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EU launches more measures to fight bird flu
www.chinaview.cn 2006-02-17 04:10:39

    BRUSSELS, Feb. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Representatives from 25 European Union (EU) member states agreed here on Thursday to launch more precautionary measures to fight bird flu.

    The representatives, who met in Brussels for a two-day meeting after the outbreak of deadly H5N1 bird flu in some EU member states, agreed to set up a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone around the outbreak spot.

    "Within both zones, all poultry and captive birds must be kept indoors, on-farm biosecurity measures must be applied, the movement of poultry and other captive birds both within and from the zones should be restricted, and wild bird hunting and the assembly of birds must be forbidden," said the European Commission.

    EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said the recent outbreaks in Germany, Italy, and other EU states of the H5N1 bird flu virus showed that Europeans had to get ready for more outbreaks.

    "While we have to learn to live with periodic outbreaks of avian influenza in wild birds, the EU is making every effort to contain avian influenza in wild birds and seek to prevent it reaching commercial poultry," he said in a statement.

    The representatives also backed an EC decision to extend restrictions on the imports of poultry and bird products from Bulgaria, where the H5N1 virus was confirmed over the weekend in wild swans.

    All products from wild birds, including eggs, farmed and wild feathered game, and hatching eggs will be banned from entering the EU.

    Also a regional ban will apply for imports of poultry meat, eggs and products from wild fowl.

    Currently, no Bulgarian poultry or poultry products can be imported into the EU due to recent outbreaks of Newcastle disease, another bird illness.

    In a relevant development, the EC said there will be no financial aid for poultry farmers in case bird flu decimates their stocks or prices drop due to falling public confidence as happened during the EU's mad cow scare in the 1990s.

    In the EU's crisis over mad cow disease, consumer confidence in beef melted away and led the EU to spend billions of euros to prop up farmer incomes over several years.

    "There is no bird flu in commercial stocks," said EU spokesman Michael Mann.

    "But if (poultry) prices fall in the market there is nothing the commission can do," he added.

    Under EU rules, only beef farmers can claim compensation when prices fall by at least 30 percent as happened in the mad cow crisis. Enditem

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