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June 24 ~ "Gordon Adam MEP is NOT representative of the thinking, reaction or attitude of the EU Temporary Committee"
"PLEASE point out to anyone who is concerned, having heard about or witnessed the outbursts of this man during the EU's Temporary Committee's visit to Wales and the South-West that he is NOT representative of the thinking, reaction or attitude of the EU Temporary Committee .
Other members of the Committee particularly asked me to get this message to anyone and everyone, as Mr Adam's behaviour on this trip to Wales and the South-West has been thoroughly reprehensible. In Wales, even Senora Redondo had to intervene and reprimand him for his heckling with one of the speakers, Ann Morgan. Hecklers normally come from the floor - one doesn't expect that from the high table!!
The downside is that such a man as he, who clearly has no idea of either diplomacy or manners, is in the position of MEP at all - one wonders what sort of people chose such a person to represent them. HOWEVER there is always an upside and this time it is that he, in his outbursts, has shown this Labour Government's true colours. .."
Message received from Alicia Eykyn
June 23/4 ~ " it is quite clear that crimes were committed and people need to be brought to account for those crimes, and until they have been, we have no security that if such an outbreak happens again, we will not have the same incompetent bungling"
(Caroline Lucas MEP) "We have heard stories of the enormous arrogance and incompetence of the National Authorities and we have heard stories of the enormous harassment and illegal actions that have taken place.
We have heard stories of the abuse of animal rights but also the abuse of people's legal and human rights
And we have heard stories of devastatingly wrong science, and perhaps no where more so than when it comes to the issue of the contiguous cull......very clear evidence that the contiguous cull policy was unnecessary and unjustified. It was based on a computer model which was itself dependent on utterly inadequate data and completely false assumptions.
It ... is very clear from the data that you cannot claim that it was the contiguous cull that began to bring down the numbers of outbreaks that we saw, that by the time that the contiguous cull policy would have really had an impact, the peak was already coming down.
I think finally it is very clear that we need a proper full Public Enquiry in this country. Our EU enquiry cannot be a substitute for that, but it can bring out very important recommendations on issues around vaccination, import controls, around the importance of a properly understood and properly rehearsed contingency plan.
I repeat that we do of course, need a Public Enquiry in this country because it is quite clear that crimes were committed and people need to be brought to account for those crimes, and until they have been, we have no security that if such an outbreak happens again, we will not have the same incompetent bungling."(From Jon Dobson's verbatim transcripts of speeches made yesterday at the Forest of Dean meeting for the European Inquiry team)
June 23/4 ~ "I was shocked that Mr Adam's knowledge seemed so lacking.."
Jon Dobson has written a very angry letter to Signora Redondo about the Labour MEP Gordon Adam. Extract: "If FMD does ever return to the United Kingdom, and the same control measures are applied as before, I shall make it my personal responsibility to ensure Mr Gordon Adam visits the farmgate along with me to witness at first hand the repeat of the intimidation, harassment and downright cruelty that was meted out by DEFRA ........."
June 23 ~ Krebs protests that BSE in sheep would have "appalling health implications"
In the Telegraph today Sir John Krebs reacts angrily to Christopher Booker's debunking of the FSA's casual decision-making process in his June 16th Notebook Krebs is claiming "it is difficult to understand why those in the industry claim to have no knowledge of the issue" - but it is not so difficult to understand why people who are not told something have no knowledge of it. The FSA seem determined to spread fear and consternation in the public about the possiblity of BSE in lamb meat - but since no link has ever been proved between eating BSE infected meat and vCJD - and since there is no evidence - in spite of thousands and thousands of poundsworth of research in trying to obtain such evidence -that BSE can occur in sheep - we do rather wonder what the FSA is up to and why Sir John feels entitled to exhibit such righteous indignation. (See Kreb's letter)
According to the Sunday Herald article by Lachlan McKinnon and Stephen Naysmith under the headline "Blunkett's Big Brother is already watching you"...
'There are people in the Food Standards Agency now who apply for, in what they think are appropriate circumstances, data about people's communications and they get it. They have no guidance,' ..".the Government has set aside £20m over three years to help internet and telephone service providers meet the cost of maintaining an 'interception capability'. "
Does anyone share our extreme disquiet about this?
June 23 ~ Flawed farm strategy exposed
Booker's Notebook today: "The revelation that in 1999 a Government vet warned ministers that there were no proper contingency plans in place to prevent a multiple outbreak of foot and mouth turning into an uncontrollable epidemic has been hailed as the smoking gun of the foot and mouth investigation.
This made front-page news last Friday, after the publication of a savagely critical report on foot and mouth by the National Audit Office. But the NAO has missed the more damaging evidence, revealed in this column on May 5, which came to light among documents supplied to the inquiry into foot and mouth by the European Parliament.
This showed that in 1999 Britain's agriculture ministry was formally instructed by the European Commission that, to avoid precisely such a disaster, it should have in place all the necessary arrangements for a fullscale vaccination programme.
This document listed 10 criteria requiring such a vaccination programme. Within a week of the virus first being identified in February 2001 it was clear that at least seven of these had been met.
But because Britain had failed to follow the instructions given two years earlier, it was impossible to launch a programme which could have saved the country billions of pounds, along with the lives of millions of animals.
Because the Commission was also caught out in its failure to follow up this and previous instructions given to Britain, its official line today is that it found "no major flaws" in the strategy Britain adopted.
However, the real "smoking gun" is there in its own files. It will be interesting to see whether the MEPs recognise its significance when they produce their report."
June 23 ~"The mass slaughter was such a barbaric transgression of animal welfare that we are all diminished by it."
said Alan Beat in his this Summary of evidence to the EU Inquiry on 21st June in Devon, UK After a look at the damning figures and lack of scientific understanding that nevertheless drove the culling, Alan spoke of the costs in terms of the animal and human suffering.
Extract: "Words are inadequate to describe the trauma of the ordeal that was inflicted upon so many. It was compounded by a near-total lack of communication between those in authority and those whose lives were directly affected. It was nigh-on impossible to obtain meaningful information from, or to conduct constructive dialogue with, those who ordered the destruction of your livestock. People were often treated, not with the courtesy and compassion that they deserved, but instead with arrogance and intimidation.
I will supply videotape to the Inquiry of interviews recorded with some Devon livestock owners who were mistreated in various ways. Among these, Matthew Knight resisted the contiguous cull, only to eventually discover that his neighbouring IP had tested negative at the laboratory; yet even knowing this, MAFF continued to press for the slaughter of his healthy organic cattle. Peter and Betty Howarth at first resisted the contiguous cull, but yielded to pressure from MAFF for the slaughter of their two retired pet house cows in exchange for a promise that disposal would be prompt. In fact the bodies lay beside the house for fifteen days, oozing pools of noxious liquid to the back door amid indescribable stench. No-one should be treated like this.
This crisis saw the abuse of human rights on a massive scale. It must never be repeated. We will not stand for it, ever again."
June 22 ~ Something rotten at the heart of government - spinning out of control
The Scotsman today has a thoughtful article by Jason Beattie about the White House-style press conference in Number 10 yesterday, the "the 73-minute kiss-and-make-up operation". Well worth reading in full, this article says, "Those who left the press conference may have been impressed temporarily by his effortless performance, but ....behind the jolly banter between a PM and the Westminster press corps, with most of whom Mr Blair is on first name terms, lies a widening gulf which a one-off question-and-non-answer session may not be sufficient to bridge....The charm offensive was essentially a defensive strategy designed primarily to prevent negative publicity....Journalists, angered at being duped by the Labour spin machine, began to draw parallels between the use of spin and Labour's conduct in office, whether it was burying bad news on 11 September or the Mittall cash-for-favours row.
"Although not all the stories hit the target....elements of the press decided there was something rotten at the heart of the government.....For those wishing empirical evidence, proof was conveniently provided by the Black Rod affair.....When he dropped the action, the Prime Minister, perhaps inadvertently, widened the dispute from a minor skirmish with Associated into a major conflict with the British media. Even those papers that could be relied upon to be sympathetic to the government began to take a more aggressive stance."
June 22 ~ A fearful establishment that cries "Wolf"
A sow in Leicestershire - one sow alone? - suspected very noisily of having the dreaded "farm-virus"? - a sow moreover whose exact provenance no one apparently seemed to be able to trace? - did it have no tags or distinguishing marks? - and all this just at a time when the government feels itself more and more under the large magnifying glass of a sceptical European Inquiry? Just at a time when it is very anxious to frighten away dissent from its meddling and unnecessary restrictions and red tape?
We are seeing more and more fabricated - or at least strangely slanted - stories that put farmers in the worst possible light, appearing on the BBC, in the Times (New Labour's favourite newspaper) and Guardian. Attack has long been this government's one idea of defence. And never before has it been in such desperate need of self-justification.
At the same time we have extraordinary suggestions - appealing to xenophobia in the tried and tested ways of government propagandists - that the "source of the virus for the 2001 epidemic was most probably infected or contaminated meat or meat products" just after the Food Standards Agency makes loud and damaging statements about African meat. How very anxious they are to convince us that infected foreign pig catering waste was the origin. Never mind the harm done to the Chinese community or to the African countries. There is absolutely no evidence that the virus entered via illegal imports - but the government and the unions parrot this idea so often it is taking on a weird credibility in the public consciousness merely by repetition.
How sad it is that one can no longer trust a single word to come out of the mouths of those in power or indirectly by those media outlets through which such nonsense is disseminated.
June 21/22 ~"What has happened to our democracy and what has happened to our freedoms?"
asked Ann Morgan at Builth Wells yesterday in furious answer to the Labour MEP Gordon Adams as he blustered, trying to defend the indefensible and saying that her evidence "contradicted" the way the contiguous cull had been presented as a success. Signora Redondo rounded on him too, later leaving the stage to embrace Ann Morgan and telling her, "You are very brave". Members of the Inquiry, including English MEPs were visibly in tears as Ann spoke. The Inquiry members had made it clear, by staying more than an extra hour listening to the real people at Welshpool that they preferred to do that than receive the processed accounts of the establishment and unions. Union members were not to be found at Welshpool anyway, preferring it appears to wait in the luxury of the Metropole hotel for a big dinner at the taxpayers' expense. A copy of Fields of Fire was given to both Signora Redondo and Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler, who showed great appreciation of the labour of love that produced it. Talking to Albert Maat (Holland), Roy Miller said that there were three important things to be done: to correct the injustices and make those responsible accountable, to learn enough to ensure that such terrible things can never happen again and, with regard to the human trauma that isn't going away, to have the healing opportunity to talk about their pain to people who are really listening. "I know that the EU Inquiry is listening but we're not sure that anyone else is," said Roy. He later described the Welsh meetings as a "huge victory" and is confident that the EU Temporary Committee are becoming more and more aware of the truth of the UK FMD crisis rather than the disgraceful "mutual self-preservation club" version.
June 21 ~ "..the huge waste that took place"
An insider who has given information to the Western Morning News says "After the election, the Treasury started cutting the purse strings and more closely scrutinising the situation. It wasn't worried about the spread of the disease, but the money being spent. It held everything up."
Following an investigation by the Western Morning News, in a series of written Parliamentary answers earlier this month Agriculture Minister Elliott Morley provided details on the disposal of ash and fuel from foot and mouth pyres. But a source who was close to the Government's campaign to deal with the crisis said that the answers did not provide the full picture of the huge waste that took place.
He said: "It is only the tip of the iceberg in consideration of all of the rest of the things that money was spent on."
... Mr Morley said that 11,500 tonnes of unused coal had been recovered from foot and mouth operations by the Government's Disposal Services Agency and resold. A further 51,500 railway sleepers and 2,650 tonnes of wood were also resold, but 616 tonnes of sleepers and wood was landfilled.
The WMN source said that the Government purchased many other pieces of equipment, including vehicles, computers, office equipment and high-velocity guns, the whereabouts of which there has been no explanation. ...
. The Government claimed that it landfilled because it was a lower risk option than incinerating. "There is limited capacity for incineration, yes, but my question to them would be, well there's limited capacity for the incineration of meat and bonemeal, but why did they still choose to store that rather than landfill that?"
"It's nothing to do with risk - it's all to do with money. "
June 21 ~ "It is extraordinarily embarrassing for the Government and I think people will be asking a lot of questions about why nothing was done".
Liberal Democrat rural affairs spokesman Colin Breed last night said many people affected by the crisis would be astonished that the Government had failed to heed the advice of its own experts. Mr Breed, MP for South East Cornwall, said: "They were in trouble from day one because of the inadequacy of their planning, although they have never admitted it. The most worrying thing is that there is still no indication that the new department is treating the problem with any more urgency. Merely having a new department does not change anything."
The NAO report concludes that:
*The Government's contingency plans were "inadequate" to deal with a major outbreak of foot and mouth.
*Ministers were too slow to bring in the Army to help with disposal.
*Poor cost control meant that the bill to the taxpayer was higher than it need have been.
*No account was taken of the potential impact of an outbreak of the disease on the wider rural economy, particularly tourism.
*The Government did not have enough vets to deal with the crisis.
*An earlier ban on animal movements would have significantly reduced the scale of the outbreak.
NAO director Richard Eales said: "The department could and should have been better prepared for this outbreak."
See report in Western Morning News
June 21 ~ "You would not think it possible that those drawing up contingency plans for dealing with such a national emergency would fail to consult other Government departments and agencies,
but that is exactly what happened. And key issues from a previous internal report were not taken on board. ...Overall the Government's planning was characterised by complacency and lack of foresight. An impact on the tourist industry hadn't occurred to them at all, let alone one of several billion pounds." (Mr Edward Leigh, chairman of the powerful Public Accounts Committee, which will hold hearings into the report's findings. He added that contingency plans had shown "a complete failure of imagination".
June 21 ~ Are we veterinary surgeons or are we filled with this MAFF blood lust?
On April 23rd last year, under the title: Foot and Mouth out of Control; what a Shambles the highly respected vet, Ken Tyrrell, (B.A., BSc (Vet), M.R.C.V.S. retd Qualified 1951 Joined MAFF July 1953 retired 1987 ) wrote in the Veterinary Times "The insidious hand of Brussels is also behind this draconian cull of 3kms; are we veterinary surgeons or are we filled with this MAFF blood lust? We should stop it and deal at once with infection on farms and dangerous contacts if indeed they are dangerous and not just contiguous.
How has the veterinary profession performed during this outbreak? Well of course, as is always the case the frontline troops have behaved magnificently but what about the leaders?"
It all puts Margaret Beckett's complacent words today at her reading of the NAO report into some kind of perspective. The "Department's success in limiting further spread to new areas once controls were in place" (her words) amounted to a frenzy of killing on over 10,000 premises, unsupported by science and condemned by anyone who understood the nature of FMD transmission. We now know that only 1324 of those premises have a laboratory test result to support a diagnosis of FMD.
Mrs Beckett talked last night of "the unprecedented nature of the outbreak" It is the scale of the culling which was unprecendented, not the scale of the epidemic.
June 21 ~ Under the headline IGNORANCE AND ARROGANCE
The Western Morning News says that the "NAO report notes that Defra still believes it was "correct" to make the Drummond Report a relatively low priority because experts at the time believed the biggest threat of foot and mouth entering the European Union was through Eastern Europe. It states: "The department considers that existing controls were in place and that its prioritisation of work based on all available information at the time was correct". ...
June 21 ~ "Initial results from tests on a pig at a Leicestershire slaughterhouse appear to show it was not suffering from foot-and-mouth disease" BBC News
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said on Friday the first results had been negative - but a definitive answer cannot be given until Tuesday morning. Defra has banned the movement of livestock in a five mile radius around the slaughterhouse as a precaution. The restricted zone covers Twycross Zoo. The alarm was raised after the pig was seen to have blisters on its body at the Dawkins International Ltd abattoir in Congerstone, a slaughterhouse for both pigs and cattle which also packs offal.
A spokesman for Defra said officials were currently investigating each of the 34 farms in Yorkshire where the pig may have come from. ....says the BBC
June 21 ~ "Report into origin of foot and mouth epidemic published"
Well....this is a piece of non-news, merely repeating the old obfuscations about "origin". The (pdf) report begins with the laughable sentence "A full inquiry has been carried out into the origin of the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) epidemic in the UK." In its final sentence the Number 10 site says, "It unlikely that the origin of this material and the route by which it entered the UK will ever be identified".
This is wishful thinking on the part of Number 10.
As for the rest, it is along the lines of "The results of government investigations into the how the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak started and spread have been announced. The origin is believed to have been a pig finishing unit in the North-East of England....."
Pat writes:" This is the source of all the newspaper articles and this of Scudamore's report. I'll work on an analysis later today. My immediate reaction is amazement. It is a quite extraordinary and disgraceful document. HMC&E and the Foreign Office must be beside themselves with rage. .."
June 21 ~ DEFRA RESPONDS TO NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE REPORT
In response to today's Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on the 2001 Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, DEFRA Secretary of State Margaret Beckett said: "I thank the NAO for this very thorough report. The government agrees with its analysis that, while many things were done right, there are also lessons to be learned. "The report describes accurately the unprecedented nature of the outbreak, the very wide spread of the disease before its presence was detected, and the Department's success in limiting further spread to new areas once controls were in place."
Sorry Mrs Beckett. Nearly everything was done wrongly. If the new FMD contingency plans for England and Scotland are anything to go by, no lessons have been learned. The outbreak was not unprecedented - it was the unnecessary scale of the killing that was. The Department can claim only to have lost the trust of the farmers and the appalled horror of those abroad, particularly delegates at Lyon who are under no illusions about what happened. We feel certain that the truth will eventually be told - but in the meantime we note with disgust the continuing anti-farmer propaganda in the Guardian, the Times, Ananova and elsewhere. We can hardly believe that such a disgraceful and well-orchestrated kick in the teeth has been delivered to people who have suffered so much. There were farmers who used the crisis to make money but who is there to speak - not for those few fat cats - but for the majority of farmers? Only a future knight in somewhat tarnished armour who has done far too much of that already -and who can anyway only claim to speak for about 37% of them.
June 21 ~ The Government "simply ran out of vets"..... " the Government had "showed a complete lack of imagination" in its planning, which was "characterised by complacency and lack of foresight."
Robert Ulig's article about the National Audit Office report in the Telegraph looks closely at the poor state of the SVS and the lack of resources at its disposal. "Mr Scudamore had "expressed his concern" in 2000 that several "key issues" identified in the Drummond report had "not been resolved some two years after they had been identified"......
"Jim Scudamore, Chief Veterinary Officer, was told in February 1999 by a group of state vets that, with "the speed at which foot and mouth disease might spread, the State Veterinary Service's resources could quickly become overwhelmed". He was given the recommendation of "enhancing arrangements to gear up resources" but, said Richard Eales, director of the National Audit Office, the Government "did not heed that warning" and millions were squandered as officials "struggled to keep costs under control" during the epidemic. "Existing contingency plans in many areas had not been updated because of other priorities and limited resources.
"In addition, a high turnover of administrative staff, and the resignation or retirement of experienced veterinary and technical staff had impaired the services's ability to react.
"The Department had not had time to address fully the slaughter and disposal of carcasses, training of staff in preparedness for an outbreak, updating of contingency plans and epidemiological capacity to deal with investigations about spread of the disease if there were an outbreak."
Edward Leigh, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, which will be questioning DEFRA on the report next month.
June 21 ~ National Audit Office condemns the Government's planning for its "complacency and lack of foresight" 57 farms already infected by Feb 20th
Amid rumours that the latest FMD scare in Leicestershire has been cynically timed to deflect attention from the National Audit Office investigation, we see that the Independent article says that "Sir John Bourn, the comptroller and auditor general, said there were "lessons to be learned for the whole of government from the foot-and-mouth crisis".
"key issues had not been resolved".
The NAO said: "The department had not had time to address fully the slaughter and disposal of carcasses, training of staff in preparedness for an outbreak, the updating of existing contingency plans and epidemiological capacity to deal with investigations about the spread of the disease if there were an outbreak. .......The Government's contingency plans envisaged no more than 10 cases....
"A crucial turning point in the crisis was the decision..... to cull infected animals within 24 hours of diagnosis and remove neighbouring herds within 48 hours.
"Before 27 March, when the target was imposed, only 14 per cent of premises were cleared within the deadline. After 27 March that figure leapt to 51 per cent. "
However, the NAO does not apparently understand the significance of these delays which, together with insufficient data led to the disastrous contiguous cull policy advocated by the Imperial College modellers - who did not understand FMD transmission any better than the Government Science Team under Professor King. The NAO reports also that an estimated "70 per cent of those killed in the contiguous cull were disease-free " and yet, astonishingly, calculates this to have been no more than 800,000 animals...
We notice with a certain sour lack of surprise that Valerie Elliott in the Times has chosen rather a different spin on this story of government incompetence with the headlines Farm rip-offs hit taxpayers for millions and Rich pickings for contractors as Britain burnt See Spin Alert
June 21 ~ "These nameless faces behind closed doors decided whether our animals lived or died."
At the Royal Welsh showground EU Inquiry meeting in Mid Wales, Ann Morgan told the MEPS that the killing on her farm had been "shambolic and barbaric". "The stench of death was dreadful," she said. According to the account in the Western Mail, "Local accountant Ian Mitchell told the MEPs that the crisis placed an unbearable toll on the rural economy. It had "taken away our dreams", he said. The Conservative leader in the European Parliament, Jonathan Evans, renewed his demands for the UK Government to launch a full public inquiry into the disease in addition to the "valuable contributions" to the Euro investigation..."
June 20/21 ~ "I know that people want a perfect test that unequivocally decides that an animal is absolutely free from any contact with FMD"
writes John Crowther, from the Animal Production and Health Division of the Vienna-based IAEA, "The very nature of the agent means that this is impossible. However, we can, using the assays for NS move towards ensuring that the risk of spreading disease is greatly reduced, which in turn may lead to a re interpretation of acceptable risks for the "release" of serologically free animals which hitherto would be slaughtered..." read more
Mr Crowther was described by one participant at the Lyons symposium as "very dynamic, relaxed, knowledgeable and, quite frankly, powerful.....Certainly he came across as Mister Big - the man with the Direct line to anyone and everyone in the G8/WTO/New World /EU... the man who could arrest or redirect funding, from trickle to torrent, at a moment's notice if need be. Given that, which seemed to be implicitly recognized by pretty much all present, he came across as surprisingly affable and unaffected. More to the point, he challenged the sense of pursuing 'zero-risk' policy with regard to "carriers."
June 20/21 ~ Possible FMD in a Leicestershire abattoir.
Suspect sow. Movement restrictions in place. The pig, discovered at a slaughterhouse in Congerstone, in Leicestershire, was slaughtered on today (Thursday) after showing signs of possible foot and mouth infection.
"Samples are being taken for urgent testing at the Institute for Animal Health laboratory at Pirbright in Surrey. Scientists hope to have the initial results on Friday, although the complete tests will take 90 hours. " says the BBC. "The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has banned the movement of livestock in a five mile radius around the slaughterhouse as a precaution. The pig could be from one of 34 farms, mostly in the north Yorkshire area, and may have passed through Selby market. Officials said that all of the farms are being placed under restrictions. The last confirmed case of foot-and-mouth was in September 2001 but there have been numerous false alarms since then. " According to information from Channel 4 (press release from DEFRA) the abattoir is Dawkins International Limited in Congerstone, approx six miles from Nuneaton and 10 miles from the centre of Leicester.
June 20 ~ "control measures were crude, unscientific, excessive and unnecessary"
was the verdict of an Anglesey farmer who lost his pedigree livestock during the so-called "pre-emptive" cull in south west Anglesey. Like many others talking to the EU Inquiry team last night at Welshpool market, he accused union leaders of colluding with the government. Phil Owens, a Farmers Union of Wales county chairman during the crisis and well known to this website, accused his union's hierarchy of "panicking about the disease" and colluding with "a scientifically nonsensical" anti-vaccination policy. "An apparent determination to kill as many animals as possible left many farmers wondering if there was a hidden agenda to de-stock farms," he said. This was denied strongly by Wolfgang Dreissl-Dörfler, the MEP from Bavaria who insisted that there was no EU plan to cut UK livestock numbers... (We remember, however, the accounts of several who claim to have seen cheques inscribed with the phrase: "EU Livestock Reduction Fund")
Netherlands MEP Jan Mulder said that farmers in the Netherlands too were unhappy about the way culling had been carried out. He said that a new European Union policy was needed. Unfortunately he also trotted out the old chestnut about "supermarkets and dairies" insisting they would not use products from injected animals. We are tired of this nonsense. Meat and milk from vaccinates is consumed all the time. What is so different about the FMD vaccine? And for how long have we been blithely eating South American meat vaccinated with FMD vaccine?
June 20 ~ There were no Longtown sheep at Welshpool market on Feb 19 2001
The European Temporary Committee heard from farmers, auctioneers, vets and the clergy at Welshpool Livestock Market yesterday. The auctioneer John Jones told them that although the government had said sheep from Longtown Market had been in Welshpool Market on February 19...."This was found to be incorrect, but it has never officially retracted its statement, much to our annoyance." Phil Owens, chairman of the Farmers Union of Wales in Montgomeryshire at the time accused both farming the NFU and the FUW of "misguided loyalty" towards the government and the Assembly. He said farmers had committed suicide as a result of the pressure caused by the catastrophe.
We are expecting more first hand detail from this meeting soon.
June 20 ~"Here we go again - another unprecedented attack on farmers, the easy targets."
An exasperated and eloquent letter from the dairy farmer David Goddard expresses how many farmers are feeling at headlines that have appeared in the Western Daily Press, the Evening Standard and elsewhere. We too note the strange spin put on a small part of the Environment Agency's report on Agriculture and Natural Resources (the full text is unlikely to have been read by the journalists) concerning the cost of one small part of pollution in Britain and ignoring all the other polluters and indeed ignoring what even the Environment Agency itself says about the cost benefits of farming. It is just another step in what seems a very well orchestrated attack on farmers the lazier and more malleable journalists, among others, have been encouraged to make.
June 19/20 ~ "You KNEW they presented no risk!
Right from the beginning of the crisis in Britain farmers, stockholders, vets, politicians who were concerned and people who were appalled by the frenzy of killing were told that vaccination "wouldn't work". The main plank in this argument was the vexed question of the erroneously termed carrier animals. Many experts said that the risk was negligable, but for various political and economic reasons, this expert scientific advice was ignored and even rubbished. There was to be a 'zero-risk' policy with regard to "carriers". Indeed, one of the British delegates at the Lyons conference insisted:
'What would you do, if you were the C.V.O. and you had to decide between authorising imports from Australia which is F.M.D. free and Holland if the vaccinated stock had not been killed? Any mistake and it's the C.V.O.'s neck on the line!"
