Latest 'Generic' Contingency Plan for FMD EU Directive Sept 2003 (pdf new page) ~ Foot and Mouth News - from Yahoo and PigHealth.com
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August 26 2005 ~ NFU Wales warns against vaccination in its response to the FMD consultation.
According to icwales, the Welsh NFU, in its response to FMD consultation, says that vaccinating animals in another foot-and-mouth outbreak could "financially cripple Welsh livestock farmers."
"NFU Cymru, in its response to consultations on the directive, says vaccination would not only add costs to livestock production, it would leave mountains of unsold meat......"Emotive language. One wonders if the NFU Wales leadership has understood the hard won derogations, the fact that vaccinated meat does not need to be labelled and what would actually happen in an epidemic if vaccination was once again to be ignored.
We have now been informed that the icwales article follows the report in Farmers Weekly yesterday:
".... Its first concern was that meat from vaccinated animals would not be able to go into the food chain unless it was heat treated, deboned and matured.Gary in the US fears that a , "... most "natural" reaction on the part of the American Public is: "Well, if it's there on the web like this, it means we can't vaccinate for FMD." To tell you this is sad in itself. We've all worked so hard to attempt to overcome the insanity of these old carry-over FMD policies from days-gone-by."
NFU Cymru said it had grave doubts as to whether there would be sufficient capacity in Wales to do this..... the market price of vaccinated meat was likely to be heavily discounted.
Another concern raised was that new directive also bans the collection and transportation of milk for sampling for milk hygiene purposes in laboratories not authorised to test for F&M. ....practical problems for those companies located in Wales where there are currently no such laboratories."
August 25 2005 ~ A reminder of the way effective technologies to fight FMD have been blocked
The paper U.S. Agricultural and Food Security: Who Will Provide the Leadership? mentions new technologies started fifteen years ago. (our own emphasis)
The authors said, "vigorous efforts were made to replace the BSL 3 facilities at Plum Island NY, Athens GA, and Ames, IA, and to provide the first BSL 4 facilities for livestock at Plum Island. We came very close but suffice it to say that after 6 years of effort there are no modern BSL 3 facilities for agriculture and the nation still has no BSL 4 facility in which to prepare for such dangerous livestock infections as Hendra and Nipah viruses and their cousins yet unknown."
- " From the mid-1990s, diagnostics were moved from performance in a high-containment laboratory to portable, on-site devices that did not require biological containment." Comment
- A test to discriminate animals that have been vaccinated against FMD from those that have recovered from infection .... APHIS did not pursue the regulatory procedures necessary for validation
- An antiviral drug that would block FMD virus infection.... stopped after early success for lack of funds.
- vaccines that can be manufactured in the U.S... for diseases that are both natural and biological weapons threats. ..... begun in the early 1990s but stopped after early success for lack of funds.
However, see below..
August 25 2005 ~Homeland Security wants to turn Plum Island into "a new, massive center for biological and agricultural defense" with the highest laboratory security level, BSL 4 .
The US GovExec.com's "Daily Briefing" yesterday says that the Homeland Security department announced in a press release on Monday that the US is considering upgrading Plum Island to Biosafety containment level 4 (BSL4) that the new facility would "replace" the "important but aging" more than 50-year-old centre.
Plum Island is still at present a Biosafety Level 3 facility and is still the only facility in the United States where official testing for FMD is allowed. According to the briefing, attempts in the past to upgrade Plum Island have "faced local protests and opposition ..." Read the "Daily Briefing" in full
Plum Island has had security lapses in the recent past, and it has been upgrading its security .
( Warmwell can only report on what it finds. Being itself unvalidated, it is never officially informed of anything. Nevertheless, appalled by the incompetent and bloody fiasco of 2001, warmwell has battled on regardless and unfunded for four years. Perhaps there is now some room for hope if threats of natural incursions of disease or bio-terrorism are now being taken so very much more seriously in the US. Modern technological breakthroughs, still astonishingly unvalidated may at last be going to be used officially. And if the US leads the way, is it then possible that our own contingency plans will start to acknowledge what has in fact been possible for the past decade in the way of vaccine, discriminatory tests, and rapid on-site diagnosis? )
August 25 2005 ~ ProMed reports on FMD in Russia "2 FMD serotypes are, reportedly, evolving now in eastern Asia/the far east:
type Asia 1 in Russia's Amur region (Khabarovsk province); type A in eastern Mongolia's Dornod province. They are more than 1000 miles apart; both share borders with the People's Republic of China". ProMed's report includes news from a Russian source that in the Khabarovsk region "....all measures have been taken to isolate the herd infected with FMD. Mass vaccination of livestock in the Bikinsk district has been underway since 23 Aug 2005. 30 000 additional doses of vaccine are to be delivered over the next few days, and 120 000 doses will eventually be necessary. The decision on stamping out the infected herd has not yet been made."
August 23 2005 ~ Western Morning News on the change of wording from discretion to duty
The WMN's headline is "MINISTERS WILL HAVE A 'DUTY' TO CULL ANIMALS", written by David Wilcock, doesn't really echo what our own concern about the proposed change of wording has been. A DEFRA spokesman quoted in the article has given more clarification than we have seen anywhere else - and we wonder why they could not have made this clear in the first place:
"This does not apply to premises where disease has not been confirmed, where we would retain full discretion to cull or vaccinate as is justified by the scientific and veterinary risk of disease spread. There are also a number of special exemptions to compulsory slaughter on infected premises, where we would retain the discretion to slaughter."(Read WMN article. In it, John Daw, chairman of the South West regional dairy board, is outspoken about Defra consultations. )
August 23 2005 ~ UK law has always allowed for the slaughter of actually infected animals and no one really argues against this.
However, what is worrying about the WMN article today is that farmers' leaders quoted do not, in their enthusiasm for the cull, acknowledge that healthy animals and pets were compulsorily and illegally slaughtered in 2001 and that for those affected, terrible memories are not easily erased.
If changing the wording from discretion to duty were legally to allow for slaughter on uninfected farms or to absolve the Minister from accountability for exceeding what is allowed in the EU Directive, then our worry about this minor technical amendment continues.
The infamous illegal "contiguous cull" of 2001 was a practice condoned by the leading farmers' unions at the time. A few determined farmers such as Guy Thomas Everard successfully fought Government attempts to cull his herd of 980 pedigree cattle, and Rosemary Upton successfully fought the illegal cull in the courts - much to Maff/Defra's fury- but most farmers were pressured or convinced into giving up their uninfected animals. Such documents as Chris Chapman's new book , the devastating evidence from Knowstone given to the EU Inquiry, the voices of ordinary people as in Fields of Fire, the report of the Devon Inquiry, the Cardiff university paper, Carnage by Computer, and the latest research done on the contiguous cull- and much more - all show that this disgraceful episode must never be allowed to happen again. The law was subsequently changed to give retrospective legality to the contiguous cull.
To find from the WMN article that there are farmers' leaders who seem still to believe that widespread slaughter was justified - and that the only thing that matters to farmers is compensation - is disheartening in the extreme. Many of the arguments, easily discredited, made by the NFU at the time, still seem to carry weight.
If farmers leaders themselves are ignorant about vaccination, rapid diagnosis and the acceptability of vaccinated food products, what hope is there, by September 1, for putting pressure on DEFRA to ensure that national adjustments to the EU Directive are sensible, ethical and scientifically sound? (Read WMN article)
August 20 2005 ~ Defra proposes changes to the FMD Directive
The excellent CA website on foot and mouth and CSF has highlighted concerns about lack of information to stakeholders who, by September 1 2005, are expected to be able to send comments to Defra on the transposition of the FMD Directive - changes that will affect all aspects of FMD disease control. One of the concerns mentioned is that highlighted by warmwell in the middle of June. Our most recent comments about this are now on the CA foot and mouth forum.
Extract: As for the semantic change from 'discretion' to 'duty', I think it is significant. It's also worrying that the phrase "including on infected premises" has been stressed. As you say, to what extent will this duty to slaughter be applied to non-infected premises?.....This point has, of course, been termed a "minor amendment" but one wonders how a minor change of wording provides the "necessary powers" needed by the Secretary of State if an obligation to slaughter - within clearly defined limits - is already laid down in the EU Directive.
"Dangerous contact" has still not been properly defined. Is a "duty" to slaughter to be applied to any animal to fall within this woolly category?.....
legal back-covering. ... If the phrase is "discretion" then the Minister must justify his decision - something this government does not much like being made to do. But "duty" implies that he or she has no choice and can't be held accountable.
(The CA forum pages (new window), will be monitored by the OIE and FAO. In the interests of openness and transparency, it would be useful if comments sent to DEFRA about the transposition could be copied to the CA website for us all to see.)
August 20 2005 ~ "more than sombre stories of horrendous killing and heartbreak..."
"Silence at Ramscliffe" (see below) has been reviewed by Independent Farm Business News (IFBN). Extract:
"The horror of foot and mouth disease in the Spring of 2001 has scarcely faded in the minds of any of the farmers and workers whom it affected but how long does it take for 'government', politicians and 'the public' to forget what happens if vigilance of disease observation and control is allowed to become negligent?....The book costs #25, and its ISBN is 0-9548683-3-1. It includes a DVD of the same name, courtesy of ITV West. See also full press release
The book contains more than sombre stories of horrendous killing and heartbreak. Towards the end, various kinds of analysis are included, factual, objective and subjective conclusions are reached, references quoted and historical connections made. It's one of those books that brings the whole thing back to life and should be kept in every college and public library......it should be drawn to the attention of politicians and accountants..."
August 18 2005 ~" a warning, nationally and even globally, of how mans chilling disassociation from the species that feed him is, frighteningly, almost complete "
"Silence at Ramscliffe: Foot and Mouth in Devon" will be launched at the Chagford Show, Devon, today, Thursday 18th August from 10 am.
James Crowden, poet and co-author :
Nothing prepared me for foot and mouth. Image and reality became inextricably linked. There is no tradition of rural poetry to encompass what we saw, he said. The only conscious links were to the First World War and the poetry of Wilfred Owen.
Zac Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist said:
This book provides not only a permanent reminder of the pain inflicted on Britains rural communities, but a valuable lesson too that the nightmare need never be repeated.
Food writer, TV chef and countryman Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall described the book as a suitably provocative collection of words and pictures.
Silence at Ramscliffe reminds us just how the Governments appalling and callous handling of the Foot and Mouth crisis undermined all the fundamentals of good farming and good husbandry, he said. It serves as a brilliant warning, nationally and even globally, of how mans chilling disassociation from the species that feed him is, frighteningly, almost complete.
See full press release
August 18 2005 ~ BSE vertical transmission in sheep? "....extremely unscientific conclusion"
See reports. Both James Meikle's Guardian report and the New Scientist report said, in what we consider to be misleading and mischievous language, "BSE has been transmitted naturally between sheep for the first time"
There is nothing natural about force feeding infected brain material to ewes, nor is it entirely clear how the lambs succumbed. As Mark Purdey commented in an email this morning: "...everyone knows that you can transmit BSE and other TSEs into as many animals as you want with almost 100% success - but only in the experimental context, where high doses of BSE brain homogenate have been used as the inoculum (the rogue metal microcrystals are the transmissible agents ).
It is extremely unscientific to jump to the conclusion that this is happening in the natural environment, particularly when no sheep have been diagnosed with clinical BSE to date, despite the rigorous post mortem TSE surveillance that has been in place in the UK." Read Mark Purdey's email in full
August 17 2005 ~ lambs at a government experimental station appear to have caught BSE from their mothers.
They were "experimentally fed with 5mg of BSE-infected material" and had lambs that died of BSE after showing signs of infection in their tonsils, 546 days after birth. James Meikle's Guardian report says
"Their mothers had shown no outward signs of the disease at lambing, one showing them 73 days after lambing, and the other 198 days after.... it is still not certain that the lambs were infected while in the uterus, or shortly before or after lambing. The disease may have spread through the birthing fluids or in some other way. The evidence so far suggests this is far more likely than the lambs catching the disease from other apparently unaffected sheep."So - much uncertainty. But this experiment will no doubt be seized upon as part of the evidence that has been sought now for several years, and it brings the possible end of sheep farming in the UK a little closer.
August 15 - 22 2005 ~ "..significant benefits by fostering information exchange and shared use of resources...by both animal and human health scientists"
New Zealand's National Centre of Biosecurity and Infectious Disease at Wallaceville will open within 18 months. It will be shared by both animal and human health scientists.
Scoop NZ quotes a parliamentary speech given at the launch. Extracts:
".....We think New Zealand will benefit from a closer working relationship between scientists, researchers, epidemiologists, and laboratory staff in animal and human health fields. .....This echoes what has been said by the virologist, Dr Ruth Watkins " I find the strategies for health of humans in our society, modern Britain, have been neglected or disregarded by the veterinary establishment for farm animals - BSE was the start of the consequences of so doing.."
It will cluster multi-disciplinary skills including microbiology, virology, epidemiology, incident response, disease modelling, and forecasting. Overseas research indicates that such clustering can produce significant benefits by fostering information exchange and shared use of resources... ..."
As for the dangers of illegal imports, the New Zealand Government appears to be taking both biosecurity and protecting its own agriculture very much more seriously than we do;
".. Government has done all it can to ensure that our environment and farming businesses are protected from pests and diseases. However, we're not complacent about our border control measures. We continually review our systems...""Not complacent" - but already in New Zealand instant fines for biosecurity breaches have been introduced, there is 100 per cent screening of all air crew and passengers, soft-tissue x-rays and detector dogs operate at all international airports, and a sea container screening programme has been put in place.
August 15 - 22 2005 ~"....Vaccination ..... its implications are now seen as practical ones..."
Defra's new page: "Stakeholder Engagement on FMD Control Strategies" has links to more detail and an Action Plan for meat treatments and processing. That "there should be no price differentials at the point of sale for products from vaccinated and non-vaccinated animals as the differences will not be identified..." is at last clearly and unequivocally acknowledged. Yet more modelling work on "a range of disease scenarios" has been commissioned from Risk Solutions, based on the FMD Cost Benefit Analysis. Read in full What seems so sad about all this is that what is being done now was just as possible before 2001. The arguments against vaccination that convinced many in the meat and retail industry were misguided or worse. But at least proper and practical preparations for this aspect of planning are now underway, as is an attempt to communicate the options more clearly. There are some at DEFRA who really are to be congratulated for this. So are some stakeholders, whose grasp of the realities and whose determined, gradual moving of mountains have begun to make a difference. It is a small but not insignificant step.
August 15 - 22 2005 ~ ".... changing requirements for detection and identification, and input of cutting-edge science .."
The BBC reported again on Saturday the study to be led by Dr Abigail Woods into the history of infectious diseases. (see below) Professor Michael Worboys is quoted: "Our study will review the evolving risk of diseases, changing requirements for detection and identification, and input of cutting-edge science." ( see also University of Manchester press release.)
The input of the cutting edge of science into national policy for animal disease control seems balked by constant and depressing repetitions of "not until it is validated."
Validation? Lack of "validation" doesn't alter the existing usefulness of technologies already widely deployed elsewhere where urgency is acknowledged. It is the willingness to validate that has been lacking and the issue used as an excuse for DEFRA to sit on its hands. It is incomprehensible.
August 15 - 22 2005 ~ Consultation on what should constitute national discretion in the Foot and Mouth Directive ends in only a fortnight
- i.e. by September 1 2005 - but there are questions yet to be answered - questions about the new technologies, the actual make-up of the Expert Group, why and how a "minor amendment" changing the phrase discretion to slaughter into duty to slaughter is necessary to give "necessary powers" to the Secretary of State. Other practical matters remain unresolved.
There are 25 (sic twenty five) DEFRA consultations currently taking place. The presumption that all the stakeholders affected by legislation are first going to assimilate and then respond to consultation documents is unrealistic. Yet the practice of "consultation" is used to justify top-down decisions.
If only the Ministry were trusted to know its facts, seen to be being advised by disinterested experts and known to be communicating fairly and clearly with stakeholders. There would then be no need for such window-dressing. Public servants would be assumed to be just that. As it is, accountability, transparency and a willingness to share the information that is driving policy all seem as far away as ever and, except in the special interest groups, there is an apathy about responding to consultations that seems to us to be wholly understandable.
August 8 - 14 2005 ~ Rapid PCR "... same old leopard, same old spots.."
The FMD forum pages of the Coordination Action website are very interesting. On Friday, in response to Roger Breeze's paper Disease control: Ideas for cost sharing between industry and government "Matthew" disagrees sadly with the optimism I had tentatively expressed. He writes mainly about bovine TB and the government's whole attitude to agriculture, but on the subject of innovative technologies, he says:
"The use of PCR in disease surveillance or diagnosis is well advanced in other countries, and UK medicine is now putting its collective toe into the water in hospitals, but mention its use to Defra - and the reply is luddite and negative. VLA still seem to prefer to 'research' the theory rather than test the reality...."His post concludes "....I too had thought I detected a 'sea change' in attitude from Defra, but is a leopard spotty? After last week, it's the same old leopard, same old spots. "
It would be so refreshing if DEFRA could prove him - and the major part of warmwell - wrong and show that it has indeed changed its spots. Or at least one or two of them. (One does not need to register in order to read the posts on the CA forum.)
August 8 - 14 2005 ~ Australian farmers fear that their freedom from PWMS and FMD is being put at risk by trade concerns
ABC News reports (Thursday)
"....The Federal Court was scathing of the agency's risk analysis, finding it was not scientifically sound and posed a quarantine risk. But the Federal Agriculture Department has further angered farmers by planning to appeal against that judgment ....".Quarantine expert, Dr Elizabeth Thurbon says farmers are justified in their concerns. She says Biosecurity Australia is allowing other agendas to intrude on their decision making. " We've had three Senate inquiries plus one Federal Court judge ruling, showing us quite conclusively that the science of quarantine in Australia is being undermined predominately by trade concerns..."
August 8 - 14 2005 ~ A sea change? The CVO thanked all Stakeholders present for having taken the time and trouble "..to attend and participate in this process - defined for the future as a partnership..."
Warmwell's reaction to a stakeholder's report of the recent meeting at DEFRA with the CVO, Debby Reynolds, is that real change could be in the air. There seems to be a shift
The report of this meeting was written by Chris Stockdale. (new window). Read in conjunction with Roger Breeze's article on the Coordination Action website, one feels that there may, at last, be reason for some optimism.
- in terms of communication and management skills
"....Confirmation that this was more than a window-dressing exercise was apparent before the meeting-room door had fully swung open large and readable name cards demonstrated where DEFRA personnel and the Chair were to sit (precluding the need for a guessing-game and last minute rush to change seats in order to hear).."
- In the genuine gesture towards openness and transparency..
"...The Agenda and papers will go on DEFRAs website, where others unable to attend can view and contribute..."
- and in some of the points raised..
(example) ".... Prior to the meeting Chris (Sheep Veterinary Society lead vet, practicing sheep keeper from the Shropshire / Cheshire border, independent consultant, former SVS employee and a key man at the ministry in 2001), mentioned that at a meeting two days previously DEFRA had agreed never again to initiate what he was referring to as the Welshpool shambles. In other words, Contiguous and DC culling would never be initiated until the supposed IP was proven to be infected."
August 8 - 14 2005 ~ "With all Performance Benchmarks met, by government and industry, the goal is to snuff out an outbreak in two weeks after diagnosis by active commitment of all sections of the industry and related industries. .."
The discussion paper by Roger Breeze on Industry Cost Sharing is short and easy to read, illustrating clearly how contributing towards " the costs of an effective program for earliest detection and most rapid effective response to disease" can bring about significant change. From a top-down, one way, series of decisions, cost sharing can make the government an accountable partner. Industry, suggests the paper, can expect "Performance Benchmarks" to be set for such components as an inducement scheme for early reporting, rapid verification, and rapid communications. " ... the government should ....be prepared to demonstrate that it is meeting its Performance promises..."
The paper shows a grasp of what modern technology exists both in combatting illegal imports and in early disease detection and control. Particularly interesting is that the paper also advocates rewarding vigilance instead of threatening negligence:
"The first owner to report a suspicious case that proves to be an infection of concern shall be compensated at four times the value of the stock; those subsequently reporting suspicious cases that prove positive within the first two weeks after a definitive diagnosis shall be compensated at twice the value of the stock.."Vaccination is assumed as the control method of choice since it would deter agroterrorists' hope of the"drama and visual theater of mass slaughter"
It is to be hoped that as many people as possible read the discussion paper - and give feed-back that will be seen by decision makers. (Register on the same page if it is your first visit.) The article below from Australia shows what happens when farmers feel they have no input into decision making and no control over the risks inherent in imports.
August 8 - 14 2005 ~ China: "... a simple and cost-effective technique to test live and dead animals for the disease,"
Biotech East reports
"The YaSheng Group, a Chinese industrial giant from Lanzhou, Gansu Province, announced today that it had mastered a gene cloning process that allows the creation of fortified cells that combat foot and mouth disease.In a global situation where the eradication of animal infectious diseases is more urgently needed than ever, a non-political consideration of effective new technologies and studies across international boundaries is surely vital. As the report of the EU Temporary Committee on Foot and Mouth Disease (paragraph 79 ) said:"Lasting success can be achieved in efforts to control FMD worldwide only if it proves possible, through close international cooperation.. ..."
Scientists at the company had also developed a simple and cost-effective technique to test live and dead animals for the disease, according to the announcement.
The company reportedly plans to use the technology to develop a vaccine for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). ..."
Similarly, the current Israeli policy to prevent and control FMD (its clear setting out of humane and effective policy should serve as an example to others ) concludes: "... Common, co-ordinated epidemiological studies leading to a common control policy should be sought and supported by the international community."
August 7 2005 ~ Farmers will be even more anxious about importing FMD after an Australian documentary
A news report from Farmonline.com.au. SBS documentary blasts Brazilian beef import fiasco reports that an SBS 'Dateline' documentary has questioned the credibility of Brazil's internal quarantine measures. The programme suggested that "the so-called 'FMD-free zones' within Brazil are highly porous" and that at the time of one import into Australia of Brazilian beef, a new FMD outbreak had been reported in one of the supposed "FMD-free zones".
The program revealed that Biosecurity Australia, at the time, did not inspect conditions in Brazil, before relaxing import restrictions, and subsequently issuing the import licence. (Read in full. The article also expresses concern about PMWS.)
August 5 2005 ~ "Cost sharing offers industry a chance to sit at the table as a partner to make sure that when it pays what is asked, it gets what is promised...."
Roger Breeze's Discussion Paper: Industry Cost Sharing appears today on the Coordination Action website. It is readable, informed and full of clear, good sense. Those who have an interest, who care about the human and animal cost of official disease control, ( many of us not even designated "stakeholders"), and who want to make our voices heard, now have the chance to respond to such articles on the Coordination Action website. It is a chance that should be seized.
Warmwell's comments below, for example, now appear on the FMD forum pages of the CA website which provide a platform for online debate - visible to policy makers and to the OIE and EUFMD/FAO who will undoubtedly take note of interesting comments.
Registering is a simple process requiring no private data except for your real name and email address. Warmwell has no hesitation in recommending that we participate, and hopes that farmers and stockholders will get to hear about the website without delay. The online discussions will be summarised and the summaries will be available.
Today's article by Roger Breeze can be read in full here.
August 5 2005 ~ What good is an Expert Group if Defra doesn't act on their recommendations?
An emailer asked yesterday, "What good is it to have an Expert Group or a SAC who make good recommendations if Defra don't act on them? That is surely not the intention of the EU FMD Directive, but is there anything in it that obliges the government to follow the advice?"
Warmwell has looked at the responses of DEFRA to the 20 recommendations made by the SAC sub-committee. Read in full Briefly, :
Full recommendations, responses and warmwell's comments appear on new page here.
- There is no sense of urgency at DEFRA but rather a sense of complacency - as if everything is under control (an unlucky phrase). DEFRA appears not to see that there could be different scenarios requiring different approaches.
- Where is the "permanently operational" expert group as required by the Directive? DEFRA seems to think that the Modelling Consortium (of which few have heard) and Defra itself should direct policy with no outside advice.
- SAC tactfully draws attention to the continuing lack of effective IT systems and the need for the new technologies to be reviewed as a matter of great importance: DEFRA seems to want to wait until the UK develops its own commercial pen-side tests before acknowledging this vital, time-saving technology.
- DEFRA seems unaware of the dangers inherent in its inability to communicate. SAC asks for clarity. DEFRA's impenetrable communications and documents and its reluctance to engage with people at regional and local levels all needs to be addressed. SAC recommends carrots rather than sticks to gain cooperation. DEFRA's responses miss the point, failing to grasp that ordinary people and ordinary farmers are the first line of defence in protecting the country. Such a widespread distrust of DEFRA is worrying. Many farmers are tired of and bored by the constant bureaucratic nagging and no longer interested in reading the glossy DEFRA publications that arrive so frequently.
August 3 2005 ~scientists in Beijing have developed a test for streptococcus suis which takes just 4 hours to provide results.
ProMed reports "... the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine announced yesterday, 1 Aug 2005, it has developed a testing method to identify _Streptococcus suis_ in pigs in 4 hours. The technique, known as the "multiple PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing method," can be used to screen pigs in an "accurate and convenient" fashion, said a statement by an expert panel that assessed and approved the method ...." In yesterday's post, ProMed reports ".. Vaccines to combat a deadly pig-borne disease were flown to south-western China on Sunday [31 Aug 2005], where the spread of the rare illness has already killed 36 people and infected 198. The unusually high numbers of people infected by the swine disease has led scientists to speculate that it may be being spread from human-to-human or that another disease entirely is to blame. ........the size and virulence of this current outbreak, in the province of Sichuan, has taken the World Health Organization by surprise."
August 2 2005 ~ "....the government belatedly realized that the critical monetary yardstick was not the animal product export sector..."
"...but the rural economy as a whole and that protecting animal agricultural interests by not vaccinating was causing huge financial losses in tourism and other sectors that had never been factored into the calculations of outbreak costs." From Roger Breeze's paper Agroterrorism: Betting Far More than the Farm - now available freely on the internet as a pdf file at www.liebertonline.com Extract:
Regulatory officials have not realized that onsite detection is a transforming technology. Onsite detectors should transform disease surveillance and control..... vigorous informed control measures backed by positive diagnosis can be implemented nationally within 6 hours.
.... neighboring herds would be monitored daily for FMD infection (the test will find virus before there are signs of illness), and only infected herds would be killed. Slaughter would not be based on proximity. " Read in full
August 1 2005 ~ Rapid on-site RT-PCR Diagnosis - a curious reluctance on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean
Following Operation Hornbeam, the Science Advisory Council sub group, (which included Professor Roy Anderson and Mark Woolhouse) identified, "major science issues" from the "exercise in its entirety, that require attention in the shorter term." They made some excellent recommendations
Recommendation 13: Accurate pen-side tests should be developed for the diagnosis of FMD in cattle and pigs. The Department should develop the capability to identify further research needs, including a review of current technology and the identification of novel future technologies.Similarly GAO, the US Government Accountability Office, reported that
"According to experts, on-site use of these tools is critical to speeding diagnosis, containing the disease, and minimizing the number of animals that need to be slaughtered"The USDA officials responded that " it is important to evaluate the costs and benefits of developing and validating these tools for use outside of a laboratory setting..."
Many are deeply puzzled at the reluctance shown both by UK and US officials to accept the use of the newest technologies that would, without doubt, transform disease control. Lip service is being paid - but neither UK nor US government department appears to acknowledge that on-farm rapid diagnostic tests are already highly developed and already being used in the field. The curious issue of "validation" which has, since the beginning of 2001, been used to justify their not being used is still being bandied about - almost as if it were an essential to making them work. Can anyone throw any light on this matter?
July 30 2005 ~ US still envisaging the slaughter of millions of cattle - Who will Provide the Leadership still not clear
Articles on Agroterrorism for the month of August on CSO online website warn that the number of agencies involved in agriculture and food oversight, the lack of coordination, the lack of clarity about what would happen in an outbreak, all add up to a "toothless tiger "
"... the huge feedlots, large processing facilities and a rapid distribution network .... through the infection of a single animal could lead to widespread infection that would necessitate the slaughter of millions of cattle ...." and "......"We're terribly inefficient in how we approach food safety," says Jerry Gillespie, director of the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at the University of California, Davis. "Different agencies have different legislative authority. It's also unclear who would be in charge ..."CSO online.com
July 30 2005 ~ Read again US Agricultural and Food Security: Who Will Provide the Leadership? by Roger Breeze and Floyd Horn.
As long ago as 1999, six years before writing their paper, the authors warned U.S. agricultural and food groups that the US
" was not prepared....unlikely to detect, identify and report; emergency responses were inadequate; working relationships were deficient....state and federal infrastructure would be overwhelmed....The Nation lacks a comprehensive national strategy .... Such a strategy is urgently needed: it will take years to implement and the threats will grow in the meantime. "When the paper was published in the Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Animal Health Association, San Diego, October 9-16, 2003, pages 79-91, alterations were made, without the knowledge of the authors, that significantly changed the message intended. In particular, their ideas of how rapid, on-site test devices should be deployed were completely changed to create the false impression that validation was the next critical step. As we have said here on warmwell many times, the UK have similar areas of unaccountable blindness - indeed one expert member of last Monday's meeting (see below) said that he was unaware of the issues of rapid diagnostic on-site testing.
In 2001 the outbreak, with its multi-foci hotspots due to lack of immediate understanding and action, could nevertheless have been efficiently dealt with had the issues of vaccination and rapid on-site testing been properly grasped. To say this is being wise after the event is nonsense. Experts advocating their use were trying very hard to be heard - but were sidelined with unpleasant contempt - one even being termed a Neanderthal. Yet arguments against both vaccination and on-site diagnosis have been shown to be specious. It looks as if the same reluctance to include them properly in Contingency Planning is happening today, perhaps because of ignorance and inefficiency. That it should be deliberate policy seems beyond belief.
July 28 2005 ~ "costs will influence the acceptability of a vaccination-to-live policy to certain sectors or individuals".
(Defra's Regulatory Impact Assessment June 2005)
In spite of the recommendations of the Royal Societies of both London and Edinburgh and the follow-up report of the Royal Society (see here) - a vaccination-to-live policy is, unfortunately, still far from being a foregone conclusion.. The questions asked on Monday to the sub-group of stakeholders concerned with processing and retail, are still raising problems about cost and practicalities. Several of these have been asked before, in 2003, in a consultation exercise. Yet Defra still seem both unclear in answering the meat processors and retailers and keen to shrug off responsibility for any costs that might be shouldered elsewhere.. Unbelievably, "consumers' fears about differentiation" even made an appearance. It is extraordinary that the answer to this after four long years- is not understood by all parties since it was a major (but unnecessary) stumbling block to vaccination in 2001.
DEFRA is now asking, "What proportion of the industry would want to see the derogation sought which enables the ending of the requirement to treat meat from Protection Zones and Surveillance Zones after at least 30 days and for Vaccination Zones at phase 3 of the vaccination programme" Such a derogation already exists, once herds and flocks have been tested, which would permit untreated meat from vaccinated cattle and sheep to be sold freely on the domestic market and "therefore approach more normal market conditions for livestock producers". A derogation also allows for untreated meat from vaccinated pigs to be placed on the domestic market and may, if requested by another Member State, be exported to them with a special mark. This extract from the April 2004 "Vaccination Protocol" makes the current situation clearer - but what remains very unclear is how effectively this information has been understood - even at DEFRA itself.
July 27 2005 ~ Defra's systems of management, information and communication were demonstrated on Monday morning at Page Street.
Questions - Processing and Retailing were not sent out until Friday evening for consideration at the meeting on Monday morning at Page Street. Nearly two years after the EU Directive of September 2003, questions are being posed by DEFRA about practical details concerning its demands. Queries raised by the stakeholders at the meeting about slaughterhouse use and disruption in supplies in the event of an outbreak were met with the view that "it is not part of HMG's remit to resolve supply chain problems" So it was pointed out that if purchasers promptly switched to overseas supplies the resulting cost of getting rid of perfectly usable UK meat would fall on the taxpayer.
At the meeting, it was said that any future outbreak won't be like 2001, that Defra/HMG considers itself to be better prepared, and any future outbreak "would be smaller". It is alarming to discover that there is still a lack of awareness and appreciation of the latest technologies, particularly of rapid on-site diagnosis.
The apparent assumption that the dense and legalistic language of the EU Directive, and in particular of its Annexes about required treatments can be readily followed and understood by anyone concerned reminds one of the story of the Emperor's New Clothes.
The fact is that the Directive is not easy to follow at all.
It had to be pointed out that "heat treated" means "cooked" and that treatments demanded by the Directive applied as much to Protection Zones, Surveillance Zones as to Vaccination Zones.
Defra has now been asked for clarification. "Processing and Retailing" stakeholders want to know what health stamps are, what they look like in reality. They want to rehearse in simulations just what would happen in various phases of an emergency. They want clear graphs and explanations of what will happen in the various zones and to the various species. They want what any member of the smallest organisation would expect from meetings: agendas and notes distributed well in advance, minutes taken, action points decided upon. In short, they want what does not yet exist - good systems of management, information and communication. (See also Inbox)
July 27 2005 ~ "Systems of management, systems of information, systems of communication"
The Lessons Learned Inquiry had, as one ProMed moderator pointed out, " to manoeuvre within a politically challenged landscape ". However, its Chairman, Iain Anderson, made his own recommendations to the EFRA Committee ( he was not expecting to be given the chance) loud and clear:
"....needs to be emphasised again and again is that in order to get this right for the future .... needs to be captured in processes which engages people from different agencies outside of the centre..
... The central importance is that adequate systems are in place ahead of time.... Systems of management, systems of information, systems of communication and all systems robust enough to cope with aggressive and severe challenge...
Speed of response, speed of decision making, speed of action.. through rehearsal and planning and discussion and rehearsal as a routine.."
July 25 ~ Thousands of Cambodian cattle and oxen have been hit by foot-and-mouth disease
Xinhua.net reports that thousands of Cambodian cattle and oxen have been hit by foot-and-mouth disease Yim Voeunthan, Agriculture Ministry secretary of state is quoted as saying that "...vaccines have been given to 1.5 million oxen nationwide to control the spread of the disease."
" In developed countries, mass slaughter of infected cows is the recommended procedure, but Cambodians are too poor for this policy," The Cambodia Daily said.
Meanwhile, in China, virus type Asia 1 is affecting 7 provinces, spread over distances of about 4000 km.
July 20 ~"..removing the source of infection rather than genetic selection is the route of choice for disease control"
One livestock farmer's response to the Hill report. "..... love the part when Hill states that the only way to minimize the risk of BSE is the exclusion of infective materials from the feedchain:
Genetic variation in susceptibility (17-21)Who cares about susceptibility if there is no agent that can start a disease ?..."
c) Even if genetic differences in susceptibility to infection were revealed, removing the source of infection rather than genetic selection is the route of choice for disease control ........
July 20 2005 ~ The Hill Report on BARBs
Professor William Hill, Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Edinburgh, has carried out an assessment of the possible causes of BSE cases born after the reinforced feed ban of August 1996 (BARBs) at the request of DEFRA.
Among the many interesting points in the report we read:
"Unless there is new evidence on BSE in cattle that lends support to alternative hypotheses underlying the cause of BARB cases there continues to be little justification for Defra to pursue research on them. Monitoring hypotheses and the free exchange of ideas is, however, encouraged."Paragraph 29 notes:
" A major EU funded study, FATEPriDE, is underway to examine environmental risk factors that affect the development of prion diseases such as BSE and scrapie (FATEPriDE Web site). The study is focussing on manganese and copper in soils, since replacement of Cu by Mn affects prion protein structure (Brown, D.R. et al., 2000), and on organophosphate pesticides that may influence Cu absorption. The group has brought it to my attention that they are unable to associate these environmental variables with BSE (including BARBs) incidence as they have not obtained the necessary data on location of cases from Defra. It has been suggested (Purdey, 2000) that susceptibility to spontaneous TSEs is affected by mineral imbalance in the ecosystem, but a source of infection remains necessary for BSE to occur, assuming it has a single source."The report can be seen here as a pdf file. (opens slowly in new window. Click once only)
July 19/20 2005 ~ EU outlines plans to relax BSE restrictions
Dated July 15th 2005, the EU's TSE Roadmap considers the relaxation of many restrictions. This, it implies, is because of " a clear improvement of the situation over the past years due to the risk reducing measures in place" There is talk of ensuring and maintaining the current level of consumer protection - but the Commission proposes, nevertheless, to relax restrictions .
Relaxation of the measures should be ".. risk based and reflect advances in technology as well as evolving scientific knowledge," it opines.
It is the "evolving scientific knowledge" presumably that has finally reached the understanding of the legislators and led to one of the "strategic goals" being to"stop the immediate culling of the cohort." - one of the most outrageous of all the many and manifold rules in place.
The Food Navigator website has more details of what is proposed.
One wonders where "evolving scientific knowledge" leaves such things as the National Scrapie Plan, based as it was on as yet non-existent evidence that BSE can be masked by scrapie. Can a case still be made for the justification of the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (England) Regulations 2002 SI 843 ? It was quietly introduced on the day after the Animal Health Bill had been thrown out by the House of Lords and is a measure that allows clear infringement of animal welfare and personal liberties.
Will any voice be raised loudly enough to question the basis on which more than 3 million cattle and #4.6 billion had already been lost by 1999 and caused so many farmers to go bankrupt, losing their business, their livelihood and their homes even before the calamitous policies to combat FMD? In December 2003, Magnus Linklater raised such a voice and there have been others - but dissent in this area tends to get ridiculed, silenced and its funding removed.
July 19 2005 ~Animal Health at the Crossroads
A new report released yesterday by the US National Research Council:
"..... New tools for detection, diagnosis, and risk analysis need to be developed now, and the capacity of the existing animal health laboratory network should be expanded.....One Californian newspaper, Mercury News.com quotes Professor Mark Thurmond as saying that foot and mouth disease "doesn't directly impact human health, but it impacts every pocketbook" Yet the same newspaper, in spite of its article about the report, is still talking about the possible "rapid slaughter and disposal of " California's 300,000 cows.
Integrative animal health research programs, in which veterinary and medical scientists can work as collaborators, should be established. ...
The United States must address the importation and health of exotic and wild-caught animals and commit itself to shared leadership roles with other countries and international organizations that address animal disease agents....
. ... a collective effort should be made to raise the level of public awareness about the importance of animal health ..."
The executive summary of the report can be seen here. The pdf file of the full report is also free to look at and can be viewed here. (Click once only. Slow pdf files appear after some delay in new window).
July 18 2005 ~ Dr Abigail Woods is to lead a university review of the history of infectious diseases
The review has been commissioned by the Government and will be carried out at the University of Manchester. It is expected to last 3 months and will concentrate particularly on HIV/Aids, TB and foot and mouth disease. Dr Abigail Woods MA MSc VetMB MRCVS, the science historian and vet, wrote A Manufactured Plague and she wrote to warmwell in August last year to tell us that it had been published . Indeed, it was Dr Woods whose work was one of the first reasons for this website to be written at all. Her article in the Guardian in February 2001 just at the beginning of the outbreak, made clear from the outset that the policy being pursued was not correct. In March 2001 Geoffrey Lean, referring to Dr Woods' work, wrote in the Independent:
".... it was Britain, too, that pioneered the zero tolerance policy to foot and mouth, originally to protect a few wealthy stockbreeders, and was the first country to ban imports from countries with the disease. Now, hoist with its own petard, MAFF has no alternative but to continue the slaughter to stop British meat being excluded from export markets that have followed our lead.Science Daily reports today on the new project. "The report aims to produce a long-term perspective on the detection and identification of infectious diseases and inform policy at a national and international level. The study by the University's Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) will reflect on the experience of dealing with human and animal disease problems to inform future research and management policies."
July 15 2005 ~ Breaking News
"...a reliable source of information at several integrated levels to decision makers, scientists and the broad stakeholder community"
Received today (Friday) has been this welcome announcement about the opening of the website for the Coordination Action project for foot and mouth and Classical Swine Fever, funded by the EU.
"The project will focus upon the coordination of research, global disease surveillance, risk analysis, vaccine reserves, diagnostics, laboratory preparedness, and control policies including vaccination, and will initiate new collaborations..... To make this a broad and responsive platform, we seek your participation, especially to contribute to the online discussion fora on topics of interest, to suggest new topics for discussion, and to send us relevant news items.."
".... From a stakeholder perspective, important benefits from this project will be that it will aim:
A. to improve stakeholder involvement in the scientific and technical developments, andRead announcement in full. View the website here
B. to facilitate policy development by providing a reliable source of information at several integrated levels to decision makers, scientists and the broad stakeholder community, and the opportunity to share and discuss concerns and priorities from different perspectives. .."
July 11 - 16 2005 ~ GeneXpert launch expected soon
Cepheid.com (pdf) " The system purifies, concentrates, detects, and identifies targeted nucleic acid sequences, delivering answers from unprocessed samples in as little as 30 minutes.....
... The GeneXpert. System fully integrates and automates the three processes required for real-time PCR-based genetic testing: sample prep, amplification, and detection. Once a biological sample is loaded in a GeneXpert cartridge, the system does the rest...
... Its accuracy and ease-of-use has been extensively validated by a U.S. government interagency working group and by third-party university and private research labs..
.... truly portable, giving the capability to obtain bioanalytical results when and where they are needed...
... integrates the entire genetic identification process, requiring little operator handling or specialized knowledge. Users simply insert the biological sample for testing into a self-contained cartridge, and the GeneXpert System does the rest.
No laboratory facilities or laboratory training for operators is required. When testing is complete, the system will display a positive or negative answer for the presence of the targeted nucleic acid sequences. ."
July 9 - 12 2005 ~ Unfit bushmeat and illegally slaughtered meat still coming into the country and ending up in food outlets
The risk of animal - and human - disease being caused by importation of illegally slaughtered bushmeat is a grave and increasing one. There is still a lack of a coordinated response to the problem from government, local authorities, police forces and the Food Standards Agency. Dr Yunes Teinaz, the Senior Environmental Health Officer for Hackney, writes today about a programme coming up on the BBC which he has supported in the hope that resources will at last be poured into protecting the UK from the disease implications of the Bush Meat trade:
Another dirty meat scandal ! This programme highlights the issue of unfit meat supply to takeaways and restaurants . An undercover reporter managed to sell fit meat as unfit to a kebab take away. Tons of illegally slaughtered meat and unfit food ends up in restaurants and takeaways without any public health controls checks or legal action against the perpetrators - who are making millions, tax free, at the expense of the health of the nation.See also warmwell's Dirty Meat pages
July 8 - 10 2005 ~ The "no double tagging" derogation temporarily approved
The European Union's standing committee on the food chain and animal health has given at least temporary approval for the UK application for the derogation. Sheep farmers will - at least for the time being - be able to continue with the current system of movement (S) and replacement (R) tags instead of having to apply unwieldy, insecure and uncomfortable double tags. (Double tags will still be needed in the case of animals born after 9 July that are intended for intra-community trade.) See DEFRA page last updated in October, and Thursday's Scotsman
However, as with on-site rapid diagnosis technology, electronic identification systems, able to be linked with GIS to locate all domestic animals within Europe, don't seem to be being pursued. A secure, humane and up-to-date system for animal disease monitoring is possible - and yet, in spite of effective use of these technologies in the field, lack of "validation" is quoted as a reason for not adopting them.
1 - 7 July 2005 ~ FMD suspected in Vietnam
http://en.chinabroadcast.cn "Nearly 270 pigs in Vietnam's southern Ca Mau province are suspected of having died from foot-and-mouth disease. A local newspaper reported on Tuesday that testing on 19 samples from about 270 pigs which died last month indicated they could have been infected with foot-and-mouth disease. .Around two thousand pigs in the province have been infected with common diseases and suspected foot-and-mouth disease in the last few months. Local veterinary forces are boosting vaccination among pigs and tightening control over slaughterhouses. .."
1 - 7 July 2005 ~ "Without on-site diagnosis to help monitor neighboring herds, animals would likely be slaughtered based on proximity rather than confirmed infection, unnecessarily magnifying the impact of an attack..."
See warmwell's extracts from the pdf file at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05214.pdf from the US Government Accountability Office. GAOs stated aim is simply "commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability."
until USDA evaluates the costs and benefits of using rapid diagnostic tools at the site of an outbreak, the agency may be missing an opportunity to reduce the impact of agroterrorism. .... USDA does not use rapid diagnostic tools to test animals at the site of an outbreak. They employ this technology only within selected laboratories. According to experts, on-site use of these tools is critical to speeding diagnosis, containing the disease, and minimizing the number of animals that need to be slaughtered. DOD uses rapid diagnostic tools to identify disease agents on the battlefield, but USDA officials consider this technology to be still under development. Nevertheless, USDA officials told us that they agree it is important to evaluate the costs and benefits of developing and validating these tools for use outside of a laboratory setting.Read extracts in full This is a very important report which has has much of relevance to the UK position on animal disease control.
June 18 - 30 2005 ~ Real Time PCR is "the most sensitive test is RT-PCR for the detection of viral RNA"
For avian influenza, use of the RT-PCR diagnosis tool is now considered essential ("The most sensitive test is RT-PCR for the detection of viral RNA": UK Health Protection Agency -pdf - new window)
We can find no mention of RT-PCR in the new Generic Contingency Plan (new window) - and it will be remembered that in 2001, the Chief Scientific Advisor, David King, chose to ignore it after Professor Fred Brown had, face to face, explained its use. A stakeholders' meeting about foot and mouth will take place on Wednesday 29th June. (See below comments on the Contingency Plan and its consultation.)
