October 29 - November 4 ~ " Are you saying that basically more meat is seized than you actually state in your own report?"
asked the interviewer of Elliot Morley in last Tuesday's File on Four.
EM: Well I, I’m not quite sure to be honest with you what report you’re referring to there.Read extract in full
AS: I’m actually looking at the figures, and I’ll read from the cover, “The annual review of controls on imports of animal products: April 2003 to March 2004: DEFRA.”
EM: I, I haven’t got that report. I’m terribly sorry.
October 29 - November 4 ~ A tale of two videos
See FWi article states that the distressing video was filmed on "Feb 24 2001 – four days into the crisis and just four weeks after the farm’s swill feeding licence was renewed by government agents." The FWi articlequotes Chris Price, a legal expert with the CLA who says,
"The video provides crucial evidence that the government through its agent – the vet Jim Dring – was negligent."The footage appalled all who saw it. Conditions at Burnside were certainly very nasty on February 24 2001- but we have been told that MAFF had taken sawdust normally used for bedding to make a disinfectant mat across the road. The pigs had been forcibly "bled" for analysis by means of wire nooses, had been dragged through the pens and were covered in pig-muck. They were desperately hungry and miserable - and responsibility for this would appear to be as much that of the officials as the vilified farmer.
October 29 - November 4 ~ Policy appears to be to trust that it will not happen again, and, if it does, to kill again, with the same callous indiscrimination.
"Now a video of Bobby Waugh's Burnside Farm has been released. Shot by Northumberland Trading Standards Department four days after the outbreak of foot and mouth, it is a record of unremitting squalor, bad husbandry and conditions in which any infection would thrive. Yet this was the farm to which Government vet Jim Dring granted a licence, this the farm in which the epidemic germinated...." The Western Morning News article on the video
October 29 - November 4 ~ April 29 2004 "I would be willing to give way now to the Minister if he wanted to rise to guarantee to the House that no other information has been withheld
and that Dr. Anderson received each and every piece of relevant information relating to the outbreak. I should be happy to give way if the Minister wished to do that, but I am afraid that the fact that he is not—[Interruption.] Oh, he is.
Mr. Bradshaw: I have asked that question of officials and have been assured that that is the case.
Mrs. May: Well, we have had a lot of Ministers standing up to talk about what officials have or have not done. It is about time Ministers took responsibility for what happens in their Departments. .." Hansard
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Mr Bradshaw's answers about the video raise more questions.
"My understanding is that the video contains nothing new. All of the details contained in the video, I am told, were given to the Anderson Inquiry. .... the video was part of the trial of Bobby Waugh."Could "all of the details contained in the video" have been given to the Anderson Inquiry when some of those details were, as far as we understand it, discredited at the trial?
DEFRA's "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" says " ... Bins of unprocessed waste food were present on Burnside Farm at the time of the MAFF VO visit on 23 February, some of which was in bins supposedly reserved exclusively for processed waste." The cross examination on day 5 of the trial - in notes that we can only assume are accurate - would appear to cast doubt on this assertion.
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Mr Waugh was asked how he believed the disease got into his herd
(trial notes) and replied, "I don't know but its been in the sheep for a long time. I'd burned some sheep in my farm just prior to this that belonged to a friend of Mr Leadbitter." On the 13th February 2001 sheep at Ponteland, five miles from Burnside farm at Heddon on the Wall, were found to be infected and it was assumed that Waugh's pigs were the source - but for several days at that time, the prevailing wind had been North Westerly. Dr Alex Donaldson's paper shows that it is unlikely that the relevant virus strain could have travelled in the air such a distance. The diseased sheep from Ponteland went to Hexham market where they mixed with other sheep and from there to Longtown market, where they mixed with others. Bobby Waugh may have been right; the virus may have travelled from Ponteland to Burnside farm and not the other way around. See also Chronology of FMD
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Elliot Morley says that dairy farming has the "biodiversity capacity of green concrete"
He said this during the announcement of the RSPBs latest wild bird population figures. (Misleading data in bird population figures discussed below) He later hurriedly explained that he had meant "intensive" dairy farming - but the intensification of the dairy industry is driven by low milk prices forced by supermarkets. Dairy farmers are being forced - most unwillingly - to intensify by increasing herd sizes. Milk prices no longer even cover the farmer's production costs. Peter Lundgren of FARM said,
"This is a shallow and fatuous thing for the environment minister to say and shows a real lack of sensitivity for the drivers that are pushing dairy farmers to intensify. We are losing small family farms - and the wildlife they support - because of horrendous financial hardship. This is largely because of this government's surrender to the supermarkets."Jim Paice MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Affairs adds
"This is extremely offensive to the countless dairy farmers in this country who are struggling to break even. To suggest that dairy farmers are less interested in the natural environment is to show this Government in its true light - in complete ignorance of farming matters and without any empathy for the difficulties farmers face. We all want to see farms and birds thrive but this won't be achieved by insulting farmers."FARM's Just Milk campaign is seeking to mobilise the general public in support of dairy farmers. With 40 dairy farms going out of business every week, and the diversity of the countryside being eroded, the crisis is growing.
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Jim Paice challenges Beckett over Foot and Mouth video
Following the private viewing last week of the video of Burnside Farm taken by Northumberland Trading Standards, Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Jim Paice has challenged Margaret Beckett as to when the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs first knew about the video. He has asked in Parliamentary Questions
Commenting, the Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture Jim Paice said:
- whether any DEFRA official was present at the trial of Bobby Waugh,
- when the video was used by the prosecution, and
- when her Department first obtained a copy of that video.
"The failure of Ministers to see the video is an abdication of responsibility, their failure to provide it to the Anderson Inquiry points to a cover-up and Ben Bradshaw says there is nothing new in the video, yet how does he know if he hasn't seen it? A ministry official at last week's showing stated that DEFRA had a copy, I want to know when they got it." (Conservative Party press release)
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Ben Bradshaw confuses Professor Roy Anderson and Dr Iain Anderson - and continues to blame "the farmer who was responsible for illegal and irresponsible practices" for government bungling.
Hansard for Oct 21 2004
Mr. James Paice : It is astonishing if no Minister has seen the video that shows the failings of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in respect of the inspections at Burnside farm. Despite the fact that that video and Mr. Dring's report were not shown to the Anderson inquiry ......See also Mr Bradshaw's reply to Andrew George below so reminiscent of Fawlty Towers' Manuel - "I know nothing" - in the Hansard report..."All of the details contained in the video, I am told, were given to the Anderson Inquiry. Professor Anderson himself said that etc etc".
Mr. Bradshaw: The Conservatives continue with their historic attempt to deflect blame for the foot and mouth outbreak away from where it belongs—with the farmer who was responsible for illegal and irresponsible practices, and who was prosecuted for them—and towards MAFF, as it was then called, and the people who check illegal imports. Professor Anderson has already said that, even if he had had all the information that has come to light in the past few months, his recommendations would have been exactly the same. read in full
The Junior DEFRA Minister seems to have forgotten - or never knew - that the Lessons Learned Inquiry was chaired by Dr Iain Anderson not Professor Roy Anderson whose modelling led to the disastrous "contiguous cull". When the spokesman for DEFRA and the government is capable of such errors one wonders if he has ever understood anything at all about the foot and mouth fiasco of 2001.
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Andrew George has called for the re-opening of the Anderson Inquiry
From Press release
"having seen this morning – I have to say a very distressing – video by Northumberland Trading Standards Department of Bobby Waugh’s Burnside Farm four days after the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001; can I ask the Minister has he seen that video – I know his Department has it – and if so does he agree with me that it provides ample justification for a re-opening of Dr. Iain Anderson’s inquiry into the causes of and the lessons learned from that Foot and Mouth outbreak. ....Read in full
Following the exchange, Mr George said:
“I am surprised that no Minister has seen this video. I doubt they would be so complacent if they had seen it.“I do not believe the Dr Iain Anderson Inquiry either took into account this evidence or considered the implications. The Inquiry should be re-opened.”
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ What was the origin of the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak?
Although it was politically convenient to identify pig swill as the cause of Foot and Mouth and severe restrictions on feeding swill to pigs have been introduced - no proof that this was the original infectious agent was ever produced See chronology of FMD pages
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ "As of September 2004 the RSPCA signed an Agreement with Defra giving the RSPCA full prosecution status..."
See notes from FoBAS about the Animal Welfare Bill and their deep concern about the Bill and its implications
"....At present the public are being dubbed ‘silly for assuming that because the RSPCA have officials called Inspectors they are incorrectly assuming that Inspector will mean an RSPCA Inspector.’See also the evidence to the EFRA Committee from the Self-Help Group for Farmers, Pet Owners and Others Experiencing Difficulties with the RSPCA
..there are whole areas of the Country where people live in fear of the RSPCA ....people are so afraid they will not allow us to use their stories....
...in September 2004 the RSPCA signed an Agreement with Defra giving the RSPCA full prosecution status ...... We are moving into very frightening times and the public is about to receive a very rude awakening. ...
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Royal Agriculture Society of England officially accepts Foot and Mouth Archive
The Reverend Patricia Pinkerton writes "The Library of The Royal Agriculture Society of England, have officially accepted all the Foot and Mouth Disease information, documents, research, photographs tapes and videos that I have collected and given to them on behalf of us all. The official announcement will go out in the Royal Society bulletins as well as in Farming journals. ... Thank you all for the assistance you gave me in collecting all the hundreds of documents. Remember there are still more out there. If you know anyone who would be willing to place them in the archive, for research and also as a fountain of knowledge (we won't get caught out again!) my e.mail address is at the top of the page. ... it's not too late to send me more anecdotes, photos, diaries and documents or CD Roms.This is the archive of the people who were there."
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ breed quality is being threatened by Wales's scrapie eradication programme..."So why do we need to start meddling?"
Wales' top breeder of hardy Welsh Mountain sheep, Goronwy Edwards, (trading as JH Edwards & Sons) has voiced his fears for the future of the breed ... See icnorthwales.co.uk
"...Efforts to breed out the disease has skewed the market in favour of rams of all breeds which are more genetically resistant to the disease. Mr Edwards said: "I have been breeding Welsh Mountain rams for 50 years and I have never seen this disease. "I was up on the hills the other day and I was thinking how my flock was a picture of perfect health. So why do we need to start meddling and take something from our ewes simply to stop something I have never seen in my life? Often the best rams are not group 1 scrapie-resistant but group 2 or 3. I've bought a group 1 ram this year but I've also bought two group 2s. "I see a lot of people buying inferior rams just because they're group 1, and that cannot be good for the future of a breed."
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ "an institution guarding its research and exclusive status?"
Mr Nicholas Soames asked (Oct 19) of Mrs Beckett (PQ 191755) "what research she has evaluated on onsite polymerase chain reaction real time technology for diagnosis of animal and plant disease."
Mr Ben Bradshaw's not altogether straightforward answer included this
"....work is continuing at the Institute for Animal Health on the development of novel assays for early, rapid and pen-side ('on-site') testing for foot and mouth disease. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has also launched a joint venture with industry to develop the technology's wider potential to provide reliable diagnostic tests for animal diseases. .."The full reply from Mr Bradshaw may be read here
We are reminded of Dr Watkins submission to the Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry in 2002 in which she questioned Pirbright's monopoly
"... typical of an institution guarding its research and exclusive status. Is it hoping to suppress competition to its own tests? Does it stand to financially benefit? ....DEFRA refused to collaborate with an independent UK laboratory, Micropathology Ltd, to allow it to develop a sensitive and real time PCR test for the epidemic FMD strain. Neither was competition allowed from within the veterinary science establishment......an offer of help came from the USDA collaborating with Tetracore .... .....Pirbright turned down the offer on the grounds of "lack of time". Seven months later Pirbright took the very same machine and started their own laboratory trials. ..... a bottleneck of FMD testing at Pirbright was unnecessarily created. ." Read in fullSee also warmwell pages on technical advances in rapid diagnosis and the reluctance of the UK to make use of it for FMD.
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ Either motivation is equally unethical and retarded development of FMD immunoassays
A reminder of the letter from United Biomedical Inc. to the Royal Society Inquiry of Edinburgh
" IAH-Pirbright is now involved with a competitor of UBI for the commercialization of their own NS test so it appears that their lack of cooperation may have been due to an economic conflict of interest. To put a kinder light on it, perhaps they simply decided to retain an intellectual exclusivity to FMD immunoassays. .."If Pirbright, formerly a "public service" laboratory, is now forced to make money in the market place for its very survival, questions should surely be asked as to why.
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ "The BVA is of the view that, at the clinical level, we are no better equipped to deal with another FMD outbreak than we were in 2001. .."
President of BVA, Dr Bob McCracken's Presidential Speech on October 14th
".....Government cannot simply wash its hands of such responsibilities leaving everything to market forces and must weigh the cost implications of its strategies against the cost to the nation if disease control fails. ...... The commitment to a partnership approach must not allow the Government to negate its responsibility in this regard.Read in full
The veterinary profession has much to offer in terms of manpower, knowledge and expertise. We are willing and able to play a greater part in our industry's efforts to turn the threats into challenges. But we cannot do so if we no longer exist in adequate numbers and the BVA has grave concerns...... "
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ Collaborative effort is vital in fighting animal disease.
This website is dedicated to changing the narrow UK mindset that considers mass slaughter is still an acceptable way of dealing with animal disease. We have been impressed by international efforts to pool expertise and resources - such as this from the Israeli embassy: "Common, co-ordinated epidemiological studies leading to a common control policy should be sought and supported by the international community" and the new international initiative from the Humanitarian Resource Institute :the International Veterinary Public Health Consortium (See below)
a Guest editorial in the Veterinary Journal makes the same points forcefully
"close collaborative effort is required to provide the best scientific approach to elimination of disease. ....contiguous slaughter was rarely achieved within the 48 hour target in the field and many species of animal on contiguous premises remained in good health and went beyond the accepted incubation periods for FMD before they were killed.. ...analysis clearly demonstrates the importance of field veterinary epidemiology and effective collaboration in disease control strategies."Professor Crispin's editorial may be read here and on the science page. We have reason to fear that DEFRA's current view of foot and mouth is that it is "old news" and that nothing needs to change. One representative from DEFRA attended the EUFMD Convention in Crete.
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ A breakthrough for vaccines that do not need refrigeration
The BBC reports on a new technology developed by Cambridge Biostability which is based on a natural process which allows cells to be preserved in a dried-out state. It could have far reaching implications for vaccination against animla disease - it will make a huge difference to their selection and use if they do not need to be refrigerated. The BBC says "Ministers have given the firm £950,000 to prepare vaccines for trials. ... It is estimated about half of all vaccinations are wasted each year because of contamination or ... extremes of temperature. .... Cambridge Biostability chief scientist Dr Bruce Roser said the technology, called stable liquid, "had the potential to revolutionise international vaccine programmes. .."
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~~ News that could have implications for controlling populations of badgers and foxes.
Researchers in New Zealand have made major progress toward developing a contraceptive for possums in the wild. Dr Janine Duckworth and her team have developed a vaccine that works by immunising female possums so that their eggs are not fertilised. "Our next aim is to further reduce fertility, by more than 50%, and then to make the contraceptive effect last longer. If we can achieve this, the amount of poison used in New Zealand could be reduced by at least 50%, and potentially more as we improve the vaccine..... We want to develop an edible encapsulated bait for the vaccine, which would be easier to use in the field." The researchers plan to apply for ERMA approval to run limited field trials in 2008. Report on this in Scoop.com.nz
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ Trading Standards 'Waugh' video was not submitted to Lessons Learned, it seems.
Foot and MouthThis remains to be seen - in more ways than one. See also Dring case and "origin" of FMD 2001
Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether footage of the video taken by Northumberland Trading Standards on 23 February 2001 of the conditions on Burnside Farm was submitted to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Defra has no record of the video, taken by an official of the Northumberland Trading Standards Department, of the conditions at Burnside Farm, run by Mr. Bobby Waugh, being submitted to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry. The video was shown at Mr. Waugh's trial for breach of his waste food feeding licence which was held in May 2002. The Anderson Inquiry was given and published a full investigation of the causes of the outbreaks of foot and mouth in 2001 and also saw records of the State Veterinary Service visits to the farm. The video contains no new information." Hansard
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ Foot and Mouth Vaccine - now classified information
Foot and Mouth VaccineMr Bradshaw also knows that "Such information shall be submitted to the Commission every 12 months as part of the information required by Article 8 of Directive 64/432/EEC" and a courteous, common sense answer would have given Mr Soames an indication of whether stocks were adequate while assuring him that information as to exact quantities had been passed to the Commission within the past year.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many doses of foot and mouth vaccine are immediately available for the type O virus which occurred in 2001. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Article 79.4 of Council Directive 2003/85/EEC on Community measures for the control of foot and mouth disease states that "The information on quantities and subtypes of antigens or authorised vaccines stored in the national antigen and vaccine bank shall be treated as classified information and in particular shall not be published." Hansard Oct 15
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ "Abigail Woods's book should be made compulsory reading in DEFRA..."
From a new review by Dr Helen Szamuely of Abigail Woods' A Manufactured Plague (see above) "....despite clear evidence all round the world that vaccination does work they pressed ahead with contiguous culling, a misnomer if ever there was one, since it was a wholesale slaughter of healthy animals, often in appalling conditions. ....
The RSPCA, so vociferous on the subject of hunting, was very little in evidence when some of the more shocking stories started coming out.
Some courageous farmers and livestock owners stood up to the might of the state, reinforced as it was eventually by highly efficient and disciplined but rather bemused soldiers. After the epidemic more legislation was introduced that tried to impose draconian penalties on all those who refused to obey diktats, however stupid and counterproductive they might be.
..... the veterinarian science of Britain, controlled by the ministry (under different names) has not moved much beyond the end of the nineteenth century. Whether we shall do so as a result of the shock of the last epidemic and the government's treatment of it, remains to be seen. In the meanwhile, Abigail Woods's book should be made compulsory reading in DEFRA, NFU and numerous other organizations." Read in full
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ Bovine TB - gamma interferon test only 65% specific to m.bovis, "most of the cows in the West will have antibodies"
A knowledgeable farmer takes issue with James Paice's view, quoted in the WMN that "We also need to bring forward the use of the Gamma Interferon test for TB in cattle. It is more accurate than the existing test and would reduce the number of cattle being slaughtered..." The farmer's email says,
".....Re gamma interferon. Paice is wrong. VLA tell me and still confirm, that in UK with wildlife drip feed, as well as being only 65% specific to m.bovis, "most of the cows in the West will have antibodies". Fewer dead cows? No. A whole heap more...."Read in full
October 9 - Oct 16 2004 ~ Foot and Mouth 'Keep Out' sign crossed through in red ink.
