IMPORTANT Please PRESS f5 several times at every visit for latest update
"There are now no insuperable problems with vaccination, whether technical, scientific, trade or cultural,"
ARCHIVE AUGUST 2002
Brian Follett, chair of the RS Inquiry Report
"we take the view that food from vaccinated beasts does not need to be labelled"
National Consumer Council April 2001
"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, NFU regional director in the South West - a voice of sanity from the outset.
August 31 ~ "The Science Committee was being asked to make decisions that were beyond their competence." (BBC)
In yesterday's edition of Farming Today (listen again) Gareth Davies spoke out against the disproportionate power of the Science Group led by Prof King during the foot and mouth crisis.
"....What was most unfortunate was that this was a standalone committee meeting in an office in St. James and it had enormous power but no responsibility on the outcome of what was suggested, whereas half a mile away in Page Streeet, the Chief Veterinary Officer and his staff had very little power because decisions were being taken by the Scientific Committee, but Page Street had all the responsibility for the epidemic.
John Harvey Moore: So in effect, the committee was being asked to make decisions about how to deal with the disease which were beyond their competence?
Gareth Davies: Yes, you are quite right, the committee was being asked to make decisions that were beyond their competence. " transcript of interview
( See also Magnus Linklater's comments in the Times well over a year ago on Gareth Davies' attempts to instil some common sense into COBR, - " As Mr Davies told The Times: "I asked what would happen if we didn't vaccinate and what were the chances of this cluster blowing up really big. There was a deathly silence." )
August 31 ~ allegations of harassment, staff intimidation, bullying and possible financial mismanagement at its London headquarters.
Telegraph"Sixteen former presidents of the British Veterinary Association have voiced concern about trouble at the top of the organisation after allegations of harassment, staff intimidation, bullying and possible financial mismanagement at its London headquarters.
In a letter in the Veterinary Record, the BVA's official publication, the past presidents, whose tenures date from the Fifties to the Nineties, say a lack of transparency over the findings of two independent inquiries into the allegations is tearing the profession apart and damaging its reputation.
One former president said yesterday that the crisis at the BVA's headquarters in Marylebone, London, was "turning us into a laughing stock in the eyes of the Government and the public". Another past president of the association and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, now retired from practice, said the
BVA was in "fu**ing chaos"He added: "This is creating a loss of public confidence in the BVA and the profession, which is even worse."
August 31 ~ The EU holds secret talks at Johannesburg about scrapping subsidies
Telegraph"The European Union was last night considering scrapping some of its farm subsidies sooner than it had intended in a desperate attempt to break the deadlock at the Earth Summit.
EU ministers were involved in secret talks on a plan for bringing forward the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy as a way of persuading developing countries and America to accept tough targets for tackling poverty and environmental degradation and increasing the use of renewable energy.
As South African police braced themselves for a series of rallies and protest marches in Johannesburg today, which could easily degenerate into violence, ministers took over at the talks for the first time in an attempt to resolve the stickiest issues before Tony Blair and other world leaders arrive on Monday......"
August 31 ~ Still too many sheep in England says UK government
FWi "A ground-breaking initiative will pay farmers in upland areas to reduce their sheep stocking levels for five years. Ministers believe the Sheep Quota Purchase Scheme will improve the sustainability of farming by reducing overgrazing in the hills."
And when all the sheep are cleared from the hills and the thistles and bracken abound, will everyone rejoice at this further example of the government's idea of "sustainabilty"? The millions wiped out in unnecessary culling were not enough? The National Scrapie Plan is not draconian enough? It would be nice to be able to believe that this really is an exercise in getting the proportion right - but "a proportional response" is seen more incurrent jargon than in practice. The UK government may not be aware of just how long it takes for impenetrable scrub to become climax woodland.
In the same FWi article, John Thorley is quoted as saying, "...farmers must consider the full business implications of reducing stocking rates. The scheme has a total fund of just £2m.
If farmers tender to join the initative in return for £100/ewe it will remove only 20,000 animals from England's national flock of 15.3m sheep."
August 31 ~ ...In Scotland the NFU all but accused its English counterpart of cosying up to the establishment.
Mr Walker said 10% of dairy farmers had gone out of business over the past year, with only 1,800 left. Many farmers were trading at a loss and this week one resorted to killing all his animals because he faced financial ruin." See Guardian article "Scots in blockade over milk prices"
August 31 ~ The whole ghastly saga...
An email from a highly respected member of the veterinary profession today puts succinctly what so many of us feel:
"The whole ghastly saga of FMD, TSEs, the Animal 'Health' Bill etc etc is beyond belief.
I would never have thought it possible for so many people to get it so comprehensively wrong - or to pretend so convincingly that they have got it all completely right."
August 31 ~ "the absurd escalation in culling occurred because of premises being declared infected - and hence other farms being culled as contiguous and dangerous contacts - on basis of inaccurate (ie. WRONG) clinical diagnoses in sheep."
It seems that an erroneous idea persists that Pirbright tests, showing that many culls were unnecessary, were flawed. An expert in the crisis wrote on an internet forum yesterday -
"The majority of so called infected premises involved sheep and majority of these were declared infected - and culled out - solely on basis of clinical diagnosis which is notoriously difficult in sheep and this strain of FMD virus - in fact the Pirbright folk (in whom you seem to have no faith at all despite their vast experience and knowledge of FMD) declared in a letter to the Vet. Record that it was virtually impossible to make an accurate diagnosis of this strain of FMD in sheep based on clinical signs alone." (see also Dr Kitching's evidence to the EU Inquiry)
"Also consider that vast majority of the vets making these diagnoses had NEVER seen a 'guaranteed genuine' case of FMD prior to being deployed in the field -and many never normally dealt with sheep at all.
The scope for mis-diagnosis/over-diagnosis was enormous - and that's just what happened when the pressure was on to cull, cull, cull based on a false premise peddled by 'mathematical epidemiologists' - despite expert opinion to the contrary - that FMD infection in sheep was widespread throughout the UK.
August 31 ~ "Surely this doubt, concern, and a belief in a cover up make a Public Enquiry essential." (Robin Page)
Chairman of the Countryside Restoration Trust, Robin Page says: None of the current Enquiries have gone far enough and they have not dealt with the real concerns and doubts. Where did Foot and Mouth come from in the first place? .... We need to be told. In 1973 it is on record that an outbreak of Foot and Mouth occurred due to live virus experiments. I believe that the same thing happened this time and the outbreak got out of control.
Surely this doubt, concern, and a belief in a cover up make a Public Enquiry essential.
The Countryside Restoration Trust has today called for a proper Public Enquiry into the Foot and Mouth tragedy. Following various reports, including the recent Anderson Report, the CRT feels that there is still the suspicion of a cover up.
Aug 30 ~ the "virus" has been firmly embedded in the system.
Dr Richard North's speech about the Foods Standards Agency from 1997 is even more relevant today.
"Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, described it as: "...a sort of bandwagon that once it started to roll, everyone was saying... (it) is a good thing. It was like a mantra that people started to repeat".
Despite its inherent defects and its slender intellectual base, this "mantra" is now a reality. Its history and its emergence as mainstream government policy should tell you a great deal about its possible impact on industry. And, if this does not inspire confidence, then things are set to become a great deal worse.
From the outset, it has been clear that the promoters of the agency concept do not even know what they are trying to achieve. ..... Arguably, improved confidence is best achieved, in the first instance, by maximising the safety of food.
A major problem in this context is that central government, and the various agencies already involved in food safety issues, have very little idea of the precise nature of the threats confronting us, their scale, causation and the necessary controls. Arguably, also, some of the control measures in place - such as the meat hygiene and poultry hygiene regulations, as enforced by the Meat Hygiene Service - contribute significantly to the scale of the problem.... Furthermore, much of food safety policy lies within the competence of the EU, driven by political agendas which have little or anything to do with science." (More)
Aug 30 ~ It's not rocket science
"Small farmers need to be paid a fair price for their products and the poor need access to credit and land,"
American food guru and author Frances Moore Lappe has one message on world hunger for the U.N. Earth Summit: it's all about access.
Access by farmers to credit and land, that is. Reuters Newsdesk"People talk about this hunger crisis all the time but it's not rocket science.
"When I wrote 'Diet for a Small Planet' in 1971, a third of all grain was used to feed livestock. Now it's closer to half," she said. "In the U.S. system, it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of steak. To produce the same pound of steak takes between 2,000 and 12,000 gallons of water."
"The U.S. farming system is held up as a model for others to follow but it is the most inefficient in the world and the subsidies all go to the biggest farmers. Small farmers are going out of business all the time," she said...."
Aug 30 ~ it is questionable whether a top-down review of this controversial science is appropriate
Friends of the Earth have called for a moratorium on the growing of genetically modified (GM) crops following today's announcement at the Earth Summit of a World Bank-funded initiative to review the use of GM foods and farming."
"....Friends of the Earth cautiously welcomed the review, but sounded a note of caution over the independence of the review, given the involvement of the World Bank. The issue of GM food and farming is different to climate change, and it is questionable whether a top-down review of this controversial science is appropriate. The group warned that the review could play into the hands of the US and biotech industry rather than ordinary people, who should be making the decisions about how they farm and what food they eat. "
Aug 30 ~ "Excuse me? Who rules Scotland? What is the point of a Scottish Parliament if we are governed by Brussels?"
Joyce in North Uist is deeply concerned at the lack of local abattoirs. Her letters have been published in the local press"How can food be classed as "local" when it has travelled via Barra, Stornoway or Dingwall? How can it be "sustainable" or "environmentally friendly" to use such vast amounts of fossil fuel in the transport of animals away and meat back?
..... Re the article: "Uist crofters in talks over possible reopening of Lochmaddy abattoir" Aug 9th. " However, recent European Commission state aid rulings prevent local authorities from subsidising abattoirs"
Excuse me? Who rules Scotland? What is the point of a Scottish Parliament if we are governed by Brussels?
How about it MSP's ? Or are you all eunuchs who have simply exchanged Scotland's lords and masters in London for new ones even further removed both geographically and culturally? "
Aug 29 ~ Scotland's dairy farmers protest " direct action was the only option"
According to the BBC (we note their use of inverted commas here) Scotland's dairy farmers are planning to stage protests against the "low prices" being offered by supermarkets for milk supplies.
"The National Farners' Union Scotland (NFUS) said it costs dairy farmers on average 4p more to produce a litre of milk than they are being paid by the supermarkets.
"The union said demonstrations will be held outside distribution centres next month, unless the supermarkets move to give farmers a fairer deal."