(Does that mean, asks Chris Stockdale, that to save one C.V.O. from a little professional ignominy we sacrificed eleven million animals at a cost of billions, and the loss of 20-60 suicides and the as yet unknowable health consequences of both the burn, the burial and the the land-fill sites?)
Dr. Paul Sutmoller then stunned the audience by saying directly to the speaker, "If you are so concerned about the carrier status, why did you, at Pirbright, release animals that you had infected with SAT strain (F.M.D.), vaccinated and allowed to recover? (He even stated which fields they were in.) Why did you then release these animals into the British market? They were not even sent direct to the abbatoir, but dispersed throughout the U.K. livestock population! Why? Because you knew that they presented no risk!" (Apologies: The words in italics were published in good faith on June 19 2002 3 - but it appears that Dr Sutmoller later said that the incident referred to had happened years before.)
June 19 ~"barbaric conduct" and "a disgrace to humanity"
At long last the contiguous cull has been described in appropriate words by witnesses at the European Inquiry. As Robert Ulig in the Telegraph describes, "every one of eight scientific expert witnesses told a European Union inquiry that vaccination must be used in any future outbreak." He goes on to say that the Inquiry..., "was also told that vaccines were fully effective and that sufficient supplies of the correct strain were available last year. Alex Donaldson, a member of the Cabinet Office committee of government advisers that proposed the culling policy, yesterday distanced himself from the contiguous cull policy, which resulted in the deaths of more than 10 million animals, and said that an alternative involving testing would have greatly reduced the number of animals slaughtered."
Professor Fred Brown -who had tried so hard to get the UK government to see sense last year said, ""The barbaric conduct in Britain last year was a disgrace to humanity."
We at warmwell are moved and heartened that the Telegraph has published this article. Readers in Britain may now begin to see what we have been trying to express since this website began. All eight witnesses who have spoken out are experts in the field of foot and mouth. Why were they not listened to before the contiguous cull - still paraded as "a success" by its instigators - wrought its deadly work?
June 19 ~"Encouragingly, many countries expressed revulsion at the cull... "
The a beef and sheep farmer farmer Chris Stockdale, sends us this report from the recent Lyons conference. Extract: ."The pressure is very much on to validate (three) potential tests to determine whether anti-bodies are derived from vaccine or virus; U.K. objections that this still leaves unresolved the question of the 'carrier' in pursuit of absolute zero risk were countered from the floor by considerations of the risk from unvaccinated carriers, in addition to the fact, as was generally agreed, that carriers have never, even under experimental laboratory conditions when researchers tried to induce such, been shown to infect naive stock. Additional evidence was cited of Pirbright's (actual, practical) confidence in the non-infectivity of vaccinated stock, in contradiction to their stated reservations. .....
, I would say that all present understood that we stand at a cross-roads:- either regulate FMD in a sane way, or accept that pressure will grow for it to be disregarded as no more than a phyto-sanitary barrier to free trade, raising questions as to whether the W.T.O. can endorse such. Realistically, so much time and effort has been expended on F.M.D. to date that the latter proposal would receive a very rough ride indeed..."
June 19 ~ Common Sense from Lord Vinson ~"Is the Food Standards Agency (FSA) over the top?"
In a letter to the Telegraph this morning he writes, "After waiting years for BSE to emerge in sheep, it now has sausage skins made from lamb casings (report, May 23) in its sights.
The FSA may have been given a warm welcome because of "the disinterested nature of its findings compared to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and its new policy of total openness" but, because it carries no responsibility for the wider consequences of its pronouncements other than its immediate remit of food safety, it is bound to adopt excessive precautions to protect its reputation.
There may be a theoretical risk of BSE crossing from cattle to sheep, but no sheep can have been fed with contaminated foodstuffs since 1988, when they were withdrawn from all ruminants.
There can be few, if any, sheep alive that might have been directly infected by contaminated feeds and most sheep meat is eaten under 18 months.
The possibility of maternal transmission - from ewe to lamb - remains, but this is now regarded as unlikely in cattle and is presumably unlikely in sheep. The risk must be minute.
Meanwhile, the image of sheep meat is being harmed by scare stories emanating from the FSA, giving the French every opportunity to continue to retard the export of sheep meat to what was once our principal market.
The FSA's present posture may be understandable - but is it too much to expect a more balanced judgment?
From: Lord Vinson, London SW7"
June 18/19 ~ On the occasion of Mike German's taking over from Carwyn Jones
as Welsh minister of rural affairs, Mr Bob Parry acknowledged the work of Mr Jones during the foot and mouth crisis, saying he had "earned the respect of everyone in the countryside."
We beg to differ.
The Western Mail also tells us that, "Former Minister of Rural Affairs Carwyn Jones has been appointed Minister for Open Government and he will continue as business manager" Ah.
June 18/19 ~ "...I doubt Mr Gill will risk the cosy relationship he and the government seem to enjoy with the supermarkets simply to improve the relationship he does not enjoy with the paid up members..."
Farmers Weekly interactive says, "... south-west farmers accuse the NFU leadership team of not doing enough to tackle falling incomes, plummeting farmgate prices and job losses in the industry. The campaign will get underway on Tuesday (18 June) at a forum organised by Weston-super-Mare dairy farmer Derek Mead, Somerset NFU council representative. Speakers at the forum include veteran farmer protester Richard Haddock, Terry Bayliss, director of the Farmers First, Somerset MEP Neil Paris (sic) and Mr Mead.
Mr Mead has challenged Mr Gill to take on the supermarkets, which he says flood the market with cheap imports while UK producers cannot sell their own goods.
"However, I doubt Mr Gill will risk the cosy relationship he and the government seem to enjoy with the supermarkets simply to improve the relationship he does not enjoy with the paid up members of the union he leads," said Mr Mead.
Two years ago, Mr Mead featured prominently in a campaign calling for one-member one-vote in the NFU."
As far as FMD is concerned - what a tragic mistake it has been for livestock farmers to have such a thoroughly undemocratic union heirarchy strutting about, telling the government what to do as if it were speaking for them.
June 18/19 ~ "Raging at the leader, we miss the elephant, on which he is but a passing gnat"
In an article The snooper's law proves government can't be trusted Hugo Young in the Guardian concludes, "".... A natural ambition of the machine is to have access to all information about every citizen, which electronic storage makes possible if the right legislative framework is provided. The extended Ripa helps make that framework. This prospect seems rather more central - more revolutionary, bold and sinister - to the life of Britain than the question of whether we see Alastair Campbell as a bigger liar than the editor of the Daily Mail. Yet the same level of indignation somehow eludes it. Raging at the leader, we miss the elephant, on which he is but a passing gnat."
June 18/19 ~ the corporate lobby groups, .... are becoming wildly rich at public expense
George Monbiot, writing in the Guardian, has made "nine serious and specific charges of public fraud and false accounting, commissioned and directed by the Treasury. So, as there is no other means of holding the government to account on this issue, let it take the form of a challenge. If these charges are false, I would appeal to the chancellor to repudiate them, preferably on these pages. If he fails to do so, readers should conclude that he has no defence to offer. " Watch this space www.monbiot.com
June 18 ~ "Despite the climbdown on these changes, a committee of MPs is debating separate prosposals for the interception of live telephone and internet communications,
which is also contained in the RIPA act...
Service providers have agreed to work with the security services to provide access to electronic communications. ." says this BBC report
As with the SI 843 that sneaked in the day after the Animal Health Bill had been thrown out by the House of Lords, a "postponement" can always be got round quickly and quietly while deluded campaigners rejoice at an apparent victory for common sense. We are not reassured.
June 18 ~ Another way for the government to justify taking land away from farmers
According to a Times report today (see Spin Alert) , "The Environment Agency says that far more farmers should be fined for causing pollution and is calling for on-the-spot penalties and special taxes to encourage them to use fewer pesticides. In its report, entitled Agriculture and Natural Resources, it suggests that bad farmers should be named in trade newspapers and calls on the Government to consider buying land from farmers for the benefit of the public and the environment."
June 18 ~ Ecuador is to vaccinate in new foot-and-mouth outbreak
From Alert.net News "QUITO, Ecuador, June 17 (Reuters) - Ecuador on Monday declared a sanitary emergency in five towns west of Quito over an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease and quarantined the area to prevent its spread.
The move prohibits cattle farmers from removing herds from areas affected by the disease, and calls for an immediate vaccination program for the five towns....."
June 18 ~ Yet another "lost" document as No 10 says, 'We haven't got the Black Rod memo'
Another "lost document" seems to be saving the government's blushes. We are still pondering the odd case of the letter dated April 4th faxed from DEFRA on June 13th in answer to Devon County Council's two requests, sent in early March, for a meeting about Ash Moor pit (Elliot Morley in a parliamentary answer of 10th June three days before the reply, dated April 4th was faxed, said "We have no record of receipt of these letters") It is strange that DEFRA told Mr Morley there was no record of them and stranger still that three days later a reply dated April 4th to those very requests should have been faxed to Devon Council - who had said they'd never seen it before
Then there is the letter and questions from Professor Thomas of the Cumbria Inquiry, sent to DEFRA on May 8th, which has still received no reply. Then the Welsh Assembly announces that it asked the Temporary Committee if they would like a meeting but no reply has been received (see below)
Now - unbelievably - Downing Street says it does not have a copy of the controversial memo from Black Rod The Guardian reports the No 10 spokesman, "In an effort to draw a line under the row which dominated political debate last week", as saying that "putting the memo into the public domain was 'entirely a matter for Black Rod'."
"He added: 'I think if we were to indicate any opinion it would be interpreted as us telling Black Rod what to do.'
The document, according to leaks at the weekend, is said to contradict Downing Street's claim that it did not put pressure on Black Rod to enhance the prime minister's role at the Queen Mother's funeral. ....... "We do not have the memo. I'm not aware of anyone having seen it." Referring to the row generally, the spokesman added: 'There are clearly different interpretations and that's very regrettable.'........"
June 18 ~ Breathing space over the Snooping Bill
The Telegraph, whose reporting on this matter has been excellent, says, "Ministers were in full retreat last night over plans to give more public bodies powers to "snoop" on private communications, including emails and mobile telephone calls.
David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, pulled the plug on a debate after being warned that his proposals faced defeat in the Lords and a rebellion by Labour MPs who fear the new legislation poses a threat to civil liberties.
A draft order extending the reach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to include local councils and government quangos was withdrawn at the last minute and will be considered on the Commons floor next Monday." So there will now at least be a proper debate on the flooor of the House of Commons. The Home Office has blamed "parliamentary procedures" for the postponement - but Labour is aware that another defeat in the House of Lords on the issue of personal freedom will be damaging and even Labour MPs seem aware that this legislation, allowing bodies such as the Food Standards Agency the right to use surveillance, is one Orwellian step too far. Lord Strathclyde has urged that Tony Blair at his open press conference on Thursday should promise that the proposals will be withdrawn.
Poor old Bob Ainsworth, the Home Office minister, is left saying implausably: "It is in no way a snoopers' charter for exactly the reasons we are bringing this in - to provide safeguard and guidance as to when people can get information and when they cannot."
June 18 ~ Not invited? Or does Carwyn Jones really think Welshpool market an "inappropriate setting" for him?
Mr Jones is not to give evidence to the Temporary Committee during its visit to Wales this week. According to the Western Mail, Eurig Wyn MEP said, "It would have been a perfect platform for him to defend his handling of the crisis in Wales last year."
A National Assembly spokeswoman said Mr Jones would not be attending because he had not been invited to do so. He would instead be giving evidence to the committee in Strasbourg next month. Also, the setting of the visit - including Welshpool livestock market and Sennybridge Disposal Site - would "not be an appropriate setting to give formal Government evidence". (see news pages)
So Carwyn Jones will be giving evidence in Strasburg on July 2nd but not in Wales. Many people in Wales would be interested in hearing him explain why animals on 810 farms were culled whilst only 61 had positive blood tests. Mr JOnes has said that Welsh Assembly officials wrote to the foot-and-mouth inquiry team asking if they would like a meeting but no reply has been received.
There seems to have been a spate of missing letters and replies lately.
June 18 ~ Flooding the Fens
This email has been received and its contents noted with humility. To its writer we would only ask that our cynicism, born of a dawning sadness at the political agenda we seem to detect in so many of our formerly loved institutions, be forgiven. After the horror of FMD we no longer take anything at face value: Extract from the email:
"Please don't knock the RSPB scheme to recreate an area of natural fen in Cambs! This is in no way comparable to taking sheep off the Fells. While sheep have long been part of a diverse and dynamic eco-system on the hills, farming in the Fens (mostly arable monoculture) is at the expense of almost everything that moves (or flowers) and we desperately need a bit more bio-diversity here! ......For once, someone has had a good idea."(more)
June 18 ~ Ben Gill facing a serious challenge at last?
The egregious leader of the NFU would appear to be facing a revolt. Valerie Elliot in the Times says: "Mr Gill is now facing the wrath of livestock and dairy farmers....." We wait with interest for more news about this from someone who understands farmers and the nature of the NFU.
June 17 ~ DEFRA has still not replied to the questions put to them by the Cumbria FMD Inquiry.
Nick Green writes, " I note, with ever increasing agitation, that Mrs Beckett, ...... has failed to acknowledge the questions posed in a letter by the Cumbrian FMD Inquiry Team. The team chaired by Prof. Phil Thomas sent the questions and a covering letter on 8th May 2002. Rumours abound; not least the one that suggests that DEFRA have not received them...."
".....Does Mr Morley assume we...will continue to swallow this garbage without comment? As journalist Mr Simon Heffer recorded recently in reference to previous government lies, "This is not so much a culture of lies as one of insanity." (see Nick Green's letter)
June 17 ~ It seems to be up to the House of Lords to protect us yet again
A letter from Lord Strathclyde in today's Telegraph : ".....What may exceptionally be justified for the security services and police in the war against terrorism is not justifiable for the Food Standards Agency or your local council."
"Boris Johnson (Opinion, June 13) has called on the Commons to block these powers on Tuesday. I hope they do. But, if they do not, the House of Lords, which greatly restricted the Government's original ambitions on this Act, must be ready once again to protect the rights of individuals and to stand for a sense of proportion and natural justice."
June 17 ~ The RSPB, a society once held in esteem for its work in protecting birds,
says it wants to flood the fens, cover the hills of the Lake District with trees and reintroduce the beaver and wolf. See Spinalert today for the article in The Times which tells us what a good thing this will be and how those who argue that the well loved uplands need grazing sheep are "swimming against the tide of history and public opinion" (The public opinion it cites would appear to be that - of ten people in the Fens (handy birdwatchers?) chosen to ask "almost" nine out of ten said they approved the RSPB scheme. A similar article, again in the Times tells us that "only a few farmers", oppose it. )
We are finding it increasingly odd and sinister that all the once benign British societies we can think of preceded by the word "Royal" now seem to be driven by covert politicial ambition. (Elliot Morley's links with the RSPB may, of course, be purely incidental)
That so many sheep have been and are being removed from the landscape because of "disease control" is already, (leaving aside the economic and emotional consequences for the farmers and their stock), resulting in swathes of gorse and bracken.
Is this the ground considered suitable for the brave new deciduous forests?
Following the scheme of the RSPB would allow Britain to fulfil its Kyoto promises - and the propaganda war to get the population to accept this willingly is now on. It would appear to be "for the birds" in only one very limited sense.
June 16 ~ The strange case of the missing DEFRA letter
DEFRA has faxed a copy of a letter from Elliot Morley to the Devon Council - dated April 4 - in which he allegedly responded to council requests for a meeting about the future of the Ash Moor Pit. This giant £5.6 million site, near Petrockstow in Devon, was built in spite of fierce local opposition at the height of the foot and mouth crisis. It was designed to take up to 400,000 carcasses. It has - so far - not been used, and is being retained for "unknown purposes".
Mr Morley said in the letter (dated April 4th and not apparently received by Devon Council) "I would be happy to meet with a small delegation of representatives from Devon County Council and local residents to discuss issues relating to the Ash Moor site."
The council has no record of the letter being received.
The sending of this fax is reported inWestern Morning News However, in Hansard for 10th June 2002, we read:
"Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letters sent to her on 12 and 21 March written on behalf of Devon County Council regarding the reinstatement of the Ash Moor mass burial site, the Ascott Farm pyre and holding site and the intended holding site at Westlake Farm. 
Mr. Morley: We have no record of receipt of these letters and have therefore been unable to trace them. If copies of the letters could be sent to the Department, we will of course respond to the hon. Member as soon as possible. "
Odd. How could there be a letter of April 4th responding to a request which DEFRA "was unable to trace"?
June 16 ~ Krebs, the Food Standards Agency and the end of the sheep industry
If John Krebs and his colleagues had set out to ruin sheepfarming in Britain they could hardly have behaved in a way more likely to achieve this goal. It was Krebs(appointed to his post at the Food Standards Agency with the help of David Byrne) who was instrumental in manouvering Roy Anderson into a position where the contiguous cull advocated by his model could be accepted and which was to wipe out literally millions of sheep. It was SEAC that raised the thin but powerful spectre of BSE in sheep and now the FSA presses for a European Union-wide ban on making sausage skins from lamb's intestines, a practice that is 2,000 years old.
Christopher Booker, writing in today's Sunday Telegraph, says "....This move is the latest twist in the FSA's bizarre campaign to find a link between sheep and BSE, for which, despite 10 years of research, there is still no shred of evidence. What makes this yet more bizarre is that the recommendation rubber-stamped by the meeting of the FSA board in Armagh last Thursday came from a "stakeholders' committee", headed by Sir John himself and including four other members of his staff, that did not even let the industry affected know what it was up to until the last minute. ..."
June 16 ~ Paris plans to ban imports of lambs over six months old unless the spinal cord is removed "to protect public health".
David Harrison, writing in today's Sunday Telegraph says, "France has provoked outrage among British farmers and government ministers by effectively halting imports of lamb from this country.
The French government, which still bans British beef in defiance of European law, is to order new measures against British lamb from July 1, citing concerns over BSE-type brain disease in sheep.
British farmers' leaders say that the new curbs will have a devastating effect on sheep farms, forcing many out of business, just as they start to recover from the horrors of last year's foot and mouth epidemic.
The European Commission says that there is no scientific basis for the action and has threatened to take France to the European Court if it goes ahead. .......
Almost all the British lambs sold to France are between six and 12 months old. Before last year's foot and mouth outbreak, the French bought about £120 million of British lamb a year - constituting 70 per cent of the total of this country's lamb exports."
The French are quick to protect their own...their own what remains to be seen. Is this really concern that their population will all fall victim to vCJD ( NO LINK with the eating of meat has ever been established, nor has BSE in sheep ever been found in natural conditions - as was shown in a recent french television documentary) Concern for their own livestock industry seems more likely.
June 16 ~ The leading regional farming newspaper "South West Farmer" carries a report on the National Scrapie Plan in its June edition that makes it sound like a good idea without any drawbacks. So the tireless (thank heaven) Alan Beat writes another letter
Extract: "Your report on the National Scrapie Plan in the June issue (page 5) informs us that "the process is very simple", and that "fears that other valuable, even essential traits will be lost . . .appear to be groundless". However, scientific evidence does not support these claims.
Here are some relevant extracts from a report issued recently by Rare Breeds International:
# selection for the ARR "scrapie-resistant' allele in sheep could lead to the extinction of some native breeds of special genetic importance
# Rare Breeds International recognises 31 native breeds of sheep of special genetic importance in UK, and at least 9 of these would be at serious risk because of their low frequency of the ARR allele.
# Breeds particularly at risk include the genetically-distinct Northern Short-Tailed group of breeds, the high-performance Marsh breeds, and the environmentally-important Mountain breeds.
# In several breeds the commercial superiority of non-ARR genotypes has been noted.
It is significant that the government has just adopted sweeping new powers, without parliamentary debate, using Satutory Instrument 843 to drive forward the compulsory acceleration of the National Scrapie Plan..... ..there is some laboratory evidence that animals with a scrapie-susceptible genotype may actually be more resistant to BSE infection.
The inescapable conclusion is that, at present, there is insufficient scientific knowledge to safely proceed with any move to eliminate scrapie-resistant genotypes from the national flock." (See full letter)
June 15 ~ Don't incinerate - vaccinate.
From Hansard Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much meat and bonemeal was generated as a result of the foot and mouth disposal process; how much of this is stored; and at what (a) locations and (b) cost. 
Mr. Morley: 42,289 tonnes of meat and bonemeal was produced from animals killed and rendered under the FMD and associated Welfare Disposal Scheme culls. This material is currently stored at two sites (one in Lincolnshire the other in Devon) pending incineration capacity becoming available later this year. Storage costs are approximately £17,500 per week (excluding VAT). ......
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much coal and timber was recovered unused from foot and mouth operations and how much (a) was resold, (b) was landfilled and (c) is still stored. 
Mr. Morley: 11,500 tonnes of coal have been recovered unused from foot and mouth operations by the Government's Disposal Services Agency. This has been resold. Approximately 51,500 railway sleepers and 2,650 tonnes of wood have been resold. 616 tonnes of sleepers and wood have been sent to landfill.......
In response to this latest example of waste Mr Alan Beat has written a letter
Extract: "It requires the most prejudiced mindset to deny the convincing success of the Uruguay control policy. This so-called "third-world" country extinguished a widely-dispersed epidemic, similar in all main respects to the UK pattern, within four months from first to last case, and began re-exporting a further two months later. Both slaughter and costs were minimal, and insignificant by comparison to the UK. Note especially that the close proximity of a fully-susceptible sheep population to the cattle did not influence the course of the epidemic, and that even infected premises were not slaughtered out after the first week! Quarantine, vaccination and movement restriction were sufficient measures to eliminate the disease.
Mass slaughter simply cannot be justified against these facts.
June 15 ~ Blaze destroys meat factory
reports the BBC "The single-storey building was engulfed by fire A meat processing factory in Carmarthenshire had to be evacuated when the site caught fire late on Wednesday night. ...Ranges include Welsh branded beef, lamb and organic meat...."
And this is how an email from a respected correspondent described the same incident...
"The Cross Hands plant in Carmarthen burnt to the ground last night. (12 June) Arson is suspected. You will recall that this plant was 'staked out' by Farmers for Action some time ago. Larry Goodman denied that Irish pig meat was being processed throught the plant, FFA caught the lorries unloading during the night. All the meat was stamped British - as usual. 169 men out of a job and now Larry only has 89 plants left ...."
And further comment from another emailer: ".....one of the problems - things that are legal but not very nice are getting confused with things that are illegal. The first can only be attacked politically, the second by the police or HMC&E. The FFA get very confused, as do the NFU on occasion ..."
June 15 ~ Tesco decides not to apologise.
The AGM of Tesco Plc was held in London on Friday June 14th. ...
A shareholder questioned the Chairman about the selling of Tesco's finest premium own label chicken with false labels. ... these chicken had been falsely labelled as being of the RSPCA Freedom Food Standard, when in fact they were not of that standard. The shareholder quoted from Tesco's Corporate Social Responsibility Review , which states-: "We will continue to communicate honestly and clearly to our customers about the animal welfare standards under which our food is produced"
The Chairman was invited to apologise to all the customers who had been deceived when buying these chicken, he was also invited to apologise to the RSPCA and its members, whose name and standard had been abused for six months and he was also invited to apologise to those farmers who produce food to the RSPCA Freedom Food Standard and whose work has been undermined by Tesco's actions.
The Chairman declined to apologise, stating that it was not Tesco's fault, but the fault of the supplier, Moy Park, from whom it still buys chicken. .
The Chairman was reminded that Tesco claims to have full traceabiliy on all of its meat and it was suggested that this claim was exposed as being untrue. He was again invited to apologise, but again he declined." (email received from someone attending the meeting.)
We feel that TESCO were very wrong not to accept responsibility for this. We shall not, in future, be shopping in Tesco - whereas if TESCO had accepted responsibility and had apologised we would have felt very reassured. Similarly, had the government, particularly Mr Blair, accepted responsibility for the unholy mess that was made in the FMD crisis we would, in spite of everything, feel a modicum of respect for them. As it is, we agree with Robin Cook in his scathing attack on government spin, that the honesty shown by Mr John Smith has no echo in today's Labour party.
June 14 ~David Lidington Member of Parliament for Aylesbury, who succeeds Peter Ainsworth as Shadow Defra spokesman
described the T-shirt incident below as a "breach of basic human right of expression". We are rather cheered by Mr Lidington's appointment. He has been described, by Andrew Roth in The Guardian, as a "highly intelligent, civilised and articulate young politician". What remains to be seen is whether or not he can be sufficiently au fait with the complicated briefs he will be receiving to make an adequate successor to Mr Ainsworth - and whether he can get to grips with the tough reality of the European Union question and not confuse the rightness of wishing to cooperate with European partners with the wrongness of colluding blindly with the destructive centralising policies of an unelected and undemocratic European Commission. (At present he has been described both as a "mild eurosceptic" and a "soft europhile".) We wish him well.
June 14 ~ You can't wear that T-shirt here
A news story by Robert Uhlig, Farming Correspondent of the Telegraph seems horribly to sum up with way things are going in farming and in Britain generally. Since when has it been an offence, worthy of police intervention, to wear a t-shirt carrying a slogan?
"The Government was accused last night of gagging peaceful protest after two farmers at an agricultural show were forced to remove T-shirts carrying slogans.
Mark and Gary Prescott, both fourth generation pig farmers, were wearing shirts carrying benign protest slogans against the Government ban of pig swill at the Pig and Poultry Fair last month but were ordered to remove them by police after the intervention of Government officials....."
June 13 ~ The EU MEP Visit. Press Release
"During the four-day fact-finding visit, the delegation will hold talks with farmers, vets, rural business owners and local politicians. A number of public meetings are also planned (see this page on warmwell for draft programme)
The European Parliament's committee has already paid visits to the North of England and the Scottish Borders, and to the Netherlands as part of its year-long investigation. It is expected that the Committee's findings, which will be put together by German MEP Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler, will be presented to the European Parliament in November 2002.
MEPs taking part in the visit include: British MEPs Gordon Adam (North East), Nick Clegg (East Midlands), Jonathan Evans (Wales), Caroline Lucas (South East), Michael Holmes (South West), Neil Parish (South West), Robert Sturdy (Eastern), Eurig Wyn (Wales); Dutch MEPs Albert Jan Maat and Jan Mulder; and German MEP Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler." See press release
June 13 ~ Peter Ainsworth has resigned as Shadow DEFRA spokesman
We read with regret in today's Telegraph that "Peter Ainsworth resigned yesterday as Tory spokesman on environment, food and rural affairs .....
