Ape colony needed for study
on BSE effects
Rethink on BSE study
Renderer finds juicy contract
EU bans ostrich in fever
by one vote in debate on BSE
Computer gives Ulster BSE
Ministers scrape home
in BSE vote
MPs little hope of an end to beef ban
Shanks finds safer ground
Daily Telegraph ... Friday 15 November 1996
The irony is sweet. Shanks & McEwan has been grumbling for years
about how government dithering over high-temperature incineration had undermined
demand at its Rechem business; now comes salvation with a government contract
to burn rendered meat in the wake of the BSE crisis.
The order should be worth up to £9m over
three years and will ensure Rechem's plants work at full capacity.
The need to scratch around for one-off business should almost disappear.
Within Shanks's 7.3pc rise in interim pre-tax profits to £11.6m,
Rechem contributed just £600,000. But incineration is a high fixed-cost
business, meaning that a high proportion-maybe up to half-of new turnover
should be converted into profits.
Meanwhile, Shanks's waste services division is finally keeping to the script.
A 12pc fall in volumes might not sound like good news but it is in the
Demand is falling for the simple reason that it is becoming harder to win
planning permission for landfill holes. Shanks is the biggest owner of
such sites and should be able to achieve price rises well above the rate
In the half, price increases meant waste profits stood still at £12.6m,
despite the drop in turnover. The second half will bring the first volumes
of contaminated spoil from the Millennium site at Greenwich. One worry
is the arrival of the landfill tax, whose effect is impossible to judge
Brokers expect pre-tax profits this year of £21m, putting the shares,
up 4.5 to 119.5p, on 16.5-times earnings.
After a couple of tough years, Shanks's shares look safe at last.
EU bans ostrich in fever scare
from Charles Bremner in Brussels and Inigo Gilmore
The Times ... November 15 1996
The European Union has temporarily banned
imports of ostrich meat and live birds from South Africa after
an outbreak among abattoir workers of Congo Fever,
which can be fatal.
The EU's standing veterinary committee ordered the move on Tuesday after
South Africa notified Brussels that 16 workers at a slaughterhouse at Oudtshoorn
in Western Cape province had contracted the fever, said Gerard Kiely, spokesman
for Franz Fischler, the Agriculture Commissioner. One woman has died.
News of the disease has caused concern in Europe's
fast-growing ostrich-farming industry, based mainly in The Netherlands
and Britain. The ostrich meat market has grown rapidly this year as consumers
sought an alternative to beef in the
wake of the BSE crisis. Some Commission officials suggested the fears could
shore up beef prices.
The strain of the disease at Oudtshoorn is Crimea Congo haemorrhagic fever.
It causes body organs to degenerate with internal and some external bleeding.
About 30 per cent of cases are fatal. The outbreak is believed to have
been caused by ticks.
Victims from the abattoir had to be transported in sealed ambulances to
isolated wards at a Cape Town hospital.
South Africa has undertaken to conduct urgent research to see if the disease
of which there have been a few cases in the country since 1981
can be spread through the meat.
Tories succeed by one vote in debate
By George Jones, Joy Copley and Jon Hibbs
Daily Telegraph ... Thursday 14 November 1996
The Government scraped home by one vote
last night after an acrimonious debate on the BSE crisis. An
Opposition motion attacking the failure to get the beef export ban lifted
was defeated by 303 to 302 votes.
It was the smallest majority since John Major
survived a Commons division on the Scott Report by a single vote in February.
At that time the Government's parliamentary majority was two. Now it is
one, and is expected to disappear next month after a by-election in the
Labour constituency of Barnsley East.
The narrowness of the victory is bound to raise questions over the Government's
ability to hold out until the Tories' preferred date of May 1 for a general
election. Ministers will also be worried that nine Ulster Unionist MPs
on whom the Government will increasingly depend for support also backed
the Labour motion criticising ministers for failing
to secure the lifting of the EU ban on beef exports.
MPs backed a Government amendment defending the action taken and accusing
Labour of "cynical political opportunism" over beef by 303 votes
to 295. The Government majority increased on the second vote because some
Labour MPs left early and did not vote. It was embarrassing for the Labour
leadership and prompted criticism from Ulster Unionists.
The Tories claimed there were no rebels on their side even though there
had been criticism from a number of Euro-sceptic MPs after Douglas Hogg,
the Agriculture Minister, admitted there was little realistic prospect
of lifting the ban in the near future. Conservative MPs rounded on Mr Hogg,
but a threatened backbench rebellion did not materialise. Several demanded
the restoration of the non-cooperation policy with Brussels if a satisfactory
deal was not reached by John Major at the Dublin summit next month.
