British Biologist calls for worldwide ban on bonemeal cattle feed

 

A CALL for a worldwide ban on the feeding of meat and bonemeal to cattle was made yesterday by a British biologist who advises the EU on BSE problems.

Mr Stephen Woodgate told a conference in Enniscree, Co Wicklow, yesterday that the US had banned the feeding of meat and bonemeal to ruminants last week, even though there was no BSE in that country.

Mr Woodgate, who is technical consultant to the National Renderers' Association in the UK, said the BSE problem there had created "mountains of meat and lakes of fat", which would have to be destroyed.

"There is a grave problem in Britain, because no one will burn it because they are afraid that it may not be safe," he said.

He told the conference, organised by Alltech, a company involved in biotechnological products for the animal feed industry, that the scale of disposing of the offal from animals in Britain was a huge problem. However, the rate of infection in the British herd had slowed dramatically since the ban on meat and bone-meal in animal food was introduced and there were fewer than 100 cases being reported each week. However, he said, 45 per cent of a slaughtered cow was a by-product.

Mr Woodgate predicted the end of the EU and taxpayers' support for the farmers and the beef industry which had been brought in because of the BSE problem. This in turn would lead, he predicted, to a price increase for the consumer.

Alltech, he said, which was developing animal foods from vegetable bases, was proceeding in the right direction.

Mr John Gadd, an international pig consultant, told the conference that consumer demands in Europe could lead to a ban on antibiotic based growth promoters.

Such a ban, he said, could lead to increased pollution, poorer animal health and additional costs for both the pig farmer and the consumer.

The Swedish government had introduced such a ban 11 years ago, Mr Gadd said. While normal farming activity was possible without antibiotic digestive enhancers, making up the losses would be onerous and would need skill, added investment and dedication.

A survey of British supermarkets had shown that the public now attributed much more importance to food safety than to animal welfare. However, it would be going too far to say that the public was apprehensive about safety.

Price, food safety and quality were now uppermost in the British meat-buyer's mind. Pig welfare, he said, seemed to come rather a lame fourth.