Mr Ainsworth, 45, the MP for East Surrey and a father-of-three, said he had to put his family first as his wife, Claire, began chemotherapy treatment."
Mr Ainsworth has been tireless, in our opinion, in trying to put right some of the wrongs of the MAFF/DEFRA department and government incompetence in the handling of the foot and mouth crisis. He has called for a public inquiry many times, not for mere party political reasons but because he genuinely seems to share our concern that a great and tragic error was committed that must not be allowed to occur again. We are very grateful to Mr Ainsworth and feel very sorry that we are losing from the front bench a politician rare in integrity, humour and intelligence. It is a loss.
....."I have asked Mr Duncan Smith to let me stand down from the shadow cabinet with immediate effect," he said. "Although this has not been an easy decision to reach, the reason is straightforward..." continues the Telegraph report. "Mr Ainsworth married Claire in 1981 and they have one son and two daughters. He entered the Commons in 1992 and was a Conservative whip during John Major's administration."
June 13 ~ 500 conventional farms have been closed as fear of tainted wheat spreads
German officials have shut down a quarter of the farms in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania after they discovered that a conventional farm also received a supply of wheat from a warehouse where a banned herbicide was once stored. A cereals supplier in the eastern town of Malchin who was in the process of converting his operations to organic from conventional methods had delivered 72 tonnes of tainted wheat to an animal feed works. Officials found 7 million times the acceptable level of the herbicide nitrofen in the warehouse. There, the contaminated wheat was mixed into about 50,000 tonnes of conventional feed. See news pages
June 13 ~ "Every industry has to reinvest to survive and prosper. British farmers are not able to do this at present."
"Sir, Mr Nick Elsley (letter, June 8) complains from North London that British farmers have not been able to produce what people want at competitive prices. This is far too sweeping a statement. .......The supermarkets have commandeered market share and snatched most of the profit margin..
Local produce sold locally through market stalls, corner shops and farmers' markets are a better bet for Elsley. If he went out into the countryside he could buy fresh produce from farm shops and village stores; enjoy the beautiful landscape and well-kept farms, and forget, for once, the seductive and over-hyped supermarkets. He could also forget that British farming does benefit from some subsidies, just like all other EU countries, Japan, Switzerland and, of course, our great ally and trading partner, the United States of America, where Congress has just voted over £12 billion per year in subsidies to its farmers.
KEITH McDOUGALL (Vice-President, National Sheep Association)
Sir, Agriculture is not like any other industry; it is unique in producing the one commodity that we cannot live without. It is unlikely that we will ever face another U-boat threat, but for strategic economic and defence reasons we (and indeed every country) should seek as far as possible to be self-sufficient in staple foodstuffs. Failure to do so offers too many political and economic hostages to fortune; nor can Mother Nature be relied upon to meet global demand in any given year.
In this context, domestic agriculture could not be competitive in the conventional sense; but sensibly designed subsidies could ensure farming which is efficient and gives value for money.
Yours sincerely, D. BARTON,
Sir, I saw in a supermarket in Argyll, at the height of the British asparagus season, packs of asparagus tips from Thailand.
Yours faithfully, ANTHONY MAYNARD,
Letters in today's Times
June 12 ~ From "Yesterday in Parliament": Foot and Mouth
From the Guardian's Yesterday in Parliament. "More than 40,000 tonnes of meat from animals slaughtered during the foot and mouth outbreak is being stored by the government at a cost of £17,500 a week, animal health minister Elliot Morley disclosed. He said 42,289 tonnes of meat and bonemeal was produced from animals killed and rendered under culls forced by last year's crisis.
Costs of a burial site for livestock slaughtered during the foot-and-mouth outbreak are estimated at about £22.6m, Mr Morley said. Lastest figures showed £15.3m had been spent buying the site in Throckmorton, Worcestershire and establishing the burial facility. A further £3.3m was budgeted to pay for leachate removal, site remediation, landscaping and other essential works, with on-going management and monitoring set to cost £4m over the next 10 to 15 years. "
June 12 ~ We learned no lessons from the 1967 crisis, it seems
This letter from Captain Wayt shows how very different things were at MAFF back in the 60s. "Look at what MAFF's attitude was back in 1967 !
Take a guess at the outcome of having two cows that were on the same farm as the FMD diseased pigs that started the affair; consider also that these two cattle were moved to market before the farm was officially declared an Infected Place. Also be aware the two cattle were present with 1,963 other cattle in that market (who were free from disease) and that the two cattle were later moved back to the now officially declared FMD hit farm.
One would never guess MAFF officials would allow those 1,963 cattle to survive........... not even be placed under a "contiguous cull" order/warrant/classification...........or that they were "Dangerous Contacts"...........or Slaughter on Suspicion cases...........would you ?
Well back in 1967 the MAFF and the Vets on scene, and fully aware of what those two cattle went through did not kill those other animals in that market, even though they knew the FULL circumstances. Was that the correct decision ? The Northumberland Inquiry tells us, "None of the animals that had been in the market developed foot-and-mouth disease as a result of contact with animals from Bryn Farm."
June 12 ~ Throckmorton misery is costing 22 million pounds
According to the BBC report Throckmorton's burial pit cost could reach £22m "Monitoring at the burial site is to continue for 20 years.... Campaigners against the site, at Throckmorton in Worcestershire, claim the high costs indicate a continued blight on the area. A total of 133,000 animal carcasses were buried at nine pits dug at the old airfield site during last year's foot-and-mouth outbreak. Experts have already predicted that the burial ground will need to be monitored for up to 20 years to check for leakage. The government revealed the costs after being asked by the Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire Peter Luff. The government announced last month that the former airbase would be used as a centre for asylum seekers. Mr Luff said: "There are dangers of environmental pollution, which are more real than perhaps we were led to believe. "It does put into account the demands of residents who can't sell their houses because of the existence of the burial site and the proposed asylum accommodation centre."
The Minister for Animal Health, Elliot Morley, revealed that £15.3m had been spent buying the site and establishing the burial facility. A further £3.3m was budgeted to pay for work on the site. Management and monitoring over the next 10 to 15 years will cost £4m, the minister said. "
June 11/12 ~"The UK Government blindly defended its contiguous cull policy throughout the crisis, and still does, stating it to be the approach that left most animals alive...."
"But when you consider that out of 810 farms taken out in Wales, only 61 had positive blood tests, this policy has to be questioned. .." says an excellent article in The Western Mail today.
We would state it even more dramatically. By multiplying the average number of animals killed per IP: (650) by the number of laboratory confirmed IPs: (1324) one arrives at the total 860,600 . Only these animals - or rather only some of them since their whole flock or herd companions were killed too - can be proved by lab tests really to have had foot and mouth. 860,600 out of how many million? DEFRA may still be hoping that 4 million will be believed to be the total killed " as a result of foot and mouth" but it would appear that the EU committee are accepting that even eleven million is only a conservative estimate.
That so many million healthy animals were killed - taken out as part of the contiguous cull around premises subsequently shown to have been wrongly diagnosed - demands an answer to the question - "in that case, why is the contiguous cull still being applauded as a great success by those who ignored the experts and forced its adoption?" For how much longer must we listen to the Kings, the Whittys and the Andersons congratulating themselves?
June 11/12 ~ If the non-veterinary scientists could only grapple with the significance of the FAILED slaughter targets, transmission of this strain of FMD and the significance of incubation times, we might get somewhere towards getting them to see that the contiguous cull was a tragic nonsense.
In the first 4 weeks of the crisis 10% only of IPs were culled within the target time of 24 hours (PQ5479)
Commentators don't seem to understand that a) the graph that appeared to be rising steeply and which justified "draconian measures" was very probably showing not new outbreaks from farm to farm spread, but newly discovered "old" cases that had been slowly incubating in sheep and rippling through the flock undetected. "New" outbreaks were not popping up unaccountably or spreading farm to farm out of control; they were incubating already and appearing as a result of their pre ban links with source infection.
b) As a result of the great delays in slaughter that Nick Brown admitted were a real problem, some may well have been being infected where infected cattle were not yet culled and were thus producing vast amounts of virus - a problem that would have been solved by using manpower properly and slaughtering within 24 hours rather than ignoring the problem and trying to kill more and more with fewer and fewer personel - with even greater delays .
c) When delays allow cattle to develop full blown FMD the lesions produce 100,000 to 500,000 times more virus. Delay is of crucial importance - yet it became worse and worse because they were wasting their time following a contiguous cull policy killing healthy animals. The modellers seemed to think that FMD was spreading out of control like some kind of forest fire and that this therefore necessitated "firebreaks" in the form of contiguous culls. FMD does not spread like that.
June 11/12 No Lessons can be Learned until the source of infection is identified for each IP (and 88% are still not identified)
When commentators such as Mark Woolhouse claim that "50% of new cases turned up in the immediate neighbourhood of previous cases." - and uses that statement to justify the frenzy of killing - those who accept this forget that, when considering the delay in slaughter times, the actual behaviour of the virus (Dr Donaldson's papers were ignored) and the fact that disease was incubating from contacts made before the movement ban came into operation (and no one is sure when the first cases were in Britain), even as many as 50% of the supposed "new" cases around IPs does not prove that the IPs were the "source". We can learn nothing of value about the whole sorry affair until the data is made public so that we see where the disease really was.
June 11 ~The BBC film In the Shadow"(BBC2 Scotland) not shown nationwide
in spite of the effforts of many to try to persuade the BBC that it was in the public interest that it should be, can now apparently be purchased. This is not what we had hoped for - but the film is nevertheless worth watching. See email just received.
June 11 ~"H M Government refused a Public Inquiry into FMD, which would have exposed the truth, including the origins of FMD,
but it blames the recent outbreak of FMD on waste food from imported meat arriving from countries where FMD is present. If imported infected meat was the culprit, why does it still allow such imports and why does it allow infected meat to lie exposed in landfill sites such as at John Acres Lane, Kingsteignton, Devon?
H M Government closed , WITHOUT COMPENSATION, the highly regulated food recycling plants which were cooking waste food and feeding it to pigs. As a result of this action, much of this food is ending up in landfill sites. This food is adding to the loading of these sites and is contrary to H M Government's International commitments to reduce volumes going to landfill. .." writes Robert Persey in this press release.
June 11 ~ "...the public want to know the facts, people want to know what the scientific advice is in full,
and they need to know that the public interest has always come first. They want to know if there was a relaxation of regulations which resulted in public safety being compromised...the whole sorry saga of how this matter has been handled has resulted in loss of public trust in government...The only way to begin to restore people's trust is therefore to be completely open about what the risks are."
Tony Blair, talking about the Conservative Government's handling of BSE, at the 1996 Campaign for Freedom of Information annual awards, 25th March.
June 11 ~ The Food Standards Agency (among others) to have powers to demand the communications records of every British telephone and internet user. Privacy rights swept aside.
Stuart Millar, technology correspondent of The Guardian writes today," Ministers were last night accused of conducting a systematic campaign to undermine the right to privacy as it emerged that a host of government departments, local councils and quangos are to be given the power to demand the communications records of every British telephone and internet user.
A draft order to be debated by MPs next Tuesday reveals that ministers want the list of organisations empowered to demand communications data to be expanded to include seven Whitehall departments, every local authority in the country, NHS bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and 11 other public bodies ranging from the postal services commission to the food standards agency. Until now, the list included only police forces, the intelligence services, customs and excise and the inland revenue...."
This is arrogant centralisation run completely mad. Why should government departments, who are themselves permeated with a culture of secrecy and paranoia, be permitted to pry into all aspects of personal life while answering to no one? We do indeed live in strange times.
June 10/11 ~ EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TEMPORARY COMMITTEE ON FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE
Preliminary Draft Programme For the visit of a delegation of the temporary committee to Wales, Devon and Gloucestershire From Wednesday 19 June to Saturday 22 June 2002
June 10 ~ "If anyone wonders why the public gets paranoid about what commercial organisations are prepared to do to make a profit and has little faith in our governments' ability and willingness to protect us, they need only consider the implications of this snippet."
"GM is such an emotive area, the scientific realities so hard for most of us to understand, that if they wanted to write a play illustrating the potential dangers they should not have muddied the waters by turning it into a thriller at all " The Times' review by Paul Hoggart of the weekend's BBC thriller "Fields of Gold" (not to be confused with the wholly admirable Fields of Fire above) review seemed to us fair. Paul Hoggart begins by reminding us of Channel Four's Beef Encounter, a digest of the Phillips Report on the BSE crisis, shown in 2000 "..... one passing detail, I recall, briefly stopped the narrative in its tracks. A key government committee had been informed that a large proportion of abattoirs were simply ignoring the safety procedures that should have protected us from eating infected beef. The committee decided, it was reported, not to discuss this matter. No explanation. No justification. No further investigation.
If anyone wonders why the public gets paranoid about what commercial organisations are prepared to do to make a profit and has little faith in our governments' ability and willingness to protect us, they need only consider the implications of this snippet. " and then went on to say, " ... The writers mounted vigorous defences of their work, claiming that the reaction was a knee-jerk response prompted by a pro-GM industry lobby. Denials and counter-denials have been flying past like tennis balls (though it is likely that even this negative pre-publicity will have helped the ratings). I have now watched the drama twice. Having got past the annoyance of knowing that much of the science was inaccurate, if not downright ludicrous, I actually enjoyed it more the second time around."
On the other hand, we found the review by Matt Ridley in the Telegraph somewhat shrill. It called the programme "propaganda". More reasonable targets for the charge of propaganda would surely be the Bivings Group or the Science Media Centre , funded by the big bio-tech and GM companies, and which was launched in December to help "sceptical and impatient journalists" get their stories right.
June 10 ~ Support of Local Abattoirs
" This meeting urges HM Government to support existing small abattoirs and to promote the reestablishment of local abattoirs, in order to minimise stress to animals, reduce the risk and spread of disease, and encourage the availability of locally produced meat" was one of two resolutions passed overwhelmingly at the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) at their Intermediate General Meeting in Brighton on 6 June 2002. ( notes about the meeting) See also an article by Caroline Cranbrook about the importance for the British Countryside of a revitalised livestock industry. It concludes, "Government can facilitate recovery by implementing the recommendations of the Curry Report in full, by supporting the essential infrastructure of local abattoirs, by stopping unnecessary regulation and by ensuring major purchasers, such as the Armed Forces, hospitals, schools, local authorities and other institutions adopt procurement policies to buy British meat. The retailers can return to local sourcing."
June 9 ~ "I have been greatly concerned by the way in which some members of the profession conducted themselves during the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease"
and that I have been trying to persuade the College that it must offer its members protection against the power of the State when it acts unfairly, unethically or illegally.
Our members must be able to turn to their employers and say "if I do that, then I could be brought before the RCVS"
Sadly the College has chosen not to defend our members, but to side with those people who carried out the illegal culling policy last year.
The College in the form of the PIC has accepted the defence that: "Vets were observing DEFRA/MAFF policy current at the time and so there is no evidence that such conduct amounts to serious professional misconduct".
Some people might say that such a defence was rejected by a court in Germany more that 50 years ago. "
Roger Windsor. MBE. MA (Cantab), BSc (Edin) BVM&S, MRCVS. has resigned from the RCVS Disciplinary Committee. Full details from Farmtalking.org
June 9 ~"I thought the duty of the Chief Scientist's Group was to ensure that public funds get channelled into impartial research projects
which furthered the best interests of agriculture, animal health, food safety, human health, etc - NOT to protect the commercial interests of multinational corporations. It makes me wonder whose payroll these officials are really on...." Some startling correspondence, obtained via Data Protection by Mark Purdey, reveals some underhand dealing in the attempts made to stifle his research into BSE/CJD.
June 9 ~ "Missing words in the law let farm virus run rife"
From Booker's Notebook, Sunday Telegraph "A remarkable document supplied to the European Parliament's foot and mouth inquiry reveals highly embarrassing evidence as to why last year the British Government could not accept the advice of a battery of international experts to use vaccination to halt the epidemic within weeks.
Hidden away in documents given the inquiry by the agriculture minister, Lord Whitty, is an admission that, when ministry officials came to consider vaccination last year, they discovered that the Government did not have the power to order a vaccination programme, thanks to a blunder by civil servants 20 years earlier.
In 1981, when Parliament passed the Animal Health Act giving the Government powers to tackle animal diseases, civil servants copied out the relevant passage from the 1970 Agriculture Act, but forgot to include the crucial words providing powers of entry necessary to carry out a vaccination programme. This meant that, in 2001, compulsory vaccination had to be ruled out, because there would not have been time to rush through the necessary new Act.
This admission proved so embarrassing that Lord Whitty omitted the relevant page in documents made available to MPs and peers, although he included it in the 60 pages of answers to questions from the EU Parliament inquiry.
The discovery of this oversight also helps explain the Government's anxiety to force through its new Animal Health Bill, halted by the Lords in March. This of course included the powers which, if available in February 2001, might have saved the country £12 billion.
June 9 ~ Gorse and bracken spreading rapidly in the ungrazed Brecon Beacons
"grazed landscape is seriously under threat" it says on your site tonight, " writes Margaret. "Should we be surprised at this, bearing in mind that most of the millions of animals slaughtered last year were grazing animals? By the time DEFRA have followed through the scrapie plan, the whole countryside should be well on the way back to the dark ages.
A friend of mine who is an environmental botanist has been studying the effects of the lack of sheep on the Brecon Beacons and she told me that the gorse and bracken are spreading rapidly."
June 8/9 ~ ".. he jousted with farmers and the media through the foot and mouth crisis. "He was great to work for,"
We are still rubbing our eyes at this article in today's Guardian about Ruth Kelly, now financial secretary to the Treasury. One would be forgiven for mistaking it for page 3 of the Sun both for its tone and its vocabulary..." At just 34, Kelly is startlingly young to be a minister of state, and she admits she was "very surprised" to be called to Number 10, as Tony Blair seized the opportunity of Stephen Byers' ignominious resignation to bring forward a number of fresh-faced young ministers. Mostly though, she says she was just "thrilled". Although she won't take over Paul Boateng's portfolio as she steps into his shoes, she will be able to appoint her own parliamentary private secretary, and draw a minister of state's salary of almost £90,000. ......
Kelly's parliamentary career began as Labour finally broke into government after 18 long years of opposition - and she recalls her role in their landslide victory with obvious pride. "It was an absolutely wonderful experience," she smiles. ....
And although she doesn't fit the stereotype of a "Blair babe", arriving in parliament with a record number of women made it easier to settle in. "I had expected to be entering this male bastion, but 50% of the new backbench intake were women, and I made lots of friends."
In that first term, Kelly did a stint on the treasury select committee, scrutinising the activities of the department she now helps to run. She was then chosen by agriculture minister Nick Brown to be his PPS - a job which meant supporting him while he jousted with farmers and the media through the foot and mouth crisis. "He was great to work for," she recalls, and remembers admiring Nick Brown's willingness to walk right into groups of protesting farmers to discuss the issues with them face to face. "
We were not surprised to receive this sourly sceptical email from Pat Gardiner on the subject of Mr Nick Brown's "willingness" to meet farmers.
June 8/9 ~ The GM debate is highly relevant to the Foot and Mouth debate
because both are being denied proper debate or democratic scrutiny. Scientists should be socially, ethically and ecologically accountable. The big biotech and pharmaceutical companies are very powerful and are becoiming adept at discrediting those who question their ethics. If British scientists can only further their careers by protecting the vested interests of big business we are in trouble. As Alan Rushberger says in the article quoted below, "We have in this country a prime minister who dismisses sceptics about the new technologies as Luddites and a science minister with an extensive personal and financial interest (held in trust) in biotechnology." We have also a government that seems oddly desperate to see GM agriculture adopted in Britain and one that has stonewalled all attempts at getting a proper public inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis. Both issues underline the need - more urgent than ever before - to protect scientific independence, and to fund the kind of science that genuinely benefits society as a whole. "Horizontal gene transfer" doesn't quite trip off the tongue as easily as "feeding the world" in the debate on GM crops.. The BBC drama, Fields of Gold, being broadcast this weekend, portrays the health risks of GM crops. "It was subjected to astonishing attacks and vilification orchestrated from within the heart of the scientific establishment. Why? Because the drama suggests that antibiotic resistant genes could jump species from crops to animals and humans, leading to an outbreak of a "superbug". This is horizontal gene transfer, genes going across species barriers, a taboo subject among proponents of GM crops. But it does happen..." (See this article by Dr Mae-Wan Ho)
June 8/9 ~ "The latest advances in biotechnology are way beyond our comprehension"
"If Fields of Gold is making some people nervous it will be because it has taken the bare bones of the scientific predicament and projected it dramatically in a way which will - if it succeeds - engage a mass audience and make them question the issues behind it.
That is an alarming prospect for those who would rather have restricted this debate to a small elite. It explains why Monsanto was offered early copies of the drama and why people at the highest levels of government are known to be anxious about the fall-out.
And it explains why the Science Media Centre, extensively backed by the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, mimicked some of the clumsiest spin techniques of New Labour in trying to discredit it in advance. Viewers will make up their own minds after seeing both programmes. As a journalist straying for the first time from the printed word, it has been a fascinating illustration of the power of drama, even in prospect." (From the Guardian article by Fields of Gold co-author and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger)
June 8 ~ DEFRA, in the person of Mr David Mouat, hoped to convince the international FMD conference in Lyon that "most infected premises were culled within 24 hours and their associated contiguous and dangerous contact cases were then culled within 48 hours." (See below)
This was true of the 1967 outbreak but woefully untrue for 2001 - and it is inconceivable that Mr Mouat should not have known that. In 1967 for the epidemic as a whole 72% of IPs and dangerous contacts were slaughtered within 24 hrs and 97 % within 48 hrs. (What's more, in 1967 the classification of dangerous contacts was much tighter, and the number of premises culled far less.) In 2001 on the other hand, the answer toParliamentary Question 5479 shows just how far short of the target slaughter times fell. Figures were supplied for only 1444 of the IPs. Data is missing for 582 - when will it be forthcoming?. Very urgent and serious questions need to be asked now about the significance of the delays in slaughter, given the lack of Foot and Mouth experience of the modellers and Science Group and their subsequent actions in instigating the contiguous cull - a policy which seems now to have been as illegal, heartbreaking and horrifying as it was unnecessary.
June 8 ~ South.Korea's foot-and-mouth outbreak - vaccination to be "stepped -up"
The first case of a cow suffering from foot-and-mouth disease has been discovered and 135 cattle will be destroyed to try to contain the epidemic. As Reuters reports,"Previously, only pigs had been confirmed as having the highly contagious livestock disease.... The ministry has found 13 cases of foot-and-mouth in pigs and has killed around 117,000 cattle and pigs to try to contain the disease ...... 'We have received a report that a cow showed a similar symptom to foot-and-mouth disease yesterday and the tests showed the cow was positive,' a ministry official, Han Jong-hyun, said by telephone Sixty-nine cattle suspected of being infected were destroyed on Friday night and the rest of the 135 would be culled on Saturday, Han said. Affected farms, in the province of Ansung near the capital, Seoul, have all been within a 3 km radius of the first infected pig farm, ministry officials said.
During the World Cup, hundreds of thousands of tourists are criss-crossing the country to 10 venue cities.
Authorities will step up a vaccination programme and discuss further slaughters to contain the disease, officials said."
June 7 ~ An email from a British farmer observer of the Lyon conference on FMD last weekend
Extract: "... though it pains me to have to say it, the Britsh position was seen to be fatuous in the extreme (not least as DEFRA were seen to be incapable of presenting accurate Data to the World's policy makers, despite commitments to transparency and open information sharing -- which fact alone brought home the real costs of the policy --- abandonment of democratic decency, honesty and the rule of law - and for what?) I think it's safe to say that the pressure is really on for validation."
June 7 ~ "Slaughter of animals cannot remain the only answer to these serious diseases, particularly when, as in the case of scrapie, they have no effect on human health."
The Honest Food Report of the core stakeholder group on BSE and sheep ".....We are disturbed by the proposed campaign of warnings and messages that will be based on vague scientific knowledge and, as the report says several times, no evidence of disease, but which can start a certain panic in consumers. This could be particularly true of parents of babies and young children, who are necessarily more anxious. It is true the vCJD has more often struck down young people and is, therefore, a particularly tragic disease. It is also true that vCJD is "100% unacceptable to the family concerned " (does this mean that other diseases that strike down children and young people or accidents that kill them are in some way acceptable to families?). However, it is also true that a theoretical risk does not kill. What will be achieved by vaguely worded warnings that will, nevertheless, disturb people without having any basis in scientific evidence?
We are also disturbed by the proposed removal of sheep intestine from the food chain. As it is clear from the report, there is no need for this - this is action for the sake of action. However, as mentioned above, action on the basis of theoretical risk can result in practical hardship, in this case to specialist producers, whose businesses depend on availability of sheep intestine. "
June 6/7 ~ The change in the rules for the regaining of FMD free status, so quietly brought in last week by the OIE, is cause for at least two cheers.
It is a fairly major step. We now have a 3 month wait for Disease Free Status after "stamping out" - so the difference between vaccination and stamping out has been reduced from a 9 months to a 3 months difference.
This really demonstrates that there is no reason for there to be any difference at all.
Is not killing animals when there is a vaccine available grotesque? Who can argue that it is not?
What is needed now is that the UK and EU get on and validate and authorise the use of the specific vaccines and NSP tests so that vaccination can be adopted. And for some reason this just hasn't been done.
Why is the political will and the necessary funding and resources not forthcoming? Once again we are left wondering about motives. Warmwell would gladly publish any valid scientific or veterinary reason for the delay in validation. Indeed, we challenge anyone to produce a valid reason. Please do tell us what it can possibly be.
June 6 ~ Can our Members of Parliament really be so ill-informed?
Here is part of an email sent by a blandly reassuring MP and received by a constituent who is now more worried than ever to see how little her MP understands....
"The TSE (England) Regulations 2002 were introduced on 19th April, 2002 to bring us in line with current EU requirements which came into force last year for the protection of human and animal health and specifically to eliminate BSE. The Regulations were debated in the House of Lords on 15th May, 2002. There were amendments agreed resulting in the TSE (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 which came into force on 27th May, 2002. These include an undertaking by the Government that representations can be made against a notice of intended slaughter of animals....."How many more of our elected public servants are unaware that the Statutary Instrument does NOT "bring us in line with current EU requirements"? It goes much further than the EU regulation, which only speaks of the need to monitor animals suspected of having TSE or suspected of having been in contact with TSE The UK statutory instrument, on the other hand, refers repeatedly to "TSE susceptible" animals. There is no known test for TSE on living animals; all those deemed to be susceptible (i.e. virtually all animals) would have to be slaughtered. The inspectors thus acquire very extensive powers and there is virtually no appeal for the farmer or animal owner. Powers of entry given to inspectors were exactly the ones in the Animal Health Bill that so alarmed us and so alarmed the House of Lords that they caused the Bill to be thrown out. (See Dr Helen Szamuely's paper on the Statutory Instrument.) Our Members of Parliament appear to have been as badly hoodwinked as the media and the animal owners themselves. The seriousness of this however should not be underestimated - and the failure of so many MPs to read the small print gives cause for grave concern.
