THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will still impose the banning of meat and poultry products importation in the country due to health concerns and risk of animal diseases present in other countries, Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol said.

“Right now, with the threat of animal diseases, I’m not ready to do that [import],” Piñol said.

According to Piñol, they have implemented a stricter policy in importation of poultry and meat products because of the potential health problems it might cause once an infection spreads, including bird flu, which is a viral infection that can infect humans and other animals as well.

“Even if we want to import, we would really have a problem because the reasons why we are really strict now in importation is the fact that there is a threat of animal diseases in other parts of the world,” he said.

In January this year, Piñol decided to ban the importation of poultry products from many countries, especially in Europe, because of the bird flu epidemic and he even signed the directives specifically identifying countries like South Korea, Germany, France, and the Netherlands which are banned to export chicken and poultry products and ducks to the Philippines.

Although there are people assuring him of the safety of the products, he said that he could not be complacent since the whole poultry industry is at stake if ever the poultry is infected with animal-related diseases.

“You have to understand that the moment that happens, we will destroy the whole poultry industry of the country,” he said.

The Philippines, he added, is one of the very few countries in the world which have been declared as totally free from Foot and Mouth Disease (FAMD) affecting livestock.

“We cannot take the risk of just indiscriminately bringing in meat from just about anywhere in the world because that will destroy the reputation and the status of the country [which is considered] as one of the very few countries in the work na walang FAMD,” he said.