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Guyana to crackdown on illegal meat imports

Guyana plans to crackdown on the illegal importation of pork and other meat and meat products, saying that such imports threaten the country’s food security and risk spreading livestock diseases here.

“Illegal entry of any animal product, from an animal health perspective, poses a threat to Guyana’s livestock industry. Such product could provide a vehicle for the transference of disease causing agents from the importing country into Guyana,” said the Ministry of Agriculture in a statement.

Warning that government would “not tolerate” any threat to the country’s food security and diminish investments in the livestock sector, the Agriculture Ministry said it would be strengthening its surveillance.

Authorities urged importers to stick to the laws, regulations and procedures for importing meat and meat products or those items would be seized. “Any meat and meat product found on the market without the requisite approval will be seized and destroyed. This serves as a warning to all those who are marketing meat and meat products as illegal importation of animals and animal products into Guyana constitutes a breach of the Animal Health Act 2011 which requires that all animal and animal product be granted permission to enter through a set procedure,” said the Ministry.

The procedure for importation of animal products requires the prospective importer to apply for a trade import license from the Ministry of Trade. The Guyana Livestock Development Authority through the provision of the Law is required to give its no objection to the import which is based on the prevailing animal health situation of the importing country. Further, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Department is also required to give its no objection to this import.  Authorities added that import certification and control provides the first line of defense in preventing the entry of exotic animal diseases to a country.

The Agriculture Ministry explained that a disease reduce livestock population and productivity as a result of death and sickness, a slump in the supply of specific meat products with the resulting decrease in available protein for human consumption and the need for hefty spending to combat the disease.

Other negative effects of importing diseased meat, government added, could loss of trade opportunities due to the imposition on restriction in trade of animal products both locally and internationally, through the banning of imports from Guyana, public health implications if the disease affects humans and huge setbacks in the genetic improvement programme of the country.