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ARCHIVE JULY 2002
Aug 10 ~ Reform of the House of Lords has slipped into the clutches of spin doctors.
(Telegraph Opinion) In a recent newspaper interview, Lord Williams, the Leader of the House, spoke of weeding out the elderly by setting a retirement age and offering a pension.
Next, it seems, those who sit in the House of Lords are to forfeit their titles. There has been political chatter about dropping the prefix "Lord" and substituting the most modest suffix of ML (Member of the Lords). On the Lords website, this chatter is turned into reality. The prefix has been dropped, the suffix is in use. All this without serious discussion or debate.
....Once a Member of the Upper House becomes Bill Snooks ML, the way has been paved for the Prime Minister to appoint as many Snookses as he likes to the Upper House without the encumbrance of a title, and to call a whole load of other petitioners "Lord X" without giving them space on the red benches. The door to cronyism will be open wide. (See Democracy Watch)
Aug 10 ~ " New Labour has shown itself to be horribly old Labour in its often visceral distaste for the countryside"
Max Hastings writing in the Spectator "... I do not think the Blair government the worst in living memory(but)........its left-wingers ... are being thrown the bone of harrying and tormenting the old rural classes.
.....You and I know that the countryside is not about toffs, but a lot of New Labour still thinks it is. Its grandees even stay away from the Chelsea Flower Show, because they scent a whiff of toffery about the occasion. .... the agricultural issue is the least susceptible to ready government solution. .... The most useful supportive measure government could take is to enforce the same regulatory regime on all food imports that British farmers are obliged to implement. .... Such figures as Mrs Margaret Beckett and Mr Elliot Morley simply do not know enough about the countryside to work sympathetically with it. ....
... Yet all of us, new Britain and old, will suffer the consequences if green England -- and, above all, green southern England -- is allowed to disappear, and if its traditional way of life is stamped out. I am one of those who still wants Tony Blair's government to succeed. If he fails, there is no credible opposition to replace him. But some of us will find it impossible to forgive Mr Blair if his most enduring legacy is the destruction of rural England." (Read the full article on the "Best of the Press" page)
Aug 10 ~ day of protest on hold
The organisers of the day of protest planned for Monday (12 August) are calling for farmers to stay at home following exemptions to the 20-day standstill rule for breeding sheep and cattle. ( Defra says sheep and cattle used for breeding this season, which go into a strict on-farm isolation facility for 20 days on arrival, will not lock up the rest of the farm.) Jonathan Barber, spokesman for the anonymous group behind the threatened protest, said that if anomalies were not ironed out or if the new rules were not in place, as promised, during the first week of September a protest might be back on. "We should hold back on Monday, but hold back subject to what is released and what anomalies are removed," he said. Of particular concern is that while breeding rams and bulls will qualify for the exemption if they are returned unsold from a market, the same does not apply for breeding females. Female sheep and cattle will only be allowed to be kept in isolation facilities without locking up the rest of the farm if they come from another farm or market. Mr Barber said that was totally illogical and was something that needed to be resolved. "If these illogicalities aren't removed then farmers won't take this on board at all." (See FWi report)
Aug 9 ~"..there are many people like me who have watched DEFRA manipulate data and refuse to answer reasonable questions over the last 12 months.."
See Nicola Morris' correspondence with the National Audit Office - who apparently swallowed some of the manipulated data and wave away any urgently expressed concern about the misleading nature of some of their statements.
Aug 9 ~ "..the announcement was widely regarded as a cynical 11th-hour attempt to stave off a national day of action by farmers on Monday.
(Western Morning News and North Devon Journal) "And it was not known last night whether the protest, which threatened to blockade motorways and main roads and disrupt the businesses of major supermarkets, would go ahead.
"For Westcountry farmers and businessmen still trying to recover from last year's crisis, the partial lifting of the 20-day movement rule did not go far enough.
Anthony Gibson, regional director of the South West National Farmers' Union, said: "..... "This is certainly not the end of the story. The new regime will still discriminate against the auction markets and it remains to be seen how costly and complicated it may be to obtain approval for isolation facilities."
Aug 9 ~ "The Drummond Report will make you mad when you read it. It is so relevant.... Feb 1999..."
writes an emailer today. The Drummond report can be read here. He went on, "if that had been printed - instead of Lessons Learnt and The Royal Society reports - we would have saved a few quid and had just as good a report out of it. Hundreds of pages and thousands of pounds less....."
Aug 9 ~ A proper investigation into CSF would be bound to throw light on the origins of FMD ...
...and of MAFF's reactions to both."
An email today gives detailed information about "The cover-up by MAFF ..... They suppressed links between the infected farms and mainland China. They suppressed links between BSE and many of the individuals and companies involved. The owners of the pigs at the first dozen or so farms infected also owned agricultural companies in mainland China (and elsewhere abroad) .... included pig farms..... MAFF and some non-MAFF members of the RCVS. ....... have been guilty of a number of criminal offences to protect their clients (and their own backs) . Some of these offences would have brought gaol sentences in the US."
Aug 9 ~ "...will remain in place until permanent rules are brought into force early next year. "
See Spin Alert for the wearyingly predictable mix of spin, threats and misinformation in the DEFRA press release about the 20 day rule. Like an incompetent and angry schoolmaster, Elliott Morley tells farmers they are being treated with " trust" and then threatens them with fines and imprisonment - and ludicrously and inaccurately uses both Inquiry reports and "long-running working discussions with industry stakeholders" to try to justify the unjustifiable.
Aug 9 ~ Which vets and scientists say so?
"Animal welfare minister Elliott Morley said there was clear scientific and veterinary advice that the rule was the best way of detecting and slowing down a future outbreak." See article in the Farmers' Weekly Interactive But this is to imply that the advice is to stick to 20 days. There are many non-Defra vets and scientists - even those who favour some sort of standstill - who would say that 20 days is far too long and is unworkable. This country must be governed by consent. Rules only work if the majority of people accept them as sensible. Rules that are widely perceived to be flawed, or irrelevant to the individual, are destined to be widely ignored - with the result that they become unenforceable.
Aug 9 ~ 20 day standstill is tinkered with - just enough to confuse
As one emailer put it, "Carlton were already running an item on a sheep farmer packing in after FMD and all the other regulations and saying that the 21 day standstill was absolutely untenable - and he described DEFRA as the worst parasite affecting agriculture - he also said that the aftermath of FMD and years of bureaucracy had destroyed any faith in the Ministry. They suddenly cut in from the studio to say that in the last half hour the 21 day standstill had been dropped."
The emailer spoke too soon. In fact, it seems that the Ministry is saying that the standstill remains, but there will be more exemptions, including allowing for quarantine. Farming Today this morning had a similar report. It is not known where Carlton got the idea that the 21 day standstill had been dropped.
We are sorry to have added to the confusion for those who saw our earlier report. See Defra's statement - which purports to be written in English. Plain, it is not.
Aug 9 ~ Where is the honest broker who can draw all the strands together?
From all sides we are hearing deep concern about the way the Royal Society's recommendations and its deep criticisms of the contiguous cull - although clear to those who understand - are not stated with enough clarity. Was this out of a tactful consideration or was political pressure brought to bear? As for the Lessons Learned Report, there are still far too many unanswered questions, and criticism that the report was a whitewash cannot be discounted. There really ought to be a way forward that includes the chairmen and panel members of the inquiries, DEFRA vets and civil servants, scientists and informed stakeholders in open and public debate.
Aug 9 ~" I am sorry if I sound irritated by your reply to my letter: there are many people like me who have watched DEFRA manipulate data and refuse to answer reasonable questions over the last 12 months;
we had high hopes that NAO would not be fooled by many of DEFRA's explanations. On the face of it, it appears that you have been fooled." Nicola Morris had written to the NAO to show how the assertion in their report that '78% of infected premises confirmed on clinical grounds tested positive on laboratory test was simply not true.
Her statistical evidence came from JCC at Defra itself - and she reminded the NAO that, while clinical diagnosis of FMD is notoriously difficult, laboratory testing is straightforward and accurate. In support of this, she quoted Alex Donaldson's words in front of the EFRA committee in April 2001. On receipt over a month later, of a reply explaining away her serious concerns she immediately wrote again to Stewart Lingard at the NAO.
"The fact is that, from the published data that I have, we can say that the scale of unnecessary slaughter in this epidemic was unprecedented:
We can therefore say with some certainty that by the time slaughter occurred on nearly 8000 farms if animals on these farms had been exposed to foot and mouth virus visible signs of disease would have been apparent.
- 10509 farms were slaughtered, but on less than 13% of these farms was laboratory evidence of foot and mouth disease found. Laboratory testing is accepted to be at least 90% accurate (IAH Pirbright). in this epidemic of the truly infected farms visible signs of disease were found 4-7 days after exposure to the virus (Jim Scudamore EFRA select committee 21/03/01).
- 8226 premises thought to have been exposed to virus were culled as a precautionary measure. Many of these farms were not laboratory tested, but delays in slaughter (due to lack of resources) were such that up to 95% of these farms were slaughtered 7 or more days after possible exposure to FMD virus.
We can conclude that in this epidemic up to 5 million adult animals were slaughtered unnecessarily."
Aug 9 ~ "The government are in no doubt that much of the contiguous cull was illegal,"
we were told on the telephone by a politician last night. We agree - and feel more sure than ever that this simple fact explains why the Animal Health bill, making its unwelcome reappearance on 7/8 October in the House of Lords, will similarly attempt to airbrush away the criminal waste that characterised the 2001 FMD policy. The bill, attempting to harness the fear most politicians have come to feel about the political fallout from animal disease, will insist that the Ministry from now on may legally adopt any animal disease control measures it likes on the grounds of "susceptibility" alone. It is a loathsome piece of legislation whose hidden agenda - beneath all the spin, hypocrisy and spurious scientific and veterinary justification - is to save the government's face by conferring a retrospective legality on the excesses of last year.
Aug 8 ~ "...DEFRA are already considering the LLI Report and the RS Report on FMD and selectively choosing which policies it wishes to take forward."
NFMG have written urgently to David Lidington. "We have grave misgivings regarding the LLI report regarding future control measures. The report has left the way open to use the extensive slaughter and contiguous cull measures again.
.....we are extremely concerned at the way the Inquiry dealt with consideration of the slaughter/cull polices. The Inquiry did not call any expert witnesses to provide counter balance to the Government's defence of these policies, nor did the Inquiry have regard to the empirical and factual data submitted by this and other organisations, which questioned the effectiveness of this approach.
................. Given that the Animal Health Bill is now through to Committee stage we foresee the LLI report being taken at face value and prayed in aid of the extensive and far reaching powers of slaughter within the Bill. We would appreciate your guidance as soon as possible. " (letter)
Warmwell would only add: The purpose of the LLI was to report on the past. The purpose of the RSI was to address future policies. Therefore, it is the Royal Society Inquiry report which should be given more weight in determining future control measures.
Aug 8 ~ Not "hindsight", Mrs Beckett. Not "entirely consistent with the information and advice then available." The Drummond report (new page) was in government hands in February 1999, but "not implemented because of lack of resources .." and "it is enough to make one gasp. ..."
The consistently excellent Western Morning News : "When Margaret Beckett responded to the Lessons Learned inquiry, she grudgingly accepted that, with hindsight, mistakes were made. But"..as Jason Groves reported, " hindsight seemed to be the easiest word for Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett when she gave the Government's response to the "Lessons Learned" inquiry into last year's foot and mouth crisis. In a statement notable for its lack of the word sorry, she trotted out the word hindsight five times to excuse the Government's handling of the disaster. ..... "The action taken," Mrs Beckett said, "was entirely consistent with the information and advice then available."
That charge was rejected the next day by inquiry chairman Dr Iain Anderson, who insisted he had taken "meticulous" care to avoid making criticisms with the benefit of hindsight. Dr Anderson had good reason to be annoyed, because from the evidence submitted to him during the six-month inquiry process it is quite clear that what was needed to avoid the disaster was not hindsight, but the simple removal of the department's bureaucratic blinkers.
It is not just that people could have predicted the crisis that would ensue if a serious outbreak of foot and mouth occurred; they actually did"
Aug 8 ~ "The Drummond Report (1999) ...predicts virtually every disaster that befell the Government
in the early weeks of last year's crisis, from the untested nature of contingency plans and the lack of vets, to the problems of disposal and vaccination. To read the report, which is in the public domain for the first time, and realise that it was not implemented because of lack of resources and other priorities, is enough to make one gasp. ..." ( read article in the Western Morning News)
In February 1999 the Drummond Report said that, with "the speed at which foot and mouth disease might spread, the State Veterinary Service's resources could quickly become overwhelmed".
Jim Scudamore was given the recommendation of "enhancing arrangements to gear up resources" Richard Eales, director of the National Audit Office which discovered the existence of the report, said that the Government "did not heed that warning" and millions were squandered as officials "struggled to keep costs under control" during the epidemic.
"We do not talk about negligence. We talk about what the Department could have and should have done. And here was a report making clear warnings and the Department did not take notice of them. "
Aug 8 ~ The legality of the killing: Byrne, Brown and Campbell
EU Commissioner David Byrne, questioned during EU inquiry on foot and mouth, on 25 March 2002 claimed that the contiguous cull had been "effective" in ending the epidemic. He gave no scientific reasons for this claim, but said this was on "the basis of what he had been told" ( DEFRA vets still cling to this opinion - also without scientific or veterinary basis).
Byrne seemed quite happy to accept what he has been told at face value. The next day, Nick Brown, in a performance described as "turning evasion and ambiguity into a new art form", said that he "believed it to be legal", which is a careful way of not asserting that it WAS legal.
Would Alistair Campbell have called this a "good performance"? Yet Campbell himself, quoted in the Telegraph 27 March 2001 Firebreak slaughter in disarray." (an article that seems to have disappeared) " admitted that there were "practical difficulties" over the establishment of firebreaks around infected farms. He said: "We have to do that with the consent of farmers. The only situation where we can have the powers is where the CVO advises that the entirety of the stock there is liable to be infected." There were no plans to introduce emergency legislation to take compulsory slaughter powers, as the government hoped to "persuade" farmers to co-operate in the cull."
However, since March 2001 the Animal Health Bill - coming back in through the chimney when the Lords politely shut the door on it - will establish once and for all the government's legal right to deal with any animal disease in any way it chooses. The welfare of farmers, let alone their animals, is not to be considered.
Aug 7 ~ Meacher dropped on the orders of Alistair Campbell?
"Friends of the Earth said it would foot the bill to fly Michael Meacher to Johannesburg next month following reports that he has been dumped from the British delegation on the orders of Alastair Campbell......."as today's Telegraph puts it. "How on earth can the Government expect to be taken seriously on green issues when they are leaving the environment minister at home and sending the bungling Deputy Prime Minister?" (David Davis)
Andrew George, the Lib Dem environment spokesman, said: "The plug has been pulled on the wrong person. Michael Meacher is the one minister whose knowledge of, and commitment to, the environment is highly regarded."
The Telegraph says, "Unconfirmed reports claimed that Mr Campbell, the Prime Minister's director of communications and strategy, had intervened to reduce the size of the delegation to four ministers - including Mr Blair - and 70 civil servants." Can the Prime Minister really not see the harm being done to his own credibility and to Britain by someone who so transparently puts spin before substance as Alistair Campbell to direct policy?
Aug 7 ~"a good media performer
Alistair Campbell's answers to Lessons Learned are, although vague to the point of incoherence, very revealing. For Number 10, foot and mouth disease was about presentation.
