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Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 16:13 GMT
Tories call for beef import ban
BSE
The Scottish Tories called for a ban on beef imports
The Scottish Conservatives have called for a ban on beef imported from Germany and Holland amid concerns over BSE.

They told the Scottish Parliament that the BSE crisis in Europe has led to a number of sub-standard imports being allowed into Scotland.

But the party failed in a bid to ease the foot-and-mouth licensing system to allow pregnant cattle and sheep to be moved back to their home farms from their winter pastures.

The Scottish Executive is expected to ease the restrictions governing such movements at the end of next week.

Alex Johnstone
Alex Johnstone: "A flood of sub-standard meat"
Scottish Tory agriculture spokesman, Alex Johnstone, said the BSE crisis in Europe, combined with the foot-and-mouth crisis in Britain, has led to huge imports of foreign beef onto the British market.

He said the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has found "innumerable" cases of beef from Germany and Holland with traces of spinal cord still on them.

This material is classified by the FSA as carrying "the greatest risk" of BSE infection.

Mr Johnstone used a Holyrood debate to call for a ban on imports from these two countries.

His call for an import ban came a day after a meat cutting plant in Dundee was placed at the centre of a BSE scare after it received a consignment of beef from Spain which contained spinal cord remnants.

The FSA said two forequarters of imported beef were found to be contaminated with the material which it classifies as carrying "the greatest risk of BSE infectivity".

Attack on greens

Mr Johnstone said: "We are in the disgraceful position where we have imposed the highest standards for many years and yet we are being flooded with sub-standard meat.

"That is why I am happy to call for a ban on beef from Germany and Holland until they can guarantee that they can meet the standards that they have promised to fulfil but have yet been unable to fulfil."

Meat in butchers
The MSP is seeking guarantees on safety
The MSP is also launched an outspoken attack on green groups who have blamed modern farming methods for the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

"They have tried to suggest that the model of farming has somehow contributed to the scale of the outbreak," he said.

"That is diametrically opposed to the evidence we see before us."

Mr Johnstone was also expected to call for an easing of restrictions on animal movements to allow sheep and cattle to leave their winter pastures.

Ahead of the debate, he said: "I am getting a great deal of contact from farmers who are concerned about their inability to move stock other than directly to abattoirs."

As a result of the restrictions there was "now a serious welfare problem around the corner".

He said: "It is common practice for sheep to be wintered on land other than that of the farmer and be returned for lambing in the spring."

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See also:

07 Mar 01 | Scotland
Scots meat firm in BSE scare
02 Mar 01 | UK
Livestock ban to be relaxed
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