This symbol of optimism can be found on the website of EUFMD - the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease. This week sees, in Chania, Crete, The Open Session of the EUFMD Research Group organised by Dr. Keith Sumption and his team from the EUFMD. It occurs every two years and has become the largest regular forum anywhere in the world for scientists specialising or involved in Foot-and-Mouth Disease. This year there will be an important paper delivered from the point of view of ordinary "stakeholders" as well as
Dr Sumption was a critic of the 2001 FMD policies while he was at Edinburgh University. Our own DEFRA, even now, seems trapped in the dogma of "slaughter is the best cure". Meanwhile the international community moves on.
- FMD surveillance and change in risk situation;
- Guidelines for post-vaccinal FMD surveillance;
- Developments in FMD diagnosis;
- Standards and performance of diagnostic services;
- Vaccine development and performance monitoring
- Contingency planning for FMD diagnostic laboratories.
October 9 - Oct 16 2004 ~ "This international initiative will facilitate real time rapid response to biodefense and emerging infectious disease issues"
See too a new initiative from the Humanitarian Resource Institute and the Humanitarian University Consortium.
The International Veterinary Public Health Consortium will be a resource open to academics worldwide providing an opportunity for collaboration and "presentation of topics for advocacy initiatives and country by country analysis, in support of optimization of the veterinary public health infrastructure worldwide" and "funding via communications initiatives with corporate, inter-governmental, non-governmental, United Nations organizations in approximately 195 countries." Topics and reference materials will be posted on the International Veterinary Public Health Consortium web site: http://www.pathobiologics.org/ivphcWe are cheered to note that the Humanitarian Resource Institute quotes Albert Schweitzer at the top of its website: "Until we extend the circle of compassion to all living beings, we shall not find peace"
October 9 - Oct 16 2004 ~ After the Second World War, the activity of selling produce to customers was taken away from British farmers.In response to the item below, "urgent and essential" that farmers link up to the powerful marketing machine that is at its disposal , a sheep farmer from Devon tells us that farmers' markets are not on their last legs in Devon - but that it is difficult to find farms that are able to make use of them.
" ..After the Second World War, the activity of selling produce to customers was taken away from British farmers.... ... Most of the Marketing Boards have now been disbanded. The Milk Marketing Board was the last to go.
The British Wool Marketing Board [BWMB] still continues. It is still illegal for a sheep farmer to sell his own wool or anything made from it to anyone other than the BWMB!
The effect is to stifle innovation and local initiative.
The creation of the BWMB had the effect of causing the closure of almost all the local woollen mills and the loss of their wool grading skills. Now a sheep farmer wishing to use his own wool and process it locally must deal with a monopoly which is supported by the law – and if he succeeds in reclaiming his own wool, he will not find a local processor. Little wonder that everyone is wearing “fleeces” made from artificial fibre – and wool is almost a waste product on most sheep farms..."
He goes on to quote important extracts from the article on warmwell Salty food, public health and the farming industry, ending,
" Through the marketing of local quality food, farmers would be helping to create a totally different food marketplace, one where consumers valued where their food has come from and how it has been produced."Makes you think, doesn’t it?" he concludes. Read in full
We might even get some clear country of origin food labeling in place, traditional breeds of meat and increased diversity of produce. But the supermarkets and food processors might not like that.”
October 9 - Oct 16 2004 ~ Rules designed to protect consumers from being infected through food - " failures in the system "
See Tuesday's Guardian: Abattoirs report cites anti-BSE test failures An independent report lays bare the very failings that this website has deplored since the foot and mouth crisis; lack of proper communication, inconsistencies and ignorance.
The report, headed by Patrick Wall, professor of food safety at University College, Dublin, and former head of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, "found that the environment department Defra, the food agency, the Meat Hygiene Service for which it is responsible, and organisations providing vets, many from abroad, especially Spain, all contributed to failures in the system."
Prof Wall said: "..... the requirements and the objectives of testing were not clearly agreed nor communicated effectively and not properly monitored." ....Instructions had been changed five times and the most significant alteration, that vets should not have the right to exercise professional judgment, had not been flagged up by the authorities.These failings are precisely those from which lessons should have been learned after 2001. That they have not been is deeply disturbing. The FSA studies this report on Thursday. Profound questions about the reason for their existence may be asked. Criminal activity too, involving abattoirs and diseased meat, appears beyond the ability of the agencies supposed to protect the population. see Dirty Meat pages)
...vets seeking further guidance were given inconsistent replies. However British rules about what were casualty animals went far further than the European Union controls demanded, so that sometimes they were not practical... more supervision and training of vets, of which there was a 25% annual turnover. Vets from overseas often did not have practical experience of British abattoirs. More generally, vets felt isolated. " Read article in full
October 9 - Oct 16 2004 ~ "urgent and essential" that farmers link up to the powerful marketing machine that is at its disposal.
Supermarkets v. farmers' markets "Most of the farmers’ markets I have attended this year have been on their last legs..." writes the itinerant seeker of good farm food, Hilary Peters, in the latest part of her ediary; she has now reached Scotland.
".... You have to be a very special farmer to enjoy selling. BUT something needs to be done about the armlock. The free market isn’t free at all..."As the 2004 report, Marketing Review Summary for British Agriculture says: "...DEFRA appear to block grant applications for activity without even considering the possibilities. In France and Austria, the Government departments actively encourage the promotion of their agriculture industries." See State Aid section
"Farmers should be informed about the rules and how they can be applied. Existing restrictions should be reviewed and any problems addressed.
British farmers...need help becoming market-focused and some degree of protection for new marketing initiatives when existing players are operating against them (eg. supermarkets vs farmers' markets).
The industry needs to link up to the powerful marketing machine that is at its disposal but is not currently being exploited - the marketing and communication agencies....This is urgent and essential...."
October 9 - Oct 16 2004 ~"it has returned as one of the most affected councils in London with all sorts of meat crimes - and no one is taking any action"
After a two year fight to get the "Dirty Meat" Dispatches programme aired, it appears to have produced nothing but bland assurances from the agencies responsible. The FSA, quoted in the Guardian, says, "The FSA takes the issue of illegal meat extremely seriously and is assisting local authorities in their efforts to clamp down on illegal meat scams."
Yet Dr Yunes Teinaz tells us; "The FSA is misled by local authorities who do not take any action at all regarding meat crimes and do not recognise that there are such problems in their districts." He adds sadly, "I am doing my best to clear up Hackney from all sorts of meat crimes but unfortunately the hard work I did over the years to clear up Haringey from the illicit trade is gone, wasted . Before I moved on to Hackney few months ago I handed over a Borough with zero tolerance from unfit meat. Now it has returned as one of the most affected councils in London with all sorts of meat crimes - and no one is taking any action."
Warmwell is producing its own "Dirty Meat" page. Contributions and comments welcome. As an anonymous emailer said just after the Dispatches programme:
" Joe Public will never understand how the meat trade works, because it is so 'dirty' and so are some of the government agencies like the MHS .(Meat Hygiene Service) The issues are too complex, the money too appealing and, at the end of the day, the whole trade is run by crooks."
October 9 - Oct 16 2004 ~ "...the ‘war’ will be milk and dairy products, from cheese to chocolate bars."
Private Eye's Muckspreader on the Russian announcement that it would no longer import milk and milk products unless they came from herds certified as TB-free "....But the next step came in September when Russia announced that it would no longer import animals or animal products on the basis of bilateral agreements with individual EU member states. It would in future treat the EU as a single country, all agreements having to be negotiated through Brussels. And herein lies the problem. .." Read in full
October 9 - Oct 16 2004 ~ Breeders get free bird flu vaccine
Seen on ProMed from the Jokarta Post
"....."The vaccine has been distributed to the breeders. We have asked for one million doses, but that amount will be provided in stages," said head of the Grobogan husbandry and fisheries office, Gembong Murdowo, on Monday.Also from Channel News Asia ".... Indonesia in July launched a major vaccination program to eradicate bird flu, which was lingering in some districts...".
"We don't want to repeat the same mistake in which 400 000 chickens were killed here in 2003. The moment we were certain that the virus attacked a farm in Toroh district, we immediately requested vaccine assistance from the central government," he added...".
October 2 - Oct 9 2004 ~ " Their ‘garden of England’ had been destroyed by motorways and road building..."
An article sent to warmwell, contending that urban development is responsible for much greater destruction of our countryside than farmers, shows that the RSPB's widely publicised graph of declining bird species is highly misleading - it simply leaves out the 54 out of the UK's 106 species that are not declining- yet it is a graph that DEFRA and others have accepted without questioning its validity.
"Years ago, the RSPB, recognized that modern farming methods were damaging bird populations. This led to the classification of some bird species as ‘farmland’ (ie land use classification) and some by habitat (eg. woodland, wetland). ..... farmland classification is misleading and should be revised...( English Nature and RSPB have commented in a report on the possible biodiversity benefits of organic farming. While this website is in favour of genuine organic farming, the impact of modern agriculture on global biodiversity is not quite what these two organisations claim - as the article above points out.)
...DEFRA always links everything to farming. It never seems to make the link to car usage, petrol consumption and oil companies. Or out-of-town shopping and supermarkets.
Everyone points the finger at the farmer. They are blamed for polluting rivers, decline in bird populations and destruction of the countryside. In 2000, English Heritage research found that members valued farming for the exact opposite. Farmers protect our countryside. In Kent, the loss of farming was mourned by people in their 30’s as well as their 70’s. Their ‘garden of England’ had been destroyed by motorways and road building. The orchards have disappeared. ..."
October 2 - Oct 9 2004 ~ "Mr Bradshaw has ignored the wishes of consumers and the views of his own advisors."
FWi quotes Patrick Holden, the Director of the Soil Association, on the news that Ben Bradshaw has decided to allow flocks of up to 12,000 birds in a single house - and that such intensively "farmed" birds can still be termed "organic".
"He has also betrayed the public's trust of organic standards. The Soil Association is urging him to reconsider this ill-advised action. This decision will cause economic hardship to many poultry producers working to achieve high standards of production in line with consumer expectations.12 laying birds per square metre will be allowed as a result of this decision. The UK was to have limited organic flock sizes to an absolute maximum of 3000 next year - but Ben Bradshaw, in spite of long discussions with the Advisory Committee on Organic Standards, has postponed this move until 2010 - in order, the FWi says, "to bring the UK into line with other EU member states."
The intensive poultry industry will be rewarded, who we fear had no intention of complying with EU law," Mr Holden said.
October 2 - Oct 9 2004 ~ Bovine TB Russia / EU deal. The farmers with herds under restriction, know nothing at all about this...
Email "What we find extraordinary, is that the people most affected, the exporters and the farmers with herds under restriction, know nothing at all about this..." Read email and a reminder of the issue.
October 2 - Oct 9 2004 ~ "There is more to this than meets the eye"
Having read the paragraph below about the pedigree Dexters, a farmer comments, "The EU will lift the ban if UK ask them to. So why will they not ask? Live exports? It will bring them face to face with calf exports again? Or the existence still of the OTM scheme?
With Portugal now achieving a 'lower' status than UK, but with more cases, there is more to this than meets the eye."
October 2 - Oct 9 2004 ~ There has never been a case of BSE detected in a Dexter herd; nor has BSE ever been found to be hereditary"
As we have said many times on this website, the myths and regulations surrounding BSE appear to be based neither on sound science nor on sound common sense. An email expressing deep exasperation concerns a farming couple with exceptional pedigree breeding stock; Castlemears Dexters. They have firm sale orders from eager customers in France where the local Burgundian dignitaries are most pleased to be welcoming the prospect of such a herd. Yet their applications for shipping and export have been denied.
Even though DEFRA has been assured that the fine award winning pedigree Dexters are not for the food chain, but for breeding only, neither DEFRA nor any other official body has been able to do more than say that, because of EU BSE Regulations, "Live breeding stock cannot be allowed from the UK to France."
On October 1, the Farmer's Guardian reported that the Portuguese export restriction had been lifted - even though its incidence of BSE is higher than in the UK.
To date, applications for assistance have been made to:
The email concludes: "...with the Castlemears Dexters, we are talking PEDIGREE BREEDING STOCK, not live export for slaughter going into an EU Food Chain. If nobody else is challenging this issue, surely FARM and NFU have a principle to stand on?"
- DEFRA vets, Gloucester and London;
- Trading Standards Office,
- BBC Radio Gloucester
- local papers
- Rare Breeds Survival Trust,
- Margaret Beckett
- Prime Minister Tony Blair
October 2 - Oct 9 2004 ~ Dolphin slaughter ".. Mr Bradshaw's ban is no more than a particularly humiliating example of gesture politics."
Booker's Notebook " It will not stop the needless slaughter of dolphins. .... Willie MacKenzie, a spokesman for Greenpeace, put it: "Bradshaw may as well have announced a ban on pair-trawling in village ponds for all the dolphins that his meaningless decision will save." .... the damage is being done, not by British boats, but by French trawlers outside his control. The only pair-trawlers affected by Bradshaw's futile ban will be small inshore boats from ports such as Looe and Mevagissey, which do no harm to dolphins with their bottom-trawls but which earn a good deal of their yearly profits from fishing for bass around Christmas-time. So Mr Bradshaw gets his headlines, the Cornish fishermen lose their income, and the mass killing of dolphins will continue. ...." Read in full - and see below for our coverage this miserable issue.
October 2 - Oct 9 2004 ~ The "Watchtree Nature Reserve" i.e. the Great Orton slaughter and burial site -opened to the public on Saturday.
The News and Star says "The 200-acre site was a former burial ground for 500,000 cattle, sheep and pig carcasses during the foot and mouth crisis of 2001..... A memorial to the FMD crisis was created from a slab of Galloway granite unearthed during burials."
What the News and Star does not say is that, of the many farms which sent sheep and lambs in their lorryload to Great Orton, only one farm was definitely identified to have had the disease. Because of the government's policy, 481,000 sheep and lambs were unnecessarily slaughtered and buried there - 42 thousand healthy sheep in just one day.
In the words of the farming journalist Jeff Swift - it was " one of the greatest acts of government maladministration on record. It also means they must have broken every animal health welfare and animal health rule in the book."
The "Watchtree Nature Reserve" covers up what Nick Green called " .. the scene of one of the most futile massacres known to man." Read Nick's account from February 2002. As the National Foot and Mouth Group wrote in their response to the 2003 Contingency Plan about the use of pre-emptive culling (which remains in the Contingency Plan to this day - in spite of up to date research) "...the figures we have obtained for the Great Orton burial site provide compelling evidence that such measures are neither a proportionate nor rational response to control the disease."
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~ "..we shouldn't be surprised if the FMD virus continues to roll back efforts to contain and eradicate it"
Foot and Mouth virus Type C appears to be back - after several years. Following the report in ProMED-mail on FMD in Brazil, dated Fri 24 Sep 2004 that serotype C has been reported in the North of Brazil, we read this moderator's comment on ProMed for Oct 1
"Type C has been absent from the world scene for several years now. It is very important to figure out exactly how it came back and to ensure that it is contained on the island in the Amazon. This posting (i.e. here) intimates several competing hypotheses for the unusual occurrence of type C. We should certainly put significant efforts into finding out more about the epidemiology of this outbreak. If not, we shouldn't be surprised if the FMD virus continues to roll back efforts to contain and eradicate it, as it has over the past 3 years."
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~ "Free-range chickens may soon be a distant memory, and the switch to factory farms will come at a considerable cost"
Thailand: "Given that people have died ... we can no longer allow free range poultry farming to continue at the current large scale," Mr Chaturon said. Penalties for failing to switch to modern farming methods are to be announced after the weekend..." Independent
The article by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in the Observer about chicken production provides a glimpse of sanity that puts "modern farming methods" in perspective. Fear of human disease, at this stage still unproven disease transmission, "justifies" a move to intensification and away from traditional farming. Vaccination is an alternative - see below - but profits and trade rules are, once again, the stumbling block.
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~"....the potential to trigger another BSE-type export ban on British farm produce ..."
The EU referendum blogspot has seen the DEFRA notice with its quiet references to the threat to milk and milk product exports to Russia as a result of Russia's wish to protect its own dairy industry and a very handy excuse in the form of bovine TB. (See also below)
From the EUreferendum blog article:
"... the DEFRA notice blandly announced, "Exports from EU Member States will stop if Russia and the EU cannot agree certification by then.....the potential to trigger another BSE-type export ban on British farm produce ...... there is a distinct possibility that, because any dairy products from any EU member states might contain British milk, Russia may well ban all EU dairy products unless there is a guarantee that this milk is excluded."Read in full
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~"He's taken the easy route out by banning British boats from doing it"
That Ben Bradshaw's ban on British bass pair trawling will not be enough to prevent the deaths of hundreds of dolphins each year is the belief of fishing experts and conservationists quoted in Wednesday's WMN They say that the move shows how powerless the Government is.. "Jim Portus, chief executive of the South Western Fish Producers Organisation, said: "What this actually proves is that the fisheries minister is totally unable to introduce legislation that would affect the boats that are actually catching the dolphins. "He's taken the easy route out by banning British boats from doing it.... It will just create a void which will be filled by French fishermen."..." See also below
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~ "Mr Bradshaw conceded that there was little more he could do about the controversial French-dominated fishery without agreement at an EU level."
The Western Morning News reports that Mr Bradshaw ".. said he would take action to close the winter bass fishery within the UK's 12-mile coastal limits within the next few weeks. The Exeter MP said he would also act to limit the small number of British boats involved in the fishery, which has been widely blamed for causing the deaths of hundreds of dolphins washed up on the beaches of the Westcountry and northern France each year. Although the announcement is likely to infuriate France, Mr Bradshaw conceded that there was little more he could do about the controversial French-dominated fishery without agreement at an EU level. Addressing a fringe meeting on dolphin deaths Mr Bradshaw said: "This is not going to solve the problem on its own - we are doing it because it is what we can do." See also below
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~ Avian flu - "countries wishing to eradicate the disease may choose to use vaccination.."
There is more media coverage of the suspected human to human (H5N1) virus infection transmission - (which cannot be confirmed because the index case was cremated, comments ProMed). The UN are now calling the avian influenza situation a "crisis of global importance." (BBC) The FAO in close collaboration with OIE , (after 30 million birds at least have already been killed), now concede that "countries wishing to eradicate the disease may choose to use vaccination as a complementary measure to the stamping out policy..." and the 2 organizations confirm that the use of vaccines does not imply automatic loss of export markets. See ProMed Mail on the new FAO guidelines. The EU requirement for absence of vaccination against HPAI for at least 3 years in order to allow import of live poultry and of non-heat-treated poultry products have driven Thailand's non-vaccination policy. We now wait to see what will be the EU's response to the current FAO/OIE recommendations. No regular reader of this website will fail to see the parallels with FMD 2001.