When Campbell talks about "the reality of the situation" he means the need for the "centre" to take media control. What had to be protected was government image, what the population needed was government "messages", what had to be managed carefully was the "process", what had to be analysed were target audiences
...... Professor King was "a good media performer" remarks Campbell approvingly, adding that the "Prime Minister had had a lot of faith in the CSA's broad approach." Broad approach? What broad approach? King's narrowness and insistence upon the rightness of his clique (continuing even now) led to a catastrophe. Blair and Campbell backed the wrong horse and cannot admit it. "Bearing down on the disease" meant nothing more than blundering on with a callous and counter-productive policy.
For all the talk of transparence, openness and honesty Campbell becomes suddenly opaque: "Asked about the detail of the timing surrounding the media coverage of the case of Phoenix the calf, Mr Campbell said he did not recall the precise timing of the release of particular information and its relation to the finalising of policy decisions... ."
Aug 7 ~ Downing Street Dirty Tricks
The film 'SIXTY DAYS' is to be shown on television on 17 August 2002 (no time has yet been advised). It follows the 60 days after the Fuel Protest was called off, and chronicles first the government's indifference to rural issues and secondly how 10 Downing Street deliberately planted stories smearing not only the aims
of protestors but also their personal lives. The film's central characters are once again, as in Channel Four's film "Milk Wars", mainly Farmers For Action members.
Aug 6 ~ No 20 day movement ban in Korea.
"The global livestock disease organization Office International Epizooties (OIE) rules that a 21 day period is required from the last known incident of the disease, allowing for 14 day period of dormancy and an additional seven-day monitoring period.
MAF has lifted the ban on the movement of livestock in some former outbreak regions such as Pyongtaek, Ansong and Yongin in Kyonggi Province, and is currently conducting inspections of animals in the other known outbreak regions to allow for farming there to return to normal as well." (see newspaper page)
It seems that while many Asian and African countries are now forming their policies according to international expert advice, the UK is becoming increasingly more like tinpot dictatorships in their draconian control measures. The question is, why? The answer to this question would appear to have little to do with concern about animal disease and more to do with fear of another kind.
Aug 6 ~ Will no one rid me of these turbulent peers?
Number 10 seems anxious to make the Upper Chamber "..a shadow of the Commons, as eager as Blair's Babes to do the Government's bidding." Today's Telegraph comments, "An important part of the point of the Upper House is that it contains many men and women who have made their mark in fields outside politics - in the Services, business, science, the arts, agriculture, medicine, academia, the Civil Service and the law.
.... it is not because they are "past it" that Mr Blair is against elderly peers. He wants them out because they tend to be independent-minded - more interested in the practical effects of laws than in how they will affect the governing party's chances of re-election. "
Lord Moran's account of his successful amendment against the Animal Health bill was a joy to read - modest, funny and triumphant. The past eighteen months have witnessed callous, ignorant, centralising government short cuts that by-pass the wisdom of English traditions. Lord Moran's action, backed by so many wise and eloquent speeches from his colleagues last March, provided one small moment of sanity and relief. No wonder Number 10 wants to be rid of them.
Aug 5 ~ "How can there be ANY excuse for ignorance?"
Joyce writes today, "Last March 2001, before I even knew how to send an e-mail or use the internet I found Dr Keith Sumption's vaccination strategy in The Guardian and sent that and a short note to the effect of "Here is a strategy, for God's sake use it" to Nick Brown, Jim Scudamore, Ross Finnie, our MP and MSP and whoever was the Tourist Minister whose name escapes me.....I don't imagine we were the only ones to do this....so how can there be ANY excuse for ignorance of a way out of an epidemic that had hardly begun back then?"
We can only say that the government were offered informed help from many internationally esteemed experts. They chose instead to listen to a group of non-veterinary colleagues, all inter-connected by a kind of scientific freemasonry, whose rise to prominence we questioned last June - and have never been reassured on any of the points we raised.
Aug 5 ~"Emergency Vaccination: "The Government should prepare the regulatory framework and practical arrangements
The Royal Society report summary (page 3) says that "in many cases this (rapid culling of IPs and dangerous contacts) will not be sufficient to guarantee that the outbreak does not develop into an epidemic. Given recent advances in vaccine science and improved trading relations emergency vaccination should now be considered as part of the control strategy from the start."
Do not DEFRA and Professor King interpret this to mean that the contiguous cull should not be adopted as policy without further research and endorsement by FMD experts? Yet we are told that Professor King sees "no reason yet to switch from the established slaughter policy"
Of any culling beyond that of IPs and DCs, the Royal Society says: " it is important to ensure that any such arrangements do not themselves increase the risk of further spread because of lax biosecurity...." ( not farmers' biosecurity; they spell out that they mean..)" either on the part of those undertaking the culling or through the personnel or transport involved with the disposal of carcasses. Unless biosecurity can be guaranteed, the strategy will at best be less effective and at worse counterproductive....(9.38) and we believe that this should be studied further in the light of the data from the 2001 epidemic to determine under what circumstances this would be appropriate."( 9.39) "a vital research area which should begin forthwith"( 9.36)
Aug 5 ~ "We have been unable to establish the precise rationale for the target of 48 hours, nor ascertain the source of that timescale" wrote Dr Iain Anderson (page 93)
What actually happened on Wednesday 21 March 2001 was this:
Neil Ferguson forecast 400 outbreaks a day if nothing changed. Roy Anderson said that, in addition to the tried and tested 24 hour slaughter on infected farms, animals on 'contiguous' farms should be slaughtered, in 48 hours.
Jim Scudamore, according to Anderson, said he "feared that a national 3 km pre-emptive cull was neither practical nor legal"(Anderson p93) and considered that such a widespread slaughter was beyond MAFF's resources. He was right.
But also at the meeting was Prof. David King, appointed as the prime minister's chief scientific advisor the previous October. Although a chemist by qualification, he decided that 'I should engage myself immediately', and 'impose myself on the situation' Prof Roy Anderson, meanwhile, presented the government with a fait accompli by going on BBC's Newsnight to announce that the epidemic was 'not under control' and that it would run into May. His answer was the '24/48 hrs solution'. Anderson and his team, championed by King, took over scientific aspects of the eradication policy, forming the 'Chief Scientific Advisor's Science Group' to dictate and execute policy.
That this was a disastrous mistake - and one that the Prime Minister tamely allowed to happen - is now beyond question.
Aug 5 ~ Professor King still says he "sees no reason yet to switch from the established slaughter policy"
MAFF, Professor King and the NFU defeated Blair - but how was it that they were - and remain - so powerful?
The Science Group were allowed to take over on at the end of March. Ignorance of virology, professional arrogance, and the refusal to listen to experts must bear the blame for this. Voices were raised against vaccination without knowing or bothering to find out what modern progress had been made. Nick Brown ruled out vaccination as 'not a viable option'. It "caused animals to become carriers and therefore helped to spread the disease". Professor Chris Bostock (Institute of Animal Welfare) said, "..even if an animal is vaccinated, that doesn't guarantee that it won't become infected. It can still act as a source of infection for susceptible animals that are unprotected through vaccination." (Close-up BBC) This massive ignorance about so-called carriers gave the anti-vaccinators their strongest argument. It was false. Jim Scudamore claimed on the 8 March that " a 'vaccine ring' was impossible because the outbreaks were so widespread."
Anti-vaccination arguments are refuted in the two Royal Society Reports, while Dr. Keith Sumption, a modest man but an internationally acclaimed source of knowledge and sanity throughout the crisis (now promoted to the EUFMD Commission, FAO, Rome, on control of FMD Europe-wide, from September), points out that
"where uncertainty exists, larger ("blankets"- rather than "rings") may be required"
but makes it clear that this is perfectly feasible. Dr Sumption adds that "vaccinates emit a low dose that rarely infects in-contacts" and citing field evidence from emergency vaccination in Albania in 1996 "...there is no evidence of spread under vaccination after cases cease.."
Aug 5 ~ The Science Committee, the modellers and Page Street disregarded Dr Donaldson's work.
Perhaps they didn't understand it.
The eminent virologist, Ruth Watkins wrote, to the Royal Society, "... the modellers never published a 'normal vaccination' model at all - one where 100% of receptive domestic animals were vaccinated in a 2 or 3 Km ring about each infected premise without being killed afterwards. Such a model could be called a 'biological model', not an economic or other non-scientifically constrained model.......None of the vets whom I spoke to, particularly the senior vets, understood the implications of control by vaccination
Aug 5 ~ Why did the Science Group enlist the support of the NFU against vaccination?
Ben Gill had nailed his colours to the anti-vaccination mast - many NFU led farmers felt they would be better off if they had their animals slaughtered and, convinced that supermarkets and food processors would be reluctant to take their products, they feared that they would end up paying for the vaccination decision. MAFF answers to the NFU's 52 questions suggest that there were no mechanisms for providing support or compensation 'beyond the existing market support provisions under certain CAP market organisations'. But MAFF must surely have been aware of Council Decision 90/434/EEC which allowed for the compensation of farmers 'as a result of restrictions imposed on the marketing of livestock as a result of the reintroduction of emergency vaccination'. Maff's failure to provide this information to farmers effectively sabotaged any attempt to get consent from those NFU livestock owners who were following Gill. But why was the Science group so intent on persuading Ben Gill that vaccination "wouldn't work"?
Aug 4 ~ The Science Group had enjoyed enormous power without any formal responsibility (Dr David Shannon)
In his Lessons Learned meeting, Dr Shannon spoke with all the smooth tact of Sir Humphrey - but the glaring criticisms are easy to pick out. "The composition of the CSA's (Chief Scientific Advisor) Science Group had changed over time. The initial composition had not been as Dr Shannon would have expected, but had resembled a modelling sub-committee. Initially, there had been limited knowledge of agricultural systems and serology, and it contained no FMD experts from outside
.....The CSA, in Dr Shannon's view, had been too closely involved in the deliberations of the group to take an independent view. Challenging the output of the group had been difficult......computer models had included assumptions, the details of which had not been understood except by the modellers. One factor (the number of infected farms that arose from one IP) in the Imperial College model had been halved during the course of the outbreak. However to his knowledge this had not then been used to reproduce the original curves A, B and C used in publicity, or to apply them retrospectively
....modellers had announced that the outbreak had been "out of control" (in the scientific context) and had therefore favoured what Dr Shannon described as a mathematical approach of "slaughter by numbers". Generic models had supported the contiguous cull but Dr Shannon had suggested that the data be scrutinised by independent modellers.
...Pirbright had apparently not been convinced of the need for the contiguous cull .." ( see report of Dr Shannon's meeting)
Aug 4 ~" the truth has a habit of biting people when they least expect it"
(From Talking Point in Friday's Farmers Weekly) "....I attended the Anderson Inquiry press conference and Dr Iain Anderson confirmed to me that he was satisfied that his Inquiry was to the standard of a Public Inquiry, but, as a famous female acquaintance of a senior politician once said, 'He would say that, wouldn't he?' Many people have commented that Dr Anderson, whilst doing his regional visits, appeared visibly moved by the many witnesses who gave evidence of their appalling experiences, but was his Inquiry any more than a damage limitation exercise with a view to quietly putting the whole issue to bed? What was the true remit that he received from the Prime Minister? ............. Did Dr. Anderson look for skeletons, did he have a desire to find skeletons and if he was hit by a skeleton would he have been allowed to tell us? Perhaps we could ask the same question of a Public Inquiry? Is it in the 'Public Interest' that the truth is always told? Many issues have not been addressed by Dr. Anderson but is that part of the compromise to try and rebuild life in the Countryside?
Those of us who wanted a Public Inquiry into Foot and Mouth Disease have to accept what the High Court Judge said: 'It was a political decision not to hold a Public Inquiry'.
Unfortunately the Countryside is a political minority and minorities do not control ballot boxes. I am sure the Prime Minister feels pleased with his decision not to hold a Public Inquiry, but he should remember that the truth has a habit of biting people when they least expect it. "
Aug 3 ~ FARMERS : WE WILL PARALYSE BRITAIN!
is the headline in this outspoken article on the "This is Gloucestershire" website. "Furious farmers were last night finalising the blueprints of a plan to paralyse Britain.
Support was growing for a national day of protest and 24-hour farms strike that would see roads jammed and supermarkets blockaded.
Farmers have accused the Government of killing the industry by refusing to lift the livestock movement restrictions imposed in the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis.
The ruling has left them powerless in the face of unscrupulous livestock dealers and powerful supermarket chains....."(See newspaper page)
Aug 3 ~ "To be fair to Ian Anderson"
writes Jeff Swift (see his article here, or on the news page) "he had not been able to find out who ordered what to be done, when and why, because the records were either skimpy or non existent - either by accident or on purpose - and, as far as I could make out, he got differing answers to the same questions from Tony Blair downwards.
Where I part company with Dr Anderson is when he says that "the continguous cull may have been illegal but we could not discover who was responsible for extending the cull and working out a timetable." Surely he must have had some top class legal advice, so the cull was either legal or it wasn't.
I for one could bear to know. "
Aug 3 ~ Brussels FMD DECISION DELAYED
From the Dairy Industry Newsletter website
The "imminent" European Commission proposals for future EU strategy to deal with foot-and-mouth disease has been delayed until the autumn, but Brussels insiders say it is still "almost certain" that the commission will propose some form of vaccination to deal with any future outbreak. The position of the UK government is still unclear. Briefing papers circulating in Brussels indicate that the UK will also move to some form of vaccination, but government chief scientist Prof. David King confided recently that the UK government "sees no reason yet to switch from the established slaughter policy".
Aug 2 ~ red tape will wreck livelihoods.
Today's Times (see newspaper page) reports that John Thorley, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, has attacked the decision to proceed with a 20-day animal movement ban.
"....Farmers want to prepare for the busy autumn sales but fear the red tape will wreck their livelihoods.
In a letter to Lord Whitty, a Farming Minister (sic), he claims that "a substantial part of the industry" shares his view. Mr Thorley also questions why the minister should accept the chief vet's advice on the 20-day rule when Mr Scudamore had failed to take action on the potential threat of a foot-and-mouth outbreak seven months before the first case.
He says: "The fact that this was not done is a serious indictment of his competence . . . In the light of subsequent experience it causes me to question his overall capability as the CVO (Chief Veterinary Officer)." The letter adds: "From a political viewpoint the issue becomes even more difficult, for you, as minister, are placed in the uncomfortable position of having to take the advice of a civil servant who has lost the confidence of a substantial part of the industry."
August 2 ~ Excuses and evasions are unacceptable
Prof Bob Michell, BVetMed BSc PhD DSc MRCVS Former President of the RCVS wrote in the Veterinary Times on 9th July 2001
"Too many people, too many animals, have suffered both directly and indirectly; and the lessons have to be drawn with total objectivity
..the Prime Minister came to power to eliminate sleaze and secrecy and to replace it with integrity and openness. But there is more to openness than a relaxed shirt and a choirboy smile, and while there has been no more consistent advocate of openness, transparency and accountability, the refusal of such an inquiry (is) ..a dereliction of all three.
Above all, since the Prime Minister took personal charge of the crisis, he would be using his powers to prevent scrutiny of his actions. That would to to repeat the Nixon gambit, which became a prelude to ignominious checkmate.
The Northumberland Report ... fewer pages than the first James Herriot book... provides both the precedent and the model.
The issues to be addressed in 2001 will fall under the headings of scientific knowledge, implementation and resource costs, animal and human welfare, politics. ...."
But Professor Michell and the rest of us were cheated of such an Inquiry. We had no "powerful independent inquiry, unfettered by a restrictive remit, free to follow wherever the evidence may lead". We needed it - as he said " in the interests of openness and accountability, in the interests of our rural communities and our taxpayers....above all, in the interests of animal welfare and of truth." (See Professor Michell's still very relevant letter) What we got instead was......
