The European Commission’s decision to allow pre-emptive vaccination against bluetongue in countries where the disease has still to be confirmed mirrors ideas put forward in an EU-wide website petition, organised by the National Beef Association’s Scottish Council, when it was frustrated by Scotland’s inability to take direct protective action this summer.
The contents of the NBA petition, which was circulated to the Scottish Government, MPs and MEPs was taken up strongly by Alyn Smith MEP who pressed for low-risk countries, lying outside bluetongue protection zones (PZs), to be able to distribute vaccine ahead of the actual arrival of the disease.
The Association is pleased these actions have been successful and the Commission is no longer discouraging protective vaccination campaigns outside the PZ.
The Commission, which is backed by the Standing Committee of Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), has also fixed new restrictions on the movement of animals from zones where bluetongue is active – which may allow Scotland to ban imports of stock from some EU countries next year.
“The petition drew a strong response from farmers in other EU countries as well as within Scotland itself when it was launched at Beef Expo 2008 at Perth in May,” said NBA director, Kim Haywood.
“It has obviously contributed to the pressure that persuaded the Commission to change its mind on whether countries can allow vaccination ahead of the actual arrival of bluetongue and also to allow restrictions on the trade of vaccinated stock moving from lower risk zones to completely disease free areas like Scotland.”
“It is a pity that these decisions, particularly those covering the import of animals from areas where bluetongue is rife, were not made earlier in the year.”
“However it is clear the Commission has reacted to the alarming spread of the disease across most countries in Western Europe and so those, like Scotland, which have yet to confirm the presence of the disease within their borders will be better able to protect themselves against the unwelcome arrival of diseased imports in 2009,” Ms Haywood added.
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