EU, U.K. Ban British Animal Sales After Virus Found : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

02/21 13:31 EU, U.K. Ban British Animal Sales After Virus Found (Update4) By Thomas Tugendhat

London, Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union and the U.K. banned the export of livestock and carcasses from Britain after 27 hogs in Essex, England, were discovered with the first outbreak of ``foot and mouth'' disease in two decades.

The move follows the discovery of the contagious disease last night and the creation of exclusion zones by the British government around the factory and two farms to prevent the a spread of the virus, which doesn't affect humans.

The outbreak comes at a time of rising hog prices as consumers opt for pork and chicken and just as farmers recover from the ``mad cow'' scare. In 1997, Taiwan suffered a foot and mouth epidemic that led to the slaughter of some 5 million pigs.

``This ban will be devastating for us, it is like staring into the abyss,'' said Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers' Union. ``On top of all the problems we have had to surmount in the last few years, the impact is unthinkable.''

The EU's Standing Veterinary Committee banned all ``exports of live animals, fresh meat and meat products, milk and milk products and other animal products'' until March 1. The decision applies immediately and will be reviewed in a week.

Exports of live and frozen pigs are worth as much as 231 million pounds ($334 million) to Britain, while sheep exports, banned along with goats and cattle by the EU today, are worth as much as 221 million pounds. The EU banned cattle exports from the U.K. in 1990 due to bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Infected animals, including those from the farms in Buckinghamshire west of London and the Isle of Wight off the south coast, will be destroyed, the government said.

`Worst case'

``The worst scenario is if we have to wipe out all the animals of our stock,'' said William Frost, who has 3,000 pigs and 200 cows in Somerset, England. ``That might be (worth) even more than 300,000 pounds. The price was just beginning to come right.''

Foot and mouth is highly infectious and causes pigs, sheep, cows and deer to blister on their mouths and tongues and reduces milk and meat production. It can be carried on dust on the wind, vehicles and clothes of people coming into contact with animals.

``The virus is highly infectious and expelled in breath,'' said Tim Miles, the U.K.'s Meat and Livestock Commission's veterinary manager. ``Where pigs are packed together plumes can form above them, spreading the virus up to 60 kilometers down wind.''

The hog price in Europe is rising as consumers choose pork and chicken over beef, following scares over BSE, the ``mad cow'' disease, linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

High prices

Hogs are at their highest price since 1997, according to Karsten Flemin, head of statistics for Danske Slagterier, a cooperative owned by Danish hog producers and abattoirs.

Hog futures in Amsterdam and Hannover, Germany, are trading 38 percent higher than a year ago at 10.80 Danish krone ($1.32) a kilo, Flemin said. Denmark last year was Europe's biggest producer at 1.6 million metric tons, while the U.K. produced 210,000 tons, he said.

``The price is still going up, because normally the best pig price is in May and June, when there is lowest production and best demand,'' said Flemin. ``Piglets born in spring are slaughtered in autumn, while barbecues in the summer push up demand. We still think there'll be more price increases.''

-- Martin Thompson (, February 21, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