August 2 ~ "..200 pages of bland waffle, complete with those pretty pictures, the Anderson report performs the miracle of airbrushing
Private Eye's Muckspreader is not impressed with the Anderson Lessons Learned report "For its skill in washing whiter it should really have been called the 'Persil report'. And what is particularly clever is how it actually refers to some of the nastier stains, as if to show how fearless it is being, then just tiptoes away again, as if nothing too serious had happened.
A glaring example is the way Anderson deals with the awkward fact that what it calls the 'pre-emptive cull", under which millions of healthy animals were destroyed, was illegal. The most revealing admission in the report is tucked away on p.93 where Anderson quotes the government's chief vet Jim Scudamore as having argued at the time that the government 'probably' had no legal powers to carry out this cull. In other words, the government knew it was illegal. But instead of looking into the horrific implications of this, Anderson simply floats on...."
August 1 ~ The fallacies - 1 Contiguous culling without testing was legal under EU law. (It wasn't)
Lord Whitty (June 25 ) "The Commission was well aware of the UK's culling policy and approved of that approach." His proof? " The recitals to Commission Decision 2001/257/EC, which permitted a programme of vaccination in the UK, specifically acknowledged the existence of the contiguous cull policy in the UK. It stated:
"In addition to the measures within the framework of Directive 85/511/EEC"--that has already been referred to--
"the UK apply the pre-emptive killing of susceptible animals in holdings in close proximity to infected or suspect holdings"."It therefore explicitly recognised that that was allowable within EU law.." However, even though Lord Whitty clings to that single sentence above, he has taken it out of context. The document, written on March 31 2001 went on to add,"For the purpose of this Decision the following definitions shall apply: 1.'Pre-emptive killing' shall mean the killing of susceptible animals on holdings within a certain radius around holdings placed under the restrictions laid down in Articles 4 or 5 of Directive 85/511/EEC.
Articles 4 and 5 of Directive 85/511/EEC show that - all 8226 pre-emptively culled premises should have been tested to see if contact or exposure had occurred. EU law - whatever Lord Whitty may believe - requires the testing of animals "clinical infected, suspected of being infected or exposed to disease." Whatever the UK officials may have wanted to believe about testing, under EU law a negative test rules out the presence of disease; a positive test confirms disease (Articles 4 (1) and 5(1))
The only exemption to testing is for clinical infected animals found on a holding, where that holding can be epidemiologically linked to another holding where disease has already been confirmed at laboratory test (Article 5(3)).
August 1 ~ The fallacies - 2. Contiguous culling was necessary even if animals appeared healthy. (It wasn't)
June 25th Lord Whitty said, "... the more effective the contiguous cull policy, the less likely animals are to prove positive on testing. If the disease has just been discovered and the cull of contiguous premises is carried out immediately, there will be no testable sign of the disease among those animals." This may well be true - but the fact is that the cull of contiguous premises was not immediate. There were delays in identifying ( 4-5 days) and slaughtering (3-5 days) all pre-emptively slaughtered farms. 95% of pre-emptively culled farms were slaughtered on or after the day clinical signs would have been apparent if exposure had occurred. This is why farmers who knew their animals were so upset. We know of no farmer who resisted the killing of infected animals or animals known to have been in contact with the virus.
Lord Whitty went on, " It is also true that a large proportion of those killed during the epidemic were never tested because the pressure on resources meant that efforts concentrated on detecting the disease in new outbreaks." Leaving aside the justification or otherwise of this excuse, the delays involved in up to 95%of cases mean that blood tests were not needed; clinical signs would have been evident. Up to 95% of those animals killed in the contiguous culls were healthy and therefore killed illegally. We are tired of the government's misleading statements suggesting that the killing of healthy animals was both necessary and legal. It was neither. We also find shocking and disgraceful the fact that the NFU and RCVS chose to ignore any members who criticised culling policy and refused to raise these concerns with any of the policy makers
Aug 1 ~ The fallacies - 3. Eighty per cent (80%) of cases were transmitted by local infection. (We don't know. Defra won't release the information)
"Both the contiguous cull and the three-kilometre cull were based on strong advice received from vets on the ground and from epidemiological modellers...." (Lord Whitty) "We were advised that the best way to contain the disease was automatically to presume that the contiguous premises, or the premises three kilometres away, could have been exposed to it....... it became clear that infectivity was primarily local. The overall indications are that during the course of the disease 80 per cent of cases were transmitted by local infection."
Lord Whitty is careful enough not to assert categorically that 80% of cases were caused by local spread. Dr Anderson was apparently convinced.
Airborne spread of disease was discounted for this strain of FMD. (From the outset, Pirbright advisers and FMD experts had tried to get this understood by those non-experts who were driving the policies.) Therefore, if spread was "local" it could only have been caused by the movement of animals, vehicles and people. Traditional methods of control: rapid slaughter of infected premises; accurate tracing and rapid slaughter of dangerous contacts; movement restrictions and strict biosecurity; properly implemented would have brought the epidemic under control
Automatically to presume (as Lord Whitty admits above) that surrounding farms, irrespective of geographical position, were exposed to disease without monitoring and bloodtesting was not a reasonable or proportionate response. And at the end of the crisis, making the assumption that the premises culled were indeed infected, without first investigating disease transmission for the epidemic as a whole and publishing the evidence, is irresponsible. But far worse for the reputation of the UK government, much of the killing was not legal according to EU law (see above) nor, in the majority of cases was it legal under the 1981 Animal Health Act.
Aug 1 ~ Precise details of how 88% of IPs became infected have not been published by DEFRA
nor indeed which ones actually were infected.
If disease transmission was fully investigated not only would it reveal how well the epidemic was handled it would ensure that contingency plans for future epidemics are based on facts rather than assumptions.
Present contingency plans still include the 24/48 hour pre-emptive slaughter policy as stakeholders were informed on friday but there is still no evidence in the public domain to suggest that the pre-emptive cull policy as implemented in the 2001 UK FMD epidemic was effective.
12.6% only of farms "killed out" can be shown to have had animals with active foot and mouth disease or which had had foot and mouth disease sometime in the previous weeks (on 171 farms the only evidence of disease was antibodies to FMD).
August 1 ~ "The Government should be able to justify its statements.... using the actual epidemic data for this outbreak"
says Nicola Morris in a letter to Margaret Beckett.
"If you cannot find - or - will not provide the data to justify the...statements we can conclude that: the scale of 2001 UK epidemic was not unprecedented; the pre-emptive culling policy resulted in the unnecessary slaughter of millions of healthy uninfected animals and the Government used its existing powers of slaughter very irresponsibly.
In such circumstances it is inconceivable that any additional powers of slaughter are justified.
I sincerely hope you will respond to my letter with some urgency, in view of the fact that the Animal Health Bill will again be debated in the Lords after the recess. It is vital that those who oppose this draconian piece of legislation are given access to the truth." (See letter)
August 1 ~ Lessons Learned misreports FMD proved premises by an extra 33%
This has been done by the simple means of excluding the untested cases when working out the percentage of IPs that tested positive.
The so-called "KEY FACTS" in the final section of the Report are selected and presented in a way that does not encourage scrutiny. Nicola Morris, however, is interested and has done some calculations. She finds that the total number of infected premises "found to be positive for foot and mouth virus" has been increased by 33% See explanation
August 1 ~ It wasn't the scale of this epidemic that was unprecedented, it was the scale of the unnecessary slaughter.
10509 farms were slaughtered, but on less than 13% of these farms was laboratory evidence of foot and mouth disease found. Laboratory testing is accepted to be at least 90% accurate (IAH Pirbright).
Of the truly infected farms visible signs of disease were found 4-7 days after exposure to the virus (Jim Scudamore EFRA select committee 21/03/01).
Given that the pre-emptive slaughter policy was a novel method of control and went against the advice of the scientists at Pirbright, it is surprising that so very few of the farms slaughtered pre-emptively were blood tested at slaughter. But we don't need blood tests to know that up to 95% of pre-emptively culled farms were slaughtered on or after the day clinical signs would have been apparent if exposure had occurred. Animals would have been showing clinical signs if really infected. We have seen no convincing evidence in any of the reports that justifies the killing of so many healthy adult animals and their young.
August 1 ~ The contiguous cull did nothing to bring the disease under control
Ro, the so-called case reproduction number, calculates the average number of new cases generated by one current case. For the epidemic to be "out of control" this number must be more than 1.
In the week that began on 26th March 2001, Ro could not have been any higher than 1 even if all the IPs really had genuinely had FMD. When test results are taken into account the actual Ro was 0.8. See more By the time the pre-emptive culling was implemented the peak of the epidemic had passed.
This is a crucial point. But you will not find it in the Lessons Learned Report. Instead you will find the following statement justifying the pre-emptive killing:
(page 96 of LL Report) "From some perspectives, the rigorous application of a contiguous cull policy was a desperate measure. But the situation was desperate. ..resources were stretched... The epidemic was expanding out of control....there was no time to explore alternatives or carry out experiments"Those responsible for the Foot and Mouth nightmare all seem to be in a curious state of denial.
August 1 ~ "the British consumer must be made aware of how fragile food production is in the UK. It is on a knife-edge at the moment."
Says Farmers for Action. We have received this email which combines an urgent message from David Handley with the reporting of the proposed strike in Farmers Weekly.
"Farmers For Action are calling for a national strike by UK food producers on Friday 23 August.
This strike will commence at 12 midnight, Thursday 22nd August and run through until midnight of the 23rd August. It to highlight the disastrous situation that is now surrounding British food production. We are calling on all farmers in the UK and Ireland to abide by this 24-hour token strike. No one at present appears to be listening to what is happening to British food production. If we do not bring awareness to the general public, government and all other bodies that represent farming, our industry will be extinct by 2010. Food For Africa. There is a parallel to be drawn from these two situations and the British consumer must be made aware of how fragile food production is in the UK. It is on a knife-edge at the moment."
Aug 1 ~" the FMD experience shows that the grossest actions of the government can be glossed over with spin..."
Lawrence writes: "David's linking of famine in the third world with the enthusiasm of our government to import all our food strikes a chord with me.
As I milk the sheep for hours on end, I remember the remarks of Mrs Beckett, Lord Haskins and Lord Donoghue - to the effect that the nation no longer needs the food that British farmers produce because we can import all the food we need. I too wonder how this notion can be reconciled with the famine and poverty in the countries these "socialists" want to take their food from.
Is it, perhaps that they [and their sponsors], have, like President Mugabe, realised the importance of controlling the food supply? Without home grown food, our food supply can more easily be controlled... - and if you think that interfering with the food supply would rebound on the perpetrators, remember how the FMD experience shows that the grossest actions of the government can be glossed over with spin."
( Lawrence is one of the calmest, most unexcitable people in farming - which is saying something. He has chosen his words here with the greatest care. Who is listening?)
July 31/Aug 1 ~ "If Dr Anderson has been misled then any of his conclusions regarding the scale of the epidemic and the culling policies adopted are not valid"
"Dr Anderson did not address the scale of unnecessary slaughter mainly because the data he used was at best inaccurate and incomplete - at worst it had been manipulated so that Dr Anderson could only conclude that the scale of the epidemic was unprecedented and the pre-emptive cull was justified."
"It is possible that the Inquiry team did not understand the significance of some of the data held on the database. Alternatively they chose to examine and include only data which supported the required conclusions: that is, that the epidemic was unprecedented and the pre-emptive cull was justified"
" ..... If the data in the LLI report is correct then I have been misled, the EFRA select committee have been misled and Parliament has been misled.... Alternatively, Dr Anderson has been misled. If Dr Anderson has been misled then any of his conclusions regarding the scale of the epidemic and the culling policies adopted are not valid..." Nicola Morris' letter
July 31/Aug 1 ~ The most likely explanation is that the UK epidemic actually started at least a week earlier: that is around 1 February 2001
It is not possible for both the Dutch and UK explanations to be correct. When was FMD first in the UK? The work by Nicola Morris casts doubt on the official version. The contrasting explanations. (The official version still seems to rely heavily on the possibility, disproved for this strain of FMDv, of extensive airborne spread.)
July 31 ~" ..an affront that your veterinary and scientific advisers can meddle with people's lives ...."
. "It is high time you started to put in place regimes that give practical benefits, rather than those that are merely visual for the benefit of the Press and the public at large."Alan Venner, chairman of Exeter Market Auctioneers, told Defra (See Western Morning News today)
"There appears to be an official but hidden agenda relating to the destruction of the rural economy and the farming industry in particular," he said.
"I put it to you that if in February last year your department had had in place an effective contingency plan, stopped all animal movements immediately and then acted quickly and effectively to slaughter infected stock, instead of blundering along out of control, there would have probably been less than even 60 cases.
"The farming industry is now being made the scapegoat for your lack of a contingency plan and sound veterinary advice prior to February 2001. Your veterinary advice at that time did little to assist in an unnecessary spread of the disease."
The farming industry was totally confused by the unbelievable amount of rules and regulations now foisted on it, he added, stressing that many vets considered the present regime an unnecessary expense, affording no benefit. "The disease is either still here, or long gone, and as it has been almost 12 months since the last outbreak, please allow us to proceed to rebuild our business and for the industry to begin to recover." Mr Venner added.
"I consider it an affront that your veterinary and scientific advisers can meddle with people's lives and incomes in such an off-hand manner..... I suggest you start rebuilding bridges with a very demoralised farming community."
July 30 ~"It's much easier just to go on looking at our own toecaps, while not noticing the elephant in the room"
"There is a tendency for people's eyes to glaze over whenever 'Europe' is dragged in but THIS IS THE SYSTEM BY WHICH WE ARE NOW GOVERNED. These are our laws, not the ones made in Westminster. This is what dictates what British ministers do or can't do. Everything else about the great FMD debate follows from the framework laid down by this system," an emailer writes today
"People can blether on about whether or not we should have vaccinated, or whether or not we should have had a pre-emptive cull, but what the Booker/North article you published on Sunday showed was why we SHOULD by law have been carrying out an emergency vaccination but couldn't and didn't because the system totally failed.
That is why people like Fred Brown and Simon Barteling were knocking at a locked and bolted door,because
What is needed is a complete shake-up in the framework of people's thinking about all this, because at the moment pretty well all of them are still going on as if the UK government is free to make up its own policies on these matters. It isn't, and if only people could see this wider framework they might understand what has happened and what is happening a great deal more clearly than they do."
- the UK government had not done what it should have done years earlier and because
- Brussels hadn't bothered to follow up the laws and guideliness
which, it should be remembered, Simon Barteling had played a key part in putting into place in 1990.
July 30 ~ The line-up of those invited to private meetings with Dr Anderson -with the very obvious exception of warmwell and NFMG - looks like Tony Blair's Christmas card list
As NFMG writes: "... there is no excuse the Inquiry can use to justify the selectiveness of its witnesses - and the limited evidence it took from those opposed to Government policy.
It is like having a court case and only hearing the case for the defence - and refusing to call any professionally qualified Expert Witnesses for the case for the prosecution.
...the Inquiry findings are fundamentally flawed - and should be recognised as such by the media and the Government and the opposition.
Furthermore, for the report to be used to justify the Animal Health Bill amendments would be totally wrong. The Inquiry has provided no means or ability to assess or critically determine whether the adopted control measures were proportionate, rational or reasonable. Those of us who have undertaken such analysis from the full breadth of evidence that is available, but which the LLI chose to exclude, have found the reverse to be the case." (letter)
July 29/30 ~The hurrying through of this bill to give retrospective legality to a massacre that was both callous and unnecessary, shows how much the government realised the illegality of the measures.