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~ Smithfield and its nauseating intensive pig production is taking over in Poland...a glimpse of things to come.
Poland is now acutely at risk from multinational corporations and banks " abetted by corrupt officials and EU bureaucrats"
".... Smithfield is one of America's most corruptive and politically virulent corporations. There are former ministers of agriculture and even some currently serving officials on Animex's board"..Read article in full and see also Inbox for September 28
."...Prima's factory farm at Nielep where 30,000 pigs are confined in two storey buildings. A tall man identifying himself as the manager met us at the gate of the compound, removed his surgical mask and demanded that we keep away. He claimed that although there was no bedding for the pigs they were well looked after, and the factory had all the appropriate permits and the required number of employees. However, he refused to say how many pigs were impounded, how many died each day or what mix of chemicals were pumped into them. Admitting that he had been taken to Smithfield installations in North Carolina for training, he even mouthed the standard company line; "Our local and national opponents are selfishly concerned with animal welfare instead of feeding the world..."
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~ Bovine TB is now being used as a trading excuse
An emailer infoms us that "Russia has banned British milk because of bovine Tb. That is (as with BSE) all products made from milk including confectionery, chocolate, butter, butter oil, powder, cheese etc.
Russia wants to get its own dairy industry on its feet before it is swamped by Polish exports (also banned) but this is the first time Tb has been used as a trading excuse. Britain will have another situation of 'market management by disease manipulation'..." (See also http://www.dairyreporter.com/news/printNewsBis.asp?id=54751)
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~ Dirty Meat - "... the sort of thing which inevitably happens when governments issue daft, unnecessary laws"
Muckspreader this week links the criminal practices exposed in Channel 4's Dispatches programme to the "bureaucratic edicts which have ever less connection to the real world in which the rest of us have to live." - and the situation is now getting worse. Those of us who are still able to enjoy locally killed, humanely produced meat may be able to do so no longer:
".... ‘low throughput’ exemption is to be abolished. This means that any small local slaughterhouses still in business will have to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds to put them on a par with the largest industrial abattoirs (most of which received huge sums of public money in the 1980s to bring them up to ‘EC export standard’). Since there is no way these tiny businesses can afford such astronomic sums, it looks as though, within two years, all the remaining tiny local abattoirs will have to close their doors....Some of the best-quality meat still on the market will no longer be there to buy. And the only people rejoicing will be the supermarkets, who will have knocked out yet another tranche of their smaller competitors."Read in full
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ Correction. Professor Roy Anderson is no longer the Chair at the Science Advisory Council
We are grateful to Lynsey Jackson at the Science Advisory Council for advising us that:
"following his appointment as Chief Scientist for the MOD, Professor Anderson has decided that he should resign as Chair and Member of the Science Advisory Council. We will now begin the official procedure to find and appoint a new Chair. In the meantime, Sir John Marsh has agreed to act as interim Chair..."(i.e. Professor Sir John Marsh CBE, Governor of the Scottish Crop Research Institute and the Royal Agricultural College, and President of the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants, the Vice-Chair of SAC)
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ Ten minute test to detect vCJD and BSE
Following the news that about 6,000 people have been warned by letter that they may have been exposed to vCJD through blood plasma products, the news of Dr Chris Pomfrett's rapid test, earlier reported in May this year by Fordyce Maxwell in the Scotsman...
"It consists of three plastic stickers, about four inches across. These can be placed harmlessly anywhere on the side of the cow as long as they form a triangle and are connected to what looks like a big calculator for about five minutes. Then we have a result and know if the cow has BSE symptoms." He went on: "We started work on this in 1996 and applied for a patent in 1997. It could be on farms soon and become part of routine management." read in full... is being re-reported.
The Manchester Evening News, among others, says,
"......Experts at the Manchester Royal Infirmary have invented a simple, painless heart test which takes just ten minutes to find out whether patients have the fatal brain-wasting condition variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, known as vCJD. After two years of successful human and cattle trials on the heart-rate monitor, it is now being developed by a firm who say that it could be put into action as early as next year..."Many unanswered questions remain about the cause of BSE, its method (if any) of transmission and its ability or not to cross species barriers. (BSE page) But the imminence of a rapid test is very good news.
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ Anderson's assertion that contiguous culling still has a place in FMD control...
An emailer writes with this :
"If so, then why hasn't all the epidemiological data from 2001 been made publicly available for independent, scientific analysis? (as requested by the EU Parliament Inquiry report)The Western Morning News points out this morning that Dr Nick Honhold, himself a DEFRA vet in Carlisle during the crisis "used data from Defra's own databases and found "no evidence" that the contiguous cull helped to hasten the end of the outbreak." Read in full
Unless and until this happens neither Defra or Roy Anderson or the Science Group can claim that contiguous culling has any role in FMD control."
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~" the worst example comes from Wigtown where on the basis of 2 confirmed cases 218 farms had their stock slaughtered"
said Professor Sheila Crispin on Farming Today on Wednesday. But an emailer points out that the 218 farms had contiguous culls imposed on them, not only because of the two premises proved to be infected but as a result of the 11 so-called IPs that proved negative and 2 further "IP"s that were never tested at all. There were also 200 so-called "Dangerous Contact" culls ( DCs) in Wigtownshire. None of these was tested. Nor were any of the farms whose animals were summarily slaughtered.
Rapid diagnosis -available at the time and offered for field trials and since used successfully all over the world - would have avoided this carnage. It needs to be repeated that this sort of thing was repeated across the country. What is often not remembered either is that thousands more farms, put on movement restrictions (often quite erroneously) were never compensated for their loss of revenue and miserable situation.
Wigtownshire was perhaps the worst example of the shocking waste of contiguous slaughter - but the trauma and loss, so much of it unjustified by proven disease, was repeated in the affected areas.
Dr Roger Breeze made so clear yesterday, that
".. there are alternative tools that are already available to deal with this: vaccines, diagnostics, rapid diagnostics and in fact we don't have to engage in mass slaughter...These tests have been available for a number of years. They're produced by reputable scientists working in first class institutions....There are thousands of these machines in use all the time. .."Professor Anderson continued to assert in Friday's programme he has "no doubt" that there is a place for contiguous culling in any future outbreak. Professor Roy Anderson continues to advise the government and has been appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to the MOD. He chairs the new Scientific Advisory Committee and has other posts of influence. (Correction - see above)
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ " it is really preposterous for people to say that in some way this is some sort of theoretical device which has yet to be tested.
Dr Roger Breeze puts the record straight about rapid diagnosis tests on Farming Today.
" The Department of Defense is using this every day in Afghanistan and Iraq - all over the world. There are thousands of these machines in use all the time. And so, you know, the people who think this is theoretical really ought to get out there in the world and see what is really going on..."Professor Sheila Crispin adds, "our problems with vaccination lay with export status. I hope that a lot of that has now been sorted out. Penside tests were available at the time of the epidemic. They required field validation. It would have been a wonderful opportunity, one would have thought, to do field validation of those tests." Transcript
Interestingly, when given as always the opportunity to reply, DEFRA had the grace to admit that the models were flawed, but appeared to make a confusing distinction between rapid diagnosis on-farm tests and what it called "pen-side" tests. (The concern that reluctance to use rapid PCR may have - and might have had - a commercial basis was raised in the course of this submission to the Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry.)
Read the Farming Today transcript in full More on vaccination
Up to 85.6% (over 5 million) of the animals slaughtered in the UK 2001 FMD epidemic were not infected nor incubating the disease at the time of slaughter. There is no evidence to show that the target of slaughter of infected premises within 24 hours of clinical diagnosis was ever achieved. Data and some further analysis
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ "The terrorism dollars have done a great service to public health in terms of providing staffing and getting us to see things a little bit differently..."
"Bioterrorism funds" in the US are funding Washington's statewide biosurveillance project to link the monitoring of human and animal diseases "... discussion about national animal disease surveillance is just beginning.."
"....gathering baseline data for understanding zoonotic diseases that could be used as biological weapons, identifying emerging infections, improving communication between vets and public health workers, and paying for diagnostic testing....CIDRAP.umn.edu
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has encouraged countries to develop and maintain wildlife disease surveillance programs in conjunction with farm animal disease programs, said Thomas DeLiberto, DVM, PhD, with the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services branch in Colorado. And a World Health Organization (WHO) regional director said on Sep 14 that WHO must pay closer attention to animal health because zoonotic diseases will keep emerging. ...Training those who report diseases is also important....Teamwork could mean faster identification of zoonotic disease outbreaks, because animal tests have outpaced their human counterparts..."
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ Stark revelations about the scale of meat crime within Britain's food chain were finally aired last night
The behaviour of Colin Patterson and Alfred Carter was shown for all to see on Channel 4's Dispatches programme. Dr Yunes Teinaz, whose words about the extent of meat crime have been on this website since May, was shown wryly commenting on the lack of resources to fight the work of meat criminals - whereas the amount of money to be made by the criminals runs into literally hundreds of thousands of pounds. Even when caught, some perpetrators are either allowed to go free when a case is abandoned or are given derisory sentences, as we saw last night. Warmwell knows that the criminals at the top are ruthless, dangerous and influential. At present there seems no real attempt to combat them. The Meat Hygiene service which is an executive Agency of the Food Standards Agency cannot be regarded as above suspicion, while what we saw in yesterday's programme suggests that corruption and collusion can be found in very high places, that agencies get government money to check on safety and hygiene but do not do so. We are told that one person caught Alfred Carter out, but she was reprimanded by the Meat Training Council in 1999. Hundreds of thousands of pounds embezzled from tax payers' money, a real danger to public health - and we wait to see what waves, if any , the Dispatches programme makes.
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ British farmers are not allowed to promote their own produce to the consumer ...
An emailer has written an eye-opening article.
"After two and a half years and £500 million pounds, Sir Donald Curry hasn't spent any of his Sustainable Food and Farming budget on reconnecting farmers and consumers with how their food is produced or where it has come from. ... However, the major supermarkets and food processing multinationals don’t want the public to ‘reconnect’ with ‘where their food comes from or how it is produced’. If we did that, then the consumer might not want to buy Tesco ready made meals with chicken from Thailand in it. All flavoured with a few spoonfuls of salt.Read in full and note that the "NFU is following supermarket strategy. Sir Donald Curry is following supermarket strategy. The Red Tractor is a fudge. It can go on imported produce and keep the supermarkets happy..".
So any major marketing initiatives to help farmers and smaller food producers have been starved from Government funding...
...the marketing budgets of UK farmers are handled by the levy bodies (MDC, HGCA, MLC) and are blocked by DEFRA under spurious State Aid Rules. As a result, British farmers are not allowed to promote their own produce to the consumer in their home state ie. Britain...
..(in the past ten years) there has been no effective national marketing activity to help educate the 59 million UK consumers about the benefits of eating local, fresh, quality food ...rather than highly-processed ready made Tesco, Wal-Mart and Sainsbury's meals from Lord Haskin’s kitchen factory and fast food outlets. Hence the problems we are now facing.... "
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ For three years we have been saying the same thing - remedies available to the authorities in 2001 were ignored. Experts both international and local were dismissed as irrelevant.
Many readers are angry at what they see as misrepresentation of the facts by Professor Roy Anderson in Friday's Farming Today programme. We are confident that this will be challenged next week. Meanwhile, here are some links about what was technically available to the authorities in 2001 and how very successfully vaccination and rapid diagnosis were used elsewhere in 2001.
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ "Successful conflict management depends on conflicting parties opening communication channels
and developing networks of trust for effective collaboration and dialogue...."
A quotation from the final report of the REDCAFE, Reducing the conflict between cormorants and fisheries on a pan- European scale EU Project and very relevant to the sort of issues that are of concern to this website, a website that exists only because effective collaboration and dialogue, communication channels and trust have been out of reach for so many people who care about livestock and the country.
"....the project would only succeed if all stakeholders had a voice and the opportunity to state their case. Through such active participation, all REDCAFE participants - even those who may have felt disenfranchised at first - were able to begin the critical process of building trust and rapport ...."What emerges, even to an outsider, is of a project that took a long time and a lot of trouble in order to get things right, using state of the art science, varied areas of genuine expertise, local knowledge - and that got widely different groups of people talking together constructively. By skilful management, the project enabled natural and social scientists, conservationists, anglers, commercial fishermen and fish farmers from 25 countries to share information. This, surely, must be the effective way to proceed.
As far as animal disease control is concerned in the UK, one is left suspecting that the consultation process is merely something that must be seen to be happening rather than a real forum, that stakeholders' meetings are badly managed, frustrating and ineffectual and that there are woefully few official or government experts in whom one can have any trust. Has the "permanently operational" "Expert group" composed of epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists in a balanced way had a meeting yet? All we hear are the usual suspects still attempting to justify the unjustifiable.
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ Pest control for Cormorants.
A main conclusion of the REDCAFE project (pdf file) mentioned above, is that
"A combination of ecological, demographical, climatologic and geographic data into a GIS based Decision Support System may help to predict future Cormorant ‘problems’ and reduce current ones by integrated management (see section 3.7) rather than ‘pest’ management."Ben Bradshaw, however, in spite of the fact that population studies have suggested widespread culling across Europe probably wouldn’t make any difference, (see pdf file above) has opted for pest management.
Last Thursday he announced a revised licensing system which "will make it simpler to apply for licences to cull cormorants where serious damage to fisheries can be shown." Questions may now be asked about why fox and badger populations are being allowed to soar, leaving them open to inhumane and illegal killing practices such as trapping and poisoning which cannot discriminate between the healthy and the sick.
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~ "no evidence that contiguous culling controlled foot and mouth" Farming Today
Friday's Farming Today picks up on the research featured in the Veterinary Record. (See below) "... the contiguous cull was influenced by leading disease control experts or epidemiologists including Professor Roy Anderson from Imperial College in London. But new research suggests that there is no evidence that contiguous culling controlled foot and mouth. The work's been carried out by the Veterinary Epidemiology Unit in Belfast. The unit's Dr Nick Honhold told me how he got these results.." Transcript follows...and it is suggested that interested parties might listen to the programme on Tuesday for further revelations.
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~ "I can't quite understand why it has taken so long to resolve these issues" Professor Phil Thomas
Cumbria News and Star Professor Phil Thomas updated councillors yesterday on what had happened since his 124-page report was published in 2002 ......
there was still no tested local contingency plan for Cumbria, in case of a future outbreak.
... many businesses still had outstanding claims for payment against the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs "I can't quite understand why it has taken so long to resolve these issues"
Prof Thomas also said there was a lack of scientific understanding of how foot and mouth disease spread,
there had been no research of the emotional, social and health effects of the outbreak on children,
... little progress had been made on providing insurance cover for businesses in a future outbreak.....
Cumbria County Council leader Tim Stoddard said: "Since foot and mouth disease occurs all over the world there is no absolute guarantee it won't be introduced into the UK again. It is patently obvious, therefore, that we must attempt to devise local control strategies and procedures that will minimise the loss for farmers and other businesses. We must be able to move fast and decisively." (This article was - astonishingly - given the headline F&M plan looks good for future ...)
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~ "The intensity of culling of contiguous premises had no significant relationship to the rate of spread of the disease.."
Papers appearing in the Veterinary Record recently, by N. Honhold, BVSc, MSc, PhD, DipECVPM, MRCVS and other distinguished vets, analyse the application of contiguous culling (in the latest issue, specifically in Cumbria) The analyses suggest that automatic contiguous culls were wasteful. In the May 15 edition we read "focusing on controlling the potential spread of the disease over short distances by culling premises contiguous to infected premises, while the disease continued to spread over longer distances, may have resulted in excessive numbers of premises being culled." In the September 4th issue, we read: "In England, the largest numbers of geographically clustered infected premises were in Cumbria, the South West (Somerset, Devon and Cornwall) and the Settle/Clitheroe area ....The average time from the first lesion to slaughter had a statistically significant relationship in two of the three clusters and the intensity of culling of non-contiguous premises had a significant relationship in one. The intensity of culling of contiguous premises had no significant relationship in any of the three clusters." Veterinary Record Pages 287-294 4th September 2004. See also http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/devon/3666896.stm
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~ The system created to protect the public from diseased and unfit meat is flawed at every level.
Dispatches on Channel 4 Monday 20th September, 8pm
The Dirty Meat ScandalRead in full The meat business in this country is dirty and dangerous in more ways than one. This Dispatches programme is long awaited and will shock.
"...Dispatches uncovers dirty, diseased and illegal cuts of meat being sold by a wholesaler who supplies shops and restaurants in London; a distinguished meat industry figure willing to issue essential food handling qualifications to people who have never been trained to do so; the same man, a leading industry consultant, advising clients to defraud Government agencies set up to modernise the food trade ....
....The meat Dispatches bought was infected with diseases like tapeworm and pleurisy. Some of it had abscesses..... The target of our investigations is well known to the authorities, and was under investigation by police and environmental health officers from several areas, yet a series of prosecutions against him collapsed.
.... The programme also investigates a well-connected industry consultant, who admits to defrauding many thousands of pounds in government grants, meant to improve hygiene and safety standards in the industry. He advises our undercover reporter to claim for bogus fees and says that he can obtain falsely inflated invoices from industry suppliers to fool the authorities. ....."
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~ "It is fair to say that we have taken PCR out of the research lab and into the field where it is most needed."
The Telegraph (Wednesday) carries an article about what it calls the "first DNA-based test that can diagnose a range of diseases within 30 minutes" They refer to the "portable mini-lab" developed at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Dstl, Porton Down which "could eventually cost less than £10 each." Trials are to take place at hospitals in Portsmouth and Liverpool and in-the-field testing for animal diseases, including foot and mouth and bovine TB.
Telegraph "The test could change the face of general practice and veterinary medicine. .... ..... Yesterday, speaking at a conference in Bournemouth, Dr Mullis said tests based on the method had huge potential because "you need to know what a disease is before you can do anything about it".Can the UK Government continue now to ignore such rapid diagnostic tests in contingency planning for foot and mouth?
At first, Porton Down wanted to find a way to use PCR for fast battlefield detectors of biological warfare agents such as anthrax but its wider potential was realised ...... The team plans to provide two rapid, automated PCR machines for various uses...
...... There will also be in-the-field testing for animal diseases, including foot and mouth or tuberculosis in cattle within 30 minutes, rather than having to send samples to a lab. Tim Rubidge, Dstl head of technology transfer and investments group, said the idea of a tabletop DNA test laboratory was no longer a "a twinkle in the eye of a research scientist looking far out into the future". ..... The Porton team uses custom-built test tubes made from a novel, electrically-conducting polymer to heat and cool samples. This not only speeds up the process, but also creates a lighter, more portable instrument."