June 18 - 30 2005 ~".... the unique, indispensable FAO World Reference Laboratory for FMD at Pirbright"
Of the report on ProMed about the "new and worrying development" of possibly widespread outbreaks of foot and mouth on the Chinese mainland, the moderator writes,
"This 7-page review, most kindly forwarded by FAO Animal Health Service, is an exemplary outcome of their cooperative efforts with EMPRES, EUFMD, and the unique, indispensable FAO World Reference Laboratory for FMD at Pirbright...."See relevant page of ProMed Read also the warmwell pages about government cuts at Pirbright
June 18 - 30 2005 ~ The FMD stakeholders meeting will take place 15 days after the closing date for consultation on the Contingency Plan
The next DEFRA Stakeholders' meeting, intended to discuss foot and mouth issues, will take place on Wednesday 29 June 2005. The closing date for consultation on the latest Contingency Plan is June 15
June 18 - 30 2005 ~ " the Directive obliges Member States to ensure slaughter of all susceptible animals on premises where FMD is confirmed"
paragraph 2.6 of the REGULATORY IMPACT ASSESSMENT ( pointing out that "the transposition will be carried out by three separate statutory instruments") concerns the change from "discretion to slaughter" to "duty to slaughter" mentioned below
".....The 1981 Act currently gives the Secretary of State a discretion to slaughter in certain situations (including on infected premises) but this is not sufficiently binding to fully implement the Directive. Our policy is to fully implement the Directive and that requires a limited duty be placed on the Secretary of State to slaughter, but only where the Directive absolutely requires it. It is therefore also intended to amend the 1981 Act in respect of FMD to provide the necessary powers to implement the Directive."It is true that the Directive (page 8) says: "Community measures for the control of foot-and-mouth disease should be based first of all on depopulation of the infected herd.." but one fails to see why the wording of the Animal Health Act is considered not sufficiently binding to fully implement the Directive. The slaughter of infected animals on premises that have been proved to be infected is, for the purposes of pragmatic disease control in countries that are 'disease free without vaccination', deemed necessary and one that hardly needs the say so of a Secretary of State. The changing of the word discretion to duty seems curious. One wonders how a minor change of wording provides the "necessary powers".
June 18 - 30 2005 ~ The EU Directive's definitions of "suspected" animals are clear
While there remains disquiet that the government's Contingency Plan leaves the door open for the killing of healthy animals as a quick-fix method of creating a "firebreak", it is worth reading the Directive for its definition of those animals that may be swiftly and humanely killed as part of the disease control policy.
(i) "animal suspected of being infected" means any animal of a susceptible species exhibiting clinical symptoms or showing post-mortem lesions or reactions to laboratory tests which are such that the presence of foot-and-mouth disease may reasonably be suspected;(These definitions would have excluded literally millions of those healthy animals and their young slaughtered during 2001)
(j) "animal suspected of being contaminated" means any animal of a susceptible species which, according to the epidemiological information collected, may have been directly or indirectly exposed to the foot-and-mouth disease virus;
June 12 - 30 2005~ Consultation letter is highly misleading on the subject of required meat treatments
Defra's Foot and Mouth Disease (Control of Vaccination) Draft (96 KB) was updated on Wednesday June 14th 2005. The consultation letter is dated June 9th. The part of the summary letter relating to the treatment required for meat in the affected "zones" and for vaccinates leaves out the important hard-won derogations.
The letter suggests that "new" requirements of the FMD Directive require that "Fresh meat and meat products from animals originating or produced in protection and surveillance zones cannot go into the food chain unless they undergo various specified treatments, including heat treatment...." but it does NOT mention that this has a 30 day time limit. It is as if Mr Hewitt has not understood Defra's own 2004 "Emergency Vaccination Protocol" part 3 of which makes clear that:
"... meat and meat products produced in these Zones are also subject to treatment similar to that from vaccinated animals for at least 30 days after these zones have been applied. After 30 days derogation may be granted by SCOFCAH for untreated products to be allowed from the PZ and SZ"The summary (which is perhaps all that many of the 130 odd busy consultees may ever read) does not clarify the other time limits nor the granted derogations. It is vitally important that consultees are reaasured that:
"....derogation exists which would permit untreated meat from vaccinated cattle and sheep to be marketed freely on the domestic market (i.e. within the Member State), and therefore approach more normal market conditions for livestock producers ."The accidental or deliberate omission of these points is unlikely to remove the continuing fears of many consultees.
June 12 - 30 2005 ~ a "minor technical amendment" to the Animal Health Act 1981 is to change the Secretary of States current discretion to slaughter to a duty to slaughter
A legally imposed "duty to slaughter" is more likely to be motivated by political and trade reasons than veterinary ones, and would seem to absolve the Minister from blame and accountability in any future widescale slaughter.
The EU Directive, says the consultation letter from Defra's Simon Hewitt, leaves some "scope to influence the way we implement the Directive" although they are "necessarily limited". One area of "national discretion" - but one in which no views are sought - involves the personal discretion of the Secretary of State.The change of the word discretion to that of duty would appear to be a semantic change removing the Secretary of State's final say about whether slaughter is appropriate in certain circumstances;
".... the proposal is to change the Secretary of States current discretion to slaughter in certain situations (including on infected premises) to a duty to slaughter.."This is a considered a "minor technical amendment" by Mr Hewitt, requiring the "clearance of Parliamentary Counsel which we are currently seeking" Glossed over as minor and technical, the change is nevertheless considered important enough to require the clearance of Parliamentary Counsel. Its implications are not explained.
June 12 - 30 2005 ~ The June 9th consultation summary letter
Consultation on the transposition of Council Directive 2003/85 on Foot and Mouth Disease .
" ....this letter attempts to set out those areas where we do have some national discretion and the particular questions on which we want to know your views." (Read pdf file as html)Other "areas where we do have some national discretion" - ie not laid down precisely in the EU Directive - may be seen at this point in the letter. Defra asks for views about such things as the "control" of dogs and poultry at " zones established around an infected premises."
Will there be legislation to impose a "duty to slaughter" here too?
Read letter in full (See also the Defra website for the consultation index.)
June 12 - June 17 ~ A national surveillance agency is needed. Britain monitors wildlife disease on an ad hoc basis, with different bodies sharing responsibility.
A Zoological Society of London report is calling urgently for a proper, unified national surveillance agency, using up to date methods.The Times:
"....In spite of the economic damage caused by the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 and the emerging threat of H5N1 avian flu in the Far East, Britain is less prepared than other countries such as the US, France and Canada.Read in full.
Three quarters of all new human diseases, such as HIV/Aids and West Nile virus, come from animals and other pathogens have devastated wildlife populations and severely affected farms. .............
Andrew Cunningham, head of wildlife epidemiology at the Zoological Society of London, said: The situation must improve if we are to avoid repeats of the tremendous socio-economic damage caused by foot-and-mouth, Sars [severe acute respiratory syndrome], bird flu, badger tuberculosis and others. It is essential that the UK has increased protection from the danger of emerging infectious diseases as they can devastate our already threatened native wildlife and pose a real hazard to human health. At present, Britain monitors wildlife disease on an ad hoc basis, with different bodies sharing responsibility. The report calls for a unified national agency that would track animal disease continuously through clinical, post-mortem and population studies.... It could also employ newer methods of disease tracking such as satellite monitoring..."
May 28 - June 4 2005 ~ Contingency Plan. Last chance to comment
While few regular readers of warmwell are likely to be under many illusions about the nature of and motives for "consultations", there may be those who could still usefully - and more tactfully than warmwell - register to DEFRA their concerns about the latest Contingency Plan for FMD, now lumped together with the plans for avian influenza, Newcastle Disease and Classical Swine Fever. Among points that may be worthy of comment:
- Although the EU Directive authorises preventive culling of susceptible animals "should the epidemiological evidence support the hypothesis of virus contamination or incubating infection" it certainly does NOT authorise the killing of healthy animals in a firebreak cull - yet this persists in the Plan
- similarly, the concept - so vaguely defined - of "Dangerous Contacts" - can allow the indiscriminate slaughter of healthy stock
- The "problems" connected with vaccination are not veterinary ones. This is not made clear
- the present nature of the so-called "Expert Group" (4.58) - which is supposed to be independent and able to comment on and challenge policies from different standpoints of genuine expertise - is not in fact independent of DEFRA and not in the spirit of the Directive
- A failure adequately to include the available technological advances for rapid on-farm diagnosis and testing suggests either ignorance or incompetence
- A document for consultation of 308 pages of dense language is not helpful. There is a lack of clarity in the writing of the document and it is much too long for a general reader to get an accurate overview. If this is intentional and designed to reduce comment to a minimum, then it is disgraceful. If not, it is a measure of DEFRA's continuing inability to communicate with people most closely concerned.
May 28 - June 4 2005 ~ The last day for comment on the latest FMD Contingency Plan is 15 June 2005
The closing date for the consultation on the latest FMD Contingency Plan (308 pages) is 15 June 2005.
While there are improvements in some parts of the Plan, we deeply regret the language employed. Clear, common sense English would inspire trust in ordinary, busy stakeholders far more than the quasi military language of much of the document. A phrase such as "battle rhythm" means little to an anxious livestock owner. There are Command Structures, Communications Hubs (and Spokes) and Regional Cells, strategic, tactical and operational levels, strike teams, enforcement powers, a "transportable Mess room"... While it is sensible for different levels of risk to be made clear, "Red and Orange Alerts" seem too reminiscent of US false alarms.
We read "Action Plan in event of a crisis with Defra in the lead." If only this inspired confidence.
In 2001 Page Street appeared remote and impervious. Owners and vets alike were ordered about without any tact or management skill. Local expertise was ignored . "Communication" in the most recent document appears to mean again the widespread issuing of instructions from above to "officials" below - with a "Media Team" and lots of lawyers in readiness. Yet cooperation and a feeling of being part of a team effort in the event of a national emergency is essential if it is to be dealt with humanely and efficiently. In spite of references to stakeholders and their participation in something called "birdtable" meetings ("Timely involvement of stakeholders as an integral part of the communications picture. This must be pro-actively pursued at national and local level",) can this be more than vague good intentions when there have been no stakeholders meetings since January 2005? One stakeholder was recently heard remarking wryly;
"we have put in hours and hours attending meetings and responding to various consultations - all at our own expense - while Risk Solutions get paid a mighty fee..."A link to the most recent Contingency Plan (pdf file) can be found here. All 308 pages of it.
28 May - June 4 2005 ~ "The study does not identify a single scenario in which a contiguous cull would produce the best results."
The WMN reports on Risk Solutions' Cost Benefit Analysis (see below)
"....even a "much more limited, less intensive" version of the contiguous cull that was used in 2001 would "increase the number of animals killed overall and, when you feed that into the economics, often produce more cost".It is interesting that some "Senior Defra officials" are still clinging to the notion that the contiguous cull has not been wholly discredited. Read in full
Anthony Gibson, South West director of the National Farmers' Union, welcomed the new report's findings.
"This is a good piece of work, which provides some clear advice. If you have a small outbreak you should snuff it out as quickly as possible using conventional slaughter of infected animals and direct contacts. If it is a bigger outbreak then you should also vaccinate," he said. "The contiguous cull comes out of it as the option that involves the greatest number of animals slaughtered and the greatest expense without being particularly effective. The study does not identify a single scenario in which a contiguous cull would produce the best results"
22 - 28 May 2005 ~ FMD Cost Benefit Analysis finally appears
and the results are available from our technical page (pdf).(pdf files take some minutes to load if you have a slow connection. Do not click twice.)
Anyone hoping for crispness and clarity may be disappointed. There are 120 pages of dense writing and many recommendations for "further work".The report does not propose any single strategy for dealing with a future outbreak.
Risk Solutions Consultancy were awarded the contract for the project which was continually to be monitored and evaluated by a Project Board. (a glance at which will reveal some familiar names) It was to take into account the possibilities of outbreaks of different size and with different predominating livestock, various different levels of virulence, and examine a variety of different disease control options, available resources and so on. Here is one extract where key parameters for the economic attarctiveness (sic) of a cattle vaccination strategy are placed in a table.
(In January 2004, James Irvine at Land Care org.uk also had some trenchant remarks to make about the CBA, wondering why DEFRA had not already done one, and including the comment, "The cost of this contract, awarded we are assured after the process of competitive tendering, was not declared in the DEFRA press release. Is it really an appropriate use of public money?" It may be remembered that Private Eye's Muckspreader had rather a cheaper suggestion, involving the back of an envelope. )
22 - 28 May 2005 ~ Desert Island delusions
In the most recent edition of Desert Island Discs, Sue Lawley asked Sir David King, the UK's Chief Scientific Advisor, how he could be knowledgeable about so many disparate areas of science - and cited as an example Foot and Mouth disease, so far removed from his own area of expertise.
Sir David opined that it does not matter if the subject is not one with which he is familiar since his "scientific training makes it easy for him to grasp the principles." As regarded FMD, "I could call in experts - virologists, epidemiologists and vets........." The team arrived at the slaughter of infected animals and neighbouring farms "as the correct option" he added with some pride, " with the least number of animals culled at the end of the day".
We can only imagine the incredulous gasps from listeners who were involved in what Anthony Gibson calls the "flesh, blood, tears, sweat and heartbreak" of the policies of King and his associates. In December 2001, David King demonstrated his failure to grasp the issues when he was asked on the Today Programme about the available rapid diagnostic on-site test (about which Professor Fred Brown had talked to him face to face in an effort to get him to understand), muddling it up with the test to distinguish vaccinated from infected animals. The CSA model resulted in the contiguous cull policies and the deaths of 10 million farm animals and their young - a very large proportion of whom were uninfected. Many were breeding stock whose loss is incalculable. The stress and misery of this time on the owners of the animals has been documented on this website.
It is not surprising that the perpetrators of the lasting trauma of the 2001 FMD policies attempt to cast away their disastrous mistakes but few will now be impressed by the phrase "the correct option".
22 - 28 May 2005 ~ "... unease that Professor David King, during the foot and mouth outbreak, had " had enormous influence on policy without having formal responsibility for the consequences of its advice"
We remember that Professor King was referred to approvingly by Alastair Campbell at Lessons Learned as "a good media performer" and he added that the "Prime Minister had had a lot of faith in the CSA's broad approach."
The Prime Minister's faith is a fallible commodity. We now know that retrospective analysis of data shows that the ratio of new cases arising from each disease outbreak (which needs to be less than one for the epidemic to decline) had dropped below one before the new "contiguous cull" policy was even applied, just as the genuine experts had argued that it would.
Professor King may be clinging to the notion that his policies embodied "the correct option" - but he must be about the only person on the planet who continues to make such an assertion.
- The chief scientist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Defra during the BSE and foot and mouth crises Dr David Shannon told the Lessons Learned inquiry that there had been limited knowledge of agricultural systems and serology, and it contained no FMD experts from outside the UK. As the virologist Dr Ruth Watkins wrote to Lessons learned "None of the vets whom I spoke to, particularly the senior vets, understood the implications of control by vaccination..."
- David Shannon also expressed great unease that Professor David King, during the foot and mouth outbreak, had "had enormous influence on policy without having formal responsibility for the consequences of its advice" He had expressed his concerns to Professor King about the way in which the group had been operating, and had subsequently also written to the MAFF Permanent Secretary (Brian Bender) on 27 April. Dr Shannon cited some other lessons for the future regarding the science advisory committee: .
- To the general disbelief, Sir David suggested in January this year that vaccination was still not a practical option for combating FMD - in spite of the fact that all the inquiries into foot and mouth have said that in future, vaccination should be the control method of choice. The Royal Society summary (page 3), for example, says "... Given recent advances in vaccine science and improved trading relations emergency vaccination should now be considered as part of the control strategy from the start. By this we mean vaccination-to-live...."
15 - 22 May 2005 ~ "One can hope that the ICA authorities will disclose what they know so that their lessons can be shared in these dangerous times..."
Foot and Mouth virus from a laboratory appears to have ended up infecting animals at a university farm in Bogata, Columbia. See OIE Disease Information: 20 May 2005; Vol. 18 - No. 20 "....As a result of laboratory testing and the epidemiological investigations carried out around the outbreak and in in-contact farms, the likelihood of a field origin has been ruled out."
ProMed moderator comment: "information on how this virus got from the laboratory to this university farm in Bogota has not been revealed, though obviously -- from the wording of the ICA report to Paris -- it is probably known. Fortunately it travelled but a short distance. One can hope that the ICA authorities will disclose what they know so that their lessons can be shared in these dangerous times."
15 - 22 May 2005 ~ " I dont think that kind of 'scorched earth' approach would work here, and I dont think it is as acceptable there, now."
Encouraging article from Waldo County, which quotes the state veterinarian for Animal Health at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Don Hoenig. Dr Hoenig was in the UK during the foot and mouth crisis.".....It was absolutely heart-breaking, Hoenig said. I learned a lot about how an outbreak is handled and what we could do differently.... I dont think that kind of 'scorched earth' approach would work here, and I dont think it is as acceptable there, now. Maine, said, Hoenig should be different. We are much more prepared than we were four years ago, Hoenig said. .."
8 - 15 May 2005 ~ Police in New Zealand are growing increasingly confident that the threat was a hoax.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz - It is to be hoped so - but even more importantly - that the mistakes made in the UK will at last be fully understood here and elsewhere in the world. It is still not clear is whether the available but "unvalidated" rapid diagnostic tests have been used at Waiheke island, nor what policies would be followed if FMD were found. We are now four years on from the UK disaster. Public ignorance is widespread. Few are aware that every one of the eight scientific expert witnesses to the EU inquiry in June 2002 said that vaccination must be used in any future outbreak ( as Robert Uhlig in the Telegraph reported) Extraordinarily, only three months ago the government's Chief Scientist, Sir David King, was still arguing that vaccination was not a practical option for controlling the disease, in spite of the fact that
The assertions that what was happening in 2001 had a sound scientific basis have been shown to be false - but no public inquiry has ever properly corrected the misinformation put about at the time nor correctly examined the origins of the outbreak. There is consequently little trust that lessons have been learned. The realities of vaccination, testing and diagnostic advances have failed to reach those who need to know. Foot and Mouth still remains a political instead of a veterinary issue. "Moving on" will require public exposure of the ignorant, wasteful and barbaric policies and what inspired them.
- tests to distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals have been used in Turkey in Bulgaria, and in Macedonia and Albania since 1996 and cost very little.
- Vaccines against foot and mouth were fully effective in 2001 and sufficient supplies of the correct strain were available at the time of the outbreak.
- There is no risk of any kind involved in the eating of products from vaccinated animals.
8 - 15 May 2005 ~ New Zealand's Waiheke Island FMD threat " It's like a bomb alert at an airport, you can't afford not to take it seriously."
On Tuesday a letter was sent to the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, claiming a vial of the foot and mouth virus had been spread to animals on the island. New Zealand Agriculture Ministry officials believe the letter was a hoax. The letter demanded money and a change in the country's tax policies, and threatened another release of the disease elsewhere this week. The animals on the island will be tested every 48 hours until disease can be ruled out, which may be 2 weeks. See ProMed - which comments
"NZ officials are taking the letter seriously and taking appropriate precautionary measures. The updating of the website, the press releases and their situational reports, clearly indicate that are doing everything right. We appreciate receiving the official reports and the situation reports.."It would be interesting to know whether or not rapid diagnosis on-site equipment is being made use of - rather than waiting to see if clinical signs develop. Foot and mouth virus can be detected 24 to 48 hours before the onset of clinical signs of disease.
"..The incubation time for FMD is short (12-48 hours). The presence or absence of clinical signs in animals will soon show whether the threat was a hoax or a real attack. We would see clinical signs in 3 to 5 days (some estimates are 4-7 days) after yesterday's postulated release and exposure. I have even seen clinical signs of FMD occur after exposure in less than the period of time that has now elapsed in this incident. The New Zealand animal health authorities are to be congratulated for communicating the nature of the events and forestalling any speculation. - Mod.PC"
1 - 8 May 2005 ~ Feral pigs in Australia are being anaesthetised to test whether a mock vaccine against Foot and Mouth Disease placed in a bait will be successfully absorbed.
ABC.net.au "... The entry of Foot and Mouth Disease into Australia would be a nightmare for the livestock industry, because if it got into the feral pig population, it would be very difficult to eradicate. A vaccine bait would be a vital tool in case of an outbreak..."
1 - 8 May 2005 ~ Telegraph Letter deplores the forgotten carnage, misery, waste and loss
Telegraph Foot and mouth issue
Sir - Like many people involved in the agricultural industry, I am very surprised and annoyed at the way the foot and mouth outbreak has been forgotten during the election campaign.email
There has been total silence about the slaughter of some 10 million animals, the loss of livelihood and, even today, numerous lost export markets.
In particular, there has been no mention of the fact that the EU disqualified the British Government from claiming #850 million towards the cost of the disastrous outbreak.
The Commission's decision was based on the Government's failure to act swiftly to control animal movements, the concerns about the destruction of millions of healthy animals, the high cost of compensation paid for culled animals and the overall high cost of the eradication programme.
Dr Rex Walters, Peasemore, Berks "
1 - 8 May 2005 ~ "..USDA would not be able to deploy animal vaccines within 24 hours... these vaccines need to be sent to the United Kingdom (U.K.) to be activated for use. ".
According to a 'GAO report number GAO-05-214 entitled "Homeland Security: Much Is Being Done to Protect Agriculture from a Terrorist Attack, but Important Challenges Remain" released on March 9, 2005:
"...USDA officials told us that it has recently established a steering committee that will address vaccine stockpiling issues, but it is not clear that the committee will address the costs and benefits of developing ready-to-use vaccines that can be quickly deployed against animal diseases of primary concern. . .." Read in fullThe delays and prevarication make no sense. Widespread mass slaughter is what carries the huge social and financial cost appealing to terrorism - and such mass slaughter is - as experts clearly show - unnecessary. The US must surely understand that the UK turned an emergency into a catastrophe in 2001 because of its ignorance of what was available and its lack of an up-to-date plan. Its refusal to employ the vaccination strategies that ended Uruguay's similar outbreak in the same year and its unwillingness - for highly dubious reasons - to make use of the offered existing rapid diagnostic on-site tests "deployed nationally and internationally for years" led to a disaster. In U.S. Agricultural and Food Security: Who Will Provide the Leadership? by Floyd Horn and Roger Breeze, the authors say:
"None of the tests deployed by the Department of Defense or the Department of Health and Human Services have yet been validated .." in spite of the fact that " they have been deployed nationally and internationally for years".Perhaps the three-day conference, to be hosted in Kansas City, ( (see www.meatprocess.com) or the Buenos Aires meeting (below) and its "strategic vision document" may help bring about some action after all the words. But to think that the foot and mouth fiasco in the UK is now FOUR years ago and still so little has changed gives little cause for optimism."
:...the Nation lacks a comprehensive national strategy to prevent and deter the use of unconventional weapons directed against agriculture and the food supply system, or to control, respond to and recover from an attack. Such a strategy is urgently needed: it will take years to implement and the threats will grow in the meantime.." Read in full
1 - 8 May 2005 ~ Foot and Mouth 2001 - an opportunity missed and few lessons learned.
The decision not to vaccinate, not to make public trials of the Rapid Diagnosis kit offered, not to conduct proper virological experiments and epidemiological studies at the time of the ongoing disease and the inability of the authorities to keep proper records or coordinate what was going on - were all part of the sad fiasco of FMD 2001. For various reasons, including the "it couldn't happen here" mindset, a disastrously delayed Contingency Plan, and the refusal to heed warnings (eg Drummond Report pdf) or genuine expert advice, the UK was caught on the hop
Two years ago, the World Health Organisation called upon 11 laboratories in 9 countries to join a collaborative multi-center research project on SARS diagnosis. Is this not a good model for other diseases?
"This network takes advantage of modern communication technologies (e-mail; secure web site) to share outcomes of investigation of clinical samples from SARS cases in real time. Daily assessment of research results supports immediate refinement of investigative strategies and permits instant validation of laboratory findings. Network members share on the secure WHO web site electron microscopic pictures of viruses, sequences of genetic material for virus identification and characterization, virus isolates, various samples from patients and post-mortem tissues"We hope that the forthcoming EU collaboration on FMD and Classical Swine Fever will be of enormous value. We hope too that it will keep the public informed, as far as is possible, about the best ways - veterinary not political - to treat animal disease. It is interesting that today's BBC article on the disability caused by a tropical parasitic worm infection, Schistosomiasis, quotes Lorenzo Savioli of WHO. He has urged countries to tackle communicable diseases together, in a coordinated way. If this does not happen we will continue to see, as we saw in 2001, disease control in the hands of politicians. The way political decisions are reached - be they about foot and mouth or war in Iraq - are all too evidently flawed and we must not allow them to happen this way in the future.
23 - 30 April 2005 ~ "Knock-on Effects" indeed.
The Cumberland News report of the DEFRA workers investigated and sacked "for fraudulent expense claims during the foot and mouth crisis which cost Cumbria millions.." also says that in Cumbria
"..a total of 848 premises were affected by the disease with the knock-on effects being felt by 3,000 farms."The newspaper is presumably making reference to the premises confirmed as "infected premises" (currently considered 886) and the 3126 other farms where animals were slaughtered.
(Only 676 tests out of the only 755 conducted on Cumbrian premises were positive and yet IP numbers remain at 886).
The "knock -on effects" referred to by the Cumberland News were felt by ALL the farms, farmers and people of Cumbria. And all rural people everywhere. Many animals were slaughtered as part of the grotesquely named "welfare cull" and thousands of farms, placed under bureaucratic restrictions, were not compensated and many never recovered.
As for how necessary all this was, it is salutary to remember that in Britain as a whole, according to the latest DEFRA figures, (Source Defra Disease Control System database on 16/03/2005):
Dr David Shannon, former chief scientist at DEFRA, said in February 2002 that the slaughter policy was based on flawed, biased and poorly thought through scientific advice.
- on 10,420 premises in Britain animals were slaughtered.
- Of these, 2413 premises only were given tests and
- of these only 1329 showed positive evidence of current disease or of animals recovered from disease.
23 - 30 April 2005 ~ Neither a proportionate nor rational response - but the Contingency Plan still includes pre-emptive killing
The statistics for Cumbria are actually (Source Defra Disease Control System database on 16/03/2005) as follows:
These figures refer only to premises. The accurate number of actual animal deaths, together with the young or unborn that died with them, is not available. The Meat and Livestock Commission estimated the total at a minimum of 10 million. The figures we have obtained for the Great Orton burial site provide evidence that the measures so relentlessly pursued in 2001 were neither a proportionate nor rational response to control the disease. (Of the animals killed at Great Orton burial pit only 1 farm was definitely confirmed to have ever had antibody positive sheep. There was no current disease found. However, half a million animals, many in the last stages of pregnancy or with their lambs at heel, were slaughtered.)
County Infected Premises Slaughter on Suspicion Dangerous Contacts of which Contiguous CUMBRIA Cattle 797 21 540 361 Sheep 618 40 2861 552 Pigs 14 0 103 34 Goats 29 3 105 36 Deer 2 0 3 2 Others 2 0 2 2 Total Premises 886 44 3082 707
The current Contingency Plan (pdf new window) (p165) continues to include provision for Pre-emptive or preventative slaughter firebreak killing of healthy animals.
Rapid diagnosis on-site for FMD can now take place in less than an hour; vaccination is an effective tool against the disease, vaccinated meat has no implications for human health and the EU granted a vitally important derogation to enable producers to accept vaccination.
17 - 23 April 2005 ~ The 'burn-piles', lighting up the night time sky should never be allowed to happen again, nor the indiscriminate removal of contiguous animals.
An English farmer's heartfelt letter, forwarded to us by the photographer Chris Chapman, deserves to be read slowly and carefully by all involved in animal disease control policies - especially by those whose feet rarely make contact with the earth
".....Re-generation under normal circumstances is time honoured; a calf spending nine months in its mother's womb and a lamb five months.Colin Pearse is one of those family farmers he himself describes. These extraordinary men have every right to be heard. If their voices are drowned yet again by spin, contempt and cynicism, the country will cease to exist in the way we have taken for granted for so long:
All this indicates to me fragility and something that can't be speeded up..."
"...habitual, generative farming folk engaged in a mosaic farming scene of field, hedge, ditch and moor, and living with their animals, defending the age old practice of natural birth, giving dignity to their animals and offering countless care and sacrifice to achieve a meagre living." read in full
17 - 23 April 2005 ~ ".... seize and destroy infected animals without a warrant...any vehicle or person can be stopped and searched
North Carolina Winston-Salam Journal
"The state House voted unanimously Wednesday to extend a law that gives sweeping powers to the state veterinarian to cope with a potential outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. It allows the state vet or his representatives to enter a farm and seize and destroy infected animals without a warrant. Quarantines also can be established and any vehicle or person can be stopped and searched. ...."Ever since the frightening and deeply worrying events of 2001, many have been wondering how a usually non-fatal animal disease that cannot affect humans and from which animals can be successfully vaccinated, should still inspire such a witch hunt. This law was, significantly enough, passed in Salem last Wednesday - but the ever tightening centralisation of animal disease control has been quietly happening in this country. As we know, in spite of wise protest, ( "it was left to the House of Lords to draw attention to its less savoury aspects") - our own Animal Health Act was amended in 2002 to give the same powers to DEFRA and the government.
The new FMD Contingency Plan is now "out for consultation" - a response to which involves a great deal of thought and yet more paperwork. On the whole, only the big agricultural organisations are alerted to this. For most of them, an easy relationship with DEFRA is a political necessity. We can only hope that the plan will be scrutinised by those with veterinary and scientific understanding and who have also a real awareness of the suffering involved when policies are applied with the blind rigour of central bureaucracy.
17 - 23 April 2005 ~ Parliamentary Question 220084 reveals some staggering answers
On March 23 2005, Peter Ainsworth asked Ben Bradshaw a parliamentary question about final Foot and Mouth statistics including
He was told that "The information requested has been put in the Library of the House". Read in full
- how many samples were taken from premises and
- how many samples returned positive results.
The "Notes" accompanying the data attempt to explain the high number of negative results - but what the results clearly show, as well as the number of negative results, is that a very considerable number of premises that were culled were not in fact tested.
What was told to the EU and claimed in Mr James Scudamore's "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001 " was that "Each of the 2026 FMD cases was subjected to a detailed clinical and epidemiological investigation... "
This is evidently not the case.
Pirbright received samples from only a small fraction of slaughtered farms - probably less than 20% of all contiguous culls and even many IP's taken out on clinical grounds.
(Source: DEFRA Disease Control System database on 16/03/2005)
Number of Premises Infected Premises Slaughter on Suspicion Dangerous Contacts ..of which Contiguous Current 2011 253 8156 3313 Sampled 1724 249 440 240 Positive Results 1324 2 3 0
17 - 23 April 2005 ~ "a constructive, non-confrontational and honest national public debate about the causes and impact and costs (social, economic and environmental) of the 2001 FMD outbreak in Britain."
Warmwell is very pleased to hear about the Cultural Documents of FMD International Exhibition and Conference planned for 7 - 11 March 2006. It will be held at Museum of Science and Industry and at the Town Hall in Manchester. Related FMD documentary exhibitions will be located at other venues in and around the city.
The conference and the FMD arts documentation exhibition project is supported by the Arts Council England, the Rural Cultural Forum, Lancaster University, Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Nottingham University, and the Museum of Science and Industry Manchester, and is being organised by the LITTORAL Trust and the Rural Cultural Forum for England.
The conference aims to widen public debate around related issues about animal epidemiology, veterinary research and animal welfare. It will include presentations from a wide range of rural community and grassroots experiences of FMD; including farming families, rural vets, artists, photographers, writers, teachers, the Army, Police, the rural business sector (tourism, rural and hotels), rural children and young people, farm auction managers, slaughterers, farm hauliers, rural doctors and health care workers. It will also take the form of a communal 'bearing witness' and learning experience, and will aim to try find out what actually happened, why it happened, and what can be learned.
April 8 -15 2005 ~"...comprehensive information on the index case"
Foot and Mouth PQ April 5 ~
Hansard "Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions took place between her Department and Northumberland county council to ensure that all material relating to the index case of foot and mouth disease at Burnside farm, Heddon on the Wall was submitted to the Anderson Inquiry. Mr Bradshaw may be sincere in believing that the official explanations of the "origins" of FMD 2001 contain "comprehensive information". However, as the continuing questions show, there are many others for whom the official explanations simply will not do. The waste, the misinformation, the cruelty and bungling, and attempt to cover up the entire mess - none of this is being forgotten. (More on Heddon on the Wall )
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 4 February 2005]: There was contact between my Department and Northumberland county council on the prosecution of Mr. Waugh, but there is no record of any such discussions concerning the submission of evidence to the Anderson Inquiry. The Origins of FMD paper (see here), prepared by the then Chief Veterinary Officer, which was submitted to the Anderson Inquiry, contained comprehensive information on the index case."
Mr Bradshaw's words "Burnside Farm was the first outbreak and no sheep were found on Burnside Farm" may yet come back to haunt him.
April 8 -15 2005 ~ Rapid Diagnosis
"...A collaboration between the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down is evaluating a prototype portable machine for diseases ... (Bovine Diarrhoea Virus and Foot and Mouth Disease). There are plans to evaluate it for use in detecting M. bovis in the field in the future. ..."Hansard
21 March - 28 March 2005 ~ "It does seem to me that if we are going to learn lessons then actually identifying where and why it broke out is a vital step."
WMN reports (Friday) that Angela Browning has
" stepped up calls for a fresh inquiry into the foot and mouth disaster after ... she was alarmed by comments made by Sir Brian Bender, which suggest Government inspectors had ignored breaches of animal health laws at Bobby Waugh's Northumberland pig farm. ... Speaking in the Commons yesterday Mrs Browning...said: ".... we still have not had a definitive answer from the Government about the cause and the lessons to be learned. We've had many inquiries, but none of them seem to have been joined up."Sir Brian's comments came in a letter to the Association of Swill Users. See also warmwell pages on Burnside Farm etc.
21 March - 28 March 2005 ~ The "Expert group" in the new Contingency Plan
"This group comprises of (sic) five teams with expertise drawn from Defra Animal Health and Welfare Directorate General, SVS , Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Institute of Animal Health and the Meteorological Office as appropriate." See pdf file of new Contingency PlanSo, in addition to Defra's Animal Health and Welfare Directorate General, the "Expert" group comprises: the SVS who will be an agency of DEFRA from April 2005; the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Executive Agency of DEFRA; the Institute of Animal Health which is funded by DEFRA - and the Meteorological Office.
21 March - 28 March 2005 ~ "Defra has commenced an annual review of its Foot and Mouth Disease Contingency Plan
and its AI and ND Contingency Plan which will conclude with the laying of revised plans before Parliament at the end of July 2005.
Your comments are invited on this revised version of the plans.
The deadline for responses is 15 June 2005." DEFRA website.
Among the changes in the two page Annexe A (pdf file) we see "Improvements to the battle rhythm for the strategic elements of the plan." and once again wonder at DEFRA's choice of language.
Read Annexe A "Main Changes from previous plans outlined in Draft Document, Exotic Animal Disease Contingency Plan for England, 2005" as a html webpageand the pdf file of the new "Contingency Plan Version 1.0 (replacing the FMD Contingency Plan version 4.0 & avian influenza / Newcastle disease Contingency Plan version 1.0)
There are no changes to the policies that would be followed.
21 March - 28 March 2005 ~ "Foot and mouth still a threat"
Wednesday's Times on the NAO's conclusion (see press notice and link to report) that "Illegal meat imports are threatening a repeat of the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak"
" 12,000 tonnes of meat and meat products are thought still to enter illegally each year. Tighter controls, including on-the-spot fines, are needed and more people should face prosecution, the audit office said. Britain should learn from Australia and New Zealand, where much more is spent on keeping potentially contaminated meat out.
Sir John Bourn, the Auditor- General, said: Since taking over responsibility for controls over imports of animal products from outside the EU, Customs has improved protection. My recommendations should help to tighten controls further.
21 March - 28 March 2005 ~ FMDV 3C protease would block the replication of the virus
Scientists at Imperial College have announced the development of a FMDv 3C protease inhibitor for FMD. Research was in progress before the 2001 FMD outbreak. See News Medical.net
"... A drug that binds and inhibits FMDV 3C protease would stop its spread by blocking its replication and thus its ability to infect a herd.Curiously enough, Imperial College was also the College of Professor Roy Anderson, who with Professor David King, Sir John Krebs, Mark Woolhouse and others, convinced the government to opt for the infamous contiguous cull. Neither vaccination nor available on-site rapid diagnosis tests were permitted during the outbreak. Instead the "pre-emptive strike" of killing literally millions of animals and their young was ruthlessly carried out. Recent research shows that there is no evidence to support the effectiveness of the policy. Now that vaccination is at last becoming acknowledged as a part of UK policy it is ironic to remember that four years ago, Professor Fred Brown FRS OBE of Plum Island spoke on the Today Programme about the efficacy of vaccination and about the lamentable delay in "validation" for discriminatory tests.
"In an outbreak we would 'dose up' the animals and in theory they would be protected immediately," said Dr Stephen Curry of Imperial College London ..." Read in full
14 March - 21 March 2005 ~ The "Equinox" foot and mouth cross-border simulation.
Next Monday and Tuesday, Canada and the U.S. will test
- the effectiveness of the North American FMD Vaccine Bank
- the capabilities of geospacial mapping to chart the spread of an outbreak
- the logistics of vaccine transportation
- the use of a wind dispersion model to predict movement of a virus.
Read about this at www.news.gc.ca
14 March - 21 March 2005 ~ Another foot and mouth scare.
In an article from Pendle Today we read that livestock were turned away from a Pendle abattoir on Wednesday. Blisters were seen on the legs of a pig and on some other animals. A spokesman for Morrisons said: "There is nothing to worry about. There are precautionary procedures in place for such incidents. We had vets from Defra on site, and they were able to give the animals the all clear."
We should be very interested to know how quickly and by what methods the "all clear" was given.
14 March - 21 March 2005 ~ Foot and Mouth - Terrorists be advised
An upcoming US Homeland Security Department report outlining about a dozen nightmare scenarios of attacks, including the deliberate infecting of cattle with FMD, has been leaked. "The department did not intend to release the document publicly, but a draft of it was inadvertently posted on a Hawaii state government Web site. ....The agency's objective is not to scare the public, officials said, and they have no credible intelligence that such attacks are planned." (NYT) Suggesting to putative terrorists that infecting cattle with FMD would indeed be one of the nightmare scenarios ( Blogcritics.org's Bin Laden Thanks Administration Officials For Planning Assistance is worth a look..) still falls short of the lunacy of not being able to deal promptly, in spite of the technology available, with an FMD epidemic.
Formerly of USDA, Roger BreezeBVMS, PhD, MRCVS does not appear sanguine about the way - in spite of the urgency of the advice and the efficacy of current technology - his government would react. "Naturally, when there's never been a Noah-like flood, people don't want to prepare for it," he said last year.
FMD infection would only be a tempting agroterrorist weapon because of UK and US continuing reluctance to loosen central control and to allow the use of rapid on-site diagnosis and vaccine technologies. It is mass slaughter with all its attendant economic and emotional costs that would give such an attack its appeal. Read in full about the efficacy of current technologies - which, four years after the UK disaster, are still not fully "validated". (NYT report)
14 March - 21 March 2005 ~ Tories pledge to hold Foot and Mouth Inquiry
is the front page news on Monday's WMN "....In a move that reflects continuing suspicions of a Government cover-up over the 2001 outbreak, the Conservatives will pledge to hold a full inquiry to establish exactly how the disease entered the country - and how it was able to come into contact with the nation's livestock.
Shadow Agriculture Minister Jim Paice told the WMN that the continuing uncertainty over the origins of the outbreak made it more difficult to ensure that the disaster was never repeated..."
".... Mr Paice also tabled a series of Parliamentary questions in a bid to uncover more details about the origins of the outbreak and to establish whether other material had been withheld. : "We are getting nowhere with the questions - they are just being ducked and rebuffed. In the circumstances we now need a proper inquiry." Read in full and see also below
14 March - 21 March 2005 ~ Mrs Browning is still waiting
On February 23rd (three weeks ago) at the Public Accounts Committee Meeting, Angela Browning M.P was told by Sir Brian Bender in answer to her questions about Burnside Farm that
" I am very happy to provide the Committee with a note on that. I have not come prepared with sufficient, to be fair either to Mrs Browning asking the question or, indeed, to Mr Dring in the way I respond to it. I am very happy to provide the Committee with a note afterwards. I apologise for not being able to answer it now."DEFRA have asked her for a copy of the map she produced at the hearing but we understand that she is still waiting for DEFRA responses to the questions.
14 March - 21 March 2005 ~ Co operation and trust now urgently needed
Denial and cover-up of what happened in 2001 has led many to fear that it could all happen again. Quite apart from the enormous cost in terms of animal welfare, social and psychological well being and colossal financial considerations, the contiguous cull has been shown by the latest researches of both Honhold and Thrusfield to have been an unnecessary and counter productive measure. Even so, it is still defended by its perpetrators and the government as a success (a "howling success" according to Mrs Beckett in February 2002.)
Positive ELISA test results for FMD virus can be obtained in about 3 hours - but rapid diagnosis was dismissed in 2001 and there is still a suspicion that modern on-site rapid testing is to be used here only if politically and commercially expedient.
Sir David King, still Chief Scientific Advisor, showed himself in January to be as apparently ignorant of vaccination as ever - whereas, thankfully, the new CVO, Debby Reynolds, says "from day one we will be looking at emergency vaccination to allow the animals to go on and live." (see PAC )
We hear that Conservatives would hold a Public Inquiry into FMD - but perhaps a political stick with which to beat the present government just before an election is less urgently required at a time of ever-present global threat from disease than commitment to a wholly new approach. To regain co operation and trust we need independent, competent epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists, with no political axe of any colour to grind, to be getting on with the job of protecting animal and human health. Farmers, the first line of defence, who are sick to death of political interference and have lost trust in DEFRA (don't miss this FG letter) , would cheerfully buy into animal health systems that were seen to give them benefits. Animal health policy must be wrested from the grasp of politicians. It should never have been there in the first place.
6 March - 13 March 2005 ~ " imperative to find approaches whereby emergency vaccination can be employed in situations where pre-emptive action is required"
It would be interesting to know how far the Royal Society Follow Up Review of December 2004 has been acted upon. Extracts:
Read in full
- "We also remain concerned both about the effectiveness of arrangements for securing independent expert advice from outside Defra during an outbreak and about the mechanisms whereby this advice is then fed into decision making .."
- ".. essential for NSP tests in cattle to be validated."
- " priority is the development of sensitive rapid tests that can be used outside of reference laboratories, to aid rapid diagnosis during an outbreak. Ideally these tests should be applicable in the field. Commercially used equipment is already available which, with appropriate reagents, can rapidly detect very small amounts of FMD virus in preclinical cases.
- increasingly unacceptable across Europe to cull and destroy large number of animals, as occurred in the 2001 outbreak, either as part of wider pre-emptive disease control or for welfare purposes... If there are problems associated with a non-slaughter approach then these need to be resolved.
- Failure to clarify both the exit strategies and meat treatment protocols will undermine Defras sterling work in securing derogations when the Directive was being drafted.
- Further information is required to assess whether the arrangements for scaling up vaccination capacity would meet the EU Directive requirements for a worse case scenario
6 March - 13 March 2005 ~ Trans-border animal health crises have recently been happening every year.
A new international campaign to control outbreaks of animal diseases such as foot and mouth and avian influenza has begun. (Japan is hosting a three-day meeting at the moment.) One of the aims is to get earlier and more accurate warnings. Veterinary officers worldwide say that animal health crises - which used to occur only every twenty years or so - have recently been happening every year. Bernard Vallat, the director general of the World Organization for Animal Health, says that since diseases such as bird flu pose a potential threat to the whole planet, it is vital to ensure early detection and a rapid response. Read report
All this puts into sharp focus the EU concerns about failures in the UK mentioned below. The pdf file of the EU Contingency plan Inspection can be accessed here. Among its concerns was the absence of a permanently operational Expert Group - and although, since the report, DEFRA has said that the "Expert Group has held its first meeting" and a "programme of work is being planned" we have yet to hear that the group comprises "in a balanced way" epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists as directed by the EU rather than a committee all of whom are connected to DEFRA.
6 March - 13 March 2005 ~ Britain is still "at serious risk of new foot and mouth outbreaks..."
Read in full the article about an EU report last week castigating DEFRA and saying that Britain is at serious risk of new foot and mouth outbreaks IoS.
DEFRA's aggressive regulations and red tape are no substitute for proper veterinary input, good management and proper funding to protect animal and human health. Defra talks of "hit squads" which alone reveals much of the problem. The DEFRA mentality of wanting control but no responsibility is a major cause of anger and despair among animal owners - yet the current threat from means that a trusting cooperation is desperately needed and as the Breeze/Horn paper asked recently in connection with a similar problem in the US, "Who will Provide the Leadership?".
One major UK abattoir gave rise to "serious concerns" that the vets were too overworked to carry out adequate health and hygiene checks. The veterinary profession suffered greatly in 2001 and there are few incentives to encourage vets into large animal practice. Drummond was ignored - but so were submissions to the Lessons Learned Inquiry which stated very clearly what ought to have been learned from 2001. Here, for example, are the informed and practical recommendations of Dr Peter G.G. Jackson MA, BVM&S, DVM&S, FRCVS of the Cambridge University Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine. Had his submission alone been read and acted upon we would have a very much healthier situation in the UK today.
February 28 - March 6 2005 ~ If Heddon-on-the-Wall really was the index case then the government cannot deny its own responsibility for Foot and Mouth 2001
The Northumberland Trading Standards video of Bobby Waughs farm during was shown to a group of MPs on Thursday at Portcullis House. The licensed pig swill industry was one of the innocent scapegoats of FMD 2001. Their livelihood - a #40 million industry - was brought by the government to an abrupt end in 2001 - a slamming of the stable door when no horse had ever been present. The government was quick to designate Heddon-on-the-Wall the index case for FMD and to blame pigswill. Having stated so explicitly that Bobby Waugh's farm was the index case, the government cannot now deny its own responsibility.
The video shown to MPs indicated that Jim Dring and the government State Veterinary Service - in contravention of the Animal By-Products Order 1999 which made it "an offence to allow livestock access to catering waste containing meat or products of animal origin, or catering waste which originates from a premises on which meat or products of animal origin are handled." - failed to take notice of the unprocessed swill at Burnside Farm on several occasions. A "more rigorous" inspection of Waugh's farm would have led to the removal of Mr Waugh's licence - as Mr Dring himself, undoubtedly a decent man, said in the statement he intended for the Anderson Inquiry but whose existence only came to light a year ago.
