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Food Product Labelling

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he will take during the United Kingdom presidency to complete negotiations on a standard European Union-wide system of food product labelling to indicate genetically-modified ingredients; and if he will make a statement. [25753]

Mr. Rooker: During the UK presidency I will be pressing for agreement to be reached as quickly as possible on a standard EU wide system of labelling for genetically modified food ingredients that is both practical and meaningful to consumers.

Beef Export Ban

Mr. Jack: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the actions so far taken by the United Kingdom Government to meet the requirements agreed at the EU summit in Florence in order to get the ban on beef exports lifted; and what additional actions now remain to be taken. [25251]

Dr. John Cunningham [holding answer 26 January 1998]: The Agreement secured at the EU summit in Florence permits the progressive resumption of exports on fulfilment of five pre-conditions. The following action has been taken to meet those pre-conditions:


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    A compulsory animal identification and movement recording system has been introduced. All cattle born or imported after 1 July 1996 are registered on a computerised database and may be moved only if accompanied by a valid passport recording the animal's movement history. A total of 3,984,010 cattle passports had been issued up to 10 January 1998.


    Legislation for the removal of mammalian meat and bone meal from feed mills and farms has been implemented and the European Commission confirmed that arrangements were acceptable after an inspection in July 1996.


    2,001,921 animals have been culled under the Over Thirty Month Slaughter Scheme up to 11 January 1998. Meat and bonemeal and tallow from carcases rendered under the scheme is being securely stored until it can be incinerated.


    Controls on slaughterhouses to ensure the removal of Specified Bovine Materials (SBM) have been strengthened.

BSE

Mr. Jack: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there have been any findings of the BSE agent in the dorsal root ganglia of cattle born after 1 August 1996. [25455]

Dr. John Cunningham [holding answer 26 January 1998]: No cattle born after 1 August 1996 have yet been reported as showing signs of clinical BSE.

Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish the number of confirmed cases of BSE (a) for each year since 1990 and (b) for each month since January 1997. [25804]

Mr. Rooker: The following tables show:

(a) the number of cases of BSE confirmed in Great Britain
for each year since 1990

Year of confirmationNumber of cases
199012,829
199122,613
199234,712
199336,271
199425,579
199515,451
19968,740
19974,847

(b) the number of cases of BSE confirmed in Great Britain for each month since January 1997

Month of confirmationNumber of cases
January659
February550
March423
April471
May391
June458
July410
August169
September327
October404
November288
December297

Fishing Industry

Mr. Jack: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on how and when

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he will be implementing his plans to safeguard Britain's fishing industry from the effects of quota hoppers. [25456]

Dr. John Cunningham [holding answer 26 January 1998]: I am currently awaiting the Commission's views on detailed proposals for ensuring that all British registered fishing vessels maintain a real economic link with those populations in the UK dependent upon fisheries and related industries. Those proposals are based on a consultation paper issued in July 1997 and subsequent discussions with all sectors of the fishing industry. Once the Commission's views are known, an announcement will be made on the way forward.

BSE (Canine Immunity)

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the potential for canine immunity to BSE-related disease to be used to develop vaccines for BSE and CJD. [25920]

Mr. Rooker: Any resistance that canines may have to infection with BSE may not be associated with an immune response. Indeed there is no "immunity" in the traditional sense of the word with any of the TSEs, so consequently vaccination in its recognised form is unlikely to be possible. In experimental studies in mice, defects in the immune system actually lead to resistance to infection with TSE agents.

Current thinking suggests that "resistance" to infection is associated with significant differences in amino acid sequences of the "incoming infectious agent" and the amino acid coded for by the PrP gene of the animal being challenged. The greater the disparity, the greater the resistance to infection. Studies are currently in place to evaluate the extent of differences in PrP gene sequences of some species, including canines, that appear to be resistant to BSE. These studies are incomplete.

Non-career Civil Servants

Mr. Burns: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many non-career civil servants have been appointed to his Department since 1 May 1997. [25843]

Mr. Morley: The table sets out the number of civil servants appointed by my Department and its Agencies since 1 May 1997 on casual and fixed-term contracts, and other appointments of a temporary or conditional nature including Special Advisers.

DepartmentStaff on fixed term contractsStaff on casual contractsOther non-- permanent staff
Core MAFF8350831
Pesticides Safety Directorate090
Veterinary Medicines Directorate001
Veterinary Laboratories Agency7610
Meat Hygiene Service7500
Farming and Rural Conservation Agency47392
Central Science Laboratory18361
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science38350
MAFF total26868835

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Animal Welfare (Transportation)

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many prosecutions were brought under the Welfare of Animals during Transport Order 1994, relating to the importation of non-human primates for research purposes. [25752]

Mr. Morley: This information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Rendered Bovine Material (Disposal)

Mr. Gill: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the total tonnage of rendered bovine material currently held in store; and what plans he has for its disposal. [25877]

Mr. Rooker: Some 307,700 tonnes of meat and bonemeal (MBM) and 159,500 tonnes of tallow from cattle rendered under the Over Thirty Month (OTM) and Selective Cull (SC) Schemes are being safely and securely stored in the UK. The Government are considering a number of options for the disposal of these products. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) on 15 January 1988, Official Report, column 294, in which I stated that the Intervention Board has now terminated the restricted stage of its 1997 incineration tender in order that it can pursue disposal options which appear to offer a better prospect of safe, prompt and economical disposal of waste from these schemes. In the interim some MBM is already being burned in high temperature waste incinerators and a number of rendering plants are burning tallow produced from the OTM and SC Schemes as a fuel to power the rendering process.


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