Europe questions legality of Japan's British poultry ban
Richard Howitt, British member of the European
Parliament has called on European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson to take
action against Japan over its allegedly illegal ban on poultry imports from
Britain following the latest bird flu outbreak.
Hewitt argues that the ban breaks with past precedent and that international
trade rules are also being contravened.
The three farms in Norfolk
that were struck with the avian fly virus were infected with the low pathogenic
H7N3 strain, rather than the deadly H5N1 bird flu which has hit the headlines
World Animal Health Organization guidelines say bans are
acceptable when a high pathogenic strain is found. "In this instance, although
it is in farmed birds, it is only a low pathogenic strain and therefore an
import ban is not justified," Hewitt explained.
He hopes the case
will be taken to the World Trade Organisation on European Commission
Hewitt fears that, as with the ban on British beef
following the BSE epidemic, other countries will follow Japan's lead, severely
damaging Britain's poultry livelihood and denying the country access to valuable
markets for many years to come.
The Japanese decision is due to be
debated in full at a European level in Brussels on May 16. If its legality under
international trade rules is called into question, then an objection will be
presented at Geneva appealing for WTO support to get the import restrictions
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