HC Deb 27 January 1997 vol 289 cc49-50W
Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from Roche Products Ltd. on Avropacia; and if he will make a statement. [12181]

Mrs. Browning

Officials of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate have had regular contact with Dr. A. J. Mudd, technical manager of Roche Products Ltd. and I have met Dr. Mudd twice.

Avoparcin has been used as a dietary enhancer in the European Community for over 20 years. It has been assessed on a number of occasions by the UK's independent scientific Veterinary Products Committee and by the EU Commission's Scientific Committee on Animal Nutrition. In 1995 Denmark and Germany introduced unilateral bans on its use in animal feed as a result of work by the Danish Veterinary Laboratory which purported to establish a link between the use of Avoparcin in animal feed and resistance to vancomycin in the treatment of humans. Danish and German data were examined by the SCAN, which agreed that the data identified the existence of what might, with the benefit of further studies, prove to be a hazard but concluded that the data failed to establish any risk associated with that potential hazard. The VPC agreed. The UK therefore opposed a ban on use but fully supported the EU Commission's proposal to set up a programme to examine the problem of the development of antibiotic resistance in humans and animals, which we take very seriously. The proposed ban was approved by qualified majority in standing committee in Brussels on 19 December with the UK voting against and, subject to formal adoption of the amending directive by the European Commission, the ban will enter into force on 1 April 1997.