Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - Mr President, food safety issues have quite rightly dominated much of our thinking and that of Member States in recent years. I welcome today' s statement and debate as a recognition of the continuing need for action. It is right that public bodies and politicians, whether in local authorities or governments, should play a part in regulating food production and processing. The European Commission and we in the Parliament, too, should do all in our power to ensure that consumers Europe-wide can have confidence in their food purchases. The BSE problem is one case where, at a European level, stringent conditions were put in place in relation to the export of UK beef. These conditions were met, resulting in the recent lifting of the ban which has had such a major effect on agriculture and related industries in that country. This came as a long-awaited sign, bringing some relief to our hard-pressed farmers. Can it be acceptable then, given that the European Union body responsible judged it the right time to lift the ban, that individual states, without producing and publishing a clear justification in terms of food safety, should maintain the beef ban This decision by the French government last week comes as a particularly bitter further blow to Scotland' s beef farmers, whose herds are predominantly grass-fed and did not have a BSE problem in the first place.

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