WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2014 – A bipartisan group of 27 Texas legislators is requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) review the site-visit review process that resulted in a USDA plan to allow the importation of fresh beef from areas of Brazil and Northern Argentina not considered free of food-and-mouth disease (FMD).

The proposal followed a determination by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that the South American meat would not encourage the spread of FMD in the U.S. APHIS conducted the site review, at the request of the Argentine government, to see if beef from northern Argentina – which is not yet free of FMD – could be exported without harboring the disease.

Republican Representative Pete Sessions said the potential for importation of infected beef from the region could have destructive effects on the U.S. economy and food supply.

“Livestock originating from that region of the world has been notoriously plagued with (FMD), which is highly transmissible and considered to be the most economically devastating livestock disease in the world,” Sessions said in a statement. “Although I am a staunch advocate for open markets and free trade, unfettered access of these products could pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of our nation's livestock herds.”

In the letter, the group asks for a review of the APHIS site review process as a whole, but for a special emphasis on cases involving animal health information in Brazil and Argentina. The lawmakers said it is “imperative that the best interests of our nation’s food supply, health, and economy be properly considered,” adding that the group could not support implementation of the APHIS proposal until a “timely and independent” study is conducted.

The APHIS proposed rule was published in the Federal Register Aug. 29. A 60-day comment period is scheduled to end Oct. 28. So far, the plan has received eight comments.


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