BRAZIL - The agriculture ministry is reinforcing sanitary measures on imported pigs to keep Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) out of the country. These include new regulations of pig imports and a recently opened quarantine facility. A ban on pigs and porcine plasma from the US is not currently under consideration.
Ensuring animal health in Brazil is one of the main responsibilities of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA) and for this reason, measures for disease prevention are strict - for animals born in the country and those who come from outside.
Following outbreaks of PED in other countries, measures taken on health security have been enhanced.
Responsibility for enforcement activities lies with the Department of Animal Health (DSA), part of MAPA. To enhance biosecurity in pig imports from the US - where there have been outbreaks of PED since May last year - and all countries that export live pigs of high genetic value (for breeding), porcine genetic material and feed ingredients, technical procedures have been adopted to increase the level health requirements for such trade.
An official visit by MAPA is planned to the US to investigate there whether the standards set by the Brazilian government are being met.
In addition, pork imports to Brazil only take place after thorough examination in the country of origin and quarantine of at least 30 days on Cananea (Sao Paulo state), an island with high biosecurity, thus ruling out the possibility of the entry of diseases such as PED, among others, into the country.
Another action taken is that all import requests in each state must first be submitted for review and approval of the DSA in the capital, Brasilia.
The DSA Director, Guilherme Marques, has said that, to clarify the situation in the domestic industry, the government has sponsored technical meetings on the disease. These aim to reduce rumours and speculations about PED, especially when there is a lack of official information by the competent international organisations.
He added that no pig disease has entered Brazil through official channels.
No Ban on Imports of Pigs, Porcine Plasma from US
The Brazilian Association for Animal Protein, ABPA, reports the Minister of Agriculture, Neri Geller saying on 9 April that Brazil is not currently considering the suspension of imports of pigs or porcine plasma from the United States. There and in other countries - such as Mexico, Colombia, Peru and the Dominican Republic - pigs are infected with PED and mortalities run into the thousands.
The Minister's decision is contrary to the request of the industry, which advocated the suspension of imports of raw materials.
Vice president of pigs in ABPA, Rui Vargas, said the sector does not wish to create controversy. It is concerned, however, that the disease does not enter the country as it it not known how to contain its spread.
He said that PED has already killed 15 per cent of young piglets in the US. If the same percentage in Brazil were affected, that would mean three million fewer pigs, impacting farmers, consumers and industry.
Mr Vargas said that the disease is not a sanitary barrier to trade, does not cause problems for people or for food safety but all government actions are positive.
Mr Geller emphasised that the authorisation of imports of pig meat are centralised in Brasilia and live animals are quarantined at Cananea, the island quarantine facility inaugurated earlier this week. Animals can only be transferred to establishments accredited by the Ministry.
The Minister was due to attend the official opening but his plane was unable to land at the site.
Mr Vargas added that the initiative to centralise the release of imports is valid but it complicates the procedure. Previously, each states could authorise the entry of animals and imported materials.