June 6 ~ "Agriculture is an essential core industry to Britain, which this Government is hell-bent on punishing
or destroying to appease those organisations whose interests are directly opposed to its technical and business development to feed the nation.
The public are confused about the fiction being spread but they should be informed of the facts.
Farmers should put aside their differences and campaign for a British agriculture policy for Britain. The Government should be put out to grass, starting with Margaret Beckett." Letter in today's Times
June 5 ~ Received from OIE
"The attached revised Animal Health Code chapter on FMD was adopted at the General Session last week. " Recovery of free status ....... " c) 6 months after the last case or the last vaccination (according to the event that occurs the latest), where a stamping-out policy, emergency vaccination not followed by the slaughtering of all vaccinated animals, and serological surveillance are applied, provided that a serological survey based on the detection of antibodies to nonstructural proteins of FMDV demonstrates the absence of infection in the remaining vaccinated population."
It is one small step - but hardly a giant leap - towards common sense and humanity.
June 5 ~ Interesting to read that the taxpayer is funding TSE research to the tune of £22 million between 1999 and 2004
"..... TSE research across the spectrum from basic biological studies, through to applied clinical research, epidemiology and risk assessment. Overall, more than 50 expert scientists are currently working on 26 projects in locations throughout the UK to gain a better understanding of TSE disease, to assess the danger it poses, and to work out how it might be tackled.
Molecular genetic studies, animal models, and molecular and cellular functional analysis are among the tools being used to investigate: The relationship beween vCJD and BSE, and human prion disease susceptibility. Inter-mammalian species barriers to prion transmission The mechanism of TSE transmission, abnormal prion replication, and disease progression. The molecular structure of normal and disease-causing prions and the biological function of normal prions. Approaches to earlier diagnosis and to therapy...." and on it goes. How many taxpayers would be happy to know exactly what goes on in some of these laboratories remains to be seen. It is a lucrative business - as can be seen from this .pdf file on the MRC site....but none of the 22 million can be spared to enable Mark Purdey to carry out his researches. That his quest for truth, like ours at warmwell, has to be self-financed from very limited resources would appear to be the way of the world.
June 5 ~ David Maclean MP, former junior agriculture minister has spoken on the final day of the Carlisle Inquiry
"Mr Maclean, MP for Penrith and the Borders produced a pile, almost two inches thick, of letters, press releases and faxes he had fired off to the media, ministers, officials and prime minister Tony Blair as his desperation mounted at the government's slow response to the crisis.
He said that, during the 1967 foot-and-mouth outbreak, the Ministry of Agriculture was a dictatorship but, after the BSE crisis, Maff was permeated with the need to consult others and seek advice.
He said: "There was a complete inability to move from peace-time to war-time.
"Only the Army could do it - that was their speciality. A sword had hung over Maff - now known as Defra - for years and the ministry wanted to prove it could handle the crisis in-house." see report
June 4/5 ~ Highly Misleading Information given by DEFRA to the International Conference in Lyon 2nd - 5th June 2002
We read in a communication from Jon Dobson of the FMD Forum that "David Mouat, from the Exotic Diseases Division of DEFRA stood in for the absent Jim Scudamore and stated that the farmer for the first case officially identified in the UK in Heddon on the Wall, had been found guilty of failing to report Foot and Mouth and was to be prosecuted later in the month. He also stated that most infected premises were culled within 24 hours and their associated contiguous and dangerous contact cases were then culled within 48 hours.
David Mouat also stated that the official figures for culling were just above 4 million. However, there was some dispute over the accuracy of these figures; some members of the audience stating that the Meat and Livestock Commission had a figure of 10,791,000 animals which had been confirmed before by DEFRA. "
We are astonished if David Mouat's assertion about "most" slaughter times was that stated above. It is just not true that slaughter times were 24/48."The Secretary of State recently confirmed that the average time between a report of foot and mouth disease and the disposal of livestock over the course of the outbreak was 105 hours, a figure which rose to 130 hours at the height of the outbreak, between February and May." (Efra Committee report) It is difficult to believe that Mr Mouat should not know that and we feel that either his assertion has been wrongly reported or he is simply lying.
June 4/5 ~ DEFRA's official yearbook called "Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2001" says:"the total number of animals slaughtered for disease control purposes was 4,082,000" and that too is a lie.
It says that the total number of animals slaughtered for welfare reasons (sic - "welfare reason" had nothing to do with the animal's welfare and everything to do with irresponsible disease control policy) for the year 2001 was 2,046,000. A further 526,000 were slaughtered under the Light Lambs Scheme.
The Meat and Livestock Commission's conservative figure of 10,791,000 was accepted in January by a DEFRA spokesman and reported in the Telegraph on January 23rd 2002
June4/5 ~ Re: Fight the vitamin directive. Drug companies have too tight a hold - and we CAN do something about it.
The Medicine Controls Agency (MCA) is pushing the proposed traditional herbal medicinal products directive (THMPD) through at breakneck speed, and with as little consultation as they can get away with.
The THMPD is deeply flawed and fails to meet the minister's stated objectives. The Directive will, for purely political reasons, adversely affect consumers, retailers and many manufacturers. We are going to lose a huge number of safe and popular products that have been on sale in Britain for years.
Warmwell would encourage all consumers to write letters to their MP and to their MEPs To find out who your UK Member of Parliament (MP) is click here
To find out who your Members of the European Parliament (MEP) are click here
There is nothing like snail mail to convince them that you were prepared to go to some time and trouble to write to them. You can write to your MP at:
The House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
You can write to your MEP at: The European Parliament
Many MPs and MEPs also have email addresses which are available through the links above.
June 4 ~ " The foot-and-mouth crisis was like a waking nightmare, with one horror story after another. We all have terrible tales to tell of suffering and misery caused to both farmers and their livestock."
FUW's Bob Parry was paying tribute to the resilience of farmers and the hard work of the union's staff during the crisis. He said crisis was an over-used word but "an understatement to describe the hell that we, and everyone in the countryside, have endured because of the foot-and-mouth disease". According to the Western Mail, Mr Parry said he believed the only way to ensure a disaster on that scale never happened again was to prepare fully and learn the lessons from the experience. A full public inquiry into the outbreak, he said, was the only way and accused the Tony Blair of running scared. "He is frightened that a public inquiry will expose incompetence and inefficiency at the heart of Westminster. "He would rather cloud the issue by having a series of inquiries held behind doors so that government mistakes during the crisis can be buried alongside the six million rotting carcasses of sheep, cattle and pigs - with only a glossy, pro-government spin put on the final report that is made public." ........
Some of us who remember Mr Parry's and the FUW's apparent enthusiasm for the contiguous cull over vaccination are a little puzzled by some of this. Is Mr Parry now hunting with the hounds?
June 4 ~ Mark Purdey writes, "whenever I have managed to get the odd experiment conducted by a lateral thinking scientist, it produces yet more positive results which supports the theory.
Despite getting these works published in good peer reviewed journals, the Establishment and their media spin doctors just ignore it. It just betrays the fact that the authorities are hooked onto a mindset agenda. I have several issues outstanding with DEFRA...... In this respect, media exposure is my only way of getting daylight shed over some of their outrageous techniques, and unfortunately the media seem strangely reluctant to publish anything which threatens government credibility these days - even if you have 100 % concrete evidence of their insidious activities.
Via the personal data protection act, I am actually in possession of correspondence between the chemical industry and MAFF officials (from the chief scientist's grant department ) which openly discuss how best to discredit my work. They jointly plan an experiment ( deliberately designed so it could never prove my work positive ) to be funded by public money to discredit me.
I also have correspondence between Michael Meacher's own officials who are openly discussing how best to put Michael Meacher off his repeated requests for a personal meeting with me. These communications are humorous in that they really have to search for credible reasons to put Michael Meacher off - eg, they say I am inarticulate, too heavy going, not trained in public speaking, and how my work is sub judice..........
To my amazement, I could not get anyone in the media to run a story on this. Ten years ago it would have been front paged. Journalists failed to identify the outrageous implications of their content." Mark Purdey's email to warmwell.
June 4 ~ Wrong Question
Robert Ulig's article in the Telegraph today reports that 94% of those questioned want GM products clearly labelled. "Nineteen out of every 20 shoppers want foods containing genetically modified ingredients to be labelled as such, according to a survey by the Consumers' Association. The finding comes after the Government's clearest indication yet that it is having second thoughts about the benefits of GM food production....."
It will not have escaped many that the question was being asked. The right question is: how many shoppers want GM food when there are still so many unanswered questions?
June 2 ~ Science is far too important to be left to the politicians or to a science establishment in bed with big business
The Science Media Centre, funded by the big bio-tech and GM companies was launched in December to help "sceptical and impatient journalists" get their stories right. It identified "animal research, cloning and genetically modified food" as particular concerns. Today's story in the Observer reveals that it was the Science Media Centre who have tried to undermine the BBC play Fields of Gold's credentials. 'In orchestrating their unpleasant campaign to denigrate the programme-makers, they are confirming the suspicions of those who have legitimate concerns about how and why the new technologies have been developed,' the play's writer, Ronan Bennett told The Observer.
Similarly, George Monbiot has identified the Bivings Group, a PR company contracted to Monsanto, who... invented fake citizens to post messages on internet listservers. These phantoms had launched a campaign to force Nature magazine to retract a paper it had published, alleging that native corn in Mexico had been contaminated with GM pollen. But this, it now seems, is just one of hundreds of critical interventions with which PR companies hired by big business have secretly guided the biotech debate over the past few years.
We read now that, under pressure form Friends of the Earth, Mrs Beckett has announced two separate investigations into the viability of GM crops and whether the technology would affect Britain's booming organic sector by examining the separation distances between GM and conventional crops. The new inquiries will be carried out by Professor David King, the government's chief scientific advisor, and chief scientific advisor to the Department of Environment, Professor Howard Dalton. ..... Perhaps Prof King will remember that he thought the FMD virus - that does not, unlike pollen, have airborne spread of more than a few yards - had to be ruthlessly eliminated from all contiguous premises. Will he feel that GM pollen, that can travel miles, should be freely allowed to grow within close distances of conventional crops?
June 2 ~ Animal Disease Control is only part of a much murkier picture
We read in a report by Mae-Wan Ho and Jonathan Mathews "The BSE report..... places much of the blame on persistent government denials based on the 'best scientific advice'. The 'best scientific advice' has, of course, all too often been badly mistaken. Dr. Arpad Pusztai's revelation that the GM potatoes tested in his laboratory might not be safe resulted in Pusztai losing his job and was he was "gagged". Pro-biotech scientists and Fellows of the UK Royal Society vented their collective ire and condemnation. Sir Robert May, the then UK Government's Chief Scientific Officer, said Pusztai had violated every canon of scientific rectitude. Pusztai's grave misconduct was to 'spill the beans' before the scientific findings went through the proper peer-review process, causing undue public alarm and damaging the biotech industry. His integrity as a scientist was called into question. The Royal Society has never condemned the suppression of scientific evidence by the industry. For example, Monsanto withheld data from studies on rats which showed that feeding rBGH elicited antibodies to the hormone and the males developed cysts on the thymus and abnormalities in the prostate gland. Despite all that, rBGH milk is still being sold unlabelled in the US today." Is warmwell.com alone in seeing a correlation here with the suppression of the truth about FMD vaccination and the quashing of the trials at the beginning of the FMD crisis of the USDA/Tetrachore rapid diagnosis test? Instead, the UK authorities chose to kill first and ask questions (or not) afterwards.
June 1 The SIRC is both directly and indirectly funded by the food industry
(From the same source)"The Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) and the Royal Institution issued a detailed Code of Practice on Science and Health Communication to address concerns about the ways in which some issues are covered in the media, unjustified 'scare stories' as well as those "which offer false hopes to the seriously ill". A draft of the code recommended journalists to consult only with 'expert contacts', a secret directory of which will be provided only to "registered journalists with bona fide credentials". It discouraged scientists from disclosing unpublished results even at professional scientific meetings, thus breaking with a time-honoured tradition of open communication among scientists. The SIRC is a metamorphosed social research company which boasts of its ability to provide corporate clients with effective public relations via its 'positive research'. The SIRC is both directly and indirectly funded by the food industry
The Code of Practice is apparently endorsed by a list of mainstream scientists and science journalists: Sir John Krebs, Head of the Food Standards Agency and Lewis Wolpert, Fellow of the Royal Society and member of its Committee for Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), both well known for their pro-GM stance; Susan Greenfield, Director of the Royal Institution; Lord Wakeham, Chair of the Press Complaints Commission and Lord Dick Taverne, author, journalist and politician, another rabid protagonist for the biotech industry.
Although the general impression the Code attempts to convey is that of wishing to prevent both 'scare stories' and 'hype', it is no different in substance to the original Royal Society Guidelines to editors. It is intended to promote the mainstream, establishment view and at the same time to suppress minority, dissenting voices."
The "corporatization" of science is the greatest threat to our survival and the survival of our planet and we grieve to see the Royal Society, The Royal Institution and our own government so easily bought by the giant bio-tech companies.
Warmwell thinks that it is high time the media recognises its responsibility to report dissenting opinions. If only the media had reported freely the wise words of Prof. Fred Brown, Dr. Simon Barteling, Dr. Paul Sutmoller and others on the subject of FMD vaccination so that common sense instead of vested interests could have been heard. If journalists had done so at the beginning of the FMD crisis, instead of swallowing the "best scientific and veterinary advice" offered to them on an easy hook, things would have been very different in terms of public understanding. As for the findings of Mark Purdey, his continuing exclusion is possibly the most disastrous error of all in recent times.
June 1 ~ David Maclean MP Lays Blame Firmly at Ministry's Door
" A CATALOGUE of disaster, delay and distressing dealings with Ministry of Agriculture officials in Carlisle which allowed foot and mouth disease to rip through large parts of Cumbria were highlighted yesterday by Penrith and the Border MP David Maclean.
He said a number of sensible measures to curb the disease's spread were obvious to even the layman, but MAFF failed to take action and allowed the crisis to spiral.
Mr. Maclean was giving evidence on the fourth and final day of Cumbria's independent foot and mouth inquiry at Carlisle Civic Centre. ..... Mr. Maclean spoke out about the lack of any apparent contingency plan in Cumbria and the failure of MAFF officials in Carlisle to grasp the seriousness of the situation or take action to get on top of the disease. Infected animals were not slaughtered for days, dead stock was left lying in the open for 11 or 12 days, there was stalemate between the Ministry and Environment Agency over disposal of carcases, and bureaucracy and red tape prevented action to stop the disease's spread.
The MP told the inquiry how sensible measures he called for - such as appealing for more vets, need for the Army and importance of speedy slaughter and burial - were not put into effect for days or weeks, allowing the disease to spread out of control. ...... 'Three weeks into it and the thing was lost. There was a lack of contingency planning, there was no sense of urgency and they were unable to gear up from peacetime to emergency. 'MAFF at Carlisle had not told London they had a problem and then London told Carlisle to keep it under the carpet. That was in the first three weeks when it was all lost - and Cumbria has suffered as a result," said Mr. Maclean.Cumberland & Westmorland Herald Saturday, 1st June 2002
June 1 ~ Appropriate Scientific Opinion
to The Times From Mr Aidan Harrison
Sir, It is all very well for our Prime Minister to demand that we pay more attention to scientific reason (report, May 20), but in selecting the BSE fiasco as an example, he also highlights the importance of seeking appropriate scientific opinion.
Billions of pounds of taxpayers' money have been spent and thousands of innocent farmers ruined in following the advice of the Government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee which, lacking expertise in the vital areas of farming, food processing or risk analysis, unjustifiably allowed "worst-case conjectures" of deaths in the tens or even hundreds of thousands.
On December 7, 1998, The Times carried a report headed "CJD epidemic won't happen, say scientists", describing the work of two professors at City University who predicted that vCJD cases would peak in 1999 with 16 cases, then decline.
In fact the number of deaths rose to 28 in 2000, before falling to 20 last year. So far there have been seven deaths in 2002.
These figures not only appear to vindicate the judgment of the professors, but also raise much wider doubts as to any Government's ability to choose relevant and correct scientific advice.
Yours faithfully, AIDAN HARRISON
(Beef farmer), Morrelhirst, Netherwitton, Morpeth, Northumberland NE61 4PT. email@example.com May 28.
May 31 ~" vaccination would have been a preferable response to the outbreak... the welfare and ethics of agriculture "
The Western Mail reports that the "European Parliament was yesterday told that management of foot-and-mouth in the UK was unsatisfactory.
Peter Midmore, Professor of Applied Economics at the School of Management and Business at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, gave evidence to the European Parliament's Committee of Inquiry into the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at its meeting in Brussels........ In his evidence, Professor Midmore said the management of the out-break in the UK was unsatisfactory, and that the serious rural economic damage caused is still causing problems because of under-compensation. ........ He argued that, despite evidence that the overall impact of the outbreak was less than at first feared, the distribution of impact had a greater impact of the more economically vulnerable sections of rural society, and that this impact has hardly been mitigated by the various packages of policy measures applied.
....... vaccination would have been a preferable response to the outbreak, not only in terms of the monetary balance, but also because of its intangible but rather more important effect on public attitudes on the welfare and ethics of agriculture."
May 31 ~ Data privacy to end. Law will allow police to spy on phone and net traffic
One of the best arguments for insisting that DEFRA remove from its website the so-called IPs that were never infected is that to leave them there erroneously violates the farmers' data protection rights under the law. Now, we read in today's Guardian that - like so many other rights that the British thought inviolable - individuals' private data will lose its protection.
John Wadham, director of Liberty, said: "This violates a fundamental principle of privacy, which is that data collected for one purpose should not be used for another. "The police and other authorities will be able to trawl through all the details of the communications of millions of innocent people merely because there is a possibility that they might come across something suspicious."
(At least the Guardian, in its Waugh story, is quoting 10 million as the loss of farm animals slaughtered. When will the others catch up on the true numbers? When will Prof King catch up?
May 31 ~ the Scottish equivalent of SI843 is going through.
"The Scottish legislation is found on:
There is a fault when you go from the letter to the SI--you need to correct the spelling of environment at the bottom of your screen, then press GO.
(Perhaps they don't want us to read it.) Page 11 "a TSE susceptible animal means any animal, whether farmed or not, capable of being affected by a TSE' 13-19 TSE monitoring, 40-45 Powers of inspectors ( not necessarily vets)
79 and 99 Offences, 103-108 compensation and
123-128 cattle offspring slaughter and compensation."
....So there we are. TSE "susceptible" animals are in grave peril - in spite of the fact that it looks more and more unlikely that TSEs are caused by an infectious agent such as the unproven "infectious rogue prion". If they are not - in spite of the blind reliance of the global authorities on thinking that BSE/TSE/CJD can be "caught" from other animals - then billions of pounds, hours of legislation and tons of paper are being expended for no good reason. The National Scrapie Plan is founded on a myth and the thousands of healthy animals, now likely to be killed, are of no risk to human health at all. Why are these measures, so irresponsibly failing to take available scientific research into account, being rushed through?
May 31 ~ Fields of Fire. A triumph
From Quita's Introduction: "The book is a record of some of the letters, poems and other pieces of writing which have emerged over the last few months. These writings are amazing - powerful, heartrending and often quite beautiful outpourings of grief, anger and compassion, written from the heart by people whose lives have been touched.....these writings are strong and life-affirming and are a tribute to the human spirit..."
We at warmwell.com wholly agree. Although reading Fields of Fire moves one almost to tears - it also gives one a feeling of strength and goodness rising from the ashes. The triumph of such human resilience and sensitivity in the face of despair puts into magnificent perspective the smallness and the weasel words of the so-called key players , the men who devised and conducted a holocaust of British animals and who now pretend that it was necessary. They fear quite rightly for their reputations, status and power.
More than anything else we have read, this book cheers us with the sure knowledge that sooner or later the truth will emerge. Order a copy. Once read, leave it in vets' waiting rooms, doctors' surgeries, staff rooms, libraries. This book will not sicken or disgust people: rather, its compassion will help them understand and they will add their voices to the swelling tide of protest at the horrors committed to beast and Man in the name of disease control See also email from March 30 when the book was previewed before publication.
May 31 ~ Waugh verdict..."Several hardened journalists were stunned."
".....there appeared to be not only several inaccuracies contained within his ruling but also several inconsistencies."
The verdict given yesterday at Bedlington Magistrates Court appears to many to be utterly inexplicable. As Bruce Jobson writes, " The graphic video footage that has been aired on television tonight was taken on Saturday 24th February. In his own defence, Bobby stated that his pigs were "desperate" by that day. However, on Friday 23rd, MAFF had used Bobby's sawdust to make a disinfectant mat across the road and prevented him from bedding up his pigs. The pigs had been "bled" for analysis, dragged through the pens and were covered in pig-muck. The pigs had been fed unprocessed swill on Friday evening on the direction of Jim Dring - and no one criticises him on that in the circumstances - but the following day - Saturday - the video was taken showing the pigs covered in muck, "desperate" and unprocessed swill left lying in the troughs. The swill was undoubtedly left in the troughs because the pigs weren't used to eating uncooked swill. And any person that has worked with farm animals realises that you cannot stop, chop and change diets. Animals lose weight. And Bobby was in the business of fattening pigs.
However, the video taken on 24th February, did not reflect the welfare and conditions of the animals on Thursday 22nd February. The video gave a false or worse, impression of what conditions were like on Burnside Farm at the time of the alleged offence...." (See more)
May 31 ~ "... trial revealed severe weaknesses in the Government's provisions against foot-and-mouth. "
"....Though the guilty verdicts shoulder Waugh with some responsibility for the devastating epidemic, the trial has also shown up the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, whose sensitivity to accusations of poor preparation for foot-and-mouth has led it to resist all calls for a full public inquiry and to refuse to testify at three inquiries set up by rural county councils.
The case has revealed a depleted number of northern ministry vets were unfamiliar with foot-and-mouth's symptoms. It has also shown how Waugh slipped through the net of frequent veterinary inspections.....Today's Independent
May 30 ~ Professor King's defence of the contiguous cull in Brussels today
It needs to be remembered that while most of those who criticise the policy have already lost so much the people answering questions have much still to lose. The farmers lost their animals certainly and in some cases irreplaceable breeding stock or rare breeds, but they have also lost any remaining faith in the underlying benevolence of the Ministry, their peace of mind, their confidence and joie de vivre...The government scientists, modellers and politicians still have much to lose. They are doing everything they possibly can to save their reputations. They have seemingly unlimited funds and spin merchants to help them.
It may occur to the Temporary Committee to wonder just why there are still so many ordinary people still pouring their own energy, time and money into trying to uncover the truth. They have no financial nor indeed any sort of official help from anyone. Why do they do it? The answer must be they continue to press for the truth because what happened was wrong and a disastrous error of judgement - or worse. They feel that men such as Professor King should indeed be cross-examined.) Professor King's answers were inadequate.
May 30 ~ Bobby Waugh has been found guilty of failure to report disease, feeding unprocessed swill and unnecessary cruelty.
Just announced on BBC radio 4 (PM programme). Bobby Waugh was cleared of seven of the fifteen charges he was to answer in Court over the recent twelve day trial. He was found guilty of failing to notify MAFF of the FMD disease on his farm, animal cruelty and feeding unprocessed swill. The sentence will be announced on 28th June.
May 30 ~"Virtually all rendering processes in use across Europe, and around the world fail to inactivate the scrapie/BSE agent.
Experiments carried out in 1990 show that only one in ten systems tested, was capable of deactivating the scrapie/BSE agent. And the change in rendering that occurred in the early 80s happened across EU, at virtually the same time. We asked the Inquiry if, in the light of this report, other co-factors into the emergence of BSE should have been considered." (More on the mysteries surrounding BSE back in 1998 and still relevant)
May 30 ~ Peter Midmore will say that we should have vaccinated
Professor Midnmore, the economist, will tell the Temporary Committee into FMD today that the UK Government should have pursued a much-advocated vaccination policy, instead of insisting on universal culling measures. It would have brought the disease under control sooner.
The benefits of such a policy, he says, would have been be twofold. Slaughter, clean-up and compensation costs would have been far lower. And areas of vast tracts of land including Brecon Beacons National Park would have remained open longer safeguarding tourist-generated income vital to rural economies.
It would have taken longer to open the export market, costing an extra £600 to £800m, but the £3bn cost to UK tourism could have been slashed.
May 30 ~ TB infected badgers in Wales - no cull
Welsh farmers are comparing the slaughter of millions of healthy farm animals during FMD, apparently condoned by all and sundry and defended by the government, with the refusal in Wales now to address the putting down of diseased badgers likely to be causing the explosion of bovine TB.
"It doesn't make any sense, " writes one farmer close to despair. "It isn't that we dislike badgers. We don't. But they too are suffering. No one would question the putting down of diseased rabbits - and they don't spread TB. The fact is, once again, our dairy cows are expendable because the politicians are frightened of the political consequences of controlling the disease in badgers. It is madness. We have been hit by BSE, FMD and now TB and we can't take any more. Our animals are healthy - and they are being killed. Badgers are overcrowded and sick - and are being "protected". How much more of this illogicality are we supposed to take? The loss of even a few of our cows means we can't make ends meet - and compensation can't bridge the gap. "
Wales's chief vet Tony Edwards has said the severe interpretation rule of the TB tests would "inevitably mean some healthy animals were killed." Labour AM John Griffiths (Newport East) argues that badgers may not be the cause of the problem. Former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies said that culling badgers would lead to a backlash. Mr Jones said it would be a "knee-jerk response."
We remember the knee-jerk response of the contiguous cull with its resultant butchery and note yet again that the farmers are the last in line to have their feelings considered and their hard-won expertise respected. When governments want the most politically expedient solutions it is the farm animals that die. (See news from icWales)
May 30 ~"It shouldn't have been too difficult to eliminate BSE from the foodchain.
If the disease is simply the result of feeding mashed-up livestock to cows, infecting them with mutated forms of brain proteins called prions, then banning the practice should have brought it to an end. Similarly, if the human form of the disease, new variant CJD, arises only from eating contaminated cows' brains and spinal cords, then their exclusion from the human diet should have eradicated it. But still these horrors haunt us."