Mr Hogg's assessment fuelled the anger on the back benches inspired by
the European Court judgment imposing a 48-hour working week. "We are
not going to get from the member-states an absolute guaranteed timetable
leading to when the ban will be lifted," Mr Hogg said.
He said the best to be hoped for was a partial lifting in respect of specialist
herds and animals born since Aug 1.
The EU originally agreed to lift the ban by the end of this month if Britain
complied with a series of measures to eradicate BSE. Most have been implemented
but the Cabinet decided two months ago to abandon plans for a selective
cull and agriculture ministers are hoping to reach a settlement in Brussels
Earlier, ministers faced criticism from Tory MPs after rejecting cross-party
demands for compensation for cattle de-boning firms put out of business
by the crisis.
Ô Farmers who lost money selling their cattle after the beef crisis broke
in March will get special payments of £55 per animal from a £29
million package of state aid, the Government said yesterday.
Computer gives Ulster BSE edge
By David Brown, Agriculture Editor
Daily Telegraph ... Thursday 14 November 1996
A £2 million computerised tracing system for cattle is to
be installed in Northern Ireland, where farmers are demanding to be the
first to resume beef exports once the EU ban is lifted.
The new Government computer will replace an ageing system used to police
anti-BSE measures. It is becoming overloaded and threatened by a "virus"
that might bring down the system by the turn of the century.
The existing system, unique in the United Kingdom, has given Ulster farmers
an edge over other producers who are struggling to regain
export markets that were lost after the March 20 Government
announcement that BSE might be connected to a new form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease in people.
The system, installed in Belfast in 1988 to help to stamp out brucellosis
and tuberculosis in cattle, contains records of more than 13,000 cattle.
Their ear-tag numbers enable the Northern Ireland Office to trace all cattle
All movements of cattle are recorded, enabling farms and animals from herds
afflicted with BSE to be readily identified.
The computer has been so successful in Ulster
that the EU wants similar measures implemented for the rest of the United
Ministers scrape home in BSE vote
by Philip Webster and James Landale
The Times ... November 14 1996
The fragility of the Government's Commons position was underlined
last night when it survived an all-party attack on its handling of the
BSE crisis by only one vote.
After an all-day debate in which ministers faced persistent attacks from
Tory backbenchers, it defeated a Labour motion attacking the handling of
the BSE crisis by 303 votes to 302. A vote on a government amendment welcoming
the package of support to farmers was also carried by one vote although
the House was wrongly told that the majority was eight.
It was the smallest government majority since it scraped through in the
debate on the Scott report again by one vote last February.
But ministers were pleased that on such a controversial issue, and with
the Government's overall majority down to one after the death this month
of Barry Porter, MP for Wirral South, they had still managed to stave off
a damaging setback.
The Government had been prepared for the prospect of defeat after the Ulster
Unionists said that they were coming to Westminster to demand special treatment
for their BSE-free herds. Labour pulled out all the stops, even bringing
ill MPs to the House.
Conservative MPs were upset after Douglas Hogg, the Agriculture Minister,
admitted there was no immediate prospect of securing
a lifting of the beef export ban.
The Ulster Unionist MPs were unhappy with Mr Hogg's acknowledgement that
ministers had not yet submitted "detailed working papers" to
try to secure a lifting of the ban for certified BSE-free herds in Scotland
and Northern Ireland.
Hogg offers MPs little hope of an
end to beef ban
by James Landale, Political Reporter
The Times ... November 14 1996
Douglas Hogg told MPs last night that there was little prospect
of the European ban on British beef being lifted.
The Agriculture Minister said that the Government would instead concentrate
its efforts on securing a partial lifting of the beef ban on specialist
grass-fed beef herds , which were less at risk of contracting
BSE, and those cattle born after August 1 this year.
Mr Hogg said that Britain's European partners would be unlikely
to lift the ban entirely even if the Government began a cull on cattle
most at risk. However, he dismayed Ulster Unionists by admitting
that the Government had not yet submitted "detailed working papers"
to try to secure a lifting of the ban for certified BSE-free herds in Scotland
and Northern Ireland.
"We are not going to get from the member states an absolute guaranteed
timetable leading to dates when the ban will be lifted," Mr Hogg said
during a Labour-initiated debate on the BSE crisis . "We aren't going
to get that and I am not going to pretend that we are because if I did
I would be deceiving the House."
He added that the most that EU countries would even consider was a partial
lifting of the ban on some specific BSE-free herds.
However, many Tory MPs, including the former Cabinet minister Tom King,
said it was time to reconsider introducing the cull. Mr King opposed the
cull last July but last night said: "Now we should seriously address
the issue and address it seriously with the Commission."
John Greenway (C, Ryedale) said: "There is growing support among farmers
to go ahead with the cull so we hold to our side of the bargain. Surely
it would be possible to get agreement with Franz Fischler [the European
Agriculture Commissioner] to find a way of resolving this connundrum that
unless we have the cull, we will not get the ban lifted."
