China's top legislature began deliberating on Tuesday a draft amendment to the law on animal disease, in order to prevent future animal epidemics and lower their social and economic impact.
Local governments above the county level would have to set up a surveillance network to monitor animal diseases, said the draft amendment which was tabled at the 27th session of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC).
Veterinary departments at the central and provincial levels are obligated to issue early warnings against possible outbreaks based on thorough epidemiological study, according to the draft.
The draft also demands a prompt and transparent reporting system, saying that all government agencies, businesses and individuals must immediately report outbreaks of animal diseases to veterinary departments.
Officials and government employees, who fail to take prompt preventative measures, delay reporting or try to cover up outbreaks of animal diseases should face administrative discipline, according to the draft.
As the world's largest producer of poultry, livestock and aquatic products, China has much to lose from outbreaks of animal diseases. It is estimated that animal diseases cost China 40 billion yuan annually.
The Chinese government announced earlier that it would increase investment in the prevention and control of animal epidemics and set up a new national prevention system on animal diseases by 2008.
(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2007)