"I believe that it was a deeply irresponsible decision by the House of Lords to prevent the Animal Health Bill from proceeding into committee and effectively blocking the passage of this Bill." says Elliot Morley piously, in a letter of July 18th in response to one of 22nd November 2001 (See Spin Alert)
" The measures contained in the Bill are a proportionate response to the very real threat of a future outbreak of serious animal disease. They are not simply measures on culling , but also measures to assist with applying options like vaccination and blood testing.In this Mr Morley differs from the High Court Judge, Mr Justice Harrison. Once he realised the dubious scientific basis for killing he awarded costs AGAINST Maff and said, "that there is much to be said for the alternative of monitoring and blood testing which Mrs Upton offered in the first place... .."that is the proportionate response to the situation in which we now find ourselves" said Mr Justice Harrison. Whether or not the case could be taken as a precedent MAFF didn't dare put it to the test. After this judgement MAFF/DEFRA no longer dared take cull protestors to Court - as Lord Whitty could not deny.
The powers would have enabled us to contain disease outbreaks more effectively and eradicate them more quickly, thereby benefiting both farmers and the wider community. At present we are left potentially exposed to the disease with fewer powers than are necessary until we can get the legislation in the Animal Health Bill through Parliament.
signed Elliot Morley.
Now, via the Animal Health Bill, the government gives itself the legal right to kill any "susceptible animals". It is the equivalent of saying all humans are susceptible to cancer; therefore, in the interests of human health, we reserve the right to slaughter any human.
July 29 ~ "The tongueless man gets his land took" (old saying)
When the stakes are as high as land ownership itself then the powerful and unscrupulous through the ages have ridden roughshod over the rights of men. When landowners and tenant farmers are treated with contempt - as Lord Greaves so rightly points out- the rest of the population is being treated contemptuously too. This year we are witnessing in Britain the demise, not just of human-scale agriculture, but also of democracy itself. We are living in dangerous times.
The figures Dr Anderson was given were wrong. The persuasive words of the spin merchants protecting those most responsible for the horror of the FMD crisis were wrong. The data had been manipulated - not merely misreported. The only reason to manipulate data is deliberately to give the wrong impression.
David Curry announced in January 2002: "We intend to examine the reports of the inquiries when they are published to ensure that ... key issues have been addressed, and to maintain a strong interest in the conduct and progress of the inquiries."
The real figures from certain honourable people at DEFRA and elsewhere have been ferreted out and compared with the pages of unread and unreadable statistics of the Lessons Learned Report. We have something concrete and quantifiable to say about this manipulation of data. We are here to stand up for the tongueless men since we have maintained from the beginning that the nation is best served, Dr Anderson, if their legitimate grief, anger and frustration is at last given a voice, and that those responsible are made to listen.
July 29 ~ Margaret Beckett's Office continues to duck and weave
Captain Bryn Wayt, who has spent many hours researching the facts about vaccination and imported vaccinated meat products, was not amused to hear from the grand-sounding "FMD Science and General Policy Team Animal Movements and Exotic Disease Division". It was a letter about why Britain did not vaccinate. It is a letter that makes much of the word "stakeholders", implying - but carefully not quite saying - that consumers were consulted about whether they wanted vaccination. It implies - but doesn't quite say - that "stakeholders" were the reason why vaccination was rejected because of concerns wholly to do with trade. It says - without saying how this is being done - that "we are pressing" for "international rules discouraging vaccination" to be changed, without mentioning that OIE rules have already changed.
Bryn's reply to this letter is robust, lengthy and furious..."...The Dutch managed to "shorten the outbreak" using vaccination. The Uruguay government managed to "shorten the outbreak" in 2001 by using vaccination and now we are eating their vaccinated meat.
....you must know there are no instructions, law, or condition in the Animal Health Act 1981 or any related EU Directives for the control of FMD which states, or even mentions, there has to be, "support for a vaccination strategy been in place" before a member state can use emergency vaccination.. You write: Countrywide vaccination would have seriously damaged these industries and the rural economy, with ongoing negative effects on tourism and freedom of movement of people and goods.
It is the height of hypocrisy to imply vaccination would have seriously damaged "these industries" more than the ludicrous, unscientific and heinous slaughter policy."
- Countryside vaccination is not the focus; it was emergency local ring vaccination, and well you know it.
- Tourists don't give a hoot nor could recognise vaccinated cattle if they tried; there's no negative effect, and well you know it.
- Freedom of movement of people would NOT have been affected by ring vaccination, and well you know it.
- Freedom of movement of goods has not stopped South America exporting vaccinated meat to the EU, and well you know it.
July 28 ~ MAGNUS LINKLATER: So that's it then - no one to blame for F&M disaster
"There was incompetence from civil servants, a failure of leadership by ministers, narrow self-interest from the farmers' unions and the food industry; a disastrous lack of communications from top to bottom of the system. A nation that once prided itself on the sound state of its veterinary science emerges as ill-prepared for a major epidemic and bereft of clear-cut decision-making.
For all that, however, we have heard not a whisper of apology from those responsible. Margaret Beckett, the minister whose department was largely responsible for the mass slaughter and the funeral pyres, while acknowledging to parliament that mistakes had been made, took no personal responsibility for any of them and was not to be drawn on what steps would be taken to correct them.
Tony Blair, who 'took control' of the strategy during that awful spring when millions of healthy animals were slaughtered and our tourist industry was driven on to the ropes, has left for his holiday without saying anything .. (See the article in today's Scotland on Sunday )
July 28 ~ "the NFU should be treated for what it is ... a busted flush" ( Jonathan Dimbleby today)
"Gill and his allies are already busy re-writing history to suggest they weren't really opposed to vaccination; that, for the future, it is simply a matter of ensuring, as Beckett said in her Commons statement, that 'meat and food products from vaccinated animals' should be able 'to enter the food chain normally'.." (They do already, as we all know).
"In all future cases -- at least in relation to FMD -- the NFU should be treated for what it is ... a busted flush. "
"The government not only needs to admit past errors , but it must be open with us. It must put a vaccination strategy at the heart of its contingency planning and explain the reasons for this wise volte-face. If it does, then we will never again be tempted to say 'we told you so'. Far more important, we will never again face such a nightmare. " Read Jonathan Dimbleby in the Sunday Herald today
July 28 ~ Britain should already have been equipped and obliged by law to carry out a full-scale emergency vaccination programme within days of the first outbreak being identified. ....
In the Sunday Telegraph today we read another angle on the (No) Lessons Learned Report: "...The country could have been spared the worst of a disaster that cost the economy at least £3.8 billion; the lives of those millions of illegally killed animals could have been saved; and rural communities would have been spared their most traumatic experience in modern times.
.... this tragedy was made inevitable by a complete breakdown of the system devised by the European Commission in the 1990s for tackling any future outbreaks of foot and mouth. Successive British governments failed to meet even the inadequate Brussels requirements for drawing up proper contingency plans.
..... Britain was wholly unprepared for what happened. Yet because Brussels and Whitehall were both at fault, they agreed to hush up just how seriously their joint system had failed. " (see whole article)
July 28 ~ "with respect to investigation of origin and spread" No one took any notice! A memo dated July 18 2000 SIX MONTHS before the government became aware that the worst had indeed happened, a disregarded warning from Mr J M Scudamore
To: Dr Richard Cawthorne, Mr Martin Atkinson cc: Mr Tony Edwards Mr Leslie Gardner
".......The main problems relate to slaughter and disposal of carcasses, training of staff and the availablity of up-to-date contingency plans. Linked to this is the need to ensure that we have a satisfactory epidemiological capability to deal with outbreaks of disease with respect to investigation of origin and spread...." (see copy of memo of two years ago)
July 28 ~ "Complacency caused them to be unprepared, even though officials knew that the disease was an increasing threat."
writes Geoffrey Lean in the Independent today....."Sorry, Margaret, but that just won't wash. The errors that were to so devastate farming and the countryside were clearly pointed out at the time, ..... And they were understood by ministers and top officials who privately expressed their support for our criticism and urged us to continue: one even confidentially described official policy as "insanity''. (See also Scudamore memo above)
July 28 ~" if animals on these farms had been exposed to foot and mouth virus visible signs of disease would have been apparent "
THis letter appeared in both the Farmers Guardian and the Farmers Weekly on Friday.
FMD Inquiries- A victory for spin
Although, we are heartened to see the Inquiries paving the way for vaccination, it concerns us that the promience given to the vaccination issue enables the Government to neatly side step the fundamental flaws in their handling of 2001 UK FMD epidemic. The scale of unnecessary slaughter in this epidemic was unprecedented:
10509 farms were slaughtered, but on less than 13% of these farms was laboratory evidence of foot and mouth disease found (DEFRA 9/11/01). Laboratory testing is accepted to be atleast 90% accurate.
in this epidemic of the truly infected farms visible signs of disease were found 4-7 days after exposure to the virus (Jim Scudamore EFRA select committee 21/03/01). 8226 premises thought to have been exposed to virus were culled as a precautionary measure; many of these farms were not laboratory tested, but delays in slaughter (due to lack of resources) were such that up to 95% of these farms were slaughtered 7 or more days after possible exposure to FMD virus.
We can therefore say with some certainty that by the time slaughter occurred on nearly 8000 farms if animals on these farms had been exposed to foot and mouth virus visible signs of disease would have been apparent.
We can conclude that in the UK 2001 epidemic up to 5 million adult animals were slaughtered totally unnecessarily.
The 'Emperor' truly has no clothes. But only those without a voice have noticed.
Nicola and Andrew Morris
(Contiguous farmers who survived) Eatons Farm, Church Lane, Tibberton, Droitwich, Worcs WR9 7NW
July 27 ~ Et Tu Farmers Guardian?
Such is the power of repetition that the Farmers Guardian editorial yesterday stated - as if it were hard fact - "Arriving on a single piece of imported meat the tiny virus brought the country to a stand still."
The "tiny" virus came into the UK somehow - but no one has yet proved how. The NFU seems extraordinarily keen that all should assume it was via illegal imports of meat...but if the virus can hang around on dead flesh is it not time that the authorities were prosecuted for the length of time - often weeks - that animal corpses were left in piles, to the distress of all in the neighbourhood?
July 27 ~" I simply can not believe that it is impossible to identify the person who instituted the 3k cull"
writes a farmer's wife this morning.
Did Mr. Scudamore, who came up to Cumbria in March 2001 'to convince the NFU to tell the farmers to co- operate' , not know on whose behalf he was bringing the message?
In the light of the failure to identify the culprit does not the responsibility fall on Mr. Blair?
I was saddened but not surprised to hear Margaret Beckett again diverting blame onto the farmers. Even a mention for the lost pig at the slaughterhouse, again. What has happened to the mysterious case of that anonymous pig. Have the police found the owner yet?
I have been trying to sell my Shetland sheep flock and although our local trading standards department were unfailingly kind, polite and helpful, they could not issue the licence as DEFRA did not update its computer for several days and so a new holding number was not on it........
So not many lessons learned there yet.."
This farmer says of the National Scrapie Plan..
"The reason for lack of response is the extreme measures one has to agree to. None of us wants it, we have all been busy working hard on the schemes set up by breed societies. It appears to us that is is just a case of forcing the scheme upon us by putting a gun to our heads [ The plan to put any trust back between the government and the farmers is like the trains - somewhat delayed] The current attitude seems to be that "the floggings will continue until morale improves."
July 27 ~ "Will the Minister explain why we need to speed up this plan?
If BSE is suddenly found in sheep, the Minister can use the TSE Regulations 2002. Should not this matter be taken at a reasonably leisurely place, as proposed by the noble Lord, Lord May? The Minister already has the necessary powers to deal with an emergency. Why does he need these extra powers? " asked the Countess of Mar, who excelled herself in the debate. (AHBJuly 25)
Lord Whitty's frankly feeble reply: "The reason that we need the instruments on the statute book immediately, even if they are not used immediately, is so that the industry and everyone involved can see that the Government and the leaders of the industry are determined that this plan will be carried out. We believe that that will speed up voluntary involvement with the scheme, because people will see that it will definitely be delivered. At the moment there is some doubt that it will be delivered. The earlier we make that clear, the better and faster the scheme will move. That is the degree of urgency. "
"Not very convincing," some might say. You don't make things mandatory if you wish to preserve something voluntary. What is really behind all this?
In answer to probing questions from Lord Greaves, Lord Whitty was both unable to cite any scientific paper in support of his reference to "a substantial range of scientific information" (Column 575) the scrapie part of the bill beyond a reference to SEAC and the FSA, nor to explain anything at all about methods of transmission (Column 587)
July 26/7 ~ Why this haste?
After a marathon afternoon and evening, the Lords who had so gallantly raised amendments and argued for sanity in the Animal Health Bill finally left the chamber some time after midnight. The admirable Countess of Mar proved to be as knowledgeable about sheep and farming as the Minister was ignorant. Queries about scientific evidence, appeal procedures, disease transmission all showed a lamentable lack of understanding or ability to cite evidence. Lord Carter gaped in bewilderment when the Countess of Mar appealed for owners of sheep who did not want them slaughtered to be allowed to keep them as pets. Such a thing was beyond his comprehension - although Lord Whitty, after grappling with the concept, did agree to go away and think about it.
At 11.30 when all were on their very last legs, Lord Greaves suddenly found the energy to launch into an impassioned and wholly relevant defence of civil liberties.
We cannot thank him enough.
And at no point during the day did we ever get an answer to the question - This is an endemic and uncommon disease - so why the urgency?
July 26 ~" I am not alone in having serious doubts about what the Government seek to do in Part 2 of the Bill.
(Lord Moran) The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons advised me to consult the Sheep Veterinary Society, which is a division of the British Veterinary Association. That I did. It kindly passed on to me comments from members of the society who are experts in this field. The Government should consider carefully what they say. I shall give some examples. First:
- "The TSE part of the Animal Health Bill is . . . very draconian. There is no provision to use an R5 ram on say R1 ewes to protect rare or superior phenotype. It also presupposes that BSE is in the national flock. Far better to use the suggested approach of the Royal Society report and have a proper debate on the issues".
- Secondly: "There are too many scientific uncertainties to justify such draconian measures, particularly the question of whether BSE is, or ever was, in the UK sheep flock".
- Thirdly: "In particular, I think the most important thing to question in the Bill is the use of the term 'TSE susceptible' rather than 'affected' or even 'exposed'. By implication, the Bill would allow slaughter of any animal of a species in which a TSE had ever been detected".
July 26 ~ "There is absolutely no evidence that there is any BSE in sheep, and it's not that people haven't been looking. They have, but they haven't found it." ( Professor Hugh Pennington, eminent Aberdeen University bacteriologist)
Professor Pennington is frequently called upon by the government to handle food scares. Even he says " Recall the attempts of the mathematical modellers to predict foot and mouth last year. Despite knowing more about the behaviour of the virus in the filed than for just about any other microbe, they still got things seriously wrong. The main value of modelling is to show up the things that need to be found out such as how does infection spread. For BSE and sheep, of course, we don't need to do modelling to remind us how few actual facts we have." (See article and photograph)
July 26 ~ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly
For those who - like the unfortunate sheep in Lord Plumb's failed amendment - have the stomach for it, the Animal Health Bill debate and first Committee Stage in the Lords yesterday may be read here.
July 26 ~ The Lessons Learned Inquiry failed to act on the recommendation of the Northumberland Report; to listen to dissenting voices.
A letter from the NFMG to the EFRA Select Committee today contains the following questions:
See the letter in detail
- Why has the Lessons Learned Inquiry not complied with the Recommendation of the EFRA Select Committee on FMD that in the absence of 'full public inquiry ' the Inquiries should "conduct themselves transparently, taking evidence from as many sources as possible in public unless there are very clear reasons not to do so."