An article in the BBC Wildlife magazine last April showed that Mark Purdey's explanation of the origins of BSE is gathering weight...."Mark Purdey accepts that the horrible practice of feeding dead animals to cows has a role in the development of the disease. But it cannot, he argues, explain its origination, or that of similar illnesses all over the world. His evidence is, of course, circumstantial: no causal link has yet been demonstrated. But at the very least it is worthy of thorough investigation. Could it be possible that a self-educated Somerset farmer has cracked one of the most important scientific puzzles of our age? " (See also CJD/BSE page)
May 30 ~ Lord Carter Is Sacked
As Sky News puts it, "Government chief whip and agriculture spokesman Dennis Carter has been dumped by the Prime Minister two months after Sky News revealed how he made hundreds of thousands of pounds from animal cruelty. ..... thousands of animals in illegal conditions without water. ..... crammed into tiny cages. Others died from the heat in filthy concrete boxes. Carter paid himself hundreds of thousands of pounds from the farms' profits in just three years.
Lord Carter has always maintained that neither he, not his farms, have done anything wrong. After we broadcast these pictures of animal cruelty the Prime Minister was urged to investigate Carter by the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and animal welfare organisations, but he never replied to their letters. Now the minister who was said to enjoy Tony Blair's full support in March has been sacked. .... Carter's farms are the subject of an ongoing criminal inquiry by trading standards officers;;;;; Ministry inspectors have still not explained why his farms were allowed to break the law and why they failed to protect the animals from such chronic abuse. "
May 30 ~ UK farmers and vets visiting Australiasia up to six months prior to the official announcement of the UK outbreak of foot and mouth disease....claimed that they had been exclusively subjected to a thorough disinfection / cleansing treatment
when visiting Australasia at that time. Some had questioned the reasons for the cleansing , and one farmer was told how UK livestock farming was sitting on a timebomb which Australia wanted to avoid. But no more clues were given. "To my surprise," writes Mark" the customs lady answered me openly saying that they had known full well about the foot and mouth disease problem brewing in the Uk well in advance of the official announcement. She could clearly remember the UK's briefing to them during the autumn of 2000. "The pommy government has always been really good over informing us about impending crises in good time. It is the Chinese lot who never bother !"......" .
May 29 ~ Cumbria Inquiry on Tuesday
- a day of lengthy waffle from Lord Haskins, grim tales from the NFU of utter, unbelieveable chaos and five day delays, and a concise and detailed submission about transmission and vaccination from the NFMG. Then at the Great Orton public meeting, harrowing and graphic first hand accounts - the feelings still just as raw as ever about the truck filled streets, the terrible tales from drivers and soldiers of what went on inside - the braining of lambs and the tossing of living beasts into the pyres. One man spoke with simple eloquence, " I am bitter. I am bitter because there's 11 million animals killed and Blair never took responsibility. Blair simply doesn't care...Nick Brown talks of hearing his pager and having to turn back..they knew they had a crisis..so why did it take them 4 days to stop the markets?"
It was a meeting that rang with anger and pain - and the knowledge that terrible decisions were taken for which there has never been any accountablity.
May 29 ~ The "BSE-and-SHEEP" stakeholders group has made its recommendations - but where are the sheep stakeholders?
The list of members of the group is impressive and predictable with its heavy weighting of FSA and SEAC - but it seems not to have informed any sheep stakeholders or aksed what they feel about some of the measures in store for sheep....
The report concludes: "R10. The Agency should undertake a risk assessment on the effect of removing susceptible animals from flocks with established scrapie as soon as practicable. The food safety impact of this precautionary measure should be considered together with the practicability of implementation to determine if it represents a proportionate risk management option.
R11. The Agency should recommend to the European Commission that intestine from all sheep be added to the current list of SRM for sheep as an additional precautionary measure, and that this be reviewed when research is able to quantify the level of infectivity removed by processing.
All this for a theoretical risk? The slaughter regulations already smoothly in place since April 19th? And Lord Whitty's even smoother words to reassure can be read here before they are promoted to the SPIN ALERT page.
May 29 ~ Chief Scientist King will talk about epidemiology and vaccination at Brussels tomorrow
The programme for the day TEMPORARY COMMITTEE ON FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE The economic and social repercussions of the crisis (tourism, transport, animal welfare) Public Hearing 30 May 2002, from 14.00 till 17.30 hours can be seen here. His submission to Lessons Learned and to the Royal Society can be seen on the left menu. Since Prof King will be speaking tomorrow in Brussels, we are publishing his submission now. It has been sent to Warmwell and annotated by someone who feels irritated at the circular arguments of Professor King's submission and evidently feels that it cannot be allowed to stand without some comment. It would be very interesting to receive further comments.
May 29 ~ Chronology of UK Government Chief Scientific advisor's involvement with FMD - to week ending Nov 9th
Seeing what Professor King did, when and how makes one also wonder why. Here is the time line of events.
May 29 ~".... it is necessary to look at the evidence in detail to see whether Mr Waugh may be telling the truth
because he was best placed to see if there was widespread illness in his herd. And if he did not, that is potent evidence that it was not there to be seen.
Mr Stuart-Smith closed the Defence submission at 3.53pm
Judge Prowse will give his ruling at 2pm on Thursday 30th May. " (see brief summary of closing submissions in the Waugh trial)
May 29 ~ "...the black oceans of manganese oxide
scarred right back to the frontline of the rainforest - the bulldozers had been rapidly advancing to meet the recent increased orders for manganese dioxide from the western world.
At the same time I thought of the rising incidence rate of neurodegenerative diseases around manganese processing industries in the West, as well as the ever increasing rates of mad cow disease in European cattle who were being fed exceptionally high concentrations of this mineral at an early age. Did the fruits of this island sow the seeds of madness in our cats and cows, our deer and elk, our mink and goats, and, more importantly, in our death row murderers or our innocent teenagers who contracted vCJD?"
Read Mark Purdey's latest email and wonder, as we do, whether he is about to confound the very scientists who would rather he left the BSE/CJD question alone. Their "infectious prion" theory continues to provide power, status and funding while the world agonises fruitlessly over expensive and frightening TSE legislation.
May 28 ~ Disease Tax proposed by DEFRA
It appears that Gordon Brown does not want to pay out another multi-billion pound bill for foot-and-mouth control. Although existing disease costs are "paid for by EU funds", in reality the Government has to match fund at least half the total. But how far were the victims of the FMD control able to influence decision making? Indeed, how far were the scientists and veterinary experts themselves able to have any influence?
No taxation without representation is a tenet of democracy that is growing fainter and fainter in Britain and Europe. The so-called representation, during what the government likes to call "consultation periods", is very carefully controlled. It is suggested to a credulous press that the NFU Council is the voice of farming.
Ask the majority of livestock farmers in this country what they think about that. (see article in FWi)
May 28 ~ a string of serious failings, including problems with hygiene, record keeping and training.
The Independent today: "A report by European inspectors on nine ports and airports ... noted problems with the paperwork accompanying imports, warning that systems to identify consignments were not complete in most of the ports visited. They said vets "did not always have a complete overview of which consignments are arriving, have arrived, or are in transit". They warned: "This was in particular the case for Heathrow, as a large part of the manifests were not received and could not be checked."
... too few qualified vets to make checks on imports and training was "inadequate". ....training, hygiene, facilities, registration of shipments and the procedures at the nine ports had failed to comply with European regulations at all the ports inspected.
Jim Scudamore, the chief veterinary officer, criticised the inspectors' conclusions in an official response to the commission, warning that they implied "major failings of the systems when what in fact was found was a small number of isolated shortcomings".
But Peter Ainsworth, the shadow Rural Affairs Secretary, condemned the report..... "Ministers have adopted a tone of haughty disdain for the criticism, a tone echoed in the chief veterinary officer's response to the Commission's findings. A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:"We are providing extra personnel and more rigorous training and addressing the host of detailed points put forward by the Commission."
May 28 ~ Mr Hall stated that neither he, nor Mr Waugh, had ever fed unprocessed swill prior to Friday 23rd February.
Mr Hall said he had only fed unprocessed swill on 23rd February after MAFF vet Jim Dring had given authorisation. From the trial of Bobby Waugh, day 12. It is looking less and less likely that Heddon on the Wall can possibly have been the FMD Index case (if anyone still believes this to be the case) . Final submissions on behalf of the Defence and Prosecution will be given on Tuesday 28th May.
May 28 ~ Advance of Science?
Mr Blair said during Question Time in the House of Commons that the advance of science was paramount to British interests and must not be obstructed.
He said: "Those people who want to protest should do it lawfully. "
"What they should not do is frustrate research. It is vitally important that science continues - not just for Britain's future, but for our children's future." I imagine we are all just as concerned (perhaps more) as the political spinners for "our children's future" but to whom was the Prime Minister referring? Who frustrates lawful and humane research? First to come to mind are bodies such as the SEAC committee who, by their deliberate actions, have frustrated rival research into BSE. Why? Is it that such serious and committed research might show as here the "infectious prion" theory, accepted almost everywhere, to be flawed? (See also BSE/CJD page)
May 28 ~"We could have supplied enough vaccine for you in 48 hours"
the EU Temporary Committee into FMD, on its fact-finding visit to Holland, was told by a leading bio-medical company that there was sufficient vaccine to cope with the UK outbreak and it could have been at the point where it was needed within 48 hours. Do we not remember Professor Roy Anderson saying that it would have taken over a fortnight?
The truth is emerging. It may well begin to uncover reasons for the unaccountable misinformation so widely spread about the "problems" associated with vaccination. Yet vaccination would have removed at a stroke all the most disastrous animal, human and economic consequences of the contiguous culling - the botched culls, the loss of prized stock, the killing of breeding animals and rare breeds, the delays, the pyres, the horrors of the disposal, the leaking leachate, the knock-on effect of ruined businesses, the wasted billions, the loss of international reputation - and above all the almost inconceivable levels of human fear and distress.
May 28 ~ Agency consults on BSE and sheep report - bizarre conflicting messages
(From FSA website) The BSE Stakeholders' Group has advised the Food Standards Agency board on new precautionary measures against the theoretical risk of BSE in sheep. The agency's advice to consumers is unchanged. It is not advising against the consumption of lamb, mutton, and goat meat. This applies to all age groups, including babies or other groups who may be considered vulnerable.
Yet - in spite of this - we read " ....their report recommends the following precautionary measures: - -- seek European Community-wide removal of all sheep intestine ..... - -- communicate the higher theoretical risk of infectivity in mutton and goat meat from older animals...... - -- continue to advise consumers as a whole on the theoretical risk, including the advice that if BSE were present in sheep, eating lamb rather than mutton is likely to reduce the risk; - -- provide parallel advice and information to organizations catering for infants and children ..... - -- seek agreement from the baby food industry to introduce voluntary country of origin labelling for baby food containing lamb.... should ask the European Community to accelerate the country by country BSE risk categorization;
and perhaps most importantly - -- set a clear priority for the development of a rapid diagnostic test for BSE in sheep.
May 28 ~ The Agency is anxious to run a nation wide "rapid" sheep test
The agency has already highlighted"the urgent need to develop a validated rapid test to detect the possible presence of BSE in sheep."
" this is an evolving area of science and there are considerable uncertainties." says Sir John Krebs, still at great pains to spread the notion that scrapie "masks" BSE. but adds, " we are not advising against the consumption of lamb and mutton." Imperial College modellers - those responsible for the disastrous contiguous cull - add their similarly bizarre "risk" advice on this page
May 28 ~ And what if Purdey is right and BSE is not infectious?
Mark Purdey's independent research (like others whose work challenged the accepted but unproven "infectious prion" theory he suddenly found his work rubbished and funding cut off) suggests with more and more confidence that BSE is NOT infectious and eating any kind of meat from animals with TSE infections will not pose any risk in itself of human CJD. If Mark is right - and there is as much going for his theory as for their infectious prion one - then NONE of this global sound and fury is necessary at all. BSE is NOT infectious and vCJD has no link with beef at all , none with scrapie either and although both scrapie and BSE are neurological diseases there is no link between scrapie and the risk to human health so seized upon by the FSA.
But as we read in an email yesterday, "... just think of the almighty stink - the ruined reputations - the howls about wasted millions - the fury at so much gravy being poured into the gravy train - the lost animal lives - the ruined beef industry of Japan - the suicide of the agricultural official the other day......etc etc....if Mark Purdey is right. At a time when US tobacco corporations have been forced to pay billions of dollars in the US to compensate the victims of smoking, and it is looking increasingly reasonable that Monsanto be forced to pay billions to the Vietnamese for the catastrophe Monsanto has wrought on their country by the use of Agent Orange, it is small wonder that that any possible part played by chemical toxins in TSEs is being quietly hushed up."
May 28 ~ And on FMD, the same cover up for the same reasons holds true
the billions of wasted taxpayer pounds and EU euros, the question marks over the millions in funding, the raised eyebrows over why the coterie of Royal Society/ SEAC MAFFia were the ones making all the decisions...."
May 28 ~ Scrapie rules for Scotland
scrapie rules for Scotland have now been introduced and are on the web site www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations/environment/TSE_reg2002letter.pdf Thanks to Janet in Dunfries and Galloway for this information
May 28 ~ Kingsteignton says to Throckmorton -" lets unite"
In an open letter to the people of Throckmorton, the Irwins of Devon, cheered by the support from Toyah Wilcox with its consequent publicity for the community's continuing woes, suggest the time may have come for concerted action.
May 27 ~ Sheep at Royal Show after all.
The Royal Agriculture Society has changed its mind on the question of sheep attending this year's Royal Show. The Society imposed the ban because - it seems - of fears of spreading foot-and-mouth disease. .Now the Royal Agricultural Society, based at the National Agricultural Centre in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, has announced that it will, after all, be staging competitive sheep classes - but they will now have to go through a 'strict veterinary procedure' before being allowed in. The Royal Show is taking place over four days from July 1 and July 4.
May 27 ~ Silence at Ramscliffe - the effects of foot and mouth in Devon
For those in the HTV television area, Chris Chapman, whose work can be seen on warmwell, will be presenting his view of the crisis on television at 10.50 p.m. this evening.
May 27 ~ Still no answer
On the 9th may 2002, Professor Phil Thomas, Chairman of the Cumbrian FMD Inquiry, wrote a letter to DEFRA Minister Mrs. M. Beckett. The letter included 28 questions relating to the FMD crisis in Cumbria. (Prof Thomas' letter and questions can be read here)
As of today, 27th. May 2002, Professor Thomas has not even received an acknowledgement, let alone answers to the 28 questions.
Lord Haskins will be taking part in the Cumbria Inquiry however, at Cumbria County Council's offices in Carlisle on Tuesday (28 May). All sessions are open to the general public, and there will be an opportunity for comments from the floor at the end of each half-day session.
May 27 ~ Defra's protestations of legality of the contiguous cull
a senior lawyer has given this analogy: " The following might be considered an analogy. An athlete (Government/Maff) announces at the start of the season that he is the fastest thing on two legs at all distances up to 1500 metres. (i.e.that their claim to legality is irrefutable) Early in the season when his opponents are in some disarray he enters a 1500 metre race and wins. (Westerhall the 3km cull case) He then enters a minor 200 metres race and wins that. (Winslade) He then enters a more prestigious 100 metre race and is convincingly beaten. (the Upton "Grunty" case when the truth about transmission was put before the court) At the same time, suggestions are made that he only won the 200 metre race because he took a substance which allegedly enhanced his performance. (non disclosure of scientific evidence)
He refuses to race again all season, notwithstanding that his many opponents declare they are ready to race at any time of his choosing. (i.e.meet Maff/ DEFRA in court under fair conditions)
What credibility would you ascribe to his continued protestations of invincibility, based on the early 1500 metre race and the minor, potentially flawed, 200 metre performance? "
May 27 ~ The Institute of Physics one-day course on June 19 about the viability of bio-aerosols
"The transport of living organisms through the atmosphere can be a major threat to the health of humans, animals and plants as well as being a means of disseminating life. Examples include the recent foot and mouth epidemic, the transmission of viruses, allergenic pollen, plant pathogens and anthrax spores. It has also been suggested as a means of introducing life to our planet from outer space. The meeting will address questions on the scientific knowledge of diverse areas of the subject, including the dispersal, detection and viability of bioaerosols as well as the specific application to foot and mouth disease..."(details)
May 27 ~ The government's answer to EFRA paragraph 27 will not do.
The Government continues to cling to the phrase "scientific and veterinary advice" when refuting all criticism of the choice of the controversial contiguous cull policy - conveniently forgetting that Kitching and Donaldson of Pirbright and other international veterinary and scientific experts in the disease had told them all along that the contiguous cull policy was an avoidable and indefensible error. Such advice was studiously ignored. For example, Paul Kitching was called a "Neanderthal" for his consistent dissent
May 27 ~ In addition, the government angrily asserts "Nor is it the case that the policy was administered without regard for local circumstances;
provision was made for the exercise of local veterinary judgement in deciding whether premises were indeed contiguous and whether special factors meant that the animals on them had not in fact been exposed to the disease."
But this is a very small segment of the truth. Apart from the short -lived "Carwyn Jones protocol" in Montgomeryshire that was abandoned when the hefted flocks were attacked on the Brecon Beacons and the triumph of enlightened protest in the uninfected Forest of Dean, "local veterinary judgement" could only be said to have been allowed at the very end of the crisis. This was when it became evident at last that live virus was not being found. The contiguous cull was abandoned, to the relief of farmers and many decent vets, even though the premises where the presence of a handful of unfortunate "recovered" animals led to the flock being put to death as a result of their antibodies were ludicrously classified as IPs.
May 27 ~ How can it be suggested that the contiguous cull "worked"?
It led to the unnecessary deaths of millions of animals, including much prized breeding stock and irreplaceable hefted and rare breed sheep. It was also the cause of more misery and downright fear than can be easily be imagined by most people. Alan Beat has already pointed out with infinite patience to those with ears to hear that: "The decline in the epidemic can be shown to be independent of the new culling measures as follows: The peak of the epidemic had already passed, and the steady decline in daily case numbers become well established, BEFORE any possible impact of the new culling policies could have taken place. Even if the 48 hour target for CP culling had been met (which it was not, especially so when first introduced), the incubation and early infectious stages of the disease allow an average of nine days to pass between exposure to virus and the appearance of clinical signs for farm diagnosis... ... The impact of 24/48 hour culling could not have begun to take effect on reported new cases of infection until 11 days following the 29th March (48 hours plus 9 days incubation). On that date, 9th April, the daily case numbers had already declined to an average of 32 per day and Professor David King was expressing "cautious optimism" that the new measures were starting to "turn things round" (Veterinary Record, 14th April). Yet clearly this was not, and could not be, the case. " (Alan's email containing this extract from his own submission to Lessons Learned)
May 27 ~ Lord Whitty is still maintaining that the contiguous cull was legal
Stephen Smith QC had written us a new letter about the legality of the contiguous cull. The two judgements clung to by Lord Whitty - Winslade and Westerhall in Scotland - were given on the grounds of safety margins. Had documents concerning the real nature of FMD virus transmission been disclosed as they should have been - and as they were in the Grunty case - these judgements would have been seen to be wrong.
The letter is vitally important, showing as it does that neither Winslade nor Westerhall were a judgement that could be construed as giving legal sanction to the contiguous cull itself. The Upton case came later, took two days and considered the scientific evidence that had been missing in the others - and therefore the Winslade case can hardly be considered a precedent. Disclosure, even though Maff was aware of Donaldson's work, was not made in the earlier cases - and had it been, the judges would certainly not been likely to interpret margin of safety as they did. Even though Upton was a DC case the Scientific evidence about airborne spread and transmission was highly relevant because the judge realised that even had the animals become infected there would be no risk to outlying farms.
The fact that a DC case - considered as they were as MORE dangerous than CCs - was given this judgement and DEFRA required to pay costs, makes it even more unlikely that had DEFRA had the nerve to test the courts again, any judgement would have been given in their favour.
May 27 ~ Visit to Lessons Learned from the NFMG
The National Foot and Mouth Group's notes from their meeting with Matthew Hill at Lessons Learned may be read here. Extract: ".... Concern in Forest of Dean - First to realise that incidence of disease not as being stated by MAFF. Contiguous Culls not infected - as showing no signs of disease 3 -5 weeks post 'Infected' premises slaughtered. Test results were negative and position of DVM for Glos and letters to Vet Record, etc
Sought details from MAFF of lab test results 1 & 14 May 2001 - not produced until Parliamentary Question raised in November - finally answered Jan 2002. Why was there this delay??
5 Evidence of Paul Kitching - 3 items - Notes to Judi Bell, C4 Transcript, Independent on Sunday article. Plus Vet Record Papers and letters, etc
Letters of Michell and others in Vet Record and Papers from Donaldson & Kitching - detailing that airborne transmission had been over stated and that the Contiguous Cull policy was unnecessary to control the disease...."
May 26 ~ Dr Kitching knew all along - but was ignored
In a memo from Pirbright we read "...a great many of the flocks, which had been infected, would have gone through their period of high infectivity and the only evidence of the fact that they had contracted the disease was that if subjected to a serological test they would show blood antibodies. ...as the standstill order came into place on Friday 23rd February, some 8 weeks ago, and that the number of new infections since that time would have been minimal, the likelihood of cattle meeting viremic sheep at turnout time (say end of April) would be small to say the least. It was clear that there had been a degree of over reaction in this area and the slaughter of such stock had been exacerbated by the contiguous and 3k culls consequent upon an original misdiagnosis ." "........ there is a relatively low risk of sheep infecting cattle at this stage in the progression of the disease and that risk can be even further reduced by carrying out a proper Risk Assessment (a concept advocated and developed by the SVS) on farms where sheep and cattle have normally been farmed together.
It becomes clear that this strategy of establishing when sheep might have had any dangerous contact and working with an enlightened veterinary surgeon developing an individual farm least risk policy under regular surveillance might provide a sensible means of making progress."
May 26 ~ The lone voice of Dr Donaldson also went unheeded
The letter from Alex Donaldson in the Veterinary Record , although couched in necessarily tactful language, is a cry of exasperation at the waste of life and resources. His voice had been drowned out by the rest of King's "scientific" committee at the time that such disastrous decisions were being made: " .. The potential benefits of culling all animals on all contiguous premises within 48 hours should be weighed against the likelihood that many of the contiguous premises did not contain infected animals, the impact of having to dispose of the resultant animal carcases and the diversion of very limited veterinary resources and support staff from surveillance activities."
May 26 ~ The breakthroughs in vaccine development were not being taken into consideration
extract from "Agricultural Research Magazine Dec 1995 (sic) by Sandy Miller Hays ARS about Fred Brown's pioneering work on the FMD virus. (see warmwell page on arguments against the contiguous cull It is a tragedy of epic proportions that Fred Brown's advice was arrogantly swept aside. He had aslo drawn attention to the on-site PCR rapid diagnosis test in early March)
"An ARS microbiologist with a lifetime of experience studying FMD, Brown worked with APHIS' Juan Lubroth to pinpoint a protein in the FMD virus that's present in the virus' early days of self-reproduction, but not in the final virus particle. "We can grow the virus in tissue culture, and this particular protein stays behind in the culture cells when you extract the virus," explains Brown. "So you can make a vaccine from that virus, inject it into livestock, and the animals' immune systems won't make antibodies against that particular protein because it wasn't present in the vaccine. "But if an animal has been infected with FMD virus, that protein will have been present, and you will find antibodies against it in the blood. So, to differentiate between an animal that's been vaccinated and one that was actually infected with FMD virus, you could run tests to check for antibodies against that indicator protein."
If an amateur website (warmwell) had this information at the beginning of the epidemic - why didn't the policy makers have it?
May 26 ~ "The Government does not recognise this description of the contiguous cull policy or accept the allegations made
in paragraph 27 of the Committee's Report. While it is accepted that the FMD outbreak of 2001 had not been predicted and was unprecedented, the contiguous cull was adopted on the basis of scientific and veterinary advice, as a proportionate response to deal with that situation, in order to get ahead of the disease. Nor is it the case that the policy was administered without regard for local circumstances; provision was made for the exercise of local veterinary judgement in deciding whether premises were indeed contiguous and whether special factors meant that the animals on them had not in fact been exposed to the disease. As the Committee recognises, to be effective the contiguous cull had to be carried out before animals on farms adjoining infected premises became infected in their turn, and the Government believe that the cull played an important role in bringing the outbreak to a close." (interim report)....
May 26 ~ Booker's Notebook Sunday Telegraph "desperate to avoid that independent public inquiry"
"Some remarkable revelations are emerging from Cumbria county council's inquiry into last year's foot-and-mouth disaster, not least the formal evidence given by Longtown, Britain's leading sheep market. In the first days of the epidemic Longtown was identified as the source of 22,000 sheep sold that February which had carried the virus all over the country. Nothing could have been more crucial to halting the epidemic than tracing those animals; and when officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food visited the mart on February 26, by 10 am they had been given exact details of where every sheep had gone. A month later MAFF rang to say it had "lost the information". Could it be re-supplied? In August, MAFF rang again to say it had lost the second set of records. It is hardly surprising Mr Blair was so desperate to avoid that independent public inquiry. "
May 26 ~ Protest is an ally of science
(from Idependent on Sunday) "Nullius in verba - "take nobody's word for it" - reads the motto of the Royal Society, where the Prime Minister last week made his speech to "speak up for science". It is a good description of good science, which challenges the consensus, investigates the truth, and subjects everything to rigorous and independent testing. It is also, of course, the very antithesis of spin. Predictably, perhaps, Mr Blair seems more concerned with spin than science. Much of his speech, it is true, was unexceptional: the importance of technological advance and a call for more and better scientific education. But as he himself made clear, it was not such sentiments that prompted him to make it.......The Indians were not classic disinterested scientists objectively pursuing truth; they were in business, and the biotech business at that. They were also objecting to a debate over acceptance of the very technologies in which they had a financial interest. And finally they dismissed their opponents as emotional and irrational; only theirs was the "proper science" and it must be imposed by political action. As the anecdote reveals, Mr Blair seems incapable of distinguishing between science and the interests of business....... .whether he likes it or not, there are real concerns about the technology that need to be discussed - and the science, the real "proper science", is increasingly supporting them. The Independent on Sunday has been investigating and reporting them for many years now, and will continue to do so. For we are not going to take Mr Blair's, or any interested party's, word for it. "
May 25 ~ "that the various players are now engaging in far too superficial an analysis
focusing on the downstream failures rather than the core failures which led to the mess in the first place. Thus, the major system failures at the heart of governance are not being studied effectively (or at all) nor understood. By failing to do this, we leave those core system weaknesses undetected and unchecked. The result is that we will end up with a new policy which will be just as flawed - but in a different way - as the original, and no better mechanisms for dealing with the next crisis...." (see email from Brussels)
May 25 ~ Ministers "busy rewriting history ..."
