Parliament moves quickly to approve new rules on Bluetongue vaccinations
Thursday, 7 April 2011
The European Parliament has this week moved quickly to back plans to reduce red tape and allow for farmers to voluntarily vaccinate their animals against the bluetongue disease before the summer, when an outbreak is likeliest.
The decision still has to be ratified by the European Council in May, but it paves the way for the UK to move out of the low-risk zone category, qualifying it for disease-free status while retaining permission to vaccinate livestock.
Despite no further cases being reported in the UK since then, Britain cannot be given bluetongue-free status under current rules because farmers have used the existing live attenuated vaccines that carry the risk of virus transmission.
Vaccination is currently only allowed in designated zones where there is an outbreak and the animals are subjected to movement restrictions, but under the resolution approved today by MEPs with 587 votes in favour, 1 vote against and 19 abstentions, current restrictions could be lifted and newly-available "inactivated vaccines" with no transmission risk can be used by farmers at anytime.
Speaking in the debate held before the Parliament’s vote, South West Conservative MEP Julie Girling urged common sense to prevail and MEPs allow the existing restrictions be lifted to ensure farmers can vaccinate their livestock before the summer.
“For too long, our vaccination strategy has been held back by the fact that we have not developed sophisticated enough products to allow vaccination of animals outside exclusion zones,” she said.
“Being in an exclusion zone can be disastrous for a farmer’s livelihood. It can also be disastrous not to protect your animals from disease, especially one as damaging and virulent as bluetongue.”
Hailing from the truly beautiful South West region of the UK, Andrew now works in Brussels and is a UK passport holder, European citizen, and a twice employee at the European Parliament.
While the EU in its current form is far from perfect, he is nonetheless firmly of the belief that the UK's prosperity and place in the world is best served as a member state and not as an isolated bystander.
Since October 2009, this blog seeks to document the work that our region's MEPs do for us in Brussels. As such, predictably, it rarely features UKIP.