- Why was so much evidence taken in private?
- Why were many key witnesses not called to give evidence?
- Why were many leading veterinarians who were involved during the epidemic not called to give evidence?
- Why were virtually all the scientific witnesses called drawn from the Government 's own advisers? In having cognisance of only one side of the argument the Inquiry has failed to act with validity and integrity.
- Why has the empirical data and factual information submitted to the Inquiry been ignored?
- Substantive evidence founded on Parliamentary Answers has not been taken account of. Most importantly the data provided in PQ ' and A 's demonstrating that of the 10,485 premises culled only 1,326 were lab confirmed to have had the disease has been disregarded. The extremely few cases lab confirmed raises fundamental questions as to whether control measures adopted in response to the disease were proportionate, reasonable or rational.
- Why was the empirical data and figures from Pirbright and DEFRA not used to assess the efficacy, impact and consequences of the Contiguous Cull policy?
- Why did the Inquiry fail to consider the validity of those who contested the Contiguous Cull policy and proved that the policy was not necessary to control the disease? ... none of the solicitors or barristers acting on behalf of those who opposed the cull were asked to attend the Inquiry to present evidence to demonstrate the legitimacy of the action taken.
- Why were the various EU FMD Committee Minutes (1999 and 2000) and the EU Strategy for Emergency Vaccination adopted in 1999 not taken account of by the Inquiry in its consideration of Contingency Planning?
July 26 ~ "Why did the LL Inquiry ignore the EU Decision relating to compensation for vaccination and vaccinated animals?"
(From the NFMG letter sent today) " See EU Council Decision of 26 June 1990 (90/424/EEC) Articles 3 and 11. This was a key issue during the epidemic but the Inquiry has failed to point out that if the existence of this directive had been made known by the Government it may well have overcome many of the NFU objections to vaccination.
In not allowing evidence to be heard in public and subsequently examined, many of the assumptions and assertions of the Government 's advisers have gone unchallenged and untested. ...Sadly the Inquiry has accepted the false premises on which these policies were founded.
Furthermore, as the Inquiry has not been prepared to take evidence from those who would have provided Expert Witness opinion on FMD science and the various control methods, the Lessons Learned Inquiry has provided no opportunity to question or apply critical analysis to the views expressed by the Government and its advisers.
Without being prepared to hear both sides of the argument neither the Inquiry nor its Report can be accepted as having validity or integrity. "
July 26 ~ If the Bill is passed it will pave the way for the government to use.... pre-emptive slaughter policies such as the contiguous cull during future disease outbreaks.
writes Isabel Davies in the Farmers' Weekly interactive "The government is making a second attempt to push through its Animal Health Bill to remove doubts over the legality of future foot-and-mouth control strategies." "A Defra spokesman confirmed that it was likely that foot-and-mouth related parts of the Bill would be brought back in the autumn 'in some guise'.
Our astonished relief that the peers had succeeded in postponing the bill until after the reports had been published was short lived. The reports have been published - but not debated. The passing of the bill will give the government even greater powers to slaughter healthy animals for whatever political reason they choose.
"any ambiguity over the legal basis for future disease control strategies".
Hardly surprising that the government sponsored report recommended that the Bill should remove "ambiguity". One has only to read Lord Whitty's unsatisfactory answers to the questions about legality put to him a month ago to see how nervous the government have been about their "legal basis".
But the gullible, gullible English will allow the snake of modern undemocratic British government to swallow the pig and all will be smooth and sleek again. The time for holding them to account has slipped past - and our institutions are being neutered. As the Western Morning News put it, " Victims of the disaster will forever feel cheated by the Government's cowardly refusal to be held to account in public."
July 26 ~ "I think we need to move on"
In December Iain Anderson said "I am actually trying to get to the bottom of all of these things .... I have no interest in coming to a half baked solution, none. What a disaster that would be, what a waste of time. I will come back and be held to it. ....."
A questioner in Okehampton on January 23 2002 said to the the Lessons Learned team, "...once you have done half of your interviews, should be able to come back to us ....the key point is communicate with everybody involved all the way through. Do not come down here and then go away and leave the west country, "Oh well we've been there, we don't need to worry about them any more...."
Dr Anderson replied,".. I like the point and I am just in my mind trying to process it in a practical way. " But Alun Evans said "I think we need to move on."
"We need to move on" has been a phrase repeated often in recent weeks.
July 26 ~ the Inquiries should "conduct themselves transparently, taking evidence from as many sources as possible in public unless there are very clear reasons not to do so."
The Lessons Learned team did not, it seems, have time to invite for interview any FMD expert who could put them right about the flawed scientific basis of the contiguous cull, nor the wasted opportunity for rapid diagnosis. The report still upholds the cruel fiction that it " played a critical part in disease control in the 2001 outbreak so the possibility of it being adopted in the future should be retained." They did not interview Dr Paul Kitching - who has told the truth about the contiguous cull to the EU. They did not interview Dr Keith Sumption, also now acclaimed as an international expert. They chose not to talk to Fred Brown. There is no evidence in the report from any epidemiologist who now understands that when the decision to implement the contiguous cull was taken the epidemiologists all thought R was much higher than it actually was - yet surely the LLI team comprised at least one person capable of understanding that if, of 909 confirmed cases up to 1/04/2001 and only 549 (60%) returned positive laboratory test results (PQ 6650 22/06/02). ( the rest were negative or untested) then it is highly unlikely that Ro was initially 1.2?
David Curry's EFRA Committee on FMD said that " in the absence of full public inquiry the Inquiries should "conduct themselves transparently, taking evidence from as many sources as possible in public unless there are very clear reasons not to do so." Principal Recommendation 1 - Para 43(a) What does his Committee now think of the transparency of the report? What "clear reasons" were given not to interview the most eminent dissenters from the policy?
July 25 ~ "A few humble words of regret and apology would have moved mountains"
The Western Morning News concludes its editorial on the Lessons Learned Report: " At the root of the Government's scandalous mishandling of the epidemic was a basic lack of understanding and knowledge of the countryside and country people.
If Blair, Beckett, et al continue to deny that, they will never regain the trust and respect of those people who felt brutalised, betrayed and isolated by their conduct throughout the disaster.
A few humble words of regret and apology would have moved mountains in terms of rural public opinion.
What we got instead was arrogant, complacent, even sometimes hostile, evasion of the accountability which is inherent in their public office..."
July 25 ~ "The last thing Defra ministers can afford to admit is the truth: that the contiguous cull, although never properly tested in the courts, was a straightforward criminal act committed by a British government on a massive scale." Private Eye
Lord Whitty replied to Lord Willoughby de Broke's 5 questions eventually - but the answers his team of researchers gave him were not up to much. An analysis of his answers reveals the same muddled thinking, lack of understanding and wishful thinking that has been apparent all along to anyone not taken in by the irritated bluster. (Analysis)
July 25 ~ Today Lord Whitty will try to convince the House of Lords that they must debate in Committee the scrapie clauses of the Animal Health Bill.
The whole thing is based on a fallacy.
Scrapie has no known adverse effect on human health. No links between scrapie and CJD have been demonstrated. It has been present in the sheep population of UK for more than two hundred years, and no association with human disease has been shown. In Iceland, where sheep heads, eyes and brains are eaten, only two cases of CJD have been recorded in 35 years, and both were in a non-scrapie endemic region (Sigurdarson, 1991).
The reason for slaughtering sheep with scrapie-susceptible genotypes, and the current policy of the National Scrapie Plan, are based on the possible transfer of BSE to sheep. There is no evidence this has occurred. The Horn report, considered at the meeting of SEAC in September 2001, states that no scrapie strain with the characteristics of the BSE strain has been identified.
It also needs to be borne in mind that it has not yet been proved that BSE is the cause of vCJD. (see information document
'New Labour - New Life for Animals ' (Labour Party manifesto, 1997) Fine vote-catching words but the opposite of the truth. To their utter shame, New Labour has comprehensively failed to treat farm livestock - and their owners - with the compassion that should be the norm in a civilised society. The AHB scrapie clauses - likely to be nodded through today by politicians eager for their annual break - give the Minister even more legal powers to slaughter at will and owners will have no powers left to stand up for their healthy animals.
July 25 ~ "I'm not scared of this Government, as I can't think of anything else they could possibly do to make my life any worse than they already have done."
writes a Cornish farmer whose story warmwell has followed with grave disquiet from the beginning. Her life became a nightmare when her much loved animals were killed in a contiguous cull - including a favourite ewe that had just lain down to lamb when the slaughteres arrived and fifteen cows who had lived on the farm as virtual pets all their lives. The cull was not applied consistently; the IP was unproven. Separated from the so-called Infected Premises,West Witheven, by 37 acres of woodland, they discovered that several other farms which were contiguous and separated merely by a fence, were not culled. After their animals had been killed they were told that the "DVM had changed her mind" Their farm has been under restrictions, a "Form 37B", ever since because, having offered to do the C&D themselves rather than see the same crew back who had killed their animals - and been refused - they barricaded the farm. They were told by the DVM, Jan Kelly, "they could stay there til they broke".
She writes "The Government slaughtered all my animals for a disease they didn't have, gave us £16,000 in compensation , and were then prepared to spend over £25,000 in cleansing our farm buildings for a disease that had never been there"
"I have copied below a report on virus spread and the Contiguous Cull, made by Dr Keith Sumption which we would have used in our Judicial Review (refused in October)."
"We paid £1000 for it, so it would be nice to think it could be put to some use".
extract: " ..even if Higher Fonstone had been downwind on the days at risk, the distance separation of animals at Higher Fonstone is sufficiently great to suggest that transmission by the airborne route from West Witheven is not likely to have occurred, since the number of potentially infected animals would have been insufficient to have resulted in airborne infection at a range over 100 metres distance."
July 25 ~ "Anderson does genuflect toward the case for vaccination but he seems to shy away from the impications of his analysis"
In his Evening Standard article last night, Jonathan Dimbleby writes, "The really ghastly self-inflicted 'nightmare' was to reject the case for vaccination except as 'a last resort' - in itself a meaningless concept. As the Soil Association argued at the time, 'ring vaccination' to stop the spread of an outbreak from the hotspots would have been swifter and more effective than the so-called 'contiguous cull' of millions of healthy animals. Long before the crisis had peaked, I argued that vaccination also offered 'the only available prospect of an early reprieve from the mass carnage which has become a nightly horror show with a worldwide audience'. No wonder, despite ministerial bleating to the contrary, that the countryside was - in reality - closed for business.
Anderson does genuflect toward the case for vaccination but he seems to shy away from the impications of his analysis. In her Commons statement yesterday, Mrs Beckett accepted his recommendation that the 'option' of emergency vaccination should 'form part of any future strategy for the control of FMD' but gave no indication what that carefully crafted but singularly imprecise phrase ws supposed to mean. (more)
July 25 ~ "Ministers were interviewed by Dr Anderson..... But we, the public, are not allowed to know what he asked them or what their answers were..."
A robust editorial from the Western Morning News is an indication of how independent it is compared to the rest of the field.
"We cannot judge for ourselves whether it is actually true to say that the conspiracy theory has been banished forever. We simply have to take Margaret Beckett's word for it.
And that's not democracy.
The reference in Dr Anderson's report to that theory says: "We have examined Government papers and questioned ministers and officials but have found no evidence to support such a suggestion."
That's hardly the massive rejection described by Mrs Beckett of the suspicions, especially since we know of Dr Anderson's frustration that there were moments of collective amnesia on crucial points when he spoke to ministers. It might well be that the Prime Minister's conduct and policies were never influenced by the General Election, but the point is that we will never really know, and the fact that a neutered chairman of a toothless inquiry could find no evidence of it means next to nothing. (more)
July 24 ~ Fordyce is suffering from FMD battle fatigue
Battle fatigue sets in over FMD writes Mr Maxwell, with understandable weariness, in today's Scotsman After pointing out that " ...Journalists had 45 minutes to speed-read 186 pages before a press conference followed by the usual deadline rush to describe it, and reaction to it. The report was about foot-and-mouth. Slightly more time to re-read it yesterday left much the same impression - it's about foot-and-mouth, as every one of the dozen or so reports published in the past six months has been."
This weariness expressed in the Scotsman sums up the problem. Both politicians and journalists are swamped with so much information overload that - while "scientists may know more and more about less and less, politicans and journalists know less and less about b*gger all" (as Fred Brown remarked to us last year) So we get the often repeated fallacy that things were done better in Scotland. Try telling that to anyone who came up against the veterinary Angel of Death who featured so loathsomely in the BBC film "In the Shadow" or to any farmer in Dumfries and Galloway who is still traumatised by what happened to their healthy stock.
Mr Maxwell says, " A witch hunt is an unedifying sight at any time, any place and Anderson made the valid point that we are not talking about bad people." We beg to differ. Some of the people involved were very bad indeed - some were downright crooks, some were cheats, and many were liars. Worst of all, many of the MAFF officials were arrogant and violent bullies who could have passed unnoticed in the lower ranks of the SS or Gestapo. We can no longer claim to be a nation of fair play. The contiguous cull was carried out in England, Wales and Scotland in a way that will be of lasting shame to all involved and has diminished us as a nation. We echo Robin Page below. "Is there no accountability any more?"
July 24 ~ "what faith can we put in the prospects of the more equivocal recommendations of Dr Iain Anderson?"
Sir Edward Greenwell, President of the Country Land and Business Association writes in today's Telegraph, Sir - As Charles Clover points out (Comment, July 23), the recommendations of the Northumberland inquiry were specific and clear. However, given that the rigorous prescriptions of the Northumberland report were not in place in February 2001, what faith can we put in the prospects of the more equivocal recommendations of Dr Iain Anderson?
Northumberland recommended that rehearsed contingency plans should provide for the "swift and effective mobilisation of manpower and resources, and for smooth expansion to deal with outbreaks, no matter what dimension they assume". He also recommended seeking help from the Armed Forces at an early stage, and that, in the absence of satisfactory import controls, slaughter should be reinforced by ring vaccination.
Thirty-four years later, we hear identical but more qualified recommendations from Dr Anderson. Our fear is that we will be no better protected for the next outbreak.
We therefore propose that, as a matter of urgency, the chairmen of all the inquiries - the three by the Government and those in the regions and the Edinburgh Royal Society's - pool their experience to guide the production of the much-needed animal health strategy and to act as watchdogs over its implementation
From: Sir Edward Greenwell, President, Country Land and Business Association, London SW1
July 24 ~ "10 million dead animals, a wrecked rural economy and countless ruined lives, those who insisted on the absurd, heartless and bewildering cull should resign."
In a letter in today's Telegraph Robin Page asks, "....Ben Gill , the president of the NFU - an organisation that represents a few agribusinessmen - should be the first to go. He should be followed by the individual who took "personal control" of the outbreak, Tony Blair. Is there no accountability in high office any more?"
July 24 ~ Animal Health Bill to make its unwelcome return tomorrow
On June 25 Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Lord Whitty five questions about the legality of the contiguous cull. We understand that answers were received just three days ago and were unsatisfactory. The fact remains that scientific evidence was not disclosed by the government authorities in the court cases clung to as giving legal validity to contiguous culling.
This evidence was not disclosed, for reasons which may appear obvious, by MAFF in the famous Grunty case either - but the Defence did present it as evidence and it proved decisive.
Mr Justice Harrison, having referred to the scientific evidence, said, "....there is much to be said for the alternative of monitoring and blood testing which Mrs Upton offered in the first place......I bear in mind also what happeneed when, unwittingly, there was a MAFF vet at Hill Farm and it turned out he had been on infected premises some few days before as a result of which the matter was dealt with by monitoring over a period ."..."that is the proportionate response to the situation in which we now find ourselves"
No Court cases were contested after this. The Ministry had had their fingers burned.