In the future, animal health policy must have the trust of those in the front line. Four years ago, crass reliance on the untried and unsound mass kill policy of such as David King, Roy Anderson, Mark Woolhouse and John Krebs led to almost incalculable losses both in terms of money and in social and psychological misery. Then as now, an election was coming and the government wanted a quick fix. The emergence of zoonoses that seriously threaten human health will not be countered by a quick fix. Policies to combat them must be taken seriously, properly funded and the mistakes of the past acknowledged.
February 28 - March 6 2005 ~ Public Accounts Committee Questions on vaccinated meat. Sir Brian gives a helpful answer....
Q127 Mr Steinberg: We do eat vaccinated meat now but vaccinated for other diseases, is that right?
Sir Brian Bender: Correct.
Q128 Mr Steinberg: So what is the difference between meat vaccinated for one disease against another disease?
Sir Brian Bender: None.
Q129 Mr Steinberg: What did you say? None? What the hell is all the trouble about?
Sir Brian Bender: People in Argentina have been eating meat vaccinated for foot and mouth for many years, so there is no public health issue here and the Food Standards Agency are on the record as saying that.
Q130 Mr Davidson: Farmers are still against it.
Sir Brian Bender: Not necessarily. Mr Davidson says that farmers are still against it but I do not believe the farming industry is against it. The NAO report has a sentence talking about "some farmers may take this view". Some farmers would be against it but I do not believe the NFU, as the leadership of the farming industry, is against the use of vaccination in the future, not from the conversations we have had with them.
Q131 Mr Davidson: So they have moved from their previous position?
Sir Brian Bender: That is my understanding, yes.
Mr Davidson: That is helpful............." Read uncorrected oral evidence and inbox
February 28 - March 6 2005 ~ FMD Index case : Did these witness statements go to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry?
A press release from the Associated Swill Users asks some dramatic questions Extract:
".....State Veterinary Officer Leonard Mansley MRCVS made a written witness statement that unbroken ovine vertebrae were present in the pig pens at Burnside Farm at the time that FMD was discovered.Read in full
Question. Did this witness statement go to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry?
..... A witness has recently stated that four sheep, less tongues and ears, were added to the fire at Heddon View Farm by MAFF officials. These sheep did not come from Heddon View Farm.
Question. Where did these sheep come from? Were these sheep tested for FMD?
Mr James Dring MRCVS made a witness statement confirming that he had the opportunity on two occasions, at Pirbright Laboratory in Surrey, to see and handle live animals with FMD. Question. Did this witness statement go to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry?
Question. Were healthy animals deliberately infected with FMD? How many other vets handled such animals? .."
February 28 - March 6 2005 ~"What I am really asking you is if Defra had managed to uphold its own regulations could they have prevented the foot and mouth outbreak occurring?"
Angela Browning asked questions at the Public Accounts Committee that were extremely uncomfortable for DEFRA given that it is the government itself that has so stoutly maintained that Burnside Farm was the index case and that the feeding of untreated swill was to blame for the outbreak (No proof of the origin of the outbreak has in fact ever reached the public domain) :
"Sir Brian, are you aware that Bobby Waugh, whose farm was identified as the index case for foot and mouth in 2001, was contravening Article 21(2) of the Animal Byproducts Order 1999 at Burnside Farm? ....Are you aware that the State Veterinary Officer, Jim Dring, made a signed submission to the Anderson's Lessons Learned Inquiry in which he admits that he was aware that Mr Bobbie Waugh was bringing unprocessed catering waste on to Burnside Farm prior to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001?.... I would ask you whether you accept that there was negligence within the management structure of the State Veterinary Service which allowed Mr Dring's work to go unmonitored?....Will you let us know whether you accept that the SVS accept responsibility for Mr Dring's actions?...... What I am really asking you is if Defra had managed to uphold its own regulations could they have prevented the foot and mouth outbreak occurring?... "Read oral evidence in full.
February 28 - March 6 2005 ~ " Are you prepared to share anything from that report about the impact and effectiveness of a contiguous cull?..."
Many will remember the Labour MP and member of the EU Temporary Committee on FMD Gordon Adam shouting angrily at Devon farmers that
".. without the contiguous cull the disease would not have been brought under control in the time in which it happened." BBC transcriptSir Brian Bender was asked at the Public Accounts committee ( the uncorrected oral evidence from which is now in the public domain) what the FMD Cost Benefit Analysis , now overdue, has to say about the contiguous cull. His answer was merely to refer to the NAO report in which "different epidemiological experts have examined the data on the 2001 outbreak and reached different views on the value of a contiguous cull." Sir Brian failed to add that those whose comments were supportive of the contiguous cull were the very epidemiological experts who had advised the government.
February 28 - March 6 2005 ~ ",, more work is needed to engage with local authorities and others to facilitate a co-ordinated and co-operative approach should another outbreak arise."
The Sunday Herald reports that the EU is again investigating Britain for breaches of rules including "Several rules on foot-and-mouth disease, the movement of farm animals and the trade in plants" and also "a directive controlling trade in semen of domestic animals of the bovine species. . .."
Four years after the FMD outbreak Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, while trying to put the best construction on what DEFRA has been doing for the past four years, had to point out that the Department "has not finished work to upgrade its computer systems to help manage an outbreak " As for the British Cattle Movement Service, this letter on the Land-care.org.uk website, from its director, Dr James Irvine FRSE shows how the BCMS online service is doing.
The Royal Society has shown its impatience that Defra fails to "engage in regular information exchange" about "advances in the medical field". We have yet to see a proper balanced Expert Group whose independence from DEFRA would gain the trust of those affected in the event of an outbreak. Fifty seven contractors who helped MAFF in 2001 still have invoices of #40 million unpaid. #37 million has been spent by the Department in moving some 150,000 tonnes of ash from 200 farm burial sites where risk assessments have indicated a potential risk. Illegal movement of dirty meat (updated today) is still a national scandal, and there has never, of course, been a proper public inquiry into why "untested, unvalidated and unproven methods of control", leading to such an unnecessary degree of misery, were allowed to be used in 2001.
As the NAO suggests, a "co-ordinated and co-operative approach" is still far from likely if we are faced with another emergency.
February 21- 28 2005 ~ Edward Leigh said that there had been a number of inadequacies in the way the Department had dealt with the crisis and warned DEFRA officials not to expect a positive report from the committee.
The Public Accounts Committee heard from DEFRA officials on Foot and Mouth on the 23 February when considering the National Audit Office report "Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Foot and Mouth Disease: Applying the Lessons" The chairman, Edward Leigh, warned DEFRA officials not to expect a positive report from the committee.
Representing DEFRA at the meeting were: Sir Brian Bender KCB, Permanent Secretary, Debby Reynolds, Chief Veterinary Officer and Director General for Animal Health and Welfare and Glenys Stacey, Chief Executive Designate of the State Veterinary Service (SVS)
Mr Leigh asked how DEFRA justified the huge expenditure of taxpayers' money. He also asked why some compensation had yet to be paid out to farmers. Sir Brian Bender told the committee that the delay was " a result of further investigations into whether all of the payments were justified."
Mr Leigh asked whether mass pyres would be used again. When Sir Brian responded that it was the Government's intention not to use them again, Mr Leigh said that this was a "brave pledge".
Mr Leigh asked about DEFRA's Cost Benefit Analysis Report. Sir Brian explained that the report would "be available within the next few weeks "
February 21- 28 2005 ~ In future, says Sir Brian Bender, the cost of slaughtered livestock would not fall on taxpayers but on farmers " who had a responsibility to look after their animals"
At the PAC meeting on the 23 February, (see above) Angela Browning called on the SVS to take responsibility for the outbreak at Burnside farm, particularly since, in the light of recent evidence, it seemed that Jim Dring had been aware not only that Mr Waugh was not treating pig swill effectively, but also, contrary to the By-Products Order, catering waste was being stored on the farm. She held up a map of the farm showing how close to the pig sheds the waste had been stored. Sir Brian said he would give more information on the case of Burnside farm in writing.
David Curry criticised the Department's lack of leadership in 2001. In his answers to Mr Curry, Sir Brian said that in future the cost of the loss of livestock would not fall on taxpayers but on farmers, " who had a responsibility to look after their animals" (See Robert Persey's response to this on the NPA forum website)
He also said that if vaccination was decided upon in the future, it could be rolled out within five days. The decision to vaccinate would depend on the strain of the disease and "whether there was a diagnostic test available" but that DEFRA were not considering universal vaccination or the vaccination of sheep. He also made it clear that there was no public health reason why vaccinated meat should not be consumed.
Brian Bender told the Public Accounts Committee that farmers had changed their position since 2001 and that the National Farmer's Union now showed "some support" for vaccination.
(As for Sir Brian Bender's query as to "whether there was a diagnostic test available" he might consider what the Royal Society Follow Up Review had to say on the subject.)
February 21- 28 2005 ~ What happened to the FMD Cost Benefit Analysis?
The Lessons to be Learned Inquiry recommended (LL R52) that cost benefit analyses on FMD control strategies should be updated and maintained. These should be undertaken at both UK and EU level. The government in its Response to the Reports of the Foot and Mouth Disease Inquiries (pdf) (page 50) agreed.
Risk Solutions Consultancy were awarded the contract for the project which was continually to be monitored and evaluated by a Project Board. It was to take into account the possibilities of outbreaks of different size and with different predominating livestock, various different levels of virulence, and examine a variety of different disease control options, available resources and so on.
It was estimated by DEFRA last January (2004) that it would take about a year to complete.
It would be much appreciated if any knowledgeable reader of warmwell could tell us what stage the Cost Benefit Analysis has reached. ( It may be remembered that Private Eye's Muckspreader had rather a cheaper suggestion, involving the back of an envelope. James Irvine at Land Care org.uk also had some trenchant remarks to make.)
February 21- 28 2005 ~ Recommendation: "To continue to develop tools for risk analysis... and a research programme to develop the underlying science that is the basis of risk analysis."
FMD, Risk and Europe - a paper by John Ryan, veterinary consultant on behalf of EUFMD, FAO, is available on the internet. Dr Ryan emphasises the necessity for clear scientific guidelines in a disease control strategy:
"The provision of hard information and good science not only makes decision making easier, but has a nice side effect of de-politicising the decision-making process."Read in full
"The uncertainty around such difficult decisions (e.g whether, when, where to vaccinate etc) leaves gaps for political exploitation and sub optimal decision-making. The only effective defence against such politicking is sound science, hard information, good communication and good emergency preparation where these issues have already been discussed with key stakeholders...."
February 21- 28 2005 ~ "Thousands of animals were unnecessarily culled in Dumfries and Galloway"
- is how the BBC reports on Michael Thrusfield's report in the Veterinary Record this week.
"Michael Thrusfield said there was no need to kill animals simply because their farms neighboured those infected. More than half a million sheep and 80,000 cattle were slaughtered in the area...."the BBC article continues - but quotes the figure of 177 farms "infected".
As an emailer wrote this week, having looked at the report in the Vet Record, "What grieves me about all of these studies is that they work on the basis of incorrect figures for IPs. (I presume they have just used the SERAD figures, which included so many negative IPs). So how can this be meaningful? The only official figures are the DEFRA ones, but what I wish is that a study is done of the outbreak using the number of IPs that returned positive tests, so for Wigtownshire, your map of distribution would show only 2 outbreaks/foci of disease, as opposed to the supposed 15.
This obviously produces a very different picture from the official map which had Wigtownshire virtually blotted out with incidence of disease, with its 218 premises "requiring" slaughter. Anyone who is doing a proper study/analysis of the disease should look at the actuality, i.e the actual test results, and not the hypothetical picture of infection, as suggested by the computer modellers."
February 21- 28 2005 ~ " I even had a big metal sign given to me that says FMD Precautions Start Here, on the reverse FMD Precautions Finish Here."
The Reverend Patricia Pinkerton has written to tell us that
".. the FMD archive is well underway. Thousands of entries are being logged, although I am still giving Philip Sheppey hundreds of documents, with people coming forward and offering research, old reports from '67,and worn bundles of clippings people have kept with an elastic band from early FMD outbreaks.No. It's not over. And thank goodness for the Stoneleigh archive.
It's quite touching.
I even had a big metal sign given to me that says FMD Precautions Start Here, on the reverse FMD Precautions Finish Here. I am just touched that people feel moved enough to contribute.
Warmwell has been my flag ship, and what you do keeps me at the task.
It's not over yet is it?"
February 21- 28 2005 ~... "ways of including farmers in the disease control system with a view to involving them more closely.."
There are undoubtedly good people at DEFRA who feel as concerned as we do about what happened in 2001, about the lack of appreciation of new technologies, and about the existence of an Expert Group that is not, as was directed, "composed of epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists in a balanced way".
Our fear is that as time passes, memory becomes muddled and the lessons that should have been learned are as far away as ever. It is particularly trying when the media wrongly report on what was actually said - by, for example, the EU Court Of Auditors. Far from blaming farmers, as the UK government does, it is highly critical of the EU Commission, recommending that "the Commission carry out regular evaluation of the prevention and control arrangements outside crisis periods and study ways of including farmers in the disease control system with a view to involving them more closely.."
The archive at the Royal Agricultural Society of England at Stoneleigh under the care of the archivist, Philip Sheppey, will ensure that the truth of what happened in 2001 can be examined by anyone who is interested, and we are very grateful indeed to the Reverend Patricia Pinkerton and to the RASE.
Feb 13 - 20 2005 ~ As we approach the four year anniversary of the misery of the Foot and Mouth policies...
When lambs are seen in the fields it is not a mere cliché to say that Spring brings new life and new hope. That, thank heaven and a hitherto healthy planet, is the way it has always been. Except in 2001. We have no intention of forgetting the consequences for the helpless of the foolish policies of the powerful.
This photo appeared with the caption:
"This day old lamb, trapped in a sea of mud, is just one of thousands across Britain unable to be moved because of the foot and mouth restrictions. Farmer Pat Key, 37, has 400 ewes giving birth on a seven-acre field near Acle, Norfolk. He said, "It's a sickening scene"
A MAFF official said the animals would be slaughtered as soon as possible"
Too many of those same MAFF officials, rebranded DEFRA, who directed operations from their London offices or who strode about dressed in a little brief authority, refused to respond to the extent of the tragedy for ordinary people. Perhaps they were helped by the aggressive military language emanating from the Downing Street spin machine at that time. It was an unnecessary tragedy for several million healthy animals and their young - including priceless breeding stock and healthy, much-loved pets. "Bearing down on the disease" by following the politically expedient plan of modellers - who had neither veterinary experience of the transmission of the virus nor any intention of seeking advice from those who had - led to a bloody mayhem in Cumbria, the West Country, Dumfries and Galloway, the Forest of Dean, Yorkshire and elsewhere.
There has been neither apology nor Inquiry. As Lord Monro of Langholm said in 2002, "A year ago, many of us called for a public inquiry and continued to do so all through last summer and autumn. Eventually, the Government refused to hold one and went ahead with their own separate inquiries with the obvious intention of minimising the criticism that they were bound to receive for their handling of the whole affair......"
The perpetrators have not been censured . One wonders what their true feelings are now.
Feb 7 - 13 2005 ~ photographs 2001.
At the time of the carnage, we assumed that imagination would supply images, and that to place them on the site would be unnecessarily distressing.
However, the FMD killing now appears to have been largely airbrushed out of both the political conscience and public consciousness. Those with strong stomachs may want to look at the photographs.
Political spin, both then and now, blamed farmers for just about everything connected with the epidemic and its spiralling costs - but, as has been pointed out, the outrageous expenditure was the result of the political policies and flawed science.
The levels of so-called "compensation" for the taking of their stock was never set by farmers, while those affected by the restrictions of form D, whose heavy losses were also frustrating and equally unnecessary, were never compensated at all. Terror of the disease made farmers desperately careful about anything that might infect their animals, but the authorities, the slaughter teams and even some vets were often ignorant or unscrupulous or both. Here, for example, is MAFF "biosecurity" in June 2001. Dead ewes lie under loose tarpaulins next to an abandoned slaughterman's suit, blowing towards the road. This sort of behaviour is documented many times, such as in this extract from the Knowstone evidence to the Temporary EU Committee. One Devon vet speaks of her shame at belonging to a society that can, in sheer incompetence, inflict such cruelty on people. She talks of the animals she cared for professionally who died: "They neednt have been in that stinking heap at all as they were so far away from the infected premises."
See more photographs from Cumbria, sent in response and the email from Devon.
See also the photographs from Cornwall. Memories endure.
2 - 7 February 2005 ~ "Unless and until this crucial aspect of the 2001 epidemic is fully scrutinised and evaluated, neither the NAO or the Public Accounts Select Committee will be able to determine how the costs of 2001 arose"
In our frustration at the way the enormous costs of the FMD epidemic appear to have been widely accepted as inevitable or as somehow the result of unreasonable demands from farmers and contractors, we are grateful to the National Foot and Mouth Group for this timely and clear-headed reminder that it was "untested, unvalidated and unproven methods of control" that led to spiralling costs.
"... millions of healthy animals... that need never have been culled.... all incurred further compensation costs. .. the divergence of resources to the mass extermination of healthy animals actually resulted in infected premises not being slaughtered as quickly as they should have been.Read in full
We know now how few premises actually had the disease confirmed. For example, in Wigtownshire, only 2 premises were laboratory confirmed as having FMD - but 219 farms were culled. ..... At the Great Orton burial pit - where nearly 1/2 a million sheep were slaughtered, yet only 1 farm had FMD identified....massive costs in digging the pits, employing slaughters teams, and transporters. And now the site requires on-going expensive maintenance as the unlined pits leach gallons of toxins which in turn require treatment - and will do so for many years to come. ...."
2 - 7 February 2005 ~ vaccination "..a less effective strategy because of the ability of the disease to leap outside the vaccinated area" (sic)
Is this the sort of statement that is continuing to fuel uncertainty about the efficacy of vaccination? The assertion (and at least the NAO report makes clear that " ... this is only one conclusion from a research group - that advocated the contiguous cull in 2001.") quoted in the NAO report page 24, that vaccination is a less effective strategy because of "the ability of the disease to leap outside the vaccinated area" was countered in 2001 by informed comment from an academic with field experience. He also happens to have been, we notice, one of the technical advisers to the present NAO report.
He wrote, "Animals on UK farms are almost entirely kept in groups (what we know as farms) with little or no animal movement between groups once movement controls are imposed; they are not mixing and milling about the countryside, in contrast to the usual situation with people which epidemiologists are used to. ..a vaccinate exposed to an infected animal (a non-vaccinate) produces almost no virus.... ....In other words, no "leaping" can be done by virus when a farm has been vaccinated. Without vaccination, virus can be spread disastrously without anyone being aware. ." Read in full
In contrast ....the enormous contamination produced by infected non-vaccinates can easily move off farm, inadvertently by people or before knowing it, by aerosols..."
2 - 7 February 2005 ~ Comment on the NAO report
please see warmwell's NAO report page
- "....a less effective strategy because of the ability of the disease to leap outside the vaccinated area" (sic) NAO report page 24. Please click here
(For comment on this statement quoted in the NAO report from the paper of Prof Woolhouse et al, see this important and informed comment )
- Today's NAO report looks at the progress made by the Government in implementing changes recommended following the 2001 epidemic. Interesting to see how media have interpreted NAO press release here
- Confusion continues. Ignorance reigns. here
- More than 500 people involved in Hornbeam - but " the value of the Departments exercise (Hornbeam) could have been increased by including a simulation at farm level" NAO report page 21 here
- some #37 million has been spent by the Department in moving some 150,000 tonnes of ash from 200 farm burial sites here
- FPB says the NAO report is flawed ".. as it accepts Defra's findings uncritically." here
- "When we criticised Defra for paying too much, we didnt mean it to stop paying any of its remaining contractors.." here
2 - 7 February 2005 ~ Today's National Audit Office report erroneously suggests that contiguous premises will be slaughtered if a new outbreak got "out of control". How can they have got it so wrong?
The NAO report suggests that if the veterinary and epidemiological evidence directs contiguous slaughter OR if "efforts to control the outbreak are ineffective" then mass slaughter will happen again. This is wrong. There is no "OR" about it.
Even if the disease were to get out of control, veterinary and epidemiological appraisals WILL take place.
Further, the report suggests that vaccination is still surrounded by uncertainties - "the decision to vaccinate would have to be taken in the face of many uncertainties".
This website is close to despair. How can things be so wrongly suggested to the press? So many of what were uncertainties are resolved.
- The Food Standards Agency has asserted that the products of vaccinated animals have no health implications for humans.
- Food retailers have confirmed that they would not be seeking to differentiate between meat and milk from vaccinated and unvaccinated animals.
- Internationally recognised laboratory tests able to differentiate animals that have been vaccinated from those that have been exposed to the virus. Such tests are available commercially. All that is needed is the political will to declare them "validated" - a woolly term at best. (See also below)
Only Sir David King has put the cat among the pigeons by his curiously uninformed assertions (see below)
The decision not to vaccinate has been laid at the feet of farmers - as in the NAO report - but in the 2001 outbreak the NFU assertion that farmers opposed vaccination was contradicted by many farmers themselves. In April 2001, a survey taken by MP David Maclean in his affected constituency of Cumbria showed 140 commercial farmers wanted vaccination against 19 that did not. "Commercial producers for - particularly those closest to approaching F&M"
2 - 7 February 2005 ~ Today's NAO report looks at the progress made by the Government in implementing changes recommended following the 2001 epidemic.
Interesting to see how media have interpreted NAO press release How many will have looked at the report itself (pdf file here, opens in new window)
" Britain is still not prepared for any new foot and mouth epidemic, four years after the disaster that led to a cull of 6million animals and postponement of the last general election, the National Audit Office reveals today. While auditors agree that progress has been made to reduce the chances of a repeat disaster, a promised new government computer system to tackle exotic diseases is not in place, and even more illegal meat fed to animals - said to have been the reason for the outbreak - is being smuggled into the country.BBC
...... The report says the ministry now has one of the best contingency plans for dealing with foot and mouth, but fears it will not work smoothly because co-ordination between Whitehall and local government and farmers has not been properly organised. It warns that the dispute which bedevilled the last outbreak, whether to vaccinate or cull animals, would arise again because no decision on how to handle this had been made.
Public accounts committee chairman Edward Leigh... said the department was "dragging its heels". .... Defra had been "dreadfully slow" in paying some of its bills dating from the foot and mouth crisis. ...... "Four years after the outbreak, Defra is yet to begin its planned review of some of its contractors' costs, and #40m of invoices remain unpaid," Mr Leigh said.
Mr Leigh also pointed out that the introduction of an IT system to help control future outbreaks had been delayed. ..... National Audit Office chief Sir John Bourn said ... Defra had paid 97% of the #1.3bn submitted by contractors since 2001, "but has not agreed a final settlement with 57 contractors pending the results of its investigations".
31 January - 6 February 2005 ~ Dutch research shows "severe post-traumatic distress" in half the farmers whose animals were culled.
An article: "Impact of a foot and mouth disease crisis on post-traumatic stress symptoms in farmers" in The British Journal of Psychiatry (2005)186: 165-166 by a team of Dutch psychiatric researchers has the following abstract:
"Culling 27 000 farm animals during an epidemic of foot and mouth disease in The Netherlands in 2001 resulted in substantial psychological distress among Dutch farmers. We investigated the association of exposure to this crisis with symptoms of intrusions and avoidance as found in post-traumatic stress disorder. Survey results from the Impact of Event Scale administered to 661 Dutch dairy farmers showed that about half of those whose animals were culled suffered from severe post-traumatic distress; we conclude that such agricultural crises can have a substantial impact on mental health."In the Netherlands the number of animals killed was a small fraction of those put to death in the UK. Here, the number of animals killed was between 6 million (government figure) and over 10 million (Meat and Livestock Commission ). Blood tests that were done came back negative in heartbreakingly high numbers, and indeed were often refused. As this email from the 2001 epidemic shows, the distress among the UK rural community was of a kind never before experienced since it was so apparent that there was unforgivable chaos - and that policies were being driven, not by veterinary expertise and under proper supervision as in 1968, but by political expediency.
25 - 31 January 2005 ~ "positive ELISA test for FMD virus can be obtained in about 3 hours..."
From the ProMed Mail website. Following the press report of negative results of the suspected case of FMD in Ireland, the moderator comments,
"The negative results of the current clinically suspected case are preliminary. Preliminary negative results might be based upon ELISA testing. A positive ELISA test for FMD virus can be obtained in about 3 hours. To declare a case finally negative, virus isolation has to be attempted, a procedure that requires two 48 hours passages in cell culture i.e. 96 hours in total."While this moderator's comment helpfully explains a reason for the long delay in reassuring the public, the way the case was reported in the press gives the unfortunate impression that at least 48 hours is needed for any result at all. A positive result would have been evident within three hours - but the negative result has to be checked and double checked. In any future outbreak, it is important to know that a positive result can be obtained "in about 3 hours."
24 January 2005 ~ Government's plans for tackling a future outbreak of foot and mouth disease have been thrown into disarray after the government's Chief Scientist suggested that vaccination was still not a practical option
David King's comments "desperately disappointing" says Anthony Gibson.
Jason Groves, London editor of the WMN writes today:
Government's plans for tackling a future outbreak of foot and mouth disease have been thrown into disarray after the government's Chief Scientist suggested that vaccination was still not a practical option for controlling the disease. .... His comments will fuel fears that the Government has done little more than pay lip service to vaccination... appear to directly contradict the official policy of the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which suggests that it would give early consideration to using vaccination in any future outbreak, despite the lack of a validated test. Defra suggests that a "vaccinate to live" policy would be possible.....Read in full and our comments about what Sir David King had to say in the Independent last week
.... Mr Gibson said Sir David appeared to have "no understanding" of farming or the "heartbreak" suffered by farmers who were forced to watch the destruction of entire pedigree herds in their farmyards. He added: "To him it appears to be a dry statistical exercise, whereas to those involved it was flesh, blood, tears, sweat and heartbreak."
23 January 2005 10:03 ~ Carlow samples show no sign of foot & mouth
Irish Press RTE News
"Preliminary tests on samples taken from pigs at a meat plant in Co Carlow have shown no evidence of foot and mouth disease. .... final results will be available within the next two days..."What is implied here is that it takes 4 days for a suspect case of FMD to be fully confirmed or denied. Yet, Roger Breeze's Agroterrorism: Betting Far More than the Farm shows that actually available now - if the US and UK governments so chose - are: "... PCR assays designed to be performed as real-time assays outside specialized laboratories like Plum Island (or Pirbright) on portable devices taken to the site of the problem......vigorous informed control measures backed by positive diagnosis can be implemented nationally within 6 hours." Read pdf file in full
23 January 2005 ~ Pirbright is testing samples from pigs in Carlow, Ireland, for foot and mouth disease
Preliminary results are expected today. The Scotsman "The animals were discovered with suspicious symptoms by Department of Agriculture veterinary inspectors at Ballon Meats in Carlow yesterday. The factory was closed off, while the farm which supplied the pigs was also closed. The pigs were slaughtered and samples were sent to a British laboratory in Pirbright, Surrey. The Department of Agriculture said the laboratory was able to carry out a range of tests not available in Ireland. Its a precautionary measure, said a spokesman. He said the preliminary results of the tests would be available later today. If it turns out to be positive, we would have to take appropriate action to prevent a possible spread...
"... 12 animals were slaughtered and the factory and a nearby farm were sealed off. A team of vets yesterday inspected all of the remaining pigs on the Co Carlow farm from where the suspect batch originated, and checked neighbouring farms. No further animals showed any clinical signs of foot and mouth disease. There is no question of the pigs having been imported and an investigation is under way to find out what kind of feed they were receiving. Restrictions on the farm will continue until the outcome of the tests are known."We find it quite extraordinary that tests used officially in the UK are still taking 48 hours. (Inbox "The multiplex test showed to be a simple, economical and reliable tool for rapid diagnosis of vesicular diseases in clinical samples, spending less than six hours in obtaining the results and it can be used even in the cases of an hypothetical co-infection." FAO link)
22-29 January 2005 ~ "All exercises identify issues that need clarifying and addressing and Exercise Hornbeam was no exception.
The Government are not complacent and the exercise has helped to identify the areas where we need to focus efforts further to improve procedures and to fine tune policies and strategies for all stages of an outbreak.
Defra will be providing a detailed response to the Royal Society Infectious Diseases in Livestock Follow-Up Review later this month."
From the answer by Ben Bradshaw to David Drew's Parliamentary Question to Margaret Beckett about Exercise Hornbeam.
January 16 - 22 2005 ~ The UK's Chief Scientific Advisor appears unaware of the current official stance on vaccination against FMD
This is the link to the FMD Q and A's on Defra's website. David King's alarming statement in the > Independent that: "My worry is that if there were an epidemic tomorrow, the British public might be expecting vaccination to be used " suggests that he does not yet know the extent to which the UK position on testing and on other points about FMD vaccination has shifted since 2001.
54. Defra says that the absence of an internationally validated test would not prevent the use of vaccination in the event of a future outbreak. "We would use a herd based NSP test on a statistical basis and, where positive results were found, we would use a higher discriminatory test (Probang)."Read Q and A page in full at http://www.defra.gov.uk/footandmouth/disease/methods/vaccinationqanda.htm
46. Defra says that current vaccines are good enough to control the disease. (No vaccine used for humans is 100% effective, as Dr Ruth Watkins points out on this website.)
47. Defra says there is no evidence that FMD can mutate in response to the vaccine.
As for the vexed question of so-called "carriers" Defra's position now is that
48. "Once vaccinated, animals are considered fully protected and should not develop disease. Expert scientific advice is that spread from vaccinated carrier animals is a rare event: the amount of virus excreted is many orders of magnitude less than that excreted by animals during the acute phase of disease or during sub-clinical infection. Excretion from carriers is intermittent and at a diminishing level over time, occasionally up to three years."
49. On the risk of spread from infected animals to those already vaccinated, Defra says that there is a theoretical risk for 3-5 days following use of high potency vaccine.
( However, the likelihood of vaccinates coming into contact with infected animals is very unlikely indeed. Farm animals cannot mingle in the way humans do. This article about vaccination and transmission makes things very clear. It was contributed by a scientist now holding an eminent position at the FAO in connection with FMD control.)50. Defra says that stress should not normally inactivate the vaccine.
51. Disease free status can be recovered six months after the last case or the last vaccination where stamping out and protective vaccination to live is used, provided that absence of infection in the remaining vaccinated population is clearly demonstrated..
January 16 - 22 2005 ~ Sir David King is still trying to justify " the scientific rationale for the ruthless culling of livestock" and saying that " Britain had no choice but to kill and burn or bury thousands (sic) of animals"
"... Sir David provided the scientific rationale for the ruthless culling of livestock on affected farms and ones with common boundaries. It was, and still is, a deeply unpopular decision, especially when some commentators were calling for vaccination rather than slaughter. Even today there are those who say the Government should have used vaccines rather than culling, a strategy vehemently defended by Sir David who insists many people still do not understand why Britain had no choice but to kill and burn or bury thousands of animals. "The option to vaccinate but not to subsequently kill the animals was actually not with us," Sir David says. "The Dutch government used vaccination and we did not; as a result the Dutch government had to slaughter vaccinated animals subsequently before they could begin exporting again."This is both misleading and wrong.
The Dutch government chose to slaughter its vaccinates - against the wishes of the farmers and of the population who protested in their thousands. On the 23 March they were granted suppressive vaccination (where slaughter would follow) in a 2 km area round confirmed outbreaks. But on 3 April they obtained permission for protective vaccination in addition. The farmers, many of them dairy farmers, were led to believe their animals would be allowed to live and thus agreed to the protective vaccination area being much wider than was truly necessary for control of the disease. After vaccination was completed, their Government changed its mind and insisted on slaughtering the animals in a bid to qualify for normal trading after three months. Dr Frits Pluimers CVO of the Netherlands made an impassioned speech at the Brussels conference of 2001, stating that he could not in the future ignore the will of the Dutch people - and that protective vaccination would certainly be used should they be unfortunate enough to have another outbreak; they would never again follow a policy that slaughtered vaccinated animals, proved by tests to be uninfected. ( See also this transcript of an interview in 2001 in which Prof King told the Today Programme " what I was happy to achieve in the FMD outbreak was showing that science in real time could provide a sound basis for policy advice" )
The late Fred Brown called Britain's handling of the disease "a disgrace to humanity". Magnus Linklater spoke for many when he agreed.
January 9 - 16 2005 ~ an economic conflict of interest.
Evidence submitted to the Royal Society Inquiry of Edinburgh by the Director Patent and Licensing Affairs United Biomedical Inc. quotes a letter to UBI from Pirbright on 5 November 1997:
"we have ultimately decided it is not in our interests to collaborate with a company which intends to develop a commercial diagnostic kit in direct competition to our own intentions."Early in the FMD epidemic (March 9 2001) an offer of help came from USDA collaborating with Tetracore, another U.S. biotechnology company, to provide a sensitive real time PCR farmgate test. Pirbright, as the World Reference Laboratory the only lab allowed to validate FMD tests, rejected USDA's offer on the grounds of "lack of time". Throughout the epidemic, Pirbright refused to entertain PCR as the routine method of diagnosis of FMD in animals, claiming "PCR was not validated".
It would appear that Pirbright, working on its own commercial test, was unwilling to countenance the use of any rival kit - even when such rapid diagnosis would have made unthinkable the mass killing of animals during the epidemic. Literally millions were slaughtered, untested and - as it was to emerge - uninfected.
Four years later - the emergence of the UK's own rapid diagnostic PCR machine - which "...has already attracted ....confidence in its profit-making ability" is described in this DSTL press release The government's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory proudly claims that its
"...spin-out company, called Enigma Diagnostics will launch two rapid, fully automated diagnostic machines, which have adapted the PCR process and created unique features that can provide in-the-field testing for animal diseases including foot and mouth ......
January 9 - 16 2005 ~" the Inquiry procedure has not fulfilled its brief and many of the lessons of the 2001 FMD experience have not been learned."
From the Memorandum by the National Foot & Mouth Group (GBI 23) http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk to the Select Committee on Public Administration's report, the INQUIRY INTO GOVERNMENT USE OF THE INQUIRY MECHANISM
"The National Foot & Mouth Group submitted detailed written and oral evidence to all the Inquiries set up by the UK Government in relation to the UK Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001. We were also fully involved in the EU Parliament FMD Inquiry. We submit the following in relation to the manner in which the Government's Lessons Learned Inquiry was conducted. It is our contention that the way the Inquiry was conducted militated against many of the key issues being raised, investigated and appraised. As a result the Inquiry procedure has not fulfilled its brief and many of the lessons of the 2001 FMD experience have not been learned.We note that the important appendices attached to this evidence have not been published. In particular, the list of those invited to give evidence to the Lessons Learned Inquiry is - as far as we can ascertain - no longer anywhere on the internet except on the warmwell website. As the NFMG says
Our representation is based on our experiences of that Inquiry...."
" it is apparent that, with the exception of our organisation and one other, the remaining witnesses were all those that had been involved in delivering the Government's policies and responses to the epidemic. ....the vast majority were drawn from Government offices, Government advisers or Government agencies. .."Read evidence in full
As for the implementation of recommendations included in Government Inquiries, the Memorandum by Robert Francis QC (GBI 06) (pdf file of written evidence) is of importance: "Much lip service is paid to inquiry recommendations when they are published, but often there is little continuing monitoring to ensure that, once officially accepted, recommendations are actually implemented."
January 9 - 16 2005 ~ "The U.S. can implement this new policy tomorrow and work with the OIE and WTO to modernize international regulations on animal health so that all countries that wish can follow the same path...."
It is interesting to compare Roger Breeze's (Read pdf file in full new window) examination of present capability in rapid diagnosis linked to GPS, continuous real-time surveillance, strictly limited slaughter and the practicability of vaccination at least 3 to 4 days after the initial detection - with the 98 page report by DEFRA of its 2004 Hornbeam exercise in which, among phrases such as "battle rhythm" and "hot washing-up sessions", none of those things are discussed. A decision on vaccination was still unresolved by the end of the exercise and was, as far as we can infer, dependent not on input from a balanced Expert Group of "epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists" - but on a decision from Downing Street. While it is appreciated that there have been tremendous efforts made in certain sections of DEFRA to improve their ability to respond to a disease crisis, the DEFRA report itself acknowledges "... there was little or no experience within the team of planning large exercises" and, "There should be a clear statement of strategic intent which outlines the desired outcome of the disease control policy."
January 1 - 7 2005 ~ " vigorous informed control measures backed by positive diagnosis can be implemented nationally within 6 hours.."
"Agroterrorism: Betting Far More than the Farm" ( http://www.biosecurityjournal.com/breeze.pdf ) Roger Breeze, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, formerly Associate Administrator USDA-ARS and perhaps one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on FMD and modern technologies to combat it, echoes the exasperation of many in the UK that ".. dangerous livestock diseases, long an exclusive responsibility of governments everywhere, is the only area of veterinary medicine that still relies on technologies introduced before veterinary schools were established..."
Given the total dependence of agriculture, and by extension the entire rural economy, on the actions of the government, it is critical that new policies be adopted to deal with the threats posed by inadvertent or deliberate introduction of FMD and other transboundary diseases in the 21st century.
"... .... a state official equipped with an Internet-linked detection device should be on the site of any suspected foreign animal disease outbreak within 4 hours or less of notification so that vigorous informed control measures backed by positive diagnosis can be implemented nationally within 6 hours.. the detectors are connected by wireless to the Internet and contain a global positioning system (GPS) to allow geographic information systems to be overlaid.Read pdf file in full (new window)
The USDA test is more sensitive than the so-called gold standard of cell culture, and it detects all FMD virus serotypes and subtypes ...it is a preclinical test that detects FMD-infected cattle, swine, and small ruminants before clinical signs of disease are apparent..
.... Once the presence of FMD is confirmed, as part of an Internet-based command, control, and communication system, continuous real-time surveillance must be employed to define the extent of the problem around the initial detection and to predict and track the progress of infection through the national agricultural commerce streams.
This means that neighboring herds would be monitored daily for FMD infection (the test will find virus before there are signs of illness), and only infected herds would be killed.
Slaughter would not be based on proximity. ... the first animals could be vaccinated starting 3 to 4 days after the initial detection. This timeline can be shortened with known technology that has not yet been applied to FMD...
The U.S. can implement this new policy tomorrow and work with the OIE and WTO to modernize international regulations on animal health so that all countries that wish can follow the same path...."
January 1 -7 2005 ~ ".... I intend to...expose the briefing notes we were never meant to see, nail the rumours that will make or break the reputations of the highest in the land."
Magnus Linklater, writing in Wednesday's Times. He says, "The new Act opens a chamber of secrets, but only if journalists remember their old skills. I want some red-hot government secrets, and I want them now. .. Just think what it is going to take to prise open a genuine, cast-iron secret. There are 23 exemptions to the Act, which cover everything from national security, defence and foreign relations, to foggy concepts such as "formulation of government policy" and "information provided in confidence".
...I have, ... three test cases to apply to the Act, and they do not include the Attorney-General's legal advice on the legitimacy of war in Iraq - I doubt if that will see the light for 30 years or more.."
"...The second is more recent: who dreamt up the infamous three-kilometre pre-emptive cull during the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak, which condemned millions of healthy animals to death on the basis of no scientific evidence? Who proposed it, who approved it, and what advice did the Chief Scientist give to ministers to persuade them that it was the right thing to do? The minutes of ministerial meetings held in the fraught, early weeks of the epidemic would tell us much about scientific evidence and how it is used for political ends..."Read in full
January 1 -7 2005 ~ "I cant understand the continuing obsession... with the foot-and-mouth epidemic of almost four years ago. .." says Fordyce Maxwell in the Scotsman.
"... Its over, let it go. Alleging that there was video evidence of conditions on Bobby Waughs farm - probably the origin of the epidemic - before FMD was confirmed wont impress a court.As far as calls for a Public Inquiry is concerned, Mr Maxwell is probably right, unfortunately. The public's trust in Public Inquiries has been severely dented. But that doesn't mean that it would be sensible to forget the FMD misery of 2001, the quite extraordinary mistakes of science and the bureaucratic lack of cohesion - even if he is quite right to suggest that farmers (like the politicians involved) must move on for reasons of self-preservation. The continuing lack of communication skills at DEFRA, the inadequacy of the Contingency Plan, the time it is taking for the epidemic data be publicly analysed, the concern that ".. it is not clear that full regard is being taken of advances in the medical field" -for all these reasons and many others, it is right and proper for an analysis of the mistakes of 2001 to continue and even now, after 4 long years, for lessons to be learned. The Royal Society evidently thinks so - as the recent RS review so forcefully shows. So do many others, such as the authors of the stakeholder paper given in Crete and those who so tactfully (unlike some of us website loonies perhaps) argue for change. Behind the scenes and for no reward they are driven to continue. They have made a difference and are continuing to do so.
... all a public inquiry does is waste time and money. It never convinces the critics or the website loonies...."
December 26 - 31 2004 ~ "These RT-PCR devices offer not only more rapid results, but also are sufficiently sensitive to detect virus before clinical signs are apparent. .... it is not clear that full regard is being taken of advances in the medical field...." Royal Society IDL Review
The virologist Dr Ruth Watkins wrote recently that
"There is only one vaccine in human medicine that can be made to work perfectly in preventing disease in all instances.... immunisation against rabies....Surely we should not wait for perfect vaccines before applying them to animals when we have taken such favourable advantage for our human selves. Doctors of human medicine are pragmatic, and humbled by the success of the imperfect vaccines they have had the good fortune to be able to use and receive. ."(Vaccination strategies for health)As for rapid diagnosis tests for use in both human and veterinary contexts, and which have been ignored or disparaged in the UK Contingency Plans for reasons that remain obscure, the Royal Society in its Review following the 2002 Infectious Disease Inquiry (paragraph 8.3) maintains that:
"There is significant development work being undertaken on the development of portable tests to aid rapid diagnosis in the field, much of it in the United States as part of the anti-terrorist activities. Hence it is important for Defra to engage in regular information exchange. These RT-PCR devices offer not only more rapid results, but also are sufficiently sensitive to detect virus before clinical signs are apparent. Despite this progress in veterinary tests, it is not clear that full regard is being taken of advances in the medical field."Read the Royal Society Review in full on this html page or in its original pdf file on the internet.
December 26 - 31 2004 ~ "Failure to clarify both the exit strategies and meat treatment protocols will undermine Defras sterling work in securing these derogations when the Directive was being drafted."
Meat and milk from vaccinated animals can be sold on the domestic market without having to undertake costly deboning or heat treatment [Articles 25-27, EU Directive (EU 2003)]"..... The recent publication on the role of vaccination (Defra2004d) does not mention these derogations in the sections dealing with each of the various animal species (cattle paragraph 17, pigs paragraph 23 and sheep paragraph 28) although they are described later in the document. This has caused some confusion..."
December 26 - 31 2004 ~ IDL Report follow-up is now available on the internet.
We are studying the Royal Society Infectious Disease Inquiry Follow-Up review (pdf file) in which, in the most tactful language, the Royal Society ".. highlights some particular issues and concerns identified in a more detailed review of progress on the various recommendations in the IDL report ".
" We welcome the detailed work that Defra has undertaken on many aspects of our recommendations. We acknowledge that some aspects will require longer to implement than the two years since the publication of our report, and provide below, as bullet points, some areas that require further attention, largely building on work already in progress "A certain dismay at lack of progress in the implementation of its 2002 recommendations is evident. The Review has been endorsed by the Society's Council. See bullet points The Review can be seen as a webpage here.
December 26 - 31 2004 ~ " If there are problems associated with a nonslaughter approach then these need to be resolved."
It has been reported in FWi "The UK is not ready to tackle foot-and-mouth disease using vaccination, says the Royal Society"- this gives a very simplified and perhaps even misleading view of what the Royal Society appears to us to be saying in its Follow-Up Review. The Royal Society's recommendation in 2002 - that
"... Given recent advances in vaccine science and improved trading regulations, emergency vaccination should now be considered as part of the control strategy from the start of any outbreak of FMD. By this we mean vaccination-to-live, under which meat and meat products from animals vaccinated and subsequently found to be uninfected may enter the normal human food chain. "It was clearly in favour of emergency vaccination to live, recognised its effectiveness and expected that the Government would
" ..prepare the regulatory framework and practical arrangements (e.g. validation of tests, and the supply of vaccines) There must at the outset be an exit strategy agreed among the main stakeholders that would allow this..."Progress on this is dealt with on Page 10 For example, (page 11) "It is not clear how the Defra arrangements for vaccination could be deployed at sufficient levels over the critical timescale." .... More detail
December 26 - 31 2004 ~ "Failure to clarify both the exit strategies and meat treatment protocols will undermine Defras sterling work in securing these derogations when the Directive was being drafted."
Meat and milk from vaccinated animals can be sold on the domestic market without having to undertake costly deboning or heat treatment [Articles 25-27, EU Directive (EU 2003)]"..... The recent publication on the role of vaccination (Defra2004d) does not mention these derogations in the sections dealing with each of the various animal species (cattle paragraph 17, pigs paragraph 23 and sheep paragraph 28) although they are described later in the document. This has caused some confusion..."
December 26 - 31 2004 ~ "Expert group", "Data collection", "Identification of DCs", "portable tests to aid rapid diagnosis in the field"
Below we direct you to some extracts from the Royal Society Review (see above) that readers of this website may find particularly of interest and concern.
- ...Expert Group "......that the core and enhanced membership of the Expert Group are currently made up of staff from Defra, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the Institute of Animal Health, with no independent members..."
- .. Dangerous Contacts .."Defra should commission research to improve the methodology used to identify dangerous contacts"
- ... development of portable tests to aid rapid diagnosis in the field.....Despite this progress in veterinary tests, it is not clear that full regard is being taken of advances in the medical field.
- ...Data Collection The capture and handling of data during an outbreak..... whether pre-emptive action beyond the culling of infected premises and dangerous contacts is required to control the outbreak.
December 18 - 25 2004 ~ "....the access to this wealth of scientific research and expert opinion will serve as reference material for years to come."
The EUFMD 2004 Open Session of the Research Group of the Standing Technical Committee Chania, Crete, Greece - 12-15 October 2004 - one important paper of which we reported below - has now published its Report of the Session on the EUFMD website - including over 80 Appendices with full papers for almost all of the presentations.
"The Commission hopes the access to this wealth of scientific research and expert opinion will serve as reference material for years to come."