The Scotsman says, "First Milk, the biggest UK dairy farmers co-operative, is now being forced to pay the lowest price in Europe - less than 20 (£12.78) per 100 kg of milk compared with an Italian price of 39 (£24.92) and a European Union average of 28.56 (£18.25).
First Milk's price is down more than 30 per cent on last year, compared with an EU average drop of 6 per cent.
(Jim) Walker said it was essential that Britain's co-ops stopped competing with each other to buy milk. That could only be at the expense of the individual dairy farmer as supermarkets squeezed the processors. Negotiations start soon among supermarkets, milk processors and dairy co-ops. He said: "We are already involved in direct talks with them, but if we don't get a clear signal that farmgate milk prices will rise, then protests start on 19 September.......Scotland's dairy farmers - "first to moan, last to act" had to get off their backsides and make their point. "
Aug 29 ~ Ignorance about animal disease among government committees leads to the destruction of small scale livestock farming. "All the money has been cornered by the SEAC people..."
"...who were dealing with scrapie at the time of BSE, and it is hard to wrest that from them..." said Teresa Gorman MP (Times Magazine 6/05/00) , who successfully campaigned to stop the Corsellis Collection from being dispersed. "This was a uniquely valuable resource in that it contained the brains of people who died of a vCJD-like disease before BSE. Comparison with CJD victims might show that the same brain plagues were in evidence before BSE ....This should have been examined in the context of BSE," she says.
See Hansard debate "... CJD material--9,000 specimens of brain tissue--taken from people who died from the disease in the 1950s and until recent times, before the current outbreak could possibly be attributed to their deaths"
Aug 29 ~ Ignorance? Or a global agenda to depopulate livestock numbers and promote GM arable protein?
Thousands of German sheep have been condemned to death for no real reason since scrapie does not spread by animal to animal contact. BSE in sheep is a bugbear and mathematically a nonsense. The fear and ignorance that is preparing for the "ethnic cleansing" of national sheep flocks is truly horrifying - and scientists are too fearful for their own futures to speak out - with the exception of brilliant mavericks such as Mark Purdey.
"Since all of the evidence points to the fact that spongiform diseases are caused by a clear cut combination of genetic and toxic environmental factors, why do the authorities worldwide continue to handle these diseases as if they stem from highly infectious origins?
...a mere handful of politically-motivated...scientists in the FSA, DEFRA, USDA, EU ... are on the payrole of the global corporations whose sole interest lies in forcing open a market place for their GM arable protein products. They have no interest in making life easy for their competitors; eg; those of us who are trying to make a living out of selling livestock proteins.
..... the multinationals have invested billions of bucks in researching and developing their GM arable crops and complementary package of pesticides to go with them. They have bought up oceans of acres of dirt cheap arable land across Eastern Europe, the Third World and North/South America....."
Aug 29 ~ An intriguing email
(Extract) "....MAFF-Defra will panic.
I'm sure someone will make sure they are informed.
Oh - and by the way, I have never signed the official secrets act. There is no question of anything I have to say being covered. I imagine that I must have British, US and Canadian security clearance although I have never actually been told that. .....
This is by no means the only scandal. There is also the Mafia one. Did you know that Britain had honoured a senior Mafia captain? One of Britain's most famous companies were running an illegal cartel with him. You all pay extra in the supermarket every week because of it.
He is dead now, but before he died, he invited me out to Italy and threatened me for exposing the scam. Actually, I rather liked him.
Which is more than I can say for Gill and Scudamore. I'll teach Scuds to use the Official Secrets Act to facilitate a cover-up!
Aug 28 ~ "Anything that does not get through in this session dies and has to start again.... "
As our Westminster correspondent points out, "The second part of the Committee stage (of the Animal Health Bill) in the Lords will be on October 7 and 8, the first two days they come back on. The scrapie part has been already. So this must be the rest of it. We have not seen the amendments yet and don't know what the government intends to do. There is then the Report stage and the Third reading. They will try and cram that in as fast as possible to get it through in the overspill, i.e. before Parliament is prorogued. Anything that does not get through in this session dies and has to start again.... "
Aug 28 ~"....why our media are wholly incapable of understanding the disaster engulfing Britain's countryside."
Private Eye's Muckspreader this week.
"....It was all very well for Handley himself to carry on as if those greedy supermarkets were the only villains of the piece, grinding British farmers into the ground to maximise their own profits. But why were the supermarkets able to buy milk so much more cheaply elsewhere? Any idea that the role of journalism might be to ask such basic questions didn't even arise.
Had the film-makers shown an ounce of curiosity it might not have taken them more than15 seconds to discover that the chief reason why the price British farmers receive for their milk is so low is that the supermarkets can buy milk at giveaway prices from Ireland and the continent. Which immediately raises the next question: why, if the Irish and French farmers operate under the same common agricultural policy as their British competitors, can they apparently produce their milk so much more cheaply, even though on average British dairy herds are 30 percent more productive than those elsewhere in the European Union?....... "
Aug 28 ~ Ignorance of the realities of farm life has misled scientists
"The fear of "scrapie masking BSE" - a terror of vCJD that has resulted in the National Scrapie Plan, the Animal Health Bill and the killing of thousands of sheep in Europe - rests on the fact that the FSA and SEAC appear to have accepted the mathematical modelling of the "theoretical likelihood" of BSE in sheep. ......
Assuming that BSE was indeed "caused" by the feeding of contaminated MBM, the thinking is that since both cows and sheep consumed the feed, that BSE could have been passing silently through the sheep flocks by maternal transmission ever since, perhaps "masked" by scrapie.
But what the mathematical modellers may be unaware of - as was the case with FMD - are the realities of farm life. Sheep are not cows - and this difference is not confined to their brains. .........
Generations of freakish survival would have had to take place for any BSE to be present in the national sheep flock today. Looked at this way, the practical and realistic way, the chances of BSE being anywhere at all in British sheep are about the same as the chances of lightning striking the members of the same family every year for ten years....Yet it is just such a "theoretical possibility" that is driving legislation - legislation such as the Animal Health Bill - which is harming the sheep industry and will affect thousands of lives. The new Act will make participation in the National Scrapie Plan compulsory and appears to provide, with its "precautionary principle", a justification for the removal of other rights of ownership.
Meanwhile, the pronouncements of the FSA , raising serious public fears about the safety of lamb, are driving ever deeper the coffin nails of the British sheep industry. Is it not time that such theoretical science joined forces with some common sense? "(see The mathematical likelihood of there being BSE in sheep )
Aug 27 ~ Warmwell on CD Rom
This website has been updated, several times daily, since late April 2001. From now on, updates may be somewhat less frequent but the whole website so far may now be purchased on CD Rom. The evidence contained in its 1500+ files will quickly show, to anyone with the interest of the country at heart, just what a heavy price the rural communities paid - and are continuing to pay - for the errors of the 2001 foot and mouth crisis. The errors were made by those who are apparently too powerful to be held accountable. Demands for a public inquiry came from all sides - but were ignored. We got government sponsored inquiries instead which did little to contradict the government spin that the handling of FMD had been something of a small triumph. All the same, in spite of their inevitable soft focus, it was interesting to see how far the Royal Society committees in London and Edinburgh were prepared to acknowledge the experts' views on vaccination - so different from the misinformation peddled throughout by MAFF/Defra, the NFU, the government scientists and their cronies.
August 27 ~ The legacy of FMD
No one who tried to prevent the inhumane slaughter of so many millions of healthy animals, the killing without benefit of blood-testing of prized herds and flocks, of rare breeds, breeding stock and children's pets, will ever forget what the perpetrators of the 2001 FMD disease control policy put in motion. They won't forget the horrors committed in the name of "animal health" by the collusion of the NFU hierarchy, inexperienced slaughterers, blank faced officials and - saddest of all -by the many vets who dismissed their version of the Hippocratic oath. The mental traumas continue, the nightmares persist and the small farms close down. No wonder there is such revulsion at the coming of the Animal Health Bill - which will continue on its juggernaut way through the House of Lords on October 7th and 8th.
Aug 27 ~ Haggis alert
Food Standards Agency:"We are now more aware of the extent to which sheep intestine is used in haggis production and this has prompted our request to outlaw its use throughout Europe".............a spokesperson for the agency explained yesterday, on condition of anonymity.Lawrence is not alone in spotting the illogicality of the FSA's pronouncements: "I have thought for some time that it is quite extraordinary that the
Food Standards Agency doesn't see fit to exercise the precautionary principle when it comes to GM foods but goes overboard to try to ban traditional sausage casings and haggis casings.
Have they looked at the health implications of eating the foul synthetic substitutes? I bet they haven't."....
....while ex-serviceman Bryn challenges the FSA in his inimitable rigorous way: "Spreading alarm and despondency is a major crime in the armed forces, and it is a great pity your organisation cannot be "charged" with spreading such malicious and scurrilous remarks of this nature. What on earth are you trying to do ?
There is not one shred of scientific evidence from any corner of the globe that you can turn to support your outrageous and stupefyingly ignorant statement..."
Aug 26 ~ "A people who are dependent on foreigners for food or clothes must always be subject to them"
said Dr Benjamin Rush as first shots were fired in the American War of Independence 1775. It is the motto at the top of Farmers for Action's website. The Times today reports that "... farmers are threatening to blockade food distribution centres across the country this week in protest at cheap foreign imports.
Farmers For Action, which called a national dairy boycott last Friday, now wants to take action against supermarkets, which it accuses of undercutting British farmers. The group has already blockaded large dairies, particularly Robert Wiseman and Dairy Crest, but this is the first threat to take widespread direct action against the supermarkets."
Aug 26 ~: "This is quite simply completely mad."
a spokesman for the Scottish National Party said. "Haggis is known the world over as a symbol of Scotland and is a dish we are proud of. (See Sky News today) "To ban the use of sheep intestines, which are still a common ingredient, would be ludicrous."
The Food Standards Agency has asked the European Commission to ban the use of sheep intestines, which are only used to make larger portions of the Scottish delicacy. An FSA spokesman said the risk posed by eating the animal's intestines was purely "theoretical".
He said: "Experts have revealed that it is possible for sheep to be infected with BSE, but there is no proof that this has actually happened......"
An emailer comments, "The Americans and other Europeans already believe our beef is unsafe. Now, we tell the world that our lamb is too. We all know that further food scandals involving both beef and pork are due any day. We have these to weather yet.
.......we had better bring in some competent scientists from abroad ....... NOW, before those lunatics at the State Veterinary Service start running amok again."
If all meat everywhere is "dangerous"... let them eat GM cake. Is this the agenda?
Aug 26 ~"Eat biotech food or starve"
Zambia has said it will not accept maize from the US for fear it could have detrimental effects on the health of its people and economy.