As the WMN puts it, "..... Only this week, in answer to criticisms from the Commons rural affairs committee of the way it handled the foot and mouth outbreak, Ministers were busy rewriting history, describing the widely discredited and devastating contiguous cull as "scientific" and a "proportionate response" to the problem at the time."
May 24 ~ Time to take the gloves off
The Telegraph today has timely words about this Government, who, it says, are :" .....dismissive of the rights of property, obsessed with the need for more regulation of rural business and agriculture and, in the case of some ministers, hostile to livestock farming itself. It is time for all those seeking to represent rural life to take stock, and to ask themselves whether they should not take the gloves off in the fights .."
We also look with dismay at the posturings of the RSPCA heirarchy (Spin Alert) who, while displaying their bleeding hearts upon their sleeves, keep very quiet indeed about foot and mouth and omit to say that they stayed very quiet indeed while so many of the ten million animals died needlessly. These included the thousands and thousands of healthy sheep and lambs at Great Orton, slaughtered amid scenes of sickening carnage. For what? Whose lives were made better by the 2001 handling of foot and mouth? Whose lives are to be made happier by the ignorant policies and strangling red tape imposed for spurious reasons in the countryside. We refuse to let it all just be swept away.
May 25 ~ "We must not be irresponsible, Comrades. Surely, Surely you do not want to see FMD Jones come back?"
In almost these words, the affable Lord Squealer Whitty answered the question from Lord Onslow in the House of Lords on Thursday about the utterly illogical regulations to be imposed on shows. While some smiled at the "cow pat" question it was not funny. Like the TSE debate, it revealed a great deal about how the career nodders nod, the NFU sends orders about how to vote and democracy languishes. When is an understanding about transmission of FMD going to filter up to those making policy? When is it going to emerge into the public arena that the disease was already in decline by the time the contiguous cull was put into force? And, as far as the further madness of the last few weeks are concerned, when will independent scientific research be able to probe the nature of vCJD, showing up recent pronouncements about "theoretical risks" for what they are?
May 25 ~ Warmwell gives evidence at the "Lessons Learned" Inquiry
That lessons were learned or are being learned or will have been learned is perhaps in doubt but we will remain optimistic. Meanwhile we will continue on these pages to put into the PUBLIC ARENA the verifiable facts and witness statements by which any of the Inquiry Reports may be compared when they do finally come out. Our experience at the Inquiry
May 25 ~ "...these technocrats are totally out of touch with reality.
They have gone into orbit and landed on another planet like the astronauts for which the HACCP system was devised. If Parliament endorsed it, it would prove that it too was living on another planet." More on the HACCP and the Statutory Instrument mentioned yesterday. This article comes from "First Voice"
May 24 ~ 'Officials ignored local knowledge'
FARMERS in Eden echoed stories from others in the region - of many unanswered questions and poor communication - when they met members of Cumbria's Independent Foot-and-Mouth Inquiry Panel at a public meeting in Appleby. .... For many, it was a chance to tell their story to the eight-strong panel, which included Nick Gent, a consultant for health protection in Cumbria and Lancashire; Andrew Humphries from Voluntary Action Cumbria and John Hetherington, a retired farmer and former agricultural educationalist. John Sanders, a farmer from Newby, who lost 150 adult sheep and 200 lambs in the outbreak, criticised the lack of communication from DEFRA and told how he received four letters from DEFRA officials asking to come and inspect his sheep after they had been culled. But he welcomed the opportunity to meet with panel. He said: "The meeting has been very balanced. " He wanted to look to the future and know that, if an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease happened again, things would be handled differently. "Farmers feel there have been too many unanswered questions. In the early stages of the outbreak people were scared of the MAFF officials and I don't think that would happen again. The officials isolated local vets whereas they should have worked with them and got their co-operation. " That sentiment was supported by Appleby vet Helen Gould, who felt local knowledge was not made use of during the outbreak. "We knew where biosecurity was good and where help was perhaps needed. People in the area have suffered both financially and psychologically, " she said. Professor Phil Thomas said...people wanted to make sure there was a better way of handling things.
May 24 ~ Another case of unanswered questions and poor communication?
Professor Phil Thomas has written to Margaret Beckett, secretary of State at DEFRA, inviting her or her ministers and officials to give evidence to the inquiry. The ministry is expected to decline to send any representative in person as it did with the Devon and Northumberland inquiries. Professor Thomas submitted with his invitation a list of 28 detailed questions for Mrs Beckett and her ministry. The letter was sent on May 8, but as the Gazette went to press last night (Thursday), the minister had not acknowledged its receipt. The Gazette will report the ministry's response as and when Mrs Beckett or her colleagues reply.
May 24 ~ " As there is no known test for TSE on living animals, all those deemed to be susceptible, would have to be slaughtered. The inspectors thus acquire very extensive powers
and there is virtually no appeal for the farmer or animal owner. Since all animals are deemed to be TSE susceptible, pets are at risk as much as livestock. Powers of entry given to inspectors were exactly the ones that disturbed people who read the Animal Health Bill, which, pace Lord Whitty's pronouncement on Farming Today, dealt with scrapie as well as foot and mouth. One cannot quite escape the suspicion that, having failed to pass the Bill, DEFRA is putting the same provisions into a regulation. ......The spectre of a country without any regulations that control a devastating disease, raised intentionally by the Minister, Lord Whitty, was just that: a spectre. It seems to have fooled a number of people inside and outside the House of Lords. " (an article by Dr Helen Szamuely)
May 24 ~ More damaging regulations for food-producing small farmers
There is a new Statutory Instrument out, which will come into effect on June 7: 889. Title: FOOD, ENGLAND - The Meat (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) (England) Regulations 2002. Our Westminster correspondent writes, "There is not a great deal we can do about as it is a European regulation being put into British law, though at some point we shall have to compare them quite carefully..... it is an absolute killer and will do enormous damage to small food producing companies, including farmers who want to expand their activity into food processing of some description. This is not our government but definitely EU stuff. Meat is the first. The other food producers will be hit later. There is a long and complicated history behind HACCP. To some extent, it is what people wanted but there are problems in that, inevitably the EU introduced both testing of process (HACCP) and testing of produce (older method). Precisely what we were trying to avoid. I believe our report on the meat industry actually said that. "
We will provide further details of all this as soon as they reach us.
May 24 ~ Margaret Beckett's reply on 20th to Peter Ainsworth about the SI843 was surely somewhat inaccurate?
Peter Ainsworth asked what consultation had been undertaken, and with whom, over the content of Statutory Instrument 843 on TSEs. 
Margaret Beckett said (see answer) " My Department consulted more than 700 key stakeholders on draft proposals for the TSE (England) Regulations 2002, representing renderers, slaughterhouses, farmers, knackers, hunt kennels, veterinary, consumer and medical interests and enforcement authorities. That is, the people who are actually affected or need to know" Odd then, that a stakeholder raised this under Any Other Business on May 9th, saying he had read about the slaughter provisions of the SI only that day in the Telegraph. Could it be that the London stakeholders were not considered "key" - or was it that the 700 had been pointed only towards the regulations of MBM?
Margaret Beckett continued...." The consultation package was distributed in February 2002. It was posted on the Department's website and a copy placed in the Library of the House. " Why then was there an email received from Defra in early May which tells us that the "proof copy" would be put up on the website later that day?
May 24 ~ Warmwell gives evidence to the Lessons Learned Committee
The reasons for warmwell's rather erratic appearance lately has included the need to take time out to go through material in order to present an overview of our reading of the crisis for the Lessons Learned Committee. Since there are now getting on for 1500 files on warmwell, this is not an easy thing to do. We sympathise with Dr Anderson's team for the massive task that must be undertaken if a fair report is to be presented by July. One consolation must be that the official Lessons Learned team - unlike warmwell - does receive financial and secretariat help in its attempt to uncover the truth. Details of what was presented yesterday in Whitehall will appear shortly.
Although we didn't stress this point, it may occur to the Anderson team to wonder why so many disinterested ordinary people are still, as a result of an outrage that does not diminish with time in spite of the government's best efforts, pouring their energy, time and money into the foot and mouth issue. It would have been forgotten with the relief of 1968 had it been handled correctly.
May 24 ~ Why is the Food Standards Agency inciting sheep fears again?
The TSE slaughter regulations are now in place. The sheep of Britain - those that survived FMD, and many millions did not - are looking increasingly vulnerable. While SEAC rubbishes any serious research into BSE and the real possibility that links with vCJD are not provable, the FSA has been, once again, cleverly not quite saying that sheep pose a real threat to the population. Subsequent headlines that help them in their task include: "Sausage skins face ban over BSE fear "(Telegraph); Food experts assess sheep BSE risk (BBC); BSE 'still reaching Britain in feed' (BBC); Agency warns of BSE food 'risk' ( BBC note the subtle use of quotation marks - but few will); Safeguards urged over sheep BSE risk (Reuters) Calls for a ban on sheep intestines (ITV); Food agency to spell out risks of disease in sheep (Guardian It will be noted that no quotation marks appear around the word "risks" in this headline)
But we also got yesterday the story that T-bone steak is likely to return to EU dinner tables - so some part of common sense may be returning through one door while more rushes out of another . South Africa's distress that the FSA has - warned that South African meat posed a higher risk of being contaminated by foot-and-mouth disease were untrue, the department of agriculture and land affairs said on Wednesday. Departmental director-general Bongiwe Njobe, who expressed shock and concern about the allegations, said in a statement the UK Food and Standard Agency had no proof for the speculations.
Having no proof does not appear to worry the FSA about making speculations that can, almost at a stroke, destroy lives and livelihoods. And, as has been noted, the legislation to kill all not even suspect but only susceptible animals has been British law since April 19th.
May 24 ~ "What Tony Blair is doing is not so much riding to the defence of science as riding to the defence of industry "
Natasha Walter in the Independent yesterday put it very well. ".....Tony Blair should be aware that by far the most unsettling arguments against the release of GM crops into the environment are now coming from scientists. These scientists are arguing that the newest developments in genetics suggest that genetic modification cannot be as straightforward and predictable as some would have us believe. There are many reasons for people to feel suspicious about the use of genetically modified organisms in the environment - from the way that they might threaten biodiversity by encouraging heavy use of pesticides, to the way that the technology is controlled by big business, so disempowering small farmers who become reliant on corporate products. But the most compelling dissent comes from scientists who are suggesting that genetic modification of crops relies on over-simplistic science."
May 24 ~ Guardian today has more rhetoric on the subject of brains and research grants.
"Now the science budget was increasing by 7% a year in real terms; and - in partnership with the Wellcome Trust, the medical charity - £1.75bn had gone into the renewal of equipment and conditions in laboratories and universities. Instead of a continuing brain drain, there were signs of a "brain gain"...."
Do we not remember also a rather insane vain brain pain when bottles of mashed brains were confused, very nearly resulting in the slaughter of the entire sheep flock? Perhaps science should, after all, be tempered with common sense and ethics.
"In GM crops, I can find no serious evidence of health risks. But there are genuine and real concerns over biodiversity and gene transfer ," said our Prime Minister, the Science Champion - with quite mind-boggling naivety..
May 23 ~ Mr Blair and New Labour only pro-science when it suits them
is one of the conclusions in this article from Friends of the Earth. "A recent leak to Friends of the Earth shows that the Government is planning to reduce the public's right to object to GM crop development through seed listing hearings, the only lawful opportunity the public now has to raise scientific and other concerns about GM crop safety. It downgrades scientific findings that are awkward or potentially expensive. For example, scientists - including the Government's own Chief Medical Officer - have warned of the 12-24,000 premature deaths every year in Britain from air pollution largely caused by traffic. Yet the Government has abandoned attempts to cut traffic levels. It tries to label opponents of Government policy as "anti-science" when in fact they are concerned about risk - the Government is rushing forward to license GM crops without applying the precautionary principle that should guide the introduction of new technologies." (see Newspaperpages)
May 21 ~ Why have the RCVS and the BVA been so strangely compliant over the past year?
Ken Tyrell, the senior vet with experience of both the 1968 outbreak and the shambles of the 2001 handling writes the following,"The Royal College is terrified of the Government because the latter could bring in a new Veterinary Surgeons Bill which would or could take away some of the VS work and say it could be done by lay people. Consequently the RCVS is toeing the Governmentt line and therefore will not back FMD vaccination unless the Govt changes its mind - when it will also change to back vaccination overnight as it were.
Now the BVA is not as worried as the RCVS but has some doubts. There is no other logical reason why the veterinary profession should not back vaccination. Nor will they step out of line on the PCR.
However there is also lurking in the minds of the RCVS and the BVA that were the various inquiries to look into the conduct of very many vets during the epidemic the profession would come out of it extremely badly e.g. wrong diagnosis without a shred of veterinary expertise, ignoring the oath we all swore to look after the animals in our care (our "Hippocratic" oath) when joining the RCVS, the possibility of litigation by stock owners whose livelihoods were taken away by inexperienced vets "still wet behind the ears ". etc, etc,. Hence the don't rock the boat attitude and "let's all keep our heads down" philosophy. Remember there is also the Honours List yet to come post the epidemic.......Arise Sir?????
I am not on the RCVS register being retired so I cannot influence the RCVS but if you wish to publish my comments please do so."
May 21 ~ In a letter to the Times Peter Melchett says:
"....The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has reported that the BSE crisis has cost the Government £million. Over £7 billion has been paid out following the foot-and-mouth outbreak. The total external cost of agriculture has been estimated at £4 billion a year, including, for example, the 3120 million cost borne by water companies, and ultimately consumers, to remove pesticides from drinking water supplies. Now Margaret Beckett says that the Treasury is not a "goodwill charity" able freely to hand out 3500 million over three years to sustainable farming schemes (report, May 16), and that she has been told that the public advantages must be proved. The disadvantages of our current farming system are proven, and the importance of a switch to wildlife-friendly, sustainable and organic farming should be clear to all, including the Government.
May 21 ~ Prof Anderson will be speaking and answering questions in Brussels today.
The meeting of 21 May on the epidemiological aspects (15.00-18.30)
"The situation, after certain cancellations and replacements, is now as follows.
- Prof. Bartling, the Netherlands
- Dr Miguel Angel Diaz Yubero, Spain
- Mrs Isabelle Chmitelin, French Ministry of Agriculture (only for a brief introduction)
- Mr Moutou, French Ministry of Agriculture
- Prof. Dr. Osterhaus, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- Prof. Roy Anderson, Imperial College London,
- Prof. Zwingmann, German ministry for food, agriculture and forests."(see details of further scheduled meetings)
May 20 ~ Blair declares himself champion of Science: DEFRA cuts science research budget again.
According to today's Times, Mr Blair has "called for an end to the air of suspicion and mistrust that sometimes surrounded the work of scientists... misplaced fears and ignorance it often generated.... huge opportunities in science, for medical progress and for dealing with some of the great environmental and economic challenges."
However, some research is evidently the "wrong kind of science", or as the sheep in Animal Farm might have chanted,
"GM good: anti-GM bad. ....Krebs and SEAC good: Ebringer, Purdey, Brown, Venters bad..... Huntingdon Life Sciences good: ethical concern bad...." and especially..... "Imperial College good: internationally renowned FMD experts BAAAah aad..."
Mr Blair said, in advance of a speech coming up on the subject on Thursday, "there should be a more mature attitude to science in Britain. It is time to speak up for science".....Slipping effortlessly, as he so often does, into more-in-sorrow-than-anger "schoolmaster" mode, he said that there were "obviously ethical questions over some research that had to be addressed by politicians and society as a whole" but that " it is completely unacceptable for people to try to disrupt and destroy the legitimate research on which these issues will ultimately be judged" We can't help asking how acceptable it was for Prof King's powerful committee that decided the fate of thousands of hapless animals and farmers, to have been packed with the "right" sort of scientists, while the "wrong sort" - i.e. those who had a genuine knowledge of the nature and transmission of foot and mouth - were ignored and derided leaving (we assume) the lone voice of Dr Alex Donaldson to argue against the fatally flawed and unnecessary contiguous cull.
(see also how GM protesters are to be silenced by new legislation)
May 20 ~ Lord Melchett (Soil Association) writes to the Times
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has reported that the BSE crisis has cost the Government 𧷐 million. Over ٠.7 billion has been paid out following the foot-and-mouth outbreak. The total external cost of agriculture has been estimated at ٠.4 billion a year, including, for example, the £120 million cost borne by water companies, and ultimately consumers, to remove pesticides from drinking water supplies.
Now Margaret Beckett says that the Treasury is not a "goodwill charity" able freely to hand out £500 million over three years to sustainable farming schemes (report, May 16), and that she has been told that the public advantages must be proved.
The disadvantages of our current farming system are proven, and the importance of a switch to wildlife-friendly, sustainable and organic farming should be clear to all, including the Government. (full letter is on newspaper page)
May 19 ~ Maff lost Movement listings from Longtown for several weeks and failed to contact dealer for 18 weeks
Border TV reported this today as we reported on Friday (see below) Longtown auctioneers say that they gave MAFF listings of all the livestock movements from their auction mart at the very beginning of the FMD outbreak last year (it took them an hour) and the Ministry lost them. They asked for them again several weeks later. They also told MAFF about some dealings outside of the auction mart that had taken place but MAFF decided not to contact the particular dealer/farmer until some 18 weeks later. Of course, the Longtown sheep were supposed to be highly infectious, weren't they? Why wasn't this brought up at other Inquiries I wonder?
May 19 ~ The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has cut its research budget for 2002/03 by £1m.
The last 15 years have seen the department's budget cut from £202m in 1986/87 to £116m in 2000/01.
Dr Peter Cotgreave, director of the campaigning group Save British Science, said: "The cuts come despite the fact that over the last 15 years we've had listeria in cheese, salmonella in eggs, TB badgers, BSE, foot and mouth and swine fever. Everyone of these problems has a science-based answer, but every year budgets are being cut." See news report in Friday's Education Guardian
May 17 ~ Warmwell may not be updated for a few days.
This is a temporary pause and normal service will be resumed as soon as possible - probably May 20th. Visit http://www.farmtalking.org, http://www.sovereignty.org.uk and Smallholders on line.
May 17 ~ Many genetically modified crops would not be economically viable for farmers, according to a study the European Commission wanted to keep secret
because it casts doubts on the commercial future of GM farming.....see today's Telegraph and Robert Ulig's report.
May 17 ~ "A complete FARCE..."South Cumbria has its say at Ulverston
Some clear reporting here from This is the lake District co.uk ..."If you were a farmer nobody but nobody would talk to you at Carlisle." Mr Baxter further believed that some contractors tried to cash in on the administrative chaos claiming to check things just to earn money. ....Failure to consult local expertise was blamed for a decision to enforce the boundaries of the Furness infected area which the NFU's Cartmel and Ulverston group secretary, Tom Hodgson, said did not make sense. ....we couldn't bring sheep back home, we lambed all the sheep up on the tops where it was snowing. Under normal conditions you would have been prosecuted by the RSPCA for the state these animals were in.....POLITICAL expediency rather than diseases control issues seemed to be guiding Government policy on foot-and-mouth, according to John Cook of the Lakeland Veterinary Association. there were "wide discrepancies" between what was happening on the ground in the county and what Ministry HQ in Page Street, London, thought was happening. He set out a catalogue of criticisms of the way the crisis was handled, including: a failure to learn the lessons from the 1967 outbreak, the shunning of local expertise while ill-informed authorities took decisions centrally and for political reasons, flawed epidemiological modelling based on poor quality data and slavish attention to bureaucratic detail within DEFRA. ......On April 18, partly driven by concerns over health and partly by public perception, it asked the ministry to suspend burning and no more pyres were built - the "definitive" Department of Health guidance did not arrive until the burning had stopped
.....: "I have neighbours who've been threatened in various ways but they dare not speak for fear of the consequences." He told the nine-person inquiry panel about two items he had found while touring his farm to check for signs of the disease. He suspected the items may have been deliberate attempts to infect his farm...(Read all)
May 17 ~ Haig Murray, the auctioneer at Longtown mart, told the Cumbria Inquiry panel it was common knowledge that Government officials had "massaged" figures
See Cumbria News and Star "He said on one particular Bank Holiday weekend, the numbers of new cases of FMD had been kept under wraps for three days. "I know this because I was out on farms that had been confirmed as infected premises, but that day, the official figures stood at nil," said Mr Murray.
After a formal meeting with the mart chairman Tucker Armstrong, the 10-strong panel mingled with local farmers in a bid to hear first hand how they felt about the foot and mouth crisis. Mr Armstrong said that Maff and later Defra were keen to condemn the auction mart system.
"They did this for two reasons. One, to cover their own backs for their own inefficiencies, and two, to discredit auction mart system. They are still continuing to do this," he said...
May 17 ~ From the Smallholder on Line Newsletter: "Our research into the Uruguay FMD epidemic of 2001 has turned up the following facts from an impeccable source
# Livestock population (2001) 10.6 million cattle and 12.1 million sheep, in an area approximately the same as the UK
# A few days prior to the recognition of the outbreak, cattle had been dispersed from an auction to other departments of the country, hence the epidemic became widespread
# In the first week, 6937 animals were destroyed and buried (5,093 cattle, 1511 sheep and 333 pigs)
# The Government was forced to suspend the stamping-out procedure due to "the strong resistance of the local farmers" and the spread of disease to other departments of the country
# After that, infected premises and contact farms were quarantined with prohibition of livestock movements until 30 days after the last case.
# April 27th - all livestock movement banned
# May 5th - vaccination of all cattle commenced (no other livestock)
# June 7th - vaccination of 10.6 million cattle completed and movement restrictions relaxed
# June 15th - second round of cattle vaccination commenced
# July 22nd - second round of vaccination completed
# Most vaccinations were carried out by farmers
# Average rate of vaccination 350,000 cattle per day
# Last case recorded on 21st August
# Export trade to EU and other markets re-commenced on 1st November
# The total cost of eradicating the epidemic was 13.6 million US$
.... a widely-dispersed epidemic, similar in all main respects to the UK pattern,.. four months from first to last case, and.. re-exporting a further two months later. Both slaughter and costs were minimal, and insignificant by comparison to the UK. The close proximity of a fully-susceptible sheep population to the cattle did not influence the course of the epidemic. Note that even infected premises were not slaughtered out after the first week! Quarantine, vaccination and movement restriction were sufficient measures.
We are using this information to challenge the established mindset here in the UK - and we urge you all to do the same. Tell your MP, tell your local NFU rep, tell the local media, tell anyone who is still under the false impression that vaccination does not work. Don't let them get away with it!"
(see also the warmwell pages on Uruguay which can be simply cut and pasted into a fax to your MP or into an email to the NFU)
May 17 ~"an ingenious way to sidestep any tiresome need to consult Parliament"
Muckspreader this week".....Defra is also under fire for the cunning wheeze it has used to get round its recent humiliation in the House of Lords when peers chucked out the notorious Animal Health Bill. What angered the bill's critics was the unprecedented powers it would have given officials to enter the premises and to kill any animal they wished, while removing from the owner the right to object.
It has now come to light that Defra has craftily got round peers' rejection of the bill simply by introducing many of the powers in the form of a statutory instrument on scrapie and BSE. This passed automatically into law on 19 April without anyone noticing. Its excuse is that it had no option because these regulations came from the EU. But it is certainly an ingenious way to sidestep any tiresome need to consult Parliament before bringing in yet another ridiculous and unpopular law......"
May 16 ~ "If they try it again, they'll be insurrection in the camp. We'll never trust Defra again".
When, at the Cumbria Inquiry public meeting at Appleby, the Statutory Instrument for the culling without hindrance of any "BSE susceptible" animal was mentioned, a Cumbrian farmer spoke for many when he said, ""If they try it again, they'll be insurrection in the camp. We'll never trust Defra again". and said that "they should channel everything through our local vets. Communication needs to be set up now." (See Appleby report from Elaine)
May 16 ~Longtown markets tells Cumbria inquiry how MAFF lost the stock movements print-outs they'd given them to locate the possibly infected sheep....
Nick Green who was at Appleby last night, writes, " Longtown markets, regarded as the epicentre of the disease and unfairly criticised by both MAFF and Blair, had the chance to fight back and indeed they did!
The Chairman accused both Blair and MAFF of lying and covering up major issues during FMD 2001. One example of MAFF incompetence was after Longtowm Markets had printed off all the stock movements for a given period and delivered them to MAFF in the naive hope that they would trace all these movements to aid tracking down the disease.
Maff LOST the movements and Longtown Markets were asked for a re-print MONTHS later! It was also noted, as a matter of record, that many of the employees at the mart. who regularly handled the supposedly infected sheep, returned to their own farms at night. Few had contracted the disease!
Also, disturbingly, we hear this evening that NO FUNDING is available in Cumbria to enable the TB testing programme to be conducted in a timely fashion! This testing is expected to last another 7 MONTHS! With cattle now turned out to grass, could Cumbrian stock again be staring into the abyss?
3 reports from Appleby
May 16 ~ "Hard evidence has been amassed which indicates that vCJD and BSE could both result from separate exposure of bovines and humans to the same set of toxic environmental factors
manganese and oxidizing agents; and not from the ingestion of the one by the other. If such a polemic hypothesis continues to accumulate momentum, a radical upheaval of the status quo mindset can be expected.
Despite this discovery being substantiated by both field and laboratory observations, the resulting published data has been outright dismissed by Establishment bodies. Furthermore, all funding proposals aimed at furthering this line of research have been irrationally rebuffed at peer review.
Contrary to the positive recommendations of the 1999 BSE Phillip's Inquiry report to the UK government for funding my work, rejection of grant proposals continue to present day, including one submission aimed at developing a feasible cure for vCJD." So writes Mark Purdey, who has been treated in just the same way as has Dr Venters and Professor Alan Ebringer. (See BSE/CJD page) There is a very strong smell of rat pervading the scientific establishment. If seriously researched "rival" theories are being systematically rubbished by what can only be described as a Maffia of "scientific advisers" it cannot be in the public interest. So the question remains, in whose interest is it? Scientific spinning rings were being run around the ill-educated political nodders brought in to swell the vote as we saw last night in the debate. Of those in the Chamber, 16 only had any idea of the scientific anomalies involved.
May 16 ~"I was at the Lords. The government were determined to defeat the prayer by any means."