December 18 - 25 2004 ~ " there are also ethical issues related to the mass slaughter of animals when controlling an outbreak.."
At least Mr Kyprianou is prepared to state the obvious. Mr Kyprianou said : ".... The new EU animal health strategy therefore aims to develop the policy of disease prevention, make emergency vaccination a more viable option, simplify the legislation and make better use of financial resources. The existing EU animal health policy will soon undergo an external evaluation..." More information: Europa.eu
December 18 - 25 2004 ~ EU must lose fears over vaccinated meat -Dutch Agriculture Minister
PlanetArk.com "European consumers must overcome fears over eating meat from vaccinated animals if mass slaughter of livestock affected by disease is to be avoided, Dutch Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman said on Wednesday. ...... Europe faced a dilemma, he said, with trade interests on the one hand and public opinion on the other. "We have to find a way to get the products of vaccinated animals on the market," he said. "I see a key role for the retail sector here, they have a public responsibility." Scientists saw no danger from vaccinated animals, with no risks of diseases being transmitted. .."
December 18 - 25 2004 ~ "products from vaccinated animals are not discriminated by distinctive labelling or marking..."
Among the list of recommendations from last week's conference held in Brussels; "The Material and Immaterial Costs of Animal Disease Control", we are pleased to see:
See all 16 recommendations, particularly those dealing with the cost of controlling epidemic animal diseases and the "establishment of insurance schemes" which may be contentious. From the executive summary, we learn, among other things, that the results of a survey which focused on "prioritising epidemiological, economic and social-ethical aspects", the CVO's (20 of whom took part) considered the social-ethical criterion to be of 17% importance compared to 53% for the epidemiological criterion and 30% for the economic one.
- measures taken to control outbreaks of major epidemic animal diseases should take into account epidemiological as w ell as economic and social factors.
- ....strong involvement of external stakeholders in the policy process.
- .... to limit, to the extent possible, the killing and destruction of healthy animals.
- ...Vaccination should be accepted as one of the regular options for the control of animal disease outbreaks.
- .....products from vaccinated animals are not discriminated by distinctive labelling or marking.
- Differentiated disease control measures may be appropriate for animals not kept for commercial purposes and other special categories.
- Industry and authorities should work together for the development and the licensing of new vaccines and diagnostic tests designed for specific (strategic) purposes.
December 3 - 7 2004 ~ Another fiction: "Each of the 2,026 FMD cases was subjected to a detailed clinical and epidemiological investigation. ..."
The real cause of the spiralling costs - the huge number of "contiguous" premises slaughtered next to premises that were not infected at all - is being quietly buried.
We re-publish this paragraph from March 2004
"Each of the 2,026 FMD cases was subjected to a detailed clinical and epidemiological investigation. ..." is the claim in DEFRA's Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001 (new window)
What did Mr Scudamore mean by "each of the 2026 FMD cases"? In their Jan 2002 submission to the EU for the resumption of Disease Free Status, DEFRA appears to make the same claim - i.e. that it had tested all Infected Premises. This is very odd. We know that many slaughtered premises were never tested. Farmers' requests for lab tests were very often curtly denied.
"Each of the 2026 FMD cases"? In addition to the 2,026 so-called IPs there were also 7,494 "dangerous contacts" premises (of which 3,329 were contiguous premises) and 257 "slaughter on suspicion" premises. In total, about 10,000 farms were slaughtered. (See PQs) Pirbright received samples from only a small fraction of slaughtered farms - information contained in PQ 2164 would indicate that on average it was about 10%, but in some regions it was much lower than that. DEFRA's claim to the EU was surely wrong. And the EU, because they are apparently unhappy about the way the crisis was handled, capped the UK's right to claim repayment..."
December 3 - 7 2004 ~ Chief vet Jim Scudamore's signed witness statement a "fiction"?
Janet Hughes sank her life savings into fighting the illegal mass cull in Wales. In the Private Eye Muckspreader column about the taxpayers' missing #600 million, we read that when DEFRA intervened in Janet's court case against the Welsh Assembly, the then CVO James Scudamore's signed statement, produced at the last minute, asserted that " in one case no fewer than 140 rams had all been found clinically diseased....a "heavy weight of infection..."
"... She tracked down the site where they (the rams) had allegedly been slaughtered and the farm from which they were supposed to have come. It became obvious there was no way so many rams could have been included in the sheep slaughtered in that area: that there could have been as many as 140 was physically impossible. It seemed those infected animals which had swung the case were a complete fiction."Muckspreader shows us the contempt for the law and for the truth shown by those in high places, and their attempts to silence and humiliate anyone who tried to inject sanity into the official madness . Janet herself writes
" My book ... is the only means left to me to place this evidence in the public domain. The Government hid behind a wall of excuses, and escaped any accountability with the weak promise that lessons would be learned..."Order the Killing Pens from Amazon. Read its Foreword here.
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ Hornbeam: "Currently there is insufficient scientific evidence to be confident that vaccination will be an effective tool in controlling an outbreak."
This extraordinary sentence comes from the "Review of the Foot and Mouth Disease contingency plan, including Exercise Hornbeam: recommendations of the Science Advisory Council" (html page here)
The review and its recommendations, dated September 2 2004, has appeared on the DEFRA website. How long it has been there is not yet known. Two of the four SAC members concerned were Professor Roy Anderson and Professor Mark Woolhouse - and as perpetrators of the contiguous cull policy themselves, they were hardly likely to remind anyone that vaccination proved its worth in Uruguay at the very same time that healthy animals were being slaughtered in their millions in the UK. Even now (and after three laborious years of selfless work from so many in trying to reveal the truth of the disastrous errors made), their empty words about vaccination will carry weight.
The review says, "Many lessons have been learnt as a result of the 2001 FMD outbreak and it is clear that many have been incorporated into the plan." Read in full See also news today of Professor Anderson, Halliburton, and the #4 billion warships contract.
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ Alun Michael declined to apologise
WMN Reporting on Tim Yeo's demand for an apology from the government over foot and mouth ( and while we welcome a call for lessons really to be learned, we do not remember Mr Yeo's contributions during the actual crisis with any great enthusiasm) "... Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael declined to apologise for the Government's conduct, suggesting that ministers had done well to persuade the EC to pay as much as #349 million as it had initially wanted to pay far less. He also suggested that the Government's record on farming and rural issues was a good one......"
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ SVS changes: "broad backing from the public" actually meant "20 out of 500"
Consultation responses ".....500 organisations, bodies and individuals were invited to comment and we received a total of 20 responses from England and Wales....A parallel exercise was conducted in Scotland and 6 responses were received."
"Several commented on their perception that political and policy drivers appeared to have more prominence in the decision making process than animal welfare. A common theme was a plea for an outward facing organisation focused on the animals and their welfare and the prevention and control of disease. All urged greater involvement of and partnership with the community out on the ground in the evolution of best practice and effective delivery"So it will be interesting on April 1 2005 (and several emailers have made the obvious comment) to see how far the new Executive Agency aka the SVS is able to reassure those who are concerned at how much politics is obscuring animal welfare.
Mr Ben Bradshaw said "The consultation exercise has been extremely valuable .." but a return of 20 from 500 may perhaps cause DEFRA and the government to ask themselves whether inundating organisations with consultation documents - who then fail to return them - does not raise questions both about the value and the concept of "consultation" carried out this way.
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ " a consensus amongst stakeholders that: We will not carry out the mass slaughter of healthy animals. We will not incur the financial and social costs to the livestock industry, tourism and the rural economy, or cause unnecessary loss of genetic diversity..."
Dr Iain Anderson's words below about engaging "people from different areas outside of the centre..." and "well balanced and well trusted scientific advice" are exemplified in the invited paper presented at the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EUFMD) Research Group Open Session in Crete, October 2004, entitled "Policy and science of FMD control: the stakeholders contribution to decision making. A call for Integrated Animal Disease Management" be published by the EUFMD Commission in early December. It has been sent to warmwell by the authors.
From the paper's abstract: "... integrated animal disease management as a cooperative effort between stakeholders, scientists and decision makersThe paper appears also on Land Care org's website and on warmwell's updated science and technology pages. An EU funded collaborative research project aiming to achieve some of the goals described in the paper will begin early in 2005.
.. levels: local, national, regional and international
..the science and technology that is available now and to develop new technologies that will lead to significant improvements
..not to allow .....politics to drive disease control policies at the expense of the ethical relationship between man and animals. "
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ Where is the DEFRA report on Operation Hornbeam?
Defra website "Relevant recommendations will be taken into account in preparation of the Report on Exercise Hornbeam which the department plans to publish in October. ... "
Could any reader of this website direct us to the report? Our own page about Operation Hornbeam quotes Dr Iain Anderson's very relevant remarks to the EFRA Committee
"The one area which I believe needs to be emphasised again and again is that in order to get this right for the future .....it needs to be captured in processes which engages people from different agencies outside of the centre. These processes need to become part of routine ... ... it is regrettable that a formalised system of engaging well balanced and well trusted previously communicated scientific advice was not deployed from the very early days........"Read more.
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ SVS to get a new name
The State Veterinary Service is, it seems, to be repackaged as an "Executive Agency". Ben Bradshaw, after referring to a consultation (" broad backing from the public received") that had escaped our notice, says, with the usual New Labour ministerial preference for the first person pronoun, " ..I have therefore decided to continue with the programme to launch the new agency on 1 April 2005." His words include
The press release's "Notes for editors" repeats all this in similar language - but even then we should appreciate an ordinary person's guide as to what will actually change next April.
- "..further the aims of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy
- .. a new partnership
- ..a lasting and continuous improvement in the health and welfare of kept animals
- ..protecting society, the economy and the environment from the effect of animal diseases.
- .. pledged to working with all customers and stakeholders
- ..listening to their concerns and their counsel
- ..taking their views into account as the agency takes shape."
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ BSE "We want to eradicate this disease and it is important for us to be sure that we are not overlooking any important factors..."
CVO Debby Reynolds in a DEFRA news item "....... there are also other possible explanations for at least some of these cases. We want to eradicate this disease and it is important for us to be sure that we are not overlooking any important factors and that the work we are doing is comprehensive and scientifically sound. We have therefore invited Professor Hill (i.e.Professor William Hill FRS, Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences of the University of Edinburgh ) to take a look at what we are doing. We have deliberately chosen someone who is eminent in his own field but who has not been involved in TSE work before. He can be expected to probe and challenge the evidence. ..."
See also warmwell pages on TSEs which consider other "important factors" that have, it seems, been "overlooked". An independent examination to look at the entire system of controls and to challenge conventional wisdom is much needed and long overdue.
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ ".. this cull was in breach of criminal law, since the Government had no legal power under the Animal Health Act 1981 to kill healthy livestock."
Booker's Notebook, Sunday Telegraph
" ....Also making the news last week was the ruling by Brussels that it will withhold #600 million from payments claimed by the British Government for its costs in the 2001 foot and mouth disaster.Booker's Notebook. Read in full
This represented part of the sum that, according to the Commission, was overpaid to farmers, to buy their acquiescence in the pre-emptive cull of about eight million healthy animals. As was reported here at the time, this cull was in breach of criminal law, since the Government had no legal power under the Animal Health Act 1981 to kill healthy livestock that had not been directly exposed to infection. ....."
November 27 - Dec 3 2004 ~ Taxpayers' #600million foot-and-mouth bill
James Chapman in The Daily Mail, Friday November 26th 2004. Page 15
"..... The European Commission is to disqualify almost two-thirds of the compensation claim for dealing with the outbreak of the disease. It will pay only #350 million of the Government's #950million claim, leaving a #600million shortfall - equivalent to #10 for every man, woman and child in the country.
Last night the EC confirmed it had effectively 'fined' Labour because of serious concerns over the way the outbreak was handled. A spokesman said it was clear that millions of healthy animals had been destroyed needlessly, some farmers had been paid way over the odds in compensation and ministers had been too slow to respond when the epidemic started.
Around ten million animals died during the outbreak, which cost the public sector more than #3billion, including compensation to farmers, and the private sector an estimated #5billion as tourists shunned the UK. The Conservatives are demanding an apology from Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett for the Government's mistakes.
Euro MP Neil Parish, the party's agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, said "The very least we should expect is a formal apology from Mrs Beckett, not only to farmers but to taxpayers who are going to have to pay for this to the tune of #600million".
November 20 - 26 2004 ~ "whether or not there were other things that we should have asked for and did not, I do not know.."
Alun Evans, the Secretary of the Anderson Inquiry, gave evidence to the Public Administration Committee (see also below) on 22 June 2004
" .... how do you know you have got all the evidence and all the facts at your disposal, and that is almost an unanswerable question, apart from the fact everything we asked for we got from government. We had to do a bit of digging at some stages to get it and whether or not there were other things that we should have asked for and did not, I do not know....I cannot say we did not find that people lied to us (sic) but we have no evidence that people were not telling us things that they should have done..... ...."In other words Mr Evans and Dr Anderson had to know what to ask for and what to ask about. Dr Anderson told the EFRA Committee in July 2002 "I do not believe that any information that is material has been withheld from me." To Colin Breed's question: ".. it is not impossible that notes were re-written and others lost?" he replied, "Obviously nothing is impossible. I simply say I have no evidence which supports that."
Neither the video of conditions at Burnside nor the lengthy statement by the SVS vet Mr James Dring were volunteered by MAFF/DEFRA. While the Anderson Inquiry had " full access to the Cabinet papers" they were not allowed to remove them and had to make notes there and then "rather than if we had judicial powers for some of the notes of the meetings we wanted."
Mr Evans said, of Lessons Learned, that
"... as well as being shown to be a robust inquiry it also had something of a cathartic effect on the community that had suffered, and I think Dr Anderson did that well. .."Words do rather fail one. Read more
November 20 - 26 2004 ~ a real-time alert simulation exercise on Foot-and-Mouth Disease took place in Austria last week.
Northern Ireland's Farming Life reports .....
Internal and external observers took take part in the evaluation."We have yet to see any evaluation of the UK Exercise Hornbeam or to know what evaluations were made by "external observers" (if any...we understand the BBC team were ejected from the Truro Operations Room by the DVM Ms Jan Kelly.)
Farming Life also has an article Court Of Auditors Reports Back On FMD Outbreak (Farming Life, Northern Ireland) which lists the Court's recommendations and also warmly welcomes the new Stoneleigh archive. (see above)
November 20 - 26 2004 ~ "... If you have another epidemic I think you might have another problem on your hands."
Extract from a part of the uncorrected transcript of the Public Administration Committee's " inquiry into inquiries"
Q575 Mr Liddell-Grainger: On the assumption that something like foot and mouth was a complete disaster for the nation, it spread across the entire nation with so many hundreds of thousands of people affected...... Surely we should have had some form of very public part of this to try and establish whether or not this will happen again. I also sit on the Defra Select Committee, and you have done an exercise that was not overly inspiring. If you have another epidemic I think you might have another problem on your hands. This inquiry itself surely should have had a very much more public part to try to work out why, when and how this might happen again: because a lot of what was recommended, I suspect, is still private?Read extract in full and the warmwell page on Exercise Hornbeam
Sir Brian Bender: I hope not.
Q576 Mr Liddell-Grainger: Is everything out in the open?
Sir Brian Bender: Yes, absolutely. I would be interested, perhaps outside this formal session, to find out why you have said that the exercise, which involved several hundred staff from the department and across the country, was, as you described, "uninspiring".
November 20 - 26 2004 ~ All party Welsh AMs watch Burnside video
"....All who saw the footage were appalled at the state of the farm and were critical of Trading Standards officers and ministry vets who had granted Burnside Farm, Heddon-on-the-Wall, a licence to operate.
Former farm protest leader Brynle Williams - now a Conservative AM - questioned how the farm had been allowed to continue to trade." See FWI article
November 12 - November 19 2004 ~ "Michael Jack MP, chairman of the EFRA select committee, told FW that he would hold a viewing of the tape in the coming days.... "
Mr Bradshaw will not watch it, DEFRA denies there is anything new - but many politicians have now seen or want to see the FMD video and are asking why it was not shown to Dr Anderson's Inquiry and why, if the outbreak really originated at Burnside Farm, the fact of the video's existence and that of Mr Dring's statement should have been withheld from Lessons Learned. Mr Waugh was made to sign the official secrets act - but the government was free to say what it liked. On the 13th February 2001 sheep at Ponteland, five miles from Burnside farm at Heddon on the Wall, were found to be infected. Government actions let it be assumed that Waugh's pigs were the source - yet the video suggests the possibility of the presence of infected sheep carcasses on the farm premises even as an "inspection" was taking place. Jonathan Riley's report in last friday's Farmers Weekly shows that many MPs and senior veterinary figures have now seen, or have asked to see, the video taken at Burnside farm.
"The state of the farm in Feb 2001, just four weeks after it had been approved in a government inspection, was made clear in a showing of the video organised by FARMERS WEEKLY (News, Oct 29). It left vets and MPs shocked and appalled and has prompted a barrage of parliamentary questions ......answering Mr Paice's question, junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw said his department had first obtained a copy of the video on Sept 30, 2004 ...... A cross-party group of MPs saw the video Thursday morning (Nov 11) in London, and Michael Jack MP, chairman of the EFRA select committee, told FW that he would hold a viewing of the tape in the coming days. A group of senior vets has also requested a copy of the tape to hold a behind-closed doors viewing. And the Welsh Assembly's plans to show the tape next Tuesday (Nov 16) are well advanced. The Association of Swill Users has planned its showing for Sat, Nov 13." Read in full
November 12 - November 19 2004 ~ DEFRA says no sheep found at Burnside...
The exact wording of Written Answers to parliamentary questions is always worth examining. From Hansard for November 15th: Mr Bradshaw ".... There is no new evidence that indicates that the disease was present anywhere else earlier than at Burnside Farm." and " Defra found no dead sheep on Burnside Farm either on 24 February or on any other date in 2001" Neither statement says definitively quite what it implies. "No new evidence" is not the same as "no evidence" and "Defra found no dead sheep" does not mean that there were no dead sheep.
Jason Groves' article in Wednesday's Western Morning News reports that
"the Government denied that dead sheep had been found on the Northumberland pig farm where the epidemic is thought to have started - despite video evidence to the contrary... The emergence of the video prompted the Shadow Agriculture Minister Owen Paterson to table a number of Parliamentary questions asking whether the sheep had been tested for foot and mouth. In his reply Mr Bradshaw, who has refused to watch the video, said the department "found no dead sheep on Burnside Farm either on 24 February or on any other date in 2001" Read in fullThe article also quotes Andrew George: "It is a poor quality video, but I saw a sheep carcass there. Maybe the carcass was alive and walked off....
... it seems that all relevant papers went to Dr Anderson except for the most juicy, most relevant ones....
....It is all very well blaming Bobby Waugh, but the fact is that his farm was allowed to get into that state and still given a licence."
November 12 - November 19 2004 ~ "V" tag worries are reviving ancient arguments against vaccination
On 30th March 2001, directive 2001/257/EC (pdf file new window) approved limited protective vaccination for cattle in Cumbria and Devon, yet for reasons that are still not entirely clear, vaccination was turned down. The Guardian, in a most powerful article about "the power and influence of big business on government policy", blamed Nestlé UK ; Nick Brown blamed "large retailers and in particular Cadburys"; while David Hill of the NFU assumed the union had stopped the proposed use of vaccination after an "eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation" with the Prime Minister. (In September 2001, NFU officials were heard to say that had the government informed them that compensation for losses owing to vaccination was available under Directive 90/424/EEC they would have supported vaccination in April 2001. )
Even today, those who think animals with a "V" tag stuck to their ears will bring them less profit are worriedly remembering and reviving arguments against vaccination from that muddled time. One of the longest surviving is that "consumers won't want vaccinated meat" yet the Food Standards Agency was quite clear on this even in 2001: "we are confident that there is no human health risk from vaccinated milk or meat from vaccinated animals. " The National Consumer Council made it clear that "vaccinates would not need to be labelled" and a PQ on food safety in Jan 2003 should have put the matter finally to rest.
As for the deboning and heat treatment that would have had to follow vaccination had it taken place in April 2001, the EU derogation has removed that obstacle for the home market. OIE trading rules have changed to make vaccination easier and the EU Directive itself favours vaccination to live. Export losses because of vaccination should still be covered by EU Directive 90/424/EEC - amounts of money that could never approach the massive waste of public money caused by the still unfathomable decision not to vaccinate in April 2001.
November 12 - November 19 2004 ~ "...this type of distressing and unpleasant task, which many of us instinctively knew was unnecessary."
A letter in the current Veterinary Record
SIR, - I am writing on behalf of the Lakeland Veterinary Association regarding the papers published recently in The Veterinary Record by Taylor and others (2004} and Honhold and others (2004a, b). In this area we had nearly 50 per cent of the cases of foot-and-mouth disease is (FMD), and so had considerable, and very harsh, experience of the 2001 epidemic. These papers clearly add weight to the view that the contiguous cull policy, which was adopted during the FMD epidemic of 2001, was based on advice which was flawed, and that the epidemic was brought under control not by computer modelling but by the more traditional methods of strict movement controls, speedy removal of Infected Premises, intensive surveillance and sound risk assessment of the threat posed by Dangerous Contacts often based on detailed local knowledge. We have written to the Chief Veterinary Officer suggesting that, in the light of these studies, the contiguous cull strategy can now formally be abandoned so that our members will never again have to undertake this type of distressing and unpleasant task, which many of us instinctively knew was unnecessary. We have yet to receive a reply on this matter..Read in full See also Foot-and-mouth disease: the vital need for collaboration as an aid to disease elimination
.....We believe that local farm animal practices still have a central and vital role to play if any form of animal health and welfare strategy is to be delivered as a reality and not merely a paper exercise. "
November 12 - November 19 2004 ~ Slaughter: "may" becomes "shall"
- one of the two amendments to the Animal Health Act referred to below. (The only link with "health" in the complicated legislation of 2002 is that, healthy or not, animals may be slaughtered and legal loopholes that embarrassed the government in 2001 closed.)
A Ministry that proclaims its transparency - and there are 16458 documents on the Defra website that make use of that word - might now feel it appropriate to comment on why a Statutory Instrument, bypassing parliament, is to be used to comply with the EU's wishes on the killing of our animals and the withdrawal of right of appeal. One alarmed email to warmwell asks,
"...The EU Directive states that susceptible animals on a holding where FMD has been confirmed shall be killed. However, there are no provisions in the Directive, from what I can see, for the 'shall' to be placed in any other category in schedule 3. It only applies to a holding where it has been confirmed, not to holdings where FMD is suspected. This provision has been in place for years in the EU directives so why are DEFRA lawyers only now making such an issue of it?.... Are they intending to place the 'shall' in other categories in schedule 3?"We apologise if we have unwittingly caused unnecessary fear. However, this sort of worry is precisely why DEFRA's communications should be open, transparent and clearly stated in real English.
November 12 - November 19 2004 ~ "... double standard is unacceptable."
From the letter Robert Persey wrote to the Times
"The Permanent Secretary at DEFRA recently spoke at the Commons public administration committee about the FMD inquiries. He is reported as saying 'it would be deplorable if any ministers or officials had been singled out for criticism over the disastrous series of events'. The Secretary of State at DEFRA Mrs Beckett M.P spoke to the House of Commons on March 11 2004 and said 'It is the person (i.e. Mr Bobby Waugh) who employed standards which helped to foster such an outbreak, who is responsible.' Ministers and their officials are entitled to blame members of the public but the same Ministers and their officials are not to be held responsible for their own failings. I think this double standard is unacceptable."Many would agree. The has been no acknowledgement or understanding of the widespread fear, misery and sense of disbelief in the government sanctioned insanity of what was happening in 2001, the loss of prime and irreplaceable breeding stock, losses to the livestock industry and those businesses allied to it. But quite apart from that, the choices made in 2001 resulted in a massive squandering of public money. DEFRA and the government shrug off their accountability for this - even in the face of the EU's justifiable refusal to withhold money from the UK. Mr Waugh's errors - unchecked by officials at the time - made him the scapegoat. He was "singled out for criticism" Many, many others continue to pay the price for the errors of 2001. And DEFRA implies that it cannot understand what all the fuss is about.
November 12 - 19 2004 ~ ".. one of the most appalling cases of misgovernment since the Second World War"
In its own report today about the NAO inquiry (see below) the Western Morning News quotes Owen Paterson above. It also reports that
.." Sir Brian Bender.... permanent secretary at the former Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food at the time of the crisis, said: "Identifying who was to blame and trying to nail people was not the intention of ministers. I deplore the tendency to try to finger people rather than learn the lessons."We wonder when Mr Bender thinks this "tendency" has been demonstrated. Certainly in none of the reports we have seen lately.
"...Sir Brian also defended the decision to hold the bulk of the official "lessons learned" inquiry in secret. He said that the decision, which was taken by Tony Blair, was designed to produce "forward-looking" recommendations quickly. But he said taking evidence in private might also have helped to "contribute to greater candour" from witnesses..."We can only repeat what we have already said about the background of those witnesses invited to give evidence in private
Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater..."...Surely we should have had some form of very public process to give people confidence that we had got to the truth."Read the Western Morning News article in full
Labour MP Gordon Prentice also noted that "huge numbers of people out there were clamouring for a public inquiry".
The Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, who was also giving evidence to MPs yesterday, said that although private inquiries had some advantages they were becoming "increasingly difficult to sustain" because the public did not trust them.
November 12 - 19 2004 ~ Work in Progress: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Foot and Mouth: Applying the Lessons
UK National Audit Office publications "Study Outline
The 2001 epidemic was the largest animal disease epidemic in modern times and cost the tax-payer over #3 billion. Although up to 60 per cent of eligible costs are recoverable from Europe, the European Commission intends to disallow a substantial proportion of the compensation paid to UK farmers in 2001 owing to overvaluations. Our study will follow-up the recommendations made in the Public Accounts Committees highly critical report of 2002 and the governments response of May 2003........ We expect to publish our report in early 2005"While the NAO inquiry will be looking at avoiding a similar disaster in financial terms it is logical that it probe into how the epidemic started. That none of the other inquiries saw fit to do so is a mystery. The NAO may want to ask what failings - after three years of government denial and obfuscation - now need to be addressed.
November 4 - November 11 2004 ~ Parts of Mr Dring's statement demand further questioning
See longer entry ".. In spite of evidence that the farm was in a miserable state, it was not closed down. Mr Dring made only threats about the revocation of the Article 26 licence (swill feeding). He suggests that cruelty would be "hard to prove"
"anyone looking for official documentation of the sequence of events related above will look in vain. This is because, though contrary to normal working practice, no such official record was made."
At a time when farmers are expected to keep exhaustive records and spend valuable time filling forms, it is wholly unacceptable for an official to be negligent and irresponsible about record keeping..
"With the benefit of hindsight, however, I now see that this is much more likely to have been swill, dropped off close to his holding tank, for incorporation, without prior processing, into his feeding system." -
.....not good enough to talk about the "benefit of hindsight" when Waugh's premises had been complained about.
...... Mr Dring's mea culpa is honest - but it is not surprising that it was decided at DEFRA that such a "memo" should have not find its way to Dr Anderson.....
....seems evident that there were perhaps as many as eight dead sheep hidden in a shed. An inspection worth its name would have found them." Read in full
November 4 - November 11 2004 ~ " .... it needed more independent expertise on diagnostics, practical expertise on the use of vaccines, expertise on serology".
Before any of the three "non-dovetailing" parts (see Ian Liddell-Grainger MP in WMN) of the official FMD inquiries reported, the concerns of Dr David Shannon, who retired from his post of Chief Scientist at DEFRA at the end of 2001, were quoted in the February 2002 edition of Science & Public Affairs
"....The initial modelling was done without a full understanding of the disease and the nature of the industry and its practices......' Read in fullDr Shannon expressed unease about the way advice on the outbreak was given to the Government. He spoke out to ensure that lessons were learned. He can hardly have expected that the reports would be so lacking in criticism. After three years, DEFRA's view of an "Expert Group" has changed little. In spite of the EU Directive, it consists only of DEFRA vets, epidemiologists and administrative staff and of "FMD experts from Pirbright".
November 4 - November 11 2004 ~ The Anderson Inquiry - careful in its choice of official witnesses
Now that it is more evident than ever that key evidence was indeed withheld from the so-called "Lessons to be Learned" Inquiry, we remember that in 2002 those who were invited actively to give evidence, from Tony Blair downwards, were drawn from Government ranks. After a long list of Ministers, Cabinet Office officials, Defra officials, Downing Street officials, MoD officials, Treasury and other Government Agencies, those listed as ' Other organisations and individuals'. include such as Professor Roy Anderson, the BVA, the NFU 2 meetings, NFU Scotland meeting- and also lnquiry visits to France and the Netherlands.
Apart from National Foot and Mouth Group - and Warmwell itself - there were very few actually called to put a view counter to the Government (Mr Peter Ainsworth MP being one of the noble exceptions). How could lessons be learned when Dr Anderson was not to hear the other side? Those researches show that the adopted control measures, far from being a cause for complacency, actually increased the scale, impact and extent of the epidemic.
November 4 - November 11 2004 ~ fresh questions about the foot and mouth inquiry tomorrow, Thursday
WMN "The Government is to face fresh questions about the foot and mouth inquiry tomorrow when MPs begin their own investigation into the value of official reports on departmental failures. Sir Brian Bender, the top civil servant at the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will face tough questioning about the inquiry into the 2001 epidemic...... Ian Liddell-Grainger : "The inquiry was broken up into three parts, none of which dovetailed, leaving the possibility that many important questions would fall between the gaps. It appears to have been designed to get the Government off the hook. Most importantly it has not convincingly demonstrated that the Government has learned from its many mistakes. We are as open to another outbreak of foot and mouth as we were." ............. Tomorrow's hearing is part of a wider investigation into the value of official inquiries." Read in full See also warmwell pages about Mr Bender including strong words from the Telegraph.
November 4 - November 11 ~ Mr Bradshaw: "Defra recently obtained copies of the video ...."
Burnside Farm Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when her Department was first informed of the existence of a video of Burnside Farm taken by Northumberland Trading Standards officers on 23 February 2001; and when her Department first obtained a copy of the video. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 28 October 2004]: A Defra official was present at Burnside Farm on 24 February 2001 when the video of the conditions on the farm was being made by Northumberland Trading Standards Department. Defra officials saw some of the video when it was shown at Robert Waugh's trial in May 2002. Defra recently obtained copies of the video when it was referred to in correspondence received by Defra officials on 30 September 2004.
November 4 - November 11 ~ The case officer who had been pursuing the Swill feeders' case for the Ombudsman has been "promoted" away
We hear from Robert Persey: "The Parliamentary Ombudsman has promoted the case officer who was making good progress on the swill feeding case.
Surprise, surprise, he has not been replaced and so the investigation has conveniently stopped.
Is somebody pulling strings with the Ombudsman?"
It certainly looks like it. The case has been beset by diversionary tactics for months.
November 4 - November 11 ~Were getting somewhere now. We have a voice and the government will surely have to listen now that the Parliamentary Ombudsman is investigating our case."
See Royal Agricultural Society of England's website ".... Lynda Davies, who lives near Manchester, is the driving force behind a campaign in support of swill feeders who were severely hit by the crisis. The British Pig and Poultry Fairs British Pig Personality of the Year judges announced their decision to create a special award for a unique contribution by a unique person. ........Ian Bell, Director of rural charity the ARC-Addington Fund, said that Lynda had fought against the social problems caused by the crisis, which were often neglected in favour of economic considerations.
Lynda began a fight for justice after the finger of blame was pointed at swill feeders in the aftermath of FMD, and her own husbands business was badly hit. In the three years since the government banned swill feeding no compensation has been made to the people who earned their living from it."
November 4 - November 11 ~ The smell from the Burnside bins made the postman gag...
every time he passed Burnside. We understand that Trading Standards officers spent many man hours compiling reports on their investigations into Burnside Farm at Heddon on the Wall.
Our information is that local council dustmen were interviewed about conditions outside the farm. A postman had made a statement saying that the smell from the bins in the yard was overpowering and that he actually 'gagged' every time he passed Burnside. A school cook made a statement about the waste given to Waugh. Locals had been interviewed, as well as a man who worked for BT. All agreed that the place was disgusting. One wonders whether these reports were given to the Lessons Learned Inquiry or quietly shelved.
November 4 - November 11 ~ "A spokesman for DEFRA last night said if there was any evidence to support the allegations it would start a new investigation"
Valerie Elliott in the Times on Monday "...video evidence obtained by Farmers Weekly from Northumberland Trading Standards shows that the virus could have been taken on to the pig farm, which was ran by Bobby Waugh, in the carcasses of sheep ...
...A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said last night that if there were any evidence to support the allegations it would start a new investigation."Read in full
Ms Elliott's article notwithstanding, it is the allegations concerning the scandal of the state of the farm and its being condoned by those who had the power to step in - which ought to "start a new investigation"
November 4 - November 11 ~ " There were complaints about fires burning on the site and swill being tipped at the side of the road..."
"..The place was very untidy. But at the end of the day, I pay my taxes for people like Defra and Trading Standards to inspect premises like this and see that they are kept up to standard. Their attitude to this place was very lackadaisical. If it had been policed properly this would never have occurred in the first place." Extract from the article from icNewcastle May 31 2002.
As an emailer wrote at the weekend, "Waugh was undoubtedly an insensitive farmer and his pigs were treated abominably, but pigs are still treated inhumanely, pig disease is still rife, still hidden and covered up for the sake of trade just as it was in East Anglia in the months before FMD struck. No lessons have been learned. The suggestion that there was at Burnside material that was either not noticed or deliberately not investigated is important. However sorry one feels for the overworked officials concerned, a new inquiry at which answers are demanded would now seem imperative. The questions are not going to go away."
November 4 - November 11 ~ Evidence against Waughs being the index case
- FMD virus was never recovered from the pig swill and there was a lot of it about - in untreated form
- A single airborne spread event (HoW to Prestwick Hall) would seem illogical
- Presence of sheep carcase(s) from Ponteland on Waugh's bonfire means that MAFF investigations as to alternative origins should have been rigorous - they do not appear to have been (video).
- Ageing of lesions is inaccurate - especially ageing of old lesions (e.g. 10 days or more).
- All 11 blue faced Leicesters treated for 'foot scald' (sic) at Prestwick Hall farm on Feb 10 and 20 were antibody positive and 3 had 'old FMD lesions' - so FMD was indeed present at this farm from late January or early February.
- Anderson did not try and establish the origins of the epidemic, just as he did not test the scientific validity of the contiguous culling policy
November 4 - November 11 ~ Video raises FMD theory doubts
Source: FWi 05 November 2004 Jonathan Riley
"..........the emergence of the Northumberland Trading Standards video, taken on Bobby Waughs Burnside Farm in Feb 2001 (News, Oct 29), FW has unearthed evidence of a possible alternative mode of transmission.See also FWi page "Did the disease start in sheep?""...documented evidence a paper published by the Veterinary Record in April 2003 also supposed that the foot lesions seen at Prestwick Hall Farm could have been F&M lesions. (see also email received) .." See also Welsh Assembly's rural affairs committee ask to see a copy of the Burnside Farm video
The video shows a dog tearing at a dead sheep on Burnside's rubbish heap and has begged the question from all of those who have seen the video, "How did the sheep get there?". Speaking to Mr Waugh, FW has learned that the animal shown in the video was one of eight dead sheep, brought on to the farm on Jan 24, 2001 four weeks before the disease was confirmed at the farm. Mr Waugh said that the sheep were brought to his farm by a man, whose name is withheld, from land near to Prestwick Hall Farm. "We put the sheep in a shed out of the way for a while because Jim Dring [the government vet] was due to carry out his inspection for my Article 26 licence that afternoon," he said. The sheep were dragged out of the shed and burned over the next few days. Bristol University professor, Sheila Crispin, said: "The presence of the sheep at Burnside Farm and the emerging details of the movements from a site near Prestwick Hall, create considerable uncertainty over the agreed transmission theory." Read in full
November 4 - November 11 ~ Sheep tests showed disease nearly three weeks before FMD officially recognised
Sheep which had been transported to France nearly three weeks before FMD was officially identified, with health certificates signed by Welsh Assembly vets, were shown to have been infected. Once again, the names of Hugues Inizan and Marc Nozin must be remembered.
In January 2001 sheep exported from Brecon and Ross-on- Wye to France showed signs of FMD. 31 sheep were tested. 21 of those sheep proved negative, but 10 proved positive, with 7 testing highly positive. Joyce Quin, in answer to Stephen O'Brien, said in the House of Commons on May 8 2001
"The French authorities have now informed us that the seven samples that initially showed positive results have been re-tested with negative results. They have concluded that the initial serological positive reactions must be considered as false positives..."Mr O'brien tabled several other PQs about this by MPs, as did Mr James Paice. As far as we can ascertain, answers were unsatisfactory.
( Our own researches in France met first with interest and then with stony, even frightened, silence.)
November 4 - November 11 ~ Parliamentary Questions being asked today
by Andrew George and Owen Paterson concerning the scientific test samples sent to Pirbright and results of those test samples. Read here
(We await with interest the answer to Mr Paterson's question: ".... what tests were made on the dead sheep shown in the Burnside Farm video taken by trading standards officials on 24th February 2001 to determine their cause of death; and what the results were of those tests." The dead sheep at Burnside, seen on the video but not mentioned in Mr Dring's statement (pdf), are of particular interest in view of Dr Renton's view and in view of the information we were given that the sheep originated from Ponteland where they had been "ill")
November 4 - November 11 ~ "I have absolutely no doubt that there was a cover-up" Owen Paterson
."Michael Howard has pledged to review the case for a full public inquiry into the foot and mouth disaster in the light of new evidence of a Government cover-up " is the front page news of the Western Morning News (Thursday)
" . .. The Tory leader ..... stressed that he would prefer to see those responsible held to account while they were still in office. ..It really won't wash to call this search for the truth a "politically orchestrated campaign". I have updated this website - unfunded and without political interest - every day for over three years because the politicians not only refuse to face the responsibility for a terrible set of mistakes but - to cover these mistakes - seem determined to reject even now the humane, common sense measures that should have been taken. The parallels with Iraq are unmissable.
Shadow Agriculture Minister Owen Paterson: "I have absolutely no doubt that there was a cover-up. Many people in the countryside are still absolutely boiling about this - it will not go away."
Mr Paterson has also tabled questions about the fate of scientific test results taken on livestock at Waugh's farm at the time of the outbreak. ...... the test results do not appear to have been sent to the Anderson Inquiry.
..... Ben Bradshaw : "This is just a politically orchestrated campaign to try and put the blame for foot and mouth on the Government rather than on the farmer who was responsible through his criminal activity," he said..." Read in full
October 29 - November 4 ~ Missing Test results. It gets murkier
DEFRA maintains a loud silence over the video of Burnside. The original test results (reference) at Heddon on the Wall were deliberately removed from Dring's "memo" and never sent to the Lessons Learned inquiry. Nor was the video, eventually seen by MPs and other influential figures on October 21st 2004.
Those test results now seem crucial. Do the test results give a clear idea of when infection came to Burnside? What exactly are the discrepancies between what was said about the results and the results themselves? Were antibody positives included?
There are far too many unanswered questions in this whole matter. The tests could well show that Heddon on the Wall could not possibly have been the index case. (See also Dr Renton's words below) We hope in the near future to be able to shed more light on what level and age of infection was actually found at Mr Waugh's premises.
October 29 - November 4 ~ "... there seems very little movement by the Government to source this disease"
said the Ministry vet Dr Stuart Renton from Newcastle in April 2001 "... the infection was in sheep long before it surfaced at Heddon-on-the-Wall. And I hope you guys in the press get to the bottom of this...."
That the Government now considers the FMD outbreak to be "old news" will really not do. Too much was lost, too many lives were blighted for the truth not to matter. The heartless, arrogant government policy - one that has been defended ever since by its perpetrators - caused vital trust to be lost that shows no sign of being regained.
The video shown to MPs and others on Thursday 21 October 2004, shows dead sheep on the Burnside tip. A neighbouring farmer has apparently said that there were four dead sheep burnt on about January 20 2001and that these four sheep originated from Pontelands where the neighbouring farmer was treating his sheep for 'barley poisoning' - or was it FMD? Did the virus travel from Ponteland to Burnside rather than the other way around.?
In April 2001 Dr Renton said that he and his colleagues had come across old foot-and-mouth sores indicating the disease was present in sheep before February.
On April 28 2001 Maff 's spokeswoman claimed MAFF had never said the outbreak "definitely started" at Mr. Waugh's pig farm. "We only said it was the likely source and were not pointing fingers." Northern Echo Yet Mr Bradshaw now implies that Mr Waugh was to blame for the outbreak itself, as does the DEFRA "Origins" paper: "...the index case for the whole epidemic, is considered to have been a pig finishing unit at Burnside Farm, Heddon on the Wall." (See also warmwell chronology page)
October 29 - November 4 ~"It appears that no proper investigation into the events has ever been carried out and this video seems to confirm it"
Under the headline "HORROR FARM VIDEO CLAIMS" The Western Morning News reports that "... the video could bolster claims that failings in the regulatory system were partly responsible for the disastrous foot and mouth outbreak: "We believe certificates for this farm to continue feeding should never have been issued. It appears that no proper investigation into the events has ever been carried out and this video seems to confirm it."
...... In a report that was withheld from the official "lessons learned" inquiry by the Government, Mr Dring said the foot and mouth crisis "would never have come about" if his inspection of Waugh's farm in the weeks leading up to the outbreak had been "more rigorous".
........several farming experts who have seen the video (which was shot on February 23, 2001) believe the conditions shown are so appalling that Waugh's farm cannot possibly have been in a decent state at the time of the inspection. Any evidence that suggested Government negligence could encourage compensation claims from the thousands of businesses affected by the foot and mouth crisis. Although farmers whose animals were slaughtered were compensated, many others who faced draconian trading conditions were not. ....
... Opposition MPs have challenged the Government to reopen the inquiry.... Mr George, MP for St Ives, has written o the Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett, asking her to ensure Dr Anderson is shown the video and is allowed to comment on it. He said the video made it clear there had been a regulatory failure of some kind in relation to Waugh's farm. " read in full See also warmwell's pages on the Dring case and warmwell's view of the chronology of FMD 2001
October 29 - November 4 ~ The Daily Mirror (November 1) on Burnside video furore
Mirror "......Experts and MPs last night called for a probe into why government vet Jim Dring renewed farmer Bobby Waugh's licence despite the disgusting conditions when he visited in February 2001 - shortly before the #8billion outbreak. Lib-Dem agriculture spokesman Andrew George said: "I am shocked by the video and the conditions on the farm. The pressure for opening the file on this issue is now overwhelming." Read in full
October 29 - November 4 ~ Was the vet under pressure from the Ministry?" asked St Ives MP Andrew George
- "Were his actions being monitored?
- How did anything so patently dangerous pass official scrutiny?
If there is one thing that farming does not need, it is further intrusive regulation, but this demanded just clear regulation and common sense. Neither, it seems, was present in 2001.
- How can the Anderson Inquiry call itself the 'lessons learned' inquiry when these fundamental questions as to the epidemic's genesis have not even been addressed?"
No doubt the Government will prefer once more to turn its back on the problem, in the mistaken belief that lightning does not strike twice in the same place. As any rural dweller will tell them, it does. " Read in full
October 29 - November 4 ~ Defra (and the government) cannot have it both ways. It either knows or does not know the origin of FMD 2001
One of the sickening results of government bungling over FMD is that the swill feeders have taken the brunt of blame and lost their livelihoods. The government continues to imply that Bobby Waugh's swill feeding practices introduced the virus - never referring to the details of the trial nor to the licence granted to the farmer by MAFF itself and - even under pressure, weasling out of its failure to give the full facts to the Anderson Inquiry (see below).
Mr Bradshaw's answer to Mr Paice last week was; "The Conservatives continue with their historic attempt to deflect blame for the foot and mouth outbreak away from where it belongswith the farmer who was responsible for illegal and irresponsible practices."But, as we show below, there is a great deal of mystery surrounding the Heddon court case. The origin of the outbreak, DEFRA's report notwithstanding, has never come to light.
Mr Morley recently pointed out that the 2001 FMD crisis was "probably" caused by infected, illegally imported meat.
If the government believes it was infected meat, why do they sit on their hands over the question of illegal imports - so dangerous to human health? And why use the word "probably"? See Dirty Meat pages
October 29 - November 4 ~ " Are you saying that basically more meat is seized than you actually state in your own report?"
asked the interviewer of Elliot Morley in last Tuesday's File on Four.
EM: Well I, Im not quite sure to be honest with you what report youre referring to there.Read extract in full
AS: Im actually looking at the figures, and Ill read from the cover, The annual review of controls on imports of animal products: April 2003 to March 2004: DEFRA.
EM: I, I havent got that report. Im terribly sorry.
October 29 - November 4 ~ A tale of two videos
See FWi article states that the distressing video was filmed on "Feb 24 2001 four days into the crisis and just four weeks after the farms swill feeding licence was renewed by government agents." The FWi articlequotes Chris Price, a legal expert with the CLA who says,
"The video provides crucial evidence that the government through its agent the vet Jim Dring was negligent."The footage appalled all who saw it. Conditions at Burnside were certainly very nasty on February 24 2001- but we have been told that MAFF had taken sawdust normally used for bedding to make a disinfectant mat across the road. The pigs had been forcibly "bled" for analysis by means of wire nooses, had been dragged through the pens and were covered in pig-muck. They were desperately hungry and miserable - and responsibility for this would appear to be as much that of the officials as the vilified farmer.
October 29 - November 4 ~ Policy appears to be to trust that it will not happen again, and, if it does, to kill again, with the same callous indiscrimination.
"Now a video of Bobby Waugh's Burnside Farm has been released. Shot by Northumberland Trading Standards Department four days after the outbreak of foot and mouth, it is a record of unremitting squalor, bad husbandry and conditions in which any infection would thrive. Yet this was the farm to which Government vet Jim Dring granted a licence, this the farm in which the epidemic germinated...." The Western Morning News article on the video
October 29 - November 4 ~ April 29 2004 "I would be willing to give way now to the Minister if he wanted to rise to guarantee to the House that no other information has been withheld
and that Dr. Anderson received each and every piece of relevant information relating to the outbreak. I should be happy to give way if the Minister wished to do that, but I am afraid that the fact that he is not[Interruption.] Oh, he is.