No wonder the Animal Health Bill is being rushed back in to give them the legality they lacked in 2001. In spite of the new powers contained in Statutory Instrument 843 they still want the "scrapie" clauses to be debated in Committee before the holiday - presumably to force compliance with such schemes as the National Scrapie Plan. Like the contiguous cull itself - and notwithstanding Anderson's bland comments to the contrary - it too is underpinned by flawed thinking, inaccurate data and no valid scientific evidence.
July 24 ~ p 50 and 52 of The Lessons Learned Inquiry report do not tie in with the Dutch explanation given to the Veterinary Standing Committee 3/04/01
Calves were in a staging post at Mayenne for 12 hours on 23/02/01.
Between the 5 and 19 February 2001 seven shipments of sheep from UK - FMD cases 1 to 11 - were taken to Mayenne staging post. The sheep were seropositive. A contact herd withhin 500m of the staging post became FMD case 01/01 in France on 13 February.
This implies that calves might have been infected on 23 Feb before they entered the Netherlands.
UK FMD case 11 was discovered on February 26 and the animals thought to have become infected on February 18 from a Devon dealer. However, this date could have been a week earlier if his sheep infected the French farm on February 13.
A possible explanation is that UK epidemic started at least a week earlier than recorded. If that is the case then it is possible that:-
It is shocking that the LLI were not aware of the Dutch information
- The pigs at Heddon were already infected when the farm was issued with a new licence.
- There is an obvious explanation as to why disease kept appearing where it was difficult to find a source (because it had not been realised that these contacts were pre Longtown market) - which resulted in the panic of contiguous culling.
- The contiguous cull was unnecessary because it was actually un traced animal movements which made it look as though the disease was spreading.
July 23 ~ The Western Morning News have published this letter from a thoroughly exasperated Nick Green in Cumbria
"Today, as we read the watered down, camouflaged results of the Royal Society, I listened in astonishment to two rather odd pronouncements. The first by our Tony.......earlier today, the future President of Europe announces that,
"In the real world, the buck stops with the PM, and that`s me!"
As if we had forgotten!
So, Tony, that must mean you were responsible for one of the most savage, illegal, barbaric and unscientific policies to be forced on our rural communities. To that end, it is YOU who must be held accountable ..
RESIGN NOW! (read full letter)
July 23 ~ Latest Warmwell updates not available to many users.
Please tell them that pressing f5 generally does the trick if you hear from others that they are not getting the latest updates of warmwell from their ISP. That other irritation - being sent to an annoying "log-on" page on the Times and the Telegraph, can be avoided if one views the articles on warmwell's newspaper page
July 23 ~ "The victims of this epidemic, the farmers, were smeared as the villains. Dodgy farming practices were blamed for the outbreak.."
Pass the humane killer, and let the lesson begin is the title of the article by Michael Gove in today's Times
"Dodgy farmers were blamed for spreading the disease, when the Government's own incompetence in managing the cull was the single greatest factor in its growth. And dodgy farmers were blamed for rigging compensation, when the greatest economic crime, the destruction of the tourist industry through the closure of great tracts of the countryside, was a consequence of the Government's failure to embrace a vaccination strategy which would have kept rural Britain open for business.
The real lessons of the foot-and-mouth disaster are ones which this Government is incapable of learning. Its aversion to inherited wisdom and institutions, its relentless desire to arrogate ever greater control to the centre and its compulsion to manage the media are ineradicable maladies. This is one case where a cull is the only sensible policy. "
July 23 ~ Factual Error in LLI report
Nicola Morris comments on Page 90- the Ro number
"One IP may have appeared to have infected 1.2 other farms initially but that may have been because premises classified as infected were not reclassified as not infected if they returned a negative laboratory test.
In the period up to 1/04 Of 909 confirmed cases up to 1/04/2001, only 549 (60%) returned positive laboratory test results (PQ 6650 22/06/02). ( the rest were negative or untested)
Given this data it is highly unlikely that Ro was initially 1.2
When the decision to implement the contiguous cull was taken the epidemiologists all thought R was much higher than it actually was.
Whether the R value of 1.2 is now a correct value taking into account all the negatives is simply not known but even if it is the contiguous cull was not a good option.
The most striking thing about this report is that, like the RSC report, it is almost devoid of numerical facts. The conclusions would be easier to accept if the epidemic data were accurately presented and analysed -and supported the conclusions."
July 23 ~ Anderson puts down the red carpet for the Animal Health Bill
"The powers available in the Animal Health Act 1981 should be re-examined, possibly in the context of a wider review of animal health legislation, to remove any ambiguity over the legal basis for future disease control strategies."
"Ambiguity" was it?
The illegality of much of the killing was quite clear. The fact that the Government and their supporters are so eager to have this "ambiguity" removed only serves to underline the lawlessness of the killing of animals during 2001 who had not in any way been in contact with the disease. After the Donaldson research finally made its way into a court of law in the famous Grunty case the Government no longer dared to contest in a court of law those farmers who refused the contiguous cull.
Why not? Because they knew the Ministry could not win. Killing animals simply because there was some vague and unproven possibility of their being within 3 kilometres of a virus that is not carried any distance in the air was not lawful. This is why the wording of the notorious AHB and SI843 has changed the wording to "susceptible" - and since all animals are susceptible to some kinds of disease, the passing of the Bill will make killing at the whim of the Ministry perfectly legal.
July 23 ~ Were the people in Number 10 fools or knaves?
asks Charles Clover in the Telegraph this morning. "Did Tony Blair make the epidemic worse by delaying calling in the Army for three weeks because he thought the national emergency this would signify would interfere with election preparations?
"What we can say is that Dr Anderson has not found out.
Certainly it would have been surprising if a friend and appointee of the Prime Minister, given a remit not to apportion individual blame, had nevertheless laid the blame at the door of the Prime Minister.
What we are left with, in Dr Anderson's gentle but detailed account, is nevertheless pretty damning. It is a story of history repeating itself.
July 23 ~ " laughable in its naive acceptance of the prim official version."
Peter Riddell in today's Times
"..the report several times leaves major questions dangling in the air. The discussion of how Phoenix the Calf was "saved" in time for the 10pm bulletins is laughable in its naive acceptance of the prim official version. Mr Blair is treated as completely off-limits throughout.
The section on the links with election timing reads like a Civil Service minute. The report states: "We have examined government papers and questioned ministers and officials, but have found no evidence to support such a suggestion" (that decisions were influenced by electoral considerations). But, although the date may not have been formally mentioned, it was always in politicians' minds.
Similarly, Anderson's explanation for why Mr Blair and the centre did not become more actively involved for 31 days rests on "the culture of Whitehall" and the absence of "trigger points" for intervention. This is as unconvinving as the report's assumption that everything was fine after March 22 when the Cobra emergency apparatus was activated.".....see more
July 22/23 ~ National Foot and Mouth Group: Despair at Lessons Learned Inquiry Report
"So the catalogue of catastrophic decisions which resulted in the worst peace time experience of this Country will forever be without responsibility or accountability.
Neither the Royal Society Inquiry nor the Lessons Learned Inquiry have complied with the recommendation of the EFRA Select Committee that "they conduct themselves transparently, taking evidence from as many sources as possible in public, unless there are clear reasons not to do so." Principal Recommendation 1 - Para 43(a)
Furthermore they have not been open and straightforward in publishing evidence.
The whole process has fallen well short of normal public inquiry procedure - and has been virtually secret.
The Royal Society London somehow 'forgot' or 'overlooked' the publication of the NFMG Vaccination Programme. Today the Lessons Learned Inquiry has not posted the Notes of the Meeting with the Group - although a Web Page link is provided - it goes nowhere - perhaps both made uncomfortable reading..." (more)
July 22 ~ Anderson Inquiry whitewash over contiguous cull
As we feared, the Anderson Inquiry has failed to understand that the draconian policies were unnecessary and that the disease had already peaked by the time the contiguous cull policy was instigated. Instead we get such infuriating statements as " Many farmers did not understand or accept the statistical basis for the policy. Most contiguous premises were not infected and probably would not have become infected. But some would and, if not culled out, would have revealed themselves only when they had contributed to the further spread of disease." This entirely fails to take into consideration what we know about the fact that so called "new outbreaks" were in fact pre-movement ban infected premises showing disease later on and being wrongly assumed to be a result of local spread, the flawed data in the models which took no account of the nature of this strain of the virus nor that it was being spread by sheep, the fact that this strain cannot carry in the air for more than a few metres, about the effect of delays in slaughtering IPs (where, by the time the contiguous culls themselves were got round to - the time of incubation was in most cases well past. Farmers knew their stock was healthy. They were right) or the damning fact that clinical diagnosis was so poor and testing so perfunctory that many of the IPs around which this "pre-emptive" killing was going on were not infected at all.
Explaining to those with no ears to hear that this is pernicious nonsense is hard. However, we shall go on publishing the informed views of those FMD experts (such as Paul Kitching) who are still giving evidence and who tried all along to prevent the catastrophic loss of breeding animals, rare breeds and pets - all caught up in this senseless policy. Truth is the daughter of time and - Anderson notwithstanding - the truth will eventually be told.
July 22 ~ The Anderson Inquiry fails to understand the nature of the lost opportunity of rapid diagnosis
We note with dismay that the Inquiry 10.4.1 Developing rapid on-farm tests has swallowed the King/Pirbright version of the RT-PCR fiasco. Dr Breeze explained to the Royal Society that "by February 2001 we had developed and tested in the laboratory a remarkable assay that detected all 7 serotypes of FMD virus and differentiated FMD virus from other vesicular diseases of livestock and from other RNA viruses.
.....RT-PCR is more sensitive than cell culture. .....ARS RT-PCR for FMD is the new standard for on-site diagnosis of FMD" ..
A letter from Dr Breeze, submitted as evidence to the RS Enquiry, contains his reference to the Veterinary Record on 6 October 2001, "Evaluation of a portable, 'real-time' PCR machine for FMD diagnosis" by Alex Donaldson, et al, which claimed poor results, stating that:"The reagents used in the assay were recommended by the manufacturer of the instrument" whereas in fact Cepheid has no involvement in PCR primer design for Tetracore/ARS and the details of the ARS primers had not been disclosed to Cepheid.
Roger Breeze wrote, "... I do not know the details of the reagents Cepheid provided to Pirbright but I can assure you that these were not the reagents proprietary to ARS/Tetracore that are used in the US test.
The details of the ARS FMD test were published June 1, 2002 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association:
Roger Breeze, more in sorrow than anger writes in a letter submitted to the Inquiries:"I did consider writing to the Veterinary Record at the time to clarify this but decided this was not worthwhile since Donaldson's letter was largely anecdotal and Cepheid clearly had no capability in FMD detection, so it was hard to believe anyone would take his comments seriously"
Alas for our chance of learning any lessons from this ..the Anderson Inquiry took them very seriously indeed.
( See extract from Dr Breeze's letters in the Royal Society Report)
July 22 ~ Anderson slates poor record keeping which made "the task of constructing an audit trail extremely difficult in some vital policy areas, including the contiguous and 3 km culls"
It has become apparent to us that, while some policy decisions were recorded with commendable clarity, some of the most important ones taken during the outbreak were recorded in the most perfunctory way, and sometimes not at all. In the context of our own Inquiry, this has made the task of constructing an audit trail extremely difficult in some vital policy areas, including the contiguous and 3 km culls, and the decision to close footpaths. Good record keeping is essential. Records are not kept purely to inform potential future Inquiries. They should set out what has to be done, when and by whom, to help ensure that results are delivered.."
July 22 ~ Anderson: "At times there were polarised views within the group but no convincing mechanism for handling conflicts of opinion.
34. We recommend that DEFRA's Chief Scientist maintain a properly constituted standing committee ready to advise in an emergency on scientific aspects of disease control. The role of this group should include advising on horizon scanning and emerging risks. Particular attention should be given to the recommendations on the use of scientific advisory committees in The BSE Inquiry report of 2000"
July 22 ~ Anderson: "We have ..formed a view that the option of vaccination should be a part of any future strategy for the control of FMD.
There are hurdles to be overcome: the science is not yet clear enough: many farmers and farming organisations have expressed their opposition; there are concerns about consumer reaction: there are complex EU and international issues. All these must be tackled urgently.....in the event of an outbreak, emergency protective vaccination must be an option available for use whenever judged by the veterinary experts to be appropriate."
July 22 ~ "The RSI report agreed with everything we (NFU) had said!" (Ben Gill, on BBC TV this morning at the Welsh Agric. Show, Builth Wells )
Nick Green comments: " What...you mean like
"Vaccinated Sows abort!"?
"There is no adequate vaccination!"?
"Carriers spread the disease!" ?
And has Mr Gill forgotten that he went on television denouncing vaccination saying that ' his members' wanted the killing speeded up? That vaccinated animals were the ' walking dead' ?
July 22 ~ The sub text of the RS report contains the real criticisms
Some of the implied criticisms made by the Royal Society are suggested here. It will be interesting to see how far the Anderson Report is in agreement, what it adds, and where its emphasis is different. The RS report was commissioned by DEFRA and the Office of Science and Technology. Lessons Learned was appointed by Tony Blair with a secretariat based at Whitehall.
July 22 ~ The Report of the Lessons Learned Inquiry will be published on today at 4 p.m..
There will be a press conference at 4pm at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 1 Birdcage Walk, London SW1.
The report will be available on the inquiry's website from 4pm on the same day and also from The Stationery Office.
In a "leak" reported by Mr Blair's "favourite newspaper", The Times , we understand that the report will make uncomfortable reading for Nick Brown and Jim Scudamore....who may well be the scapegoats behind whom those even more guilty will hide. The spin is likely to be along the lines of "Dr Anderson's Inquiry recommends more and faster culling to prevent spreads of the disease in any future outbreak." which will be quoted out of context in direct contradiction to the finding of the other reports. Will the Lessons Learned show that any lessons have been learned at all? Will it, in the words of Alan Beat, show that "the contiguous cull made no impact on the course of the epidemic, but served only to pile up the dead bodies without need."?
The spin against the animal owners, all the talk of fat cat farmers and "millions" of compensation that was so disgracefully used to stifle urban sympathy has left people in despair, their pain unacknowledged. Will any of the 200 page Anderson report explain what the "catalogue of mismangement" actually meant to real people? Will it mention the widespread cruelty and frankly Nazi methods employed to coerce them into compliance? "Farmers have a sense of being on their own. There's little publicity for the plight of the individual farmer." says the Western Mail in its feature today about the continuing pain in farmers' families. Perhaps Mrs Beckett and Lord Whitty should read this letter before making their statements this afternoon.
July 22 ~"There will be resignation calls, but no one will go"
"The true extent of political meddling is unlikely ever to be known, as the evidence given by Mr Blair, other ministers and senior officials will not be quoted verbatim." (Telegraph).....( Documents will be hidden under the 50 year rule)
July 22 ~ "But Dr Anderson's 200-page report has not come to a conclusion on the most pressing question: whether the Prime Minister delayed calling in the Army because he wanted to avoid the impression of a nation in crisis before the general election."
As in the Times report today (see blow), Robert Uhlig in the Telegraph begins his article about the findings of the Anderson Inquiry with a statement about the delay in bringing in the army - but follows it by saying that the Anderson report "reveals a "catalogue of mismanagement" that will bring calls for resignations." In somewhat ironic tones, he continues, "But Dr Anderson's 200-page report has not come to a conclusion on the most pressing question: whether the Prime Minister delayed calling in the Army because he wanted to avoid the impression of a nation in crisis before the general election. Instead, it will condemn the former ministry of agriculture's "incompetence", which led to the loss of more than 10 million animals, £1.3 billion compensation for farmers and overall costs of at least £8 billion."
