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C 318 E/122 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 13.11.

2001

(2001/C 318 E/130) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0793/01


by Cristiana Muscardini (UEN) to the Commission

(13 March 2001)

Subject: Crisis in livestock farming and reform of arable land

The situation which livestock farming undertakings have to face, following the ‘mad cow’ epidemic, is
becoming increasingly untenable. The financial sops and palliatives of other kinds which are being devised
and put forward will not solve the root of the crisis, which really requires action to guarantee the future of
livestock farming and regain consumer trust.

Apart from immediate aid and with a view to guaranteeing food safety and product quality, does the
Commission not consider that it is necessary to:

 give a strong boost to scientific research aimed at fine-tuning methods for carrying out BSE tests on
live cattle?

 supply the new-style livestock farming with food of high quality, fodder of vegetable origin and crops
with a high protein content, such as oil seeds, alfalfa and clover?

 amend, accordingly, all legislation on arable land and set-aside land, to allow agricultural undertakings
to produce food for livestock on land which is left fallow and unnecessarily unproductive?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(16 May 2001)

The action plan which the Commission launched in 1996 on research into transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies (TSEs) has mobilised ECU 50 million to further knowledge, detection and control of
TSEs, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in
humans. Some 150 laboratories are currently involved in 54 Community-funded TSE research projects on
aspects such as diagnosis, infectious agents, treatment, prevention, and risk assessment.

European-funded research has accorded special priority to developing in vivo diagnostic tests for cattle and
humans. Research is currently being done into the scope for developing and using not only surrogate
markers, but also reagents such as antibodies which specifically detect markers for BSE infection.

In addition, on 15 December 2000 and 16 February 2001 the Commission held two TSE research national
experts’ group meetings to examine ongoing research activity, encourage exchange of information between
research teams, and identify current research topics requiring consolidation as well as new research areas.

With regard to new research areas, the option of issuing a call for tenders relating specifically to TSE
research is being examined, and research leading to BSE tests in live cattle may form part of such a call.

As for the need to return to animal husbandry models which correspond more to consumers’ expectations,
the Commission has proposed promoting organic production by using set-aside to produce organically
fodder legumes such as alfalfa and clover.

In response to the request by the December 2000 Council meeting of Agriculture Ministers, the
Commission sent to the Council and the European Parliament its analysis of supply and demand trends for
protein-rich plants, together with an assessment of the most advanced options  including the use of set-
aside land to promote plant protein production (1).
13.11.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 318 E/123

Each of the options would meet the additional need to only a limited extent, and they relate primarily to
ruminants and not to pigs or poultry. Besides, the extra costs are disproportionate compared with the cost
of importing equivalent products.

(1) COM(2001) 148 final: Options to promote the cultivation of plant proteins in the EU.

(2001/C 318 E/131) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0800/01


by Klaus Hänsch (PSE) to the Commission

(19 March 2001)

Subject: Campaign against torture

Amnesty International has requested the European Union to join the worldwide campaign against torture
launched in October 2000 and, following the example of the guidelines for a Union policy vis-à-vis third
countries with regard to the death penalty adopted in 1998, to draw up guidelines for a comprehensive EU
policy against torture and abuse in third countries.

1. What measures has the Commission taken to that end?

2. Where does it consider that there is a further need for action in order to lend even greater weight to
the established principles of the EU with regard to promoting democracy and human rights in the world?

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(2 May 2001)

No government or country, no matter what its level of development or its political system, can possibly
justify the existence of torture on its soil. It is one of the most abhorrent and vile abuses of human rights.
The European Union has an absolute duty to work to see the prevalence of torture reduced across the
world. The Charter of Fundamental Rights made our commitment clear, within and without the Union.

The General Affairs Council adopted ‘Guidelines to EU Policy towards Third Countries on Torture and Ill-
Treatment’ on 9 April 2001. The Commission contributed to their formulation and warmly welcomed
their adoption. As with the Guidelines on the Death Penalty, they will send a clear signal that the issue is
a Union priority and reinforce Union action in this area. The EU, and the Commission, has adopted the
guidelines for use in its relations with all third countries. As Amnesty International noted, there have been
reports of torture and ill treatment by state agents in over 150 countries over the past 3 years and torture
is widespread in 70 of them.

The Community has provided funding for projects related to the prevention of torture and the
rehabilitation of torture victims for several years. 2001 will see a large increase in funding for torture
rehabilitation under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (Chapter B7-7): € 12 million
has been set aside for torture rehabilitation centers (€ 6 million for centers inside the Union and € 6
million for centers outside the Union). The Call for Proposals on torture rehabilitation closed on 2 April
2001. Projects dealing with the prevention of torture were also eligible for funding under the general
Human Rights Call for Proposals which closed on 19 March 2001.