Fresh information has emerged revealing how the Botswana Meat Commission has been exporting beef with growth promoting cattle feed additives ÔÇô ionophores ÔÇô to the lucrative European market for years despite the fact that its use was banned by the European Union (EU).
The use of ionophores as a growth promoting cattle feed additive was banned effective 1 January 2006. At that time ionophors was a controlled but not banned substance in Botswana.
Sunday Standard investigations have turned up information that the Department of Veterinary Services did not know about the EU Regulation banning ionophors as a growth promoting feed additive until six years later, September 2012 when BMC shipped its first consignment of beef to the EU after its EU relisting in August 2012.
When the BMC became aware of the ban sometime between 2003 and 2006, the BMC approached DVS to get its opinion.
Since DVS was ignorant about the ban (another DVS failure to do its EU compliance job), all DVS would tell BMC was that ionophors was not banned in Botswana … which was not to say that they were not banned in the EU.
Notwithstanding that, the BMC knew ionophors was banned in the EU, the commission demanded that its contract feedlots use a pre-mix containing ionophors under the brand name of “Lacticon” as a growth promoting additive in their cattle feed which they had to import from RSA. In other words, the BMC required their feedlots to use an EU banned substance in BMC cattle the meat from which the BMC knew was bound for the EU.
DVS issued import permits for the pre-mix containing the EU banned ionophors and the DVS issued export certificates for meat from BMC’s feedlot cattle, which had eaten the EU banned ionophors. In each of those export certificates, DVS attested to the meat’s full compliance with EU regulations making every one of those export permits false and misleading. This further eroded DVS’ already tarnished credibility after causing the BMC to lose its EU listing from March 2011 to August 2012 for issuing false and misleading export certificates attesting to its own LITS compliance with EU regulations when DVS knew very well that the LITS was so dysfunctional that it couldn’t be relied upon to verify EU compliance on traceability.
Having woken up to the EU ban on ionophors seven years after the ban came into effect, the DVS banned the use of ionophors in Botswana.
All BMC feedlot cattle that had eaten feed containing the EU banned ionophors had to be sold in non-EU markets at a 30 percent lower price in addition to logistical costs of sending the meat to the EU and bringing it back again.
One feedlot in Lobate was stuck with P275, 000 worth of pre-mix containing the BMC mandated but EU banned ionophors. So far, the BMC has not compensated that feedlot for its loss but the feedlot owner says he is still hopeful.
The BMC is also said to have lost P22 million on the meat it shipped to the EU that was found to contain ionophor residues. All the meat which had to be returned from the EU to Botswana came from animals fed in feedlot in Gaborone.
The BMC is believed to be suing that feedlot for its loss of P22 million.