An agreement has been forged between the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the European Commission to establish a rapid response programme to prevent foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) entering Europe.

Brussels will spend US$5.4m on the project, which will focus on stopping the virus spreading from the Caucasus, Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

Keith Sumption, secretary of the FAO's European Commission for the Control of FMD (EUFMD) said the money would allow experts to visit affected countries within 24 hours of an outbreak "to provide technical support and assist mobilising additional emergency resources". The programme would improve data on outbreaks in these countries, he said.

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