(See relevant HANSARD page on warmwell for the debate in new window) Hilary writes "Apart from Lords Willoughby (de Broke) and Ferrers, the opposition was not strong. The New Labour benches were packed with people who obviously knew little and cared less about farming, but they were efficient and ruthless at scaremongering. Lord Whitty (what a misnomer) set it up like Morton's fork: you give outrageous power to Defra or there is no legislation at all to stop scary encephalopathies killing us all. It would of course be irresponsible not to take every precaution to stop the spread of disease. With this argument, he ran rings round Lady Byford.
This is only about TSE's he said. Not about Foot and Mouth.
But they've got what they wanted. It will be easily extended now.
Democracy is a sick joke.
Law is the rule of the most unscrupulous"
In characteristic fashion, Hilary adds, "You think that literature is the only hope and I'm inclined to agree with you, but love goes a long way. Most people have a natural residue of goodwill, so I don't think a "debate" like that sums up the whole of human nature. Even kindness to animals will surface again"
The Hilarys of this world give us the strength to continue to "go from failure to failure with great enthusiasm" (Winston Churchill's splendid definition of "success")
May 16 ~ "If the SI falls there will be a health hazard" - and the Conservative front bench fell for it
The Prayer was amended by a Lib-Dem peer - amended again by Lord Whitty, then passed. In effect this means that the SI stands as it is but the Government has committed itself to bringing in various amendments through other negative instruments to deal with the "problems". They have no statutory obligation to do so and it remains to be seen whether they do. A Negative Instrument can be passed or rejected in its entirety. Presumably that is why this rather complicated legislation was brought in this way. Lord Whitty, as we shall see when the debate becomes available, prevaricated somewhat on the crucial points. The way he got the Conservative front bench to abstain was by repeating over and over again that if the Instrument falls there will be no BSE Regulations in place and that is a health hazard as well as everything else. Of course, there is no evidence, no matter what some of those Labour placemen and placewomen say, that vCJD is caused by BSE and the point about regulations is bogus. They could bring in another regulation without Section II tomorrow and put it into effect immediately. But it entangled the Conservatives. ( from our Westminster correspondent)
May 16 ~ The scale of the carnage
- Anne Lambourn writes, "in one four week period last year at least 2,072, 632 animals slaughtered. Mr Morley describe these as "the number of animals slaughtered as the result of foot and mouth". Not clear what is included here - does he mean all IPs, CPs, 3 km, other DCs, SOS? Obviously does not include WD Scheme.
The total by 24 June was already 3.4 million, of which over 2.7 million were sheep. How does that tie in with a current DEFRA website slaughter total of all types of livestock of approx. 4 million?"
- and she sends some statistics and tables to help clarify this. The confusing way in which figures are being presented is a matter of deep concern. We note, for example, how Mr Morley's "contiguous" table juggles numbers of animals with premises in a way that makes the negative sample result seem very small.
By the end of June, in England alone, a minimum of 208,000 healthy animals had been unnecessarily slaughtered on CPs associated with wrongly diagnosed "IPs". And that only relates to the tested IPs, so the actual figure would have been higher. We need some Parliamentary Questions asked about the true current figures. With no data-cleansing.
May 16 ~ SI 843 passes - and it almost passes belief
The BBC, in reporting Farmers condemn 'licence to kill' quote Sue Burton who is angry that animals not in the human food chain could be slaughtered. She said: "It allows them powers to freely entry a home, seize and kill any disease suspected animal included goats, sheep, cats and horses. "Your cat and my horses aren't going into the food chain and they are not going to be a risk to people."
"animal welfare campaigners say the measures have been introduced with proper debate " says the BBC, but alas, animal welfare campaigners are now the likes of the RSPCA, the RSPB and others, moneyed, deeply politicised and hanging on, white-knuckled, in positions that cannot allow them to rock the government dinghy. David Drew, well known now for his views about farming and Labour MP for Stroud, said: "Just look at the number of animal disease breakdowns we've had in the last few years, BSE, classic swine fever, foot-and-mouth and we've been plagued by TB. "We have got to look at those disease breakdowns and deal with them much more effectively." He might perhaps be better advised to look at farmers' breakdowns and the continuing trauma ruining the life and sleep of so many good people, including slaughtermen, who cannot bear the memory of the past twelve months of needless killing, terrified bellowing and arrogant bullying.
May 16 ~ " Blair doesn't want a reformed Lords, he just wants control"
Two stories at least today make us realise that the fairy story on this website might have been written by Cassandra. The Telegraph today says, "since 1997, the Government has at least been consistent. It has consistently tried and failed to rid the Lords of the hereditary peerage and it has equally consistently tried and failed to make the Upper House as compliant as the Commons.
The Prime Minister does not want an effective second chamber. Ivor Richard wanted one and it cost him his job as Leader of the Lords. Tony Blair's other actions, or those of his vicars on earth, confirms what his attitude is to the Lords. When forced to set up a Royal Commission, he chose from the options it proposed the one that gave the House the least chance of independence."
Far more worrying is that Mr Blair has been trying on the crown of the European Superstate. The FT today announces: "Britain on Wednesday joined forces with France to demand the creation of a powerful new president of the European Council who, Tony Blair, UK prime minister, believes will become the public face and driving force of Europe. ......Simon Murphy, leader of the British Labour group of MEPs, said after meeting Mr Hain on Wednesday: "Tony Blair's name has certainly been mentioned in connection with the job, but he is doing a good job running Britain at the moment." In a BBC interview on Wednesday, Mr Blair said he would happily go down in history as the prime minister who took Britain into the euro. Many in Brussels recognise that, if Mr Blair won a referendum campaign on the euro, his position in Europe would be unrivalled. "
Sauve qui peut.. "Mr Blair is doing a good job ruining Britain" is what we first thought the emollient Mr Hain had said.
May 15 ~"How learned and considered are the comments of Sheila Crispin and Janet Bradshaw on SI 843
(here) against Lord Whitty's disgruntled posturings. (What exactly are his qualifications anyway - scientific or political? )" writes an emailer, Janet, this evening.(We understand that Lord Whitty is an ex-union leader)
"SI 843 is potentially a very nasty piece of work and I am surprised that the RCVS is reported as being "relaxed" about it for the following reason.
If you look through the document, mention is made specifically of a "Veterinary Inspector" when any diagnostic action is stipulated. However the "slash & burn" type provisions only provide for an "Inspector" (who may, or may not, be a vet). Diagnosis of disease is the perogative of vets, but merely turning up at a farm and working out what is a cow or a sheep could be performed by anyone off the dole queue given a DEFRA badge! Vets tend to be expensive and many are having inconvenient ethical objections to slaughtering healthy animals, particularly in a "genetic cleansing" exercise which has little, if any, scientific basis. How much more convenient then to downsize the SVS even further.... .........
Finally, may I share with you a definition I chanced upon in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary: - "Terrorism - government by intimidation". My case rests...." (read full message)
May 15 ~ "It was pressure, pressure, pressure to kill quickly."
Farmers Weekly interactive has reported from the Ulverston meeting: ".....Feelings ran high at the event attended by around 40 people on Tuesday evening (14 May) as part of the Cumbrian inquiry into the outbreak. Charlotte Thexton, of Sayles Farm, Lowick Bridge, said she had challenged a request to cull their sheep, but was pressured to give into the slaughter.
She said: "We were told we could only delay it a few days and legal steps would be taken to enforce the slaughter. "It was point blank: 'You're being slaughtered. Don't fight the government because we will win'." She told the inquiry that an official disinfectant team was "useless" and she and her husband had had to clean the farm themselves after the cull. She was also scathing at the lack of information from the Ministry of Agriculture, now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. "I think Defra would have been better named MI5," she said. "Communication was non-existent. You couldn't get any information out of them." Josephine Baxter, who farms at Blawith, said she received a follow-up letter from Defra after stock belonging to another farmer were culled on their land. "Its first line was 'owing to foot-and-mouth on your farm, all your stock have been culled'. I mean, did somebody think we'd gone to sleep and missed it?"
Vet Rick Brown, who worked at Defra's field office in Broughton, said there was enormous pressure to kill stock to try and get on top of the outbreak. "The view was that it didn't get under control because they weren't killing quickly enough," he said. "It was pressure, pressure, pressure to kill quickly." .....
May 15 ~"As you may be aware......"
Professor Thomas has written to Mrs Beckett. "As you may be aware, the Cumbria County Council has initiated a 'local' Inquiry into the recent Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak......I am writing as Chairman of the Inquiry to seek the help of your Department in the completion of our task. We would be delighted to receive evidence from the Department, either through yourself or one of your parliamentary colleagues, if that were possible, or alternatively to have access to one of the Department's senior veterinary officers. However, failing that, we understand from the DEFRA 'Comments to Local Inquiries' that your Department is prepared to assist by providing information in response to written questions and we should very much wish to avail ourselves of that offer. I therefore enclose a list of questions that have arisen as a result of the initial examination of written evidence. Any help that your Department could provide would be much appreciated. ......."
We are very impressed by these questions. What answers will they bring forth, we wonder? All this reminds us of the wise words Norman Leslie, the witness in Kendal who, evidently sharing our deep dislike for the dead hand of centralisation, said, "This is an opportunity for local democracy to be seen at its best -government of the people, by the people and for the people - and not to perish from the earth."
May 15 ~ Lord Whitty doth protest...
See Defra website for this statement by Lord Whitty. "TSE (England) Regulations 2002, which contain vital measures for the protection of human and animal health and to eliminate BSE. ...... consolidate the tried and tested package of proportionate, precautionary measures, which have grown up in the UK over a number of years. They bring us into line with current Community requirements, based substantially on proven UK approaches (sic).... no scope for complacency....robust controls .....frustration over misleading press articles about the Statutory Instrument "Plainly the Regulations do not seek to revive powers in the Animal Health Bill. The Government consulted stakeholders on these proposals long before the Bill was blocked." "There are no mass culling powers in this SI. Powers to restrict, seize and slaughter any TSE susceptible animal may be used only for specific reasons.... cannot be applied indiscriminately or on an inappropriate scale.... limited to particular categories of cattle, sheep and goats."
"Nor has the Government tried to sneak this legislation in through the backdoor. People were consulted from early February. They were told what was happening, their views were taken into account. Over a thousand organisations - consumers, industry and professionals - were involved." "People who knock(sic) 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."....too much.
May 15 ~ More from Throckmorton
Ann, the bemused resident who has emailed us over the past twelve months about the foot and mouth chaos that has brought despair and anger to Throckmorton in spite of its attempts to make its voice democratically heard, writes today, "It was crazy here yesterday. There were press everywhere and tv crews; a very well mannered and polite bunch they were though and they seemed slightly gobsmacked that the government would house refugees in such an isolated spot...."
May 15 ~ Telegraph Opinion ... one and only chance to debate a measure that has already given the Government extraordinary new powers to seize and slaughter healthy farm animals and pets
without their owners' consent. The TSE (England) Regulations 2002 came into force without debate on April 19, even though similar measures had been rejected by the Lords only three weeks earlier. So how did the Government manage to extend its powers so enormously without the consent of Parliament - indeed, against the expressed wishes of the Lords?"
May 15 ~ The powers provided by SI843 are alarming and appear to lack scientific credence.
"An inspector will have the right 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). As it is not possible currently to diagnose TSE in live animals it is hard to see the justification for taking samples under these circumstances. Genotyping may indicate potential resistance or sensitivity but does not confirm disease presence." See Crispin and Bradshaw paper. The legislation will be considerably tougher than that of any other EU member state which goes against the Prime Minister's explicit promises.
A Prayer for the Annulment of the Statutory Instrument has been put down in the House of Lords by the the Countess of Mar."
It will be debated today in the House of Lords.
May 15 ~ I was asked vehemently did I believe that a SVS member would lie? Er.. Well now you mention it, .. as Ministers of DEFRA lie, why then should I believe that you would not?
Nick Green has questioned two key officials about the inconsistent culling policy that left a farming couple heartbroken and suicidal. Extract: "They were a "Contiguous Farm" to an I/P and both of them told the SVS vet, Mr Field that they did not want their animals killed. Despite the animals being completely healthy, they were killed "as a matter of urgency". However, Didi & Graham told me that eleven other "contiguous" farms remained standing. More worryingly, on another contiguous farm, Newhouse farm, 200 breeding gilts and 200 cattle were allowed to live under the express instructions of Truro DVM Mrs J.M.Kelly. She had already ordered the killing of some 3,800 pigs on the same farm!" The results of Nick Green's investigations can be read here.
May 15 ~the bureaucratic nonsense created and sustained by Defra had to be experienced to be imagined
From the report of the Salterbeck Inquiry meeting "Almost without exception, the farming and associated communities said that they had absolutely no faith whatever in DEFRA. Its performance (as MAFF) during the F&M disaster last year was pitiful. Whilst some veterinary advice, slaughter and disposal arrangements were exemplary, the bureaucratic nonsense created and sustained by Defra had to be experienced to be imagined. ...Defra failed to make use of information already in their possession (eg IACS) and sought more details from farmers, incorrect addresses and map locations were given resulting in confusion and lost time ..... No information of any value came from Defra ....
All of the endless and senseless muddle resulted in further stress and strain on farmers and their families at a time when they were already at their wits ends with worry."
May 15 ~"I was totally opposed to the mass murder of the animals during foot and mouth - which was a year of hell here - and before we have recovered from that they drop this on us."
Throckmorton has been in the grip of a Kafka-like nightmare for a year. Ann writes, "We already have a landfill site, the burial site and intensive chicken farm which was bitterly fought until the money ran out. They then resited a lorry firm on the airfield when they wanted the land for somthing else and just recently we have had to fight the storage of cars on the airfield.
It just said on the news that there is an element of NIMBY to our objections which again just ignores what we have had to put up with here and makes it seem like we are just complaining about refugees. But how many people would want to live with a landfill site on one side, a burial site on the other and opposite a chicken farm? But that is where they plan to put this refugee centre. " Read about Throckmorton here. It is a sorry tale. ( The television news showed the wrong village because the camera team couldn't get to it...which is somehow all of a piece with this extraordinary story of a village ignored.)
May 14 ~ Salterbeck Inquiry Meeting Cumbria County Council News Release today: .....The horrors of last year's foot and mouth disease outbreak must not happen again.
".....there was a feeling that it has been such a horrific process that no one must go through it again. I think it would be impossible to get the public to accept a re-run of what happened."
Professor Thomas added there were speakers at the meeting, many of them farmers, who were still angry and close to tears over their experiences. Many echoed the widespread criticism of poor communications during the outbreak from the then Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF), later the Department for Food and Rural Affairs. They were also critical of the operation to dispose of animal carcasses. Strong complaints were made that the disposal site at Distington had been set up without consulting local residents.
For the future, some sheep farmers at the meeting wanted a positive change in agriculture, but could see no way forward for them in the aftermath of the outbreak...... The remaining public meetings are tonight at the Coronation Hall, Ulverston, tomorrow (Wednesday May 15) at Appleby Public Hall, and Thursday at Longtown Memorial Hall. Doors open at all venues at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. See also a much fuller report.
May 14 ~ Mr Laurence Robertson MP has written to a worried constituent. The constituent is now even more worried.
Thank you for your e-mail regarding the Animal Health Bill.Who is advising Mr Robertson? Robin Cook?
As I understand it, the Bill is all but dead, and I have to say that I am glad. As you said, it would have given draconian powers to Ministers, and, having helped farmers through the foot and mouth crisis and having seen how they suffered, I would not want this to happen.
There was also a rumour that the government might try to obtain the powers in another way but I am advised that, at the moment, this is not the case. I hope this helps and am grateful to you for writing to me about this very important issue.
With best wishes.
Laurence Robertson M.P.
May 14 ~ It would appear that DEFRA and its Government Ministers have learnt nothing from the 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic
The Comments on the Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathy (England) Regulations 2002 SI 843 by Sheila Crispin MA, VetMB, BSc, PhD, DVA, DVOphthal, DipECVO, FRCVS and Janet Bradshaw BVSc, BSc, MRCPath, MRCVS may be read here. Among its conclusions:
*There is currently no evidence of naturally occurring BSE in sheep.
*Scrapie has been present in sheep for many hundreds of years. It seems odd that this historic disease must suddenly be dealt with in this precipitate and unscientific fashion.
*Selecting for scrapie-resistant genotypes is not necessarily the correct approach to controlling scrapie and certainly cannot be extended to controlling the theoretical risk of BSE in sheep.
*To allow inspectors the right to forcibly enter premises on possibly tenuous grounds, to take samples or even slaughter animals and to threaten those sheep keepers who object with imprisonment and fines is taking control measures to excessive levels with clear infringement of animal welfare and personal liberties.
* It would appear that DEFRA and its Government Ministers have learnt nothing from the 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic, in which huge numbers of healthy hefted sheep were slaughtered unnecessarily.
* The Government is incorrect to assert that SI843 is in line with EU regulations. EU regulations currently in force apply to animals with disease, or suspected of having disease, not to animals susceptible to disease.
May 14 ~ County statistics show that of the 9636 premises that are officially recognised as having had animals slaughtered ( 2026 only are termed "Infected premises" ) only 1326 were ever found positive at Pirbright
and of those 171 were confimed on antibody only.
Total numbers of farms slaughtered in each county is not related to numbers of positive infected premises ( in particular Anglesey and Essex) This anomoly is almost certainly due to different interpretations of culling policy and stage of the epidemic when most infections were found.
It is significant that percentage of negative tests per county ranges from 7.5 in North Yorkshire to 60% in Kent. ( Monmouth 58%, H&W 51%, Chesire 50%, Gloucester 46%, Staffordshire 42%). For the epidemic as a whole up to 50% of the contiguous culling occurred around negative and untested farms. Outside the hotspots up to 65% of the contiguous culling occurred around negative and untested farms.
North Yorkshire in particular and possibly Lancashire are of interest most of the infections occurred in the later stages of the epidemic. Both counties have a high percentage of positive lab test 92 and 83%. North Yorkshire had a distinct disease free period and both counties have infected premises where disease had lain undiscovered for weeks possibly months.
May 14 ~ "I do not believe that taking national measures is in the interests of the EU. BSE does not know any borders. . . said David Byrne
the European Union's consumer affairs commissioner back in November 2000. (See report) What is to be debated tomorrow in the House of Lords, however, is precisely that..a measure that applies to England alone - the legal right to identify (without any definition or live test) any BSE susceptible animal and slaughter it - and the legal right to use reasonable force to do so and heavily fine anyone who refuses to assist in the culling. This is not an EU wide regulation with which we are being asked as a matter of course to get in line. This is a national regulation dreamed up by DEFRA and which cannot be justified scientifically, legally or from a veterinary point of view. The fear of vCJD, linked now to the spurious claim that BSE can surface in sheep, would appear to be blinding everyone to a constitutional outrage.
May 14 ~ How many cat owners .. realise that the cruel and careless treatment ... accepted when applied to "farm animals" could come closer to home?
Lawrence has sent us this extract from a letter to a member of the House of Lords: "When you emailed us on 30th January, about the Animal Health Bill, describing it as a contentious and "highly flawed piece of proposed legislation", it must have been unimaginable to you that following the frustration of that Bill, the government would have merely imposed its worst excesses in the form of a Statutary Instrument.
It seems to us that the provisions of the SI 843 to allow Authoritarian intrusion and the forcible killing of "TSE susceptible animals" [what animal is proved not to be susceptible to a "TSE"?] are dangerous, not supported by science and apt to bring the Nation's authorities into disrepute. They seem to open the way to the most horrifying acts of genetic vandalism being applied first to our sheep breeds. Confronted with such unreasonable and pernicious laws, what recourse is there to the citizen but civil disobedience and ultimately resistence with all means available?
We have drawn the attention of Nick Harvey, our excellent MP to this attempt to impose the Animal Health Act by stealth. We feel that the majority of the population are not aware of the Instrument and the powers it includes. How many cat owners are aware that their pets are "TSE susceptible" and realise that the cruel and careless treatment which unfortunately seems to be accepted when applied to "farm animals" could come closer to home? Perhaps the realisation would cause them to revise their understanding of what is appropriate to the treatment of farm animals. "
May 14 ~ How much money was wasted on "vaccination training" at the start of the crisis?
an emailer writes, "A propos of seeing Nick Green's article about payments for Devon Rural Nurse training I applied to join the vaccination scheme being trained at Hatherleigh. 4 hours per session for 2 sessions paid at £90 per session. I attended the first session (very poorly organised and run) and was booked for the second only to be told the night before that it had been cancelled. When I phoned several times over the next day or two to find out when it was going to be held again, I was finally told that I was no longer required - no explanation was really forthcoming on why except, after much insistence, that I was considered "not suitable". A friend who is actually rather afraid of large animals was however kept on to complete the "course" and was subsequently paid £45 a day (I think) as standby money - not sure for how long. I don't know exactly how many people were involved in this training but there seemed to be an awful lot of them.
Might be interesting to find out how much was spent on this "training" scheme, don't you think? Especially as so few people even seem to be aware that it took place...."
May 14 ~ "People were still suffering flashbacks and tears, including soldiers and professionals
involved in the fight against the disease. says this Cumbria County Council News Release from 10 May "It must be recognised that such outbreaks directly affected human health. Public health and other authorities must be involved from the start in combating them, said Dr Tiplady, Director of Public Health for North Cumbria throughout the outbreak. ...
A resident of Cumbria with experience of risk analysis told the inquiry that pyres of animal carcases appeared to have been lit with no assessment of the risks. Ronald Hargreaves, of Egremont, said that before lighting the first bonfire of culled animals, the risks -either great or small - of spreading the disease and contamination should have been worked out. He suspected none had been made. Why did the then Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF, now DEFRA) ignore the conclusion of the inquiry into a previous outbreak that pyres should not be used, he asked?
Secretary of the Lakeland Veterinary Association, David Longley, repeated claims he had put to other inquiries that MAFF made decisions on political rather than disease control grounds. "The handling of the situation by MAFF and subsequently DEFRA has destroyed any confidence in them from either the farming community or from vets in practice," he said during the fourth day of the inquiry at Kendal.
Paul Tiplady, National Park Officer for the Lake District, one of many witnesses who have criticised MAFF - now DEFRA - for poor communications, said he had seen no sign of any "culture change" in London or elsewhere.
May 14 ~ Sheep being fed mashed BSE cattle brains
A fairly desperate attempt to prove BSE in sheep is this ongoing experiment being carried out at the Institute for Animal Health in Edinburgh, where 13 sheep have been orally infected with BSE (by feeding them mashed BSE cattle brain).
We had been (see below) of the opinion the only BSE infected sheep were those that had had BSE injected directly into their brain.
There is a report on the progress of the experiment in the October 2001 edition of the Journal of General Virology. Much of it is heavy going unless you are a clinical virologist, but the introduction, method and results discussion aren't too difficult to follow. When the article was presented to the Journal for publication (in May 2001) six of the thirteen sheep were still alive, some 1,631 days after infection.
We find this sickening, sinister and inhumane - but then we are not government-funded scientists with something to prove.
May 13 ~ There has not been a single instance of BSE in sheep recorded and all attempts to infect them artificially have failed.
The government seems absolutely sure that their scientists will at last find BSE in sheep - and, on the spurious basis of the assumption that CJD will be the inevitable consequence of eating such lamb, they want to be ready to exterminate animals without hindrance. There is no basis for this assumption. Statutory Instrument 843, which cannot be justified in terms of any "emergency" will give enormous powers to the minister at DEFRA and the "inspectors" that come calling and culling. They will be given carte blanche to identify a potentially TSE susceptible sheep, cow, pig, goat, cat (or fish). The Statutory Instrument provides no definition of the "disease" and nor is there a live test for it. Farm pets are not exempted. Only dogs are mentioned as exceptions. We shall be listening to the debate in the House of Lords on May 15th with great anxiety - hoping that the government will agree to postpone the legislation in view of the very serious concerns raised.
May 13 ~ The European Regulations - which do not require any separate UK legislation "to put us in line with Europe" anyway - only talk about monitoring animals
that are already TSE infected; however, the SI for the UK insists on slaughter of TSE susceptible animals. Where is the science to justify this anomaly? With the unspeakable experience of FMD still with us, we can foresee a situation where the distraught farmer says his animals aren't infected, the Ministry, with no burden of proof, maintains that they are - and the slaughter will be a foregone conclusion.
Is this a government, unaware as we know of the consequences for bio-diversity and breeding let alone animal welfare, hell bent on being the first to boast of a scrapie-free national flock - a sort of latter-day space race? Balked by the humanity and eloquence of the House of Lords on March 26 the government put forward this innocent-looking SI on March 27 - as if it were merely about MBM. In fact it repeats much of the discredited Animal Health Bill. There is no scientific, veterinary or legal justification for the SI at all. Why are the majority of newspapers so apathetic and spineless that they make no mention of this as unconstitutional as well as potty? Why are the vets (again) prepared to collude in legislation that makes a mockery of their professional oath rather than speaking out with authority?
May 13 ~ " serious consideration must be given to an EU-wide policy on using vaccination to control the disease in any future outbreak." Wolfgang Kreissl-Dorfler (PES, D)
(read pdf. file here) The most important message that the Foot and Mouth Committee has brought back from last week's visit to the UK is that serious consideration must be given to an EU-wide policy on using vaccination to control the disease in any future outbreak. Wolfgang KREISSL-DVRFLER (PES, D), who will draft the committee's recommendations, promised local farmers, vets, businesspeople and government officials that vaccination, and the related issue of export rules, would be examined in his report which will call for an international strategy on combating FMD. The 24 MEPs, representing all the main political groups and five Member States, also saw that there had been considerable confusion on the ground in the UK about the provisions of EU legislation on vaccination and culling and its interpretation. It quickly became clear during the trip that a key factor in the UK's difficulties in bringing the epidemic under control was the depletion of the state veterinary service. Another clear lesson from the UK's experience was that the disease can be handled much more effectively at local and regional level than from central governmentThe 24 MEPs,.....heard harrowing first-hand accounts of the devastation wrought by the epidemic. Farmers who were culled out suffered terrible losses, but so did farmers whose animals were not infected but could not be moved .... depth of human misery and emotional suffering caused by the epidemic was an essential aspect of the crisis and would not overlooked in the committee's conclusions. .... Its remit excludes any judgment of individual Member State governments. 18-20.04.2002 Delegation from the Temporary Committee on Foot and Mouth Disease Press enquiries: Mary Brazier - tel. (32-2) 28 42672 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 13 ~ Who told Saoul to slaughter instead of vaccinate?