Mr. Bradshaw: I have asked that question of officials and have been assured that that is the case.
Mrs. May: Well, we have had a lot of Ministers standing up to talk about what officials have or have not done. It is about time Ministers took responsibility for what happens in their Departments. .." Hansard
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Mr Bradshaw's answers about the video raise more questions.
"My understanding is that the video contains nothing new. All of the details contained in the video, I am told, were given to the Anderson Inquiry. .... the video was part of the trial of Bobby Waugh."Could "all of the details contained in the video" have been given to the Anderson Inquiry when some of those details were, as far as we understand it, discredited at the trial?
DEFRA's "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" says " ... Bins of unprocessed waste food were present on Burnside Farm at the time of the MAFF VO visit on 23 February, some of which was in bins supposedly reserved exclusively for processed waste." The cross examination on day 5 of the trial - in notes that we can only assume are accurate - would appear to cast doubt on this assertion.
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Mr Waugh was asked how he believed the disease got into his herd
(trial notes) and replied, "I don't know but its been in the sheep for a long time. I'd burned some sheep in my farm just prior to this that belonged to a friend of Mr Leadbitter." On the 13th February 2001 sheep at Ponteland, five miles from Burnside farm at Heddon on the Wall, were found to be infected and it was assumed that Waugh's pigs were the source - but for several days at that time, the prevailing wind had been North Westerly. Dr Alex Donaldson's paper shows that it is unlikely that the relevant virus strain could have travelled in the air such a distance. The diseased sheep from Ponteland went to Hexham market where they mixed with other sheep and from there to Longtown market, where they mixed with others. Bobby Waugh may have been right; the virus may have travelled from Ponteland to Burnside farm and not the other way around. See also Chronology of FMD
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Elliot Morley says that dairy farming has the "biodiversity capacity of green concrete"
He said this during the announcement of the RSPBs latest wild bird population figures. (Misleading data in bird population figures discussed below) He later hurriedly explained that he had meant "intensive" dairy farming - but the intensification of the dairy industry is driven by low milk prices forced by supermarkets. Dairy farmers are being forced - most unwillingly - to intensify by increasing herd sizes. Milk prices no longer even cover the farmer's production costs. Peter Lundgren of FARM said,
"This is a shallow and fatuous thing for the environment minister to say and shows a real lack of sensitivity for the drivers that are pushing dairy farmers to intensify. We are losing small family farms - and the wildlife they support - because of horrendous financial hardship. This is largely because of this government's surrender to the supermarkets."Jim Paice MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Affairs adds
"This is extremely offensive to the countless dairy farmers in this country who are struggling to break even. To suggest that dairy farmers are less interested in the natural environment is to show this Government in its true light - in complete ignorance of farming matters and without any empathy for the difficulties farmers face. We all want to see farms and birds thrive but this won't be achieved by insulting farmers."FARM's Just Milk campaign is seeking to mobilise the general public in support of dairy farmers. With 40 dairy farms going out of business every week, and the diversity of the countryside being eroded, the crisis is growing.
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Jim Paice challenges Beckett over Foot and Mouth video
Following the private viewing last week of the video of Burnside Farm taken by Northumberland Trading Standards, Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Jim Paice has challenged Margaret Beckett as to when the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs first knew about the video. He has asked in Parliamentary Questions
Commenting, the Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture Jim Paice said:
- whether any DEFRA official was present at the trial of Bobby Waugh,
- when the video was used by the prosecution, and
- when her Department first obtained a copy of that video.
"The failure of Ministers to see the video is an abdication of responsibility, their failure to provide it to the Anderson Inquiry points to a cover-up and Ben Bradshaw says there is nothing new in the video, yet how does he know if he hasn't seen it? A ministry official at last week's showing stated that DEFRA had a copy, I want to know when they got it." (Conservative Party press release)
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Ben Bradshaw confuses Professor Roy Anderson and Dr Iain Anderson - and continues to blame "the farmer who was responsible for illegal and irresponsible practices" for government bungling.
Hansard for Oct 21 2004
Mr. James Paice : It is astonishing if no Minister has seen the video that shows the failings of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in respect of the inspections at Burnside farm. Despite the fact that that video and Mr. Dring's report were not shown to the Anderson inquiry ......See also Mr Bradshaw's reply to Andrew George below so reminiscent of Fawlty Towers' Manuel - "I know nothing" - in the Hansard report..."All of the details contained in the video, I am told, were given to the Anderson Inquiry. Professor Anderson himself said that etc etc".
Mr. Bradshaw: The Conservatives continue with their historic attempt to deflect blame for the foot and mouth outbreak away from where it belongswith the farmer who was responsible for illegal and irresponsible practices, and who was prosecuted for themand towards MAFF, as it was then called, and the people who check illegal imports. Professor Anderson has already said that, even if he had had all the information that has come to light in the past few months, his recommendations would have been exactly the same. read in full
The Junior DEFRA Minister seems to have forgotten - or never knew - that the Lessons Learned Inquiry was chaired by Dr Iain Anderson not Professor Roy Anderson whose modelling led to the disastrous "contiguous cull". When the spokesman for DEFRA and the government is capable of such errors one wonders if he has ever understood anything at all about the foot and mouth fiasco of 2001.
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Andrew George has called for the re-opening of the Anderson Inquiry
From Press release
"having seen this morning I have to say a very distressing video by Northumberland Trading Standards Department of Bobby Waughs Burnside Farm four days after the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001; can I ask the Minister has he seen that video I know his Department has it and if so does he agree with me that it provides ample justification for a re-opening of Dr. Iain Andersons inquiry into the causes of and the lessons learned from that Foot and Mouth outbreak. ....Read in full
Following the exchange, Mr George said:
I am surprised that no Minister has seen this video. I doubt they would be so complacent if they had seen it.I do not believe the Dr Iain Anderson Inquiry either took into account this evidence or considered the implications. The Inquiry should be re-opened.
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~Collaborative effort is vital in fighting animal disease.
This website is dedicated to changing the narrow UK mindset that considers mass slaughter is still an acceptable way of dealing with animal disease. We have been impressed by international efforts to pool expertise and resources - such as this from the Israeli embassy: "Common, co-ordinated epidemiological studies leading to a common control policy should be sought and supported by the international community" and the new international initiative from the Humanitarian Resource Institute :the International Veterinary Public Health Consortium (See below)
a Guest editorial in the Veterinary Journal makes the same points forcefully
"close collaborative effort is required to provide the best scientific approach to elimination of disease. ....contiguous slaughter was rarely achieved within the 48 hour target in the field and many species of animal on contiguous premises remained in good health and went beyond the accepted incubation periods for FMD before they were killed.. ...analysis clearly demonstrates the impor-tance of field veterinary epidemiology and effective col-laboration in disease control strategies."Professor Crispin's editorial may be read here and on the science page. We have reason to fear that DEFRA's current view of foot and mouth is that it is "old news" and that nothing needs to change. One representative from DEFRA attended the EUFMD Convention in Crete.
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ A breakthrough for vaccines that do not need refrigeration
The BBC reports on a new technology developed by Cambridge Biostability which is based on a natural process which allows cells to be preserved in a dried-out state. It could have far reaching implications for vaccination against animla disease - it will make a huge difference to their selection and use if they do not need to be refrigerated. The BBC says "Ministers have given the firm #950,000 to prepare vaccines for trials. ... It is estimated about half of all vaccinations are wasted each year because of contamination or ... extremes of temperature. .... Cambridge Biostability chief scientist Dr Bruce Roser said the technology, called stable liquid, "had the potential to revolutionise international vaccine programmes. .."
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~~ News that could have implications for controlling populations of badgers and foxes.
Researchers in New Zealand have made major progress toward developing a contraceptive for possums in the wild. Dr Janine Duckworth and her team have developed a vaccine that works by immunising female possums so that their eggs are not fertilised. "Our next aim is to further reduce fertility, by more than 50%, and then to make the contraceptive effect last longer. If we can achieve this, the amount of poison used in New Zealand could be reduced by at least 50%, and potentially more as we improve the vaccine..... We want to develop an edible encapsulated bait for the vaccine, which would be easier to use in the field." The researchers plan to apply for ERMA approval to run limited field trials in 2008. Report on this in Scoop.com.nz
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ Trading Standards 'Waugh' video was not submitted to Lessons Learned, it seems.
Foot and MouthThis remains to be seen - in more ways than one. See also Dring case and "origin" of FMD 2001
Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether footage of the video taken by Northumberland Trading Standards on 23 February 2001 of the conditions on Burnside Farm was submitted to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Defra has no record of the video, taken by an official of the Northumberland Trading Standards Department, of the conditions at Burnside Farm, run by Mr. Bobby Waugh, being submitted to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry. The video was shown at Mr. Waugh's trial for breach of his waste food feeding licence which was held in May 2002. The Anderson Inquiry was given and published a full investigation of the causes of the outbreaks of foot and mouth in 2001 and also saw records of the State Veterinary Service visits to the farm. The video contains no new information." Hansard
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ Foot and Mouth Vaccine - now classified information
Foot and Mouth VaccineMr Bradshaw also knows that "Such information shall be submitted to the Commission every 12 months as part of the information required by Article 8 of Directive 64/432/EEC" and a courteous, common sense answer would have given Mr Soames an indication of whether stocks were adequate while assuring him that information as to exact quantities had been passed to the Commission within the past year.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many doses of foot and mouth vaccine are immediately available for the type O virus which occurred in 2001. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Article 79.4 of Council Directive 2003/85/EEC on Community measures for the control of foot and mouth disease states that "The information on quantities and subtypes of antigens or authorised vaccines stored in the national antigen and vaccine bank shall be treated as classified information and in particular shall not be published." Hansard Oct 15
October 16 - Oct 22 2004 ~ "Abigail Woods's book should be made compulsory reading in DEFRA..."
From a new review by Dr Helen Szamuely of Abigail Woods' A Manufactured Plague (see above) "....despite clear evidence all round the world that vaccination does work they pressed ahead with contiguous culling, a misnomer if ever there was one, since it was a wholesale slaughter of healthy animals, often in appalling conditions. ....
The RSPCA, so vociferous on the subject of hunting, was very little in evidence when some of the more shocking stories started coming out.
Some courageous farmers and livestock owners stood up to the might of the state, reinforced as it was eventually by highly efficient and disciplined but rather bemused soldiers. After the epidemic more legislation was introduced that tried to impose draconian penalties on all those who refused to obey diktats, however stupid and counterproductive they might be.
..... the veterinarian science of Britain, controlled by the ministry (under different names) has not moved much beyond the end of the nineteenth century. Whether we shall do so as a result of the shock of the last epidemic and the government's treatment of it, remains to be seen. In the meanwhile, Abigail Woods's book should be made compulsory reading in DEFRA, NFU and numerous other organizations." Read in full
October 9 - Oct 16 2004 ~ Foot and Mouth 'Keep Out' sign crossed through in red ink.
This symbol of optimism can be found on the website of EUFMD - the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease. This week sees, in Chania, Crete, The Open Session of the EUFMD Research Group organised by Dr. Keith Sumption and his team from the EUFMD. It occurs every two years and has become the largest regular forum anywhere in the world for scientists specialising or involved in Foot-and-Mouth Disease. This year there will be an important paper delivered from the point of view of ordinary "stakeholders" as well as
Dr Sumption was a critic of the 2001 FMD policies while he was at Edinburgh University. While our own DEFRA, even now, still seems trapped in a "slaughter is the best cure" mindset, the international community moves on.
- FMD surveillance and change in risk situation;
- Guidelines for post-vaccinal FMD surveillance;
- Developments in FMD diagnosis;
- Standards and performance of diagnostic services;
- Vaccine development and performance monitoring
- Contingency planning for FMD diagnostic laboratories.
October 2 - Oct 9 2004 ~ The "Watchtree Nature Reserve" i.e. the Great Orton slaughter and burial site -opened to the public on Saturday.
The News and Star says "The 200-acre site was a former burial ground for 500,000 cattle, sheep and pig carcasses during the foot and mouth crisis of 2001..... A memorial to the FMD crisis was created from a slab of Galloway granite unearthed during burials."
What the News and Star does not say is that, of the many farms which sent sheep and lambs in their lorryload to Great Orton, only one farm was definitely identified to have had the disease. Because of the government's policy, 481,000 sheep and lambs were unnecessarily slaughtered and buried there - 42 thousand healthy sheep in just one day.
In the words of the farming journalist Jeff Swift - it was " one of the greatest acts of government maladministration on record. It also means they must have broken every animal health welfare and animal health rule in the book."
The "Watchtree Nature Reserve" covers up what Nick Green called " .. the scene of one of the most futile massacres known to man." Read Nick's account from February 2002. As the National Foot and Mouth Group wrote in their response to the 2003 Contingency Plan about the use of pre-emptive culling (which remains in the Contingency Plan to this day - in spite of up to date research) "...the figures we have obtained for the Great Orton burial site provide compelling evidence that such measures are neither a proportionate nor rational response to control the disease."
Sept 26 - Oct 1 2004 ~ "..we shouldn't be surprised if the FMD virus continues to roll back efforts to contain and eradicate it"
Foot and Mouth virus Type C appears to be back - after several years. Following the report in ProMED-mail on FMD in Brazil, dated Fri 24 Sep 2004 that serotype C has been reported in the North of Brazil, we read this moderator's comment on ProMed for Oct 1
"Type C has been absent from the world scene for several years now. It is very important to figure out exactly how it came back and to ensure that it is contained on the island in the Amazon. This posting (i.e. here) intimates several competing hypotheses for the unusual occurrence of type C. We should certainly put significant efforts into finding out more about the epidemiology of this outbreak. If not, we shouldn't be surprised if the FMD virus continues to roll back efforts to contain and eradicate it, as it has over the past 3 years."
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ Anderson's assertion that contiguous culling still has a place in FMD control...
An emailer writes with this :
"If so, then why hasn't all the epidemiological data from 2001 been made publicly available for independent, scientific analysis? (as requested by the EU Parliament Inquiry report)The Western Morning News points out this morning that Dr Nick Honhold, himself a DEFRA vet in Carlisle during the crisis "used data from Defra's own databases and found "no evidence" that the contiguous cull helped to hasten the end of the outbreak." Read in full
Unless and until this happens neither Defra or Roy Anderson or the Science Group can claim that contiguous culling has any role in FMD control."
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~" the worst example comes from Wigtown where on the basis of 2 confirmed cases 218 farms had their stock slaughtered"
said Professor Sheila Crispin on Farming Today on Wednesday. But an emailer points out that the 218 farms had contiguous culls imposed on them, not only because of the two premises proved to be infected but as a result of the 11 so-called IPs that proved negative and 2 further "IP"s that were never tested at all. There were also 200 so-called "Dangerous Contact" culls ( DCs) in Wigtownshire. None of these was tested. Nor were any of the farms whose animals were summarily slaughtered.
Rapid diagnosis -available at the time and offered for field trials and since used successfully all over the world - would have avoided this carnage. It needs to be repeated that this sort of thing was repeated across the country. What is often not remembered either is that thousands more farms, put on movement restrictions (often quite erroneously) were never compensated for their loss of revenue and miserable situation.
Wigtownshire was perhaps the worst example of the shocking waste of contiguous slaughter - but the trauma and loss, so much of it unjustified by proven disease, was repeated in the affected areas.
Dr Roger Breeze made so clear yesterday, that
".. there are alternative tools that are already available to deal with this: vaccines, diagnostics, rapid diagnostics and in fact we don't have to engage in mass slaughter...These tests have been available for a number of years. They're produced by reputable scientists working in first class institutions....There are thousands of these machines in use all the time. .."Professor Anderson continued to assert in Friday's programme he has "no doubt" that there is a place for contiguous culling in any future outbreak. Professor Roy Anderson continues to advise the government and has been appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to the MOD. He chairs the new Scientific Advisory Committee and has other posts of influence.
Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ " it is really preposterous for people to say that in some way this is some sort of theoretical device which has yet to be tested.
Dr Roger Breeze puts the record straight about rapid diagnosis tests on Farming Today.
" The Department of Defense is using this every day in Afghanistan and Iraq - all over the world. There are thousands of these machines in use all the time. And so, you know, the people who think this is theoretical really ought to get out there in the world and see what is really going on..."Professor Sheila Crispin adds, "our problems with vaccination lay with export status. I hope that a lot of that has now been sorted out. Penside tests were available at the time of the epidemic. They required field validation. It would have been a wonderful opportunity, one would have thought, to do field validation of those tests." Transcript
Interestingly, when given as always the opportunity to reply, DEFRA had the grace to admit that the models were flawed, but appeared to make a confusing distinction between rapid diagnosis on-farm tests and what it called "pen-side" tests. (The concern that reluctance to use rapid PCR may have - and might have had - a commercial basis was raised in the course of this submission to the Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry.)
Read the Farming Today transcript in full More on vaccination
Up to 85.6% (over 5 million) of the animals slaughtered in the UK 2001 FMD epidemic were not infected nor incubating the disease at the time of slaughter. There is no evidence to show that the target of slaughter of infected premises within 24 hours of clinical diagnosis was ever achieved. Data and some further analysis
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~ "no evidence that contiguous culling controlled foot and mouth" Farming Today
Friday's Farming Today picks up on the research featured in the Veterinary Record. (See below) "... the contiguous cull was influenced by leading disease control experts or epidemiologists including Professor Roy Anderson from Imperial College in London. But new research suggets that there is no evidence that contiguous culling controlled foot and mouth. The work's been carried out by the Veterinary Epidemiology Unit in Belfast. The unit's Dr Nick Honhold told me how he got these results.." Transcript follows...and it is suggested that interested parties might listen to the programme on Tuesday for further revelations.
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~ "The intensity of culling of contiguous premises had no significant relationship to the rate of spread of the disease.."
Papers appearing in the Veterinary Record recently, by N. Honhold, BVSc, MSc, PhD, DipECVPM, MRCVS and other distinguished vets, analyse the application of contiguous culling (in the latest issue, specifically in Cumbria) The analyses suggest that automatic contiguous culls were wasteful. In the May 15 edition we read "focusing on controlling the potential spread of the disease over short distances by culling premises contiguous to infected premises, while the disease continued to spread over longer distances, may have resulted in excessive numbers of premises being culled." In the September 4th issue, we read: "In England, the largest numbers of geographically clustered infected premises were in Cumbria, the South West (Somerset, Devon and Cornwall) and the Settle/Clitheroe area ....The average time from the first lesion to slaughter had a statistically significant relationship in two of the three clusters and the intensity of culling of non-contiguous premises had a significant relationship in one. The intensity of culling of contiguous premises had no significant relationship in any of the three clusters." Veterinary Record Pages 287-294 4th September 2004
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~ "It is fair to say that we have taken PCR out of the research lab and into the field where it is most needed."
The Telegraph (Wednesday) carries an article about what it calls the "first DNA-based test that can diagnose a range of diseases within 30 minutes" They refer to the "portable mini-lab" developed at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Dstl, Porton Down which "could eventually cost less than #10 each." Trials are to take place at hospitals in Portsmouth and Liverpool and in-the-field testing for animal diseases, including foot and mouth and bovine TB.
Telegraph "The test could change the face of general practice and veterinary medicine. .... ..... Yesterday, speaking at a conference in Bournemouth, Dr Mullis said tests based on the method had huge potential because "you need to know what a disease is before you can do anything about it".Can the UK Government continue now to ignore such rapid diagnostic tests in contingency planning for foot and mouth?
At first, Porton Down wanted to find a way to use PCR for fast battlefield detectors of biological warfare agents such as anthrax but its wider potential was realised ...... The team plans to provide two rapid, automated PCR machines for various uses...
...... There will also be in-the-field testing for animal diseases, including foot and mouth or tuberculosis in cattle within 30 minutes, rather than having to send samples to a lab. Tim Rubidge, Dstl head of technology transfer and investments group, said the idea of a tabletop DNA test laboratory was no longer a "a twinkle in the eye of a research scientist looking far out into the future". ..... The Porton team uses custom-built test tubes made from a novel, electrically-conducting polymer to heat and cool samples. This not only speeds up the process, but also creates a lighter, more portable instrument."
Sept 12 - Sept 18 ~" will (DEFRA) make a new kind of history and adopt vaccination?"
A review of Dr Abigail Woods' "A Manufactured Plague" appears this month in the magazine, Country Illustrated.
"....What is particularly striking about Dr Woods's book is the damning light it shines on how little successive governments have learned from previous outbreaks, and how the same mistakes were repeated for more than 80 years...(See also the the warmwell pages concerning the EU Committee's report on Foot and Mouth Disease and their WORKING DOCUMENT 5 a
... the intense suffering inflicted by the official FMD control policy, the highly political nature of disease control, the gulf between MAF's public pronouncements and its private actions, the difficulty of import controls, the institutional resistance to vaccination, and perhaps most critically, just how few of its lessons were remembered ....
...She reminds us that the British Government tried-but failed -to block the EU Parliament inquiry which was so critical of MAFF... She ends by asking, 'Will DEFRA follow the example of the now-defunct MAFF and stick stubbornly to a slaughter-only policy? Or will it make a new kind of history and adopt vaccination? ....' ."
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ "There is no other rapid test kit available that measures only live TB and does not give false positives."
The VScan rapid test kit, made by Medical Services International Inc, is a single use, disposable, accurate, cost effective, easy to use test for the screening of HIV 1&2, Hepatitis B&C, Tuberculosis (TB), Dengue Fever, and West Nile.
Another example of the use of rapid tests for infectious disease. Already in wide use in Chinese hospitals, the delay in making such tests available for both human and animal use in the UK and US is inexplicable.
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ Defra Q and A page on vaccination still fails adequately to explain about vaccinated meat for home consumption
There is still a misguided fear among producers that vaccination would mean an end to a viable home market for vaccinated animals. Defra's foot and mouth vaccination page of questions and answers, apparently last modified on June 25, does at least do better than the Vaccination Paper they published on the 18 June in explaining about vaccinated meat - but still falls far short of really spelling out what a difference not having to treat vaccinated meat for the home market has made. The derogation obtained from the EU which will allow vaccinated meat and meat products destined for the UK market to be treated in the same way as un-vaccinated product. Post vaccinated and tested meat is allowed on to the home market.
Untreated meat from vaccinated cattle and sheep can be placed on the domestic market.
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ The EU FMD Directive provides for derogation from heat treatments once the Protection or Surveillance Zone has been in place for more than 30 days
Article 58 para 13 of the EU Directive is all-important. A great deal of progress has been made in providing for the use of emergency, protective vaccination and it is unfortunate that the DEFRA Q and A does not make this clearer.
The language of the Directive itself, as with so much legislation that affects ordinary people, seems perversely complicated when understanding it fully is of such vital importance
Nor are import/export arrangements necessarily set in stone. For example, Russia and the EU have reached a new understanding:
FWi ".........EU and Russian negotiators have now agreed that a notifiable disease outbreak such as foot-and-mouth or Classical Swine Fever will no longer automatically block exports from the whole of that country or from the remainder of the EU."
Sept 6 - Sept 12 ~ "The Killing Pens" by Janet Hughes.
The book relates to a legal case taken in 2001 during Foot and Mouth Disease. Janet Hughes became appalled at the actions of Government to eradicate the disease.
" Mass culls occurred in my locality and our countryside became a place of nightmares. I began to discover that the majority of tests had negative results. Hundreds of farms lost livestock in spite of these negative results and the killing continued in Wales through to August 2001.The publication of this book is scheduled for the end of the month. The Foreword is by Christopher Booker.
The book tells the factual story of my journey towards the legal case and its aftermath. Information was forthcoming from many sources, including a slaughterman, who informed me of plans for culling on a mass scale.
The legal case related to the mass slaughter of sheep on the Brecon Beacons in South Powys. Large pens were constructed on the slopes of the mountains in July 2001 supposedly to test the sheep. The farmers were informed that they would be able to shear and dose their sheep, whilst in the pens. However, the pens were the killing pens; not one sheep came out of the pens alive..."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Dr Abigail Woods: "It is the thoughts and actions of humans that have 'manufactured' FMD into the particular political, economic, social and psychological problem that it is today."
Dr Woods writes: "Readers of Warmwell may be interested to know that my book, 'A Manufactured Plague. The History of foot and mouth disease in Britain' is now available. Details and a sample chapter are found at http://www.earthscan.co.uk.. ..explains why the government felt so compelled to institute a policy of mass slaughter rather than vaccination."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Foot and Mouth outbreak: Welfare Disposal Scheme cases listed by DEFRA as "Infected Premises"....
An emailer writes, "Several Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme cases were made into IPs. I have found two which had negative test results and a third which had no tests... . it cannot have been simply incompetence....."
IP 491 Hereford -Welsh border, no tests; (listed as LWDS)How is any of this to be verified? Were the authorities re-categorising these negative or untested cases deliberately? If so, why? One is reminded of the significant sentence "..a detailed analysis of the proportion of IPs that were confirmed as infected by laboratory tests is yet to be published...." in 2004 article by Kitching et al The UK foot and mouth disease outbreak - The Aftermath
IP 811 Hereford and Worcs, NEG; (listed as LWDS)
IP 867 Hereford-Welsh border, LWDS withdrawn, tests returned negative results;
IP 978 Carlisle, no tests; (listed as LWDS)
IP 1203 Devon, LWDS withdrawn, tests returned negative results;
IP 1878 Cumbria, no tests; (listed as LWDS)
Aug 23 - 29 ~ Plum Island - Two FMD contamination incidents ".. didn't meet the existing notification criteria"
Donald Tighe, the US "Homeland Security" spokesman said (of Congressman Hillary Clinton and Senator Tim Bishop see below)
"we appreciate them coming to the island and we appreciate their input. We welcome additional input on this as well...Our commitment since Day One of the handover [from the Department of Agriculture more than a year ago] has been to full public awareness. That will evolve, and we hope always improve."In spite of this apparent commitment to what modern politicians like to call openness and transparency, news of the two FMD contamination incidents were not made public until Newsday heard about them and ran the story to which we link below. Tighe said:
" there wasn't wider notification on the two incidents because they didn't meet the existing notification criteria."See update from Newsday.com "... the Department of Homeland Security agreed yesterday to develop a new policy for informing the public of such incidents at the lab."
Aug 23 - 29 ~ "..Three years later, management of the epidemic remains controversial. ."
The UK foot and mouth disease outbreak The Aftermath This article by Daniel T. Haydon, Rowland R. Kao & R. Paul Kitching appears in Nature Reviews - Microbiology August 2004 Vol 2 No 8 PERSPECTIVES
The article can be viewed online with subscription or an abstract viewed after free registration.
Extract: "...Some believe that untried control methods based on unvalidated models replaced well-established policy, motivating an unnecessary slaughter. ...... new and more flexible control policies have been adopted throughout Europe. For these policies to receive the full confidence of scientists, veterinarians and the general public, it is necessary that we improve both our understanding of where, how and why control measures initially failed in 2001 and how new policies should be implemented."warmwell commentary on the article
Aug 23 - 29 2004 ~ "Killing all these animals and burning or burying them is exactly what terrorists want everyone to see," said Breeze.
(So in whose interests is it that modern tools against FMD are not used?)
Farmlands Seen as Fertile for Terrorism is an article in the LA Times. It proclaims: "A single outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease could require the destruction of millions of cows ..."
The lone voice of Roger Breeze (see below), described as "an agroterrorism expert who recently retired from a top USDA post" is quoted in dissent:
"Naturally, when there's never been a Noah-like flood, people don't want to prepare for it ...Killing all these animals and burning or burying them is exactly what terrorists want everyone to see."However, far from quoting Roger Breeze in detail, the article implies that mass slaughter is necessary. "Foot-and-mouth disease comes in more than a dozen strains, each of which requires a separate vaccine...." it says with apparent and misleading assurance. It calls the British response in 2001 "necessarily ruthless" when the writer can hardly be unaware that the ruthlessness of the policy is the very reason why it was judged so controversial. The authoritative new OIE manual of 42 papers, Foot and mouth disease: facing the new dilemmas was produced in the wake of the psychological and economic effects of the horrors of the stamping-out policies. See also the warmwell commentary on The UK foot-and-mouth disease outbreak - the aftermath
Aug 23 - 29 ~ As for rapid diagnosis, the article above is dismissive. "... the scale of the problem overwhelms such solutions. Each device costs at least $30,000, and thousands would be needed by producers."
We are reminded that a paper by Roger Breeze and Floyd Horn was altered before publication and without their knowledge or approval, "significantly changing" their message. In their original paper was the statement:
"On-site detectors should transform disease surveillance and control, not echo history over smaller geographies. In our view, a federal or state official equipped with an Internet-linked detection device should be on the site of any suspected foreign animal disease outbreak in the U.S. within 4 hours or less of notification so that vigorous informed control measures backed by positive diagnosis can be implemented nationally within 6 hours...." Read in full
Aug 18 - 23 ~ FMD virus contamination at Plum Island Animal Disease Centre
"Reportedly some cattle not involved in a vaccine trial showed symptoms of an infection."
http://www.indyeastend.com "...An August 2 letter signed by Senator Hillary Clinton and Congressman Tim Bishop to the director of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, released yesterday, concerns two incidents of cross-contamination of foot-and-mouth disease that occurred in the islands biocontainment area.
We are particularly alarmed to hear that although only a handful of similar cross-contamination incidents have occurred since the 1970s, two incidents occurred in the last month alone.... (Read in full)
Aug 18 - 23 ~"We should be spending taxpayer money on improving security and public safety, not on harassing whistleblowers and bogus lawsuits"
It is now over a year since James McKoy, an employee at Plum Island who was concerned about security, told one of Hillary Clinton's aides that workers were being let into biocontainment areas without proper background and ID checks. In spite of being protected by the Federal whistleblower statutes, and the asurances of the centre's acting director, Marc Hollander, Mr McKoy was fired. The same newspaper now reports that Hillary Clinton and Tim Bishop applaud the National Labor Review Boards decision that Mr McCoy, along with other sacked staff, be reinstated with full back pay.
Tim Bishop: We should be spending taxpayer money on improving security and public safety, not on harassing whistleblowers and bogus lawsuits"The report of such Plum Island incompetence and apparent vindictiveness against a whistleblower, together with the fact that the Horn/Breeze paper was "sanitized" (see below) adds to the conviction that - as in the UK - animal disease control is not in the safest of hands. At a time when both governments are strident about farmers' "biosecurity" and the possibility of agroterrorism, this is alarming. The US does at least have Senator Hillary Clinton and Congressman Tim Bishop to ask loud questions and expect answers.
Aug 18 - 23 ~ "control measures still closely follow those introduced by Cardinal Lancisi almost 300 years ago"
We are interested to find in the public domain (Humanitarian.net) the paper by Floyd Horn and Roger Breeze: U.S. Agricultural and Food Security: Who Will Provide the Leadership?
Their introduction reads, " A version of this paper appeared in the Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Animal Health Association, San Diego, October 9-16, 2003, pages 79-91. That version was altered before publication without our knowledge in critical respects beyond what might be reasonable as editing of the manuscript: these alterations significantly changed our message."
Links to the paper with its introduction are on Warmwell's science pages
The original text will be of interest to regular readers of this website. Its significance, of course, applies equally to the UK
Extract: "Thus far, agricultural agencies in the U.S. and abroad have not deployed rapid detection or indeed any other modern technologies to counter foreign animal disease outbreaks. Other than use of the telephone, control measures still closely follow those introduced by Cardinal Lancisi almost 300 years ago..."Above the two versions; the original and that changed without the authors' consent, is the comment, "... our ideas of how rapid, on-site test devices should be deployed were completely changed to create the false impression that validation was the next critical step....The authors leave it to the reader to decide why these changes were made."
Aug 7 - 14 ~ "Firebreak" slaughter mindset still holds sway in the UK and US
In the US State of Kansas, "High Plains Guardian" , just completed, simulated an "an agroterrorism attack" involving FMD. No attempt, apparently, was made to test for infection beyond the index case nor to use ring vaccination. Rather, the decision made that: " .. all hoofed animals, even deer, to be killed within a mile and a half of any infected farm or livestock yard.... ." Kansascity.com
Dr.Cummins of Amarillo Biosciences, Inc is one of many scientists who now believe that responding to agroterrorism with slaughter is simply playing into the hands of the terrorists.
"the (US) government's attempt to eradicate FMD will require the slaughter and disposal of millions of animals. Nothing could please terrorists more than to watch the US Government kill millions of animals in response to their agroterrorism. After all, the FMD generally kills less than 1% of affected animals but the government's response kills 100%..." Press Release Amarillo Biosciences, Inc.In this country, it is worrying that, in spite of the EU Directive's Article 8 which states that any preventive culling of susceptible animals should only occur where "epidemiological evidence supports the hypothesis of virus contamination or incubating infection", the UK Contingency Plan still insists that the killing of healthy animals in a so-called " firebreak cull" is acceptable. Yet the EU Directive is crystal clear. Preventative culling may take place only "where epidemiological information or other evidence indicates" actual infection. The "taking of samples and clinical examinations of animals" is also stipulated. The Directive also, of course, assumes a "competent authority", depending on the advice of a properly constituted Expert Group "composed of epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists in a balanced way" and permanently operational.
Aug 1 - Aug 7 ~"...these guys, punching away at their computer screens, havent the foggiest notion of when Britain might again be hit by FMD"
Private Eye's Muckspreader is scathing of both the VLA report and Operation Hornbeam in which "....Ben Bradshaw proudly announced that Defra had already slaughtered 17,400 animals, which made it all seem uncannily like a repeat of 2001. And only now, according to the Defra scenario, was Rosa Klebb (aka Margaret Beckett) telling the House of Commons that the Government was considering a limited programme of vaccination for cattle, in just two of the four areas affected. Not for nothing are they known as Defra and Blindra. Fortunately, however, the EU has also made clear that next time Brussels will be in charge of operations from Day One - so with luck Defra may not be given the chance to make quite such a monumental cock-up ever again." Read in full
July 27 - Aug 1 ~ "we have a global farming crisis, not just a UK one"
Voicing the frustration that so many feel, Mike Hart of the Small and Family Farms Alliance is writing a series of impassioned articles in the Western Morning News. "...we have to do something about the situation farmers find themselves in, not just here but worldwide - because without farmers we'll have no food. These simple facts are never mentioned by Margaret Beckett, Andrew George or Tim Yeo..I find Margaret Beckett's thinking so crazy as to be almost unbelievable. .. " Read in full
July 27 - Aug 1 ~ Full page adverts show little confidence in the Ministry's ability to protect UK livestock from foreign diseases
"If we are hit yet again there is only one outcome - non-profitable production and thus no British pig industry." The genetics company ACMC are funding full-page advertisements in Pig World for a self imposed "cordon sanitaire". The advert suggests that live imports of weaners or semen are the route by which diseases such as FMD, CSF, SVD, TGE, Parvo Virus, PRRS, Aujeszky's, PMWS, PDNS and Fertility Virus enter Britain.
".. The British pig industry has no reserves left," said Stephen Curtis, the Chairman of ACMC. ( See also the pig site)
As well as suggesting openly that FMD could well have been brought into the country via live weaners or semen, the advert's plea for voluntary self regulation shows that there is little confidence in the Ministry's ability to protect UK livestock from foreign diseases. DEFRA's record on the control of animal disease is, as James Irvine puts it below, lamentable. Yet the back-covering "consultations", the regulations, the self-justifications and the flights of complacency continue apace. In April, by means of its massive Labour majority and massive ignorance, Parliament congratulated the government "... on implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Royal Society Inquiries so that Government is better prepared to tackle a future outbreak of a major livestock disease..."
July 19 - 25 ~ South Africa - first round of vaccinations against foot-and-mouth disease was completed in the area on Wednesday. No deaths among animals with the disease reported so far.
The outbreak in South Africa is being dealt with humanely. See report from News24.com Nevertheless, the fact that the report concentrates mainly on fear of millions in lost exports (they are even unable to export citrus fruit) reminds us of why governments are so terrified of diseases such as BSE, Foot and Mouth and avian influenza, why such diseases must be tackled with a new mindset and why the trade implications must now follow the veterinary advice and new technical expertise - not the other way round..
Unfortunately, where leading decision makers and their 'advisors' in the UK are still largely those who were directing mass slaughter in 2001 we are not yet optimistic about seeing more sanity in the realm of animal health. ( See also James Irvine's critique below)
July 19 - 25 ~ CVO Report 2003 says 4 million and 68 thousand animals were slaughtered during the FMD outbreak in 2001
The Report of the Chief Veterinary Officer is now available on the DEFRA website The table on Page 81 informs us that in a total of 32 counties and 2030 outbreaks the number of animals slaughtered was 4,068,000. As Peter Ainsworth, then Shadow DEFRA Secretary, said to the Tenant Farmers' Association on 12 February 2002:
Many of you saw your livelihoods quite literally vanish before your eyes as some 6.5 million animals were slaughtered, often in brutal circumstances, on nearly 10,000 farms. These are the official figures. Some estimates have put the number of animals slaughtered at nearer 10 million."See also Robert Uhlig in the Telegraph January 23 2002: 10 million animals were slaughtered in foot and mouth cull.
"..Last night, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the commission's figures as accurate but concentrated on the resumption of exports."
We are getting used to statistics being teased out and spun to hide the truth or unpalatable truths being denied. The result of all this is that those hurt by callous, ineffectual and unjustifiable policies have lost trust in the pronouncements of government, of official reports and of "independent scientific advisors".
July 19 - 25 ~ for all DEFRA's talk, their programmes for controlling the spread of TB or brucellosis within the UK is lamentable
On the day that DEFRA admits it doesn't know where the Cornwall brucellosis came from, (FWi report), we recommend "Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for GB: a critique" from the land-care.org.uk website of James Irvine, FRSE DSc FRCPEd FRCPath FInstBiol.
".... for all DEFRA's talk, their programmes for controlling the spread of TB (2) or brucellosis (3) within the UK is lamentable, not to mention the prevention of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in terms of the continued illegal importation of meat products in large quantities (4) and the inadequacies of the UK cattle tracing service (5).Link to full article on the land-care org website.
The Food Standards Agency appears to be lax about adequately and continually informing the public that vaccination of animals - be it for FMD or anything else - carries absolutely no risk to food safety. ...
DEFRA et al put further pressures regarding animal health and welfare at the farmers' expense while apparently they themselves are not making any significant contribution towards it other than more regulations, inspections and bureaucracy with yet more "consultations"....
.....As the a leader writer in a recent issue of the Veterinary Record put it: "If a pound had been spent on veterinary services for every word expended in consultation over the past 18 months, the future of animal health and welfare could have been secured by now".
July 18 ~ From FMD to WMD
Booker's Notebook "The Prime Minister, it seems, is not the only Houdini who has a miraculous knack of emerging unscathed from any fiasco for which he was responsible. Tony Blair has appointed as "Chief Scientist" to the Ministry of Defence none other than Prof Roy Anderson of Imperial College, in succession to Prof Sir Keith O'Nions (a name which seems to have escaped from Private Eye).
It seems that Prof Anderson's chief qualification for his new post (at "Permanent Secretary grade", worth between #118,000 and #250,000 a year) was the help he gave Mr Blair in 2001 as his chief scientific adviser on the foot and mouth epidemic. The professor - who had left Oxford University under a cloud the previous year - had no experience of animal disease, being a specialist in the mathematical modelling of human diseases such as Aids. But this did not prevent him becoming chief architect of the "pre-emptive cull" policy, under which some nine million healthy animals were slaughtered (illegally - since the 1981 Animal Health Act gave the Government no powers to kill animals unless they had been directly exposed to infection).
Quite how the ability to simulate Aids epidemics on a computer, or to mastermind the slaughter of millions of healthy animals, will qualify Prof Anderson to advise the Ministry of Defence on weapons of mass destruction is not immediately clear.
Mr Blair, of course, was careful to ensure, after the foot and mouth crisis, that none of the three enquiries he set up would find anyone responsible for all those catastrophic blunders. Since the two men most to blame for the handling of the epidemic were the Prime Minister and his chief scientific adviser, Mr Blair obviously recognises in the professor a fellow survivor. I am sure he will be well worth his #250,000 a year."
July 16 ~ " it must be remembered that the larger deer often intergraze with cattle and sheep ...."
DEFRA's apparent reluctance to publicise the findings of its own sponsored research project "The Risk To Cattle From Wildlife Species Other Than Badgers" (at a total cost of #1,214,788 according to the PQs below ) is interesting. In 2001, in connection with the "anecdotal evidence of infection in wild deer" of foot and mouth disease, Drs Paul Sutmoller and Paul Gibbs wrote "..there is a lack of scientific data to confirm or refute the presence of wildlife infection." Had there been such research data available in 2001, their conclusion that "a vaccination zone with solidly immune livestock is the only way to control FMD" would surely have been incontrovertible.
Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Deer: implications for the policy of control and eradication of the disease
July 10 - 16 ~ Why did Exercise Hornbeam not mention the "sentinel" theory - as practised in Cornwall in 2001?
Letter in the North Devon Journal (Apologies. The source and link were incorrectly shown on Tuesday)
"...The very strange question arises as to why Ben Bradshaw did not pull out his trump card, the sentinel theory, as practised and endorsed in Cornwall in April 2001 at the height of the FMD outbreak, and boasted of in his letter dated February 16, 2004, to Andrew George MP. In this letter Ben Bradshaw writes about a large pig farm in North Cornwall which was contiguous to an infected premises. Some 2,800 pigs were slaughtered but 200 gilts plus 200 suckler cows were left unculled.Read in full
Quote: "On the advice of the epidemiology team . . . some "irreplaceable" young pigs (200) were allowed to remain because the owner's cattle (200) were in close proximity to these pigs, which would then have acted as sentinels.I would like to ask Mr Bradshaw, as I am sure other farmers who were not given this option of leaving their animals unculled to act as sentinels would also like to ask him, why this simple and cost effective method which was decided by MAFF's own senior vets, was not used elsewhere during 2001, and why it will not be used again in any further outbreak of foot and mouth? ..."
"Because of the prompt notification and appropriate response to confirmed disease, there was no further spread of disease in the area."
July 3 - July 9 ~ "Scientists should also be more prepared to admit a lack of knowledge. Many find it difficult to say 'we haven't got a clue'
"more honesty from scientists" is needed, said Professor Roy Anderson in his April 2002 lecture to the Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen.
Professor Anderson said,
"at the start of the FMD outbreak there were huge gaps in our knowledge about the potential effectiveness of the emergency vaccine..." and "The media coverage of the science associated with the foot and mouth and BSE epidemics was not as good as it could have been and it has had a knock-on effect in that several surveys suggest that the public don't trust scientists as much as they used to."In May 2002, a warmwell reader, intrigued by the snippets of Professor Anderson's speech reported here, wrote to ask the PR assistant at The Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen whether it would be possible to see a full transcript of his speech. Back came the reply: "I have contacted Professor Anderson and he has informed me he does not have a transcript of his lecture." However, the lecture appeared later on the Institute's website. Here it is from the emailer who tracked it down. She adds, " I like the "more honesty from scientists" bit, plus this extract suggesting the media was responsible for the distrust in scientists after FMD. ... Also the bit about huge gaps in our knowledge re the potential effectiveness of emergency vaccination - one might ask, whose knowledge?"
July 3 - July 9 ~ " Would you now, with the benefit of hindsight, have offered different advice to deal with the foot and mouth outbreak?
Roy Anderson: I certainly wouldn't..."
On the Today Programme on Wednesday morning, John Humphrys interviewed Roy Anderson about the new Science Advisory Council
"John Humphrys: Are you likely to be a somewhat controversial chairman, given that you played quite a big part, as I understand it, in the foot and mouth outbreak, that is to say you approved the contiguous cull policy and many people say that that was quite the wrong policy and resulted in millions of perfectly healthy animals being killed and it wouldn't be done again, we'd have a vaccination policy next time.John Humphrys did not press Professor Anderson on why his advice would remain the same. (Read in full)
Roy Anderson: Well, that's one view. My expertise lies in a particular area but as chairman of the committee my task is to collate views from a very expert group of individuals, covering a broad range of science from meteorology to fisheries to ecology, and also non-scientific representatives, people dealing with the economics of the rural economy, as it were and individuals representing consumers and other groups.
John Humphrys: Would you now, with the benefit of hindsight, have offered different advice to deal with the foot and mouth outbreak?
Roy Anderson: I certainly wouldn't..
John Humphrys: You'd stay with the same?
Roy Anderson: I'd stay with the same advice
July 3 - July 9 ~ What were and are the real reasons for not wanting to vaccinate?
DEFRA says "Vaccination would have been used if the Governments Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Veterinary Officer had advised that it was the most appropriate measure of disease control in the circumstances."
Yet the rapporteur of the EU Temporary Committee, Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler wrote in his report
31. In Cumbria, from the end of March/beginning of April 2001, vaccinating cattle was an option recommended by the Chief Scientific Adviser to the government and the Chief Veterinary Officer on condition that certain criteria were complied with, including that of support from farmers. The government did not consider this option practicable ..."
July 3 - July 9 ~ In March 2002, Nick Brown told the EU Committee "We were only 24 hours away from vaccinating"
"However representations made to me from large retailers and in particular Cadburys stating they would not take products from vaccinates persuaded us not to vaccinate."This was disputed by William Moyes director-general of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), when he spoke to the EU Committee in Strasbourg
"..at no time did retailers lobby for or against the vaccination of animals as an alternative to slaughter"As for the supposed opposition of Cumbrian farmers, the NFU's stance was not representative of livestock farmers on the ground in Cumbria. On 11 April, MP David Maclean polled his farmers by fax. Eighty per cent of the farmers and 95 per cent of the vets wanted 'vaccination to live' (i.e., without subsequent slaughter) as soon as possible. On 20 April the Cumberland News carried the headline 'Desperate Cumbria pleads with Blair to vaccinate now'.
July 3 - July 9 ~ The answer to the question "Why did the UK not vaccinate?" makes no more sense today than it did in 2001.
Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler said: "Relatively small special-interest groups (parts of the meat-producing farming sector and the food trade) seem to have had an undue influence over decisions affecting the wellbeing of whole regions in the management of the FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001.. .....This is all the more worrying because fears in the food trade that consumers would not accept products from vaccinated livestock were unsubstantiated."
