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Animal diseases and pests: MEPs call for stronger measures to boost food safety in the EU

New legislation to tackle outbreaks of animal diseases, such as African swine fever, more effectively, restrict the introduction of dangerous new pests and enable the EU to act quickly but responsibly in emergencies was adopted by the agriculture committee in two separate votes on Tuesday.

Wednesday 12 February 2014 (4 years 3 months 9 days ago)

New legislation to tackle outbreaks of animal diseases, such as African swine fever, more effectively, restrict the introduction of dangerous new pests and enable the EU to act quickly but responsibly in emergencies was adopted by the agriculture committee in two separate votes on Tuesday.

MEPs increased the emphasis on prevention, for example with better animal husbandry and use of veterinary medicines, and tightened the rules on importing plant products thatcould pose a risk to public health in the EU.

The new rules should help EU countries and animal and plant operators tackle dangerous animal diseases and the higher influx of pests stemming from increased trade and climate change. The two regulations approved on Tuesday, on animal diseases and pests respectively, merge some 50 pieces of legislation and update them to take on board recent scientific and technological advances.

Focus on prevention: better animal husbandry and responsible use of medicines

The new rules clarify the duties of farmers, traders and animal professionals, including veterinarians and pet keepers, to ensure the good health of their animals and prevent the introduction and spread of diseases.

However, more focus needs to be placed on prevention, the agriculture committee said. To boost good animal husbandry and the proper use of veterinary medicines, MEPs proposed that member states should pay particular attention to antimicrobial resistance and ensure better access to professional training in this area when designing their national plans for the prevention and control of infectious animal diseases.

For instance, veterinarians must provide proper explanations to farmers, traders and pet keepers of how to use antimicrobials responsibly. The adopted text also says animal operators should be subject to animal-health visits by a veterinarian to their premises with the aim of stopping emerging diseases from spreading through the EU market.

Urgent measures with proper scrutiny

To tackle diseases that have a major impact on public health, agricultural production or animal welfare and health, such as Bluetongue, African swine fever or Avian influenza, the Commission must be empowered to adopt urgent measures, MEPs say. But they insist that both Parliament and Council must have proper scrutiny over the measures adopted and the possibility of repealing them if necessary.

Next Steps

The draft legislation on the prevention and control of animal diseases, being steered through Parliament by Marit Paulsen (ALDE, SE), was adopted by 31 votes to 6, with 3 abstentions.

The draft legislation on protective measures against plant pests, being steered through Parliament by Hynek Fajmon (ECR, CZ), was adopted by 24 votes to 11, with two abstentions.

Both texts will be scrutinised by the full House at the March or April plenary session.

Tuesday February 11, 2014/ EC/ European Union.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu

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