The withdrawal of the provision on compulsory tests of poultry feed for antibiotics and melamine has surprised experts, according to Financial Express.
Terming the decision 'unwise and risky', the experts said it would put both the country's poultry sector and human health hazards at a high risk. They called for review of the decision immediately in consideration of the human health-related risk.
The government recently withdrew the provision in the existing Import and Export Policy Order, said an official of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL). The demand for its withdrawal was pressed for, by a few local poultry feed importers, the sources.
The policy change now requires the exporter-country to give the list of ingredients on every package of poultry feed. There must be a label on every package with a declaration to this effect: "It must not contain any melamine and antibiotics, including chloramphenicol and nitrofuran.'
A clearance certificate from the exporting country to the effect that it does not contain any 'genetically modified organism' (GMO) is also mandatory, the source said. Experts said the policy change has left the issue of bio-safety to the exporter-country as there is now no criterion for tests.
Professor M Golam Shahi Alam, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), told the FE that the government should give top priority to human health, instead of promoting business, as it involves imports of a critical item like poultry feed.
"Antibiotics resistance is now a major health problem in the country as human beings are directly affected by high antibiotics used in poultry birds", he pointed out. "There is now no compulsion to test the imports for chloramphenicol and nitrofuran, which could create bio-pollution", he feared.
"Chloramphenicol may cause bone marrow toxicity like bone marrow suppression and aplastic anemia which are generally fatal diseases," he said.
He also said: "Nitrofuran can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea while less common reactions include fever, chill and other forms of hypersensitivity. It can also cause pulmonary fibrosis and drug-induced autoimmune hepatitis".
He suggested that the government should follow the rules and regulations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on imports like vitamin, antibiotics, pro-biotics, hormone, growth promoters etc.
"If we really go by those rules and regulations, I think the government should review its decision about withdrawal of the provision on compulsory tests," he said.
Dr. Md. Bahanur Rahman, Professor, BAU Department of Microbiology and Hygiene said "I couldn't understand why the government took such a decision without considering the risks to human health. Every country has strict rules and regulations about import of foreign materials, particularly of sensitive nature."
"Maybe, the lack of proper testing labs compelled the poultry industry to make such a demand, but the withdrawal of the lab test requirement is not the only solution", he said. Modern lab facilities should be increased, instead of withdrawing such restrictions for the sake of human health as well as poultry birds' health, he added. However, the poultry industry insiders expressed mixed reactions to the decision.
Poultry Khamar Rakkha Jatiya Parishad General Secretary Khandaker Mohoshin told the FE that the decision was not wise. The government should at least provide modern lab facilities at two ports-Benapole and the seaport in Chittagong, he suggested.
Dr M Nazrul Islam, Secretary General of Animal Health Companies Association of Bangladesh (AHCAB), welcomed the decision. He said it would ease the import hassle and make poultry feed prices stable.
He said the association had sent the proposal to the ministry of commerce (MoC) on February 24 seeking to change the policy. "In the application we said the rule hampers import of poultry feed, because it takes time and cause unnecessary delays and the expenses are also higher," he said.
"The additional expenses lead to a hike in poultry feed prices. It, in turn, hits the prices of eggs and chickens", he said. When asked about weather it would encourage imports of adulterated feed, he said many of the tests were unnecessary.
Citing an example, he said feed makers import 'mycotoxin binder'. To test those for melamine and nitrofuran is illogical, he added. "If exporters mix nitrofuran and melamine with the ingredients, it would make the items costlier. So why will they do it?" he questioned.
Poultry feed importers import items like mycotoxin binder (HSCAS) and blend of organic acid to inhibit mold growth, water soluble vitamin, fly controller, water acidifier, optimum disinfectant etc.
Breeders Association of Bangladesh (BAB) President Mashiur Rahman said as far as the provision is concerned, the lab test compulsion has not been totally withdrawn. Giving an example, he said that imported poultry feed does not need any test for GMO, as it concerns only 'seed.'
Source: Financial Express