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~" will (DEFRA) make a new kind of history and adopt vaccination?"
A review of Dr Abigail Woods' "A Manufactured Plague" appears this month in the magazine, Country Illustrated.
"....What is particularly striking about Dr Woods's book is the damning light it shines on how little successive governments have learned from previous outbreaks, and how the same mistakes were repeated for more than 80 years...(See also the the warmwell pages concerning the EU Committee's report on Foot and Mouth Disease and their WORKING DOCUMENT 5 a
... the intense suffering inflicted by the official FMD control policy, the highly political nature of disease control, the gulf between MAF's public pronouncements and its private actions, the difficulty of import controls, the institutional resistance to vaccination, and perhaps most critically, just how few of its lessons were remembered ....
...She reminds us that the British Government tried-but failed -to block the EU Parliament inquiry which was so critical of MAFF... She ends by asking, 'Will DEFRA follow the example of the now-defunct MAFF and stick stubbornly to a slaughter-only policy? Or will it make a new kind of history and adopt vaccination? ....' ."
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ "There is no other rapid test kit available that measures only live TB and does not give false positives."
The VScan rapid test kit, made by Medical Services International Inc, is a single use, disposable, accurate, cost effective, easy to use test for the screening of HIV 1&2, Hepatitis B&C, Tuberculosis (TB), Dengue Fever, and West Nile.
Another example of the use of rapid tests for infectious disease. Already in wide use in Chinese hospitals, the delay in making such tests available for both human and animal use in the UK and US is inexplicable.
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ "This situation is too important to both human and animal health authorities worldwide for any unnecessary unanswered questions .."
China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia have all reported new bird flu outbreaks since July in spite of the mass killing of tens of millions of birds. Human deaths from H5N1 now total 28 in Vietnam and Thailand. Media reports are alarmist about the possibility of a human pandemic - making it sound highly probable:
"Unless efforts are intensified to control its spread, a global influenza pandemic could wipe out millions of vulnerable people.... The avian flu virus was detected last month in pet cats and pigs, renewing worries of virus mutation. "Virtually nobody would have immunity against the new virus," Dr Shigeru Omi, a WHO official, warned.ProMed mail is more cautious on the issue of pig infection "findings do not at this stage indicate any major evolution regarding H5N1 infection in pigs..."
As for cats: "There is no current evidence of cat-to-cat or cat-to-human transmission of H5N1 Asian Bird Flu."
Bird flu is not transmitted through eating contaminated meat, but through contact with body fluids or respiration. ProMed is concerned that there should be full international cooperation and transparency:
".... transparency of results and particularly publication of data is crucial when a significant new finding affecting the epidemiology of the influenza virus comes forth. The salient feature of transparent reporting systems is not only that everyone in the world knows what is going on, but they know it in a timely fashion...This situation is too important to both human and animal health authorities worldwide for any unnecessary unanswered questions. .."
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ Defra Q and A page on vaccination still fails adequately to explain about vaccinated meat for home consumption
There is still a misguided fear among producers that vaccination would mean an end to a viable home market for vaccinated animals. Defra's foot and mouth vaccination page of questions and answers, apparently last modified on June 25, does at least do better than the Vaccination Paper they published on the 18 June in explaining about vaccinated meat - but still falls far short of really spelling out what a difference not having to treat vaccinated meat for the home market has made. The derogation obtained from the EU which will allow vaccinated meat and meat products destined for the UK market to be treated in the same way as un-vaccinated product. Post vaccinated and tested meat is allowed on to the home market.
Untreated meat from vaccinated cattle and sheep can be placed on the domestic market.
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ The EU FMD Directive provides for derogation from heat treatments once the Protection or Surveillance Zone has been in place for more than 30 days
Article 58 para 13 of the EU Directive is all-important. A great deal of progress has been made in providing for the use of emergency, protective vaccination and it is unfortunate that the DEFRA Q and A does not make this clearer.
The language of the Directive itself, as with so much legislation that affects ordinary people, seems perversely complicated when understanding it fully is of such vital importance
Nor are import/export arrangements necessarily set in stone. For example, Russia and the EU have reached a new understanding:
FWi ".........EU and Russian negotiators have now agreed that a notifiable disease outbreak such as foot-and-mouth or Classical Swine Fever will no longer automatically block exports from the whole of that country or from the remainder of the EU."
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~" the total amount of illegal meat entering GB each year is calculated on average to be 7,431 tonnes...
... with 90% certainty that this is between 2,771 and 17,484 tonnes per year"
An assessment of the risk to public health was carried out by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) on behalf of Defra. The report is available in chapter sized pdf files from the DEFRA website (not all links appear to be working). It estimates, owing to lack of hard data, that 580lb of the smuggled meat every year is infected with Classical Swine Fever and up to 1,245lb of the bushmeat is contaminated with foot and mouth.
The VLA/Defra report is at some pains to say that the risk is not only from illegal imports :
"A number of trade commodities have the potential to be contaminated with FMDv. Potential sources include live animals: both livestock and pets, animal products: meat, milk, wool, fur, semen, and pharmaceutical products and plant products. In addition, the influx of humans and vehicles may also carry the virus on clothing, baggage and tyres...See also warmwell's page on Meat Crimes
.... identification of such products either at ports of entry or inland at the distribution and retail level, and removal from the exposure chain, would mitigate the risk..."
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ There are six sniffer dogs in Britain, guarding 110 UK ports.
Defra has promised that the number will be increased to 10 by next April.
However, as the Sunday Telegraph reported, also quoted on ProMed mail
"..Machines costing £60 000 that can detect meat are available but none has been installed. ....meat detection machines can "sniff" meat in luggage at the start of its journey and send information to UK airports in time to seize the smugglers as they try to enter the country...."Australia has recently increased its number of detector dog teams from 33 to 48.
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ " How can they give a list of measures let alone reassure consumers?"
In January 2004, the FAO issued a press release about BSE: "when it comes to prevention, the situation is still confused", but then goes on to give a list of required measures for countries in order to, "reassure consumers".
FoodAndDrinkEurope.com "...Ken Conrad:.... If the officials are so confused on how to prevent bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), aka mad cow disease, he asks, then how can they give a list of measures let alone reassure consumers?
"The answer to the above question probably rests with the fact that they believe the mutated prion is a contagion that is spread through consumption of meat and animal by products," he said. "Their belief however is based on a theory that is far from proven and widely disputed.... ....Conrad believes that big business and governments are recklessly disregarding the unique genetic background of individuals and species, with only surface knowledge of what they are doing. .... "Hundreds of thousands of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens are being needlessly slaughtered around the world at the hands of officials who are attempting to justify their actions through fear of disease and/or pandemic, as if to give the impression that they are actually in control of the situation and can prevent it," said Conrad. .."
They have opted for a simplistic solution to a complex problem and any research that demonstrates other than the status quo is marginalised and virtually ignored."
... "I agree with the decision to stop feeding animal byproducts to ruminants," he said. "However I do not believe that Mad Cow Disease, BSE or vCJD result due to the consumption of a mutated prion protein, or that it is transmitted from animal to animal."
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ Compounds used as pesticides, such as DDT and other organochlorine compounds "readily crossed the placenta"
The BBC says "...Dr Margaret Sanders and colleagues carried out tests on donated human placentas and pregnant guinea pigs. They found compounds used as pesticides, such as DDT and other organochlorine compounds, readily crossed the placenta. .."
See also the report on DEFRA's refusal to adopt buffer zones for pesticides in spite of Georgina Downs' gallant and almost single-handed fight, the findings of the Ontario College of Family Physicians Review and cases such as Bayer CropScience dropping of its court action against Friends of the Earth when FOE gave information to the public on how to access safety data on pesticides - including a flagship weedkiller for use on the GM herbicide, Glufosinate Ammonium." Warmwell Pesticides page
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ "The Killing Pens" by Janet Hughes.
The book relates to a legal case taken in 2001 during Foot and Mouth Disease. Janet Hughes became appalled at the actions of Government to eradicate the disease.
" Mass culls occurred in my locality and our countryside became a place of nightmares. I began to discover that the majority of tests had negative results. Hundreds of farms lost livestock in spite of these negative results and the killing continued in Wales through to August 2001.The publication of this book is scheduled for the end of the month. The Foreword is by Christopher Booker.
The book tells the factual story of my journey towards the legal case and its aftermath. Information was forthcoming from many sources, including a slaughterman, who informed me of plans for culling on a mass scale.
The legal case related to the mass slaughter of sheep on the Brecon Beacons in South Powys. Large pens were constructed on the slopes of the mountains in July 2001 supposedly to test the sheep. The farmers were informed that they would be able to shear and dose their sheep, whilst in the pens. However, the pens were the ‘killing pens’; not one sheep came out of the pens alive..."
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ Our only safeguard against BSE is to clean up our radioactive metal waste.
"...the first evidence that plutonium from the Nevada Desert tests in 1952 and 1953 contaminated northwest Europe...." reports the BBC (Monday). However, it is contamination from Chernobyl that may explain why the 1986 outbreak of BSE in Europe – largely confined to the UK – emerged in those areas where high doses of an OP insecticide had been compulsorily used. The OP warble-fly treatment acts as a copper chelator (i.e. a substance that binds particular ions, removing them from solution) in the brains of treated cattle. It opened up the blood brain barrier and served to lock up the copper in the brains of treated animals. Once the radioactive metals became present in the soil after Chernobyl, the prion proteins of copper-depleted cattle were vulnerable to bonding up with rogue radioactive substitutes, setting off a chain reaction of free radical mediated neuro-degeneration. See Mark Purdey's recent comments or http://www.markpurdey.com/
The hard evidence that Mark Purdey has gathered over the last years - without funding and without official acknowledgement - far exceeds the evidence supporting the hyperinfectious theory. He feels frustration that when invited to lecture at academic conferences or initiate research projects in other parts of the world, the assumption is that he is on a university payrole or can work without fees. Self-funded, he has to turn most of these invitations down. Meanwhile, given the global financial and political panic over BSE, the establishment scientists supporting the official theory are lavishly funded.
What is alarming about all this is that the radioactive nature of the rogue metals in the tissues of TSE diseased animals discovered by Mark Purdey suggests that our only safeguard against BSE is to clean up our radioactive metal waste. Recent incorporation of depleted uranium into the military arsenal of the western superpowers isn't really going to help matters...
See also EU sues Britain over failure to clean up nuclear waste
Aug 30 - Sept 5 ~ "The decision was based on the scientific evidence presented to us by the UK."
Jason Groves of the Western Morning News reports (Saturday) on the row about the many hundreds of dolphin deaths from bass pair trawlers' nets. (See Inbox) Franz Fischler, who took the decision to reject British calls for the emergency closure of the winter bass fishery in waters around the West Country has been accused of caving in to the very rich French-dominated fishery. The Commission "rubber-stamped" the decision without debate.
WMN "It is pure fantasy to suggest that we bowed to political pressure," (said a Commission spokesman) "The decision was based on the scientific evidence presented to us by the UK."
However Westcountry conservationists remain convinced that other member states - most notably France - put pressure on the Commission to reject the British Government's request. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said it was aware of at least one letter of objection to the Commission on the issue from the French Government. .. Neil Parish...said he was also convinced that the Commission had come under political pressure. .... We cannot allow them just to say no. We have to go back to the Commission and say this is not acceptable."...
....Andrew George last night " ... How many more dead dolphins do the Commission want before they are prepared to act? Will they only believe us when the population is completely wiped out?"
.... A Commission spokesman said yesterday that the UK Government had not provided the evidence of imminent extinction needed to justify emergency action. "
Aug 30 - Sept 5 ~ it could take years to eliminate the H5N1 virus from the environment, says the WTO
From ProMed mail ".....China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have also been hit by new outbreaks of bird flu over the past couple of months, but only Vietnam has reported human infections. The last death in Thailand occurred on 12 Mar 2004.
The World Health Organization has warned that it could take years to eliminate the H5N1 virus from the environment."
Aug 30 - Sept 5 ~ "The more we grow, the less able we are to feed ourselves"
Geoffrey Lean's article in the Independent last Saturday
"...The world is consistently failing to grow enough crops to feed itself, alarming official statistics show. Humanity has squeaked through so far by eating its way into stockpiles built up in better times. But these have fallen sharply and are now at the lowest level on record.Read in full - see also warmwell's peak oil news page updated daily since April
....rising demand, through population growth and increasing affluence, is outpacing production, fulfilling the gloomy predictions of Thomas Malthus over 200 years ago.
Warnings of increasing scarcity of two other key resources came last week. Mark Clare, the managing director of British Gas, said: "The era of cheap energy is over." And experts at an international symposium in Stockholm foretold an imminent world crisis as underground reserves of water are increasingly pumped dry..."
Aug 30 - Sept 5 ~"Geelong scientists are developing a (rapid) diagnostic test for foot and mouth disease
that would work like a pregnancy test, changing colour in the presence of the virus... "If we can get the price right, the market is much bigger overseas than Australia.'' http://www.geelonginfo.com.au
One wonders if Dr Wang's idea of a large overseas market includes the US and UK? Warmwell has been reporting on rapid diagnostic on-farm methods for screening FMD since early in 2001. There are clearly now several different tried and tested computer-linked and "pen-side" methods for confirming FMD within hours. Far less clear are the reasons for the reluctance of the US and UK governments to use them. "Stamping out" with all the violent terminology of 2001 - "bearing down on the disease", "pre-emptive strikes", "firebreak killing" - are still very much part of the vocabulary of disease control. As Roger Breeze and Floyd Horn say: " Provided with a portable state-of-the-art device that can detect FMD and other viruses on farm within minutes, USDA has reluctantly deployed a handful of machines to fixed sites in a dozen state diagnostic laboratories" There are those (not all, thankfully) within our own DEFRA who continue to be dismissive of anything that gives weight to the notion that mass slaughter policies of 2001 were unnecessary (not to say illegal) then and must never be repeated.
Aug 30 - Sept 5 ~ far from the world producing too much food, it is no longer producing anything like enough
Private Eye's Muckspreader : ".... just when the EU should be encouraging its farmers to raise production, to plug the yawning world deficit and to ensure that Europe can continue to feed itself, Brussels is taking every possible step to encourage farmers to cut back. If it took 20 years to turn the ship round to cutting production, how long will it take to put that policy into reverse, when so much more food may soon be desperately needed?" Read in full
Aug 30 - Sept 5 ~ "Plum Island too secretive. .. Its primary mission is defending against animal disease, but it must do that with a sensitivity to the community's need to know. ."
Another article on Newsday.com compares Plum Island, now under the control of "Homeland Security", to a nearby lab, Brookhaven National Laboratory, recently changed into a "model of communication"...
"...Plum Island officials were not so prompt. In June, two cattle involved in a vaccine trial became infected with a different strain of foot-and-mouth virus from the one on trial. In July, four swine were infected with a virus, though they were not involved in a vaccine experiment.Recent articles about the cross-contamination at Plum Island
In neither case did the virus escape the biocontainment area. Still, the incidents brought about tighter decontamination procedures. Plum Island officials did tell Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), but only after the second incident. (The first took place the day before the center's 50th anniversary drew large crowds, but Plum Island officials said nothing.) Clinton and Bishop told Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who was irked that the center hadn't notified him.
The center has promised to work with federal, county and town officials on better notification. It must also make its community-outreach structure as widely representative as the one at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Its primary mission is defending against animal disease, but it must do that with a sensitivity to the community's need to know. .."
Aug 30 - Sept 5 ~ Bird-flu cull increased risk to humans
National Post (Canada) 'I observed fluids leaking from the boxes containing the chicken carcasses,' This article will recall the almost inevitable transmission of FMD virus by "leaking fluids" during the disposal of our own dead animals in 2001. (See, for example, Tom Griffith-Jones' well-informed first-hand knowledge and his disagreements with the Briefing by the UK Government issued to UK MEPs in December 2002 )
The National Post (Canada) article below, with its distressing photograph, reveals how inept attempts at mass culling and disposal can be dangerously counter-productive.
"...An internal report written by a Health Canada expert on infectious diseases provides a graphic account of how poor training and delays in disposing of dead birds during last spring's outbreak of avian flu increased the risk of human infection. ...workers unsure of how to use their safety equipment properly and fluid leaking from boxes of dead birds...
"An assessment of the risk of transmission to humans of the avian influenza virus and other pathogens due to the delay in disposal of a large amount of dead and decaying chickens should be carried out," she writes. ...."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "the vaccine is easy to buy and easy to use. "The farmer himself can do it..."
The Brazilian government is working to eradicate Foot-and-mouth disease "once and for all" by 2005 - i.e. next year. Brazzil.com
".... Brazil is a leader in South America in the effort to eliminate the disease and has extended its vigilance to areas beyond its borders.Read in full Meanwhile we are still reading profoundly idiotic sentences in the US press such as this one in today's Boston Globe "A single outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease could require the destruction of millions of cows and result in a worldwide ban of US cattle exports for years." See comments below
Over the last two years, Brazil has donated 3 million vaccines to Paraguay and Bolivia as part of an effort to create a security zone in South America.
However, the fact that vaccination is necessary to control the disease requires the cooperation of cattle ranchers. .....the vaccine is easy to buy and easy to use. "The farmer himself can do it," he says. The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture has laboratories throughout the country to control the disease and oversee the transportation of cattle."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ ".. outraged by comments from the Government's rural adviser"
Lord Haskins told the Today Programme that a poor harvest caused by the rainy summer was doing more financial damage to farming than the foot-and-mouth crisis and his remarks have sparked anger and comments in the press from Anthony Gibson, Michael Hart and Martin Hann. A warmwell correspondent, at least as well informed, sends this email about Lord Haskins' unfortunate comparison, and adds, "The others' comments in this article show a better understanding than those of Lord Haskins, who advises the government."
"....Lord Haskins' comparison is inaccurate and unfair for at least three reasons:Read in full
- The current problems are due to natural causes. The problems in 2001 were man-made, created by erroneous and unvalidated control policies that killed millions of healthy animals and paralysed the livestock sector, as well as other industries.
- Loss of one year's crops cannot be compared with loss of animals, some irreplaceable bloodlines, that had, in many cases, been nurtured and bred for years, and sometimes generations.
- While farmers whose animals were slaughtered received compensation, farmers whose animals were not slaughtered, but who suffered months of movement restrictions and loss of income, received no compensation...."
( Farmers from the North are in agreement with those from the West Country about what they call a "ludicrous" comparison. The Journal reports that farmers in that area, far from whingeing, are calling on colleagues across the North East to pool their combine harvesters to make sure they are prepared to move as soon as crops are ready.) See also Lawrence's email
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Dr Abigail Woods: "It is the thoughts and actions of humans that have 'manufactured' FMD into the particular political, economic, social and psychological problem that it is today."