The South African "Independent on Line" reports, "Americans have warned countries to either eat biotech food or starve, saying that anti-GM campaigners were spreading "misinformation". "There is not one single, solitary example of a sniffle or headache as a result of biotech food," said Dr Val Giddings, the vice-president for food and agriculture of the US Biotechnology Industry Organisation.
Anti-GM campaigners say the US is using Africa as its "dumping ground" as it tries to infiltrate the European market, which has turned down all overtures by the US.
"Africa is really becoming a dumping ground and people are not being left with a choice," said Rachel Wynberg, a Biowatch trustee. (IOL South Africa)
We remember the accusation that campaigners for vaccination were spreading "misinformation" in the early days of the FMD crisis. Yet the Royal Society Inquiries vindicated their stance, as here
"...we believe that the UK should now be planning to use emergency vaccination as an important component of its control strategy for FMD. Culling of infected premises and known dangerous contacts, and any other farms on which evidence of disease is subsequently found, will still be required, but emergency vaccination could be far more appropriate than the alternative of extensive culling." (see report)One of the grim lessons of the past months is that the UK governments use flawed "science" to try to justify the unjustifiable. The bio-tech companies, with all their power and political influence, are not to be trusted.
Aug 26 ~ Jonathon Porritt: The Prime Minister showed 'cowardice' and a 'bizarre and naive adulation of big business'
The Scotsman reports today, " THE world summit on sustainable development slid into chaos before it began last night as representatives of the 106 world leaders due in Johannesburg started disputing what they are there to achieve.
The United States has infuriated developing countries by ruling out any new aid -- and suggesting that the summit's purpose is to reach broad agreements, not specific, time-pegged targets.
This led to a rift between rich and poor countries -- and came as Tony Blair was attacked by his own environmental adviser, accused of a 'naive adulation of big business'......
"Mrs Beckett defended Mr Blair against Jonathon Porritt, the chairman of the government's Sustainable Development Commission, who had shocked ministers by attacking the government for 'paralysis' and 'cowardice' in the face of multinational firms....."
Aug 25 ~ A two-tier system of ethics in the RCVS
A letter published in the Veterinary Times: " I feel so incensed with the Preliminary Investigation Committee of the RCVS, that I must again ask if you would air information that is not available to your ordinary members.......
....Only following orders is a reason for signing a false certificate? Wasn't that the excuse attempted in the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi war criminals ? Was it not rejected? .."
- If you are employed by Defra you can sign a false certificate without fear of reprisal.
- If you are a Defra employee, you can lie and a Nelson's eye will be turned in your direction.
- You may exhibit a lack of compassion for animals and a disregard for the feelings or wishes of their owners, but that is acceptable if you are a government vet.
Aug 25 ~ "on medication for depression and high levels of anxiety for the rest of their lives."
" When, in mid-March (2001) , William Hague asked Mr Blair at Prime Minister's Question Time what he was doing to remedy the situation, Mr Blair replied, 'There is no shortage of vets.' Watching this live on television, I was astounded.
I was equally amazed to read in the NAO report that 'the Environment Agency and the Department of Health judge that the impact of the outbreak on the environment and human health appears to have been short-term and localised'. Between 60 and 70 suicides have been attributed to the disaster. A GP friend tells me that she thinks some of her patients will be on medication for depression and high levels of anxiety for the rest of their lives. Why? Because what happened was unthinkable. Who could have imagined that in Britain in the 21st century the police would break down a widow's front door so that soldiers could shoot healthy pet sheep in her bedroom?..." Emma Tennant
In Jane Barribal's account of the murder of Carolyn Hoffe's pet sheep. we read, "Vikki Cleghorn, for daring to assault an elderly woman in her own home, should hang her head in shame. Not only for the action described but also for breaking the Veterinary oath, sworn by Vets on qualification."
Aug 25 ~ Four national inquiries; much evidence taken in closed session; key players not called; awkward questions not asked.
"Embers are extinguished, pits are capped concealing the bodies from view. Above ground there's stock in the fields, corn waving in the breeze. On the surface, normal life has returned to the Ladybird Book of the Countryside.
The studies are published; they've got away with it again. Four national inquiries; much evidence taken in closed session; key players not called; awkward questions not asked. For "they", read government. Why do they never learn from history? Dr lain Anderson, in his foreword to "Foot-and-mouth 2001: Lessons to be Learned Inquiry", said: "We seem destined to repeat the mistakes of history. In the Northumberland Report of 1968, and back through the decades, similar conclusions to ours were drawn..." On its later pages appears part of the defence for not learning from history. We are told it was different then. No it wasn't. ..." See Hexham Courant."Tynedale was given a brief taste of the deadly cattle plague rinderpest, which devastated much of the rest of the country. The outbreak is the subject of a BBC Radio documentary, produced by Gordon Swindlehurst and Hexham's Neil Lewis entitled Bloody Bones. Its lessons learned might just have helped us to fight foot-and-mouth last year. " Bloody Bones is broadcast on BBC Radio Cumbria (95.6 FMI756AM) at 6pm on Monday, August 26th
Aug 25 ~ "They can't run their bloated bureaucracies without money. Attack the flow and they have to reform"
Pat thinks that "David Handley could be far better employed setting up a proper democratic alternative to the NFU - and promoting resignations.
Cut off the cash. That is the way to deal with errant organisations. Cut off the cash. Organisations like the NFU, NPA and indeed the RSPCA are exceptionally vulnerable. They can't run their bloated bureaucracies without money. Attack the flow and they have to reform. Unfortunately you can't do that with MAFF-Defra."
Aug 24 ~ "These advisers are the same ones who were running the foot-and-mouth control measures and, as for as I can see, farmers have lost all confidence in them."
From Jeff Swift's Over the Gate"...One of Lanarkshire's top dairy farmers who knows his way around made it his business to inquire if any other country in the world where they had suffered foot-and-mouth disease had used a draconian measure like the 20-day rule.
He could discover none that had.
So why do we need it here? Well, of course, we don't but the chief vet and other government advisers say we do... and we've seen them in action before"
Aug 24 ~ "In my dream Margaret Beckett had decided to go round the world with her caravan."
writes Jeff Swift, above. "I said: "Are you really going or are you just trying to cheer us up?"
"Oh yes I'm going; do you have any message?" To which I replied "Just one, don't hurry back."
Next to appear in my dream was Lord Whitty who I understood had become a very skilful golfer and as a result was off to take part in golfing tournaments in various parts of the world.
He asked if I'd any message to which I answered "Good luck" and, pulling his leg, I said: "Don't come back till you've beaten Tiger Woods."
Then there was Elliot Morley and for him I dreamed that the Japanese had offered him a lot of money to advise them on their fisheries policy so that they did not make the same mistakes he'd made with our own fishing industry.
I couldn't give him a message as he'd already gone.
As I say, it is being so cheerful that keeps us going.
Everyone lives in hope sometimes."
Aug 24 ~ "when it comes to the NFU, old habits grow ever stronger"
Oliver Watson in today's Independent roundly criticises the NFU: "Reform is improbable since the organisation today is less democratic than Stalin's politburo; for a membership of 60,000, 89 men and one woman elect the president...."
His article suggests that farmers have cried wolf so often they "are paying the penalty for decades of scaremongering and exaggeration."
Oliver Watson is surely right in implying that the NFU has let down farmers; he is probably right in saying that many farmers appear to show a "congenital pessimism and a mistrust of outsiders" and may be right when he implies that the media no longer believe what the farmers are saying. Certainly the FFA action yesterday was ignored by the much of the press.
"Today the Government yawns as farming totters on the edge of meltdown. The two pillars of British agriculture, cereals and milk, are in crisis. Dairy farmers now receive 16p for a litre of milk, down from a high of 25p. Arable farmers are even worse off. Wheat this harvest is worth £54 a tonne, down from £110 seven years ago."
He takes the view that farmers need to organise themselves to win power back from the supermarkets and should abandon their powerless peasant mentality. Many farmers may object to the tone of the article but it has much of interest to say - and the writer, speaking as a farmer, includes himself in the criticisms he makes.
Aug 24 ~ "a terrible degree of LACK of understanding of how farming works by the departments dishing out the rules."
An interesting post on the MSN Rural Affairs site "....we are still NOT able to run our business properly, we are still subjected to rules and regulations and standstills and many other requirements. I am not saying they are all bad, but some show a terrible degree of LACK of understanding of how farming works by the departments dishing out the rules." Now let's look at this Interim Animal Movement Regime (OH HOW they just LOVE their power and REGIMES eh?).
"The 20-day standstill remains in England and Wales. But the following will now be exempt - rams and bulls intended for breeding this season bought at a farm, market or sale (As said TOO late for the Pedigree Sales,they only happen once a year. Breeding rams and bulls bought from another farm are already exempt.) Female sheep and cattle returning unsold from market will NOT be exempt (mmmmmm..did foot and mouth only affect female animals then? NO..well why the need for different rules..doh!).The exemptions will only apply if vets can confirm certain basic conditions can be met (at £50 a throw!!). Principally, animals must be kept in isolation units, in a building or, outside, separated from other livestock by stock-proof fencing, AND a DISTANCE OF 50m.
On small farms you would NOT be able to achieve this. You would have to keep your returning animals away from any boundary between neighbouring farms by 50m all round, 50m would mean a whole field in the case of a small farm, therefore these rules means this Government has stopped us (for one) from being able to run our business, and they have the cheek to say it is NOT their intention to finish off small farms!! Horlicks it isn't!!)" See whole message
Aug 23/4 ~ "The market will recover eventually but when the multiples turn once again to local produce, will it be there?"
A report from the Ulster TV newsroom website says, "The Ulster Farmers' Union president said today that the modern food supply chain will ruin the local farming industry.
John Gilliland's comments were made following a meeting with Sainsbury's representatives. He travelled to Scotland to discuss the recent fall in pig prices with the UK multiple.
The UFU is holding similar discussions with all the retailers, challenging them to demonstrate more loyalty to the local agricultural industry.
In Edinburgh, John Gilliland saw first-hand a clear example of local produce being displaced by imported produce.
Mr Gilliland explained: 'A temporary oversupply of Danish bacon has seen local produce substituted by imports. This is a totally unsustainable situation for the local industry and is collapsing prices. The market will recover eventually but when the multiples turn once again to local produce, will it be there?".
Aug 23 ~ "...strong signs that the NFU are losing support were everywhere."
Pat writes, "Well, BBC East did it again last night. We had minute after minute of some poor deluded farmer handing out "illegal meat" postcards to holiday makers at Stansted Airport. He was a sheep farmer culled during FMD.
Yawn......almost all were travelling to and from the EU, of course, and hardly likely to be bringing back anything illegal.
