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Health and Consumer Protection

Press releases

Brussels, 13 February 2001

Publication of geographical risk assessment of BSE for Botswana, Lithuania, Namibia, Nicaragua and Swaziland

The Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) advising the European Commission inter alia on BSE related issues has today published its opinion on the Geographical Risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (GBR) in Botswana, Lithuania, Namibia, Nicaragua, and Swaziland. The committee concludes that it is likely that BSE is present in the cattle herds of Lithuania and highly unlikely that cattle infected with the BSE agent are present in the domestic herds of Botswana, Namibia, Nicaragua, and Swaziland.

Lithuania has since 1993 imported 1.900 live cattle and 30.800 tons of meat-and-bone-meal from EU countries. The appropriate risk management measures such as a MBM feed-ban and its control were not put in place until very recently. Therefore it is regarded highly likely that Lithuanian cattle were exposed to potentially BSE contaminated feed and subsequently infected.

The conclusions of the assessments for Botswana, Namibia, Nicaragua and Swaziland are based on the fact that, according to all available data, imports of potentially infected live cattle or potentially contaminated meat-and-bone meal into these countries were always negligible. As the systems in Botswana and Swaziland are qualified as "neutrally stable" and as "unstable" in Namibia and Nicaragua, the assessments would have to be revised if imports of cattle or MBM would turn out to have taken place.

The SSC recommends that BSE related aspects are included in the programme of future inspection missions of the FVO as far as feasible so as to obtain confirmation of the information it has received from the national authorities in the countries concerned.

The evaluation of the GBR in these third countries was made on the basis of the same method and assessment process as described by the SSC in its July 2000 opinion on the GBR(1). In the July-opinion the scientists already assessed the GBR risk in all EU Member States except Greece, and in a first series of third countries(2). An assessment for Uruguay was published last month. Assessments of the GBR of another 25 Third Countries that have provided a dossier for analysis to the Commission, are ongoing. They are hoped to be finalised next month, at the next SSC-meeting end of March.

The full text of the opinion and the detailed report are available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/ssc/outcome_en.html

(1) see IP of August1, 2000 at

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/library/press/press66_en.html

(2) Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Switzerland, USA

Released on 13/02/2001

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