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C 117/112 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 16. 4.


Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(20 October 1997)

Under Council Regulation (EEC) No 1308/70 of 29 June 1970 on the common organisation of the market in flax
and hemp (1), aid per hectare is granted in the Community for hemp grown from seed of varieties with an
intoxicating substance (tetrahydrocannabinol) content of no more than 0.3%. The area must have been fully sown
and harvested and normal cultivation work carried out. There are no requirements as to storage, processing or
exportation of the harvested hemp.

The area sown to hemp in Finland although increasing is very low: 2 hectares in 1996 and 74 (provisional figure)
in 1997. The quantities yielded by such small areas are obviously an inadequate incentive to investment in
processing facilities in Finland. Undertakings in the rest of the Community already have adequate raw material
supplies and export outlets are very limited.

On 20 January 1997 the Commission undertook to the Council to propose suitable measures for hemp as soon as
possible. When the agricultural prices for 1997/98 were set the Council accepted the Commission's proposal that
the aid be reduced by 7.5% in order to diminish the effect it has had of increasing areas grown.

The Commission continues to reflect on what would be the most appropriate measures for the sector.

(1) OJ L 146, 4.7.1970.

(98/C 117/143) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2952/97

by Shaun Spiers (PSE) to the Commission

(10 September 1997)

Subject: Antibiotics in livestock production

Is the Commission aware of the UK Soil Association Campaign to halt the rise of drug-resistant disease and
safeguard the future effectiveness of antibiotics? Is the Commission aware that the Swann Committee, jointly
established in 1968 by the UK Ministers of Health and Agriculture stated: ‘There is ample proof that the giving of
antibiotics to animals encourages the emergence of resistant strains of micro-organisms. Equally there is no
doubt that many micro-organisms, whether resistant to antibiotics or not ... can be transmitted from animals to
man’? As with BSE, we are in danger of ignoring the scientific warnings until it is too late.

The Soil Association believes that the use of antibiotics should be restricted to the therapeutic treatment of
disease and occasional use as part of a disease control programme which should normally include changes in
management practice.

The Soil Association is proposing:

1. An immediate ban on all performance-enhancing antibiotics;

2. The phasing out of prescription only medicine in feed antibiotics, in conjunction with legislation requiring
changes in management practice;

3. New controls on the use of intramammary antibiotics which are currently routinely used in conventional
dairy herds.

What steps is the Commission taking to end the routine use of antibiotics by farmers?
16. 4. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 117/113

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(16 October 1997)

1. The Commission is aware of the concern expressed by both the Soil Association and other organisations at
the increase in the number of cases of bacteria showing resistance to antibiotics used in human medicine.

The Commission is also worried by this phenomenon of resistance and has therefore, as a precautionary measure,
prohibited the use of avoparcin in animal feed in order to avoid any risk of reducing the effectiveness of a
stand-by antibiotic used in human medicine. Scientific data currently available do not indicate that the increased
frequency of cases of resistance to antimicrobial drugs used in human medicine is linked to the use of antibiotics
in animal feed and that the use of such substances should be totally prohibited.

In line with the recommendations of the Scientific Committee on Animal Nutrition, given in its opinion of
21 May 1996 on avoparcin (1), and Directive 97/6/EC concerning additives in feedingstuffs (2), prohibiting the
use of avoparcin, the Commission has drawn up a plan for monitoring bacterial resistance which should be
operational by the beginning of 1998. There are also plans to carry out or coordinate a series of studies at the level
of the Member States or international organisations so as to gain a better understanding of the molecular
mechanisms involved in bacterial resistance and of possible transfers along the food chain and in the

The Commission does not so far have any data justifying a total ban on the use of antibiotics in animal feed.

The Commission will also actively participate in the conference to be organised by the World Health
Organisation in October 1997 on the consequences for health of the use of antimicrobial drugs in feedingstuffs.

2. The Commission is currently studying the best method of approving additives and medicines to ensure
good farming practice.

Under Community rules, veterinary medicines, including antibiotics, may only be used, except in exceptional
circumstances, for stipulated purposes, i.e. for the treatment of specific diseases in specific species.

3. The use of intramammary antibiotics in dairy herds can lead to residues in milk at a level exceeding the
authorised maximum residue limits. Council Directive 96/23/EC on measures to monitor certain substances and
residues thereof in live animals and animal products (3) introduces annual monitoring plans for residues in milk,
and in particular for residues of antimicrobial substances. Official samples must be taken on farms or at dairies
by the competent authorities of each Member State for examination for the presence of antibiotic residues in the
milk. Under Article 18 of that Directive, where there is evidence of residues at a level exceeding the authorised
maximum limit, the competent authority must carry out an investigation on the farm of origin or departure and
take all necessary steps to safeguard public health, with specific measures in the event of repeated infringements.

(1) The opinion was sent to Parliament's Secretariat on 13 August 1996.

(2) OJ L 35, 5.2.1997.
(3) OJ L 125, 23 5.1996.

(98/C 117/144) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2954/97

by Patricia McKenna (V) to the Commission
(17 September 1997)

Subject: Scraping of the radioactive discharge pipe at the La Hague nuclear complex, France

Greenpeace has filed a complaint with the European Commission over the scraping of the radioactive discharge
pipe at the French nuclear complex, Cap de la Hague.