"Suspected traces of Tuberculosis (TB) prompted Russia to impose the highly damaging blanket ban on imports of beef offal from Ireland, the Irish Independent has learned.
The discovery of characteristics of the disease is understood to have alarmed Russian authorities who have cut off the supply of offal from Irish factories.
Officials from the Department of Agriculture are now involved in negotiations aimed at getting the ban lifted.
The sanction was imposed last month following a series of visits from Russian vets to 12 food processing facilities in Ireland."This is not the first time that Russia has rattled Ireland's cage about high levels of the disease in its cattle population: in 2004 - [link] together with Poland and the UK, The Russian sabre was raised and threats issued. And so serious was this, that the European Commission drew up an inter-community Veterinary certificate - [link] which, if implemented, was another Beef Ban.
And just because that certificate has disappeared into the labyrinth of Defra's website archive, it doesn't mean it isn't lurking in a European drawer, just waiting to be signed. And we have it.
Other postings in 2004 described the process - [link] which led up to this situation, and the frantic diplomatic cartwheels -[link] executed to avoid it. Anything really, except control of the problem in the first place.
When we were reporting this in 2004, with around 5,200 herds under restriction during the reporting period, ( 5.6 percent of the 93,489 herds registered) the UK had half the levels of TB in its cattle, which we now enjoy. And still the mandarins were blissfully unaware of the possible cascade effect - [link] of a possible ban on UK beef products.
Roll forward ten long and, frustrating years and what have we achieved? The roll out of the new computer system (SAM) no longer gives the number of herds registered, together with the number of herds having TB problems, preferring to concentrate on new outbreaks - a substantially lower figure.
But in 2011, the number of registered herds in GB had fallen to 80,454 and of those, the number with a restriction due a 'TB incident' was 8,108. So 10.07 per cent - or almost double the figure ten years ago.
As the polemic deepens with an unhealthy concentration on cattle votes v. badger votes, and tuberculosis the disease is all but forgotten, just how long can GB keep shoving this particular problem under a diplomatic carpet?