July 3 - July 9 ~ "No supermarkets or trade federations in Uruguay tried to tell government that the public would not accept vaccinated meat
nor was there re-infection from "carrier" animals, or spread of the disease due to sheep with antibodies...." John Vidal in the Guardian May 8, 2002
July 3 - July 9 ~ In Uruguay, the farmers, safely and without stress, vaccinated their own cattle.
In Uruguay, the disease was eradicated in 15 weeks Meanwhile, in the UK, and in spite of the expensive and unpublicised "training" of lay vaccinators in preference to stockmen who knew their animals, the policy of vaccination was being abandoned.
" I was paid #600 to stand in a barn for 3 hours, learning how to inject a cow ...and pierce the ear with a tag. ... I was informed that I had passed the training and was now an 'official' being paid #40 a day to be on 'standby'. .. I have never worked with cows and have no idea how to control them - however this didn't seem to worry any officials. .."Read in full the account of one such trainee.
2004: "... we have put in place the operational capability to be ready to vaccinate 5 days into an outbreak" (DEFRA)
Was this operational capability evident during last week's Exercise Hornbeam? Did it include knowledge of how to handle the animals as well as how to stick needles in oranges?
July 3 - July 9 ~ Hornbeam is over. "We still want to know..."
The Hornbeam exercise of 29 and 30 June leaves questions unanswered. In the debate in April during which Ben Bradshaw congratulated himself upon the Government's "achievement" in eradicating FMD in 2001, John Whittingdale reminded the house:
"We still need a proper investigation of the efficacy of the contiguous cull policy, under which millions of uninfected animals were destroyed, and an answer to the question whether that cull was even necessary. We still want to know why a vaccination programme was not introduced at an early stage. ...."John Whittingdale (Maldon and East Chelmsford)See also comment taken from the respected ProMed website for July 2002
" testing should have been done last year during the epidemic and certainly against the modelers' demand for 3kms culling. There was sufficient field experience and GIS topographic and detailed agricultural data to put it in doubt and certainly to hard test. ... I have not seen one model tested retrospectively and critically against the reality in the field. ..."
July 3 - July 9 ~ Commercial and political interest and the reality of "testing" for disease
The claim made by DEFRA to the EU was that "Each of the 2,026 FMD cases was subjected to a detailed clinical and epidemiological investigation. ..." ( DEFRA's "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" ) In their Jan 2002 submission to the EU for the resumption of Disease Free Status, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/int-trde/misc/foot/OIE_FMD_report.pdf DEFRA appears to make the same claim - i.e. that it had tested all Infected Premises.
We know that many slaughtered premises were never tested in 2001. Farmers' requests for lab tests were very often curtly denied. Pirbright received samples from only a small fraction of slaughtered farms - probably less than 20% of all contiguous culls and even many IP's taken out on clinical grounds. More
July 3 - July 9 ~ Repeat offenders
Christopher Booker's Notebook in the Sunday Telegraph: "Radio 4's PM programme last Tuesday reported on "Operation Hornbeam"......
.....According to the Defra simulation, PM reported, we were in "Day Seven" of an epidemic that had already spread to four different parts of the UK. But there had only been 11 separate "incidents" (in 2001 the disease had established itself in 57 places before it was identified). And so far Defra was considering a limited vaccination programme, confined to cattle in just two of the areas affected. Meanwhile we heard Defra proudly announcing that 17,400 animals had already been slaughtered.
In other words, there was abundant evidence that Defra has not begun to get the point. Its officials have "learned nothing and forgotten nothing". If foot and mouth strikes again, we can look forward to a repeat of the chaos we saw in 2001. All this, of course, passed the BBC by." Read in full
July 3 - July 9 ~ DEFRA's work on FMD defended.
One FMD stakeholder has defended DEFRA, informing us that the Ministry has
We feel this does indeed merit our acknowledgement. We are therefore grateful to those members of DEFRA who are trying to effect improvements in the UK handling of disease in the spirit of the Directive:
- agreed to immediate Movement shutdown,
- improved communications internally, across Government and with the Military,
- instituted more transparent procedures with greater Stakeholder involvement.
- Established 50 vaccination teams plus 100 more on quick call-off
- has apparently carried out about 30 Contingency Plan rehearsals culminating in Operation Hornbeam.
- Agreed to melt down [an unspecified quantity -about #150,000 worth was once mentioned ] of antigen as soon as serotyping is completed
"....its policies to combat animal diseases must not be based purely on commercial interests but must also take genuine account of ethical principles." EU Directive
July 3 - July 9 ~ "All groups need to be aware now of the Governments operational arrangements.."
See "Foot-and-Mouth Disease Control Policy Communications Strategy", Prepared by Communications Directorate/ AMED Policy Team)
"... It is crucial that stakeholders are engaged in planning for possible use of emergency vaccination in a future outbreak; in particular that:Read FMD Control Policy Communications Strategy in full. It would be interestng to know, in view of the farmer's comments below, how far the "Communications Directorate" feel they were successful in achieving their aims.
- farmers are aware of the implications for trade and their representatives are willing to give re-assurance on this;
- consumer bodies are aware of the safety of products from vaccinated animals, declare themselves willing to be supportive, and are in a position to allay potential public concern ;
- welfare groups are willing to endorse emergency vaccination;
- the various components of the food chain are aware of the safety of products from vaccinated animals and are confident there will be no adverse public reaction, in particular that caused by negative public statements from the above groups....
.... All groups need to be aware now of the Governments operational arrangements for emergency vaccination and how the decision to vaccinate would be handled so that confidence can be gained about its use.."
June 26 - July 2 ~ So were any animals vaccinated? Any at all? Apparently not - for all we can read in media reports.
Under the title "Hornbeam me up, Scotty " we receive the following: "Farmers Weekly, page 7 reads,
As we have tried to point out on warmwell, the food industry was NOT concerned about the use of meat from vaccinated animals even in 2001, and certainly isn't now - but confusion still reigns about this in the minds of those who oppose vaccination now because they did then because of all those who continue loftily to tell them it is not a "magic bullet" (It was in Uruguay).
" On the morning of day eight DEFRA decided to vaccinate dairy animals in North Wales and Cheshire, but was told then that industry stakeholders would oppose this policy in Cheshire, adding further complications""What a bloody uphill struggle this is! Surely the role of the Communications Directorate should have been to have assuaged those concerns in the first place? (It's not as if they weren't forewarned). Reading comments such as from Lewis MBE on how 'culling is the best policy' just makes me feel we have reached the end of the line.
These people are never going to change, nor relinquish control.
... I am not sure that I want to continue trying to pursue a career in agriculture in this country (hard enough anyway) with this sword hanging over my head at all times. I dread the day FMD returns as some lessons from 2001 do not seem to have been learned at all."
June 26 - July 2 ~ Contingency plans " would prove useless if there was interference from Defra bosses nationally...
Cumbria News and Star "... Tim Bennett, newly-elected president of the NFU, said many animals should be vaccinated because mass culling was bad economically and bad for the countrys image."
"... Nick Utting, NFU secretary in North Cumbria, said this week he was confident that the county had put a lot of work into preparing contingency plans to tackle any new outbreak. But he warned these would prove useless if there was interference from Defra bosses nationally.
...Cumbria NFU county chairman and farmer, Alistair Mackintosh, said he could not envisage Defra handing over total control to regional offices if there was a future outbreak of foot and mouth. But what they must do is bow to local knowledge, he said.
....During the 2001 outbreak...the then county NFU chairman, Will Cockbain broke ranks with the union and said he could not back the mass culling of animals if there was another outbreak and that emergency vaccination should be used ......"
June 26 - July 2 ~ "For all the Commissions huffing and puffing, Defra, it appears, has not heard or learned a thing."
Private Eye this week: Muckspreader "Under the codename Operation Hornbeam, Defra recently staged a exercise to test its contingency plan for any future outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Presided over by Baby Ben Bradshaw, this bizarre charade inevitably revived memories of the FMD fiasco in 2001, one of the worst governmental failures of modern times. One recalls the illegal slaughter of 9 million healthy animals, the failure to vaccinate, the obscene funeral pyres, the closure of the countryside, the devastation of the rural economy. On the most conservative estimate, this all cost #8 billion, paid for by taxpayers, farmers, rural businesses and the tourist industry...."
June 26 - July 2 ~ Were any animals given emergency vaccination in the "Hornbeam" simulation?
The press reports we have seen imply that vaccination was not used in the mock exercise. Those of us who have spent the past three years monitoring the situation are deeply concerned that DEFRA has taken Article 8 of the Directive to give carte blanche for slaughter instead of, (as it does) spelling out the special and limited conditions in which slaughter may be used.
In letters both to the EU and to DEFRA, Anne Lambourn writes:
Lambourn: The EU Directive (Article 8) permits killing of stock that have been contaminated, but it in no way authorises the firebreak culling of healthy animals "to get ahead of the disease" as in the Animal Health Act.DEFRA's reply:
"You state that provisions for a firebreak cull are not included in the new FMD Directive. Article 8 of the FMD Directive does, in fact, make provision for "preventative killing of animals of susceptible species", which would include pre-emptive or firebreak culling."However, this is to ignore the actual wording of the Article. See below. "it is NOT acceptable to slaughter animals unless epidemiological information or other evidence indicates that the animals concerned are infected or likely to have been. And before any killing does take place, the " competent authority shall notify the Commission".
Were media invitees told this during Exercise Hornbeam? Did the exercise include testing and a mock-up of the communications to the EU required? Bryn Wayt has further questions to ask - and we await an " open and transparent" report of the exercise that will give answers to such queries.
June 26 - July 2 ~ "Too much importance was attached to the trade-policy aspects, with the result that protective vaccination was not carried out even when it had been authorised."
"The action taken to control the foot-and-mouth diesease epidemics which struck certain Member States in 2001 has shown that international and Community rules and the ensuing practices have not taken sufficient account of the possibility offered by the use of emergency vaccination and subsequent tests to detect infected animals in a vaccinated population. Too much importance was attached to the trade-policy aspects, with the result that protective vaccination was not carried out even when it had been authorised......
The competent authority shall, immediately upon confirmation of the first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease prepare all arrangements necessary for emergency vaccination in an area of at least the size of the surveillance zone established in accordance with Article 21." The EU FMD Directive (See here in html version or pdf version) that came into force throughout the EU yesterday.
Yet the media have been told that firebreak culling is still on the agenda. See below
June 26 - July 2 ~ We chose the words suggesting vaccination as a tool of first resort with care, using the same phrase as in the Royal Society's report into foot and mouth
The government's present stance on vaccination, reported by the media following Exercise Hornbeam, reminds us of Labour's proposals to weaken the EU FMD Directive by making vaccination simply "an option to consider" in 2002. These proposals were rejected by MEPs. As Caroline Lucas, vice-president of the inquiry committee, said in November 2002
"socialist MEPs had been pressurising "the committee to adopt compromise amendment 10, which calls for slaughter of animals to be given consideration on a par with vaccination in future outbreaks. That to many of us is a make or break amendment. It would be devastating if it went through and would completely emasculate the report.Neil Parish, Conservative MEP and agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, said the report findings were surprisingly strong.
We chose the words suggesting vaccination as a tool of first resort with care, using the same phrase as in the Royal Society's report into foot and mouth. To change this completely undermines all our recommendations and makes it incoherent as it will not fit into the logical argument of the report."
"The author of the report, Wolfgang Kreissl-Dorfler, is a German socialist and it was known that Labour sent Lord Whitty over to try to make him put in the report what the British Government wanted. It is an absolute condemnation on the handling of the foot and mouth crisis by the Government. Knowstone was probably the first time the MEPs really saw the human suffering which took place during the crisis. This has had a big influence over the report so far."(Knowstone transcripts)
June 26 - July 2 ~ " Vaccination would be used as a last resort. Slaughter is still the best solution," .
From the report in icBirmingham This is the view of a Staffordshire hotel-owner and farmer, John Lewis, quoted in the paper.
It is not the view of the The Royal Society inquiry, under the chairmanship of Professor Sir Brian Follett. The RS Society said " Given recent advances in vaccine science and improved trading regulations, emergency vaccination should now be considered as part of the control strategy from the start of any outbreak of FMD. By this we mean vaccination-to-live."
Nor is Mr Lewis' view that of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Inquiry into Foot and Mouth Disease, whose vice-chairman wrote a letter in Scotland on Sunday, 18 August 2002 which concluded: "Having examined all the issues, we recommended that for the future emergency vaccination should be a tool of first rather than last resort, with the vaccinated animals allowed to live and subsequently go into the food chain..."
June 26 - July 2 ~"Mr Bradshaw's comments caused dismay yesterday amongst those who lived through the 2001 crisis"..."It makes you wonder whether they have learnt anything at all....".
Ben Bradshaw: "We hope to avoid contiguous culling, but we have not ruled it out. "..... Mr Bradshaw said vaccination was "a very useful tool". But he said it would only be used as an alternative to culling in certain circumstances."WMN"....During the foot and mouth crisis, proposals to use vaccination to contain the epidemic - a measure used successfully in the Netherlands were ruled out by the Government over fears it would hit the meat and dairy export trade, worth #500 million. As the contiguous cull spread, the total cost of the crisis went on to top #8 billion.
Mr Bradshaw's comments caused dismay yesterday amongst those who lived through the 2001 crisis.
Mr Gibson....: "It would be very unpopular as it was last time, because it involves the culling of thousands of healthy animals."
David Hill, who served as the NFU's Devon chairman in 2001, said the notion of contiguous culling was "ludicrous" because it took no account of the situation on individual farms. "Any culling should be based on the likelihood that an animal has come into contact with the disease. It makes you wonder whether they have learnt anything at all."
Janet Bayley, of the National Foot and Mouth Group, said it would be "extremely worrying" if the Government moved culling back up the agenda. She said European policy now placed vaccination at the forefront of the control strategy.
........ Mr Bradshaw said he hoped the exercise would demonstrate that the Government had "learned the lessons of some of the mistakes made then". See also Inbox comment
June 26 - July 2 ~ Evening of Day 6 - Exercise Hornbeam - 17,400 animals dead
Farmers Weekly interactive ".... At a briefing on Tuesday, DEFRA said by that point in the outbreak it had "slaughtered" 17,400 animals which would be disposed of via rendering or incineration...."
And did DEFRA also say that - in the simulation - it had simulated the taking of samples and carried out clinical examinations of animals of susceptible species "at least in accordance with point 126.96.36.199 of Annex III"? Was the properly qualified Expert Group involved in the simulation? Had it gone through the motions of notifying the Commission "prior to the implementation of the measures provided for in this Article." ie slaughtering those 17,400 animals?
(See below) and Article 8 of the Council Directive which comes into force throughout Europe today, Wednesday.
June 26 - July 2 ~ "the slaughter of animals on infected premises and those suspected of harbouring foot-and-mouth will remain the first options, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said."
It sounds as though the media have been told that firebreak culling is still on the agenda. Although amendments to the 1981 Animal Health Act were rushed through parliament in 2002 to give retrospective legality to the killing of healthy animals, the terms of the EU Directive (See here in html version or pdf version) that comes into force today has this to say in Article 8
In other words, under the provisions of the now EU wide FMD Directive, it is NOT acceptable to slaughter animals unless epidemiological information or other evidence indicates that the animals concerned are infected or likely to have been. And before any killing does take place, the " competent authority shall notify the Commission".
Preventive eradication programme1. The competent authority may, where epidemiological information or other evidence indicates, implement a preventive eradication programme, including preventive killing of animals of susceptible species likely to be contaminated and, if necessary, of animals from epidemiologically-linked production units or adjoining holdings.
2. In that event, the taking of samples and clinical examinations of animals of susceptible species shall be carried out at least in accordance with point 188.8.131.52 of Annex III.
3. The competent authority shall notify the Commission prior to the implementation of the measures provided for in this Article.
Were media invitees told this during Exercise Hornbeam?
June 26 - July 2 ~ Hornbeam begins
As DEFRA puts it, "a role-playing exercise to test Government's responses to a foot and mouth outbreak" On June 30 the EU Directive (See here in html version or pdf version) comes into force throughout the EU. DEFRA has chosen to concentrate on days seven and eight of an FMD outbreak. DEFRA's contingency plan does not allow for the immediate ring vaccination of the area from "Day 1" when an outbreak is reported. DEFRA has informed the press that the exercise has been developed by the SVS.
It would be reassuring to think that members of the press who accept DEFRA's invitation to attend the Exercise are to be briefed clearly and correctly on all the issues surrounding vaccination - and that they ask pertinent questions about why it was not used in 2001: why it is not to be used as a matter of course but rather "considered" and for exactly what economic or political reasons it may be rejected yet again in the future when the technology- both rapid diagnosis and vaccination fit for any of the seven strains of the virus - exists to stop an outbreak in its tracks without any need for extended slaughter.
June 26 - July 2 ~ "...This change will enable decisions to be taken on the proper basis of disease control rather than economic and political considerations"
From Foot and mouth disease: lessons from the 2001 crisis, proposals for the future 17/12/2002 - EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT OPINION OR RESOLUTION "...Despite recent changes to IOE rules, the three-month 'trading penalty' that remains against vaccination should, in the view of many authorities, be removed by future resolution of the IOE so that slaughter and vaccination are treated equally. This change will enable decisions to be taken on the proper basis of disease control rather than economic and political considerations....
......-the Commission and Member States must actively strive to bring the waiting period for regaining FMD-free status after application of a strategy of vaccination without subsequent slaughter of the vaccinated animals into line with the period used when a slaughter policy is applied, in other words, three months in both cases."
June 26 - July 2 ~ "We cannot have a situation again where there is no clear-cut policy on whether and when vaccination is used"
From the Key Recommendations of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee into the 2001 Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. Other extracts:
Read in full The EU FMD Directive (See here in html version or pdf version) is to come into force throughout the EU on Wednesday 30th June 2004. "The Department''s plans on vaccination" can hardly "be clear" when so much of what the Directive says about post vaccination treatment is not being explained nor perhaps even understood by those in DEFRA responsible for communicating this to the "farmers, vets, and representatives of the food industry."
- "The Department's plans on vaccination should be clear and set out the circumstances and factors that would determine when vaccination would be adopted
- The plans should be made known and explained to all relevant parties, including farmers, vets, and representatives of the food industry.
- ...Longstanding attitudes are in need of reform....."
June 26 - July 2 ~ Vaccinated (FMD) meat and confusion over the EU Directive
The EU FMD Council Directive has 226 pages. (See here in html version or pdf version) No one can be blamed for finding the language of the EU Directive unhelpful. However, Article 58 paragraph 13 of the EU Directive is key. If confusion reigns, ignorance must be admitted and questions asked at EU level by those in the UK who are making vital decisions.
Article 58 para 13 - By way of derogation from paragraph 8 a special health mark which cannot be confused with the health mark referred to in paragraphs 8(c) and 9(c), may be decided in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 89(3) for fresh meat of ruminants not subjected to the treatment in accordance with Part A of Annex VIII, and minced meat and meat preparations produced from such meat, which are intended for placing on the market in the a specific region of the Member State of origin.Getting to the heart of the difference between fact and fiction about the treatment of meat and milk after vaccination is, of course, important for the livestock and meat industry. Vaccination itself is important for the humane and ethical treatment of animals. Anyone who says that "ordinary people" couldn't care less about what happened in 2001 are quite wrong. The realisation that government policies of mass slaughter were wrong is widespread in spite of the lack of a proper public inquiry. Even if government communications departments can ensure that the press generally print only what puts the most positive spin on DEFRA's actions, there is now a widespread loss of trust in the Ministry. There is also an awareness of just how politicised DEFRA has become. Trust will be regained only when spin is removed and we actually move towards the openness and transparency about which we hear so much.
June 18 ~ June 25 ~ After vaccination, meat destined for the UK market does not need de-boning.
Possibly, officials at DEFRA themselves (many of whom are now making sincere efforts to implement the Directive) have not understood the key issues lurking obscurely in the language of the EU Directive on FMD control. The most important of these for meat producers ( Article 58 para 13) is that post vaccination and testing, meat destined for the UK market does not need de-boning. Yet paragraph 28 of the vaccination scenarios pdf posting on Defra implies de-boning for sheep meat would still be needed. Meat from ruminants for the home market does not require de-boning or heat treatment. It is essential that the UK sheep industry understands this.
June 18 ~ June 25 ~ The EU FMD Directive provides for derogation from heat treatments once the Protection or Surveillance Zone has been in place for more than 30 days.
The FWi report on DEFRA's real-time alert exercise, Exercise Hornbeam, stresses that "after vaccination, meat has to be heat-treated or deboned and matured until after the country's F&M-free status is established." This is not quite the case. A first glance look at what is being reported would suggest that all meat and milk would have to be heat treated in the UK for 6 months following vaccination to live - a strong argument, if it were true, for meat and milk producers to be very wary of vaccination. In fact, only meat and milk produced in the Protection and Surveillance Zones is required to be treated. (A Protection Zone has to be established with a minimum radius of 3km and a Surveillance Zone a minimum radius of 10km from an outbreak.) While it is true that the required treatments include heat treatment, deboning and maturing of meat and meat products and pasteurisation of milk, the Directive provides for derogation from these treatments once the Protection or Surveillance Zone has been in place for more than 30 days, subject to specific conditions laid down by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCOFCAH). See http://www.defra.gov.uk/footandmouth/directive/background_directive.pdf (Page 4, paragraph 7 referring to Section 6 )
June 18 ~ June 25 ~ The EU FMD Directive has to transposed into UK law by 30 June 2004
Detailed contingency plans are required which must cover the worst case scenario, including precise indications of how emergency vaccination would be implemented and what measures would be introduced in regions containing densely populated livestock areas. Contingency plans have to be reviewed regularly in the light of real time alert exercises in the Member States and the results of these exercises have to be submitted to the Commission.
FWi - read in full" DEFRA has announced details of a live exercise on June 29/30 to test its contingency plan for foot-and-mouth disease. The staged event, called Exercise Hornbeam, will simulate days 7 and 8 of an outbreak and will focus on the role vaccination would play in controlling the spread of disease."The main features of the Directive (pdf file) are
- Member States have to have arrangements in place for possible use of emergency vaccination as soon as FMD is confirmed.
- New guidelines that, following emergency vaccination to live, disease free status can be regained six months after the last vaccination. This compares to a 12 month waiting period in 2001.
- The adoption of measures for zoos, wildlife parks and rare breeds.
June 12 - June 18 ~ FMD outbreaks in Peru and Brazil
FMD due to virus serotype O was reported in 8 fattening cattle, in 3 farms in Lurin district, Lima Department, in a zone where vaccination is practised and where no cases of the disease had been detected since October 2000. Laboratory diagnosis was made on 11 and 14 Jun 2004. The 8 infected cattle were slaughtered and 80 cows in direct contact were also killed. Vaccination and booster vaccination was carried out in the area. Movement restrictions for susceptible species into and out of the affected area were imposed. Epidemiological surveillance by serological monitoring is continuing and is being strengthened. During 2003, FMD was officially reported from 3 South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
See ProMED and the report on the OIE website.
In Brazil - which is the world's second-largest beef producer - 3 infected head of cattle were found the municipality of Monte Alegre according to the ministry's press office. The area is accessible only by plane or boat. (report from ProMED and also from Bloomberg and NDTV.com)
June 12 - June 18 ~ 50th anniversary of the European Foot-and-Mouth Disease Commission held in Dublin.
FarmingLife reports: "...Among the Dublin gathering were some of the foremost global experts on Foot-and-Mouth Disease and representatives from the 33 members of the Commission.
Mr Walsh presented a number of awards to various individuals in recognition of contributions made in the fields of vaccination, diagnosis and epidemiology.
...while much had been learned by EU Member States in the aftermath of the FMD crisis of 2001, the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Commission continued to make a critical contribution, both in maintaining and preserving Europe's high animal health status, and in assisting in the control and eradication of the disease in risk areas outside Europe's borders...."
June 12 - June 18 ~ Exercise Crucible" Australia's first large-scale FMD laboratory simulation
Western Daily "NSW Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald......"Exercise Crucible will test the readiness and ability of NSW Agriculture's laboratories to respond to a hypothetical foot-and-mouth disease incident," Mr Macdonald said. "A single case of FMD could devastate our livestock industries and our economy. NSW Agriculture laboratories provide vital testing and scientific support that would help expert staff quickly diagnose and eradicate diseases like FMD. This simulation will help improve how we prepare for and respond to such issues, should they ever happen in NSW."
Exercise Crucible will focus specifically on the State's laboratory network and its co-ordination with the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL)..."
May 21 - 27 ~ DEFRA publishes its vaccination protocol
http://www.defra.gov.uk/footandmouth/pdf/vacprotocol.pdf (The pdf file opens in a new window and may take a few minutes on slower machines.
May 7 - 13 ~ Foot and Mouth in Israel: "the epizootic is thus seen as closed" No animals dead, destroyed or slaughtered
Foot and mouth disease in Israel - Final Report (OIE)
"...The only animals infected were young fattening cattle and sheep that had been vaccinated only once against foot and mouth disease (FMD), 6 months before, with a polyvalent vaccine that included FMD virus strain type O....No new cases of FMD have been reported since 17 March 2004. The epizootic is thus seen as closed thirty days after the completion of the favourable evolution of the epidemiological situation and the results of the epidemiological surveillance activities (screening, inspection, serological testing and additional studies), which indicated that the infection had not spread..."A Pro-Med Mail moderator comments: " An overview of the FMD situation in Israel and the Middle East, with some interesting maps, is available at http://www.israel-embassy.org.uk/agriculture/ Another very interesting summary [Foot & mouth disease - Kuwait & Israel 19980722.1384] has the comments of our own Mod. AS, submitted before he joined ProMED-mail on a regular basis. I have always contended that ProMED-mail archives, available on the website, are not only a valuable historic record but also interesting reading. You never know whose ideas you might come across. - Mod PC]
April 26 - May 1 ~ "Should the virus reach Australia, rapid diagnostic tests would ensure appropriate control and public health measures are implemented quickly."
In view of the paragraph below on China's new tests and what we feel is an urgent need for international cooperation to reduce the time needed for research and development into the control and eradication of disease, here again is a news report from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of Australia last month (March 9 2004)
"...As the new tests will be based on molecular technologies it is expected that the two to three days it currently takes to detect H5N1 will be reduced to less than six hours.100 million chickens were killed in the mass cull during avian influenza. As Dr Bernard Vallet, Director General of the OIE says, this situation is no longer acceptable "either to the international scientific community or to the public at large - the more so that in many areas of the world, human beings are still being deprived of valuable proteins in their diet. ..It is urgent that scientists come forward with alternative methods of disease control that will not only avoid wastage of valuable animal proteins but that will also promote the international trade of animals and animal products by removing technically unjustified trade barriers caused by animal diseases."
"The tests should be available for use in laboratories by September 2004," Dr Prowse says.
The new tests will be developed within the microbiologically secure environment of CSIRO Livestock Industries' Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong, Victoria. AAHL Director, Dr Martyn Jeggo, says the tests will be developed using technologies such as real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). ..."
April 26 - May 1 ~ a US national centre for research into foot and mouth disease,avian influenza, Rift Valley fever and brucellosis.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security has awarded an $18 million grant (over #10 million pounds) to the University of California, Davis, and three partner institutions to establish a national centre for research into foot and mouth disease,avian influenza, Rift Valley fever and brucellosis. The centre will develop new methods for detecting, diagnosis and vaccination and will develop databases and models that will help assess potential disease threats to U.S. animal agriculture.
April 26 - May 1 ~ China's new RT-PCR reagent kit is able to test three subgroups of avian influenza viruses simultaneously
"...Experts from the appraisal team held that the test reagent kit is efficient and easy to use. It is suitable for poultry quarantine, human disease control and epidemiological investigation. ......As early as in August 2002, the local quarantine bureau began to employ the fluorescent RT-PCR test approach to examine poultry to be supplied to Hong Kong, and it took about four hours to get the test result. To lower the test cost and raise test efficiency, researchers from the bureau have worked with their fellows from the Shenzhen Taitai Gene Co., Ltd. for three months to develop a new-type fluorescent RT-PCP reagent kit.This illustrates yet again the need for international openness and co operation on what the OIE calls the best state of the art scientific knowledge on the use of appropriate diagnostic tests.
The scientific outcome, with independent patent, has met the world standards..."
April 26 - May 1 ~ "The OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code and the Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals have thus been updated"
OIE press release
" to include the latest diagnostic tests capable of differentiating vaccinated from infected animals. With specific regard to the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code, it is worth mentioning that these tests have already been applied to certain diseases such as FMD, and are being considered for other as regards disease control and recovery of disease free status following disease outbreaks."No doubt DEFRA is as aware of this as we are and will be discussing with their stakeholders the significant move forward by the OIE. (See also Inbox for April 26 2004)
April 19 - 25 ~ OIE International (Vaccination) Conference, Argentina, April 13-16, 2004 Conclusions and Recommendations
http://www.oie.int/eng/press/en_040422.htm Among the list of conclusions we read:
....8. For ethical, ecological and economical reasons, it is no longer acceptable to control and eradicate disease outbreaks mainly by applying mass slaughter of animals.and among the recommendations
9. Vaccines help to improve animal health, public health, animal welfare, and agricultural sustainability; to protect the environment, maintain biodiversity, and protect consumers of animal products. ...
Whenever feasible, OIE should formulate vaccination policies as alternatives to mass slaughtering of animals. .... The OIE develop and incorporate into its standards, recommendations and guidelines all relevant new information on diagnostic tests and the effective prevention, control and subsequent eradication of infectious animal diseases by vaccination. ..... the development of more flexible marketing authorization regulation..... .The OIE and the International Association for Biologicals (IABs) disseminate all information concerning this International Conference to OIE Member Countries, international and regional organisations and other stakeholders.Read in full
April 19 - 25 ~ #1m awarded for university disease studies
Fordyce Maxwell in the Scotsman
"University of Edinburgh researchers have been awarded a total grant of £1million for two animal health projects - foot-and-mouth disease in cattle and Mareks disease in poultry.See also Fordyce Maxwell's article in Wednesday's Scotsman about the dangers of ear tagging young calves. The British Cattle Movement Service has again been asked by farmers to ease deadlines on calf tagging and registration, this time with backing from the Health and Safety Executive. Calves have to be ear-tagged within 20 days of birth and registered with the service by 27 days in order to get their "passports" but an NFU Scotland survey
Professor Ivan Morrison, an immunologist with the veterinary studies department, will study how manipulation of the immune response to the FMD virus influences airborne transmission from infected animals to neighbouring, unvaccinated cattle.
It is hoped that the research will also help to identify the best way to vaccinate cattle quickly in any future FMD outbreak. Work will also be done on the differences between cattle that have been vaccinated against FMD and those that have recovered from infection. ...."
".. in the Highlands and Islands last autumn indicated that more than 20 per cent of farmers and crofters, of 2,500 taking part, had been injured, some more than once, by protective cows while trying to tag young calves, or while complying with separate requirements to clean-clip cattle going for slaughter. .."
April 19 - 25 ~ "International cooperation in epidemiological studies and indeed in the control of FMD is of paramount importance"
The comment from the Pro-MED moderator follows news of bovine FMD in Israel reported on the ProMED mail.org website. In Israel, vaccination and other preventive measures seem to have led to a situation where with the expert help of the World Reference Laboratory for FMD (WRLFMD) at Pirbright in identifying the strain, outbreaks of FMD are quickly and efficiently contained. In the most recent cases, "symptoms were mild and no mortality was recorded" and "all isolates were serologically closely related to the Geshur FMDV serotype, which is included in the vaccine applied in Israel and thus provides a good level of protection."
See also The current Israeli policy to prevent and control FMD Such clear setting out of humane and effective policy seems very different from the 163 pages of DEFRA's latest FMD Contingency Plan.
In spite of the regrettable reputation the UK now has for its handling of the 2001 crisis, at least Pirbright's role and expertise is highly valued across the rest of the world. The ProMED moderator says that it is of "paramount importance" that in their shared interest in disease control people work together disinterestedly across national bounderies and share knowledge openly and without reservation. In such grim times as we are experiencing now, this seems very sane advice.
April 12 - 18 ~ an "Achilles heel" for the FMD virus
We hear more in an email from Professor Joe Cummins about the use of interferon alpha (IFNa), in the feed of livestock to combat FMD. (see below)
"We know that there is an "Achilles heel" for the FMD virus, i.e. - the virus is extremely sensitive to interferon. USDA scientists have published that FMD virus must gain control of the host cells by
Our method of dealing with an outbreak of FMD is to use interferon orally, or some other immune modulator, to boost the host immunity against FMD. The FMD virus causes less than 1% mortality, but the government's response causes 100% mortality. In the post 9/11 world, we are forced to develop an alternative to depopulation. We simply can not kill livestock faster than terrorists can infect them with FMD virus." (We are very grateful to Prof Cummins for this explanation in layman's terms of his proposed solution.)
- suppressing interferon production, and
- blocking the effect of an interferon-inducible gene which codes for double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase R. If the FMD virus can not shut down interferon production by the cells, then the virus can not replicate.
April 12 - 18 ~ "This proposal offers an alternative to the depopulation of millions of animals in the face of a multi-centered foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak."
The pdf file of the proposal to to use orally administered Interferon to prevent and/or treat Foot-and-Mouth Disease can be accessed from the technical pages of warmwell. It is the work of Professor J Cummins in association with Amarillo Biosciences Inc. (new window)
Abstract "This proposal offers an alternative to the depopulation of millions of animals in the face of a multi-centered foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak.The impact of a bioterrorist attack upon our animal protein food supply and our response by depopulation livestock will result in billions of dollars in lost revenue and put thousands of Americans our of work. The use of interferon alpha (IFNa), in the feed of livestock, with or without FMD vaccination, will minimize these national losses"A pdf file of Christopher Stockdale's dissertation on the FMD crisis in the UK can now be accessed from this site. Its advantage over the HTML file is that it contains the original footnotes. Please note that it opens in a new window and can take up to three minutes to load.
April 12 - 18 ~ Gamma Interferon, Bovine TB - other views
An email says
"..... It (gamma interferon test) was trialled for several years in N. Ireland, in fact reported on in 1994, and 2000 (Neill & Pollock) and I believe abandoned...... The Irish were amazed Defra were considering it, and wrote in Dec 2000 (Vet. Record) that after their several years of trials, "an optimist may say the results, hopeful, a pessimist equivocal". Read emailAs for new technology, the lengthier answer to questions about the RBS (Rapid Biosensor) see below, "....it is my belief that in a reasonably short period of time our technology, in some future guise, will be competent to detect the Bovine strain ..." may be read here.
April 12 - 18 ~ Is there any chance that the RBS (Rapid Biosensor) breathalyser could be or will be adapted for use in detecting the presence of Mycobacterium bovis?
We await a full answer to the question we asked the company - but the initial response was:
"From a biochemical point of view, the answer in principle, is yes, because the biochemistry is targeted at part of the TB bacterium that it common to both human and bovine TB." See the more detailed answer, received on Wednesday(The Cambridge based Rapid Biosensor Systems Ltd has developed a "breathalyser" device which is used to collect a cough sample from the patient. The cough sample tube is inserted into a portable optical reader which measures the presence of the TB bacteria in the cough sample. The screening technology is rapid, low cost and can be used by non-medical staff.)
Meanwhile, the stock response in the UK to many animal diseases continues to be to slaughter both those infected and any who might - even if the possibility is remote - be infected. Legislation (The Animal Health Act of 2002) has been changed in order to prevent protest. Testing, in many cases, is minimal and there seems very little genuine interest at DEFRA for vaccine or rapid diagnosis technology. Dr Ruth Watkins: "..The control of disease by killing farm animals is promoted unashamedly and, as in the FMD epidemic of 2001, no apology made for failing to apply methods in human medicine to the care of farm animals ..."
April 12 - 18 ~ TB has surfaced in Anglesey; there are no badgers there.
The gamma interferon test to identify bovine TB in cattle is thought more effective than the current skin test which can result in false positives and cause uncompensated movement restrictions. One National Farmers Union study has shown that a TB breakdown costs the average farm #36,000. When Defra was asked for clarification on its current use of the gamma interferon test they said that this 'decision-making' tool is used in special circumstances only where whole herd slaughter is being considered and that it is not to be used to back up the decision on individual reactors. Those animals are still routinely killed without confirmatory testing. Mary Marshall wrote in March that
"it would seem that Defra fails to define this as the purpose of using gamma interferon, and fails to rule out its use on an individual animal. The implication (perhaps by omission) is that this test could be used to confirm the individual reactor. In the covering letter on the Defra website, we are told that comments should be sent by 4 May 2004, to the TB Strategy Team, or by email to their consultation mailbox email@example.comSee also Dr R Watkins on the subject of bovine TB: "....The presence of gamma interferon in the test indicates the animal has been infected with Mycobacterium bovis at some point in the past. Such a test has been licensed by the FDA for use in humans and has been developed for cattle. The tools of modern medicine are there to be used to combat the spread of Mycobacterium bovis and ultimately to eliminate the infection."
April 5 - 11 ~ A mock foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak was staged to see how the different agencies would interact. More than 200 citizens attended two bio-security training sessions
Not the UK. At the end of March this year, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa State University Extension jointly "offered the training to map out strategies for reacting to possible livestock disease outbreaks, such as bird flu or foot and mouth disease. Meetings were held to prepare local officials and farmers for responding to an agricultural disaster. County emergency action coordinators, fire, police, public health, supervisors and farmers were among those present.
A mock foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak was staged to see how the different agencies would interact. .......producers and veterinarians are the first line of defense in the event of any disease outbreak..." Iowa Farm Bureau Compare:
Detailed operational instructions to carry out the requirements of the Foot and Mouth Disease Contingency Plan are contained within VIPER (Veterinary Instructions, Procedures and Emergency Routines) Chapter 3. The existing VIPER Chapters are available to the public in the Defra library, Room 320A, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR and may be viewed by appointment by telephoning: 020 7 238 6575 (please allow 24 hours notice). As part of further improving the response of the Department to an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, work to consolidate the existing version of Chapter 3 into a web based document has been on going. This has been a major project as it has also involved capturing and collating experiences gained during 2001 to allow a consistent response based on best practices identified during and following the outbreak. The new version will be published on Defras website as a supporting document to Defras Contingency Plan in April 2004.
March 31 ~ "The revised version of Defra's Foot and Mouth Disease Contingency Plan .... laid before Parliament today,"
says the DEFRA website. "... The Plans were laid in accordance with Section 18 of the Animal Health Act 2002." According to the DEFRA site, the revised plan now:
"..takes into account the provisions of the new EU Directive on Community measures for the control of FMD (Council Directive 2003/85/EC) in anticipation of it (sic) being transposed into UK legislation. incorporates the Biosecurity guidance which was the subject of a separate consultation; includes guidance on the release of data during an outbreak; anticipates (our italics) the establishment of a permanent Expert Group, as referred to in the FMD Directive, which will consist of epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists who will maintain expertise in order to assist Defra in ensuring preparedness against an outbreak of foot and mouth disease."Since Article 78 states that Member States shall create a "permanently operational Expert group composed of epidemiologists, veterinary scientists and virologists in a balanced way" we are concerned that the expert group envisaged or "anticipated" by DEFRA appears to consist of "core DEFRA vets who specialise in disease control, core DEFRA administrative staff and disease consultants based at the National Reference Laboratory at IAH Pirbright." So DEFRA will be assisting itself "in ensuring preparedness against an outbreak of foot and mouth disease"... The revised Contingency Plan can be seen here. (pdf file)
March 31 ~ How many research staff re TB vaccines? Four. What assessment made of the relevance to the UK of the results obtained in the Republic of Ireland following use of BCG vaccine on badgers? ...As this work has not yet been published, we are unable to comment on its significance.
Some of Mr Paterson's written answers on TB yesterday. Extract:
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) establishments and (b) research staff there are to provide the experimental resources needed to develop TB vaccines in badgers. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Defra funds research projects to develop diagnostic tests and vaccines for TB in badgers. These are collaborative projects between the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) at Weybridge and researchers in the Republic of Ireland. Four staff are engaged at VLA on these projects."
March 31 ~"Political interference in animal health matters is not a new phenomenon; an example thereof was seen during the 2001 FMD outbreak in the UK. "
This comment, made yesterday on the respected Pro-Med website by a highly qualiified moderator, shows that it is now an acknowledged fact that political interference can blight attempts to bring common sense to animal health. To see the UK government's role in the 2001 crisis thus described on Pro-Med is salutary. The Power to Panicby Lee and Campbell, first published as an analysis piece in the Autumn 2003 issue of Public Law,  P.L. 382 : "It did indeed prove to be the case that the combined apparatuses of the UK state, including its army, wielded by COBR had a greater capacity to kill domesticated animals than FMD to spread, at least once animal movement restrictions were in place, and DEFRA has claimed this as a success (DEFRA, Autumn Performance Report 2002, Cm.5698 (2002), p.2.) But, to state the obvious, if this was a success, one would not like to see a failure..."
Viet Nam plans to declare itself free of deadly bird flu on Tues 30 Mar 2004 so it can rebuild it devastated poultry industry, even though U.N. agencies fear new outbreaks and despite a dispute over the cause of a boy's death this month. The Pro-Med Moderator's comment continues:
The main concern is that political decisions, such as the one currently underway in Viet Nam, might negatively affect professional, science-based attitudes -- with special reference to the highly needed but politically unpopular early reporting of possible new cases. The reversed attitude in Thailand, now more cautious, is to be commended"Read Pro-Med
March 29 - April 4 ~ It is time to discover new scientific weapons in the battle to detect and control emerging infectious diseases. US Vice President Al Gore
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem. See below . Considering the news today from the BBC that Oxford's Professor Gould says "potentially deadly diseases like the West Nile virus are entering Britain" together with DEFRA's inability to discover the source of brucellosis in Cornwall, the huge surge in bovine TB and in pig disease, the urgency for DEFRA to take seriously the new technologies is surely even greater. Moreover, if terror threats can be taken so seriously then the awareness that disease can be artificially imposed on the country by agro-terrorism should be prompting new measures. Foot and mouth is not in itself the terrible disease it is popularly perceived to be - but, considering the lengths to which governments will go to protect their "disease free status" for trade - the economic consequences of a disease such as FMD are enormous and present a tempting target. Why does the current FMD contingency plan still not include the new technologies in rapid diagnosis? We have yet to hear any convincing explanation.
March 29 ~ "If they try it again they will have a real fight on!"
Instinct Training. co.uk Behind Chained Gates - By Moira Linaker Paperback 151 pages (March 2004), Publisher: Hayloft, ISBN: 1904524168.
"A very human story of an ordinary woman dealing with a lifetime of extraordinary events, including her protest at what she saw as heavy handed and ill-informed bureaucracy in the fight against the unseen and deadly opponent of foot and mouth disease. " More information, and reviews. "During the Foot and Mouth Crisis in 2001, Moira resisted the culling of her sheep, (see press items below), and wrote to the Prince of Wales who has an interest in the rare and minority breeds.When Prince Charles came to Cockermouth, Moira had a private meeting with him, and he is now the owner of two of Moira's Ryeland sheep who will be taken to Highgrove. At the launch of her book last Thursday, Moira met many who supported her at the time of the 2001 crisis. One emailer who was there writes to warmwell; "I attended Moira`s book release evening at the Shepherds Inn Carlisle last night. I met up with some familiar faces. Just for interest there is still massive anger and dissatisfaction at the events of 2001. I was quite shocked at the depth of feeling. It`s not just a few of us. One farmer, still smarting from how they were treated, coldly and factually announced; "If they try it again they will have a real fight on!" ..."
March 21 - 28 ~ Growth promoters - still widely used in America and elsewhere - and the link with resistance to antibiotic drugs
Research work Antimicrobial Resistance Gene Delivery in Animal Feeds , supported by the Canadian Bacterial Diseases Network, voices deep concern about the continuing link between animal feed and resistance to antibiotic drugs
".... the prolonged use of avoparcin in agriculture led to the uptake of glycopeptide resistance genes by animal commensal bacteria, which were subsequently transferred to humans.Read in full (We are grateful to Pat Gardiner for sending this link)
...... In Europe, an estimated 100 mg of antimicrobial agents are used in animal feed for the production of 1 kg of meat for human consumption. We believe that this regimen would have favored the selection and maintenance of rare bacterial transformants carrying the resistance genes. If one bears in mind that large numbers of pigs and chickens were exposed to the antimicrobial agent, the probability of gene pick-up by bacterial commensals in the animal gastrointestinal tract would be favored, and once incorporated into a gut commensal genome, further dissemination would have followed under antimicrobial selection...... The finding of resistance genes in crude antimicrobial products intended to be fed to animals adds to the already strongly voiced opinion that use of antimicrobial agents in this way constitutes a serious public health concern and further emphasizes the need for prohibiting the use in animal feed of all antimicrobial agents .....
.... delivery systems provide the opportunity for resistant strains of bacteria to evolve and so create an enormous gene pool for antimicrobial resistance determinants in the environment..."
March 21 - 28 ~ Defra's TB consultation document ".. it would seem that Defra fails to define this as the purpose of using gamma interferon, and fails to rule out its use on an individual animal."
Mary Marshall writes
"After watching with interest the item on the gamma interferon assay in last Sunday's BBC Countryfile broadcast, including a discussion with Defra about the problems of being able to use this assay as part of a testing regime, I was surprised to learn that it has already been introduced by Defra to "... resolve suspected cases of non-specific reactions (NSR) ... as a decision making tool...". This was published in February 2004 in a bovine tuberculosis consultation document (PB 9066), "Preparing for a new GB strategy on bovine tuberculosis", http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/tbstrategy/consultation.pdf, on page 34, Chapter 4:Read in full together with links from this website on the use of the gamma interferon test.
"4.9.5 Moreover, we have already introduced the use of gamma interferon to resolve suspected cases of non-specific reactions (NSR) to the skin test as a decision making tool when considering whole or partial herd depopulation."
I ...was informed that this 'decision-making' tool is used in special circumstances where whole herd slaughter is being considered and that it is not to be used to back up the decision on individual reactors.... it would seem that Defra fails to define this as the purpose of using gamma interferon, and fails to rule out its use on an individual animal. The implication (perhaps by omission) is that this test could be used to confirm the individual reactor.
