HC Deb 03 February 1994 vol 236 c817W
Mr. Loyden

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current policy of her Department on the use of bovine somatotropin to increase the milk yield of cows.

Mr. Soames

It remains our view that any final Community decision on the marketing and use of bovine somatotropin—BST—should be based firmly on the scientific principles of safety, quality and efficacy, but should take into account the need to avoid international trading problems, to encourage Community-based research industries, and to maintain the competitiveness of the Community's agriculture and food industries.

BST has been cleared by all advisory bodies, and the European Commission itself has accepted that milk produced from BST-treated cattle is safe. In those circumstances it should be for the market place to determine whether BST has a role to play, and it is inappropriate to introduce fresh criteria. Nevertheless, the Community should benefit from the experience of other countries where BST is available, in particular the United States of America, where approval was recently given and took effect from the beginning of February 1994.

On that basis, therefore, my right hon. Friend the Minister accepted at the December meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers that it was sensible to extend the current moratorium for not more than one year, until December 1994, so that the Council could consider these new developments and experience overseas.