"Although Dr Anderson was clearly instructed "not to seek scapegoats", Whitehall sources indicated yesterday that his report would be "highly critical" of several ministers, senior officials and others, such as Ben Gill, the president of the National Farmers' Union.
July 22 ~ "Did political motives and concern over the General Election date influence ministerial decisions?" asks David Lidington,
the Tory environment spokesman "Mr Blair has refused to hold a proper public inquiry. It is profoundly unsatisfactory that ministers and officials only gave evidence [to the Anderson inquiry] in secret." Read Mr Lidington's press release
July 21 ~Why did all those in charge behave so irrationally?
It is rather striking that none of the Inquiry Reports will point a finger of blame. One of the most monstrous pieces of misinformation about vaccination - still going unchallenged and promulgated by the ignorant - is that eating vaccinated meat involves chemicals. No one will tell the truth. The truth is that vaccinated meat has not one trace of "vaccine" in it. The immune system, having responded,destroys the natural viral protein by biodegrading it.
As Ruth Watkins puts it, "The FMD vaccination is the injection of a very small amount of viral protein- it can be likened to a wasp sting- the substance injected is biodegradable, indeed it is biodegraded by the very cells that form the immune response. In the case of the viral protein a protective antibody response is formed."
The Supermarkets should be crying out for vaccinated products when there is an epidemic of FMD.
It is ludicrous to be troubled by vaccination when they quite disregard infection. There is no doubt at all that we consumed infected products during the 7 month epidemic since unrecognised acutely infected sheep were passing through abattoirs undetected for some time.
July 21 ~ "People were treated, not with the courtesy and compassion that they deserved, but instead with arrogance and intimidation."
The Inquiry Reports are, understandably perhaps, neutral in tone and non-critical. But we should not lose sight of the human tragedy for the many thousands of people caught up in what has been appropriately described as a "vicious whirlpool of destruction."
Alan Beat's statement to the EU says, "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. "
July 21 ~ AOL has not carried an updated version of warmwell since July 18
AOL users should use a non-AOL browser such as Internet Explorer in order to access the site if they suspect they are seeing an old, non-updated version of warmwell on AOL's own browser. Or try pressing f5 repeatedly and hoping for the best...
July 21 ~"Emergency vaccination to live is what it means and I strongly support that,"
From yesterday's Cumbrian press" Will Cockbain, current Cumbria county chairman of the NFU, welcomed the inquiry findings.
Mr Cockbain, whose personal advocacy of vaccination last year put him at odds with the NFU's official backing of the Government's slaughter policy, said: "The Royal Society ran a completely independent inquiry and one member was a vet from Penrith who was against vaccination last year and they have come down in favour of vaccination.
"Emergency vaccination to live is what it means and I strongly support that," he said.
....Anti-vaccination stances, he said, were fuelled by fears that meat and milk from vaccinated stock would be unsaleable. He said those fears were unfounded and that the economic damage done to the farming and tourism by the images of burning pyres and the slaughter of animals at Great Orton Airfield near Carlisle had itself been huge. Vaccination he said, would be more humane and better for everyone. "More than 90 per cent of the animals killed at Great Orton did not have foot-and-mouth. In the 21st Century we can surely do better than that," he said."
July 21 ~ "..wrong that traders should be prosecuted under laws made so opaque that they would have "to bury their heads in law books" to know what those laws were."
In spite of our dawning horror (not too strong a word) at the erosion of British traditional liberties and rights, seen in all its stark reality in the callous and unconstitutional policies of recent months, we are nevertheless utterly dismayed by Lord Bingham's rejection of the Metric Martyr's right to appeal. Christopher Bookerin the Sunday Telegraph this morning says that Lord Bingham gave no reason,"other than that their case did 'not give rise to points capable of rational argument'.."..."Another curious feature of the case was that Sunderland council was the only one of the four prosecuting authorities which objected to the right of the traders to appeal. Lawyers for the other councils accepted that the constitutional issues at stake were so important that it was right that the Lords should give a definitive ruling." ...Neil Herron, the spokesman for the "martyrs", to whose defence fund readers of The Telegraph contributed £70,000, said that the cursory terms in which he refused their right to appeal will be added to the case they will present to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg this autumn."
"Meanwhile," concludes Mr Booker," some 38,000 criminals can shortly expect to face the full wrath of the law: this being the number of traders in Britain who, according to official figures, still allow their customers to use the system of measures they understand. One suspects that the late Lord Denning might have responded rather differently."
July 20/21 ~" In my opinion, MAFF were bringing the 2001 FMD outbreak in the UK under control before any of the policy changes recommended by the Science Committee were implemented."
(which means that all that collateral killing came after traditional methods had already stopped the disease from spreading) "... the takeover of the programme from MAFF by the Science committee, which was heavily influenced by the modellers with very limited practical experience of FMD, resulted in the unnecessary slaughter of .... animals.
In my opinion, most of the spread of the FMD virus occurred before the imposition of the movement ban on 23rd Feb, but because this was in sheep and clinically not obvious, it was not seen. Therefore, new cases were not added to the daily total, until the virus spread into cattle, often on the same farm, or had cycled a number of times in the sheep flock. This concept was presented to the Science Committee in April as an alternative interpretation to the models being used, one that did account for the observation that apparent new introductions were occurring after the movement ban
My proposal was considered unlikely by the modellers."
an extract from Dr Paul Kitching's evidence to the EU investigation into the UK foot and mouth crisis.
July 20/21 ~Dr Paul Kitching explains to the EU that, in the 2001 strain of FMD, aerosol transmission could occur over no more than a few metres.
In vindication of what Nicola Morris and others have tried to impress on people, Dr Kitching said categorically, "Because the models did not accommodate the delayed diagnosis of FMD, their predictions of the rate of spread to new premises was inaccurate" ... Yet the contiguous cull assumed the need for draconian measures to stop this non-existent airborne spread of 3 kilometres. "The low aerosol production from animals infected with this strain was later confirmed by experimental data from IAH Pirbright......
Many of the infections were in sheep in which clinical disease was difficult to identify, and in many cases it was clear the virus had been present a considerable time before being recognized eg the first case in Shropshire was identified on 16th March, but had probably been introduced on 19th or 20th Feb (FMD 2001 outbreak - descriptive epidemiology, HQ Epidemiology Team, 6/4/01)
"...When questioned how the virus was spreading in spite of the movement ban, Prof Anderson explained that this was not a function of the models, and no explanation was required."
"Although the disease was predominantly in the sheep, the models relied on data generated from outbreaks in cattle and pigs, both species in which the virus spread rapidly within the herd and in which clinical disease was easy to recognize. In sheep the disease spread only slowly, affecting only a small percentage of the flock at any one time, this further reduced the potential for aerosol spread, to a level that made it very unlikely that aerosol transmission could occur over more than a few metres"
Evidence given to the EU Committee on July 16 by Dr Kitching
July 20 ~ "Those of us who lived in the middle of this totally unnecessary carnage will never forget it, nor forgive those who created it."
A letter in the Telegraph
"Sir - As a report that tries not to blame the Government too much, the Royal Society's report achieves its objectives, but the sounds of continuing anguish from the countryside are still drowned out by the clatter of ministerial feet running for cover (report, July 17).
Even the most ill-informed person knows that there was not only a suitable vaccine in existence before the foot and mouth disaster hit this country, but the European vaccine bank had adequate supplies and more could have been produced.
It was not the case, as has often been repeated, that it was farmers who were against vaccination. The quick polls we undertook in Cumbria, the worst affected county by far, one by David Maclean MP and the other by me at the personal request of a minister, clearly indicated that, although there were some reservations, 80 per cent of farmers in Cumbria would have accepted vaccination, so long as they had the guarantee that their stock would be allowed to live and their products would sell. Instead we had vacillation. Scientists used a mathematical model designed for human STDs that was clearly completely inappropriate.
What of those who were also caught up in what happened here: the farmers' children, often too young to comprehend the reasons why their parents sat in silent tears night after night or lived in dread every time the telephone rang? Those of us who lived in the middle of this totally unnecessary carnage will never forget it, nor forgive those who created it."
From: Peter Greenhill, Cockermouth, Cumbria
July 20 ~ On 11 April 2001, David Maclean polled his farmers by fax. Eighty per cent of the farmers and 95 per cent of the vets wanted 'vaccination to live'
From the article by Emma Tennant " On 11 April, David Maclean polled his farmers by fax. Eighty per cent of the farmers and 95 per cent of the vets wanted 'vaccination to live' (i.e., without subsequent slaughter) as soon as possible. On 20 April the Cumberland News carried the headline 'Desperate Cumbria pleads with Blair to vaccinate now'...." It was too late. The Prime Minister, in what has been called a 'spineless dereliction of duty', had already cancelled the vaccination plan at the last moment. The NFU had twisted his arm, an act of supreme selfishness and stupidity which would not be forgiven by the politicians or the country at large..."
July 20 ~ When Tetracore offered their Rapid Diagnosis PCR on-site test to Professor King on March 9th 2001 he never took it nor reviewed their data.
You have to have the people that know how to calibrate for this specific test involved and when Pirbright at last had a meeting and demonstration of the Real Time PCR testing machine Tetracore was NOT involved in this process. Pirbright appears to have tossed the baby out with the bathwater, since they found the reagents provided by Cepheid (the manufacturers of the machine but not the experts who understood the reagents needed to be able to make it work) were less effective than their own test. Those indifferent results can be explained entirely by the inappropriate choice of reagents and assay conditions. Tetracore's primer and probes were not available to Cepheid or Pirbright so it was tantamount to having a Porsche pulled by a carthorse and finding it slow.
As the article in the Vet Record of October 6th showed, the Pirbright evaluation resulted in this remarkable new technology being regarded as a questionable "gizmo"... Yet here was a truly elegant and remarkable piece of new technology that had been shown to be effective in USDA laboratory tests, capable of painlessly testing on-farm, rapidly and in a non-invasive way and giving accurate results within one hour. Nor, in comparison to the billions wasted, was it expensive (the devices cost between £15,000 and £30,000) What a tragedy that it was not understood; "since the device location is known by global positioning, officials can immediately see electronically a map of the area around the infection, predict where infection may have been spread by recent wind, map this spread according to geography and topography, identify quarantine zones, set up control measures (such as road blocks) and identify farms at risk where animals should be tested immediately to detect any infection" (FMD Forum's evidence to Royal Society Inquiry)
July 20 ~ "..the pedigree of the portable real-time PCR machine
To understand the current frontiers of high-consequence pathogen detection elsewhere in the world, British government officials, livestock owners, practitioners and other interested parties should know the pedigree of this technology.
.....Real-time PCR assays are performed on a small, portable computer controlled device operating on mains or car battery power. The device is specifically designed to be taken to or near the site of the problem and used there by a person with limited training.
An integral global positioning system can identify the exact location of the device. A wireless Internet connection provides world-wide communication, so that distant experts can "look over the shoulder" of the person conducting the assay, to offer advice, expert analysis and validation of assay performance as it proceeds."
There is no question of cross-contamination since the process of preparation inactivates infectious agents, including foot and mouth disease virus - nor does it require a high level of expertise to operate.
"The sample is analysed on the spot and the data sent electronically to the expert and back to the operator with whatever advice is needed. This immediately saves one or two or more days. If time is gained, multiple alternate courses of action become possible for those charged with taking action to control the disease outbreak."
" This is the true significance of the technology" (Breeze, 2001)
Read again the evidence from Roger Breeze to the Royal Society London
July 20 ~ In the interview given by Dr Kevin Hawkins of Safeways on News at 10
on the evening of the publication day of Royal Society London Report on FMD, Dr Hawkins categorically said, referring to the possible future use of vaccination, that meat from animals vaccinated for FMD would have to be labelled and the customers would have to be persuaded to buy it.
As far as we are aware there is no EC requirement for meat or meat products from animals vaccinated for FMD to be labelled. The FSA makes no such stipulation, nor, to our certain knowledge, does the Consumers' Association.
Dr Hawkins, who is senior figure within Safeways plc at Hayes also referred to discussions which he as chairperson of the British Retailers Council, has had with EC commissioner Byrne - Byrne apparently advised the BRC that they should label meat from FMD vaccinated animals on the retail packaging.
We are not aware that there is any EC directive to document this.
In our view the interview on news at 10 on Tuesday 16th July simply inflamed doubt in consumers' minds quite unnecessarily.
Dr Hawkins' tel no is: 0208 756 2979.
His address is
6 Millington Road Hayes, Middlesex UB3 4AY
UPDATE: Mr Hawkins has gone on holiday until August 4th....
July 19 ~ The EU Temporary Committee are on holiday until the 26 August
They deserve a rest.
However, during the hot days of Summer in the House of Lords - two days: 25th and 29th July - have been scheduled for the Committee stage of the Animal Health Bill to look again at the clauses dealing with scrapie - an issue where the misinformation and faulty scientific understanding rivals that during the foot and mouth crisis itself. After the Summer, 7th and 8th October are scheduled for the non-scrapie parts of the Bill.
July 19 ~ Definitive evidence on the accuracy of the Pirbright tests.
Ministers changed their stance to suit the policy. Extract from Anne Lambourn's letter today: " ...... In the early days of the epidemic, MAFF policy was to stress how thorough the testing was to detect the presence of FMD virus and antibodies. ....... However, that description was later changed, and Ministers started describing these tests as not very accurate
.....Mr Morley, on July 17th ... "A negative test result does not necessarily mean that the premises was free from disease. ...."
This is incorrect information, and has been completely refuted by Kitching and Donaldson .......For the Ministers to be casting aspersions on Pirbright tests is quite frankly laughable. (See more) .... May 21st (2001) I spoke on the telephone with Tony Garland, Pirbright .....He reassured me (wrongly as it happens) that he did not think slaughter on a large scale would take place in this area because Pirbright had the necessary accurate and quick tests available. What he envisaged was the slaughter of the Infected Premises with monitoring and testing of surrounding areas.
...... Dr Kitching ....said, "Blood samples received at Pirbright are tested for both virus and antibodies; if both are negative then it would not be possible for that animal to have or have had FMD ... the tests are very sensitive and specific, approximating 100%" (full statement)
July 19 ~ Letter in the Times ~ New Labourspeak
From Mr Seb Marr
Sir, J. Richard Haynes (letter, July 11) refers to a minister's letter about foot-and-mouth which stated that the case and options for vaccination were never rejected, but were considered ten times. He says that considering action and not taking it constitutes rejection. It may not have been rejected, but to consider it ten times, neither rejecting nor implementing it, shows vacillation tantamount to incompetence at the highest levels.
Yours faithfully, SEBASTIAN MARR, Wiltshire
July 19 ~ Epilogue..
"The unmistakable sound of stable doors being slammed shut behind long-departed horses will be reverberating through Whitehall and Westminster over the next few days. Belatedly, measures to reduce the risk of another foot and mouth outbreak and to restrict the spread of any further cases that do occur, look set to be put in place.
They won't help the hundreds of .. farmers who lost their stock, their livelihoods and in many cases their whole way of life during the outbreak that devastated the ..country last year. But they should prevent a repeat of that disaster, which ripped through so much of the countryside, destroying not just farms but tourist businesses and other rural concerns in its wake." Western Morning News on July 18.
July 18 ~ "..could it not have saved this huge, vast, expensive cull of mainly healthy animals?" asked David Curry as early as March 2001
"During February and March 2001, we found that this test detected the presence of FMD virus in experimentally infected cattle, sheep and swine before clinical signs of disease were detectable: in other words, this was a preclinical test. The test takes about 60 minutes and sample preparation can be minimal"
The small print of the Royal Society Enquiry report reveals direct confirmation by Roger Breeze of ARS-USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) that the RT-PCR on-site diagnosis machine was indeed offered to the UK at the start of the crisis.
