Brazil ban delay blasted

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The EU Commission has been criticised by the European Ombudsman for its delay in imposing restrictions on Brazilian beef imports in 2008 although risks from foot and mouth disease in the South American state had been highlighted.

The ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, rejected a call from a federation of British and Irish farm groups that the commission should have imposed a complete ban on Brazilian beef.

The commission explained that deficiencies had been identified in the Brazilian beef control systems in November 2007. As a consequence, it imposed stringent import restrictions on Brazilian beef, but considered an outright ban to be unnecessary.

The ombudsman concluded that the decision not to impose a ban was justified by the available evidence. However, he criticised the delay in restricting beef imports from unapproved farms in Brazil between February and March 2008.

The ombudsman also called on the commission to continue its regular inspections outside the EU to ensure that the necessary standards of animal and public health are respected.

In July 2007, Fairness for Farmers in Europe, which includes ICMSA and ICSA, lodged a complaint with the ombudsman, claiming that the commission should have imposed a complete import ban on Brazilian beef because of potential animal health threats.

The commission admitted that serious deficiencies in the Brazilian beef control system had indeed been identified and stringent import restrictions were imposed as a consequence. However, they refrained from an outright ban.

Fairness for Farmers in Europe complained that these import restrictions were not enough. They alleged that, after a very critical report by the EU Food and Veterinary Office in November 2007, the commission should have taken more stringent measures to prevent Brazilian beef from entering the EU.

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The ombudsman concluded that the commission's arguments against a total ban on Brazilian beef were convincing. However, he criticised the commission for allowing imports of Brazilian beef from 10,000 unapproved farms in 2008.

Irish Independent

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