Buoyed by its victory at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) last year against India’s poultry import ban, the U.S. has now trained its guns on the country’s pork import regulations — which include a condition that such consignments must be beef-free.
During recent bilateral discussions, India made it clear to the U.S. that the requirement – that pork import consignments must be beef-free — cannot be done away with due to apprehensions of such a move “hurting religious sentiments and provoking riots,” official sources told The Hindu on the condition of anonymity.
The requirement is also in place due to health reasons – to protect human health by preventing the spread of infectious diseases from animals, they added.
Pigs are usually fed with food ingredients of animal origin to meet their protein requirements. Such animal feeds — including meat/bone/blood meal and hydrolysed intestinal tissues — are among the most cost-effective methods to hike protein levels in the diet of animals such as pigs. However, many Indian States prevent cow slaughter.
Also, beef ban, in States such as Maharashtra, had recently become controversial and the BJP had turned beef into a major political issue.
New Delhi has emphasised that if the U.S. wants to export pork/pork products to India without trouble, all such consignments must come with an official veterinary certificate that the animal (pig in this case) was not fed with feed derived from cows/beef/ beef products.
The requirement of a veterinary certificate stating among other things that “the consignment(s) of processed and unprocessed pork and pork products destined to India do not contain beef and beef products in any form” will not be removed, the sources said.
They said the U.S. claims the condition is not based on a scientific risk assessment and the concerned international standard (World Organisation for Animal Health). However, citing the example of Australia fulfilling all the pork import norms of India to increase their exports, the Indian authorities have asked the U.S. to do the same, they added.
The sources said the U.S. has restrictions on import of Indian dairy items on fears of foot-and-mouth disease. Pointing out that all dairy product exports from India are tested to ensure quality, the sources said India will shortly take up bilaterally the issue of U.S. restrictions on these items.
On its part, the U.S. had strengthened its animal feed norms to prevent the spread of diseases such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or the mad cow disease that is transmitted to humans).
Following the detection of some cases of BSE, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had tightened animal feed norms in 1997 and in 2008. It had prohibited “the use of high-risk cattle material (including those derived from BSE-positive cattle) in feed for all animal species.”