...but we got the "ham sandwich responsible for CSF" story again. Bearing in mind that the postcards were official NFU propaganda, I think we can assume that the NFU still want us to believe this ridiculous story.
I refuse to believe that Ben Gill does not know the real source of CSF and presume therefore that he intends to mislead by continuing these stunts.
However, yesterday, strong signs that the NFU are losing support were everywhere. I also notice their fellow travellers in the NPA are strapped for cash. When the money runs out of some of these organisations, we will see a flood of "officials" spilling the beans....."
Aug 23 ~ "What strange times we live in.
If a hard-pressed teacher smacks a child, or an exhausted nurse makes a mistake, he or she is mercilessly pilloried and their career ruined. But when the politicians and their advisers get things wrong to the tune of £10 billion and 70 suicides, they duck all responsibility...." Emma Tennant's article in the Spectator
Aug 23 ~ The NFU talks of making action plans. The FFA takes action.
The NFU has been uttering dire warnings about possible legal action and trying to warn farmers off from supporting the FFA National farmers' Strike today.
"We are currently examining these sectors with the aim of producing a series of action plans designed to address the issues. We expect to reveal these in the next few weeks," says the NFU
The FFA plans today to present hampers full of British produce to political leaders in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. FFA leader David Handley says, "There will be a simple message to politicians. They need to stand up and support our industry. If they don't, in five years time these hampers will not contain any British product" The Scotsman today reports that the FFA
" ..claims support from organisations such as the UK Green Party and the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association. A number of other embryonic action groups are on the sidelines, waiting to form strategic alliances against the perceived stranglehold held by supermarkets and food processors over primary producers. Among these is Grassroots Action on Food and Farming, which aims to unite small and family farmers, environmentalists and the public.David Handley says: "It looks like support for the strike will be in excess of 20% judging by the phone calls to the office. As far as we are concerned there is a plan to reduce the number of producers in the UK and we think this is to the detriment of the country because we need to be self-sufficient."
Last night, supermarkets said they have implemented plans to keep store shelves full today"
Aug 23 ~ "Farmers have informed me that NFU officials were harassing them to give up stock in the cull even though they were healthy"
writes Nick Green from Cumbria, commenting on the NFU reaction to Damien Hirst's "prodigal son" ( "too graphic a reminder of the slaughter" said the NFU)
Nick Green says, "NFU representative Les Armstrong was one of the so called MAFF helpers and although being culled out himself, Mr Armstrong admitted to me that MAFF paid him for services rendered. It is known that these NFU collaborators were in favour of the 3km and firebreak culls and indeed were in support of the mass funeral pyre ordered to burn near Longtown, Nth. Cumbria. Locals soon stopped that though"
"It appears that these puppets have no stomach to be reminded of the carnage they amplified so appallingly here in Cumbria.."
Aug 23 ~ "Perhaps the relevant documents were so embarrassing to the government that they were destroyed"
Emma Tennant's article in this week's Spectator."..... Why did Anderson not have access to records of the discussions which led to this bizarre policy? ...
Dr Anderson has failed to find out what happened at this crucial stage. He says that "some of the most important (decisions) taken during the outbreak were recorded in the most perfunctory way and sometimes not at all...This has made the task of conducting an audit extremely difficult..."
These statements are extraordinary. Important meetings must have been minuted and decisions recorded. There are three possible explanations for Dr Andserson's failure to find the records. Perhaps the relevant documents were so embarrassing to the government that they were destroyed. Assuming that they still exist, Dr Anderson has either seen them, but, due to a psychological block, forgotten what they said, or the authorities have deliberately concealed the papers. If the government is serious in its espousal of "open-ness" and "transparency" it must tell the truth. ....
....... It has been well said that the Anderson Report reads like a court case in which only the defence lawyers have been heard. The saddest long-term result of the 2001 FMD disaster is the destruction of trust. It will not be restored until the Government comes clean about what happened and why. Only then will the lessons be well and truly learned."
Aug 22 ~ Tomorrow's target has been reached!
Farmers for Action say, "22. 08.02 A month ago when the token strike for tomorrow was discussed, we set ourselves a target of 20% participation by UK farmers. Judging by the response from around England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales farmers have surpassed this figure.
We thank everybody who is taking part tomorrow, especially the many dairy farmers who will be pulling the plug on their bulk tanks, releasing vast quantities of milk which they are already producing at a considerable loss."
Aug 22 ~ "We no longer have the virus, indeed it is only a couple of months to the first anniversary of the last case. Yet we still have a regulation in place that is crippling the industry
and destroying auction marts and many other businesses related to the livestock sector." Read Jim Webster on the 20 day rule. "......After the outbreak, fourteen of these state veterinary services see no reason at all for a twenty day rule. One of the fifteen does. Is this lone voice a SVS that showed itself a fine example of efficiency during the outbreak, an exemplar that others will follow, proud to be allowed to tread in the same footsteps?
"No, it is the same SVS that was panned by three independent reports. In fact such is the high esteem in which it is held that even the Scots do not take any notice of it ......." Read More. (Many thanks to the CLA NorthWest for forwarding this article to warmwell)
Aug 22 ~ Which farmers?
When non-farmers refer to "farmers"- who exactly do they have in mind? The last eighteen months have seen a surge of intolerance against farmers just at the very time when they could most have done with some sympathetic support and understanding. The smear campaign orchestrated deliberately to avoid such popular support is unfortunately matched by a genuine but widespread misapprehension. An extract from the Sunday Herald makes this plain:
"Agriculture continues to be a disaster area with the aftermath of foot-and-mouth colliding with the wet weather and causing farmers' leaders to demand compensation for loss of hay. (I suppose only farmers could expect compensation for the weather. Perhaps they'll be asking for compensation for the strains of genetically modified rape seed which have escaped from Scottish GM field trials. So much for the assurances that such things couldn't happen.)"Such waspishness suggests that the writer - as well as adopting the badge of world-weariness worn now apparently by all self-respecting journalists - has assumed that all farmers want GM, all famers make a packet out of compensation, all farmers are gleefully poisoning the environment, all farmers treat their animals as mere commodities and all farmers hate anyone else who has the temerity to want to enjoy the country air. Some do - and some in "the industry" are arrogant, callous and loud-mouthed- and maddened with union power. This website, however, champions the thousands of beleaguered British farmers who are not. They have farming in their blood. Their families have shaped the landscape and provided safe and healthy food. In return for their former trust of the "men from the ministry" and for "the government" they face annhilation. Tomorrow's National Farmers' Strike may well see the worm turning in earnest.
Aug 22 ~ This is the first time that UK farmers have challenged their official unions
David Handley says,"The support in England is very, very good, support in Scotland is growing daily and Ireland is going to make us look silly if we are not careful." "We have also been contacted from as far a field as Jamaica and meetings are planned with these people to see if we can all come together and speak as one voice to the world leaders, who seem to have put food production at the bottom of their agendas."
The strike has the support of the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association, an organisation very similar to the FFA.
"At 1.00 pm, farmers will be simultaneously be presenting hampers full of British produce at Stormont Castle in Ireland, Scottish Assembly, Welsh Assembly and 10 Downing Street with the message to politicians - if they do not stand up and support our industry, in 5 years time this hamper will not contain any British product!"
Printout a copy of the FFA flyer for friday
Aug 22 ~ "It is the inability of the Prime Minister to distinguish between what is politically expedient for the Labour Party and what is proper for the government of the country that highlights the need for an independent external scrutiny of both ministers and special advisers,"
(David Davis) As the Telegraph reports this morning "The committee on standards in public life is holding an inquiry into special advisers. Earlier this year it invited Alastair Campbell, the most powerful special adviser in government, to give evidence.
Sir Richard Wilson, the Cabinet Secretary, wrote back to say that Mr Campbell and other Downing Street advisers would not appear in public. Instead they offered to meet the committee in private.
Sir Nigel Wicks, committee chairman, rejected the offer. It was "established practice" to get evidence in public, he said. The committee will not hear from Mr Campbell before issuing recommendations.
No 10 said last night that a new watchdog was not needed."
Anyone familiar with Mr Campbell's mistaken view that making headlines somehow equates to good government would agree that more than a watchdog is needed. The Emperor has no clothes. It is now desperately important to remove the influence of the advisers that surround an equally myopic Prime Minister - one who was genuinely astonished to find himself being booed at the Commonwealth Games. We have not yet forgotten Mr Campbell's part in the FMD horror. If we allow such lack of accountability in the people who really direct political policy perhaps we deserve to be in the sad State we're in.
Aug 22 ~ Farmers for Action not amused by Dairy Crest's intimidation
21.8.02 - DAIRY CREST INTIMIDATION (FFA website) -"Last night's direct action at both Severnside in Glos and Chadwell Heath on outskirts of London whilst very well attended unfortunately resulted in Dairy Crest sending out their Field Officers to intimidate their direct suppliers. Farmers For Action take this very seriously and it will not be tolerated. Meanwhile our action will be stepped up and will continue until Dairy Crest agree to reinstate the 1.25p they took away from producers on 1 July 2002 in order that they could make yet more profit off producers backs."
Aug 21 ~ Cover story on S2 The Scotsman: Death, Disease and Profit - how one firm cleaned up
Snowie's political links are causing them to come under scrutiny- but their environmental record is also being questioned. In Scotland some MSPs are already calling for a public enquiry into the firm.
The Scotsman article says, ".... David Cheers, a spokesman for Armstrongs, told The Scotsman recently: "If we had been contacted we could have done the work without any problems, but we didn't get a look-in. We are one of the big four companies in the region who all could have done the work. When the department for rural affairs says that in the early days of the outbreak everything had to be done in a rush and that is why Snowie was chosen, it is ridiculous. If it had wanted to contact the other companies it could have faxed job lists over and it could have been done in an afternoon."
Not surprisingly MPs have already drawn parallels between the row and the controversy surrounding the recent award of a £32 million contract for a smallpox vaccine to PowderJect." (see newspaper page)"....The practice of awarding haulage contracts without tendering during the foot-and-mouth epidemic was highlighted in a report from the National Audit Office (NAO), which said it led to the government paying top rates for services. ......Scottish Labour remain indignant about accusations over their relationship with Snowie Ltd" but Alex Fergusson says, "This firm effectively had a monopoly on a £38 million government contract. The deal wasn't exactly done on a level playing field according to the strict rules of tendering practice." ........
Aug 21 ~ Mike Meredith wins the 2002 ProMED-mail Award for Excellence in Outbreak Reporting on the Internet
"Citation - This year we honor three ProMED-mail contributors, two of whom also run websites covering outbreaks of particular diseases.
