Brazil bypasses food safety rules | Guest columns

How many of you have heard of the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE? It was founded in 1924, as part of an international agreement aimed at “ensuring the transparency of the world animal disease situation, in order to collect, analyze and disseminate veterinary scientific information”. Over the years, he has fostered international cohesion to control animal diseases and set standards for veterinary services, which has helped to secure international trade in animals and their products.

Why should we know what the OIE is and what it does? The world looks to the OIE for information in the event of an outbreak of African swine flu, foot-and-mouth disease or mad cow disease (BSE). The OIE website lists all diseases and infections that require notification when a country finds a case.

The list is long and covers domestic animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, bees, poultry and pigs. The OIE has 182 member countries and the OIE has been recognized by the World Trade Organization as a reference organization. A country reports animal diseases to the OIE so that the rest of the world can take appropriate action. The OIE has reporting standards that all members agree to follow, such as reporting any event within 24 hours and asking a country’s veterinary authorities to provide periodic updates as control efforts develop. against disease and disease progression within the borders of this country.

The OIE is an important cog in the identification and control of global animal diseases. Its purpose is simple; find out when and where animal diseases occur and work with members to control and contain these diseases. It helps keep our pets safe and our food supply safe and reliable. In 2003, when the United States had its first case of BSE in Washington State, our government immediately reported it to the OIE.

I remember being very nervous over the holidays, not knowing how it would affect our cattle markets. Japan and North Korea immediately banned our imports. The world knew because we didn’t hide anything. Since then, we have had a total of six cases of BSE in the United States, all of which were considered atypical or naturally occurring. This separates it from the sickness of contaminated food. We played by the rules and overcame the obstacles as they showed up for export bans and market fluctuations. This year, Germany and the UK have reported cases of BSE within days of onset.

Currently, a country does not follow these rules. Brazil has experienced two atypical cases of BSE this year. They reported the cases on September 3, but Brazil became aware of them in June. It raises a red flag. How can we trust the Brazilian government when it comes to food safety if it does not meet the standard that 181 other countries have agreed to follow?

This is not the first time that Brazil has delayed reporting of BSE. The country was months or even years behind in reporting cases in 2019, 2014 and 2012. Already, China has banned Brazilian beef. China is the largest importer of beef in the world and Brazil is the largest exporter of beef. Is the Brazilian government considering throwing its beef in the United States? It seems a likely scenario. The only way to stop this is to ask Congress to step in and ban Brazilian beef until they adhere to OIE regulations.

Senator Jon Tester, D-Montana, has a bill to ban Brazilian imports until there is a systemic review of Brazil’s reporting system. It’s about food safety and security. I ask you to contact your senators and ask them to support this bill. Tester previously proposed similar legislation regarding the safety of poultry and beef in Brazil, and that was after the 2019 Brazilian non-reporting incident. Let’s make sure that these issues are dealt with appropriately, openly and honestly.

– Bruce Shultz is vice president of the National Farmers Organization.

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