Friday, 1 March 2013

Minister: Aflatoxin level decision will save agriculture

He added that he was ready to take responsibility and resign if he was the most responsible for the aflatoxin affair.

Knežević announced he would discuss his responsibility with First Deputy PM Aleksandar Vučić on Saturday. He said that “concrete measures for the taking of responsibility for some things will be taken” at the meeting.

“If it turns out that my responsibility is the biggest, I am fully prepared to take responsibility and resign and I have told this to First Deputy PM Vučić and PM Ivica Dačić,” he told Radio Television of Serbia (RTS).

The minister reiterated that various lobbies were involved in the milk affair and that the Democratic Party (DS) had tried to “destroy farmers”.

“Someone needs to take responsibility for this, both institutions led by me and someone else who upset the public,” Knežević noted.

He stressed that the government’s decision to raise the maximum permitted level of aflatoxin in milk from 0.05 to 0.5 micrograms per kilogram had been made in order to save the Serbian agriculture because “Serbia is not rich enough to waste between 300,000 and 400,000 liters of milk every day when it can export it to two thirds of the world”.

The minister added that reference institutions had released that that the new maximum level of aflatoxin did not represent a health risk and that dairy products in stores were safe to consume.

He said that the government would try to reduce the permitted level of aflatoxin in milk in the coming years but that infrastructure needed to be made first, primarily a reference lab “that the previous government did not make”.

When asked whether the government should have step up criteria for control of cattle fodder instead, Knežević said that Serbia had around 500,000 households and farms that produced milk and that it would be hard to control all of them.

He stressed that the government had decided to temporarily close 73 farms that would be given healthy corn for cattle, adding that similar measures had been taken in the countries of the region.

When asked why the government had not waited for results of analyses from the Netherlands, the minister said that it “would not solve anything” and that the “government had to protect agriculture”.
Original Article Here

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