Live animals, animal products: US, Canada, others pressing govt to review import policy

March 14, 2014
US, Canada and some European countries have been pressing Pakistan to review existing import policy pertaining to live animal and animals products and remove the ban on live animals import from Bovine Spongifrom Encephalopathy (SEC)-infected countries.

Sources told Business Recorder that a summary proposing various recommendations including imports of live animals from the countries which have been declared as “Negligible Risk” by the Office of International des Epizooties (OEI) of World Health Organisation should be allowed subject to BSE risk assessment in Pakistan.

The meeting was informed that BSE commonly known as ‘Mad Cow’ is a disease found predominantly in cattle with an incubation period of three to seven years with symptoms such as staggering gait and restlessness. The disease is difficult to detect in live animals, and no test is currently available in Pakistan. The post-slaughter diagnosis is made through medical examination of brain tissues and other vulnerable body parts such as tonsils, spinal cord and ganglia. A ban was imposed in June 2001 on the import of live animals, meat, and bovine meal, tallow, and feed ingredients (of animal origin) from BSE infected countries including the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Holland, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Finland, Canada and the US. The said ban is still continuing under the import policy order 2013.

The World Animal Health Organisation – OIE is a Paris-based inter-governmental organisation with 152 countries, including Pakistan, as its members. The OIE has currently classified countries in to three categories; as Negligible BSE risk, Controlled BSE risk and undetermined BSE risk Countries. OIE updates the risk status on a regular basis. The last ranking has been done by OIE in May 2013. The global trade of live animals and animal products generally follows OIE guidelines, which regulates all livestock-related issues. According to these guidelines, a country cannot ban the import of live animals from the countries with the “Negligible Risk Status” of BSE disease. Pakistan is importing most of its dairy cattle from Australia; however, other countries like the US, Canada as well as the European Union (EU) have been consistently agitating that Pakistan should review its existing import policy pertaining to live animals and animal products, in light of the revised rankings done by OIE. Similarly, Pakistani importers have also been making similar demands with a view to diversifying their sources of import. The meeting was informed that the matter was examined in conjunction with the Ministry of National Food Security & Research and it was felt that allowing the import of live animals from negligible risk countries will benefit Pakistan’s livestock industry as Pakistani importers / dairy industry will be able to source their animals from multiple countries and breeds. This would also bring our import regime in congruence with the OIE guidelines. A meeting was held in the Ministry of Commerce to discuss the issue of lifting ban on import of live animals from BSE Infected Countries.Recorder

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