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UK agency to deal with spread of animal diseases

A combined agency in the UK will start work this autumn to ensure the government is better equipped to prevent the spread of animal and plant diseases.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency will begin on 1 October 2014 to better equip the government to prevent the spread of animal and plant diseases, and to respond to emergencies.

Chris Hadkiss has been appointed as the chief executive of the combined agency. Hadkiss is currently chief executive of Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) where he took up post in January 2013.

Earlier this year it was announced that a combined agency would be created, with four functions of Fera (Bee inspectorate, the Plants Health and Seeds Inspectorate, the Plant Variety and Seeds Group and the GM Inspectorate) joining with AHVLA.

Animal and plant health inspectors have a strong history of working together in times of disease emergency, and this will be made easier when they are part of the same organisation. The Animal and Plant Health Agency will also play a vital role in stopping pests, diseases, and invasive non-native species entering the UK.

"Bringing together animal and plant health inspection functions in the Animal and Plant Health Agency makes very good sense. It will enable joined up working on plant and animal diseases and pests, and will increase our resilience and flexibility to respond to emergencies," said Environment Minister Lord de Mauley.

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