Tuesday, 14 August, 2012 | 11:25 WIB
What Does the Current Law on Cattle Imports Say?
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:In the midst of an uproar, regulations on imports of frozen beef and live cattle are set to be changed here from a country-based classification to a zone-based system. The uproar relates to current cattle import limitations, and specifically to illegal imports of frozen beef from India, a country which is not completely free from foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease, a severe plague for animal farming which is highly infectious.
With Indonesia’s current country-based classification, it is forbidden to import cattle from any country suffering from FMD in any one of its regions. However, with the zone-based classification, the ban only extends to states affected by the disease. Cattle and frozen beef can still be imported from the FMD-free zones of that nation.
The Law on Husbandry and Animal Health, which came into effect in June 2009, originally followed a zone-based classification. This was rejected by several organizations. In October of 2009, a group of organizations filed a judicial review request to have the law clarified on that matter at the Constitutional Court. They believed the zone-based system did not protect Indonesians. These organizations comprised of the Indonesian Association of Veterinarians, The Indonesian Union of Farmers, the Institute for Global Justice, the Indonesian Association of Cattle and Buffalo Breeders, the Forum for the Indonesian Society of Farmers and Fishermen, the Indonesian Association of Dairy Cooperatives, the general public and the Veterinary Medicine of the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB).
As a result, in August 2010, the Constitutional Court judges, led by Mahfud M.D, decided in favor of the applicants. Some of the phrases in the Law were declared contrary to the Constitution. The provision on the zone-based system was taken out. Since then, imports of beef have gone in accordance to a country-based classification.
Under this classification, a ban on frozen beef and cattle imports is applied to an entire country. In contrast, the zone system imposes restrictions based on territories only. As long as they come from disease-free areas, livestock and livestock products can still enter Indonesia, although the country itself is not free from the disease.
The controversy over the systems for importation resurfaced following the circulation of beef from India in Indonesian markets. FMD is caused by picornavirus. This disease attacks cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, and pigs and is highly contagious. The FMD virus is spread through the air so it can attack the respiratory tract. It also spreads through animal products such as milk and meat. Goods such as food, clothing, footwear, and vehicles contaminated with the virus through the wind can transmit the disease to broader regions.
The FMD virus, according to a vet, Prabowo Respatiyo Caturroso, is not filed under the zoonosis category—an infection transmitted from vertebrate animalsto humans or vice versa. "So far no case has been found in humans," said the former Director General of Husbandry, Ministry of Agriculture. Prabowo says that FMD-infected beef is still safe to eat. "As long as you don’t eat the head, entrails and feet."
Indonesia had an FMD outbreak in 1887 in Malang, East Java. Thousands of cows were killed. The virus spread to various areas in Sumatra, Sulawesi and Kalimantan. Campaigns for mass vaccination against FMD began in 1974. In 1980-1982 there were no recorded cases.
In 1983, it suddenly appeared again in Central Java and spread to various regions. Since then, a mass vaccination program is held regularly every year. In 1986, Indonesia was declared free of FMD. ASEAN has recognized it since 1987, while the World Organization for Animal Health (Office Internationale des Epizooties or OIE) recognized it in 1990. Retno Sulistyowati, Jobpie Sugiharto