HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 cc181-2W
Mr. Harvey

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the potential impact on human health of burning in the open air the carcases of animals carrying BSE in response to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. [151683]

Ms Quin

[holding answer 1 March 2001]: The key arrangements for dealing with BSE and scrapie suspects have not changed as a consequence of the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Carcases of animals slaughtered because of suspicion of BSE or scrapie will continue to be destroyed at incinerators. The movement of such carcases for disposal is exempt from the movement restrictions we have introduced in the response to the foot and mouth disease outbreak.

For non-BSE or scrapie suspects, pyres are being designed in a way to maximise good combustion, which will help to minimise air emissions and minimise incomplete burn-out and therefore potentially contaminated residues.

We are currently assessing the implications of the possibility that small numbers of cattle affected by the FMD outbreak may be in the pre-clinical stage of BSE and may harbour some of the BSE agent. A previous independent risk assessment undertaken for the Environment Agency in 1997 indicated that any such risk was very low and the incidence of BSE is now considerably lower than in 1997. Nevertheless, we are revisiting these conclusions in the light of the current circumstances, and hope to receive a preliminary independent assessment shortly.

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