21 February, 2006
Greek agriculture minister Evangelos Bassiakos pushed his EU counterparts for immediate Community aid to poultry farmers, after consumption plunged in the wake of the bird flu cases reported within EU borders. Bassiakos was also supported by others on the EU Agriculture Ministers' Council that met in Brussels on Monday.
The Greek minister said that specific Community measures should be taken immediately for Greek poultry farmers in particular, such as withdrawing existing stockpiles and payment of compensation to producers.
The Greek side additionally called for the funding of public information campaigns concerning the safety and quality of poultry-trade products and the adoption of measures that will support all those affected by the crisis.
Bassiakos briefed the Council on the precautions and safety measures taken by Greece to contain the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus after it was detected in wild fowl and to prevent its spread to domestic poultry.
The Council president, Austrian agriculture minister Josef Proell, clarified that discussion of compensation for poultry farmers would take place during the afternoon session of the Council and that it would be set individually for each EU member-state, based on the drop in sales. He also noted that the EU had currently decided to compensate farmers if they were obliged to destroy eggs or slaughter their chickens because of an H5N1 infection.
European Commissioner for Health Markos Kyprianou, meanwhile, said further study was needed before proceeding with precautionary inoculation programs that some EU member-states wished to begin.
According to Kyprianou, scientists entertained doubts about the plan because there was a possibility that inoculated birds might still be carriers without showing symptoms, while the cost would be huge.
Source: Athens News Agency