Mike Meredith, Pig Disease Information Centre, UK, contributed daily updates throughout the UK foot-and-mouth epidemic, in spite of very severe financial problems. He provided regular informed comment as well as detailed news. Without him we would have been severely hampered in reporting this epidemic. See his website www.pighealth.com/" From the Pro Med website
Aug 21 ~ Ministers back GM seed contamination by stealth
European plans to allow the deliberate contamination of conventional seed with 0.5% of GM material - undeclared on the label - is rumoured to be supported by the UK who will vote in favour of it next month. However, a spokesman for the DEFRA insisted it had "not decided whether to accept some contamination of conventional seed." DEFRA has apparently asked " interested parties" for their views on the proposals before it decides.
We would be very interested to hear from anyone who has been part of the consultation process or been in contact with anyone who has been part of that process or has heard of anyone at all who has been consulted.
Aug 21 ~ Police have admitted that they were wrong to claim that anti-GM protesters attacked the wrong field
FWi reports that "...police have admitted that they were wrong to claim that anti-GM protesters attacked the wrong field of oilseed rape in Dorset at the weekend. Officers now say that the raiders did in fact set upon their intended target of GM trial crops, at Hilton, near Blandford, reports the Daily Telegraph. Fourteen people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and causing damage.
And in a bid to find a new market for GM crops, agrochemical giant Syngenta is seeking to sell GM rice designed to improve the diet of kidney dialysis patients."
...So while the government begins to notice that the British public's anxieties about GM are ever deepened by emerging news, the signs are that anyone taking responsibility and doing something about it will be treated as a criminal. Meanwhile, our criminally irresponsible government, eager to please the powerful GM food industry will carry on regardless, using to justify actions that will never be reversible, the argument that some GM may be helpful in treating some medical conditions.
Aug 21 ~ Next week's earth summit will not only fail to tackle the ecological crisis. It will make it worse
In his Guardian article yesterday Corporate capture George Monbiot wrote, "The fourth earth summit, which begins at the end of this week, looks certain to be a disaster.
...... The world's water supplies, climate, health and biodiversity will, from now on, the rich nations insist, be defended by means of "public-private partnerships": the US and EU want to do to the environment what the British government wants to do to the London Underground. To defend the world from the destruction brokered by multinational capital, governments will tie a ribbon round it and hand it to multinational capital. ....The corporations are moving into the vacuum left by the heads of state, and asserting their claim to global governance.
...... In line with the principles of open government, Tony Blair's office refuses to reveal just how many business people are being flown to Johannesburg at public expense to represent us. But two weeks ago we learnt that while Mr Blair was intending to leave Michael Meacher, the environment minister, behind, he would be travelling with the directors of Rio Tinto, Anglo-American and Thames Water. Meacher, thanks to a public outcry, has been permitted to go to the ball, but nothing would induce the prime minister to throw the ugly sisters off the plane.
Rio Tinto is the mining company which has attracted more complaints of environmental destruction and abuse of indigenous people's rights than any other. ...."
Aug 20 ~ FFA to hit Dairy Crest Severnside and Chadwell Heath plants
Farmers For Action are to blockade Dairy Crest's main liquid milk processing plants at Chadwell Heath in east London and Severnside, Glos, tonight (Tuesday), saying they will have at least 100 farmers at each site.
FFA leader David Handley said today: "We will escalate the action against Dairy Crest from here on. They led the milk price cuts and they can now lead them back up."
Handley said discussions with two of the leading supermarkets were "promising". Handley said all efforts were now directed to achieving "a substantial" milk price increase from Oct 1. (Report from www.dairyindustrynewsletter.com
Aug 20 ~ In the weeks preceding the final stages of the ill-advised Animal Health Bill ..
... it is salutary to read a letter written in January 2001, by Dr Alan G Dickinson to the now defunct Select Committee on Agriculture. He has been described by Professor Hugh Pennington as " an intellectually rigorous man who puts science a long way ahead of office politics" and who "resembles the image that the public has of the brilliant, unworldly scientist". Dr Dickinson raises the issues of MAFF's insistence on being exclusively in charge during the BSE crisis, feigned "consultation" over MAFF's National Scrapie Plan, and the scientific flaws inherent in such a plan.
MAFF/DEFRA's obsession with control, the race for quick-fix answers, the waste of funding, the fundamental ignorance of the science, so deplored by Dr Dickinson just before the coming of FMD, were also to result in the misery experienced by many rural communities in the following months when massive slaughter took the place of a considered and modern disease control policy.
His letter is highly relevant to the desperately ill-advised policies of FMD control last year; the disproportionate influence of a Science Committee overriding veterinary and virological expertise, the covering-up of gross errors committed by MAFF/DEFRA, the ignorance surrounding TSE's - and the emergence of the Animal Health Bill which compounds them all.
Aug 20 ~ "too prudent or intimidated to publicise their opinions."
Dr Dickinson's criticisms in January 2001 of MAFF, the government approach to science, and the Phillips Report, although most tactfully and gently phrased, nevertheless reveal the extent to which independent science has disappeared from the area of actual policy making.
"During the BSE epidemic there has been extensive waste of the large, mainly MAFF-controlled, research funds. This is a view shared by many of those with proven TSE-research expertise, some of whom are still involved in the research and therefore too prudent or intimidated to publicise their opinions.
" I consider it entirely inappropriate that any government department or group of departments (or their agencies) should control research on basic scientific issues, especially areas so near the frontier of knowledge. Such direct control should only involve practical and applied topics in well known areas. The research role of departments should focus almost entirely on having first-hand, comprehensive information about "who and where" there is success, but this must be staffed on criteria very different from present ones. Whitehall norms will need to be changed radically, where science is involved."
They haven't been. The Ministry has had its name changed - but not its culture.
Aug 20 ~ The mirage of consultation
"Consultation is a buzz word more than ever before - but as readers of this website know, DEFRA's so-called "stakeholder" meetings are not what they purport to be. Writing in 2001, Dr Dickinson asked (referring to the National Scrapie Plan), "Where the balance of judgement lies in the present context is dealt with in the response to the MAFF document appended to this letter, which is signed by four senior animal-disease scientists. It came as a surprise that the (MAFF) booklet was issued as a "Consultation on proposals for Phase 1a Ram Genotyping Scheme" when there appeared to have been several years of active support by MAFF for implementing this scheme. It seems to have the de facto status of an ongoing programme. "
Aug 20 ~ mesmerised by the hype surrounding the protein, PrP.
Dickinson writes, "There were two types of reason why BSE funding has been very wastefully focused. One, from the late 1980s, was the plethora of research committees controlling the policy and funds, hardly any of whose members were familiar with the subject, but who were mesmerised by the hype surrounding the protein, PrP. In 1971 I discovered the crucial role of this protein in the pathogenesis of the disease and published this along with a range of predictions, most of which have now been confirmed. You may be assuming that the molecular nature of TSE agents has been "proved" to be, simply, a modified form of this protein (a so- called "rogue protein"), but the number of those who doubt this is steadily growing, if only for the reason that this hypothesis has never been able to explain the facts.......
The second reason for considerable waste of funds was that staff at the Central Veterinary Lab, who were inexperienced with TSE research, controlled early decisions. "
It all sounds horribly familiar. It is interesting to note that in a recent in-depth documentary on French television about the scrapie/BSE/vCJD hysteria and its destructive effect on European sheep farming, it was Dr Dickinson whose gravitas and knowledge was so deeply impressive. Peter Smith of SEAC came across as a lightweight.
Aug 20 ~ "The National Sheep Association know of my long-standing concern about the often unfounded speculations that have been damaging to their industry during the last decade." (Dr Alan Dickinson)
" Late last year, (i.e. 2000) I was shown a copy of the glossy MAFF booklet dealing with the scheme aimed to eradicate scrapie from British sheep by breeding from rams carrying a particular version of the gene which codes for the PrP protein. As I had done the pre-molecular groundwork for this, by 20 years of selecting sheep genetically for some variants of this gene, I am in a position to understand the potential complications. Indeed, it was long realised that the notion of a version of the gene that would "resist" all known (and future) strains of TSEs, may not be realistic.
This was underlined by the fact that in 10 years of searching for a strain of scrapie agent that could break such a barrier, I had been lucky enough to find one, with approximately this property. Furthermore, this finding was not a surprise because the work with scrapie in mice had taught me to avoid the notion of genetic "resistance" to TSEs: this complication is fundamental to understanding of the whole subject and is widely unrecognised, for example on occasion by leading members of SEAC." ( BSE/CJD page)
Aug 19 ~ "The code is yet another expensive, rotten piece of legislation, causing unhappiness and harm and administered by bureaucrats who are deliberately misinterpreting rules"
says the Telegraph today. (See Democracy Watch)" It is difficult to believe that politicians and civil servants could think there is any point in introducing a code of conduct where there is no influence to peddle. Is there, as some have suggested, a hidden agenda to get rid of parish councils?"
.....Some politician or civil servant, in need of an "initiative", saw this group of public-spirited beings quietly giving their voluntary service and thought: "How shocking that they are unregulated. How can this be? They might misbehave."
And this, of course, is exactly DEFRA's view and is why farming is in such a state. Governments - like bad schoolmasters - cling to the imposition of rules backed up with coercion when things are not being well managed. It gives them a sense of achievement - targets can be set, graphs can be drawn, spin can be created. Meanwhile ordinary people feel less and less empowered to take responsibility for managing their own patch - and resentment grows.
Aug 19 ~ Labour has, it appears, been bought -- politically, at the very least -- by the GM companies.
says today's Independent "For most of the 20th century Labour was, at best, ambivalent about business. So desperate is it now to prove that it has become business-friendly that it has lost any sense of proportion; the fact that the GM food industry wants trials is treated as reason enough for them to go ahead, however compelling the opposing arguments....
... the Prime Minister seems to think that, so long as Mr Meacher is given the freedom to sound off, opposition from environmentalists can be bought off.
He is wrong. The Environment Minister is not speaking for himself alone, but also for others within the Government yet without his license to roam; and, more importantly, for most of the electorate, who do not share Mr Blair's belief that anything backed by a large business must be right.."
"We are not going to be bounced into this by the Americans." (Michael Meacher)
Aug 19 ~ "I feel ashamed to be British"
The politicians are all away, the journalists have lost interest, ...how is it that the handling of the foot and mouth crisis is not just disappearing into the mists like so many another government bungle? Why are so many people still heartbroken and others so deeply fearful? What is it about the way some officials of MAFF/DEFRA behave that, for so many, symbolises the end of a fair and benign way of doing things that was once perceived as essentially British?