Seoul orders 40,000 pigs slaughtered reports the Straits Times "In a bid to prevent the epidemic from spreading, the authorities will slaughter all pigs at farms within 3 km of where the initial cases of the disease were found, said Mr Choi Myung Chul at the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry...." While it could be misreporting, it is nevertheless interesting that this report from Australia states that S Korea was considering vaccinating 40,000 pigs "Officials are considering plans to vaccinate around 40,000 pigs at nearby farms. ..." and now we hear that they are to be slaughtered in a 3km cull. Who persuaded them that this was the best policy? (Joyce comments "We did it for an election: they do it for a football match....")
May 13 ~ BSE.. No independent research allowed. "We asked the Inquiry whether the apparent exclusion of private epidemiological work may have compromised the depth of knowledge of BSE
Working with an American company, a SW laboratory was keen to develop a system of marking cattle at pre clinical stage of BSE. A Live Test. Samples of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) were to be taken from an animal provisionally diagnosed with BSE, by the attending veterinary surgeon, with other samples taken from herd mates to try and develop a 'marker'. Only one sample was taken, before government intervention by the Home Office stopped the procedure. We asked the Inquiry whether the apparent exclusion of private epidemiological work may have compromised the depth of knowledge of BSE, and the speed at which it was controlled. We also enquired into the existence of a government franchise on any live pre-clinical test for BSE....."
We have been sent a précis of a report sent to Maff in 1998.."We sent 3kg. of supporting documents with it! They actually rang us up and said it had 'rocked them'. But despite this, we weren't called and all the info was probably binned" See the report
May 13 ~ "I think you are beginning to win the argument," says MP
of one farming family whose submission to the Parliamentary Ombudsman can be read here. The Ombudsman has been inundated with compliants and expects many more. Helpline 0845 015 4033 www.ombudsman.org.uk.
Complaints could range from:
Unnecessary contiguous slaughter or unnecessary imposition of Form D restrictions around negative and untested IPs. ( 702 out of the 2026 so-called IPs were not tested or returned negative results)Cases must be simple and must demonstrate that the wronged individual has complained and DEFRA has not attempted to compensate for failure to follow correct procedures or to rectify a situation.
Unnecessary delays in slaughter on positive IPs
Failure to test on IP.
"We need to put forward hundreds if not thousands of cases." says one complainant who found the process "easy"
May 12 ~ "They were fascinated to hear what he is doing to the British countryside: destroying farming; driving people from the land; breaking up families and communities; and, of course, attacking rural culture and tradition"
Robin Page writes in the Telegraph "... My short visit to America was at the invitation of the National Sporting Library in Middleburg, which had invited me to talk about that great British fighter for freedom and democracy, Tony Blair. They were fascinated to hear what he is doing to the British countryside: destroying farming; driving people from the land; breaking up families and communities; and, of course, attacking rural culture and tradition.
Like me, they were amazed at how he could make grand declarations and assertions in America, while at the same time in Britain his Government is seeking to harass and discriminate against a legitimate minority.
Excitingly, many of those present had seen One Man and His Dog on television in America, and they were outraged to hear how it had been dumbed down and I had been sacked for trying to save the programme.
By the time I had finished, they were not surprised to hear that the BBC director-general, Greg Dyke, would not see me to discuss the corporation's attitude towards the countryside, and they all had a much clearer view of life in Britain for country people under the smiling, gleaming, scheming Tony Blair.
Many made promises to come over to England to take part in the new Countryside March on September 22 - unless it is banned as another New Labour expression of "freedom and democracy".
May 12 ~ Refugees to be housed on foot and mouth pit
The Independent has reported that "Ministers are to build one of three "villages" for asylum-seekers on a site where thousands of foot-and-mouth carcasses were buried. The location, at Throckmorton airfield, in Worcestershire, was chosen from a shortlist of eight. Two more will be built at RAF Newton near West Bridgford, in Nottinghamshire, and on Ministry of Defence land in Bicester, Oxfordshire. More than 130,000 animal carcasses were dumped at Throckmorton, making the disused airfield the largest burial pit in the Midlands. ....... Earlier this year, David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, said he had drafted plans to build at least four reception centres to house up to 750 asylum-seekers each. ........
The shortlist of sites was published earlier this year. All are on Crown property, which allows the Government to use special regulations to win planning permission...."
Meanwhile, we are still wondering about the security fences to be built round Great Orton. It has been suggested that furnaces brought in from USA (or Canada) for incineration of carcasses on a "trial basis" may be used at Great Orton to get rid of the bodies of animals slaughtered under the SI843 rules - the Statutory instrument said merely to bring the UK in line with EU regulation - but in fact giving a great deal more power to Defra officials than to any similar official in Europe. We wonder if Mr Robin Cook has read the small print yet.
May 12 ~ "SI gives far greater powers to DEFRA officials than any other country's regulation does to its ministries.
It is, indeed, true that the Government, by laying down Statutory Instrument 843, is trying to by-pass Parliament on a matter of great seriousness and is openly defying the constitutional decision in the House of Lords. The SI actually came into law on April 19 without any discussion and without the text being openly available on either the parliamentary or DEFRA website. It can be annulled within 40 days of the day it was laid before Parliament - a purely formal procedure - that took place on March 28.
One should note that the SI is putting into British law an EU Regulation that would normally become that without any intervention by Parliament. (A free country?) The need for a separate Statutory Instrument is explained by the amount of "gold-plating" it achieves. Far from putting this country in line with European legislation as Lord Whitty said, the SI gives far greater powers to DEFRA officials than any other country's regulation does to its ministries.
However, it is untrue that the Lords cannot debate or vote on the Statutory Instrument. They will debate it on Wednesday, May 15 during a Prayer to Annul, put down by the Countess of Mar. If they wish, the peers can divide and vote out the Statutory Instrument. But will the Government take any notice of it if they do?"(From a letter to the Telegraph correcting a slight error)
May 12 ~ Government moving to stop all loopholes against its slaughter policies?
- an email just received "I heard on radio 4 sometime yesterday that there is a possibility of some sort of legislation against the legal profession who may, by bringing a case to court, delay an important action that needs to be taken. Do you know anything about this?"
We don't yet - but hope to know soon.
May 12 ~ Geoffrey Skerritt: "...FMD took the country by storm and left the profession's authority and reputation severely dented.
The RCVS, despite commendable effort by individuals, stood on the sidelines, defending its inaction by claiming to be only a regulatory body. It is true that the RCVS has s statutory duty to uphold the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966) but it must now also respond to the needs of the profession for leadership. It must be instrumental in helping the profession to regain its public profile and respect.
No sooner had FMD been beaten into submission, often using methods seeming to contradict that which we have learnt to be the ethical and moral duty of veterinary surgeons, than the draconian Animal Health Bill was slyly introduced in Parliament. The profession was still in disarray and failed to present government with the unanimous and emphatic objections that were needed.
The profession urgently needs to raise its profile and it is the RCVS that must take the lead in explaining the aims of the profession to politicians and the public...."
May 12 ~"They denied they had been feeble and useless during foot and mouth. I am not convinced. They denied they have become lackeys of the government in pursuit of the hunting ban. This is either a lie or they are genuinely self-deluded"
Jonathan Miller's Mean Fields column today is borne out by the response given to this heartfelt letter to the RSPCA sent at the end of March which included the following questions:
" A worrying matter has come to our attention and we would very much appreciate hearing from you with answers to the following questions:
. These questions, sent on March 29, are still - in spite of phone calls to and fro and a three page response from the RSPCA - awaiting an adequate answer.
- How many related cruelty cases have you attempted to take to court during the course of the Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK in 2001 and with what results?
- How many cases have you taken through under Section 1 Suffering of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 to the full span of the legal 6 months limit before announcing that you will drop the case ?.."
As for the SI 843 the RSPCA together with the NFU, the RCVS (see RCVS Council Election results) the BVA will all stick together on this one - it would appear to be a perfect way of getting rid of 'hobby farmers' or any farmers that care for their animals in a humane way - instead of looking at them as a factory commodity out of which they can get the most possible financial return.
May 12 ~ "You people have got to realize that we do not need your sheep. We can import all the meat we need."
Elliott Morley stood up at a meeting in the North and, following some difficult questioning, made this very telling statement. "I knew Morley was threatening to use it (SI 843) in the case of an emergency, but BSE and Scrapie are not "emergencies". BSE in cattle is well documented and measures are in place to control it. BSE in sheep has not been found - despite another 60 million pound grant being given to "find it". Scrapie Resistance is being improved and monitored, and as there never have been any proof of scrapie in persons, DEFRA could have waited a few more years, with most sheep keepers in the country aware, and working voluntarily to raise the Resistance in all flocks. No! They have to slide it in secretly with Draconian measure such as Margaret Beckett issuing whole blood lines with the death notice, because they might be susceptible to Scrapie! I also noticed the "seize and destroy" clause once they have a JP's authority to enter anywhere." (see email sent to smallholders.org)
May 12 ~" No wonder the Prime Minister was so keen to prevent that hearing from ever taking place.."
The Government's stock answer when challenged about its performance during the foot and mouth crisis is to plead that no one could have predicted this outbreak and that, in the circumstances, the Government did the best that it could to contain and eventually eradicate the disease. Yet Brigadier Birtwhistle is the latest - and one of the best placed - witnesses to blow a huge hole in that argument. His evidence to the Cumbria inquiry underlines more forcefully than almost ever before just what an appalling mess the Ministry of Agriculture made of those critical early days.
He goes so far as to suggest that if strict quarantine procedures had been put in place immediately, foot and mouth could have been contained in Cumbria.....
These are, of course, points that could and should have been tested in a proper, national public inquiry with the force of the law behind it and the power to demand that witnesses, from the Prime Minister down, attend to give evidence. That never happened because the Government refused to allow it to happen, then went to court to oppose a judicial review demanding an inquiry. Such an inquiry could well have revealed other serious failings by the Government of the sort detailed yesterday by Brigadier Birtwhistle. No wonder the Prime Minister was so keen to prevent that hearing from ever taking place. But he cannot suppress the truth. " (North Devon Journal)
May 12 ~ "There is currently no evidence in the public domain to support the theory that animals culled as contiguous culls or as dangerous contacts were incubating the disease
at the time of slaughter. There is evidence to suggest that most of these animals were culled unnecessarily." The Morris submission to the Royal Society Inquiry which concludes,"Over reliance on mathematical models, which do not accurately reflect the reality of the 2001 UK epidemic, to explain the evolution of the epidemic will almost certainly mean that any assessment of the success of disease control policies is flawed."
May 12 ~ More on Great Orton
email from highly respected vet correspondent "I learnt yesterday from a vet who was on duty at the ghastly Great Orton that 6 million pounds had to be spent digging a very deep surrounding trench as there were problems with the initial construction (this probably explains how they are draining off the effluent). I wonder how involved the Environmental Agency was in this and is this figure in the public domain?"
May 11 ~ We have been overwhelmed with the answer to the question below!
In each case the answer is the same. Here is one email: "Government will NEVER draw down this 'green pound' compensation in any meaningful way, because in the Fontainbleau agreement which Mrs. T. signed, any agri money awarded is automatically deducted from that politically sacrosanct 'budget rebate' she came back waving her handbag about. So instead of match funding 50:50 EU grant aid, British taxpayers would actually fund up to 85% of the grant. Our farmers have paid an awesome price for the 'Iron lady's " triumph" in 1984."
This nicely complements the longer answer on Fontainbleu which can be read here Extract: "..the net cost to the Treasury is not the fifty percent or so that other member states have to pay, but eighty-five percent. Therefore, the UK government has to find some eighty-five percent of monies paid to farmers, leaving only fifteen percent to be paid out of Community funds. Crucially, with the UK's net contribution to the EU being a highly sensitive issue, the additional sums clawed-back show up in the UK's budget as an increased contribution to the EU. Payment of agrimoney, therefore, is politically unsustainable."
May 11 ~ What deal was done between UK government and EU?
we wonder, reading Sheila Coleman's article in the Western Mail: "...ANGRY farmers yesterday passed a resolution condemning the Government's failure to claim compensation money from Brussels. Pembrokeshire farmer Meurig Raymond told the National Farmers' Union's Welsh Council at Builth Wells that with the farming industry "on its knees" farmers were "sick and tired" that the Government had failed to claim the millions of pounds of agri-money, which is paid to European Union states to compensate for currency fluctuations. "This EU agri-money would be worth some£72m to UK livestock farmers. For the Government to decide not to claim this money is totally unacceptable," said Mr Raymond who farms near Haverfordwest. NFU Welsh Council passed a resolution expressing members' anger at Government and a feeling that the UK farming industry had been badly let down...."
May 11 ~ Half a million dead - one positive lab result
Elaine writes that "There is some inaccuracy in the figures attributed to the county NFU chairman Will Cockbain (in the article in today's Cumberland and Westmorland Herald) This is what was said at the Kendal (Cumbria) inquiry (from my notes):
Will Cockbain had continually asked for the statistics on how many sheep from the 3km cull were bloodtested and their results. He finally received these figures 6 weeks ago. 5,786 sheep were tested between 7th and 23rd April 2001 ( out of the half million that were killed at Gt Orton). 116 farms (?) ( I suspect holdings) tested. 115 negative.
One was positive (9 positive sheep)
One "mild" positive ( 2 sheep with antibodies)
Will Cockbain told the inquiry that chief vet Jim Scudamore had justified the slaughter by claiming the sheep flock was "heavily infected", although MAFF had failed to produce any evidence at the time to support this.
Our understanding then is that of 116 holdings actually tested in Cumbria, ONE ONLY came back positive. One showed signs of recovered sheep and three were inconclusive. Half a million sheep died at Great Orton.
May 11 ~ 'Call me a liar if you like' (Mr James Dring said in Court)
An onlooker at the trial reports that James Dring the MAFF vet at the trial of Bobby Waugh (see below) was "very arrogant and he hardly needed to say that. The QC had already tripped him up."
Why would a MAFF vet fail to report low standards? an email recieved this morning:
"I was wondering why a MAFF vet would fail to report low standards of animal welfare. There are dozens of similar cases going back three years. The Lord Carter affair, the one in Scotland (the Scotpigs incident involving "King" Arthur Simmers) and many many others. You could suggest "backhanders" or influence, but that would hardly ring true with Waugh. The stories are all similar - videos of dead pigs, poor hygiene, cannibalism. No action ever taken.
Then it stuck me. I know MAFF were covering up a series of epidemics in the indoor pig herds, presumably for fear of a health scare. What the videos were showing was the effects of illness and, sometimes inadequate efforts to handle the consequences. If they had pressed a prosecution, the balloon might have gone up. The situation that developed at Waugh's meant they had no option but to prosecute."
May 11 ~" I look to "Farming Today" to provide informed comment - not ..spell out the DEFRA official version...in simple terms"
Mark Holdstock reported on the trial of Bobby Waugh this morning (Farming today) and we have received a copy of this email sent to the BBC by a worried listener..
"His report was disappointing because it seemed to retail simplified highlights of the case for the prosecution, without informed critical analysis".. ..(The Waugh premises had been) "inspected by a MAFF vet and deemed satisfactory on 24th January, ONE MONTH earlier. He (Mark Holdstock) picked out as particularly significant, a statement made by James Dring... "The reason that we had foot and mouth in this country is that I did not know enough about what the Waughs were doing on their farm. I know now." ..... The credibility given to his statements must be set against his need to protect himself against questions of negligence or incompetence. His competence to speculate about "the reason that we had foot and mouth in this country" must be measured against his performance as a farm inspector. I have been surprised to read subsequently in a report of the proceedings that "Mr Dring also confirmed that he had authorised Mr Waugh to feed his pigs on unprocessed swill on Friday 23rd of February, as the pigs were subsequently due to be slaughtered over the weekend." and that "The video of the pigs and the cutlery within the pig pens was taken on the following day, Saturday 24th February." ...(See more)
May 11 ~ Waugh crimes? MAFF vet admits he'd passed farm as satisfactory and authorised use of unprocessed swill
"..several details of interest have gone unreported..... Of particular interest was the lengthy cross-examination by Mr Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC of MAFF vet Mr Jim Dring. From a practical farming point of view, Mr Dring's evidence came under close-scrutiny in relation to the licensing of Mr Waugh's premises. Burnside had received its annual licence inspection by Mr Dring on 24th January 2001 and received its official renewal on 30th January 2001.
Having seen the video evidence the previous day and the extremely untidy state of Burnside Farm, Mr Dring was continually requested by Mr Jeremy Stuart-Smith, 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' ... Mr Stuart-Smith went through the various requirements of the licensing procedure that Mr Dring had continued to mark as being, 'Satisfactory' . Mr Dring also confirmed that it wasn't unusual to find cutlery and crockery in pig pens, especially where the animals were fed on a (processed) swill-fed diet. Mr Dring also confirmed that he had authorised Mr Waugh to feed his pigs on unprocessed swill on Friday 23rd of February, as the pigs were subsequently due to be slaughtered over the weekend. ..".(report)
May 11 ~ High Security Fence to be placed round Great Orton
We have heard that the government are renting 200 acres from the farmer that sold Great Orton Airfield to them, and are tendering for high security fencing round it. A high security fence to enclose the site seems an unaccountable move. It is thought the government were "considering" opening up a small section of Gt Orton (although its name is to be changed we understand) as a "nature reserve" - but felt the rest was definitely "hands off". It would appear to be - justifiably - an embarrassment to the Government and it may well be that they want to put it away from them and to keep all the secrets it holds well out of sight. Can anyone throw any light on this? Suggestion received: "Anything to do with those furnaces brought in from USA (or Canada) for incineration of carcasses? I think they were brought here on a "trial basis". Maybe for the scrapie sheep. Do you remember seeing something about (Roy) Anderson being involved in (the years ahead) providing risk maps of scrapie sheep for the whole of Europe? "
May 11 ~ "I am disgusted by the depths to which this Government will stoop to force its will on the people,"
said the Farmers' Union of Wales president, Bob Parry according to the icWales report yesterday. "There has been no proper debate in Parliament on these very important issues which could potentially have a severe impact on the livelihoods of thousands of people. "Instead of an open and democratic debate the Government has acted in an underhand way by slipping these new regulations through on the back of a weighty document ....."
May 10 ~"he put forward the most ridiculous arguments why 3 million was the correct figure"
A very well-respected warmwell reader has sent the following email: " ....I am incensed - there is no other word for it, and I can hardly type. I have just finished speaking with someone in the Comment section of the Daily Telegraph after reading Alice Thomson article (below) "This (the Bill) may look caring and compassionate (from a Government that has conveniently forgotten that its dithering helped cause the slaughter of three million animals during the foot and mouth epidemic)". - I was challenged by this man in an unpleasant disbelieving way, and suffice to say he put forward the most ridiculous arguments why 3 million was the correct figure. I suggested he contacted the Meat and Livestock Commission and talk to Jane Connor, but he seemed not in the slightest bit interested. I actually found his manner offensive. I then said that I would email, and he said "please do" email@example.com or phone is 0207 7538 5000 ...."
Other readers of warmwell might like to contact the Telegraph - pointing out that Robert Ulig's article in the Daily Telegraph on 23rd January says "But the commission says that the true total is 10,849,000. ....... "We will never know exactly how many were culled but it was many more than the official figure," Mrs Connor said...."
Since the article is in the Telegraph itself it should not be too difficult for this less than well-mannered person in the Comment department to check.
May 10 ~ European Temporary Commission website says "more than 10 million"
The European Temporary Committee website on Foot and Mouth Disease "Recent studies suggest that the real number of animal slaughtered could have been more than 10 million. Rural communities across the EU continue to feel the psychological and economic effects. "
Yet another quotation is in Scotland's Sunday Post, on the 20th January 2002, this time quoting a spokesman for DEFRA who said, "I stand corrected on that one. It- -seems it is standard practice - to count ewes and offspring as one animal. Your information is correct." The final toll was at least -10,849,000 animals killed."
May 10 ~ " angry reaction yesterday to comments by Lord Whitty in the House of Lords."
Western Morning News ... who..."told peers that the contiguous cull was legal because only two cases went to court and both were successful.
But the owners of Grunty, a pet pig, who won their High Court battle to save the animal from slaughter, were furious. "That's completely untrue," said her owner Rosemary Upton. "In fact the judge ordered them to pay costs and even refused them leave of appeal."
The comments from Lord Whitty came during a short debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday. He told the house: "On the two occasions when the contiguous cull was tested in the courts it was upheld. There was no challenge to the general operation of the cull; therefore all precedent indicates that the cull was legal."
Solicitor Alayne Addy said she was aware of at least five cases in which the Government's legal team went to court. And she said in all instances that challenge was regarding ministry officials' right of access to slaughter animals." (See the section from HANSARD here)
May 10 ~ "If the Government say there is nothing new here then let's have a proper debate and scrutiny.
It seems to me they have lifted large chunks of the Bill that was blocked by the Lords after a proper debate." Mrs Browning warned that if the measure went uncontested it could create a precedent, allowing Ministers to bring in similar measures for the control of foot and mouth...." see Opinion in the Western Morning News today
May 10 ~ Chairman slams incorrect Brigadier quote in papers
The chairman of the Cumbria Foot and Mouth Inquiry has criticised some press coverage of evidence given on the first day of the hearings. Professor Phil Thomas wasn't specific in a statement opening today's session, but it's understood he was referring to two newspapers which reported Brigadier Alex Birtwistle as accusing farmers of "sheer idleness" in their disinfenction regimes. The verbatim record of the inquiry confirms that Brigadier Birtwhistle believed rigorous quarantine would have controlled the spread of the disease in the early stages, but there's no sign of the words "sheer idleness". Professor Thomas said he'd make the record of the inquiry available early to set the record straight. (see BBC Cumbria report)
May 10 ~ "When the executive treats Parliament with such open contempt, it is no wonder that the public is becoming more and more cynical"
From "A free country" By Stephen Robinson in today's Telegraph..." Deep concern about Parliament's failure to curb the centralising and controlling instincts of the executive surfaced repeatedly during The Daily Telegraph's Free Country conference last week. News this week confirms that the speakers who raised those fears were right. As we reported yesterday, the Government has introduced - via a statutory instrument - new powers to allow officials to slaughter all farm animals deemed "susceptible" to a transmissible spongiform disease, such as scrapie or BSE. This is a departure from the previous position, whereby inspectors needed a clear reason to suspect that animals might be infected before ordering their slaughter.
.... the Government's tactics in ramming it through are deplorable. Similar measures to increase the powers of the slaughtermen were included in the Animal Health Bill, but were voted down by the Lords, which found the regulations too onerous and intrusive......
The House of Lords spoke, raising legitimate concerns about the speed and scope of the powers to cull. But rather than respect that judgment, the Government has opted to sidestep the Upper House by laying down the statutory instrument that, under parliamentary procedure, automatically becomes law by the end of next week. The Lords will have no further chance to debate or vote on the measures....."
May 10 ~ "... did not address the issue of why the new statutory instrument includes powers to slaughter "any TSE susceptible animal", while the EU regulations... state only "suspected" and "infected" cases."
Nor did he address the new sentences of up to two years imprisonment for not aiding officers slaughtering susceptible animals" Today's Telegraph reports today "Robin Cook, the Leader of the House, was asked to clarify the situation.. ..... three weeks after the Lords defeated similar measures in the Animal Health Bill. If correct, if would give Government officers the power to cull any cow, sheep, goat or cat - whether healthy or not - and impose a prison penalty of up to two years on an owner who obstructs the Government.
Angela Browning ...said the Statutory Instrument on Animal Health was "legislation by stealth. This is a contempt of the House and we should have a full explanation as to how it came into being." Mr Cook told Mrs Browning: "The only ....new matter in those regulations is the power to carry out wider testing to try to establish whether there has been transmissible forms of BSE. "That form of testing does not involve the slaughter of live animals..."
Is it possible that Mr Cook has not read the 220 pages of this document? Page 117 of the SI 843 states: (i) seize any TSE susceptible animal .... l) slaughter any TSE susceptible animal
May 10 ~ "at least in the war everyone knew which side they were on"
Rosamund Ridley's family farm in the Eden Valley. She had been confined to the house for weeks, unable to see relatives or friends and cut off by biosecurity measures from all outside contact including getting post. "The elderly people said it was worse than the war because at least in the war everyone knew which side they were on," she said. "It's hard to convey the sense of isolation you feel when your 83-year-old mother-in-law rings up with the news that a cousin in the agricultural business has attempted suicide. Three days later, another relative attempted to take his own life."
Professor Phil Thomas said: "Speaking as an 'outsider' myself, I don't think we had any conception of how people's lives were disrupted. One of the things this inquiry had to do is to put a perspective on the impact of the disease."
May 10 ~"I have recovered from the field more than 25% of the electronic bola inserted into my sheep on the "scrapie scheme" writes farmer George Faulkner
"Dethra did not join in the electronic tagging research with the other european countries. I have recovered from the field more than 25% of the electronic bola inserted into my sheep on the "scrapie scheme". Dethra would not pay for me to gather my flock inside but "would be pleased to be notified when the flock was inside for lambing so that they could investigate." The weather was fine : they lambed outside: I have yet to contact Dethra. rgds George Faulkner"
May 10 ~ "mental distress" caused by the crisis.... everyone, almost without exception, had been in grieving.
Dr Jim Cox, Chairman of the Northern Fells Project, set up by Prince Charles told the Kendal Inquiry he was worried by the "mental distress" caused by the crisis "The future for farming seems to be to be unresolved. The big farms are getting bigger and the fell farms are continuing in the hope they will be sustained by public policy."
May 10 ~" the Ministry decided to evade the proper process of law, and to usurp the Court's duty to decide such cases.
After much discussion with me at the farm, they sent in an inexperienced and incompetent policeman, who unlawfully arrested me. Once I had been removed, they bullied and intimidated my Clients until they reluctantly agreed to the unnecessary slaughter of the alpacas." Tom Griffiths Jones' submission to the Cumbria inquiry can now be read in full here Extract:"The key issues which need to be addressed by any inquiry are listed below. I have evidence on each of these which I will put to the full public inquiry when it is held. But I will not burden you with all this evidence, as you have allocated only a couple of weeks for your hearings. A comprehensive inquiry will need to spend well over a year taking evidence and analysing, and it is unfair to expect you to be able to do that."
May 10 ~"Reading all these submissions these last few days makes one think back over these last 15 months.
writes Roger. "Up to the announcement of the election ( where the majority did not even bother to vote ! ) all the media were full of it. Then the election date was finally announced. Then, apart from some decent, responsible newspapers and journalists, Silence !Archive of this page begins here
Silence during the election. Continued silence after the Election.
Generally the media gave up. It was, in the main, only here on the internet that the truth on science and the horrific details and personal tragedies unfolded and were discussed and made available for all the world to see.
Goodness knows how many human lives have been lost. How many families and businesses have been ruined........Without you I suspect that this tragedy would have been lost to the wind long ago. And that is just what THEY wanted." (email in full)