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UPDATED: 15:07, October 13, 2004
Thai gov't vetoes budget on bird flu vaccine research
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The Thai government has vetoed a budget plan for bird flu vaccine research, local press reported on Wednesday.

Under the plan, the government was asked to set a budget of 300 million baht (about 7.5 million US dollars) to build a new laboratory on bird flu vaccine research.

The proposal, put forward by the Agriculture Ministry, was rejected Tuesday by the government in line with its policy of not using or producing bird flu vaccine, said Government spokesman Jakrapob Penkair.

"It did not want to send mixed signals on the issue," he was quoted by Bangkok Post as saying, referring to the possible influence of vaccine use over trade.

Having been hit twice by avian influenza, Thailand is cautious over the topic of vaccine.

In early August, the government banned the use of bird flu vaccine for fear of negative influence over public health and poultry trade.

The use of vaccine could prevent large-scale outbreaks of the poultry epidemic, but there is fear that the practice will trigger mutation that is even more difficult to deal with.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization earlier said it's still a problem with open answer.

Thailand, which has lost millions of orders, is also afraid that any development on the vaccine issue will deteriorate the country's poultry export.

In the first bird flu outbreak lasting more than three months, Thailand, the world's fourth largest poultry exporter, suffered a loss of no less than 880 million US dollars.

The major buyers such as Japan and the European Union (EU) havenot fully lifted their ban on the kingdom's poultry imports.

The EU also warned it would extend its ban on Thai chickens if the country carried on vaccine experiment.

The kingdom does not ban the use of human vaccine to prevent infection of the virus and the Cabinet on Tuesday approved a 900-million-baht (22.5 million dollar) budget to immediately tackle the epidemic.

Source: Xinhua

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