Continuing legislation such as the Animal Health Bill is being recognised for what it is, a piece of deceit, dressed up as sensible animal disease control but in reality aimed at putting to an end all local resistance to illogical, harmful and coercive central powers. The court cases continue to be painstakingly prepared - which show the true and almost unbelievable depths of official destructive incompetence and arrogance. Ordinary people, unimpressed by the government Inquiries, are not prepared to forgive and forget - and continue to work selflessly to expose the truth. Into the warmwell inbox comes this advance notice of An Exhibition about the Foot and Mouth Crisis 2001 aiming to extend a deeper understanding of ongoing trauma, distress and crisis caused by the handling of FMD to a wider public. It also aims to highlight the deeper malaise in farming and the rural economy.
Every day we read comments such as this, received today: "The trouble is if any government can lie, as in FMD, what lies do we not hear about: education, transport, immigration and many other issues. Ever since I was 19 years old I have travellled the World and sold the best of British. Today at 54 years of age I really do not want to live in this corrupt country anymore. I feel ashamed to be British..."
Aug 18 ~ Farmer sues for foot and mouth burial 'bungle'
"Kevin Feakins, who owns Hill Farm at Llancloudy in Herefordshire, claims that remains of the destroyed animals have infected his water supply and soil, and seeped into a nearby lagoon. He also alleges that his farm buildings were severely damaged by Government officials and that his crops were ruined.
A report by pollution consultants has concluded that it will cost more than £8 million to clean up the land, cleanse the water supply and repair farm buildings.
The ground-breaking case is the first from a number of farmers who claim that their land has been infected because of poor disposal methods by workers employed by the Government.
Mr Feakins has issued legal proceedings in the High Court against the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs (Defra), demanding compensation. He said last week: "They took over my farm, and I let them, because they were Government officials. I did not expect them to overrun my farm and then break every rule in the environmental book. "They dug into an area that feeds into my water supply, and buried the bodies without protecting the soil properly. "They smashed the farm buildings, brought in people who had never been on farms before and sprayed acid on the soil. They have never been back to put it right and have done terrific environmental damage,"
John Wainewright, the managing director of Betta, said: "..... The damage was surprising, given that the Government claimed that their work would be quick, clean and efficient." If Mr Feakins is successful in his action, other farmers will follow suit......"
Aug 18 ~ It seems MPs are more irrelevant to the way we are now governed than ever.
From the always excellent Booker's Notebook about the disgraceful asbestos scam he uncovered in May: " ...the Government plans to rush through the most expensive law in our history, imposing costs on businesses of billions of pounds. A "duty" minister of the Department of Work and Pensions will scribble his signature on a statutory instrument placed on his desk by officials of the Health and Safety Executive, and by the time Parliament returns in October, the new law will be in force, too late for MPs to object.
...... the residents of a west London block of flats were faced with a £60,000 bill for removal of asbestos pipe insulation which contractors claimed had been laboratory-analysed as "blue". When Mr Bridle looked beneath the stickers purporting to cover the holes where samples had been taken, he found nothing. No samples had been taken. There was no asbestos in the building.
Yet the lobby exploiting this bonanza has had no greater ally than the HSE which, while publicly deploring the conduct of its more unscrupulous contractors, has been actively endorsing the confusion: not least through the new law it plans to rush through next week which will boost the already prevailing hysteria over asbestos to even greater heights. The TUC suggests that to remove all asbestos from Britain could cost £80 billion. Such is the scale of the bill we could be facing if this scare continues to rage out of control.
The one group of people in no position to stop it because they are on holiday are those supposedly entrusted with making our laws. It seems MPs are more irrelevant to the way we are now governed than ever." (Read the whole of Booker's Notebook today)
Aug 18 ~".. regulations were sneaked through as secondary legislation under a statutory instrument
a device that allows the executive to do what it wishes with only the most cursory parliamentary scrutiny. Every year under Labour, many more than 3,000 statutory instruments have been laid before Parliament for rubber-stamping, and the number is growing. There is hardly time for most backbenchers to read them, let alone debate them." See this Telegraph article from May 15th which shows how the statutory instrument is used undemocratically (as above) to bypass our elected legislators.
Aug 17 ~"The NFU in the south does not control NFU Scotland, and it most certainly does not control me..."
said Scotland NFU president Jim Walker after defying the NFU heirarchy's wish that he should not attend a meeting between Farmers For Action and Robert Wiseman Dairies.
"People can agree or disagree with Farmers For Action's tactics, but everyone involved in that organisation is totally committed to our industry and they can see no other way to get people to listen."
Although Mr Walker says that it would be difficult for NFUS to be involved in direct action because it could be held liable for any losses inflicted on affected businesses, he has asked NFUS members to "consider whether they should take direct action as individual farmers." "The government and big businesses are laughing at us, and that cannot be allowed to continue."
Farmers For Action chairman David Handley said: "I don't care if it is the NFU that gets a milk price rise, we need one desperately."
Farmers Weekly interactive says that it is alleged "that Dairy Crest officials were invited to the meeting and were contacted by the NFU. A company spokeswoman is investigating the claim."
See message from David Handley about the farmers' strike on 23rd August.
Aug 17 ~ "Elliot Morley ..... is "very annoyed" with the lapse in quality control at Aventis Crop Science
That is complacent" says the Independent this morning.
"If the Government and its allies in the scientific community and the biotechnology industries want to persuade us of the benefits of genetically modified crops, then they will have to be a great deal more careful about the way they conduct their trials. ..... this latest incident is not the first of its kind. It is, however, one to take very seriously, because the unauthorised variety of oil seed rape that has been grown contains an extra gene, which makes it resistant to antibiotics. There are serious concerns about the use of such antibiotic-resistant genes because of how they may alter the effectiveness of antibiotic medicines in treating illness in humans and animals.
What is still more depressing about this episode is the Government's reaction to it......
As with nuclear power, the benefits of GM food could be immense, but the risks seem unacceptably high. Forty years ago the scientific consensus was that atomic energy was completely safe and that it would deliver limitless, free electricity, both claims that we now know to have been over-optimistic, to put it mildly. With accidents and mishaps attending so many GM trials, there is little to convince a sceptical public to embrace this particular technological leap forward. "
Aug 17 ~ "the risk is theoretical and unlikely.."
This phrase is used to pour scorn on concerns that antibiotic-resistant genes might be passed on to humans through the food chain. The article in today's Times, "Seeds of Doubt", about the GM blunder, which concludes with the phrase "worst fears of the scaremongers" aims to convince readers that such theoretical worries should not get in the way of a viable and important industry.
But these are the very concerns used by governments over the still unproven link between BSE and vCJD - and, far more unreasonably - the theoretical risk of BSE in sheep - a risk that thousands of pounds worth of research has failed to substantiate. This "theoretical and unlikely" risk fuels the Animal Health Bill and the majority of the numbing regulations that are strangling the livestock industry.
The government wants it both ways. If only this attempt to spin in two directions at once could result in total immobility. Then farming might be allowed to recover.
Aug 17 ~ The film "Sixty Days" is to be shown today - 17th August - Channel 4
It follows Farmers for Action members and examines the tactics used by the government and the media by which various FFA members are discredited.
See message from David Handley about the farmers' strike on 23rd August.
Aug 16 ~ After the fridge mountain ..a deceased lamb mountain - we sink further into the mire of absurd, destructive centralisation
"'Farming Today' [BBC R4] reported this morning that there are serious proposals in the EU to ban the burial of any animals on farm. Lawrence writes: "A Trading Standards Officer who was clearly relishing this extension of his powers was interviewed. He seemed even to envisage that the controls would apply to dead lambs at lambing time!
When our local Hunt kennels stopped taking sheep, a couple of years ago, I asked MAFF and the SVS what they expected me to do with dead sheep. At first they had no advice. Finally I was told that I should take any fallen stock to a knackers yard 70 miles away where I would be charged £70 per beast.... But I of course managed to find out that I could still bury the carcasses on farm, provided of course I followed normal good practice.
It seems that this sensible provision might now be denied to us - probably with no viable alternative. An image of a more gruesome version of the fridge mountain is conjured. One dead home grown sheep buried on my farm would seem to represent no environmental problem whatsoever - the animal is, afer all, made from the grazing on the farm. The collected carcasses of sheep from all the farms in Devon would, on the other hand, present a major environmental problem.
I can see no good reason for making on-farm burial of fallen stock illegal. I can, however, see such a regulation putting us out of business and extending the centralised control of food production. "
Aug 16 ~ UPDATE on Cumbria report. Professor Thomas "in tears"
We have just received the following from a trusted source: "The Cumbrian report will be published at the end of September. The delay is because there has been so much evidence given that Prof Phil Thomas has shifted the emphasis of the report to reflect the level of human suffering.
There is little doubt that he has been leaned on by the Blair Mafia although he is fairly inscrutable and may not care too much for the future. But he is a scientist, and they all depend in one way or another on Government contracts and I guess this has been threatened.
.........the case of the sheep eating mud and stones. Phil Thomas actually sat in tears as that story unfolded and also at the lady farmer who had to kill 13,000 chickens herself without help because Defra ordered it."
Aug 16 ~ Faked Blood tests?
Dr Fish writes, "Some weeks after our local cull the apparently much-travelled vet, Mrs Helen Duncan, telephoned us and others last year to "let us know" that the blood tests on our dead sheep were negative; she thought we "would be pleased to know ". However, someone asked the M.P. Peter Ainsworth to enquire of Margaret Becket, how many premises were blood-tested in our outbreak. And, the answer was ? Only the twinned farms of the I.P.which were positive, NO OTHER TESTING WAS CARRIED OUT.
Mrs Duncan was asked at the time for the test results in writing. She refused, saying "it was not policy."
On obtaining our FMD file from Seerad, a piece of paper purporting to be the results of blood-testing 21 of our sheep was included. We were also told by a local vet that blood samples from local farms were being sent to Ireland for testing. Was this Defra-speak for put them down the sink when you are able and no-one is watching ?"
Aug 16 ~"Now they are again trying to harass us. We are now chosen for a "random" check for notifiable diseases...
Mr Pat Gardiner and his wife ( in Norfolk) are convinced that they are being hounded in retaliation for having complained about the rigging of a blood test and subsequent irregularities by Maff/DEFRA at the time of Classical Swine Fever in East Anglia. Here is part of his email: "...... The MAFF vet that faked the blood test was Helen Duncan (VO - Borders) . Her behaviour was so odd that I was convinced that she was an impostor using false papers. I would not have done anything about it, but she tried to implicate my wife in the falsification of the records and later, by chance, I found out that she was also active on CSF infected premises. My wife had protested and was told "You are too honest for your own good." This was followed by thinly veiled threats.
