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Live Sheep Exports

Mr. Gwyn Prosser To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many live sheep were exported from Dover to continental Europe on (a) 13 November and (b) 14 November; when and where health certification was carried out in respect of the sheep; how many of the sheep were rejected as unfit for the intended journey (i) during inspection for health certification purposes and (ii) at Dover docks; to where those sheep were taken; and what the address was of the final destination given on the route plan for each of the consignments. [82072]

Mr. Morley: The information requested is as follows.

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November 2002Total animalsWhere consignments were certifiedAnimals rejected at certificationAnimals rejected at Dover docksDestination
132,809England, Scotland and Wales370France
142,330Wales330France and Germany
163,265England and Wales600France
192,889England, Scotland and Wales100France

The sheep for the consignments listed were certified within 48 hours prior to export. These consignments went to approved slaughterhouses apart from the sailings on 13 November and 19 November which were fattening animals transported to holdings. The animals which were rejected at certification remained in Great Britain.

Livestock Movements

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Scottish Executive regarding the operational effectiveness of the 20 day rule. [84164]

Mr. Morley: Ministers and officials are in regular contact with their counterparts in the devolved Administrations about a number of animal health matters, including the 20 day standstill.

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many representations she has received on the effects of the 20 day standstill rule in relation to the movement of animals; and if she will make a statement. [84188]

Mr. Morley: Industry organisations, veterinary associations, individual farmers and others have made numerous and varied representations about the effects of the 20 day standstill.

Modification (Public Consultation)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will set out the process which will apply in respect of the public consultation exercise on modification. [84727]

Mr. Meacher: The Government is sponsoring a public dialogue on genetic modification (GM) technology and this will focus on issues and concerns raised by the public. This consists of three strands:

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The Strategy Unit study, along with the science review, will feed into thepublic debate. The overall process is now underway and will continue until June next year.

Pesticide Residues

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many food samples tested for pesticide, veterinary and other residues in each of the last 10 years were assessed to contain (a) residue above the maximum residue level for the (i) UK and (ii) EU, (b) a residue not approved for use on UK crops and (c) a residue in organic samples. [84159]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 2 December 2002]: The results of analysis for pesticide residues are presented in Table 1. All the samples were assessed for Maximum Residue Level 1 (MRL) exceedances (where MRLs had been set) and UK non-approved uses for the UK samples only. Organic samples are not specifically targeted in the surveys. They are tested as part of the monitoring programme as they are available for consumers to buy. Table 1 therefore includes the number of samples tested for pesticide residues which were found to contain MRL exceedances (which may be either UK, EU or Codex Alimentarius Commission MRLs). It also includes the number of non-approved uses found in UK produce only, and the number of organic samples that were found to contain residues.

The detailed results of the Pesticide Residues Committee's (PRC's) monitoring (and its predecessor the Working Party on Pesticide Residues (WPPR) (including the commodities tested) have been published and can be viewed on the relevant websites:

These electronic results go back as far as 1996. Hard copies going back to 1992 are available in the House Library.

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Table 1: Samples tested for pesticide residues from 1993–2002 which were found to contain an MRL exceedance, non-approved UK use or organic samples containing residence

Number of samples tested3,1773,3713,7423,2303,4492,6482,1872,3742,3044,003
Number of samples containing MRL exceedances28 (0.88%)46 (1.36%)23 (0.61%)32 (0.99%)27 (0.78%)15 (0.57%)29 (1.33%)38 (1.60%)25 (1.09%)29 (0.72%)
Number of UK samples containing non-approved pesticides(4)(4)(4)(4)(4)(4)12589
Number of organic samples containing residues(4)(4)(4)(4)(4)(4)(4)(4)(4)7

(3) The PRC plan to test 4,000 samples during 2002, however, the full results are not available

(4) Data are not available

The results of analysis for veterinary medicine residues are presented in Table 2. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) of DEFRA runs two surveillance schemes that look for residues of authorised veterinary medicines and banned substances in UK produced and imported foods. Samples of organic produce are included in the surveillance, but the results have not been kept separately. The Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for residues of veterinary medicines are set on an EU-wide basis. Substances not authorised for use will not have an MRL. For such compounds and also for approved substances without an MRL for a particular tissue, an 'Action Level' is applied; this is normally that any confirmed residue is reported.

All of the results, highlighting any exceedances of MRLs and Action Levels, are published quarterly in the VMD's newsletter. They have been published annually

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in the VMD's annual report and accounts up to 1994, in a dedicated VMD report on surveillance for veterinary residues between 1995 and 2000, and in the veterinary residues committee's annual report on surveillance for veterinary residues in 2001. Copies of the annual reports are available in the House Library or the VMD's website

A variety of factors which influence the pattern of results—such as compounds sought or analytical capability—have changed in both programmes over time. Data for different years may, therefore, not be directly comparable. The detailed published reports for the programmes covering these years should be consulted for further information.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has responsibility for pesticide residues and veterinary medicines residues. Other food residues are a matter for the Food Standards Agency.

Table 2: Number of samples tested under the VMD's statutory and non-statutory surveillance programmes that were above approved limits for each of the last 10 years

Total samples (1000s)48494750424440413940
Veterinary authorised(5)207601801011297873598075

(5) This includes where MRLs were exceeded or a residue of an authorised substance has been found where no MRL was set (in this case an 'Action Level' is applied—this is normally that any confirmed residue is reported as an exceedance).

(6) Non-authorised substances may not have an MRL. Some of the reported cases will be of hormones, where the action level may be exceeded by the natural fluctuations of the hormone within the animal.

(7) Certain substances, such as PCBs, pesticides, dyes and heavy metals are included in the VMD surveillance programmes, as they are a requirement under Council Directive 96/23EC.


The definition of MRLs for pesticide residues and veterinary residues is not the same; they have different meanings.

For pesticide residues, MRLs are maximum residue levels. These are intended primarily as a check that pesticides are being used correctly and to assist international trade in treated produce. Maximum residue levels for pesticide residues are not safety limits, and exposure to pesticide residues in excess of a maximum residue level does not necessarily imply a risk to health.

For veterinary residues, MRLs are maximum residue limits. For veterinary medicines, they are statutory limits—if any tissue from an animal presented for slaughter is found to contain a residue above the maximum residue limit, an offence may have been committed. In Europe, the Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products (CVMP), part of the European Medicines Evaluation Agency, sets MRLs. Because of the way veterinary MRLs are set, exposure to a residue over the MRL is in itself not necessarily a cause for concern. The VMD take toxicological advice from the Food Standards Agency where residues over the relevant MRL or actions levels are detected.

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