Dr Woods writes: "Readers of Warmwell may be interested to know that my book, 'A Manufactured Plague. The History of foot and mouth disease in Britain' is now available. Details and a sample chapter are found at http://www.earthscan.co.uk.. ..explains why the government felt so compelled to institute a policy of mass slaughter rather than vaccination."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Foot and Mouth outbreak: Welfare Disposal Scheme cases listed by DEFRA as "Infected Premises"....
An emailer writes, "Several Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme cases were made into IPs. I have found two which had negative test results and a third which had no tests... . it cannot have been simply incompetence....."
IP 491 Hereford -Welsh border, no tests; (listed as LWDS)How is any of this to be verified? Were the authorities re-categorising these negative or untested cases deliberately? If so, why? One is reminded of the significant sentence "..a detailed analysis of the proportion of IPs that were confirmed as infected by laboratory tests is yet to be published...." in 2004 article by Kitching et al The UK foot and mouth disease outbreak - The Aftermath
IP 811 Hereford and Worcs, NEG; (listed as LWDS)
IP 867 Hereford-Welsh border, LWDS withdrawn, tests returned negative results;
IP 978 Carlisle, no tests; (listed as LWDS)
IP 1203 Devon, LWDS withdrawn, tests returned negative results;
IP 1878 Cumbria, no tests; (listed as LWDS)
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "Consumer confidence in the integrity of the food chain has been severely damaged. Government agencies and controls have been discredited."
From "AFTER BSE - A future for the European Livestock Sector" frm the EAAP - European Association for Animal Production website. "Much has been done to correct the deficiencies that led to the crisis. Much remains to be done. Against this background, EAAP commissioned a group of fourteen experts to review the causes and the consequences of the crisis.. ..Discussion of future options begin with two stakeholder analyses – one based on economic, the other on ethical consideration." (Of particular interest here - and available online - is slide 14 An Ethical Matrix in Professor Cunningham's presentation (pdf))
Extracts from the report:
"... While it is more critical than ever that public policy be informed by the best scientific advice, those involved in providing such advice must more carefully identify and distinguish the factual basis from the value judgements involved...No mention of scrapie - There is no mention of scrapie - neither in the Executive Summary nor in the conclusions of this report by the "fourteen experts to review the causes and the consequences of the crisis" - (yet the NSP scheme continues to advance on its cumbersome, destructive and expensive way.)
9. Scientific innovation has also lost favour with the public, particularly where it affects food and health. The livestock sector will need to weigh carefully the technical benefits against the risks and public acceptability of technologies such as GMOs, BST in milk production, growth promoters in meat production....(More)
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "This is why it is legal to stuff our farm animals with antibiotics, our vegetables with pesticides, our processed food with additives and our water tables with nitrates...."
George Monbiot in Tuesday's Guardian uniting in one article many of the ideas that interest warmwell: the dehumanising of animal health measures, farming and food production; the influences driving absurd bureaucratic interference; the belligerent and secret rather than open and rational responses to the imminent end of cheap fossil fuels; the inspiration of grass roots courage..it is all here: An answer in Somerset
"..There are two sets of regulations in the UK. There are those which the big corporations campaign against; and those which they tolerate and even encourage, because they can afford them while their smaller competitors cannot.Read in full
This is why it is legal to stuff our farm animals with antibiotics, our vegetables with pesticides, our processed food with additives and our water tables with nitrates, but more or less illegal to use any process which does not involve stainless steel, refrigeration and fluorescent lighting.
The clampdown on small food businesses, on the grounds that their produce might contain bacteria, has been accompanied by a massive rise in food poisoning cases since the 1970s: large-scale production and long-distance transport provide far greater opportunities for infection. Tinkers' Bubble, which has never poisoned anyone, is now forbidden to sell any kind of processed food or drink: its cheese, bacon, juice and cider have been banned.
But the settlers have learned to live with these constraints, just as they have learned to live with all the others. ..."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Plum Island - Two FMD contamination incidents ".. didn't meet the existing notification criteria"
Donald Tighe, the US "Homeland Security" spokesman said (of Congressman Hillary Clinton and Senator Tim Bishop see below)
"we appreciate them coming to the island and we appreciate their input. We welcome additional input on this as well...Our commitment since Day One of the handover [from the Department of Agriculture more than a year ago] has been to full public awareness. That will evolve, and we hope always improve."In spite of this apparent commitment to what modern politicians like to call openness and transparency, news of the two FMD contamination incidents were not made public until Newsday heard about them and ran the story to which we link below. Tighe said:
" there wasn't wider notification on the two incidents because they didn't meet the existing notification criteria."See update from Newsday.com "... the Department of Homeland Security agreed yesterday to develop a new policy for informing the public of such incidents at the lab."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "Confirmation of H5N1 infection in pigs would add complexity to the epidemiology of this disease, but needs to be viewed in perspective."
Medical News Today Tuesday ".. researcher from China’s Harbin Veterinary Research Institute has today (Monday) presented initial evidence that pigs from farms in parts of China have been infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza. The findings, set out in a table and without further supporting data, were presented today at an international symposium on SARS and avian influenza held in Beijing.
WHO has requested confirmation and further details about this study..... If a pig is simultaneously infected with both a human and an avian influenza virus, it can serve as a “mixing vessel”, facilitating the exchange of genetic material between the two viruses in a process known as “reassortment”. The resulting new virus, which will not be recognized by the human immune system, will have pandemic potential if it retains sufficient human genes to allow efficient human-to-human transmission, and if it causes severe disease in humans.
Confirmation of H5N1 infection in pigs would add complexity to the epidemiology of this disease, but needs to be viewed in perspective. During the peak of the poultry outbreak of H5N1 in Viet Nam earlier this year, extensive testing of pigs on farms where poultry were heavily infected failed to find evidence of infection in pigs"
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "..Three years later, management of the epidemic remains controversial. ."
The UK foot and mouth disease outbreak — The Aftermath This article by Daniel T. Haydon, Rowland R. Kao & R. Paul Kitching appears in Nature Reviews - Microbiology August 2004 Vol 2 No 8 PERSPECTIVES
The article can be viewed online with subscription or an abstract viewed after free registration.
Extract: "...Some believe that untried control methods based on unvalidated models replaced well-established policy, motivating an unnecessary slaughter. ...... new and more flexible control policies have been adopted throughout Europe. For these policies to receive the full confidence of scientists, veterinarians and the general public, it is necessary that we improve both our understanding of where, how and why control measures initially failed in 2001 and how new policies should be implemented."warmwell commentary on the article
Aug 23 - 29 2004 ~ "Killing all these animals and burning or burying them is exactly what terrorists want everyone to see," said Breeze.
(So in whose interests is it that modern tools are not used?)
Farmlands Seen as Fertile for Terrorism is an article in the LA Times. It proclaims: "A single outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease could require the destruction of millions of cows ..."
The lone voice of Roger Breeze (see below), described as "an agroterrorism expert who recently retired from a top USDA post" is quoted in dissent:
"Naturally, when there's never been a Noah-like flood, people don't want to prepare for it ...Killing all these animals and burning or burying them is exactly what terrorists want everyone to see."However, far from quoting Roger Breeze in detail, the article implies that mass slaughter is necessary. "Foot-and-mouth disease comes in more than a dozen strains, each of which requires a separate vaccine...." it says with apparent and misleading assurance. It calls the British response in 2001 "necessarily ruthless" when the writer can hardly be unaware that the ruthlessness of the policy is the very reason why it was judged so controversial. The authoritative new OIE manual of 42 papers, Foot and mouth disease: facing the new dilemmas was produced in the wake of the psychological and economic effects of the horrors of the ‘stamping-out’ policies. See also the warmwell commentary on The UK foot-and-mouth disease outbreak - the aftermath
Aug 23 - 29 ~ As for rapid diagnosis, the article above is dismissive. "... the scale of the problem overwhelms such solutions. Each device costs at least $30,000, and thousands would be needed by producers."
We are reminded that a paper by Roger Breeze and Floyd Horn was altered before publication and without their knowledge or approval, "significantly changing" their message. In their original paper was the statement:
"On-site detectors should transform disease surveillance and control, not echo history over smaller geographies. In our view, a federal or state official equipped with an Internet-linked detection device should be on the site of any suspected foreign animal disease outbreak in the U.S. within 4 hours or less of notification so that vigorous informed control measures backed by positive diagnosis can be implemented nationally within 6 hours...." Read in full
Aug 18 - 23 ~ FMD virus contamination at Plum Island Animal Disease Centre
"Reportedly some cattle not involved in a vaccine trial showed symptoms of an infection."
http://www.indyeastend.com "...An August 2 letter signed by Senator Hillary Clinton and Congressman Tim Bishop to the director of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, released yesterday, concerns two incidents of “cross-contamination” of foot-and-mouth disease that occurred in the island’s biocontainment area.
“We are particularly alarmed to hear that although only a handful of similar cross-contamination incidents have occurred since the 1970s, two incidents occurred in the last month alone....” (Read in full)
Aug 18 - 23 ~"We should be spending taxpayer money on improving security and public safety, not on harassing whistleblowers and bogus lawsuits"
It is now over a year since James McKoy, an employee at Plum Island who was concerned about security, told one of Hillary Clinton's aides that workers were being let into biocontainment areas without proper background and ID checks. In spite of being protected by the Federal whistleblower statutes, and the asurances of the centre's acting director, Marc Hollander, Mr McKoy was fired. The same newspaper now reports that Hillary Clinton and Tim Bishop applaud the National Labor Review Board’s decision that Mr McCoy, along with other sacked staff, be reinstated with full back pay.
Tim Bishop: “We should be spending taxpayer money on improving security and public safety, not on harassing whistleblowers and bogus lawsuits"The report of such Plum Island incompetence and apparent vindictiveness against a whistleblower, together with the fact that the Horn/Breeze paper was "sanitized" (see below) adds to the conviction that - as in the UK - animal disease control is not in the safest of hands. At a time when both governments are strident about farmers' "biosecurity" and the possibility of agroterrorism, this is alarming. The US does at least have Senator Hillary Clinton and Congressman Tim Bishop to ask loud questions and expect answers.
Aug 18 - 23 ~ "control measures still closely follow those introduced by Cardinal Lancisi almost 300 years ago"
We are interested to find in the public domain (Humanitarian.net) the paper by Floyd Horn and Roger Breeze: U.S. Agricultural and Food Security: Who Will Provide the Leadership?
Their introduction reads, " A version of this paper appeared in the Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Animal Health Association, San Diego, October 9-16, 2003, pages 79-91. That version was altered before publication without our knowledge in critical respects beyond what might be reasonable as editing of the manuscript: these alterations significantly changed our message."
Links to the paper with its introduction are on Warmwell's science pages
The original text will be of interest to regular readers of this website. Its significance, of course, applies equally to the UK
Extract: "Thus far, agricultural agencies in the U.S. and abroad have not deployed rapid detection – or indeed any other modern technologies – to counter foreign animal disease outbreaks. Other than use of the telephone, control measures still closely follow those introduced by Cardinal Lancisi almost 300 years ago..."Above the two versions; the original and that changed without the authors' consent, is the comment, "... our ideas of how rapid, on-site test devices should be deployed were completely changed to create the false impression that validation was the next critical step....The authors leave it to the reader to decide why these changes were made."
Aug 18 ~ The BSE (and other Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies) pages of the Defra website have been relaunched but several links do not appear to be working
The DEFRA press release says "Following a full review....the information it contains has been rationalised, links have been made more straightforward, and a site directory has been added. ..." The updated BSE site says "The Food Standards Agency has recently completed a review of the UK’s Over Thirty Month rule and have advised Ministers that it would be acceptable on health grounds to replace the rule with BSE testing of OTM cattle born after July 1996 " - but the link to "Further information" is not currently working. The pdf file on BSE Risk Status appears to be unavailable and several of the side links don't work. The Science & research page(link working) says, "Research into BSE ....has always been firmly based on the best available scientific advice..... Since BSE was first diagnosed, the British Government has spent over £240 million (up to 2002/2003)on research into BSE and other TSEs. .."
It seems regrettable that no part of those millions was available to committed, energetic scientists such as Professor Ebringer whose grant was removed when he posited the alternative theory that vCJD is in fact a microbe-based autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis. Mark Purdey too has had to fund his own extensive research into TSEs. If his conclusions about environmental metal microcrystal pollutants and the links between metal imbalance and TSEs are right then the advice of the scientific establishment may not have quite the "firm base" that DEFRA assumes. See Warmwell's BSE page
Aug 16 ~ '....for the vast majority of chemicals we have so little safety data that the regulatory authorities have no idea what a safe level is.'
The Observer this week on the numbers of sufferers of brain diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, which have "soared across the West in less than 20 years"
"The alarming rise, which includes figures showing rates of dementia have trebled in men, has been linked to rises in levels of pesticides, industrial effluents, domestic waste, car exhausts and other pollutants, says a report in the journal Public Health...The oberserver article concludes laconically, ".....the chemical industry strongly rejects what it claims are often unproven fears." (- and it would seem that it is the "chemical industry"that is calling the shots when legislation is asked for. Warmwell readers will remember DEFRA's refusal to adopt buffer zones for pesticides in spite of Georgina Downs' gallant and almost single-handed fight, the findings of the Ontario College of Family Physicians Review and cases such as Bayer CropScience dropping of its court action against Friends of the Earth when FOE gave information to the public on how to access safety data on pesticides - including a flagship weedkiller for use on the GM herbicide, Glufosinate Ammonium." Warmwell Pesticides page
...Professor Colin Pritchard of Bournemouth University, one of the report's authors:'These are nasty diseases: people are getting more of them and they are starting earlier. We have to look at the environment and ask ourselves what we are doing.' "
Read Pollutants cause huge rise in brain diseases from the Observer.
Aug 15 ~ "Mr Prescott can only get his way by scrapping existing planning rules wholesale, notably those designed to protect the green belt."
Booker's Notebook " .... Mr Prescott's issuing of his Policy Planning Statement (PPS) 22, the edict giving central government the power to override the wishes of local councils in ramming through proposals to cover hundreds of square miles of countryside in wind turbines..... by ditching our existing planning rules and allowing the Government to brush aside the views of local communities. .
....similar methods to push through his plans to see 1,400,000 new homes built in the south-east of England over the next 20 years. This is equivalent to nearly 30 new cities the size of Oxford or Cambridge. Again Mr Prescott can only get his way by scrapping existing planning rules wholesale, notably those designed to protect the green belt..
.....Mr Prescott is railroading through the greatest revolution in local government that Britain has ever seen. Its centrepiece is his plan to divide the UK under 12 regional governments, as part of the creation of a "Europe of the regions". ....
...Prescott's further plan to create "sub-regions", which will override much of the existing county and borough council structure, is still largely under wraps. .... ....." Read in full and see also Warmwell Democracy Page
Aug 13 ~ ".. any research that demonstrates other than the status quo is marginalised and virtually ignored"
Ken Conrad, a Canadian organic farmer " ...If the officials are so confused on how to prevent bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) how can they give a list of measures let alone reassure consumers? ...they believe the mutated prion is a contagion that is spread through consumption of meat and animal by products. Their belief however is based on a theory that is far from proven and widely disputed. They have opted for a simplistic solution to a complex problem and any research that demonstrates other than the status quo is marginalised and virtually ignored."
foodanddrinkeurope.com" Conrad believes that big business and governments are recklessly disregarding the unique genetic background of individuals and species, with only surface knowledge of what they are doing. . "Hundreds of thousands of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens are being needlessly slaughtered around the world at the hands of officials who are attempting to justify their actions through fear of disease and/or pandemic, as if to give the impression that they are actually in control of the situation and can prevent it," said Conrad. ..." Conrad contends that there is mounting evidence to suggest that the mutated prion is more than likely a pathologic product. In other words, it has resulted due to some form of outside environmental and/or biomedical interference. ".....the mutated prions' ability to breach the blood/brain barrier, is questionable and yet to be demonstrated." Read in fullAmerican and Spanish scientists are comparing systems of evaluation for carcasses in the United States and Europe, and attempting to assess consumer perceptions of beef quality. The ultimate aim is to design a system of accurate information for consumers.
See Warmwell BSE/vCJD Page
Aug 7 - 14 ~ Will 7000 UK sugar producers bear the brunt of the EU's reaction to the WTO decision on sugar?
Private Eye's Muckspreader explains how the UK is likely to have its quota cut to protect France's ability to continue to export its huge sugar surplus.
"....According to Oxfam, the effect of this flood of illegal EU exports has been to slash world prices by 23 percent. ..
... in 2001... France’s answer to cutting illegal exports was that there should be savage reductions in EU quotas for countries like Britain, so that France could export her surplus inside the EU instead.
....uniquely in the EU, Britain already makes a major contribution to helping third world producers by importing half her 3 million ton sugar consumption, unsubisdised, from the canefields of her former West Indian colonies. The other half comes from home-produced beet sugar, which, unlike France, the UK only produces to the limit of her EU quota. .
...since EU trade policy is dictated by France, it is unlikely Brussels will worry too much if a few thousand of those UK farmers have to diversify into something else. The CAP, after all, has only ever had one real purpose - to protect the farmers of France. . . " Read in full
Aug 7 - 14 ~ "many good words and phrases in this document are contradicted by others that undermine them. ."
says the Guardian, reporting on the government's rural policy which it finds it "as clear as mud"
" ...the policy's real objectives were disturbingly unclear. ..While the policy lists as one of its objectives "continued protection of the open countryside for the benefit of all", the government also says that new house building should be strictly controlled "away from existing settlements or from areas allocated for housing in development plans". What exactly does that mean? Just how far away is away?Read in full
.... This cocktail of uncertainty that is being served up to local authorities benefits no one, not even the developers.
But there is worse to come. ..As far as support for agriculture and associated businesses is concerned... there is support for "traditional land-based activities". But the government also wants to encourage "strong, diverse economic activity", "high and stable levels of economic growth" and "a wide range of economic activity". All this new economic activity is likely to make farming and food production increasingly unattractive in business terms ...."
Aug 7 - 14 ~ Plan to tackle TB
In Wales, a report prepared after a special inquiry by the National Assembly's Environment, Planning and Countryside Committee will be launched at the United Counties Show in Nantyci, Carmarthen on Wednesday. New ways to tackle TB in cattle
".. include a Wales TB Action Group and the establishment of "intensive treatment areas" within TB hotspots to test and remove all affected cattle and, if necessary, diseased wildlife...."... Gamma interferon testing can spot the disease up to four weeks earlier than the current less accurate skin test, but the tests must be analysed within 24 hours and there is currently nowhere to do that in Wales. New Zealand is the only country that uses gamma interferon testing. The method is being tested on trial farms in the UK, but is not currently licensed for general use in Europe." See also news in FWi that " Welsh farmers have reacted angrily to a call for consultation on the possibility that TB testing and compensation could be funded through an industry levy..."