I understand formal complaints were later made against her following alleged offences during FMD in Scotland by Dr. Fish Following advice, we reported the incident to the Police, Page Street (MAFF HQ) and Norfolk Trading Standards. This is all documented. We knew that DVM Alick Simmons (now Professor Simmons) had been told. Trading Standards repeatedly told me that they had passed the message on to him. I have this in writing, of course. Eventually, I reported the matter to the Agriculture Select Committee of the House of Commons. ..... "
Aug 16 ~ We still await the Cumbria Inquiry results
Nick Green writes, "Local vets have a lot to tell apparently. I was told by an employee at one of the top Veterinary Surgeries in the area that their vets would love to "come out" and tell the real story. But, the OSA (Official Secrets Act) forbids that and, naturally they all fear for their jobs, careers and businesses.
It is very easy to see why Blair refuses to have a public inquiry. I have not spoken to one person in recent weeks who does not think there has been a massive whitewash.
We are still waiting for Professor Thomas to release the Cumbria Inquiry results. This delay is apparently due to the amount of evidence submitted. Forgive me if I am wrong Professor Thomas, but I smell a rat." (But see update above)
Aug 16 ~ only when these five rural tests have been passed can it be said that the lessons have indeed been learnt and vital confidence restored into the countryside.
Peter Troy, Chairman of the Darlington Branch of the Federation of Small Business, is writing to MPs in his area, including Tony Blair, Alan Millburn and Nick Brown, asking for the Government to implement five rural economic tests
Aug 15 ~ Lord Whitty still confused.
An email just seen says, "In a letter dated 1 August 2002 he (Lord Whitty) assures me that tests "including the virus neutralisation test, were highly sensitive and capable of detecting antibody as early as five days post infection"
The virus neutralisation test of course detects virus, not antibody.
(The virus neutralisation test is only highly sensitive in the first few days of the disease before the virus migrates to the lymphatic system)..."
Aug 15 ~ The virus problem persists in spite of Norton's most up to date efforts.
Received from Val Lusmore: "Someone has sent out emails under my email address with an attachment 2002.exe and the message title 'Have a excite Assumption' Hopefully no-one will be fooled into reading this. Sorry to bother you with this but you should be able to get the message out FAST!"
The sender of the viruses purporting to be from warmwell, Val and others is targeting recipients not held in our address books. We have not encountered this problem before and would be grateful for advice from experts. We can only repeat the warning that everyone gets an up-to-date virus checker for their system (although in our cases it is not preventing the problem) and never opens attachments from an unexpected source. We never send attachments without giving a warning first. We should very much like to hear from anyone who has received an infected email appearing to come from"Val Lusmore" or from "info@warmwell".
Aug 15 ~ "the wrong type of subsidies, paid in the wrong way, to the wrong people
5% of British farmers get 80% of the subsidies. But there are powerful arguments for farmers receiving subsidies. The simple fact is that in the USA and in almost all countries in the developed world - with the exception of Australia and New Zealand - agriculture is subsidised..... What is vital to appreciate is that, of the EU 15, it is only UK agriculture which is at crisis point
. ..... It is easy and superficial to blame supermarkets, and the CAP and the EU, and the wicked bureaucrats sitting in Brussels engineering the downfall of British farming, but nothing is that straightforward.
Basically, you have to consider two parallel points: The first, is subsidy levels, and second is international trading conditions...." Read Dr Richard North's speech (transcribed by Alistair McConnachie and published in the May 2002 issue of SOVEREIGNTY)
Aug 15 ~ "If we don't want big corporate-owned production units, then we must support our small and family farmers.
From the article on Farmers Weekly Interactive website.
"A radical new environmental group which claims to have hundreds of supporters is backing a day of strike action by British farmers.
The group, Grassroots Action on Food and Farming, includes campaigners against genetically modified crops. It is a new organisation building a network of farmers and environmentalists to oppose the demise of small family farms.
Grassroots Action on Food and Farming is part of Corporate Watch, an Oxford-based group set up in 1996 by anti-road activists.
It has worked with Greenpeace, the Guardian newspaper and Reclaim the Streets on issues such as food, genetic modification, and the oil industry.
Spokeswoman Kathryn Tulip said: "Unless farmers get a fair price for their produce they will be unable to deliver healthy food, wildlife, the environment and good animal welfare."
"If we don't want big corporate-owned production units, then we must support our small and family farmers..."
Aug 15 ~ "Goodman plants named as poorest beef payers
In Ireland, Larry Goodman's A.I.B.P. plants were named by the IFA as being the lowest paying factories for R4H bullocks in the country. Cattle prices fell for the seventh consecutive week. ...Goodman group factories were leading the price charge downwards against cattle farmers..."
Such stories as this in the Irish Press remind us that the deafening silence with which governments respond to the fleecing of farmers is not just confined to Westminster.
Aug 15 ~ "The illegal meat trade is big business and is growing virtually unchecked" Sky News
Lord Whitty's two sniffer dogs take on "foreign" smugglers , but the real horror of diseased meat is here now. It is happening inside the country under the noses of the very vets and bureaucrats whose jobs were created to keep the industry clean.
"The illegal meat trade is big business and is growing virtually unchecked .... London every week.... mouldy hides and spinal cords left in .... back street slaughter houses." Sky News report How much infected meat is also being exported from Britain? There may be unpleasant connections here with FMD and CSF involving the covering up of some very dirty washing indeed. An honest and competent government would be holding a full, open public Inquiry - not preening itself on having avoided one.
Aug 15 ~ Houses in Throckmorton are unsaleable
Peter and Patricia Green, a couple living next to the huge foot-and-mouth burial site, are demanding that DEFRA compensate them for the blight on their home in Throckmorton, where 130,000 animal carcases were buried last year. Two neighbouring houses which had become unsaleable, have been bought - but not theirs.
This story can be read in the Birmingham Post . Government accountability for the still mounting costs of destruction, chaos and heartbreak is non-existent. That there should be a full, open public Inquiry is evident to all who realise the ramifications of the utter incompetence and criminal ignorance of the decisions taken in March 2001. Meanwhile, the little community of Throckmorton goes on wondering why it has been singled out for such misery piled upon misery.
Aug 15 ~ "Few words give as great a sense of reassurance as "and sheep may safely graze"
(extract from today's Telegraph review of 'Love, Labour & Loss: 300 Years of British Livestock Farming in Art', sponsored by 'The Cumberland News' & Norbrook Laboratories, is at Tullie House, Carlisle (01228 534781), until Sept 15. )
"But that, of course, is exactly what they haven't been able to do recently, especially in the area of Northern England around Carlisle, which was especially badly affected by the outbreak of foot and mouth.
..... You step past the Bewicks and Palmers and are confronted with Damien Hirst's Prodigal Son from 1994, which consists of a calf cut in half and presented in two separate glass cases filled with formaldehyde..... This piece by Hirst, and his other similar works, pre-date the foot and mouth outbreak. Nonetheless, they are instilled not only with a sense of mortality but also with a feeling that something has gone wrong with our relationship with the natural world, especially farming. Instead of safely grazing, farm animals have become laboratory specimens."
Aug 15 ~ Legality of culling healthy animals: "The assertion that this matter had been tried and tested in the British Courts is not just incorrect, it is grossly misleading"
With the looming threat of the Animal Health Bill, Peter Greenhill sends this message about legality, ignorance of science, and the real numbers involved in last year's (and this year's killing) to Elliott Morley
extract: "The test case of Grunty the pig (Harrison J. 21st. June 2001.) disagreed that this particular law offered a 'blanket permission to kill animals as a general policy. In other words, a case-by-case assessment based on proven scientific expert testimony. That the government NEVER brought another action nor contested "resistance" to a Contiguous Cull says it all. Vets were forced by Ministry officials to sign Form A's declaring that farms were infected when in reality they were not..."
Aug 14 ~ Green Party support for the National Farmers' Strike on August 23rd
From David Handley
"Momentum is now starting to build towards the 23 August 2002. Several thousand flyers have now gone around the country to inform the farming community of what is necessary on the 23 August 2002. We are getting tremendous support in the UK and were obviously delighted to get the support of the Green Party. ... Support is also growing in Ireland. We were delighted that Mr Robert Overend, President of the British Pig Association has stated his full support. We have also received the sympathy of the Irish National Sheep Association chairman and also the Northern Ireland Branch of the UK Beef Association chairman. ....
We have a number of plans for the week in the run up to the 23rd. We intend to be targeting supermarkets, firstly internally to make sure they are not trying to replace British product with cheap imports, and secondly we will target those supermarket distribution centres who do feel it is necessary to go down this avenue. The excuse that will no doubt be given the need to supply their consumer when we all know it is about them making more profit.
...The British consumer wants to buy British.
Aug 14 ~"It is up to us to ensure that DEFRA hears our concerns. They do listen to and consider (if not always act on) the evidence that we present,"
writes Mary Marshall whose consistently tactful and reasoned dialogue with DEFRA has resulted in some useful compromises. As Defra wrote to her: "I can assure you we do consider all of the points put to us, and we very much value the input from stakeholders in policy formation. However, we are not always able to adopt all of the suggestions made to us"
She urges: "It is up to us to present the evidence and reasonable arguments so that they are able to adopt our suggestions, or at least have a fair and open discussion about them."
Aug 14 ~"I have also argued from the start that there are alternatives to the 20 day rule" Dr Keith Sumption (30 July)
Mary Marshall's detailed and interesting email includes the following comments from Dr Sumption, now promoted to the EUFMD Commission, FAO, Rome, on control of FMD Europe-wide: "I really enjoyed reading your analysis of the stakeholder's meeting and your thoughtful suggestions. I have also argued from the start that there are alternatives to the 20 day rule if we were to introduce testing as an option - which stakeholders might part pay - there would be public benefit in building up the capacity for testing and also building the market place for such tests. The (pen-side) testing to be used could depend on period since animal introduction -e.g. virus tests from day 0, antibody tests from day 10, no tests after 21 days (although 14 days is more reasonable for FMD if incubation period is the criterion)."
and from (13 August): "... in principle, recent entry animals could be tested, or the animal groups into which they have been introduced; testing recent entrant animals at least allows the date of entry and therefore possible date of infection to be assumed, allowing a rational selection of tests according to period post introduction and characterisitics of the tests. Any widescale use of tests would eventually result in false positives which could have serious implications unless confirmatory tests can be undertaken in hours."
Aug 14 ~Stakeholders Meetings: "a broader representation of stakeholders, including independent and Pirbright scientists...major items and decisions should be available on the internet."
At the invitation of the CVO to all stakeholders earlier this year on the future structure of the stakeholders meetings, I had proposed that they should be enlarged to include a broader representation of stakeholders, including independent and Pirbright scientists, and that major items and decisions should be available on the internet. This proposal was rejected, but I hope that it will be reconsidered, perhaps in a modified form."
