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NFU President To Give Evidence To EU FMD Inquiry

NFU President Ben Gill will tell the EU investigation into foot and mouth later today that co-ordinated global scanning is needed to provide an "early disease warning system".

Mr Gill will give evidence to the European Parliament's Temporary Committee on foot and mouth disease in Strasbourg this evening.

He will say: "Countries and continents need to co-operate if they are to protect themselves against diseases like foot and mouth in future. Diseases like this know no boundaries.

"It is important that predictive modelling and surveillance is used to provide a detailed and up-to-date picture of infectious diseases around the globe as they occur and develop. It is vital that there is co-ordination with the OIE* and other bodies so that we are not caught off guard again."

He will also speak about the need for rapid diagnosis of suspect cases and the swift introduction of tried and tested, fully resourced, contingency plans in the event of an outbreak.

Ben Gill will warn: "An immediate and effective strike is crucial in the control of a disease like foot and mouth. We have learned to our cost the price of delay during the all-important first stages of the fight.

"Restriction on livestock movements must also be immediate."

Mr Gill said it was important for Europe to look to the future and to preventive measures, including a co-ordinated European approach to protect against disease imported on products of animal origin, particularly from areas where infectious diseases are present.

He will say: "Biosecurity needs to be seen as multi-layered - global, national, regional and on-farm."

Further research into effective vaccinations and sereological testing to distinguish vaccinated animals from those naturally exposed to infection has to continue, Mr Gill will say. He will emphasise the crucial role of the European Parliament in ensuring this is co-ordinated on a European if not world-wide basis.

He said: "If all the concerns regarding vaccination can be satisfied, pressure should be brought to bear on the OIE to update rules in relation to emergency vaccination and the movement of vaccinated products."

He added that while the committee was looking at the consequences of the UK disaster, it should not restrict itself solely to foot and mouth since Europe is vulnerable to a host of other animal and plant diseases.

*OIE - Office International des Epizooties, based in Paris.


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