In the covering letter on the Defra website, we are told that comments should be sent by 4 May 2004, to the TB Strategy Team, or by email to their consultation mailbox firstname.lastname@example.org In the interests of transparency, warmwell would be most grateful to receive comments too since the only way one can discover what comments consultees have made is to go in person to Page Street and ask to see them.
March 25 ~ "Clearly, foot and mouth is far too important to be left on the shelf."
Lords Hansard for yesterday "Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why the evidence of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs veterinary officer Jim Dring was not forwarded to Dr Anderson's "Lessons Learned" inquiry into foot and mouth disease. (read the short debate in full)
Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, does the Minister acknowledge that the cover sheet on Mr Dring's 30 page memorandum apparently had been removed when it explicitly stated that it was to "The Anderson Inquiry, Room 207, Ashley House, 2 Monck Street, London SW1P 2BQ"? Dr Anderson's report is entitled, "Lessons Learned". What lessons have Defra learnt as a result of this alleged sleight of hand? Is not the best action now to hold a very brief inquiry into this matter? Clearly, foot and mouth is far too important to be left on the shelf.Read in full. See also WMN comment
Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, was Dr Anderson aware that he was not receiving this information? Is there any other information that he did not receive that he should have received?
Lord Whitty: .....as far as I can ascertain, it does not appear to be the case that other material was withheld for the same reason or for any other reason. .... ...
Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, what right or power does some official in Defra have to suppress a communication from Mr Dring to Dr Anderson without the permission or the knowledge either of the author of the document or the person to whom it was addressed? ....
March 21 -28 ~ The market is bound to bite back
The behaviour of Smithfield and the Polish authorities mirrors that of MAFF at the time when so many of our own slaughterhouses were forced by EU regulations (rigorously enforced by MAFF) to close. The manipulation of EU rules has allowed "empire building" and the taking control of the meat industry by those who should never be allowed near a live animal. Council Directive 91/487/EEC with its application to all slaughterhouses, was interpreted by MAFF (now DEFRA) in a way that made Britain abandon its well-run, safe and reasonably humane system.
The Directive was interpreted to force swingeing costs and new highly paid and unnecessary jobs for both SVS vets and Meat Hygiene inspectors. It was disastrous for the slaughterhouse owners who closed their operations in droves, and thus consequently for those who depended on them. Animals themselves were subjected to stress, long journeys and exposure to contageous infections. DEFRA still cannot seem to tell us where brucellosis in Cornwall came from but it was somehow allowed into Scotland from Ireland. Disease, particularly in British pig farms for example with their widespread PWMS and PDNS, is now unofficially known to be rampant.
Illegal trade in meat and livestock is a national scandal. We are no nearer knowing for sure where Foot and Mouth came from in 2001 - although the "guesswork" by DEFRA has led to much misery and loss of livelihood. Unanswered questions about BSE and billions of pounds lost as a result create panic in world markets.
When the new countries, withh their endemic diseases, join the EU in May things will be even more difficult to control. Ludicrously, they will no longer be allowed to vaccinate against, for example, CSF. Wild boar do not respect bounderies. It is a mess.
In 2001, Dr Richard North wrote in the Ecologist
".. BSE and the foot and mouth disease do have something in common; a market forcing farmers to feed their animals with the cheapest and most unethical of feed and a market forcing farmers to transport their animals crammed in lorries and for long distances is, in the Burkean sense, 'inorganic 'and bound to bite back." Read "Burnt Out" in full
March 21 - 27 ~ "Outbreaks of diseases such as BSE, foot and mouth and brucellosis could be avoided using animal health monitoring implants designed to raise the alarm at the first sign of infection.
Researchers have developed a "cattle telemedicine tracking system" which relays information about the health of herds to farmers, vets and government agencies. The device, part of which is placed under an animal's skin, contains sensors which monitor heart rate, temperature, movement and the oxygen level in the blood. Data is then sent using wireless technology to a nearby computer. The system, being developed at Kansas State University (KSU) in the United States, is designed to identify and contain contagious diseases earlier than at present.( A particularly significant aspect of this monitoring project is the monitoring of animal position using global positioning systems (GPS). See http://www.cis.ksu.edu/~dan/job/cv.pdf)
Prof Daniel Andresen, one of the team at KSU, said: "A cow with mad cow disease for example does not have normal energy levels and so we hope we would be able to detect the on-set of the disease early. "When you consider the dramatic effect this could have in reducing numbers of cattle that have to be killed and the size of areas to be sealed off, we're talking about potential saving of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars." Field trials will begin this summer. The prototypes cost about #350, but the researchers say this will drop to #60 for the most sophisticated models, and as little as #6 for simpler versions."
March 21 - 27 ~ How was it that animals from herds not free of bovine brucellosis were imported?
Article 184.108.40.206. of OIE's Terrestrial Animal Health Code states that "a Country or zone shall satisfy the following requirements to qualify free from bovine brucellosis " These include the slaughtering of all reactors and the banning of vaccination. In addition, requirement 6 states that:
6) animals introduced into a free country or zone shall only come from herds officially free from bovine brucellosis or from herds free from bovine brucellosis. This condition may be waived for animals which have not been vaccinated and which, prior to entry into the herd, were isolated and were subjected to the serological tests for bovine brucellosis with negative results on 2 occasions, with an interval of 30 days between each test. ...."It is certain that the bovine brucellosis in Scottish cattle in February came from animals imported into Scotland from Ireland. It is now vital to know from where the Cornish thoroughbred cattle in the closed herd in Duloe got the disease. WMN " ... National Farmers' Union regional spokesman Ian Johnson said it was vital that Defra kept the farming community in the area informed of developments.
It was one of the most important lessons it should have learned from the foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001, he said. "We need complete transparency from Defra, with regular updates on what is going on..."
DEFRA's investigation involves the checking of records of any cattle imported from abroad into Cornwall and Devon during the past few years.
March 21- 27 ~ In order to qualify for disease free status, the UK was obliged to follow the OIE requirement for importing livestock.
A Pro-Med moderator, in a note on the Pro-Med website following the news of the Cornish test results, makes mention of the article 220.127.116.11. of OIE's terrestrial animal health code.
If imported livestock from Ireland has slipped through the surveillance net then DEFRA must surely accept responsibility for what has happened. If the Ministry claims that it is not responsible, then it would be implying that illegal imports of livestock have been taking place. ( If illegal importation of livestock or semen has been happening in the case of brucellosis it is not hard to imagine its having happened before - perhaps with even more far reaching and heartbreaking consequences. No evidence of the origin of FMD has been made public and the government itself - although very ready to imply that swill was to blame - did not state this categorically until Mr Bradshaw's somewhat naive assertion on February 5th)
If the disease spreads, will the government be ready to use the new, effective vaccine RB51 to stop it - or will it try to slaughter its way back to disease free status again?
Kevin Pearce, the NFU's chief livestock adviser (Farminglife) said:
"It is not good news because we have not had a home-bred problem with brucellosis in 10 years. We need to let DEFRA to continue with its investigations to find out how this diseased animal arrived on the farm. We can then decide if it has come through an imported route because there are other members states of the EU which have problems with brucellosis. We are disappointed but we would tell farmers not to panic yet and that part of this is in our hands. We must tell the authorities of any aborted calves.''Great Britain gained formal recognition as a region of the European Union with Official Brucellosis Free Status in 1991. OBF status is not necessarily compromised by occasional, quickly contained outbreaks.
March 14 - 20 ~ "This proves that the government has not learned from the FMD outbreak, as sufficient measures are not in place to protect our own farmers from the diseases of other countries..."
We are grateful for having been sent this link to a page which deals with brucellosis from Land-Care.org.uk On February 20 this year the disease was confirmed in Scotland - a country free of the disease since 1973 - and was traced back to heifers imported from the Republic of Ireland.
"...In telephone discussion with Land-Care, Sandy Clark (Scottish Chairman of the British Veterinary Association) said it is unfortunate this had occurred considering the amount of money the government has spent over the last 50 years eradicating brucellosis.All 124 cattle, from Landare Farm near Liskeard, have been slaughtered as a "precautionary measure" and it appears that DEFRA is "focusing on imports of animals to Cornwall from Northern Ireland"
This proves that the government has not learned from the FMD outbreak, as sufficient measures are not in place to protect our own farmers from the diseases of other countries. Mr Clark thinks that there should be more stringent controls on animal imports from countries that have diseases we don't. The open border policy of the EU is a big problem and could result in diseases such as bluetongue coming to the UK.
Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have tuberculosis and brucellosis yet the UK still allows imports from both countries."
March 14 - 20 ~ "They are a lovely family and would do anything to help anyone. Their cattle and sheep are absolutely beautiful - so solid and healthy. It seems so hard on them, and so difficult to believe it could have happened."
"Mr Mitchell said it was a terrible blow for his 16-year-old son David, who is currently taking his school exams and will one day take on the farm, and his nine-year-old daughter Katherine, who had a pet heifer which had recently calved.The Western Morning News reminds us of the human side of the tragedy of brucellosis. In addition to words from sympathetic and shocked neighbours, National Farmers' Union chairman for Cornwall James Moon is quoted:
Gerald Mitchell, who now lives in a bungalow on the farm with his wife Viv, has farmed all his life and was very sad that his pedigree herd was lost.
"It's rotten - and also very upsetting for our neighbours," he said."
" ... "Brucellosis was a fact of life in the 1970s and 1980s, but then we started using a vaccine called S19 which cleared it up, and we have not seen any major outbreaks since then..."One wonders how many vets and how many people at DEFRA are aware of the huge strides made in brucellosis vaccine since the use of S19. The vaccine RB51, now the official brucellosis vaccine for control of brucellosis in cattle in the United States, enables animals that are vaccinated to be distinguished from those infected. Louisiana State Universtity site.
March 14 20 ~ " International Conference..
..on the Control of Infectious Animal Diseases by Vaccination." Buenos Aires, Argentina 13-16 April 2004 OIE From the introductory comments from Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General
" .... During the past few years we have witnessed the global emergence and re-emergence of several infectious animal diseases that have had a major impact on both animal and human health. Fortunately, as a result of the incorporation of new scientific and technological knowledge, we have methods of prevention of many of these infectious diseases by vaccination. ..... It is expected that all Member Countries will benefit from this International Conference, so I look forward to welcoming you in Buenos Aires."Objectives of the Conference include "Experience gained in the control and eradication of foot and mouth disease and other animal and zoonotic diseases through the use of vaccination when appropriate ~ Current methods of vaccination ~ New and future trends in the control of diseases by vaccination ~ Impact on international regulations and trade"
March 14 - 20 ~ Why was vet's report not sent to Anderson?
Western Morning News
"The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been urged to "come clean" about an 11,700-word document which it has attempted to pass off as an "aide memoire"...There would seem to be some confusion in DEFRA's statements as reported in the article as to whether the Anderson with whom the report was discussed was Dr Iain Anderson, chairman of the Lessons Learned Inquiry, or Professor Roy Anderson, the architect of the contiguous cull policy. Perhaps the DEFRA spokesman was not sure which is which. See also Inbox comment
Andrew George, Lib-Dem MP for St Ives, said it was obvious the document was more than an aide memoire. "I think the cover sheet is quite critical. The cover sheet changes the whole nature of the document. I have seen the document on the Defra website which is what they wanted us to see and they did not want us to see the cover. The document is not something that was dashed off in five minutes. We can't simply allow this matter to be shoved under the carpet." Mr George is seeking an independent inquiry into why Mr Dring's report was not submitted to the Anderson inquiry. "
March 14 - 20 ~ This is not a question of anyone wanting to blame Mr Dring
Western Morning News (Wednesday) "... he gave no explanation of why the report had been withheld from the Anderson Inquiry. And he dismissed calls to reopen the inquiry so that the evidence of Mr Dring's report could be considered properly.
The report was published on Defra's website last night. But it was missing its cover sheet, in which Mr Dring makes clear that his report was intended to go to the Anderson Inquiry.
.....Mrs Browning said: "I have read Mr Dring's report and the WMN's reporting of it is certainly not misleading. "This is not a question of anyone wanting to blame Mr Dring and it is not a political game. It is about getting a definitive answer on how the 2001 FMD started and ensuring that its lessons are fully learned."
March 14 - 20 ~ "At the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, there perished in this country a practice that has taken place for thousands of years.."
Boris Johnson yesterday at Westminster Hall (Hansard) ".... it was illogical to penalise innocent swill feeders for the irresponsible behaviour of one, who may or may not have been implicated in the outbreak of foot and mouth. I hold out no hope that the Minister will do the right thing and revoke the ban, but it is right to draw his attention to its adverse effects, which, like so many pieces of regulation, is adding to the costs of business and industry. ...
... the Government have been triply culpable in their behaviour
Hansard records how in 1996 the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley), now the Minister for the Environment, clamoured for compensation for the head de-boners saying that the Government had a moral duty to compensate them. Someone has changed his tune...." Read in full
- There is the simple moral case: many swill feeders were urged by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to buy very expensive equipment and a few months later that machinery, like their profession, was redundant. ..
- the UK Government failed adequately to enforce their own regulations, never mind EU regulations
- Mr. Dring accepted that had his inspection "been more rigorous than it was, had the licence not been renewed, or renewed subject only to radical revision of Waugh's patently deficient feeding technique, then this awful 2001 foot and mouth epidemic would never have come about." ..had the state done its duty properly, there would have been no need to ban an innocent and ancient practice.
March 14 - 20 ~ Mr Bradshaw's words during the Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday raise more questions.
Mr Bradshaw stated publicly on February 5th 2004 in the House of Commons that "swill feeding was identified as the source of the FMD outbreak".
He is aware of the case against DEFRA being brought to the High Court by Staffordshire pig farmer Jason Podmore. Conditions noted at Burnside Farm should have made the renewal of Mr Waugh's licence unthinkable - but all was ticked as "satisfactory". (This is hardly unusual. The notorious Scotpigs operation owned by Arthur Simmers has been far worse and is only now being closed down as a result - not of outrage at the cruelty, dirt and disease - but simply because of large debts.)
Robert Persey's notes emphasise that ".. Jim Dring failed to fulfil his regulatory responsibilities under the Animal By Products Order 1999" Our questions now include:
Brian Friend, who is giving legal representation to Jason Podmore, said that Ministers tried to put the blame for foot and mouth on farmers who fed swill to pigs. 62 swill feeders have lost their livelihoods without compensation. Although possible, there has never been any evidence presented to the public to prove that swill caused the FMD outbreak. It is not Mr Dring, one of a dwindling number of overstretched SVS vets whose morale has been notoriously sapped by systematic government cuts, who is being held responsible for incompetence by any press reports; it is the Ministry. To say so publicly, as does the independent newspaper the Western Morning News, can hardly be termed misleading and mischievous. These words might seem more appropriate to the dodging and weaving of the authorities in their efforts to avoid a public inquiry.
- If "dangerous and illegal activity" (As Mr Bradshaw said in the debate) refers to Mr Waugh's practices, why, after the annual inspection for 'The Holding Premises Licence' under The Animal By-Products Order 1999, was Mr Waugh's Article 26 licence renewed?
- When was the full text of Mr Dring's statement put on the DEFRA website? Before or after the time of the Anderson Inquiry (Spring/Summer 2002)? If before, then the "concern" which "centred on putting material into the public domain before it had been dealt with in court" (BBC) was just as valid and putting it in the public domain on the DEFRA website was just as likely to be prejudicial to the Bobby Waugh case. If after, just how recently did it appear?*(Why is page 22 of the statement apparently missing?) *We see from Mr Bradshaw's words in the Hansard report that he put it up only yesterday.
- Why would a vet's mere "aide-memoire" or "notes he made for himself"- as Mrs Beckett described it last week - be posted on the DEFRA website and published in the Commons, yet deemed by DEFRA's departmental lawyers "not material" to an inquiry?
March 14 - 20 ~ Ben Bradshaw forgets that it was Mr Dring himself who implied that he was responsible for the foot and mouth outbreakThe Scotsman
Minister Defends Vet over Foot-and-Mouth Accusations and BBCFoot-and-mouth vet 'not to blame'
".... Junior environment minister Ben Bradshaw condemned as misleading and mischievous press reporting of an official document in which Jim Dring said he should have performed a more rigorous inspection of a Northumberland farm, later identified as source of the epidemic.
Mr Bradshaw said: To suggest that Mr Dring was responsible for the foot and mouth outbreak, as some have sought to, is like saying that a police officer who misses a piece of evidence at the scene of a crime is responsible for that crime rather than the criminal himself,
The minister announced he had published the full text of Mr Drings testimony in the Commons, as well as on the Defra website. Far from showing any incompetence on Mr Drings or the, then, Agriculture Ministrys part, I believe it shows a dedicated and conscientious vet dealing with some very difficult customers who went out of their way to conceal dangerous and illegal activity on their farm, he said. ....."
March 14 - 20 ~ Bobby Waugh was told to sign the Official Secrets Act
The article from the Evening Chronicle (June 2001), from which this extract came, has since disappeared from the internet
"A 12 page Ministry of Agriculture contract, dated June 4 and leaked to the Chronicle, details the agreement, which could pay Mr Waugh #10,000 in clean-up compensation. But to begin the clean-up procedure - which almost every other foot and mouth infected farm has been allowed within days of its animals being culled - Mr Waugh must abide by Clause 17 of the contract.On June 13 2001 the Government backed down from a move to force all farmers affected by the foot and mouth outbreak to sign the Official Secrets Act. Why did it want them to in the first place? Government vets certainly did have to sign - as the Times revealed on January 31st 2002. It may also be remembered that DEFRA official, Bryan Munro, made to sign the OSO, broke it in order to reveal "the catalogue of foul ups" (as the Evening Chronicle put it), made in the course of the government's handling of the FMD crisis.
This states: "The supplier undertakes to abide and procure that his employees abide by the provisions of the Official Secrets Act 1911 to 1989. "The supplier shall keep secret and not disclose any information of a confidential nature obtained by him by reason of the contract, except information which is in the public domain otherwise than by breach of this provision".
March 16 ~ "...the first visible signs of FMD would, in his opinion, have been seen on the farm on or about 12 February... "
The WMN is publishing in instalments the so-called "aide-memoire" of the SVS vet, Jim Dring; the submission he made to Iain Anderson which was withheld by DEFRA from arriving at the Lessons Learned Inquiry. The extract chronicles the disposal of the unfortunate pigs, showing how cursory were the attempts at disinfection. It also raises a question about the date of infection at Burnside
"The trailer-loads were not individually sheeted due to lack of suitable sheet and delay in (i) acquiring one and (ii) applying it to each load. Neither were carcass heads and feet individually bagged, due to impracticality, time-constraints and also lack of suitable materials. Neither was any pre-slaughter disinfection carried out. ...."Very odd is the paragraph about "antibodies". Did Mr Dring mean antibodies or evidence of active virus? If antibodies were indeed found to be widespread, is not the guess about "duration" wrong? We would very much appreciate guidance here.
"Dr Kitching's team blood-sampled 221 Burnside pigs on this day. All 221 samples were tested for FMD antibody, with 195 (or 88 per cent) proving positive. This constitutes (a) further confirmation (if any be needed) that disease was indeed present on this site at this time as well as (b) a telling indication of the weight (and thus duration) of infection here.... I saw no notifiable disease there before 22 February 2001, nor was it ever suggested to me that such was present. On 24 February 2001 Dr Kitching expressed the opinion to me that the oldest FMD lesions he had seen on that day were 12 day old - ie, that the first visible signs of FMD would, in his opinion, have been seen on the farm on or about 12 February. With an added incubation period of eight-ten days, he told me he believed the virus would have been introduced into the herd between 2 and 4 February."Read in full
March 16 ~ Waugh's pig farm - "in those strictly narrowly-defined terms they were good at their job" says the Dring document
Mr Dring wrote too about the apparent health of the pigs at the farm.
"The herd at Burnside was routinely a strong and healthy one.... This herd was routinely strong, vigorous, well-grown, well-fed and healthy.. Read in full
Certainly I saw no notifiable disease there before 22 February 2001, nor was it ever suggested to me that such was present.... On the strength of this independent epidemiological assessment, therefore, I feel safe in asserting that I did not on that date miss the presence in Waugh's herd of FMD. I say this not because I believe myself incapable of such a thing, but simply because disease at that time was not there .."
March 15 ~ Dr Ruth Watkins comments, "Mr Morley's remark is so stupid I can't believe he made it."
Our pleas for a virologist to comment on the comments made by Ben Bradshaw and Elliott Morley when they were fending off questions by Paul Flynn (see below) have resulted in this detailed reply from Dr Ruth Watkins BSc Hons, BFA Oxon, MBBS, MSc, MRCP, MRCPath. Mr Morley said that without the mass slaughter policies of 2001 foot and mouth disease "would still be going on". The implication was that vaccination could not have brought the disease to a timely end far sooner. Hansard
Part of what Dr Watkins says in support of vaccination:
If vaccination had been used in the 2001 FMD epidemic Pirbright could have conducted very informative and useful field trials. ....There is nothing to replace the potential and power of vaccination in controlling virus infections. (A new pandemic of influenza will be a global tragedy unless a vaccine is developed against it.)She adds, in this tribute to Fred Brown, "So many scientists might stand back - particularly after being rebuffed publicly by the powers that be - and rage unquietly in the wings at the stupidity and folly of refusing to use vaccination and modern diagnostic techniques to combat an epidemic.
Fred never backed away or down. His high sense of integrity prevented it when he knew how FMD might have been managed differently. Those wonderful tools - Fred's work so outstanding in its contribution to their development - that science had given us were never used. What an anathema that we never applied them to FMD..."
March 15 ~ The Podmore case could in effect become the best public inquiry we can hope for.
Radio 4 Farming Today, (Monday 15) featured FMD and swill feeding legal action against Defra Listen again (the link expires each week. See Monday's programme) An emailer writes, "the BBC summary leaves out some important information, especially on the right of disclosure. This would give to Jason Podmore and Robert Persey the right to seek any documents they wish to obtain; the High Court case would become, in effect, a public inquiry into the foot and mouth epidemic."
March 15 ~" His understanding of the structure and function of FMD led to the development of new vaccines and test kits."
The Times adds its voice to the tributes to Fred Brown, who died on February 20th. " After his retirement, he continued his research at the US Department of Agriculture Plum Island Disease Center, where he was a visiting scientist from 1995.
In February 2001, when the most recent British outbreak of FMD was first diagnosed, Brown announced that it "would be crazy not to operate a programme of mass vaccination immediately".
Mass vaccination had been abandoned in western Europe in 1992, after defective vaccines had been thought to be the cause of outbreaks of the disease. But, Brown maintained, the new vaccines could not cause infections, and new testing could differentiate between vaccinated and infected animals.
Despite his attempts to persuade the authorities of the benefits of vaccination, to Brown's dismay the Government opted for a policy of mass slaughter, which he later described as the destruction of "innocent animals".
March 15 ~"In the event of an outbreak, be it an accidental introduction or an act of bio-terrorism, it would be critical to have a fast and reliable method to quickly identify infected animals."
pdf file of Real-Time Reverse Transcription PCR Detection of Foot-and-Mouth-Disease Virus Using the R.A.P.I.D.® System by Katy M. Andrews, Michael D. Powers, Gordon B. Ward, Thomas McKenna, Deepika de Silva Idaho Technology Inc., Salt Lake City, UT, 2APHIS USDA, Plum Island Animal Disease Ctr., Plum Island, NY.
"This study evaluates the ability of two real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) assays to independently detect the presence of Foot-and-Mouth-Disease Virus (FMDV) RNA. Assays to amplify the internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) and RNA polymerase regions of the FMDV genome recognize all seven existing serotypes. Both assays can effectively evaluate the presence of FMDV in various bovine samples, including blood, serum, saliva, nasal swabs, and epithelial tissue..... Real-time RT-PCR using the Ruggedized Advanced Pathogen Identification Device (R.A.P.I.D.) System is an ideal platform for fast, sensitive, and specific identification of FMDV...."The US is taking the rapid diagnostic tests very seriously indeed. Canada is conducting a project to focus on the development of new diagnostic tests ".. based on the key platform technologies that have the greatest potential as field tests for Veterinary First Responders. These tests will be mobile and robust for use in the field. They will produce highly reliable, accurate results, support differential diagnosis, allow for automation for handling large numbers of samples, and allow for electronic collection and transmission of data. These tests will be applied to rapid diagnosis of FMD, HC, AI and NV..." (Government of Canada website) Meanwhile, in the UK, such tests are not even mentioned in the latest Foot and Mouth Contingency Plans. (See again the Marshall comments on the Contingency Plan) including the need for a properly constituted Expert Group)
March 14 ~ "Mrs Beckett must wake up to the fact that Jim Dring failed to fulfil his regulatory responsibilities under the Animal By Products Order 1999
and she and DEFRA must carry the can." writes Mr Robert Persey. "She only deludes herself by saying, '..he (Jim Dring) is not responsible'.
The 14 page document ( the last page was originally passed to the press) has now gone to the WMN and Farmers Weekly and has the title 'My involvement with the Waughs'.
Read Mr Persey's notes in full
March 13 ~ "The revelations will put even more pressure on ministers..."
WMN "Explaining the lack of records on visits to Waugh's farm in 2000, Mr Dring said: "Contrary to normal working practice, no such official record was made. The reason for this has to do with local staff depletion creating too much work and too little time to do it in. The inevitable, if regrettable, result of such depletion is, subject to opportunity, the cutting of corners." ..."
"...The revelations will put even more pressure on ministers to explain why they withheld Mr Dring's report from the Anderson Inquiry. It also raises serious questions about the resourcing of the SVS, which is on the front line of the battle to protect the UK from infectious animal diseases like foot and mouth...." Read in full
March 13 ~ "Withheld Memo sparks Anger
".... .... Mr (David) Hill said: "....All the time these little stones were being turned over and it transpires there was this enormous rock with an open invitation to look under it, but somebody decided there was no need to look under that rock. The only word that comes to mind is negligent. It was negligent not to take that information into account. I am not a great conspiracy theory man. I think it was negligent."Inbox comment
Angela Browning.....pointed out that the Government were the only people who could decide to hold another inquiry and she added: "I think they will do everything they can to keep it down the list of priorities of what they are doing. They will say they have had three inquiries, but these were all inadequate because they were not comprehensive." Mrs Browning suggested that the admission that Mr Dring's memo had been withheld could open the way for fresh compensation claims from those who lost out because of foot and mouth disease..."
Read article in full
March 12 ~ Without the mass slaughter policy, say Bradshaw and Morley, foot and mouth "would still be going on"
See Hansard from yesterday. We await the comment of any virologist to this extraordinary statement.
Paul Flynn , Labour MP for Newport, West, asked Mrs Beckett "What her most recent assessment is of the role that vaccination may play in a future outbreak of foot and mouth disease." Ben Bradshaw replied predictably that it would be considered as an additional tool to the culling of susceptible animals on infected premises, and those animals that were epidemiologically linked.DEFRA's intentions and overall competence - about which we have worried for three years - must now, surely, be called into question elsewhere.
"Only 'considered,'?" asked Mr Flynn, " ... Should we not have a firm policy -not merely consider it - that we shall never again slaughter millions of animals without good reason? If there is another outbreak of foot and mouth, the great danger is that we shall be subject to the waste, futility and cruelty of mad cull disease..."
Instead of answering the question, Ben Bradshaw leapt to the defence of the policy and said that without the mass slaughter, "the epidemic would have lasted much longer and would have been much more serious" "It would probably still be going on," Mr. Morley added
No vaccination protocol has been made available. What we have detailed in the Contingency Plan instead is a comprehensive Slaughter Protocol, based on the new draconian slaughter powers invested by the Animal Health Act.
Where is the Expert Group? The so-called Scientific Advisory Council does not fulful the requirements of the Directive, and does not include any of the world/EU experts on FMD vaccination.
March 12 ~ "what strategic discussions or reviews have been conducted by the Department with vets to ensure that we have enough vets in the right places?"
When Lawrie Quinn Labour MP for Scarborough and Whitby asked "what strategic discussions or reviews have been conducted by the Department with vets to ensure that we have enough vets in the right places.." she was told that "All those things were considered in the Government's response to the Anderson inquiry. As my hon. Friend may know, we intend to hold a contingency exercise this summerin case of a future foot and mouth outbreakin which vets will play a central role." Read Hansard for yesterday.
March 12 ~ FMD leak could cost £billions
Some newspapers are beginning to take the Dring leak even more seriously. Farmers Weekly quotes Richard Lissack QC who has been approached formally to consider whether there is a proper claim in law for economic losses caused by FMD Mr Lissack said, "We need a client to come forward to represent. The figures at stake here that have been suggested to me could be in the order of £11bn."
The WMN today says,
"....Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett was under mounting pressure to order a public inquiry into the 2001 foot and mouth disaster yesterday... Mrs Beckett yesterday admitted that the document had been "withheld" from the Anderson Inquiry. But she insisted that the "issues behind the memo" were discussed with Dr Iain Anderson who chaired the investigation. Although Mr Dring's report was addressed to the Anderson Inquiry, Mrs Beckett described it as "notes he made for himself". A Defra spokesman told the WMN this week that departmental lawyers had decided Mr Dring's comments were "not material" to the inquiry."The attempt by Mrs Beckett to suggest that Mr Dring is being unfairly hounded, and that (presumably for that reason) the department would continue to block the full publication of Mr Dring's report, is nonsense. What eveyone who feels concern wants is to know why a vitally important piece of evidence was withheld from an "independent" inquiry. There are many unanswered questions about the 2001 FMD crisis; what caused it, where it really began, why so much about it has been and continues to be shrouded in secrecy - and why DEFRA seems so set, in its contingency plans, on ignoring the advice and the technology that could prevent its happening all over again.
March 12 ~ "We have still not got to the bottom of the start of foot and mouth so that lessons can be learned. ...."
says Angela Browning MP in today's article on the Dring case in the Western Morning News. "...Neil Parish, Conservative MEP for the South West, said: "My position all along has been that there should have been a full public judicial inquiry in the UK where we could cross-examine witnesses. .. " Lib-Dem MP Nick Harvey, whose North Devon constituency was badly hit by the crisis, agreed that only a full public inquiry could uncover the truth about how the epidemic was handled." Read in full
March 7 - 13 ~ Full disclosure and accountability - rather than Public Inquiry
The Dring material and its implications are too important to await a long drawn out Inquiry (followed possibly by a meaningless report at the end of it). What is needed to be made available are all Dring's reports, notes, memos, tapes and all video material relating to Bobby Waugh's farm, from the date of his first inspection on the 27 Jan 2001. Once this information has been obtained, accountability should be sought from Defra. It is the Ministry responsible for disease surveillance. There is no interest at all in trying to "scape-goat" Mr Dring. It is the Ministry that should take responsibility for this - and previous non-disclosure.
March 7 - 13 ~ "I attended this conference... There were seats made available for a formal UK representative but they remained empty.."
We received this email in response to that of Dr Sutmoller below - from one of the organisers of the Houston conference
I attended this conference as one of the organisers. There were seats made available for a formal UK representative but they remained empty throughout the one & half days. OIE, IICA, OIRSA, FAO were strongly represented by sound officers, as well as ministers from all the South American countries, some in Central America, as well as Mexico, US, & Canada, plus industry representatives.Read in full
It was a useful meeting which essentially laid out the ground rules for the eradication programme. Now to see how the directing Working Group sets it all up and ensures adequate funding. From the enthusiasm of the various South American delegates though the official taget is 2009, I would not be surprised if effective eradication is achieved in 2007."
March 7 - 13 ~"I sincerely hope that the apparent lack of DEFRA's interest in the Conference... is based on some gross misunderstanding"
Dr Paul Sutmoller,PhD DVM, in a reply to Bryn Wayt after learning from him that DEFRA sent no representative to the Hemispheric Conference on the Eradication of FMD.
"Thank you Captain Bryn Wayt for including me in your mailing list. It is very hard to believe that DEFRA did not send one or more representatives to the (Western) Hemispheric Conference on the Eradication of FMD, Houston, Texas 3-4 March organized by the PanAmerican Health Organization (PAHO). It would be a clear signal that DEFRA is intent on following its own concepts of FMD eradication in the UK without input of knowledge and experience gained at the other side of the Atlantic ocean involving the eradication of FMD in most of the South American continent and in more than 150 million head of cattle.
I sincerely hope that the apparent lack of DEFRA's interest in the Conference, as shown by your e-mail exchange, is based on some gross misunderstanding."
March 7 - 13 ~ he remained disappointed that, when the disease had first been diagnosed, his advice had not been taken. The mass cull, he said in 2002, was "barbaric conduct" and "a disgrace to humanity".
From the Telegraph tribute to Fred Brown
"...Brown maintained, the new vaccines could not cause infections, and new testing could differentiate between vaccinated and infected animals.
Despite his attempts to persuade the authorities of the benefits of vaccination, to Brown's dismay the Government opted for a policy of mass slaughter, which he later described as the destruction of "innocent animals".
.....continue to maintain that vaccination and testing could have prevented the unnecessary slaughter of millions of animals. After the 2001 outbreak, Brown was appointed to a Royal Society inquiry set up to learn lessons from it. But he remained disappointed that, when the disease had first been diagnosed, his advice had not been taken. The mass cull, he said in 2002, was "barbaric conduct" and "a disgrace to humanity". ... Brown discovered that one of the aziridine compounds (AEI) gave the desired result: a safe and effective vaccine. This was a major breakthrough, and aziridines are now used universally in foot-and-mouth disease vaccine production units. ..."
See also the obituary in the New York Times "Brown's work has been applied to pen-side testing for diagnosis of the disease......"All of Fred Brown's work has been important, but his pen-side tests could potentially revolutionize the detection of the disease," said Dr. Daniel Rock, a virologist at the Plum Island center, where Dr. Brown had worked since 1990 while teaching at Yale's School of Public Health. ... "
March 7 - 13 ~ "Each of the 2,026 FMD cases was subjected to a detailed clinical and epidemiological investigation. ..."
is the claim in DEFRA's Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" What did Mr Scudamore mean by "each of the 2026 FMD cases"? In their Jan 2002 submission to the EU for the resumption of Disease Free Status, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/int-trde/misc/foot/OIE_FMD_report.pdf DEFRA appears to make the same claim - i.e. that it had tested all Infected Premises. This is very odd. We know that many slaughtered premises were never tested. Farmers' requests for lab tests were very often curtly denied.
"Each of the 2026 FMD cases"? In addition to the 2,026 so-called IPs there were also 7,494 "dangerous contacts" premises (of which 3,329 were contiguous premises) and 257 "slaughter on suspicion" premises. In total, about 10,000 farms were slaughtered. (See PQs) Pirbright received samples from only a small fraction of slaughtered farms - probably less than 20% of all contiguous culls and even many IP's taken out on clinical grounds. DEFRA's claim to the EU was surely wrong. And the EU, because they are apparently unhappy about the way the crisis was handled, capped the UK's right to claim repayment at £250 million, leaving almost £1 billion outstanding - and it seems that the UK government may now never be able to get this UK taxpayers' money back . It is time for a public inquiry.
March 7 - 13 ~ "airborne spread to sheep from Burnside Farm on a nearby holding, Prestwick Hall Farm."
DEFRA's own version of the sequence of events causes the reader to wonder the extent to which Mr Scudamore was misinformed during the "full inquiry" of which his paper "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" was the result. Speculation about the Waugh situation is not backed up with evidence
" Initial spread of disease from the index case was by two routes, the first linked to the movement of infected pigs from Burnside Farm, Northumberland to Cheales Abattoir, Essex, the second associated with airborne spread to sheep from Burnside Farm on a nearby holding, Prestwick Hall Farm"Prestwick Hall Farm is the farm five miles away at Ponteland. For virus to travel five miles in the air, probably against the prevailing wind, would be wholly contrary to the findings of Dr Donaldson who said that even cattle, the most susceptible species to airborne infection would need to be within 2 kilometres of a plume from 100 infected pigs. In the wake of the Jim Dring revelations, it would be reassuring if these matters could be re-examined.
March 7 - 13 ~ "airborne spread to sheep from Burnside Farm on a nearby holding, Prestwick Hall Farm."
DEFRA's own version of the sequence of events causes the reader to wonder the extent to which Mr Scudamore was misinformed during the "full inquiry" of which his paper "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" was the result. Speculation about the Waugh situation is not backed up with evidence
" Initial spread of disease from the index case was by two routes, the first linked to the movement of infected pigs from Burnside Farm, Northumberland to Cheales Abattoir, Essex, the second associated with airborne spread to sheep from Burnside Farm on a nearby holding, Prestwick Hall Farm"Prestwick Hall Farm is the farm five miles away at Ponteland. For virus to travel five miles in the air, probably against the prevailing wind, would be wholly contrary to the findings of Dr Donaldson who said that even cattle, the most susceptible species to airborne infection, would need to be within 2 kilometres of a plume from 100 infected pigs. In the wake of the Jim Dring revelations, it would be reassuring if these matters could be re-examined.
March 7 - 13 ~ "the Government had failed to incorporate into British law part of an EU Directive which banned pig swill from being transferred between farms prior to the crisis."
The Western Morning News today on the Dring case. See also email last November"This licence contravened EU law"
March 7 - 13 ~ They're now calling it a "memo" or merely an "aide-memoire"....
More about the a 27-page report (WMN) in which SVS vet, Jim Dring, admitted negligence. The "This is Cornwall" website
"...Mr Dring prepared a memo for submission to the Anderson Lessons Learned inquiry, which MAFF's successor body, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said yesterday had only been an "aide memoire" and was not submitted to the inquiry. .....The spokesman added: "The Government was fully committed to helping the Lessons Learned inquiry in any way possible."Yesterday, Martin Hann, the chairman of Devon NFU, said questions over what was done with the memo highlighted the need for a full public inquiry to have been held. He said: "This document should have been in the public domain much earlier, then we would have seen the proof of the Government's failings, which we in the agricultural world always knew were there."..."
Although Professor Bob Lee is quoted as saying he thinks compensation unlikely, the 62 swill producers who had their livelihoods taken away may take a different view, as does the Conservative Party, and will press even more strongly for a public inquiry. See warmwell page of the sequence of events
March 7 - 13 ~ The Trial of Bobby Waugh was given as a reason not to make public Burnside Farm's test results
See warmwell's chronology of the events of early 2001
Extract: When Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Lord Whitty (14th May 2002) (Hansard) "Whether the tests for foot and mouth disease carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs veterinarians in February 2001 at Mr Bobby Waugh's farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, were positive or negative; and whether the results of those tests have been made public.[HL4130]" Lord Whitty replied, "The results of the tests for foot and mouth virus in February 2001 at Bobby Waugh's farm are likely to form part of the evidence at the current trial."
Why the prevarication? Were the test results positive and why should the results not have been made clear even before the trial? The same reason of pre-trial confidentiality was given by DEFRA to explain why Mr Dring's signed statement was not processed by the Anderson Inquiry. But neither was it mentioned during the trial, it seems.
As for the laboratory confirmation of disease, Mr Waugh was given the "A" form to signify an infected premises by Mr Dring on Friday morning, after a telephone conversation between Mr Dring and London (sic) confirmed FMD on the premises. However, the form had been signed and dated by Mr Hine, a third MAFF official, on the previous day.
There are serious questions that now need to be addressed. Sequence of Events
March 7 - 13 ~ Why did Jim Dring's signed statement to the Inquiry never reach Iain Anderson's "Lessons Learned" Inquiry?
Jim Dring says that this statement was part of his submission to the Anderson Inquiry. DEFRA said at first, apparently, that it was not. DEFRA's later answer, according to the BBC, was that the "concern centred on putting material into the public domain before it had been dealt with in court" However, DEFRA must have been aware that the Anderson Report, published in July 2002 would not be put into the public domain until well after the Waugh trial was over (he was convicted in May 2002).
March 7 - 13 ~ Although no evidence about the origin of the outbreak has ever been seen in public, on February 5th 2004, Ben Bradshaw told Parliament that swill feeding was the source of the FMD outbreak.
The Scotsman reported
"....The Government rejected cross party calls for previously licensed swill feeders to be compensated for loss of trade after the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak. Junior environment minister Ben Bradshaw defended the ban on the trade, which was brought in after it was identified as the source of the epidemic (our italics) which swept the country. He told Tory Boris Johnson (Henley) it would be grossly irresponsible to lift the ban for such a risky practice."The government cannot have it both ways. If, in spite of the lack of hard evidence, they continue to assert that FMD began as a result of Bobby Waugh feeding swill to his unfortunate pigs, then they must also accept that the SVS vet's negligence was responsible for the outbreak.
Jim Dring's breast-beating statement shows that he accepts responsibility for FMD. If the statement arrived safely then why did Iain Anderson ignore this in his report and fail to include it in the published list of submissions?If it did not reach him, why didn't it?
The Parliamentary Ombudsman will announce on Monday whether she is going to investigate the swill feeders' case.
Even more important, in our view, is to investigate exactly what happened to Jim Dring's signed statement and why. A public inquiry is needed more than ever.
March 7 ~ "(Professor Fred) Brown was the ideal man to push forward defensive measures starting with means of rapid virus diagnosis capable of being carried out on the farm.
He helped to develop such a method and do preliminary tests of a user-friendly kit. The method had the additional advantage of distinguishing vaccinated animals from infected ones. This kit was offered by Usda to the British authorities in the 2001 outbreak and the help was declined, much to Brown's disappointment..." From the obituary of Fred Brown in the Independent
March 7 ~ The report could be describing the chaos of 2001 rather than an FMD simulation exercise based on lessons learned three years on.
The Times has published a short article about a government report of the recent simulated FMD exercise in Scotland which concludes that Scotland "..is ill-equipped to deal with another foot and mouth outbreak ... A simulated outbreak last September revealed serious shortcomings in the ability of government agencies to contain the disease. ..."
March 6 ~ Conservatives repeat demand for public inquiry into foot & mouth crisis
The Conservatives have consistently demanded a public inquiry into the Foot & Mouth crisis which resulted in the slaughter of 10 million animals and cost the UK billions of pounds. What seems evident from this admission is that signs of the disease were evident for all to see. There is now an urgent need for an investigation into why such damning evidence was not disclosed earlier. Farmers across the country, whose livelihoods were ruined by this crisis, deserve to know the truth. Read press release
See alsosome of the many other calls for a public inquiry in 2001- 2002 published on warmwell.com.
March 6 ~ "Row rumbles on over Brown's FMD diagnostic kit"
"Three years on from the worlds biggest foot-and-mouth outbreak, there is still no reliable rapid on-farm diagnostic test." writes Fordyce Maxwell in Saturday's Scotsman
".. Anne Lambourn, a Brown supporter and anti-slaughter as a way of controlling any future outbreak, told The Scotsman: "Defra seem entrenched in a medieval attitude to disease control and incapable of taking advantage of new technologies." .....Pirbright scientists take a different view of Browns claims that his Smart Cycler was "a beautiful piece of kit, simple and not costly". Three Pirbright scientists carried out an evaluation of the Cycler. Their findings in the Veterinary Record in summer 2002 were that it could not detect weakly positive samples and that further work was needed before it could be used for diagnosis in the field. .." Read Scotsman article in fullThe "three Pirbright scientists'" findings in the Veterinary Record were only partially reported.
(Warmwell comment ) The essential point - that the ability of the machine to detect viral RNA is greatly affected by the PCR reagents used for the assay" - has been left out.
March 6 ~ ARS RT-PCR for FMD is the new standard for on-site diagnosis of FMD
For DEFRA to imply that the paper by Hearps, Zhang and Alexandersen in 2002 gives them a good reason not to include any mention of the technology in the Contingency plan rather takes one's breath away.
As for the need for laboratory confirmation, Roger Breeze wrote (back in 2001) to the Royal Society
".....Much reference continues to be made to the relative sensitivities of cell culture and RT-PCR and to the need for spurious comparisons with lab-based PCR instruments...In our assay, RT-PCR is more sensitive than cell culture. ... the ARS RT-PCR for FMD is the new standard for on-site diagnosis of FMD."(See also Tributes to Professor Brown who did indeed die on the third anniversary of the outbreak. He never referred to the new technology as his "own" machine. He merely tried to get Professor King et al to understand it.)
March 6 ~ renewed demands for compensation from the Government and for a full public inquiry into the outbreak...."
" A flood of compensation claims against Defra, especially from the 62 pig-swill feeders who lost their businesses after a ban on the practice, is now certain." Valerie Elliott in the Times calls the Dring story "an extraordinary development" and says "Mr Drings confession may never have been disclosed to the inquiry fuelling suspicion that the paper may have been suppressed...
The admission has renewed demands for compensation from the Government and for a full public inquiry into the outbreak...." Read in full
March 6 ~ the admission would strengthen the case for legal action
".... Mr Dring, now a DEFRA vet, wrote: "... at a time when illicit feeding practices were clearly in train and had been for some time, I inspected this (sic) premises with a view to renewing the Waughs' Article 26 licence."
"Had this inspection been more rigorous than it was, had the licence not been renewed, or renewed only subject to radical revision of the Waugh's patently deficient feeding technique, then this awful 2001 FMD epidemic would never have come about," he wrote.
Lynda Davies, national co-ordinator of the Association of Swill Users, said the admission would strengthen the case for legal action against MAFF/DEFRA... " Read in full
March 6 ~ MAFF did not ban the use of slops
Like other pig farmers using swill, the Waughs received a letter from MAFF on September 17, 1998, which warned of an "increased risk of the introduction of the strain to the EU...You will be aware that the strict controls on the processing and feeding of waste to pigs are specifically to prevent the introduction of epidemics." and yet MAFF did not ban the use of slops - the very thing, it implied, might spread the disease. See also Jason Podmore case and http://www.warmwell.com/nov25persey.html
March 6 ~ Jim Dring says "I could have prevented FMD" - implying that FMD 2001 began at Burnside.
The news articles quote Jim Dring apparently apologising for his own negligence in renewing Waugh's swill feeding licence. In addition, he is indirectly asserting that Waugh's farm was the index case for the outbreak and that Bobby Waugh was to blame for the outbreak. (However unpleasant conditions on Burnside Farm were, it was never claimed, even at the trial, that Bobby Waugh somehow introduced FMD into the UK.)
