Australia has lifted its almost 10-year-ban on the importation of beef from countries that have experienced mad cow disease (or BSE, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy).
Opening the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) Outlook 2010 conference in Canberra on Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said Australia’s import policies must be based on the best science.
“If there is a scientific argument or a public health argument for keeping something out, then you keep it out,” he said.
“If the science comes back and says, if protocols are followed, there is no possible public health argument here, there is no biosecurity argument here, then you don’t use quarantine as an excuse for protectionism.”
“It is not in the interests of the economy, it is not in the interests of farmers, it is not in the interests of Australian consumers.”
Australian farmers on the North Coast of NSW are up in arms at the risk this poses not only to their livelihood but to consumers says Page Nationals candidate, Kevin Hogan.
“Under the Rudd Government rules, people won’t even know if their beef comes from a contaminated country, because there is no requirement for country of origin labeling on beef,” Mr Hogan said.
“That not only poses a risk to consumers, it but also to the image of our own beef which is the best and safest in the world.”
The federal opposition plans to introduce a private members bill into parliament to delay the introduction of the new protocols for beef imports.