a heavy price if the situation is not improved.

"The industry must have confidence in the rules governing the management of this virus and that we can satisfy ourselves that appropriate controls are in place.

"Ensuring appropriate export rules are in place is an important step. However, it continues to remain vital that livestock keepers consider carefully where they source their stock from. Thankfully, so far, Scotland remains free of bluetongue given that there is no evidence the virus is circulating and it is hoped that the imported animal is an isolated case. However, our investigations into the Kirkudbright case continues."

TheCattleSite News Desk


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