.."The UK Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw says things are getting better, but things are getting worse," said NFU Cymru deputy president and Carmarthenshire dairy farmer Dai Davies. " See icWales
Aug 7 - 14 ~ Prions can be inactivated with new disinfectant
" US company STERIS has achieved a significant breakthrough in aseptic processing with the development of a method for inactivating prions, the tiny, protein particles that cause diseases such as CJD disease in humans ....Research on the effectiveness of the disinfectant has also been published in the 7 August edition of The Lancet." www.inpharma.com
Aug 7 - 14 ~ "Firebreak" slaughter mindset still holds sway in the UK and US
In the US State of Kansas, "High Plains Guardian" , just completed, simulated an "an agroterrorism attack" involving FMD. No attempt, apparently, was made to test for infection beyond the index case nor to use ring vaccination. Rather, the decision made that: " .. all hoofed animals, even deer, to be killed within a mile and a half of any infected farm or livestock yard.... ." Kansascity.com
Dr.Cummins of Amarillo Biosciences, Inc is one of many scientists who now believe that responding to agroterrorism with slaughter is simply playing into the hands of the terrorists.
"the (US) government's attempt to eradicate FMD will require the slaughter and disposal of millions of animals. Nothing could please terrorists more than to watch the US Government kill millions of animals in response to their agroterrorism. After all, the FMD generally kills less than 1% of affected animals but the government's response kills 100%..." Press Release Amarillo Biosciences, Inc.In this country, it is worrying that, in spite of the EU Directive's Article 8 which states that any preventive culling of susceptible animals should only occur where "epidemiological evidence supports the hypothesis of virus contamination or incubating infection", the UK Contingency Plan still insists that the killing of healthy animals in a so-called " firebreak cull" is acceptable. Yet the EU Directive is crystal clear. Preventative culling may take place only "where epidemiological information or other evidence indicates" actual infection. The "taking of samples and clinical examinations of animals" is also stipulated. The Directive also, of course, assumes a "competent authority", depending on the advice of a properly constituted Expert Group "composed of epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists in a balanced way" and permanently operational.
Aug 1 - Aug 7 ~ ProMed moderator on the Pakistan "FMD" deaths - "Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever more likely"
ProMed "Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever can be contracted both by tick-bite and by direct contact with the blood and body fluids of infected domestic animals, such as sheep and goats, or of human patients. Consequently, nosocomial infection is not uncommon, especially where the disease is not recognized, and, where there are no facilities for precise diagnosis." ( “nosocomial” means an infection caught in a hospital or health care facility) "Domestic animals exhibit few signs of disease, and it may be that there is also a concurrent outbreak of foot and mouth disease in domestic stock in the region. - Mod.CP FMD is endemic in Pakistan, reportedly caused, during 2003, by 3 serotypes: A, Asia1, and O."
Aug 1 - Aug 7 ~ "..dozens of people have died of the disease that is spreading from goats."
The Daily Times of Pakistan reports mysterious human deaths, implying a connection between them and what appears to be FMD - a disease that is not, of course, thought to affect humans.
".. Foot and mouth disease in hooved animals has started wreaking havoc in Balochistan as dozens of people have died of the disease that is spreading from goats. A large number of people, mostly shepherds, have been affected by the deadly disease. Many shepherds and their families have been admitted to the hospital. The Federal Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock has imposed a ban on intra provincial supply of goats from Balochistan."Meanwhile, according to AllAfrica.com, FMD is causing particular misery throughout 30 regions of Kenya, where the situation is described as having "grown out of control". ProMed's moderator comments:" According to Kenya's annual report to the OIE for 2003, FMD was present there throughout the year: 87 outbreaks in bovines (FMDV serotypes A, O, SAT 1, SAT 2); 922 000 animals vaccinated. If the published estimate -- 3 million dairy cattle -- is accurate, this means that vaccination coverage was insufficient .- Mod.AS]
Aug 1 - Aug 7 ~ DEFRA's claim to have sent leaflets to all farmers "at the start of the FMD outbreak"
" I don’t remember EVER getting an illustrated booklet," wrote one farmer simply. (name and address supplied) Another farmer in Cumbria writes, "....We are a registered holding, farming sheep and cattle and submit an annual IACS return. There is no reason why we should be missed off any mailing.
No doubt you will receive hundreds of emails like this one..." Read in full We have, however, heard from one stockholder who does remember receiving such a leaflet.
Aug 1 - Aug 7 ~ Who remembers getting detailed FMD leaflets, complete with pictures?
DEFRA is suggesting in an email sent in reply to a query about the new "Photographic Field Guide to the Differential Diagnosis of FMD in Sheep in the UK " mentioned in a DEFRA pdf file, that at the start of the 2001 outbreak MAFF posted FMD information leaflets to "every farmer in England and Wales" The information pack was said to have " included pictures of clinical signs of FMD in cattle, sheep and goats; as well as offering on-farm biosecurity guidance. This information was also made available on our website."
We should be very interested to hear from those who recall the arrival "at the start of the 2001 outbreak" of this leaflet with its helpful pictures of clinical symptoms.
Aug 1 - Aug 7 ~ Howard Dalton, DEFRA's Chief Scientific Advisor, was unaware of pesticide evidence before giving his "advice"
because DEFRA did not show it to him. Georgina Downs' painstakingly put together submission to the Government - legal and scientifically based - highlighting the inadequacies of the current regulatory and monitoring systems, was not sent to Mr Dalton. He wasn’t even aware that this material existed. DEFRA's scientific advisor may not even have seen the Ontario College of Family Physicians review which found consistent evidence linking pesticide exposure to brain, kidney, prostrate and pancreatic cancer as well as leukaemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, neurological damage, Parkinson’s disease and other serious illnesses and diseases. The Summary of Remarks by Pesticide Research Team from their conference in April this year are stark enough to make the UK refusal to consider pesticide buffer zones seem very strange indeed. Alun Michael said in June:
"..... I am confident that no new scientific evidence has come to light that would provide a safety based justification for buffer zones and I have therefore decided against their introduction around agricultural land."However, one of the remarks from the April conference above: "Given that such a large proportion of society is vulnerable to harmful effects, action to reduce public exposure is justified, and needed." (See also press release from Georgina Downs)
Aug 1 - Aug 7 ~ EU to ban sales of raw milk from 'Reactor Animals'
Bovinespot.com "Present laws allow the sale of raw milk from herds under Tb restriction if the product is to be pasteurised....
....questions on the subject of milk sales by Owen Paterson MP, teased out..
"The new European Union consolidated Food Hygiene Regulation, which is expected to come into force in January 2006, will not permit the sale of milk from reactor animals for human consumption - including milk that has been heat treated."...Knowing from past experience the zealousness with which Defra gold plates and tinsel wraps every European word, the dairy industry has a right to be worried. And as the numbers of cows involved in herd breakdowns is now into very large numbers rather than an odd 1 or 2, what the hell do we do with their milk whose pollution potential exceeds that of silage effluent?"
This statute comes into force in just over a year.
Aug 1 - Aug 7 ~ "The establishment of the archive is an example of partnership with industry that demonstrates Defra's commitment to meeting the objectives of its Animal Health and Welfare Strategy..." From the DEFRA website.
This sort of self-promoting, weasely language would have been unthinkable in the past. It shows just how completely the Ministry has succumbed to the language of political spin.
"The semen archive should give farmers the confidence to continue breeding for Scrapie resistance and those with Scrapie-susceptible rams will play a crucial role in preserving the genetic heritage of the national flock."
The Alice in Wonderland illogicality of this might occur to anyone of common sense - even those not in "industry" (DEFRA-speak for farmers) - who a) thought the NSP knew what it was doing in wanting to get rid of these genes in the first place, b) was not aware that at the eleventh hour - there are, even among those who set the NSP juggernaut in motion, a few who are feeling the beginnings of panic at its effect on the "genetic heritage" of the National sheep flock. The NSP is not a scheme in which "animal health" is likely ultimately to be improved. As for "welfare", perfectly healthy sheep are being slaughtered in the interests of the reputations of followers of highly questionable science - and farmers are being very well paid to go along with it - just as they were in 2001. The global political idee fixe about vCJD and an unproven, wholly hypothetical link between this distressing disease and scrapie has resulted in the call for the destruction of so-called "scrapie-susceptible genes".
Yet an archive of these very genes is to be retained - "just in case".
Aug 1 - Aug 7 ~"...these guys, punching away at their computer screens, haven’t the foggiest notion of when Britain might again be hit by FMD"
Private Eye's Muckspreader is scathing of both the VLA report and ‘Operation Hornbeam’ in which "....Ben Bradshaw proudly announced that Defra had already slaughtered 17,400 animals, which made it all seem uncannily like a repeat of 2001. And only now, according to the Defra scenario, was Rosa Klebb (aka Margaret Beckett) telling the House of Commons that the Government was considering a limited programme of vaccination for cattle, in just two of the four areas affected. Not for nothing are they known as ‘Defra and Blindra’. Fortunately, however, the EU has also made clear that next time Brussels will be in charge of operations from Day One - so with luck Defra may not be given the chance to make quite such a monumental cock-up ever again." Read in full
July 27 - Aug 1 ~ "we have a global farming crisis, not just a UK one"
Voicing the frustration that so many feel, Mike Hart of the Small and Family Farms Alliance is writing a series of impassioned articles in the Western Morning News. "...we have to do something about the situation farmers find themselves in, not just here but worldwide - because without farmers we'll have no food. These simple facts are never mentioned by Margaret Beckett, Andrew George or Tim Yeo..I find Margaret Beckett's thinking so crazy as to be almost unbelievable. .. " Read in full
July 27 - Aug 1 ~"As far as politicians are concerned... agriculture is a bit of a nuisance because we can import everything more cheaply."
John Daw, chairman of the NFU's SW regional dairy board has finally put into words what is fast becoming an unstoppable rumour. Labour neither understands nor feels it can control farming. It wants a pretty countryside for leisure and cheap imports to keep the supermarket shoppers happy.
The WMN (Friday) reported John Daw's words:
" the recent report by the Labour-dominated Commons Rural Affairs Committee found that on average a litre of milk costs 50p. It estimated that farmers receive 19p, processors 3p and supermarkets 10p. It also admitted that 18p could not be accounted for - about £2.5 billion nationally... As far as politicians are concerned, the environment is paramount and agriculture is a bit of a nuisance because we can import everything more cheaply...Providing we cut the wheat and trim our hedges frequently, we are creating a nice open garden to walk in. That's supposed to be our purpose in life. ...."A third of dairy farmers intend to give up within the next three years and it is predicted that up to 10,000 more farmers could leave over the next few years - a rate of up to 40 per week. Those remaining are being forced to adopt "factory" methods to milk cows as they increase herd sizes in order to stay afloat. The WMN article concludes: Nobody from Defra was available for comment yesterday.
July 27 - Aug 1 ~ Full page adverts show little confidence in the Ministry's ability to protect UK livestock from foreign diseases
"If we are hit yet again there is only one outcome - non-profitable production and thus no British pig industry." The genetics company ACMC are funding full-page advertisements in Pig World for a self imposed "cordon sanitaire". The advert suggests that live imports of weaners or semen are the route by which diseases such as FMD, CSF, SVD, TGE, Parvo Virus, PRRS, Aujeszky's, PMWS, PDNS and Fertility Virus enter Britain.
".. The British pig industry has no reserves left," said Stephen Curtis, the Chairman of ACMC. ( See also the pig site)
As well as suggesting openly that FMD could well have been brought into the country via live weaners or semen, the advert's plea for voluntary self regulation shows that there is little confidence in the Ministry's ability to protect UK livestock from foreign diseases. DEFRA's record on the control of animal disease is, as James Irvine puts it below, lamentable. Yet the back-covering "consultations", the regulations, the self-justifications and the flights of complacency continue apace. In April, by means of its massive Labour majority and massive ignorance, Parliament congratulated the government "... on implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Royal Society Inquiries so that Government is better prepared to tackle a future outbreak of a major livestock disease..."
July 27 - Aug 1 ~ "... £500 million a year could be slashed from DEFRA's budget, losing more than 4,000 jobs, without having an impact on core services "
"The questions, and lack of answers, seem to be almost entirely the same. There are few areas of Government where the clients of the department - whether they are farmers, rural businesses, fishermen or environmentalists - are more frustrated and dissatisfied with its performance." Tim Yeo, quoted in the Western Morning News "...the Tories released the latest findings of a review of Government waste conducted by the troubleshooter businessman David James, who was brought in by Labour to turn around the fortunes of the ailing Millennium Dome.
The review suggested that almost £500 million a year could be slashed from Defra's budget, losing more than 4,000 jobs, without having an impact on core services ...called for major cuts in Defra's spending and role, including scrapping the Food Standards Agency's advertising budget, slashing core staff by 1,200 ..." Read in full
July 27 - Aug 1 ~ No links between scrapie and vCJD have been demonstrated. Yet the extermination of scrapie-susceptible sheep will be compulsory where a case of scrapie is reported and confirmed.
The NSP moves into a higher and nastier gear. Defra website for July 20th
"...Under the "Compulsory Scrapie Flocks Scheme" farmers with confirmed scrapie cases on their farms will have their sheep flocks genotyped so that the more scrapie-susceptible sheep can be identified and removed."The euphemism "removed" means that any healthy sheep designated (with the exception for a short time of some very rare breeds) to be "scrapie susceptible" in such flocks will be killed. The NSP could leave the National Sheep Flock uniformly vulnerable to any challenge which ARR is unable to resist.
An EU regulation (pdf) is finally blundering into action because of the highly controversial assumption that scrapie in sheep might possibly be "masking BSE". This itself was based on the fear that at least 500,000 people would die from eating BSE infected beef. If this were really the cause of vCJD, thousands of people who ate such beef would by now have joined the 104 unfortunate people whose deaths from definite vCJD have occurred since the first recorded cases in 2000. There is face-saving talk of "a long incubation period of more than 60 years". Nevertheless, according to the DoH table , (link repaired. Apologies) the vCJD outbreak in the UK has now "passed its peak".
As for sheep, the ProMed moderator wrote as far back as 2000: "... it is unlikely that consumption of sheep meat during the BSE period has contributed to nvCJD in humans as some have feared."
The Animal Health Act of 2002 gave unprecedented and unacceptable powers to government officials to slaughter healthy animals. Whether or not the extermination of small farms on which animals are cared for humanely was also on the hidden agenda, their disappearance is now proceeding apace. Political expediency is ignoring unsafe science - and too many reputations rest on the upholding of these draconian measures and regulations for them ever to be shown to be rotten at the core.
July 27 - Aug 1~ NSP "The authorities or their scientific advisors have never shown any concern about the many characteristics valuable for breeders that will be lost as a consequence of this eradication.
Qualities like rapid growth, the ability to survive in bad weather conditions, the ability to thrive on poor grounds, easy lambing, strength, coloured wool, good health, the specific taste and qualities of meat, (e.g. Shetland is known for its healthy meat which includes omega-3 fatty acids), and after all most of the sensitive genotypes never contract the disease.
It is important to note that the AA RR QQ genotype (highly susceptible to scrapie) rather than the 'desirable' AA RR RR, is the prion protein genotype characteristic of many Northern short-tail breeds. In Icelandic sheep no polymorphism Condon 171 is observed, only the glutamine allele (Q) is present.
Also in the Soay sheep over 90% of the genotypes are homozygous for ARQ and this genotype seems to be characteristic also for North Ronaldsay sheep. .." Altti Lukola, PhD http://www.ela-europe.org/science/lukbpgmvoll.htm
July 27 - Aug 1 ~ "...political appointees with backgrounds in the agri-food industry have used their positions
at the USDA to advance industry interests at the expense of farmers, consumers, workers and the environment."
Warmwell is grateful to Mary Marshall for this email, featuring an article from "Successful Farming magazine"
"A coalition of advocacy groups alleges that the USDA has been taken over by the food industries it regulates, to the detriment of consumers and smaller farmers ...."Mary Marshall asks, "..Is this relevant to what is happening in the UK and the rest of Europe?"
The report proposes 4 broad directions for regulatory reform .. ...It also backs enhanced congressional oversight of regulatory appointees, evaluating whether USDA should continue to regulate food safety, and calls for more research on "revolving door conflicts of interest at USDA." Read email in full. One is inevitably reminded of certain appointments in the UK to powerful advisory positions and of the frequent use of the adjective "independent".
July 26 ~ " Why do 'they' make us fill in forms if 'they' do not read/record the information?"
One email stands for many others. A request for "random" testing for Contagious agalactia and brucellosis arrived on this farmer's mat. (see previous comment on the randomness of this test)
"...They murdered my sheep flock in 2001...... I have not re-stocked--'they' know this...... 'They' have taken away my quota.... 'They' have not written to me for 2 years...... Neither have I written to 'them'...... The 'random'?? selection is done at Page Street--I was informed by an apologetic young lady at Ayr---she said, I think their records are not up to date as this mistake is not the first time this has happened. Why do 'they' make us fill in forms if 'they' do not read/record the information?...
After all the fuss over cattle passports and a million animals 'missing' Then the fuss over ear-tagging sheep, what is the point of all the paper work?
...--my sheep were tame enough to come and raid my pockets, everything just flooded back on opening the letter.
The SEERAD Ayr telephonist and Animal Health Officer she passed me over to did sound genuinely sorry I had been upset--yes I did cry down the phone and I have had a pretty awful weekend...." Read in full
July 26 ~ random testing of a reducing subset of self-selected volunteers is not the same as random testing of the national flock
From a press release published in Smallholders Online newsletter no. 129
" ..Britain’s farmers have discovered that Britain’s State Veterinary Service have no legal right to enforce testing and many are refusing to co-operate thus frustrating the European Union conditions for allowing the controversial export trade.Read in full
Small farmers are resisting massive pressure from Government officials to co-operate on a voluntary basis.
The Government has recognised that random testing of a reducing subset of self-selected volunteers is not the same as random testing of the national flock and does not meet European Union rules."