Aug 14 ~ "Suggestion: an open and public discussion between the chairmen of the two inquiries, participants to include stakeholders and scientists to resolve conflicting recommendations"
(From Mary Marshall's communications to DEFRA - see email)
"I don't think I was alone in finding disappointing the inflexible and sometimes inconsistent responses from DEFRA to many of the points raised yesterday by stakeholders."
"I had the impression that DEFRA is comparing the recommendations made by the Royal Society and the Lessons Learned inquiries, and selecting whichever of the two suits its policies. This was evident in David King's response to my question on whether DEFRA would confirm that, if an outbreak should occur next week, the RS recommendation not to implement a contiguous cull will be accepted. He chose to ignore this and instead referred to the LL recommendations.
... If greater weight is given to one of the inquiries - especially on matters pertaining to science - it should be the RS, not the LL."
Aug 14 ~ "I hope the authorities have learned a lesson and that the Treasury has learned not to let Defra handle a major crisis on its own."
(words spoken by one of the farmers whose enduring bitterness at the handling of the 2001 FMD crisis is described by The Western Mail ) We find it encouraging that there are still newspaper editors who realise that this "dead story" of FMD is far from over for the thousands of people in Britain whose lives were overturned and who are still suffering trauma and recurring nightmares.
The next nightmare however is the proposed primary legislation, the Animal Health Bill. There is no sensible scientific basis for the unreasonable coercion proposed by this bill. The only political voices to oppose it have been those admirable members of the House of Lords who have read it and understand what it is really up to. There will be no appeal to the courts for farmers to defend their rights against what, last year, DEFRA knew all too well was the illegal policy of killing healthy animals without blood testing. The Minister will have every legal right to send his representatives onto farms, using "reasonable force", to ensure that any disease control method favoured by DEFRA, including summary slaughter, is carried out.
Aug 13 ~".. the public really do care and they don't want to see farmers ripped off."
The Western Morning News reports today: "The (NFU) survey of 1,000 consumers found that 60 per cent of those living in cities were unaware that the average dairy farmer failed to make a profit on the cost of the milk supplied. Forty per cent could not remember how much they paid for a pint, even though they bought milk every day. When asked, 84 per cent said they would pay 5p more for a pint if they could be sure that it went to farmers.
..... processors have been paying as little as 12p per litre.
Tim Bennett, NFU deputy chairman, said: "These findings show that while retail price wars and promotions de-sensitise many shoppers to the costs of food production, they really do care and they don't want to see farmers ripped off. "Farmers will be heartened by this clear show of support for Britain's dairy industry."
Aug 13 ~ "It was a question of reaching a balance to help farmers...."
was how Mr Elliott Morley describes the latest confusing changes to the 20 day rule - (Times report today) Can he really believe that anything he says about "helping farmers" still carries any last shreds of credibility? The Conservatives (James Gray, Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs) said: "The whole saga has been a shambles from start to finish. It is the last saga in a disgraceful and badly handled crisis. It was an absurd rule."
Malcolm Bruce, for the Lib Dems, said: "The Government provokes hostility by failing to consult over pretty radical measures. Then they make themselves look weak....."
Bryan Gregory, chairman of the Association of British Drivers: "It seems that the only way we can reason with this Government is to engage in direct action. They do not listen to reasoned argument. You have to put a gun to their head and cause a great deal of disruption......"
Jonathan Barber, the organiser of the projected day of action, said : "The pressure we exerted on Defra made them turn around within a day and a half," he said. "There is no question that the protest contributed to the ministers moving."
Aug 13 ~ The rising of the rural North is only a matter of time
email received today. "There is no better example of political ineptitude, incompetence and irrelevance from all three major political parties, as well as the Institutions of the EU , than over the causes, management and effects of the Foot and Mouth crisis. The accumulative devastating effect on the rural economic base caused by the crisis is not properly understood in 'urban land' - the Westminster village inhabitants' 'let them eat cake' attitude will logically have the same reaction as it did when the French aristocracy ruled at a distance from the people.
Here in the North East and in North Yorkshire there are now numerous signs declaring "Rural Rights or Rural Rebellion" - The rising of the rural North is only a matter of time - those that doubt this should contact me for a tour of devastated rural small business in the aftermath of the mishandled F&M crisis."
Aug 12 ~ Discussions with the "livestock industry" went on all last week
Anyone who feels they have a stake in Britain's threatened rural way of life is, presumably, one of the so-called "stakeholders" with whom DEFRA "consults". Was any stakeholder reader of warmwell invited to these discussions with DEFRA that affect lives and livelihoods? Does any stakeholder other than those stakeholders invited to the discussions know what those discussions were about? How is that that so many people are so confused and so worried? (see plea for information received yesterday) Has any stockowner had any part of these discussions relayed to them? Have they ever been told anything by anyone attending these discussions? Have they ever had their own views canvassed by someone they trust? Do they know who it is that is attending these discussions on their behalf? We would be interested to be reassured on these points since the government is very keen to reassure anyone who questions their policies that consultation is always taking place.
Aug 12 ~ Prince Charles - a "deep sense of obligation" to tackle the crisis in agriculture
Prince Charles will launch his own range of country clothing to help revive the rural economy, the Sunday Times reported. Reuters reports that "rising profits at the prince's organic food firm, Duchy Originals, had convinced him he should test the potential of other country enterprises. The company announced profits for the year to March 2001 of $873,000, all of which was donated to the Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation. Charles also plans to market a new line of garden furniture made from oak bought from British farmers...The royal fashion label will only use wool supplied by British sheep farmers and the products will be made in rural workshops."
Yet again, we have reason to be grateful to Prince Charles for caring about the rural economy, for the farming community and for Britain. His concern for the farmers during the FMD crisis was a source of comfort to many. The Prince's deep-rooted respect for the land and for traditions of the country that have stood the test of time provides a solid prop - in contrast to the many insulting empty political clichés of recent months. It seems that our Nouveau Labour government, in addition to a contempt for the country, have no more understanding of such old fashioned concepts as service, charity and principle than they have of modern veterinary and scientific knowledge.
Aug 12 ~ Virus warning
the email@example.com email address has been used to try to send viruses to various recipients. Do not open anything that purports to come from warmwell.com via email. Please accept our apologies - and perhaps share our interest in who would be doing this - and why. (As far as we are able to judge, this is not originating from our constantly virus-checked system. Viruses have been sent to email addresses not held on our computer. We have no access to any email address which contains the word "warmwell" since our webserver redirects anything arriving to warmwell to our own email addresses.)
Aug 11 ~ No 10 genuinely confuses making headlines with government.
Geoffrey Lean in today's Independent "Mr Campbell was deeply embarrassed. And despite repeated internal avowals that there was to be no going back, Mr Meacher's ticket was returned within 48 hours......"
"A confident, competent government would laugh off such poor reporting. Yet this one is easily thrown by it. That is puzzling. For Downing Street has been far less ready to change course after the far more serious "cash for favours" allegations. It remains determined to push through GM crops and foods, despite massive public opposition. Above all, it seems bent on war with Iraq in the face of immense popular disquiet and dire warnings from experts ranging from cabinet colleagues to church leaders, from diplomats to the military. It is hard to escape the conclusion that, as my dinner companion tacitly admitted, the Government is obsessed to the point of paranoia with the tabloid headline. Another senior figure, this one from the Cabinet Office next door, was blunter. "This is what happens when you let a tabloid journalist run the country," he told me recently. "No 10 genuinely confuses making headlines with government. It thinks that if it changes the headlines, it can change the country." See also He promised leadership. Now Blair snubs the Earth Summit By Geoffrey Lean
Aug 11 ~ "The psychological effect on farmers, already economically under the cosh, was frightening. 'This is Death Valley,'
one told me after his entire flock had been culled in a pyre adjacent to his house. I learned of another who after his sheep were cremated took to his bed and was still there a fortnight later. Many farmers said that enough was enough, that they would get out of farming if they could. There was much talk of suicide. Prayers were said and counsellors offered help. Across the southwest, in some of the creamiest countryside in the land, in supernatural sunshine, lay a sense of dread.
...The cost to clean up and disinfect farms in Dumfries and Galloway was £39,000 per farm. The cost to the taxpayer, including compensation to farmers who lost their livestock, was £334 million. Arguments continue to rage over whether culling was the best policy, with some commentators claiming that the vested interests of farmers and the food industry, coupled with a lack of political leadership, led to the needless slaughter of millions of healthy animals. Contrary to the advice given to the government, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and its counterpart in London, in reports on the epidemic published in July, recommended that in future outbreaks of the disease vaccination should replace culling. They further recommended that parts of the countryside not directly affected by foot-and-mouth should be opened to the public after a precautionary shutdown of three weeks in order to reduce the economic impact on rural tourism, which is estimated to have lost around £200m during the last outbreak. " This article in the Sunday Herald is interesting and more upbeat than these extracts may suggest.
Aug 11 ~ ".. utterly ridiculous, complete drivel" says Number 10
about the story in the Telegraph (and the Independent and Times) about "widespread attempts by the Government to pressure the BBC and other broadcasters into more favourable coverage of its policies."
Aug 11 ~ About Milk Wars Channel Four
(broadcast 10th August. Part Two next week) Warmwell has received several messages all full of admiration for this film and for the Handleys in particular. Examples include:
"This programme left me full of admiration for David Handley and his wife. It had me wanting him to succeed to protect his livelihood and others, he speaks with passion and conviction. .....I expected this hour's viewing to be boring, but it was not. It was rivetting stuff and I had to snatch time to dash and make a cuppa so I missed little. I look forward to the next episode. I wonder if there could be a third taking in the FMD equation? Ah, Mr & Mrs Handley and all your colleagues, may I wish you all well and above all success. Unfortunately the latter is hard to achieve but I wish it anyway, the very best of luck, I applaud you all."
"I just watched a program tonight about the milk wars and was inspired. After watching , I felt the need to express my absolute admiration and respect for David Handley and his total determination in defending his members rights against the all the mighty powers he was up against.Even as his own circumstances were dire , he pressed on ! I am in IT and we have also been struggling , never the less, he has given me renewed spirit in dealing with advertisity. I wish him and his wife all the best and hope they have a better future. I hope he gets to read this."
"I met with FFA Chairman David Handley 3 times last year. I walked up to the door of No. 10 with David in August 2001. This man has guts, honesty, integrity and is a fighter! Compare that with Blair, Morley & others.
Every person I speak to in my area all distrust Blair. They all know how manipulative he is. They all know how he will spin anything to maintain credibility! I am glad to state again that David Handley is everything Blair is not. Give YOUR support to the FFA! It may well be your last chance!"
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