Government move to prevent the spread of animal and plant diseases

A new government-backed Animal and Plant Health Agency will begin work in October to help prevent the spread of animal and plant diseases and improve the UK’s response to emergencies.

The new agency will combine the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) with four functions of the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), namely the Bee inspectorate, the Plants Health and Seeds Inspectorate, the Plant Variety and Seeds Group and the GM Inspectorate.

Current AHVLA Chief Executive, Chris Hadkiss, who will head the new body, said that by working together as one agency we will be “working for a healthier environment and economy”.

Environment Minister, Lord de Mauley, commented: “Bringing together animal and plant health inspection functions in the Animal and Plant Health Agency makes very good sense. It will enable joined up working on plant and animal diseases and pests and will increase our resilience and flexibility to respond to emergencies.”

Further work is also planned concerning the future of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Services (Cefas), including whether or not it should also become part of the new agency. A decision in this will be made in the autumn of 2014.

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