July 19 - 25 ~ "to defend the public from the theoretical risk of one death in more than 60 years is completely disproportionate"
The Journal reports that
"Pressure is mounting on the Department of Health to overcome its resistance to advice from Defra in favour of returning beef from cattle born after July 1986 to the food chain....NBA chief executive, Robert Forster. "All sectors of the beef industry, including ourselves, are surprised and disappointed by the Department of Health's (DoH) inability to accept that the continued spending of £360m a year to defend the public from the theoretical risk of one death in more than 60 years is completely disproportionate... If there are delays ...the reputation of our independent food safety assessors in the FSA and in SEAC will be further undermined..." Read in fulland see below where we report Sir John Krebs ( who informed the agency's board on July 16 of his resignation) saying that the OTMS rule will have to continue for "many months to come" because of the failures such as that of the Meat Hygiene Service), and to allow "an independent group" to become satisfied that "a robust method of testing was in place for older animals." No comment needed.
July 19 - 25 ~ No comfort from Mrs Beckett's "waffle"
Margaret Beckett on the role of the new agency : "the integrated management of our natural heritage that the challenges and environmental threats of the 21st Century demand. That will include biodiversity, landscape, and the sustainable use of the countryside, including recreation and access."
Mr Yeo : "A dairy farmer worried about the spread of TB, a rural community whose environment is about to be destroyed, against its wishes, by the development of nearby greenfield site at the insistence of the Deputy Prime Minister, or a neighbourhood blighted by fly-tipping will draw no comfort from the waffle we have just heard from the Secretary of State".
WMN Friday 23 July 04 ".....The Lib-Dem rural affairs spokesman, Andrew George, was also critical yesterday of the claims that Defra was "devolving" responsibility. The MP for St Ives said he was in favour of bringing together government agencies, but not of the expanded role of quangos such as regional assemblies. "The organisations that are doing hard work on the ground will have to go cap in hand to the RDA and that means there will be competition for funding that will sap initiative," he said. "If we had genuine democratic regional government I could see the benefit, but the RDAs are just another form of centralisation."
July 19 - 25 ~ Mrs Beckett's outline to the "Rural Strategy 2004" did not even mention agriculture or farming.
"...After all the promises of democratisation and openness, central government has become still more concentrated and impenetrable" wrote Anthony Sampson in his book "Who runs this place?"
"... British institutions can still provide obstacles to overbearing Prime Ministers. The law lords can deliver devastating judgments on the Government's abuses of power, which no Minister can suppress. The House of Lords, for all its natural conservatism, can still produce original and independent views to compel the House of Commons to think again. The prestige of the monarchy, with all its pomp and ceremony, prevents the Prime Minister from acquiring too much splendour. The 'wise men' of academia can provide a much longer historical perspective than short-term politicians. Civil servants are bound by their own professional standards to resist party political corruption."All this sounds a little thin post Butler. Thinner still when one considers the politicisation of DEFRA, the undignified race for huge research grants irrespective of the soundness of the science and the extraordinary appointments of some of the so-called wise men to positions of the highest influence.
Britain seems to be being quietly stripped of its ability to feed itself. Yet the end of cheap oil will mean that prices of everything that is transported or produced with the aid of oil (i.e. virtually everything) will skyrocket within our own lifetimes - and how will our population be fed, clothed and kept from rioting then?
July 19 - 25 ~ South Africa - first round of vaccinations against foot-and-mouth disease was completed in the area on Wednesday. No deaths among animals with the disease reported so far.
The outbreak in South Africa is being dealt with humanely. See report from News24.com Nevertheless, the fact that the report concentrates mainly on fear of millions in lost exports (they are even unable to export citrus fruit) reminds us of why governments are so terrified of diseases such as BSE, Foot and Mouth and avian influenza, why such diseases must be tackled with a new mindset and why the trade implications must now follow the veterinary advice and new technical expertise - not the other way round.
Unfortunately, where leading decision makers and their 'advisors' in the UK are still largely those who were directing mass slaughter in 2001 we are not yet optimistic about seeing more sanity in the realm of animal health. ( See also James Irvine's critique below)
July 19 - 25 ~ "When the animals leave Devon over the next ten years - which they will - it will not look like the chocolate box Mrs Beckett imagines; it will look like a wilderness."
WMN on Regional Development Agencies under the headline 'Farming Forgotten in Rural Shake-up'
".... Angela Browning, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said ministers still did not understand that farmers were responsible for the landscapes and environment which the Government wanted to protect. Mrs Browning said that Mrs Beckett's "rather twee" picture of the countryside would be swept away unless the Government acted to prevent the destruction of the farming industry. She added: "When the animals leave Devon over the next ten years - which they will - it will not look like the chocolate box Mrs Beckett imagines; it will look like a wilderness."Read in full
The Lib-Dem rural affairs spokesman, Andrew George, welcomed the "general thrust" of the reforms, although he warned it was "pointless having a strategy cloaked in conceptual language and talking of a vision if it actually achieves nothing". .."
July 19 - 25 ~ Regional Development Agencies: "Most rural communities fear they are remote, bureaucratic, unaccountable and urban focused"
A Conservative Party press release says: "..Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and the Environment...dismissed the Government's increasing reliance upon Regional Development Agencies as a waste of resources and bureaucracy, when local councils could deliver more and were closer and more accountable to people... Labour's centralising regime driven by its urban politicians has failed to allow rural communities to flourish under their own decisions. People who live and work in rural areas are best placed to make decisions about what is best for them, for their local environment and their local wildlife. Localism driving economic growth and political/social participation is the key to empowering sustainable rural communities.".
Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth deplores the fact that the Rural Strategy 2004 proposals will lead to the effective abolition of English Nature.
English Nature (EN) has been a thorn in the side of Government in recent years, querying ministers over the impact on wildlife of GM crops and objecting to their plans for damaging airport, port and road schemes. ... it is feared that the clear and focused remit of EN to conserve biodiversity will be lost .... unelected and unaccountable Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) will be given a greater say in rural development..... their remit to increase economic growth, often by sponsoring development schemes regardless of their damaging environmental effects."
July 19 - 25 ~ CVO Report 2003 says 4 million and 68 thousand animals were slaughtered during the FMD outbreak in 2001
The Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer is now available on the DEFRA website The table on Page 81 informs us that in a total of 32 counties and 2030 outbreaks the number of animals slaughtered was 4,068,000. As Peter Ainsworth, then Shadow DEFRA Secretary, said to the Tenant Farmers' Association on 12 February 2002:
Many of you saw your livelihoods quite literally vanish before your eyes as some 6.5 million animals were slaughtered, often in brutal circumstances, on nearly 10,000 farms. These are the official figures. Some estimates have put the number of animals slaughtered at nearer 10 million."See also Robert Uhlig in the Telegraph January 23 2002: 10 million animals were slaughtered in foot and mouth cull.
"..Last night, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the commission's figures as accurate but concentrated on the resumption of exports."
We are getting used to statistics being teased out and spun to hide the truth or unpalatable truths being denied. The result of all this is that those hurt by callous, ineffectual and unjustifiable policies have lost trust in the pronouncements of government, of official reports and of "independent scientific advisors".
July 19 - 25 ~ "a world-class reputation"?
Professor Roy Anderson, the architect of the contiguous cull, is, as Christopher Booker wrote , to be the New "chief scientific advisor" for the Ministry of Defence. It will be remembered that Anderson's team modelled a hypothetical "species" with assumed levels of susceptibility to airborne transmission, neither of which had any basis in veterinary science. Professor Anderson will also, of course, be the chief source of advice for all DEFRA's future scientific decisions, as head of the "Science Advisory Council".
Geoff Hoon is reported as saying ".. I am delighted to welcome Roy Anderson, who has a world-class reputation in scientific research." ( www.publictechnology.net ) He also said, "I was pleased that the open competition to find a successor to Sir Keith O'Nions produced such a strong field of very eminent scientists.."..but the nature of the selection procedure and identity of other candidates remains as yet unknown. Lord Nolan's rules of fairness and transparency on public appointments are thus said to have been observed - even if the seven principles Lord Nolan recommended for public life (selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership) are less readily discernible. The fulsomeness of the Hoon praise recalls Mr Blair's praise for Sir John Kreb's robustness at the FSA " in ensuring that the Agency bases its advice on sound science and in ensuring that it promotes the interests of consumers"
See also warmwell's page on the small world of Roy Anderson and John Krebs
July 19 - 25 ~ CTS "This is a catastrophic state of affairs as it means the system is not only not tracing cattle but it is doing even that badly and at great expense.."
Warmwell has received this opinion of the PAC report HC136 Dated 6th July 2004 Identifying and Tracking Livestock in England. from someone who has worked with CTS and knows, as an insider, its "failure adequately to interface with the other systems" resulting in "delays in subsidies and exceptional error rates"
. "the system does not meet the needs of industry, the EU, the veternary service or even DEFRA."
July 19 - 25 ~ for all DEFRA's talk, their programmes for controlling the spread of TB or brucellosis within the UK is lamentable
On the day that DEFRA admits it doesn't know where the Cornwall brucellosis came from, (FWi report), we recommend "Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for GB: a critique" from the land-care.org.uk website of James Irvine, FRSE DSc FRCPEd FRCPath FInstBiol.
".... for all DEFRA's talk, their programmes for controlling the spread of TB (2) or brucellosis (3) within the UK is lamentable, not to mention the prevention of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in terms of the continued illegal importation of meat products in large quantities (4) and the inadequacies of the UK cattle tracing service (5).Link to full article on the land-care org website.
The Food Standards Agency appears to be lax about adequately and continually informing the public that vaccination of animals - be it for FMD or anything else - carries absolutely no risk to food safety. ...
DEFRA et al put further pressures regarding animal health and welfare at the farmers' expense while apparently they themselves are not making any significant contribution towards it other than more regulations, inspections and bureaucracy with yet more "consultations"....
.....As the a leader writer in a recent issue of the Veterinary Record put it: "If a pound had been spent on veterinary services for every word expended in consultation over the past 18 months, the future of animal health and welfare could have been secured by now".
July 18 ~ From FMD to WMD
Booker's Notebook "The Prime Minister, it seems, is not the only Houdini who has a miraculous knack of emerging unscathed from any fiasco for which he was responsible. Tony Blair has appointed as "Chief Scientist" to the Ministry of Defence none other than Prof Roy Anderson of Imperial College, in succession to Prof Sir Keith O'Nions (a name which seems to have escaped from Private Eye).
It seems that Prof Anderson's chief qualification for his new post (at "Permanent Secretary grade", worth between £118,000 and £250,000 a year) was the help he gave Mr Blair in 2001 as his chief scientific adviser on the foot and mouth epidemic. The professor - who had left Oxford University under a cloud the previous year - had no experience of animal disease, being a specialist in the mathematical modelling of human diseases such as Aids. But this did not prevent him becoming chief architect of the "pre-emptive cull" policy, under which some nine million healthy animals were slaughtered (illegally - since the 1981 Animal Health Act gave the Government no powers to kill animals unless they had been directly exposed to infection).
Quite how the ability to simulate Aids epidemics on a computer, or to mastermind the slaughter of millions of healthy animals, will qualify Prof Anderson to advise the Ministry of Defence on weapons of mass destruction is not immediately clear.
Mr Blair, of course, was careful to ensure, after the foot and mouth crisis, that none of the three enquiries he set up would find anyone responsible for all those catastrophic blunders. Since the two men most to blame for the handling of the epidemic were the Prime Minister and his chief scientific adviser, Mr Blair obviously recognises in the professor a fellow survivor. I am sure he will be well worth his £250,000 a year."
July 16 ~ " it must be remembered that the larger deer often intergraze with cattle and sheep ...."
DEFRA's apparent reluctance to publicise the findings of its own sponsored research project "The Risk To Cattle From Wildlife Species Other Than Badgers" (at a total cost of £1,214,788 according to the PQs below ) is interesting. In 2001, in connection with the "anecdotal evidence of infection in wild deer" of foot and mouth disease, Drs Paul Sutmoller and Paul Gibbs wrote "..there is a lack of scientific data to confirm or refute the presence of wildlife infection." Had there been such research data available in 2001, their conclusion that "a vaccination zone with solidly immune livestock is the only way to control FMD" would surely have been incontrovertible.
Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Deer: implications for the policy of control and eradication of the disease
July 16 ~ "Bovine Tuberculosis has spread further into wildlife populations than was previously thought ... "
"The report – The Risk To Cattle From Wildlife Species Other Than Badgers In Areas Of High Herd Breakdown Risk – was published last week (Jul 9) amid allegations that its findings were so controversial DEFRA had chosen to release it quietly. .....The report was critical of the government, DEFRA and its predecessor MAFF.See also Parliamentary Questions on wildlife infected by TB (Nov 2003) and the cost of DEFRA projects (Jan 2002). (The report "The Risk To Cattle From Wildlife Species Other Than Badgers In Areas Of High Herd Breakdown Risk" does not appear to be available on the DEFRA website.)
...The report estimated the UK deer population – including farmed deer – to be between 1.25m and 2.6m, compared with about 300,000 badgers. Between 1% and 15% (12,500-390,000) of the deer could be infected with bovine TB.
...The ministry knew of the high susceptibility of deer to TB 10 years ago but only recently had DEFRA taken action.
.... "It's now quite clear that bovine TB is endemic in wildlife across the UK," said Dr King.
The study confirmed the presence of TB in certain species and showed it had spread to the yellow-necked mouse, wood mouse, shrew, polecat, muntjac and stoat. " (Read in full)
July 16 2004 ~ Resignation of Sir John Krebs
Although he was reappointed in February for a further four years as Chair of the FSA , FWi reports that
"The chair of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Sir John Krebs, has informed the agency's board of his resignation. ...Commenting on Sir John's resignation, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Tony Blair, paid tribute to Sir John. ".... He has been robust in ensuring that the Agency bases its advice on sound science and in ensuring that it promotes the interests of consumers."One wonders exactly what "sound science" and which "consumers" the Prime Minister has in mind.
Nine organisations, including the National Federation of Women's Institutes and Unison, the UK's biggest trade union, wrote to Sir John in March last year: "... the published views and statements of the FSA and its Chair are indistinguishable from those of the pro-GM lobby and do not properly represent public health and consumer interests"The National Consumers' Council, the Consumers' Association and Sustain found the agency's approach to last year's national debate on GM crops "highly selective" and "anti-consumer" while the Consumers' Association '"...remain bitterly disappointed at the anti-consumer stance the Food Standards Agency and UK government, as a whole, take on this issue. ..."
Sir John's antagonism towards organic farming, and his claim in November 2002 that "manure caused more air and water pollution than chemical fertilisers" caused Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, to accuse Sir John of "blocking the expansion of organic farming in Britain". ( Independent)
When he was, to the surprise of many, appointed to the new agency in 2000, Sir John Krebs insisted - in words that remind us strongly of those of SAC's Professor Roy Anderson - that he wanted the agency to be "a beacon of openness and a model for the best use of science". (Read in full)
July 15 ~ "... Mr Blair’s view that he need only descend into Churchill’s bunker for the fuel strike, foot-and-mouth and the War on Terror to evaporate overnight"
Simon Jenkins in the Times
"..... The final words of the Butler report are the barons’ revenge. They are revenge for Mr Blair insisting that his aides be allowed to boss civil servants. They are revenge for daily humiliation by Alastair Campbell and by political advisers and dodgy lobbyists. They are revenge for Mr Blair’s view that he need only descend into Churchill’s bunker for the fuel strike, foot-and-mouth and the War on Terror to evaporate overnight. " (Read in full on warmwell's democracy page)Increasingly inescapable is the uneasy suspicion that Downing Street is attempting to direct current FMD policies from behind the scenes, by-passing the veterinary and scientific experts (the SAC notwithstanding).
July 14 ~ The Butler report. No names named.
See Inbox or the warmwell pages on Iraq or the pages on what has been happening lately to UK democracy and personal liberty.
For those who suffered so much anguish during the 2001 FMD crisis and who may have gone on hoping for three long years to see the buck finally come to rest and policies change, it will be of no surprise whatever that Lord Butler has stopped short of naming names.
The echoes are uncanny. "...serious failings in the way the country was taken to war with all the consequent loss of life..." but just as in 2001, the very people who made the decisions, ignored the realities and manipulated others are likely to cling on to their positions of power and 'responsibility' and subsequently retire with their reputations enhanced with honours.
July 10 - 16 ~ " US officials really have missed the true cause of mad cow disease..."
Mark Purdey's theories about the real cause of TSEs in cattle are persuasive. Here he argues that he now has:
"... sufficient analytical data that conclusively indicates that exposure to certain environmental metal microcrystal pollutants is responsible for the true cause of these diseases.The scientific establishment remains resolutely unimpressed, preferring apparently to ignore rather than attempt seriously to refute his work - but what if Mark Purdey is right? The unthinkable. A mountain of legislation, regulation, and panicky trade restrictions, at a cost of billions, revealed as mere hot air for the support of inflated political and scientific reputations. As Mr Purdey himself wryly remarks, "governments remain totally negligent... ..for obvious reasons." For his Elsevier article (accepted Feb 2004) pdf file see warmwell's technical pages.
.... barium, strontium 90, silver or manganese and are released into the environment from various naturally occurring ( volcanoes, etc ) and man made ( military, industrial, etc ) sources.
Exposure to each different metal species dictates which specific 'strain' of the disease will emerge.
Once implanted in the brain, these crystals seed the multireplication / growth of significant sized metal-protein crystal arrays ( the heat resistant fibrils which hallmark the BSE diseased brain) , which behave much like the piezoelectric crystals found in microphones , thereby screwing up the ability of the organism to deal with incoming sonic pressure waves. The sound energy is converted into electrical shock bursts which, in turn, initiate free radical mediated neuro degeneration and mad cow disease.
It was the release of strontium 90 into the atmosphere from the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant blow out that rained down over North western Europe and contaminated their pastures. This radioactive metal microcrystal was able to penetrate the brains of cattle because of the simultaneous use of a high dose systemic acting pesticide used uniquely for warble fly eradication here in the UK. ...."Read in full.
July 10 - 16 ~ Why did Exercise Hornbeam not mention the "sentinel" theory - as practised in Cornwall in 2001?
Letter in the North Devon Journal (Apologies. The source and link were incorrectly shown on Tuesday)
"...The very strange question arises as to why Ben Bradshaw did not pull out his trump card, the sentinel theory, as practised and endorsed in Cornwall in April 2001 at the height of the FMD outbreak, and boasted of in his letter dated February 16, 2004, to Andrew George MP. In this letter Ben Bradshaw writes about a large pig farm in North Cornwall which was contiguous to an infected premises. Some 2,800 pigs were slaughtered but 200 gilts plus 200 suckler cows were left unculled.Read in full
Quote: "On the advice of the epidemiology team . . . some "irreplaceable" young pigs (200) were allowed to remain because the owner's cattle (200) were in close proximity to these pigs, which would then have acted as sentinels.I would like to ask Mr Bradshaw, as I am sure other farmers who were not given this option of leaving their animals unculled to act as sentinels would also like to ask him, why this simple and cost effective method which was decided by MAFF's own senior vets, was not used elsewhere during 2001, and why it will not be used again in any further outbreak of foot and mouth? ..."
