HL Deb 15 March 2001 vol 623 cc111-2WA
Baroness Gale

asked Her Majesty's Government:

If they have carried out an assessment of the risk due to BSE infectivity from burning cattle during the present outbreak of foot and mouth disease. [HL1235]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman)

An independent risk assessment from DNV Consulting which we have commissioned is today being published on the MAFF Foot and Mouth Disease internet site. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of the House.

The model used by DNV estimates that a pyre of 100 dairy cattle aged over five years old could result in a total of 7 × 10 –4 infective units being ingested by those exposed. This would be spread over a fairly wide population and so the individual risk of exposure would be low. For example, if the infective units were spread over 1,000 people, the individual risk would be 7 × 10 –7 infective units per person—in other words, less than one in a million.

The recommendation of the Environment Agency is that there need not be any immediate change to carcass burning activities. The assessment will, however, be taken into account in guidance to agency staff on factors to take into account if they are asked to permit sites for carcass burning.

This advice has come at a time when, in view mainly of practical considerations, we have decided to increase the disposal by rendering, in addition to on-farm burning, of carcasses from FMD infected farms and dangerous contact premises.