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Professor David Coggon is Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Medical Research Council Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton. He has been the Chairman of the Committee for five years.
Dr. Nicholas Bateman is Director of the Scottish Poisons Information Bureau, Reader in Clinical Pharmacology and Consultant Physician in Edinburgh. He has been a member of the Committee for five years. Dr. John Cherrie is an Occupational Hygienist at the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh and Honorary Reader at the University of Aberdeen. He has been a member of the Committee for two years.
Dr. Charles Vyvyan Howard is a Senior Lecturer, (medical toxico-pathologist) in the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Liverpool and has been a member of the Committee for two years.
Professor David Macdonald is Director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford and is A. D. White Professor at Cornell University. He has been a member of the Committee for two years.
Dr. Vinod Tohani is a Consultant in Public Health Medicine/Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at the Southern Health Board in Armagh, Northern Ireland and has been a member of the Committee for three years.
Mr. Morley: The Department is not researching into chemtrails from aircraft as they are not scientifically recognised phenomena. However, condensation trails (contrails) are known to exist and have been documented since the 1940s. Contrails are composed of ice crystals forming on the small particles and water vapour emitted by aircraft as the result of the combustion process, they form behind high-flying aircraft depending on the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere.
A major scientific report, Aviation and the Global Atmosphere", was published in 1999 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report assessed the current contribution of aviation to climate change and, based on a range of scenarios and assumptions, forecast its contribution up to 2050. It estimated that contrails covered about 0.1 per cent. of the Earth's surface in 1992 and projected this cover would grow to 0.5 per cent. by 2050 (on middle range assumptions). More recently this work has been updated from the results of the EU 5th Framework Project, TRADEOFF.
Mr. Bradshaw: The survival of avian influenza viruses in the environment will be influenced by the strain of the virus, whether they are held in water or faeces, the host from which the faeces came, the physical properties of the faeces and the ambient temperature. The scientific literature gives a range, with different strains of virus from 12 to 36 hours at 37C for chicken faeces artificially infected with Low Pathogenic H7N2 to at least 105 days in wet faeces under field conditions with High Pathogenic H5N2.
Mr. Bradshaw: Figures from the EU wide computer system used to record imports of animals and their products, known as TRACES, show that from January 2004 to date 186,442 captive birds were imported into the UK.
From January 2000 to December 2004 our records show that 679,166 captive birds were imported into the European Union. We do not have figures for UK imports during this period as this figure was obtained from the previous EU computer system and a detailed breakdown of the figures is no longer available.
These figures are for captive birds, as no distinction can be made between captive bred birds and wild caught birds. The figures to not include poultry. However there are discrepancies between these figures and the figures
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reported by CITES. We are concerned about these discrepancies between these figures and are urgently investigating them to resolve the problem.
Records of bird deaths in quarantine are not held centrally. However any such deaths are required to be reported by the quarantine facility to their local veterinary inspector who arranges for post-mortem examination at an approved laboratory.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the arrangements are for ministerial responsibility for the State Veterinary Service across England and Wales in (a) normal circumstances and (b) the event of an outbreak of avian influenza. 
Details of how the Prime Minister, other Ministers and the Devolved Administrations are involved in the management of disease emergencies, can be found in Defra's Exotic Animal Disease Generic Contingency Plan". The contingency plan is on Defra's website.
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken by her Department to ensure that bird farmers are adequately protected against risks of avian influenza; and what information is being disseminated by her Department to farmers regarding the current situation. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Information for bird keepers regarding worker protection has been published on the Defra website (http://defraweb/animalh/diseases/notifiable/disease/ai/poul trykeepers.htm). This information includes biosecurity advice, recommendations regarding personal protective equipment and guidance on measures to take should an outbreak of avian influenza virus be suspected.
As a matter of course we have distributed guidance material to our partners in the industry who are helping to distribute this material to their members, who cover the great majority of bird keepers. We have also produced a simple one-page leaflet on biosecurity and surveillance for smaller concerns and hobby keepers. This was posted on our website and sent out to organisations representing the industry to send on to their members. It has also been mailed to 3,800 vet practices in Great Britain.
In addition we have placed adverts in trade and specialist press targeting the same audience to get biosecurity and surveillance messages across. All these pieces of guidance are available on the Defra website.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish new advice to poultry-keepers regarding measures that they can take to reduce the risk of spreading avian influenza. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We have reviewed our biosecurity guidance for poultry keepers and published two leaflets during the last month, one aimed at commercial keepers and the other for smaller concerns and hobby keepers. We have also published advice on assessing risks.
We have distributed this guidance material to our partners in the industry who are helping to distribute to their members, who cover the great majority of bird keepers. In addition, the material has been mailed to 3,800 vet practices in Great Britain in order to reach the hobby keeper. We have also placed adverts in trade and specialist press to get biosecurity and surveillance messages across to this same group.
Mr. Bradshaw: Between 15 and 20 clades of H5N1 avian influenza virus have been identified since typing work began. The H5N1 viruses which have caused disease in poultry and humans since 2004 lie within a distinct sub-grouping formed by two clades.
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