From the extract reported, it appears that Mr Dring is careful not to confess to missing the disease himself at the time of his inspection of the Waugh's farm on January 24th. Even so, his admission that the licence should not have been renewed will inevitably result in demands for compensation. MAFF's failure to close down the Waugh farm resulted in the unnecessary closure, without compensation, of the 62 pig swill businesses such as that of Jason Podmore. The Times says that there will be "for renewed demands for ..a full public inquiry into the outbreak"
March 6 ~ "Well, that puts you right in it, Jim. You were here 4 weeks ago, why didn't you find it then?"
Bobby Waugh claimed that on confirmation of FMD being present on Friday 23rd February, Jim Dring went into one shed and declared that certain pigs had been infected for four weeks. This would have taken the date of infection to the time that Mr Dring had carried out his annual inspection on 24th January. Bobby Waugh told the court he'd said "Well, that puts you right in it, Jim. You were here 4 weeks ago, why didn't you find it then?" Mr Waugh alleges that Mr Dring then changed his opinion and said, "this one has had it two weeks, this one for two weeks." (In the report that has come to light, Mr Dring refers to his inspection "a mere ten days before foot and mouth virus was introduced into this pig herd" )
No evidence has been put forward in public to prove the origin of the 2001 outbreak.
Even so, Waugh is widely assumed to be the culprit because of newspaper reporting. He always vowed that he was being made a scapegoat and that the disease had been circulating well before it was found at Heddon-on-the-Wall.
March 6 ~ In spite of reports of concern about the pigs, MAFF's vets consistently ticked the "satisfactory" box on their inspection sheets and never banned the slops they warned about.
During Bobby Waugh's trial, Mr Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC asked Mr Dring to explain how he had continued to licence the premises, and to explain how he had continued to file his six-monthly reports, over a number of many years, by 'ticking' the box marked, 'Satisfactory' ...( http://www.warmwell.com/may11waugh.html) Even though MAFF had, in 1998, alerted all pig farms to "strict controls on the processing and feeding of waste to pigs are specifically to prevent the introduction of epidemics", Mr Waugh was granted a licence to remove cooked swill from a neighbouring pig farm and feed it to his own pigs.
There are records of complaints made about the burning of carcasses, pig swill overflowing, and the appalling state of the Waugh's unfortunate pigs at Burnside Farm. Yet SVS vets consistently ticked the "satisfactory" box on their inspection sheets.
The way the unlucky pigs were treated by Mr Dring (a veterinary surgeon) and others was also described during the trial."
March 6 ~ Jim Dring: "radical revision of the Waughs' patently deficient feeding technique..."
The Western Morning News (Friday)
"...In a document apparently submitted to the Anderson Inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis, the vet wrote: "Had this inspection been more rigorous than it was, had the licence not been renewed, or renewed only subject to radical revision of the Waughs' patently deficient feeding technique, then this awful 2001 foot and mouth epidemic would never have come about."Read in full
The investigation conducted by Dr Iain Anderson was criticised because interviews with officials and Ministers - including Prime Minister Tony Blair - were carried out behind closed doors.
Although the vet's statement is headed "To: The Anderson Inquiry", no mention of it was made in the inquiry's report.
Mr Dring yesterday said that he stood by what he wrote in the document, dated October 5, 2001. But he stressed that the two pages seen by the WMN were only a small part of a 27-page report.
The WMN contacted Maff's successor, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) yesterday, but was unable to obtain the full document...."
March 2 - 6 ~ "when it was pointed out that he was only bankrupt because Defra had forced him out of business, Mr Podmore was given leave for his action to proceed."
Private Eye last week ".... recently raised Defra's scandalous conduct in casually wiping out a whole industry: the 62 small companies which used to make a living gathering up hundreds of thousands of tons of food waste every year to feed to pigs. ....
...Defra's callous treatment of the swill producers is now being investigated by the parliamentary ombudsman, and one former producer, Jason Podmore, is hoping shortly to sue Defra for compensation in the High Court. Initially Defra's lawyers claimed that he was not entitled to launch an action since he was bankrupt. But when it was pointed out that he was only bankrupt because Defra had forced him out of business, Mr Podmore was given leave for his action to proceed. " Read Muckspreader in full See also Jason Podmore case
March 2 - 6 ~"We are stuck in the fight against FMD. It is now time to go beyond the speeches; it is time for transparency and political will. We are all brothers in the fight against this disease and if one of us loses we all lose."
were the words of Brazil's Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Roberto Rodrigues, at the Houston FMD Conference on Wednesday. The objectives of the conference are "to develop a strategic approach to eradicate FMD from the Western Hemisphere, identifying the roles of the private and public sectors and promoting effective, independent evaluation and support for the progress towards eradication of FMD from the Western Hemisphere." See PAHO org press release
March 2 - 6 ~ "..the ultimate goal, which is to have healthy animals in a healthy continent."
Crusaders for Animal Health(Paho.org)
"....In a May 2003 meeting in Chile, COSALFA called on PANAFTOSA to begin supplying diagnostic kits for FMD surveillance... In March 2004, at the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in Texas, PAHO and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will host a Hemispheric Conference on the Eradication of FMD. The meeting is intended to galvanize wide, coordinated international action for the final push to eradicate the disease. A point of emphasis will be the need to further strengthen prevention efforts based on surveillance and quarantine, along with vaccination.DEFRA's non-inclusion of RT-PCR diagnostic kits in their Contingency Plan - in spite of the fact that 80% of US State Laboratories now have the Smart-Cycler - seems extraordinary. Comment
..."With this setup, we can now look at fighting other important animal diseases such as tuberculosis, rabies, brucellosisand really move toward the ultimate goal, which is to have healthy animals in a healthy continent."
March 2 - 6 ~ government departments could benefit most from scientific investment
Guardian "...We've seen with foot and mouth and BSE that the country has not been geared properly to doing research on those issues," said Dr Cotgreave. More scientists in government departments could help reverse the culture of scientific ignorance in many. The depth of the problem became obvious shortly after Tony Blair moved into Number 10. Between 1986, when BSE first appeared, and 1997 when the government started doing something about it, the then ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food cut its research budget by 25% and sacked around 1,800 scientists. .."
March 2 - 6 ~ " The National Reference Laboratory of China will share experience and offer technical cooperation with diagnostic laboratories of ASEAN countries in terms of diagnostic technology"
"The China-ASEAN Special Meeting on HPAI Control was held in Beijing, China on 2 March 2004. The Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, the Minister of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries of Myanmar, Vice-Ministers and senior officials for agriculture and health, and experts from China and 10 ASEAN countries, as well as officials from ASEAN Secretariat, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization and World Organization forAnimal Health participated in the Meeting. Representatives from Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions of China attended the meeting as members of the Chinese delegation. ...inter-agency cooperation and partnership at both national and regional levels...."The article describes the measures decided upon for the exchange of information and experience and to strengthen "extensive cooperation and exchanges with other countries, regional and international organizations, such as WHO, FAO, OIE on HPAI prevention and control"
March 2 - 6 ~ Hope for £100m in FMD bills
The Journal "A court judgment ordering Defra to pay a contractor £5m for work during the foot-and-mouth epidemic should encourage contractors collectively owed more than £100m, according to a North solicitor who is pursuing a different case. .... David Hunter, a partner with North-East legal firm Blackett Hart & Pratt.. said: "The experience of JDM mirrors that of numerous other contractors, many in this region. ...Defra has steadfastly refused to pay any part of a contractor's invoice where any discrepancy had been identified, however minor. The financial position of many contractors was exacerbated by the fact that some had taken on a financial risk on behalf of Defra in employing sub-contractors to assist in carrying out operations."... " Read in full and see also warmwell page on the £50 million still owed by DEFRA
March 2 - 6 ~ RT-PCR diagnosis against FMD to be tested in Texas.
AgNews "Experimental technology to rapidly detect foot-and-mouth disease will be tested in Texas this spring as the result of an agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. The agreement, which also will test classical swine fever, means the Texas A&M researchers will be responsible for testing cattle and hogs with new assays to determine the tests' accuracy in populations of disease-free animals. ....
Currently, foot-and-mouth testing may only be performed at the U.S. Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York, a high-security biocontainment facility. The usual method of confirming foot-and-mouth includes virus isolation a procedure that, while accurate, may take up to a week to obtain results plus the time required to ship samples to Plum Island. New, rapid tests that could be performed in the field would enable officials to quickly detect and stop massive spread in a disease outbreak, researchers said. ....
The new experimental testing procedures that will be evaluated use "real time" polymerase chain-reaction technology to identify genetic material specific for the viruses that cause foot-and-mouth and classical swine fever. No active foot-and-mouth virus will be used in Texas. "Such procedures can give results in less than one hour and could be modified to test livestock on location during outbreak situations," ...."
(The conference Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), gather in Houston, Texas to "give a final push towards the eradication of foot-and-mouth" tomorrow.)
March 1 ~ Japan reports its third case of avian influenza
Indolink "Ten Asian countries have so far been affected by bird flu, with at least 22 people killed in Vietnam and Thailand. Japan had hoped to declare itself free of the virus, after going almost a month without any new cases, since the first outbreak in mid-January. But it has now suffered two more outbreaks, and there is a fourth suspected case .."
Bernard Vallat (OIE) has described the birdflu outbreak as an "unprecedented threat".
"Never in the past have we witnessed an avian virus circulating so quickly in such a large part of the world," he said.
(See Inbox comment)
Feb 29 ~ "Can I ask you, if people do go through our Report and if that is not an unreasonable request, why were we not told? "
Evidence heard in Public Questions 183 - 274 The Chair of the EFRA Committee to Lord Whitty on Feb 11th about the appointment - about which the EFRA committee had had no prior information - of Professor Roy Anderson to the new Science Advisory Council
"...The conclusion that we reached was, "Once again this year we have not been specifically informed by Defra in advance of any of these appointments to posts in non-departmental public bodies. We recommend, as we did last year, that the Department put in place procedures to inform us in advance of all major appointments".
I do not think that is an unreasonable request for a House of Commons Select Committee to raise and, therefore, it was with some concern that I learned, because I happen to get hold of a copy of your Department's news release dated 3 February, that first of all Defra had appointed a new Science Advisory Council and you yourself said, "The new Council is made up of people who are highly distinguished in their own fields", and you go on to talk about it, and we discover that Professor Roy Anderson has been appointed to chair that.
Now, no notice of that was given to this Committee and clearly no opportunity was afforded to us to talk to Professor Anderson. Can I ask you, if people do go through our Report and if that is not an unreasonable request, why were we not told?
.... it would be helpful to the Committee because, as you know, science underpins your Department's working and it often forms a very important basis for many of our inquiries, so perhaps you might be kind enough to write to the Committee and advise us in a little more detail on the type of work that this Council is going to be doing and perhaps give us a signpost or two as to the areas of its potential investigation. ..."
Feb 28 ~ ".. it raises many issues about the practicalities of implementing a vaccination strategy, while retaining Draconian powers for firebreak and contiguous culling of animals that do not have the disease."
The Western Morning News on DEFRA's Contingency Plan. "....A Defra spokesman said slaughter of animals for welfare reasons would only be carried out as a "last resort". and that the Government would attempt to ease movement restrictions and broker fodder supplies where possible. But he said the principle of compensation had been rejected. "Payments to farmers under such schemes can provide a disincentive for them to take responsibility for looking after their animals and may also create a false market."
...Peter Morris, Devon-based policy director of the National Sheep Association, described the idea of slaughtering animals as "grossly unfair", adding that he was concerned about the practicalities of the plan. He added: "It seems to focus on ensuring they are all free from blame - there is not enough focus on the people at the sharp end. "Some aspects of the contents and focus worry me."
DEFRA's Foot and Mouth Contingency Plan (pdf - slow - new window)
Feb 25 ~ 80% of all state public health laboratories in the US now have and use SmartCyclers.
It is, as Fred Brown said, "a beautiful piece of kit, simple and not costly" - and making use of it three years ago, as it was used in Uruguay in the same year, would have avoided bloodshed and trauma. The RT-PCR rapid diagnosis kit now used by the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory - ( "in a matter of hours, it can determine both the presence and strain of the disease") is the Smart Cycler . We have confirmation from the journalist who wrote last Sunday's article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the "new machine" is indeed the same machine that was offered to the UK government by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of USDA in early March 2001 for field tests. It is, as we hear from the Cepheid installer, now in 80% of all US state public health laboratories.
As was noted in tactfully phrased evidence to the Royal Society Inquiry (pdf. new window)
"Unfortunately, yet understandably, Pirbright staff were too busy coping with the demands of epidemic control to explore new technology during the spring and summer of 2001 . As a result, my offer to provide the latest diagnostic technology was not taken up.The Philidephia article noted that even with the help of the older, slower Bio-rad machine: ".. the state was able to announce that it had confirmed avian influenza, that the particular strain was virulent in poultry, and that it was unrelated to the type implicated in Thailand and Vietnam. The public was reassured that there was no Asian connection. Agriculture officials knew how big a quarantine was needed, and scientists had crucial details needed to start tracing the source of the infection."
Fortunately, we were able to take the devices and test system into the field in Uruguay in November 2001, where they performed splendidly on farm in a remote area..."
The Smart Cycler, with appropriate reagent, is considerably faster.
Even now, three years on, we can find no mention of RT-PCR technology in the141 pages of the latest DEFRA Foot and Mouth Contingency Plan (pdf - slow - new window)
Feb 25 ~Mr Blair thinks the army "solved" the FMD crisis.
Guardian "In a major speech on civil service reform, he called on Whitehall to learn from the army's "remorseless focus" which solved the 2001 foot and mouth crisis. .." Telegraph "He suggested that mandarins could learn some important lessons from the Army's "remorseless focus on delivering the outcome" during the foot and mouth crisis, and big business's ability to modernise in response to globalisation."
Remorseless is right - but what were the private thoughts of those involved, from Birtwhistle downwards? Sir Humphrey at least knew how to deal with politicians who, for political ends, want to cut a hundred Gordian knots instead of going softly softly in accordance with the tried and tested British Constitution.
Feb 24 ~ "It was a beautiful piece of kit, simple and not costly. This would have had a dramatic effect on the number of innocent animals killed."
Professor Fred Brown, OBE Fellow of the Royal Society, known, respected and loved by many readers of this website for his modest and gentle insistence from the beginning of the FMD crisis that the government advisers were misguided, died on February 20th. He was an advocate of both vaccination and the rapid diagnosis kit - already available and effective at the start of the epidemic. All that was lacking - now as then - was the political will. We salute his memory. (Inbox)
Feb 24 ~ Dead Cow Day
Jonathan Guthrie: Financial Times - Debts, disputes and drownings " .. All across the land on Dead Cow Day simple country folk will commemorate the passing of another year during which the government failed to honour its remaning debts to contractors who helped defeat the epidemic.. See See articles about DEFRA's non-payment of debts Comment in Inbox
Feb 24 ~" a further indictment of the UK's refusal to recognise and grasp the same opportunity three years ago"
Comment from Alan Beat about the item on the Chinese tests posted on February 14, and which applies equally to the news of the RT-PCR test at the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory :
"This technology is the very same that was offered to the UK authorities in the early stages of the 2001 FMD epidemic by their USA counterparts, and was bluntly refused on the grounds that it was "not validated" by the OIE (just before the contiguous cull, itself unvalidated, was introduced). By appropriate choice of reagent chemicals used, such tests can accurately identify and strain any viral infection, so the Chinese announcement is not in any sense a scientific advance, rather it is the practical application of well-established technology - and a further indictment of the UK's refusal to recognise and grasp the same opportunity three years ago."
Feb 21 - 28 ~ International cooperation - avian influenza
From Portfocus.co.NZ "The number of countries infected by the H5N1 virus has been stable since the beginning of February. ...
..... An international conference, organised by the OIE and the FAO, with the participation of the WHO, will be held in Bangkok on 26, 27 and 28 February, at the invitation of the government of Thailand. The conference will bring together the national chief veterinary officers, delegates to the OIE of 22 Asian countries and around 15 countries from other regions of the world.
International high level officers and experts of the OIE and the FAO will present recommendations on control and prevention programs on Avian Influenza in animals, for the entire region and for each country, including the conditions of the use of vaccination according to OIE standards.
Several international and bilateral organisations that wish to lend technical and financial assistance to the achievement and success of these programs have already accepted the invitation extended to them, and will participate actively in the discussions.... "
More information at http://www.oie.int/eng/en_index.htm
Feb 21 - 28 ~ New DNA-based test speeds diagnosis of avian influenza
Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday 22Feb
" ...a new DNA-based test, capable of confirming the disease within hours, has arrived in labs around the region at a fortuitous time. ....About a year ago, the state bought DNA-testing equipment that can identify a virus within 24 hours of collecting the sample. A newer model, with a turnaround of several hours, arrived less than two weeks ago at the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg.See also MasterAmp Real-Time RT-PCR Kit (pdf file), an example of the sort of kit now available. We assume that DEFRA has been looking into this new technology fo many months now. We mentioned the Chinese PCR kit on February 14th
The staff have yet to be fully trained and validated on the new equipment, but they lost no time running samples from the Lancaster farm on the new machine, known as real-time RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction). Their findings, confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, identified an H2 strain of avian flu - a concern, but not nearly as bad as the type found in Delaware.
A quarantine of the farm and screening of 16 flocks within five miles appear to have contained the infection, said state veterinarian John Enck...."
Feb 16 - 20 ~ Mad cull disease still rages, and logic is no cure for it
Magnus Linklater in the Times:
"I think I can face, dry-eyed, the impending retirement of Sir Ben Gill as President of the National Farmers Union. His term of office has been a bloodstained one. He took over in the aftermath of BSE when 4.4 million cattle were slaughtered. He presided over the elimination of seven million animals during the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001. He has chosen to mark his retirement by getting in a dig at the Prince of Wales for promoting the humane alternative of vaccination. He signs off by calling for a mass cull of badgers to contain the spread of bovine TB. And he underlines his commitment to killing by producing a quote worthy of Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22, : If wed vaccinated, wed never have proved that the disease was under control. ......Read in full
....... The contingency plans for a future outbreak are cast in belligerent language. They speak of war and peace. Next time there will be a war cabinet to ensure that the slaughter is carried out more quickly.....
.... A European directive, couched in humanitarian language, says that measures to combat animal diseases must not be based purely on commercial interests. It requires member countries to take genuine account of ethical principles.
.....with vaccination, farmers would have to wait only three more months for the export market to be restored than they would have had to wait under a slaughter policy.
So why the insistence on killing? My view is that too many reputations are at stake for a climbdown - yet. Sooner or later, however, the truth will out. I trust Sir Ben will accept it gracefully."
Feb 16 - 20 ~ "... the FMD experience should have made the modellers appreciate the limitations of their science and accept at least some responsibility for the misery and expense that their models initiated."
The current issue of the Veterinary Journal includes an article by RP Kitching entitled "Predictive models and FMD: the emperors new clothes?" Science Direct.com (subscription)
".. If the predictions for the number of new variant Creutzfeld - Jacob disease (vCJD) cases in the UK made in the late 1990s had not been suffcient to undermine the credibility of the predictive modellers, surely the FMD experience should have made the modellers appreciate the limitations of their science and accept at least some responsibility for the misery and expense that their models initiated. Predictive modelling has become fashionable but, often without much evidence that it serves any useful purpose, is the science based too much on reputation?
........In the right circumstance, and in the hands of someone who knows its limitations and understands the assumptions that have been made, a predictive model does have a place in a FMD outbreak control programme. Undoubtedly predictive models are here to stay, but with no veterinary knowledge or input to avoid the pitfalls that were so apparent in 2001, models will only serve to provide weight and justification for indefensible decisions."
Feb 16 - 20 ~ "...the scientists report urged investigation of a possible vaccination policy for TB"
"... In an echo of the current controversy involving the Prince of Wales reported attempts to persuade government to vaccinate during the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic, the scientists report urged investigation of a possible vaccination policy for TB in areas of high incidence."New Zealand farmers feel about possums the same anxiety that UK farmers feel about badgers. See from New Zealand's MAF site "Currently about $45 million is spent annually on poisoning and trapping possums. However, this level of expenditure is not sustainable and these methods of control are becoming less socially and politically acceptable." : "Immunology of Bovine Tuberculosis (2003-04) - Programme Leader: Dr Bryce Buddle
Institution: AgResearch CRI - "Develop and evaluate diagnostic tests and vaccines for control of bovine tuberculosis in cattle and possums. Develop vaccine delivery systems for possum biocontrol vaccines."
Feb 16 - 20 ~ 'We have a quaint thing called democracy in the NFU'
Valerie Elliott's article in today's Times Charles tried to stop cull quotes Sir Ben Gill on the eve of his departure Prince Charles was behind the biggest push for vaccination.
The article's use of language (our italics) is interesting.
The heir to the thrones active role in trying to reverse a key government policy in the run-up to a general election will shock some observers ...."
"The worlds worst outbreak of the disease cost the UK £9 billion. More than six million animals were slaughtered..."
"..The Prince seems to have operated in a shadowy manner, hiding behind proxies, perhaps because of the constitutional sensitivity of the royal heir blatantly interfering in politics..."
"Sir Ben Gill, outgoing president of the National Farmers Union, who crucially stood by Mr Blair in the face of sometimes vicious pressure to oppose the cull.
"With an election only months away, some government figures began to lose their nerve and wondered whether it would be better to vaccinate animals instead of slaughtering them....."
"The outbreak was one of the most difficult times for Sir Ben during his six-year tenure. His hair turned grey and fell out and he lost half a stone in weight......"
"He has revealed before that he was the victim of a revolt by upper-class farmers who flooded him with messages, some of them offensive, to support vaccination..... "
During his interview, Sir Ben pointed to the irony that it was the Prince who knighted him before Christmas at Windsor Castle. Asked what the Prince had said to him, Sir Ben replied with a smile: He asked who my successor would be. I said, We have a quaint thing called democracy in the NFU.... Comment in Inbox
Feb 14 ~ China develops RT-PCR method to detect bird flu virus in 4 hours
We read in the China news site www.chinaview.cn 2004-02-14 22:43:56 xinhuanet.com -
"China has developed a method to test for the bird flu virus in four hours, much shorter than the 21 days taken by the internationally-accepted detection method recommended by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), according to a meeting held Saturday in Beijing to approve the method. The new method of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was jointly developed by the Beijing Administration for Entry-and-Exit Inspection and Quarantine and a company in Shenzhen, south Guangdong Province. The method has been assessed and approved by experts from the Ministry of Science and Technology, the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Agricultural University of China, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences."
Feb 14 ~ Why is the 50 million still owed by DEFRA not being paid?
Interest could now be as much as 25% on the total bill.
The Defra / Late Payment issue on Today programme and Five Live's breakfast show on Friday. Kieron Hayes, Press Officer of the Forum of Private Businesses www.fpb.co.uk, writes, " the Defra / Late Payment issue made it on to both Radio 4's Today programme and Five Live's breakfast show. If you would like to hear the interview it is available via the Radio 4 website. visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/
Garry Parker, FPB Public Affairs Adviser, took part in the interview."
Extract: "DEFRA were claiming originally that a number of the contractors were being investigated for fraud. The national audit office went through this process but of the 18 that looked as though they might have committed fraud none were charged - but in the process four or more DEFRA officials were charged with fraud...There is no sensible answer from DEFRA as to why they are not paying and not giving an apology to the businesses that have not yet been paid. There have been lots of Parliamentary Questions to Ben Bradshaw and Lord Whitty. They have not been satisfactorily answered....."
(DEFRA would not talk to the Today Programme and confirmed only that they, DEFRA, would be appearing in the High Court accused of failing to pay for the work done during the crisis.)
Feb 7 - 13 ~ Decoupling - Subsidies are to be detached from food production and linked entirely to land ownership
The Guardian: "Good farmers have always considered themselves custodians of a national asset. Now - or at least by 2012, when the new system is fully implemented - all farmers will, like it or not, become managers of the nation's land. There will be noisy protests about the urbanisation of the countryside, dismayed cries against "theme-park Britain" ..."
"soaring rents and escalating land prices" says Tenant Farmers' Association
Subsidies are to be detached from food production and linked entirely to land ownership. Beef and dairy farmers will be worse off. Margaret Beckett calls it 'a decisive irreversible and forward-looking shift ....' The flat-rate per hectare payment system will be phased in from 2005 so that by 2013 all payments will be based on how much land a farmer owns, not the volume of crops or livestock produced.
Robert Uhlig in the Telegraph notes that the ". decision has divided farmers, landowners, tenants and environmentalists."
The papers comment
Feb 7 - 13 ~ "We seem to get everything wrong"
DEFRA has admitted that inaccuracies in its Cattle Tracing System will lead to more than £60m in EU fines and extra staffing costs. It made the admission at a meeting of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on 4 February 2004. The meeting took place after the publication of a National Audit Office's report, Identifying and Tracking Livestock in England.
Kablenet.com "Jon Trickett MP called for more electronic applications to reduce mistakes, which would help Defra avoid further EC fines and cut the number of extra staff required to correct errors.The uncorrected oral evidence from the meeting is not yet available on the parliament website for the Public Accounts committee.
......Bender said his department was also addressing the problem of out of date cattle movement information, where the NAO reported that 1m cattle was unaccounted for. This figure has already decreased since the report was published, said Bender.
Alan Williams MP highlighted the section of the NAO report on the high cost of ear tags, and the UK's record of registering births more slowly and expensively than its European neighbours. "We seem to get everything wrong," he said. Evans said that many other European countries already had systems in place before the UK, but admitted that things definitely needed to improve. Williams responded that "astonishing improvements are required to get with the rest" ..."
Feb 7 - 13 ~ What Mr Bradshaw said. (Pig Swill)
Readers will have shared warmwell's surprise that - since the EU Report (paragraph 5) stated "The source of the epidemic has not been definitely identified " - the government now appears to know for certain the origin of the 2001 FMD outbreak in the UK.
Hansard for February 5th 2004: Mr Boris Johnson asked "Given that feeding scraps to pigs is perfectly safe, environmentally friendly and has been going on ever since man domesticated animals; given that the 62 licensed swill feeders were encouraged by DEFRA to invest thousands of pounds in new equipment before the ban; and given that since the ban an extra 1.7 million tonnes of biodegradable stuff is being sent to landfill or washed down the sewers, is it not the Minister's duty, in all logic, to compensate those 62 licensed swill feeders or to lift that ridiculous and hysterical ban?Asked whether he had ever considered whether ". the dangers of food poisoning, which are undoubtedly real, derive less from the farm-level producers, such as licensed swill dealers, than from the activities of international big business, such as the great pharmaceutical companies and, to take a recent example, the development of mass production of farmed salmon?" Mr Bradshaw replied, "No."
Mr Bradshaw answered "the cause of the £8 billion foot and mouth epidemic in this country related to exactly the practice that the hon. Gentleman is so keen to support. ...There is an enormous risk involved in the practice, which is why it has been banned not just in this country but across the whole of the European Union. ....."
Feb 7 - 13 ~" If the virus was only detected in the pigs' noses, then they could have picked it up as a contamination rather than as an infection,"
Nasal swabs taken from Vietnamese pigs in Hanoi have revealed the presence of the avian flu virus
".. Alan Hay, a flu scientist from the World Health Organisation's laboratory at the National Institute for Medical Research in north London, said further tests would have to be done to determine whether the pigs were truly infected. "At the moment we have conflicting reports. If the virus was only detected in the pigs' noses, then they could have picked it up as a contamination rather than as an infection," Dr Hay said. But if blood tests show the pigs are infected, the swine could act as "mixing vessels", allowing avian and human flu viruses to mingle and integrate, creating a hybrid with the deadliness of bird flu and the infectiousness of the human illness. Dr Hay said: "If pigs were truly infected it would increase the risk of this, but it is not clear at the moment of the degree. It is important this particular issue is resolved." He added that scientists had already carried out extensive blood tests on scores of pigs in the Far East, but failed to find any evidence of avian flu having jumped the species barrier into swine...." Independent
Feb 3 - 6 ~ Ben Bradshaw tells Parliament that swill feeding was the source of the FMD outbreak
"...The Government rejected cross party calls for previously licensed swill feeders to be compensated for loss of trade after the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak. Junior environment minister Ben Bradshaw defended the ban on the trade, which was brought in after it was identified as the source of the epidemic (our italics) which swept the country. He told Tory Boris Johnson (Henley) it would be grossly irresponsible to lift the ban for such a risky practice. http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=2496543
Feb 3 - 6 ~ Breeding for TSE resistant animals may give a false sense of security ..
..is the conclusion of the writers from the European Livestock Alliance of this letter in reply to Mr James Scudamore's assertion in last week's Farmers Weekly that "there is scientific basis for scrapie plan"
The letter contains several "points to consider" and suggests that there is a scientific basis for re-evaluating the scrapie plan - and finding consensus.
They quote research carried out in the UK by Fiona Houston et al. which was the subject of an article in The Scientist last May entitled Resistant sheep get BSE
".."The susceptibility of ARR/ARR sheep to intracerebral injection with BSE indicates that these animals cannot be regarded as having absolute genetic resistance to TSE infection... Although the relevance of this finding to sheep exposed to natural infection remains to be determined, it may have important implications for disease-eradication strategies," conclude the authors."F. Houston, et al., "BSE in sheep bred for resistance to infection," Nature, 423:498, May 29, 2003. http://www.nature.com/nature (See technical/scientific papers)
Feb 3 - 6 ~ "None of the delay is due to ineptness, it is due to the Government -- Defra in particular -- safeguarding the public purse. .."
Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government: What action they will take to settle the £100 million in outstanding payments to contractors who worked during the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic. .....My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer. However, is not the fraudulent case rather a red herring as only 1 per cent of the contractors involved in the foot and mouth epidemic are being investigated for fraud?......
....The Countess of Mar: My Lords, how much compensation has the United Kingdom Government received from the European Union? How much was expected by the United Kingdom Government originally?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I cannot answer that, because we are still in discussion with the Commission. It is certainly the case that our original expectations in relation to the amount that the EU would pay are not likely to be met. However, we are not at the point where those negotiations have been completed. ...
... The only compensation money that might -- and will in part -- be met by the European Union is direct compensation for loss of animals. The money we are discussing is money that falls entirely to the Exchequer and is money for contractors for clean-up, disinfection, and so on, not money paid in compensation to farmers. So we are discussing two large but different amounts. None of the delay is due to ineptness, it is due to the Government -- Defra in particular -- safeguarding the public purse." Read in full (Hansard)
Feb 3 - 6 ~ ".they wouldn't listen to local people. They were running round like headless chickens and we are all paying the price"
Western Morning News " ... More than £8.5 million of public money has now been spent on the pit - a figure that is over 20 per cent higher than the £7 million estimate of the final cost that the Government gave to the National Audit Office two years ago.
"It is a massive waste of public money and it all stems from the fact that they didn't do any surveys and they wouldn't listen to local people. They were running round like headless chickens and we are all paying the price." (John Burnett, Lib-Dem MP for Torridge and West Devon)
".. Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw revealed numerous other costs on top of the £300,000 for acquiring the site and £5.7 million construction cost.The Government has spent £610,000 on security for the site. Around £170,000 has now been spent on legal bills and more than £800,000 on "consultancy fees" The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has now spent £965,000 on the start of work to restore the site. Most observers now expect the final bill to top £10 million. No one at Defra was available for comment on the pit costs. "
Feb 3 - 6 ~ US - plans to counter "agricultural terrorism"- foot and mouth "pharmaceuticals" to be stockpiled
Guardian "..An executive order released Tuesday involved the departments of agriculture, health and human services and homeland security, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, in the response to potentially calamitous agricultural terrorism. "It's from farm to fork,"said Jeremy Stump, USDA's director The plan calls on the Agriculture Department to develop a National Veterinary Stockpile that would hold enough animal pharmaceuticals "to appropriately respond to the most damaging animal diseases'' within 24 hours of an outbreak. This would include such diseases as foot and mouth, which can spread rapidly and make herds unsalable, and anthrax, which can kill people as well as animals, Stump said. ..."
Feb 3 - 6 ~ "confirmation that large sums of money are to be withheld will spark fresh calls for a public inquiry"
Western Morning News "..Brussels sources say the Commission is deeply concerned about the way costs spiralled out of control in the crisis. The Commission is also said to be unhappy about the controversial contiguous cull policy, under which millions of healthy animals were slaughtered.
Defra has previously insisted that it was pressing for payment of the claim in full. But Lord Whitty has now acknowledged that compensation from Europe will fall short of the Government's claim....confirmation that large sums of money are to be withheld will spark fresh calls for a public inquiry into the disaster..." Read in full
Feb 3 - 6 ~ Lord Whitty said the new council was made up of people who could improve the quality and direction of DEFRA's science.
Roy Anderson is to chair the 12-strong Science Advisory Council who will be advising DEFRA on science policy and strategy. According to the FWi report, ". DEFRA spends more than £300million a year on science and research for environmental protection, farming and food, animal and plant health, and sustainable energy." For information previously on warmwell about Roy Anderson, click here. For articles about the millions still owed by DEFRA to those who tried to help sort out the FMD crisis click here. Also appointed is Sir John Marsh. See Monsanto website.
Jan 31 ~ Three cases of scrapie have been detected in "scrapie-resistant" ewes
OIE Alert Messages ".. Genotyping of the animals for the gene coding for the prion protein has shown that these animals are homozygous for the allele ARR, associated with the highest resistance to the development of clinical signs of scrapie."
Mr Jim Scudamore wrote this week in the Farmers Weekly, ".the incidence of scrapie in sheep with the more resistant genotypes is extremely rare...."
Equally worrying, it has been shown by individual breed societies that scrapie resistance can exist without the approved genotype being present (Swaledales), and in some breeds there are so few sheep (Herdwick, British Milksheep and North Ronaldsay) with the approved genotype that the breed could become extinct if the National Scrapie Policy is pursued. Once the scheme becomes compulsory (and we note that Mr Scudamore says "we do not currently require the culling of rams in NSP rare breed flocks") it will be the right of any "inspector" to enter premises where they believe there are, or may have been, TSE susceptible animals in order to examine, take samples, seize or slaughter any such animals. (Section 4 Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathy (England) Regulations 2002 SI 843)
In May 2002 the Minister said,
"People who knock this SI are totally misguided. They run the risk of dismantling long-standing, evidence-based BSE controls of paramount importance for public and animal health"
The Countess of Mar commented, "In my opinion, that statement is, to say the very least, disingenuous" - while Lord Livesey said, "In the case of scrapie, "susceptible" may mean only that the sheep carries a certain gene. There is an argument about destroying animals with a suspect gene. The concern of many sheep breeders is such that they believe that other desirable characteristics of the gene that may be worth preserving may be lost for ever." The debate is more than ever relevant.
Jan 26 - 30 ~ ". they're going to start to work together now"
Reuters report of the Bangkok summit on avian influenza
"The Bangkok statement promised a regional animal survey system to be plugged into the health network to make it easier to tackle diseases such as bird flu and SARS which leap the species barrier. "Containment requires closer cooperation among governments, communities and businesses," it said...Pro-Med is taking the situation very seriously. After quoting the OIE's article, FAO/WHO/OIE call for international assistance ("..FAO, OIE and WHO appealed to donors to address the global threat from avian flu and to provide funds and technical assistance to countries to help eliminate this threat..
...Small farmers dependent on poultry are getting increasingly agitated, especially in Thailand and Indonesia...
A contrite Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had to admit to "mistakes and human errors"."
...This time, we face something we can possibly control before it reaches global proportions if we work cooperatively and share needed resources. We must begin this hard, costly work now.") the Pro-Med Moderator comments: "I have never heard words more true. I just hope, for the sake of all of us, the appropriate people listen. - Mod. PC"
Jan 26 - 30 ~ "Bradshaw's cost-benefit analysis is no more than the most cynical window dressing"
"...the only mystery is why Mr Bradshaw should choose to throw away so much taxpayers' money on trying to pretend that he has any choice in the matter."read in full
Muckspreader in Private Eye ".....apart from the fact that Mr Bradshaw's ignorance of all matters pertaining to his brief have made him a laughing stock, the idea that it might be necessary to spend taxpayers' money to establish the most cost-effective way to tackle a foot-and-mouth epidemic will produce a hollow laugh all the way from John O'Groats to Cornwall. All Mr Bradshaw need do is call for the cuttings on what happened in 2001, when his officials opted for their favourite method of coping with all animal diseases (i.e. to kill as many animals as possible), get out an envelope and write down the following figures. "Animals killed in 2001: say 9 million. Cost to economy of government's FMD policy: say £9 billion. Cost of slaughter policy per animal, £1000"
.......his officials believe that vaccination is so distrusted by the farming community that there might be wholesale resistance if it was introduced. They have therefore told Bradshaw that it would be wise to carry out this charade of a 'cost-benefit analysis' to demonstrate to farmers that it would be more sensible to vaccinate. The tragedy is that, with the exception of Ben Gill and the discredited NFU, the farmers already know this, so the whole exercise is totally unnecessary. But at least Risk Solution Ltd will be happy to co-operate in coming to such a predictable conclusion."
Jan 26 - 30 ~ "we don't need more strategies"
The Western Morning News, in their article "WE DON'T UNDERSTAND RURAL PROBLEMS, ADMITS LABOUR" describes the Review of the Government's three-year-old Rural White Paper ( progress on which, it seems,was a matter of some complacency for Alun Michael last week.)
"Mrs Beckett said that a "refreshed" rural strategy would be published in the spring.The government has now, according to FWi announced a " study which aims to clarify the costs associated with dealing with another outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease ....the year-long cost benefit analysis will provide information on the costs, to the wider economy as well as farmers, of eradicating the disease.
".. Anthony Steen, Conservative MP for Totnes, said he had little confidence that the new strategy would be more effective than the existing one. He said: "There is a pattern with this Government when they don't know what to do. They set up an inquiry, which costs money and takes forever; then they take more time responding to its recommendations; then they announce that they have the solutions; and then a little while later it gets reviewed and the whole process starts again....."
........ Junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw said: "The CBA will help inform decisions on which disease control option to use in which circumstances. "It will also help plan resources for an outbreak; refine the Decision Tree; build consensus on when to use emergency vaccination and more generally improve the evidence on the costs of different disease control policies." The CBA, which went out to competitive tender, will be undertaken in conjunction with all four UK rural affairs departments." See also Fordyce Maxwell in The Scotsman (new window)
Jan 26 - 30 ~ "The human dimension of any FMD outbreak must be dealt with sufficiently in any contingency plan."
The Dutch Farmers Union Land- en Tuinbouworganisatie Nederland in their paper "What lessons have we learnt for the future?": ".. LTO Nederland proposes the use of protective emergency vaccinations as an effective method to combat foot-and-mouth-disease in the future. This includes the use of internationally recognised diagnostic tests and vaccines that cause the build-up of sufficient immunity within a few days. This will eradicate the virus within weeks and allow the vaccinated animals to complete their working lives and the marketing of their products in specially designed regions or compartments within the EU. The idea ends the current slaughter-only policy in the E.U."
"..Amid all the words on science, economics and animal welfare, a few words must be said on the human aspect here. In 2001, hundreds of European farmers and their families had to stay on-farm for weeks on end, while anxiously waiting for what might come next. A number of them saw their livestock taken away from them. When the veterinary slaughter force finally moved on, all disinfecting and paperwork done, the farmer family stayed behind, dismayed, trying to come to grips with what actually happened. . "
This paper from a professional, democratic and concerned farmers' union, very much deserves to be read in full
Jan 26 - 30 ~ International Cooperation
The plea that "Common, co-ordinated epidemiological studies leading to a common control policy should be sought and supported by the international community" was quoted from the new article from Israel on this website last week. Similarly, an international conference last week in Brussels boded well for future international cooperation on policy and research into foot and mouth and similar diseases.
In April the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE CONTROL OF ANIMAL INFECTIOUS DISEASES BY VACCINATION will take place in Buenos Aires (Argentina)
The first three objectives of the Conference are to examine
- Experience gained in the control and eradication of foot and mouth disease and other animal and zoonotic diseases through the use of vaccination when appropriate.
- Current methods of vaccination
- New and future trends in the control of diseases by vaccination
while sessions are devoted to " Available technologies to complement vaccination practices", "Vaccination to live" and "Antigen and vaccine banks as a safety measure for insuring control of disease spread"
There does seem to be an international will to avoid the terrible errors of judgement made in our own country in 2001.
Jan 25 ~ " ... the court ruling that Defra behaved illegally in paying its debt to JDM Accord gives hope..."
Booker's Notebook "Last week I reported on a court case which has exposed the astonishing scandal of the refusal by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to pay millions of pounds still owing for work carried out at Defra's instructions during the 2001 foot and mouth crisis. After a 12-week hearing, Defra was ordered to pay £5 million owed to JDM Accord for constructing the notorious Ash Moor burial pit in Devon, which was never used.
The Forum of Private Business, a organisation which has taken on many of the contractors' claims, estimates that the sum still owed to 350 firms amounts to over £100 million. Since 2002 Defra has used any excuse not to pay what it owes, in a futile bid to appease the European Commission from which it still hopes to claim £1 billion - the loss of which might cause even Gordon Brown to blench.
The largest creditor, it emerges, is Cumbria Waste Management Ltd. (CWM)..... In CWM's case, it is notable that one taxpayer-funded body is having to bear the cost of refusal to pay its debts by another. But the court ruling that Defra behaved illegally in paying its debt to JDM Accord gives hope to Mr Bareham and hundreds of others that this scandal may at last be brought to an end - even if it means Gordon Brown having to forego that £1 billion."
Jan 24 ~"... there is an inevitability about each new panic."
Guardian Felicity Lawrence, consumer affairs correspondent, makes some interesting points about the Thai chicken situation:
".. part of a pattern that has gone along with industrialisation and mass transportation of livestock. Animal disease now travels far and fast in types of farming and food distribution that make it very hard to control. ..... ...The British poultry industry has struggled to compete with prices from south-east Asia and Brazil where labour costs are much lower. Many UK producers meanwhile are barely able to cover the cost of production, as prices have fallen in supermarkets.
..... Poultry is raised in intensive factory farms with units of 30,000 to 50,000 birds being common. Once a virus gets into a flock it is virtually impossible to control except by mass culling. ... in Europe.. about half of chicken meat is contaminated with campylobacter, which is also carried in faeces, the chances of catching the flu from meat are said to be negligible.
The ban on Thai meat appears to be more of a warning to the Thais to get their house in order than a response to risk to consumers.
Britain has so far escaped avian flu, groups campaigning against intensive factory farming say there is an inevitability about each new panic."
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"Front Page" Archive 2001 - 2004
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Report into Infectious Disease in Livestock - Royal Society Recommendations
"The contiguous cull has been exposed for what it was: one of the most bloody, tragic and disgraceful misjudgments made in the name of science."
Anthony Gibson CBE
"Emergency vaccination with the aim of allowing animals to live for normal further use should no longer be regarded only as a last resort but must be considered as a first-choice option from the outset."
comparison EU draft report and March 03 document
"The foot-and-mouth crisis ... a lethal cocktail of folly, self-interest, Government ineptitude and spinelessness, waste and wanton cruelty, both to human beings and animals. In short, a disgrace of huge magnitude. " John Piper Yorkshire Post
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~The video suggests that the virus travelled from Ponteland to Burnside farm and not the other way around.
Ben Bradshaw's response was "My understanding is that the video contains nothing new. All of the details contained in the video, I am told, were given to the Anderson Inquiry. Professor Anderson himself said that his decisions and recommendations as a result of his inquiry would have been exactly the same and the video was part of the trial of Bobby Waugh." This is not acceptable.
the video contains nothing new - The video shows a dog pulling at a dead sheep on the burning tip in the yard of Burnside Farm. A witness said there were 4 sheep burned on this tip and they originated from Ponteyland. This would suggest that the virus travelled from Ponteland to Burnside farm and not the other way around.
were given to the Anderson Inquiry - Yet the response to the question from Boris Johnson was "Defra has no record of the video, taken by an official of the Northumberland Trading Standards Department, of the conditions at Burnside Farm, run by Mr. Bobby Waugh, being submitted to the Anderson Lessons Learned Inquiry."
Professor Anderson himself said that his decisions and recommendations as a result of his inquiry would have been exactly the same ~ This was said in connection with the Dring statement of which the existence was first denied , then covered up and finally admitted. In fact Iain Anderson said "it would have been better" if the so-called "aide-memoire" ( 11,564 words in length) had been submitted as Mr Dring apparently intended. One wonders also what happened to the spreadsheet of test results from Pirbright which, we understand, was originally attached to Dring's report.
October 22 - Oct 29 2004 ~ Why does Jim Dring still receive the support of DEFRA and the CVO?
Although it was politically convenient to identify pig swill as the cause of Foot and Mouth and severe restrictions on feeding swill to pigs have been introduced - no proof that this was the original infectious agent was ever produced See chronology of FMSD pages The Parliamentary Ombudsman has received a copy of the video discussed above and is now considering whether to widen her remit to include the activities of Burnside Farm. A witness with knowledge of Burnside Farm said that there were four dead diseased sheep buried there, that Bobby Waugh had told MAFF about. Mr Waugh had stored them in a shed across the road when Jim Dring did his inspection. He also said that the shed across the road was never cleaned after FMD.
Dr Debby Reynolds, the CVO, was invited to see the video as was DEFRA Someone who has seen the video tells warmwell, " We have a problem with the video because if the press take still shots, people may never eat meat again.....Will we at last get a Public Inquiry?"
Dr Debby Reynolds BVsc, PhD, MRCVS is reported to have written: 'DEFRA is satisfied that Jim Dring did all that could be reasonably expected of an inspecting officer and that he was correct in his decision to relicense the premises on the basis of his inspection'
From .... FMD 2001
"... ....authorities in charge were justifying their policies with doubtful scientific arguments....
The public in general, including veterinary and agricultural communities, were misinformed by scientists and veterinary authorities..."
Latest 'Generic' Contingency Plan for FMD ~ Foot and Mouth News - from Yahoo and PigHealth.com
The EU FMD Directive (See here in html version or pdf version)
Chronology of Beginning of FMD Outbreak UK 2001
"... the stakeholders contribution to decision making.." Marshall and Roger paper from the Crete conference on foot and mouth. (FAO) The EU FMD Directive (See here in html version or pdf version) Contact the site here ~ Exercise Hornbeam
Warmwell commentary on The UK foot and mouth disease outbreak- The Aftermath by Kitching et al
Dr Abigail Woods' book: A Manufactured Plague
Warmwell's chronology of Foot and Mouth
Archive - Warmwell front page Autumn 2004
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