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Brussels, 15 January 2002

FMD in Argentina: Partial lifting of restrictive measures

The Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) today voted in favour of a European Commission proposal with regard to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Argentina. Beginning on 1 February 2002, the import into the EU of deboned and maturated fresh bovine meat will be authorised from the whole country with exception of the provinces of La Pampa and Santiago del Estero.

The importation into the European Union (EU) of fresh meat from foot-and-mouth (FMD) susceptible animals from Argentina was suspended on 13 March 2001 after outbreaks of FMD. Argentina started a vaccination pogram of bovine animals against FMD to control the situtation. Two inspection missions from the Commission Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) took place to examine the epidemiological situation and the control measures in place. The competent veterinary authorities of Argentina have addressed most of the concerns identified by the FVO and confirmed that the disease has been eradicated in all but two provinces. In addition a second vaccination program has been completed at the end of 2001.

At a meeting on 11 January 2002, the veterinary authorities of Argentina have given additional information and guarantees and it is therefore appropriate to allow the importation of deboned and maturated fresh bovine meat from the areas where no outbreak of FMD has occurred in the previous 60 days. As in the provinces of La Pampa and Santiago del Estero outbreaks occurred less than 60 days ago, these provinces are excluded from the lifting of the ban.

The proposal still has to be adopted formally by the Commission in the next few days. The decision shall apply from 1 February 2002 and will be reviewed at the Standing Veterinary Committee meeting scheduled for 22-23 January so that any further guarantees and information required can be furnished to the Commission.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, welcomed the progress that has been made in eradicating the outbreak in Argentina. "We had to act decisively in introducing the ban in March in order to protect the EU from the risk of foot and mouth disease. However, it is now appropriate to recognise the progress that has been made and to review this decision. I encourage Argentina to continue its disease eradication efforts and the Commission will remain in close contact with their counterparts in Argentina to monitor developments".

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