By Madelaine Miraflor
Agriculture lobby group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) is opposing the plan of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to lift the ban on meat imports coming from Brazil due to health concerns relating to Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
“We oppose the lifting of the said ban as Brazil is still FMD-free with vaccination.
Even if the processing plants in Brazil are cleared of salmonella, the bigger issue is the prevalence of FMD vaccination,” SINAG chair Rosendo So said in a statement to reporters late Thursday.
So said that the lifting of the ban would be unfair to local meat producers as they “worked hard for years [with the government] that we will be declared FMD-free without vaccination”.
Right now, Philippines is still among the only 66 FMD-free countries without vaccination as recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
“We got that recognition from OIE only two years ago and now we will risk all those hard work to waste. That may threaten again the survival of the local industry, food safety and public health for the whims of a few [foreign] importers,” So further said.
According to him, the country should only import from countries that are of the same status like ours.
Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter and is the only FMD-free country with vaccination.
In July, vaccines used in the Latin American country against FMD were linked to abscesses on carcasses, which has prompted the Brazilian government to launch an investigation on the matter, a Reuters report showed.
To settle the issue, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he will schedule a meeting with the industry stakeholders next week.
It was last week when he said that imported meat products coming from Brazil may soon be allowed to enter the country this month.
In particular, Piñol said that based on the reports of the government’s inspection team, the country’s ban on Brazil’s imported meat and its products could already be lifted some time in November.
In August, all foreign meat establishments (FMEs) from Brazil have temporarily lost their accreditation to do business here in the Philippines, following the government’s decision to ban all meat imports from Brazil after its local shipments were tested positive for salmonella.