"Because of the prompt notification and appropriate response to confirmed disease, there was no further spread of disease in the area."
July 3 - July 9 ~ "Scientists should also be more prepared to admit a lack of knowledge. Many find it difficult to say 'we haven't got a clue'
"more honesty from scientists" is needed, said Professor Roy Anderson in his April 2002 lecture to the Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen.
Professor Anderson said,
"at the start of the FMD outbreak there were huge gaps in our knowledge about the potential effectiveness of the emergency vaccine..." and "The media coverage of the science associated with the foot and mouth and BSE epidemics was not as good as it could have been and it has had a knock-on effect in that several surveys suggest that the public don't trust scientists as much as they used to."In May 2002, a warmwell reader, intrigued by the snippets of Professor Anderson's speech reported here, wrote to ask the PR assistant at The Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen whether it would be possible to see a full transcript of his speech. Back came the reply: "I have contacted Professor Anderson and he has informed me he does not have a transcript of his lecture." However, the lecture appeared later on the Institute's website. Here it is from the emailer who tracked it down. She adds, " I like the "more honesty from scientists" bit, plus this extract suggesting the media was responsible for the distrust in scientists after FMD. ... Also the bit about huge gaps in our knowledge re the potential effectiveness of emergency vaccination - one might ask, whose knowledge?"
July 3 - July 9 ~ big money, powerful friends and ethical, genuinely independent advice are rarely known to coexist easily.
Is it just sheer coincidence that Professor Roy Anderson is a powerful player in the drug company world? His assertion on Wednesday's Today Programme that he "certainly would" give the "same advice" as in 2001 seems to echo of the reluctance of others to admit of past mistakes. An unrepentant John Scarlett is promoted to head of MI6 and Professor Anderson becomes the chair of the highly powerful Science Advisory Council. There was never a proper public inquiry into the FMD horrors of 2001 - in spite of many calls for one. The rationale of Professor Anderson's mathematical model has never been subjected to a proper analysis. (ProMed website for July 2002)
One emailer wrote to warmwell.com on Wednesday, "I'm glad you're still asking why they didn't vaccinate. I know the answer. Someone was and is making money out of not vaccinating."
Perhaps. Possible conflicts of interest involving Professor Anderson's stake in a private biomedical consulting company while he was a professor at Oxford and the "freemasonry of the powerful" that seems to have brought his model to the fore in 2001 have already been discussed on warmwell. He may well have been perfectly blameless - but big money, powerful friends and ethical, genuinely independent advice are rarely known to coexist easily.
Of Professor Anderson, Dr Richard North wrote in 2001: "...his interests included being a director and 30 percent shareholder of the International Biomedical and Health Sciences Consortium, and he is a scientific consultant to Abbott Pharmaceuticals, a major US company. Additionally, he is consultant to SKS Scientific (presumably Smith Kline Beecham), and has links with the Hamburg Institute of Tropical Scientific Advisory Board Medicine..." See also Inbox comment
July 3 - July 9 ~ " Would you now, with the benefit of hindsight, have offered different advice to deal with the foot and mouth outbreak?
Roy Anderson: I certainly wouldn't..."
On the Today Programme on Wednesday morning, John Humphrys interviewed Roy Anderson about the new Science Advisory Council
"John Humphrys: Are you likely to be a somewhat controversial chairman, given that you played quite a big part, as I understand it, in the foot and mouth outbreak, that is to say you approved the contiguous cull policy and many people say that that was quite the wrong policy and resulted in millions of perfectly healthy animals being killed and it wouldn't be done again, we'd have a vaccination policy next time.John Humphrys did not press Professor Anderson on why his advice would remain the same. (Read in full)
Roy Anderson: Well, that's one view. My expertise lies in a particular area but as chairman of the committee my task is to collate views from a very expert group of individuals, covering a broad range of science from meteorology to fisheries to ecology, and also non-scientific representatives, people dealing with the economics of the rural economy, as it were and individuals representing consumers and other groups.
John Humphrys: Would you now, with the benefit of hindsight, have offered different advice to deal with the foot and mouth outbreak?
Roy Anderson: I certainly wouldn't..
John Humphrys: You'd stay with the same?
Roy Anderson: I'd stay with the same advice
July 3 - July 9 ~“The whole thing is a nonsensical scheme, which stands no chance whatsoever of success
The plan to record the details of every horse in Britain on a computer database in Whitehall is ludicrous. One can only imagine the scene of 1.5 million horses, many of which look remarkably similar to one another, with some unfortunate mandarin trying to record their every movement. The whole thing is a nonsensical scheme, which stands no chance whatsoever of success, and an incoming Conservative Government would abolish it.”Read in full
July 3 - July 9 ~" You can't leave a rule in place simply because you think it should be there - there has to be a good reason for it."
This sensible view should be carried in the pocket of all those who currently (as Simon Jenkins said last month) "are supposed to carry at all times a Blair mission card telling them “to help make the UK a better place for everyone to live in, and support its success in the world.”
John Thorley, quoted in the Western Mail on July 6 on the profitable question of smokies said he was confident that the ban would be lifted following the "current investigations".
" .... it was not impossible to devise a system to produce the product legally and ensure that health standards are met.(Dr Yunes Teinaz was quoted on warmwell recently on the subject of meat crimes in the UK "....As things stand, the potentially huge financial rewards far outweigh the risks of being caught.")
Support also came from Dr Yunes Teinaz, health adviser to the London Islamic Cultural Centre and Senior Environmental Health Officer for Hackney Council. Dr Teinaz called for better and more sensible regulation of the sector of the British meat market aimed at ethnic groups."
July 3 - July 9 ~ Dung
"all manure from all animal species and the digestive tract content from mammalian species" are considered as a "risk category material" by the EU. So the FSA are drawing up regulations likely to ban the traditional grazing of sheep in orchards for up to a year before fruit is harvested - even though all dessert fruit is hand-picked. Is the FSA now going to scare that section of the public that is ever fearful that fruit and vegetables are unsafe? "Studies have shown that however well you wash fruit you don't always get rid of all the germs..." Wednesday's Farming Today.
July 3 - July 9 ~ No relaxation of OTMS for "many months"
A particularly surreal programme on Wednesday, Farming Today also features Sir John Krebs saying that the OTMS rule will have to continue for "many months to come" because of the failures (such as that of the Meat Hygiene Service), and to allow "an independent group" to become satisfied that "a robust method of testing was in place for older animals." (See also Guardian) It's easy to forget that behind all the mountains of regulations and billions in tax payments and research funding regarding BSE lies only the molehill of a guess, no hard evidence, that vCJD is attributable to the eating of BSE infected beef. The scientific upholders of the guesswork may well be right. They are certainly showered with funding while those who question it are not. Heretics such as Professor Ebringer even have funding removed. (BSE/vCJD page) A recent letter from DEFRA to a concerned farmer was concerned with "ethics"....
".... Although there is no direct evidence that the BSE agent is transmissible to humans, obtaining such evidence could not be justified ethically as this would require humans to be inoculated with BSE. ..."
July 3 - July 9 ~ Livestock tracing system is 'in chaos'
Telegraph , Tuesday
"One in five cattle in England is missing or untraceable under a system for tracking livestock that was devised to protect public and animal health after the BSE and foot and mouth epidemics, MPs declare. ......The Commons public accounts select committee warned that the cattle tracing system installed by the Government was inefficient, overly burdensome, based on obsolete technology and wasting millions of pounds a year.The system requires notifications from seller, market and buyer each time an animal is sold, but it depends on handwritten entries, triple notification and entries sent by post. MPs say that as a result there were some 1.2 million anomalies waiting to be corrected, potentially meaning that animals with disease could not be traced..."See also warmwell comment below: " bad system assumptions that ignore the essential business practices on farms."
Most unwelcome mounds of paperwork are imposed on farmers told that all the tagging and form-filling is necessary for "traceability". If, however, DEFRA still cannot trace where 1 in 5 animals are, farmers and the public are justified in feeling annoyed. As in 2001, if the data is muddled, disease cannot be effectively combated however many politicians, bureaucrats and slaughterers converge upon it.
July 3 - July 9 ~ What were and are the real reasons for not wanting to vaccinate?
DEFRA says "Vaccination would have been used if the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Veterinary Officer had advised that it was the most appropriate measure of disease control in the circumstances."
Yet the rapporteur of the EU Temporary Committee, Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler wrote in his report
31. In Cumbria, from the end of March/beginning of April 2001, vaccinating cattle was an option recommended by the Chief Scientific Adviser to the government and the Chief Veterinary Officer on condition that certain criteria were complied with, including that of support from farmers. The government did not consider this option practicable ..."
July 3 - July 9 ~ In March 2002, Nick Brown told the EU Committee "We were only 24 hours away from vaccinating"
"However representations made to me from large retailers and in particular Cadburys stating they would not take products from vaccinates persuaded us not to vaccinate."This was disputed by William Moyes director-general of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), when he spoke to the EU Committee in Strasbourg
"..at no time did retailers lobby for or against the vaccination of animals as an alternative to slaughter"As for the supposed opposition of Cumbrian farmers, the NFU's stance was not representative of livestock farmers on the ground in Cumbria. On 11 April, MP David Maclean polled his farmers by fax. Eighty per cent of the farmers and 95 per cent of the vets wanted 'vaccination to live' (i.e., without subsequent slaughter) as soon as possible. On 20 April the Cumberland News carried the headline 'Desperate Cumbria pleads with Blair to vaccinate now'.
July 3 - July 9 ~ The answer to the question "Why did the UK not vaccinate?" makes no more sense today than it did in 2001.
Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler said: "Relatively small special-interest groups (parts of the meat-producing farming sector and the food trade) seem to have had an undue influence over decisions affecting the wellbeing of whole regions in the management of the FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001.. .....This is all the more worrying because fears in the food trade that consumers would not accept products from vaccinated livestock were unsubstantiated."
July 3 - July 9 ~ "No supermarkets or trade federations in Uruguay tried to tell government that the public would not accept vaccinated meat
nor was there re-infection from "carrier" animals, or spread of the disease due to sheep with antibodies...." John Vidal in the Guardian May 8, 2002
July 3 - July 9 ~ In Uruguay, the farmers, safely and without stress, vaccinated their own cattle.
In Uruguay, the disease was eradicated in 15 weeks Meanwhile, in the UK, and in spite of the expensive and unpublicised "training" of lay vaccinators in preference to stockmen who knew their animals, the policy of vaccination was being abandoned.
" I was paid £600 to stand in a barn for 3 hours, learning how to inject a cow ...and pierce the ear with a tag. ... I was informed that I had passed the training and was now an 'official' being paid £40 a day to be on 'standby'. .. I have never worked with cows and have no idea how to control them - however this didn't seem to worry any officials. .."Read in full the account of one such trainee.
2004: "... we have put in place the operational capability to be ready to vaccinate 5 days into an outbreak" (DEFRA)
Was this operational capability evident during last week's Exercise Hornbeam? Did it include knowledge of how to handle the animals as well as how to stick needles in oranges?
July 3 - July 9 ~ Hornbeam is over. "We still want to know..."
The Hornbeam exercise of 29 and 30 June leaves questions unanswered. In the debate in April during which Ben Bradshaw congratulated himself upon the Government's "achievement" in eradicating FMD in 2001, John Whittingdale reminded the house:
"We still need a proper investigation of the efficacy of the contiguous cull policy, under which millions of uninfected animals were destroyed, and an answer to the question whether that cull was even necessary. We still want to know why a vaccination programme was not introduced at an early stage. ...."John Whittingdale (Maldon and East Chelmsford)See also comment taken from the respected ProMed website for July 2002
" testing should have been done last year during the epidemic and certainly against the modelers' demand for 3kms culling. There was sufficient field experience and GIS topographic and detailed agricultural data to put it in doubt and certainly to hard test. ... I have not seen one model tested retrospectively and critically against the reality in the field. ..."
July 3 - July 9 ~ Commercial and political interest and the reality of "testing" for disease
The claim made by DEFRA to the EU was that "Each of the 2,026 FMD cases was subjected to a detailed clinical and epidemiological investigation. ..." ( DEFRA's "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" ) In their Jan 2002 submission to the EU for the resumption of Disease Free Status, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/int-trde/misc/foot/OIE_FMD_report.pdf DEFRA appears to make the same claim - i.e. that it had tested all Infected Premises.
We know that many slaughtered premises were never tested in 2001. Farmers' requests for lab tests were very often curtly denied. Pirbright received samples from only a small fraction of slaughtered farms - probably less than 20% of all contiguous culls and even many IP's taken out on clinical grounds. More
July 3 - July 9 ~ Repeat offenders
Christopher Booker's Notebook in the Sunday Telegraph: "Radio 4's PM programme last Tuesday reported on "Operation Hornbeam"......
.....According to the Defra simulation, PM reported, we were in "Day Seven" of an epidemic that had already spread to four different parts of the UK. But there had only been 11 separate "incidents" (in 2001 the disease had established itself in 57 places before it was identified). And so far Defra was considering a limited vaccination programme, confined to cattle in just two of the areas affected. Meanwhile we heard Defra proudly announcing that 17,400 animals had already been slaughtered.
In other words, there was abundant evidence that Defra has not begun to get the point. Its officials have "learned nothing and forgotten nothing". If foot and mouth strikes again, we can look forward to a repeat of the chaos we saw in 2001. All this, of course, passed the BBC by." Read in full
July 3 - July 9 ~ DEFRA's work on FMD defended.
One FMD stakeholder has defended DEFRA, informing us that the Ministry has
We feel this does indeed merit our acknowledgement. We are therefore grateful to those members of DEFRA who are trying to effect improvements in the UK handling of disease in the spirit of the Directive:
- agreed to immediate Movement shutdown,
- improved communications internally, across Government and with the Military,
- instituted more transparent procedures with greater Stakeholder involvement.
- Established 50 vaccination teams plus 100 more on quick call-off
- has apparently carried out about 30 Contingency Plan rehearsals culminating in Operation Hornbeam.
- Agreed to melt down [an unspecified quantity -about £150,000 worth was once mentioned ] of antigen as soon as serotyping is completed
"....its policies to combat animal diseases must not be based purely on commercial interests but must also take genuine account of ethical principles." EU Directive
July 3 - July 9 ~ "All groups need to be aware now of the Government’s operational arrangements.."
See "Foot-and-Mouth Disease Control Policy Communications Strategy", Prepared by Communications Directorate/ AMED Policy Team)
"... It is crucial that stakeholders are engaged in planning for possible use of emergency vaccination in a future outbreak; in particular that:Read FMD Control Policy Communications Strategy in full. It would be interestng to know, in view of the farmer's comments below, how far the "Communications Directorate" feel they were successful in achieving their aims.
- farmers are aware of the implications for trade and their representatives are willing to give re-assurance on this;
- consumer bodies are aware of the safety of products from vaccinated animals, declare themselves willing to be supportive, and are in a position to allay potential public concern ;
- welfare groups are willing to endorse emergency vaccination;
- the various components of the food chain are aware of the safety of products from vaccinated animals and are confident there will be no adverse public reaction, in particular that caused by negative public statements from the above groups....
.... All groups need to be aware now of the Government’s operational arrangements for emergency vaccination and how the decision to vaccinate would be handled so that confidence can be gained about its use.."
June 26 - July 2 ~ So were any animals vaccinated? Any at all? Apparently not - for all we can read in media reports.
Under the title "Hornbeam me up, Scotty " we receive the following: "Farmers Weekly, page 7 reads,
As we have tried to point out on warmwell, the food industry was NOT concerned about the use of meat from vaccinated animals even in 2001, and certainly isn't now - but confusion still reigns about this in the minds of those who oppose vaccination now because they did then because of all those who continue loftily to tell them it is not a "magic bullet" (It was in Uruguay).
" On the morning of day eight DEFRA decided to vaccinate dairy animals in North Wales and Cheshire, but was told then that industry stakeholders would oppose this policy in Cheshire, adding further complications""What a bloody uphill struggle this is! Surely the role of the Communications Directorate should have been to have assuaged those concerns in the first place? (It's not as if they weren't forewarned). Reading comments such as from Lewis MBE on how 'culling is the best policy' just makes me feel we have reached the end of the line.
These people are never going to change, nor relinquish control.
... I am not sure that I want to continue trying to pursue a career in agriculture in this country (hard enough anyway) with this sword hanging over my head at all times. I dread the day FMD returns as some lessons from 2001 do not seem to have been learned at all."
June 26 - July 2 ~ Contingency plans " would prove “useless” if there was interference from Defra bosses nationally...
Cumbria News and Star "... Tim Bennett, newly-elected president of the NFU, said many animals should be vaccinated because mass culling was bad economically and bad for the country’s image."Archive - Warmwell front page Spring-June 2004
"... Nick Utting, NFU secretary in North Cumbria, said this week he was confident that the county had put a lot of work into preparing contingency plans to tackle any new outbreak. But he warned these would prove “useless” if there was interference from Defra bosses nationally.
...Cumbria NFU county chairman and farmer, Alistair Mackintosh, said he could not envisage Defra handing over total control to regional offices if there was a future outbreak of foot and mouth. “But what they must do is bow to local knowledge,” he said.
....During the 2001 outbreak...the then county NFU chairman, Will Cockbain broke ranks with the union and said he could not back the mass culling of animals if there was another outbreak and that emergency vaccination should be used ......"
Warmwell front page Oct 03 - Jan 04
Archive Sept 2002
Warmwell front page August 2002
June / July 2002
Warmwell front page - May / June 2002
Warmwell front page - April / May 2002
Warmwell front page - March / April 2002
Warmwell front page - the earliest pages in 2001
Report into Infectious Disease in Livestock - Royal Society Recommendations
"The contiguous cull has been exposed for what it was: one of the most bloody, tragic and disgraceful misjudgments made in the name of science."
Anthony Gibson CBE
"Emergency vaccination with the aim of allowing animals to live for normal further use should no longer be regarded only as a last resort but must be considered as a first-choice option from the outset."
comparison EU draft report and March 03 document
"The foot-and-mouth crisis ... a lethal cocktail of folly, self-interest, Government ineptitude and spinelessness, waste and wanton cruelty, both to human beings and animals. In short, a disgrace of huge magnitude. " John Piper Yorkshire Post
See articles "The FPB are also interested in the other matters which have concerned us for so long namely; the animal cruelty - illegal contiguous culls, bullying of farmers and families, the lies and deceit over blood tests plus any additional material of this ilk. Photographic evidence would be useful as would eye-witness accounts." See emailed message
Hundreds of contractors and farmers still have claims outstanding