Bill Cash (C, Stafford) accused Mr Hogg of using "weasel
words". He said that the Government could get a guarantee
from Europe to lift the ban if Britain fulfilled its side of the Florence
Sir Michael Spicer (C, Worcestershire S) said Mr Hogg was suggesting that
Britain would get nothing in return for abiding by the Florence agreement.
"Is it not time that we started to consider disruption again?"
he asked, suggesting a "double whammy" with disruption over the
The Rev Ian Paisley, the Democratic Unionist leader, urged ministers to
promise that they would submit detailed working papers to try to secure
a lifting of the ban for certified BSE-free herds, and Roy Beggs, (UUP,
Antrim E) asked: "Why have these papers not been completed and forwarded?"
Mr Hogg said that discussions were taking place with the Commission but
no formal proposal had been laid down.
He also faced fierce criticism from Tory MPs during an earlier debate after
he again rejected cross-party pleas for compensation for the cattle head
de-boning industry, which has been put out of business by the BSE controls.
Peter Viggers (C, Gosport) said: "If it is right to compensate the
gun-owner for the loss of his gun, how much more must it be right to compensate
someone made bankrupt by government edict?"
Robin Cook, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, attacked the Government for failing
to reach its October and November targets for a lifting of the beef ban.
He agreed that the ban should be lifted but added: "The Government
has done too little too late."
He added: "So inept has the Government's response been that a bit
of me wonders if its not just suiting them that the beef ban is there."
To Labour cheers, he told Mr Hogg: "There is no worse cynical opportunism
than the way in which your Government seized on the beef ban to blame Europe
for a crisis that was of their own making."
Those who had watched their way of life put at risk and their jobs go were
watching the debate. "We owe it to them to vote against a Government
that has failed them."
The European Commission announced plans yesterday for a £40
million research programme into spongiform encephalopathies, which include
BSE in cattle and CJD in humans. Edith
Cresson, commissioner for research, said that the amount spent at present
was inadequate and that the programme was urgently needed.
From the Director of Compassion in World Farming
The Times ... Tuesday 12 November 1996
Hidden in the midst of Mr Douglas Hogg's new EU package of "support"
for cattle farmers is an appalling development the extension of slaughter
subsidies to beef-breed calves (News in brief, October 31).
Since April the UK has slaughtered well over a quarter of a million male
dairy-breed calves the ones that would have been exported to continental
veal farms. Now this scheme could double the numbers.
There is an inherent obscenity in mass slaughter of the newly-born. At
the practical level, Compassion in World Farming fears many calves may
receive scant care whilst still on the farm they are, after all condemned
animals. Already we hear of calves bought in the West Country being taken
to the North East, and even Scotland, for slaughter horrendous journeys
for these vulnerable creatures.
What with the growing queue of cull cattle and the increasing level of
calf slaughter, it looks like a winter where welfare provisions for these
animals will be abandoned in the desperate attempt to fill our incinerators
and land-fills, supply our petfood manufacturers and maggot farms and tempt
the carnivorously inclined back to the beef-fold.
Yours sincerely, JOYCE D'SILVA,
Compassion in World Farming,
5A Charles Street,
Apes needed for study on BSE effects
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
Daily Telegraph ... Tuesday 12 November 1996
Colonies of apes should be established to investigate the threat
that bovine spongiform encephalopathy
poses to the human population, according to a Government research strategy.
The plan, launched by the Department of Health yesterday, identifies targets
such as discovering the fundamental nature of the agent that causes BSE,
CJD and similar diseases, and how it
is transmitted, by a programme of research that includes the use of animals.
"The work will make an urgently needed contribution to the protection
of public health," said Prof John Swales, the department's director
The Government has spent more than £50 million on research into transmissible
spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), the family of diseases to which CJD
and BSE belong, in the last five years. The report stresses that there
is an "urgent need" for the development of animal facilities
and "careful consideration" should be given to large-scale ape
studies for up to a decade, even though the European Union plans similar
"I hope that Britain would wish to participate in such a study,"
said Prof Lesek Borysiewicz, the chairman of a Department of Health/Medical
Research Council TSE advisory group. He said that the number of primates
required for the experiment is sufficiently large that the work would have
to be co-ordinated across the EU.
The strategy has been difficult to develop because the science is evolving
and experiments take a long time, said Prof Swales.
Rethink on BSE study
News in Brief
The Times ... Tues 12 November 1996
Government scientists may have been wrong
when they decided that cows infected with BSE could pass the
disease to unborn calves. Danny Matthews, a veterinary adviser at the Agriculture
Ministry, said that the study results announced in August were open to
other interpretations, which included the possibility of no maternal transmission