The European Commission Publishes Controversial Proposals
1. The EC is awaiting new scientific evidence on a tolerable level of animal proteins in feedstuffs. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is awaiting advice on the subject later this year. The EC might then be able to feed meat and bone meal (MBM) from non-ruminants such as pigs and chickens to other non-ruminants. Reintroduction of animal feed would reduce the EU’s dependence on other sources of proteins. Foreign-grown soya and other crops used in animal feed are in high demand globally and their price is “volatile” / TSE Roadmap 2). An end to the feed ban could be controversial, because feed was the source of the BSE crises: cattle contracted BSE after consuming infected proteins from sheep that had died of scrapie, a related transmissible fungiform encephalopathy.
2. Concerns that the disease could have made further intraspecies leaps led to a ban on feeding mammalian meat and bone meal to cattle, sheep and goats that was introduced by the EU in 1994. The EU later banned the feeding to farm animals of proteins from almost all animals, with the exception of fish.
3. The European Commission has published proposals to reduce the cost of guarding against BSE and its human form, new-variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, which has claimed the lives of 169 British people. Brussels said that any changes would be based on sound science, but acknowledged that it was “impossible” to remove all risk of the disease entering the food chain again. Since 1986 181,114 cattle have been confirmed with BSE and 4 million have been culled but it has been in decline in recent years: between 2007 and 2009 the number of annual cases in Britain fell from 53 to 9.
4. The EC’s wish to downgrade rules because of the decline in BSE opened the way for concentration on other conditions such as salmonella and antimicrobial resistance that “posed a greater threat to human health”. Relaxing a ban on the feeding of meat to animals and the ending of the requirement for mass slaughter in herds with infected cows were among proposals floated by Brussels. Although it is tentative, an end to the feed ban, it could be controversial.