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March 13 2008

Pirbright FMD report – tiny virus, big whitewash 

The Anderson report into the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Surrey last summer is a damning indictment of the lack of Government investment in science; a lack of real engagement by Ministers and officials in serious livestock disease; a failure to use modern data processing and above all a failure to deploy preventive vaccination strategies.

So says The Organic Research Centre – Elm Farm director Lawrence Woodward, who is appalled at the "whitewash" nature of this publication.

On vaccination, Dr Anderson writes that –

"Maintaining the capability to vaccinate will continue to be important as a potential disease control strategy."


"The 2002 Report recommended that 'the Government should establish a consensus on vaccination options for disease control in advance of an outbreak.' In 2007 there was a limited number of calls for a vaccination policy to be adopted from very early on in the disease. Despite the work undertaken by Defra to explore and explain its vaccination policy after 2001, there remains confusion over the pros and cons of adopting such a policy for the country as a whole. Vaccination still remains a highly complex area. Defra should continue to engage with its community of interest to explain the issues and how the key scientific, risk, economic

and welfare factors are integrated into decision making."


In other words - after the catastrophe of FMD in 2001 which cost the lives of millions of animals and this country and the EU upwards of £8 billion - six years of debate and policy research on FMD vaccination have apparently delivered nothing.


Says Lawrence Woodward – “From this report we can see that an FMD outbreak on the scale of 2001 would still overwhelm Government capabilities, still lead to the widespread slaughter of (mostly) healthy stock and still ignore modern diagnostic and vaccination regimes.”