Reading the restrained and polite evidence of Dr Breeze - showing as it does that MAFF and Pirbright had within their grasp the very technology (See EFRA Committee report of March 23 2001) that could have obviated the need for the massive scale of the slaughter, brought the crisis under control within a few weeks and avoided all the misery and waste - really is enough to make angels weep.
The neutral and highly diplomatic tones of Dr Breeze in these documents cannot quite hide from readers with knowledge that the UK blunders were unforgiveable: a result of arrogance, ignorance and professional jealousy that blinded the key players to the tragic implications of their behaviour. Only a very small sample of the eleven million adult animals and their young offspring killed last year were ever tested - and of the 1855 so-called Infected Premises confirmed on clinical grounds only 62% tested positive in the laboratory. The contiguous culling still took place around the negative and untested IPs however. Farmers and pet owners were bludgeoned with the "blunt instrument" blithely referred to recently into giving up prized stock they knew to be perfectly healthy. All this had been made avoidable by this test, already laboratory tested and found "amazing" by February 2001 and offered to the UK government within days of the beginning of the epidemic.
July 18 ~"it was hard to believe anyone would take his (Dr Donaldson's) comments seriously"
Dr Breeze explains to the Royal Society that "by February 2001 we had developed and tested in the laboratory a remarkable assay that detected all 7 serotypes of FMD virus and differentiated FMD virus from other vesicular diseases of livestock and from other RNA viruses. This assay was performed on either the Cepheid Smart Cycler or the Idaho Technology RAPID machine: both these machines can be monitored from a distance over the internet......."
"Much reference continues to be made to the relative sensitivities of cell culture and RT-PCR and to the need for spurious comparisons with lab-based PCR instruments .....RT-PCR is more sensitive than cell culture. .....ARS RT-PCR for FMD is the new standard for on-site diagnosis of FMD"
But, as warmwell has been pointing out since May 2001, this remarkable piece of equipment was rejected by the UK in March 2001 - for whom it was too "inconvenient" a time to try it out Particularly telling in a letter from Dr Breeze, submitted as evidence to the RS Enquiry, is his reference to the Veterinary Record on 6 October 2001, "Evaluation of a portable, 'real-time' PCR machine for FMD diagnosis" by Alex Donaldson, et al, which claimed poor results, stating that:"The reagents used in the assay were recommended by the manufacturer of the instrument". Later in the letter, "In attempts to improve the performance of the portable instrument, the reagents normally employed in our laboratory-based system were used in the instrument instead of the reagents recommended by the manufacturer. This was found to raise the diagnostic sensitivity of the portable machine to very close to that of the laboratory-based system. (warmwell wrote about this misrepresentation many times - as here for example)
Roger Breeze, more in sorrow than anger writes in a letter submitted to the Inquiries:"I did consider writing to the Veterinary Record at the time to clarify this but decided this was not worthwhile since Donaldson's letter was largely anecdotal and Cepheid clearly had no capability in FMD detection, so it was hard to believe anyone would take his comments seriously : it seemed better to wait for our paper to be published with the supporting data. Correspondence columns are not the ideal place to set out new principles for control of the world's most dangerous animal diseases." ( See extract from Dr Breeze's letters in the Royal Society Report)
July 18 ~"I cannot remember a public issue on which so much disinformation was deliberately published in order to sustain so bankrupt a policy."
Magnus Linklater, who has written so cogently and humanely about the FMD fiasco from its beginning, says in today's Times "The vested interests of the farmers' unions and the food industry, coupled with an almost complete absence of political leadership, up to and including the Prime Minister, ensured that we killed almost 11 million animals (including calves and lambs), most of which turned out to be unaffected by the disease, in order to protect an export trade worth less than £500 million. All along, we were assured that there was no alternative.
With restraint, courtesy and admirable clarity, the Royal Society in London, and its counterpart the Royal Society of Edinburgh, have eviscerated the Government's handling of the foot-and-mouth epidemic. Their reports, issued this week, expose not only the awful catalogue of mistakes which cost many billions of pounds and brought the British tourist industry to its knees last summer, but reveal, between their well-modulated lines, the deviancy and deception which steered the country away from a civilised programme of vaccination towards the brutal policy of mass slaughter. It now emerges that almost everything we were told, by government scientists, by ministers and by farmers' unions, about vaccination and its drawbacks, was either misleading or simply untrue. "
(The telephone number if one would like comments on Times articles to be passed on to their writers, is: 0207 782 5000)
July 18 ~"Four legal principles are so fundamental to our liberty that they have impressed themselves on the public consciousness"
":that we have the right to trial by jury; we are innocent unless proved guilty; we cannot be imprisoned without charge (habeas corpus); and we cannot be tried twice for the same offence (the double jeopardy rule).
The handling of the foot and mouth crisis chilled to the marrow many who had no animals to lose and no livelihood to be threatened - including the author of this website - because of the disregard shown for the law, for liberty and for humanity.
As a letter in today's Times puts it, "We all know the saying about the price of liberty; now is the time to exercise that vigilance."
An important article in yesterday's Telegraph, missed in the flurry of FMD reports, should be read by everyone who values that most inconvenient (for modern governments) British tradition of liberty and fair play.
"...What is remarkable is that precisely those four pillars of our liberties are now under threat from this Labour Government. Driven by a combination of saloon bar populism and zeal for modernisation, David Blunkett will today further undermine their foundations..."
We are in the gravest danger of losing the "golden thread" of British law: that it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the prisoner's guilt. But, as Peter Lilley says in the article; "of course, it is far more convenient for governments to require us to prove our innocence."
July 17 ~ "too many warm words and vague aspirations" but the DEFRA Annual Report is "riddled with inaccuracies"
The Chairman of the EFRA Delect Committee, David Curry MP, said: "We are thoroughly dissatisfied with the department's annual report " adding that it was so "soft" it should be sung by Charlotte Church. The Select Committee called for less waffle and more hard financial data and information about performance. Margaret Beckett was told that she had to bear some of the responsibility for the lack of morale among staff.
"The report is an important document if the department is to be accountable for its expenditure and its activities ...The problem is that there are serious omissions and it is riddled with inaccuracies.
"It also contains too many warm words and vague aspirations, and too few real figures against which its performance can be measured.
"The figures must be accompanied by clear notes which enable them to be fully understood. ..... next year's departmental report must be much better, informed by consistent and transparent rules from the Treasury about statistics."
"But we are also concerned about administration in the department.
"It faces many challenges, not least of which is the need to bring together its component parts to form a department with a single sense of identity and purpose." Mr Curry said the department should develop a coherent IT strategy - because there did not seem to be such a strategy in place."
The DEFRA inefficiency with IT was crucial. It meant that there was no proper link between Pirbright and the Ministry- and, at the end of the crisis, data was still being searched for in cardboard files since there was no single database for information.
July 17 ~ Carlton (West Country ITV)
10:50 SPECIAL REPORT: Investigation into the foot-and-mouth outbreak, asking where the blame really lies and how similar disasters can be avoided.
July 17 ~ Who were these vaccinated food phobic consumers?
We keep seeing words to the effect that "One of the main reasons why vaccination was resisted last year was because of a fear that consumers would not accept the sale of vaccinated meat." Does any reader of warmwell know the name of even one single member of the public who said that he or she would not buy vaccinated meat? If so - do please write and tell us
The National Consumer Council made it very clear on April 20th 2001 that it would not be pressing for labelling - and this is the body who demands clear labelling for GM ingredients.
We scanned all the newspaper articles on the subject of FMD throughout the crisis. We think we would have remembered such vaccinated-food-phobic consumers. Can anyone else find any reference to them in our very extensive news archives? The "main reason why vaccination was resisted"? No. We think not.
July 17 ~ "interference with the plans to suit the political needs of the day"
An emailer writes, "The Royal Society Inquiry report has been extremely tactful - but this particular phrase stands out.."..plans should be formally debated and approved by Parliament so that strategies are pre-determined rather than drawn up in the middle of a crisis. Such a move would also expose any attempt at interference with the plans to suit the political needs of the day" At the beginning of an emergency where the good of the country should have been paramount the last thing on the minds of those who were supposed to be in charge was "the right and humane thing to do". Do you agree that sentence from the Report strongly suggests that the Inquiry - while unwilling to make public all that it assuredly knows about the economic and political motives driving the misinformation and behind-the-scenes manipulation that went on - nonetheless is well aware that such political interference did go on? That it says that it must not be allowed again surely suggests that it does?"
We could not possibly comment..
July 17 ~ The Myth about "Local Spread"
"Until disease transmission is analysed for the truly infected premises, it is difficult to separate myth from reality. It is interesting to note that there appears to be a discrepancy between DEFRA's , Elliot Morley's, Prof Mark Woolhouse's and the Imperial College team's views on local spread. That is: the distance the disease was spreading and also how it was spreading. ...(more)
July 17 ~ We are getting three reports instead of one because Labour was too scared to risk a proper public inquiry on the worst disaster to hit the British countryside for half a century.
remarks the Telegraph this morning. "The Royal Society's report does not criticise anybody directly. But its recommendation that ministers should put before Parliament full contingency plans for dealing with any new outbreak of foot and mouth can be read only as an implied rebuke for the way they handled the last one."
Young Nicola Morris, a dairy farmer from Hereford and Worcester with a brain sharper than any of them and who fought off the contiguous cull from her own farm, understands the real "degree to which the disease was spreading" (See Roy Anderson's defensive comment below) Her work - generously uncritical of the modellers or DEFRA - can be read here.
July 17 ~ Today's Guardian:...The report was yesterday interpreted as a putdown for Ben Gill, the National Farmers' Union leader
who insisted throughout the epidemic that vaccination was inadvisable, and the Food and Drink Federation which lobbied strongly against vaccination in case it upset food manufacturers' export markets.... "see newspaper section
Fascinating for the student of spin is the different interpretation of the same source material made by Sheila Coleman in The Western Mail of South Wales e.g."... the Government should adopt a policy of "vaccinate to live" if another outbreak occurs" - and the North Welsh paper the Daily Post whose headline proclaimed: "Culling is only way to tackle foot-and-mouth" Elsewhere, the skill with language shown by some farmers' union leaders shows a real understanding of spin-doctoring (learned at the feet of the great GM spinners, perhaps) - as in this from Welsh National Farmers' Union president, Peredur Hughes who - ignoring the implicit condemnation of the NFU stance within it - said of the RSI, "The report described last year's devastating foot-and-mouth outbreak as a wake up call - a phrase we have often used ourselves. The threat of importing disease is increasing. "It is vital, therefore, that the resources needed to protect our animal populations and native crops and plants keep pace with that."
July 17 ~ The distancing from previous stances by certain key players has begun in ludicrous earnest.
Roy Anderson has said of his contiguous cull solution "It was a blunt tool but, in the crisis and given the degree to which the disease was spreading, it was unfortunately the only tool available.." which only continues to attempt to justify the unjustifiable. (Read Nicola Morris or the summary of what went wrong on the subject of the true nature of the "degree to which the disease was spreading")
A Safeway spokesman, Kevin Hawkins - unbelievably - was heard to say on last night's BBC 10 o clock News on vaccination and the RSI.. "Of course, any vaccinated meat would have to be labelled as such and would the consumers buy it?" ( This ignorance in such a matter is unforgiveable. Read what the National Consumer Council said on August 21 2001. )
Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers' Union, supported emergency vaccination as an option. writes Valerie Elliot in the Times this morning in an article headlined "Consumers 'must be persuaded that vaccinated beef is safe'" which will do little to reassure jumpy consumers fed nonsense about vaccinated meat by the very people now "supporting emergency vaccination"
Elliot Morley on Farming Today this morning, was still glibly talking about 24/48 hr cull.....
The Independent even had the headline Scientists rule out farm virus vaccination before someone there realised that that degree of face-saving spin would be ridiculed if it were allowed to remain. The headline now reads "Report urges emergency farm virus jabs" - a volte face that raises a tired smile.
We don't feel like smiling at the damage limitation exercises swiftly put in place by the heirarchy of the NFU in England and Scotland however. The behaviour - not of many of the excellent officials in the hotspots but - of the powerful NFU Council, led with disastrous complacency by Ben Gill - will be judged by history. (See also Spin Alert)
July 17 ~ "Why should I believe you when you have a computer pallor and no mud on your shoes?"
"Reading the (Royal Society)Summary & Main Recommendations there is very little one can disagree with, and much to agree with. It is a sound document. But there are two points that have been ignored and they are important" wrote Martin Hugh-Jones (a moderator) writing about the mathematical modelling of Professor King's Science Group that was so disastrously allowed to hold sway against the advice of FMD experts last year.
" Every model must undergo validation and verification. While checking the arguments and scales used is obvious, it is not always done. But I have not seen one model tested retrospectively and critically against the reality in the field....... Remember that they all start as merely the mathematical expression of the model builder's presumptions and assumptions.
 During any emergency, big or small, appropriate data must be collected and kept securely to allow a critical retrospective post-mortem......... Plus the next time will be different. If there are good databases, they can be used to model the future and ask new questions. Also these data should be readily shared.
..........Some fall in love with their models but you should never marry them. And the truth is in the field. (see the posting on Pro Med)
July 17 ~ "Part One of the Bill was based entirely on the legitimising and carrying out of mass slaughter," said Lord Moran "A re-think is clearly necessary."
In the light of the Inquiries' recommendations it is to be hoped that the Animal Health Bill, sneaking back into the Lords at the beginning of the holidays, will get short shrift. Warmwell's Westminster correspondent says, ".... the Government has scheduled two days for the Committee stage of the Animal Health Bill, with no explanation offered to anyone, not even Lord Moran. At best, their behaviour is scandalously discourteous.
The only text of the Bill available is the old one, which was suspended in March. As the conditions the House of Lords laid down have not been fulfilled, the Government would be out of order if it brought the Bill back in its full version. If it wants to concentrate on the scrapie part only - seemingly unnecessary, as they acquired all necessary powers in SI843 - they must do one of three things.
- They can abandon this Bill and bring in a completely new one, a hazardous procedure from the Government's point of view;
- they can put down an amendment that will effectively cut out Part I but they may find it difficult to defend the decision in the ensuing prolonged debate;
- or they may put it to the House that only Part II be debated at Committee stage with Part I left to the Report and Third Reading.
If they choose the last option, they must have the agreement of the House in the next few days. The Public Bills office is anxious to have the Government put the question to the House whether they agree to the somewhat unorthodox procedure and for the vote, in order to get on with the work of preparing the paperwork for the debates next week. It is all a horrible muddle." (Lord Moran speaks out)
July 16/17 ~ The BBC does considerably better this evening
with this report by Alex Kirby
"The (Royal) Society, the UK's national academy of sciences, has now reported.
And for all the careful, judicious scientific dissection of what happened in last year's foot-and-mouth outbreak, it is clear that the government's handling of the crisis was deeply flawed.
/Scientists call for vaccination strategy "The Royal Society's report comes down unambiguously in favour of vaccination for healthy animals to prevent the spread of any future outbreak. Last year, ministers talked of vaccination - and talked and talked again and again. What they did not do was start vaccinating.
"With this one recommendation, the report has indicted the government for a glaring failure to bring the outbreak under more rapid control.
"Then, if anything could have made the crisis into a full-blown disaster, it was the government's inability to comprehend the scale and enormity of what it faced. .........."Better contingency planning is vital", the Royal Society says neutrally. "The government must be empowered to act decisively during an outbreak. 'This requires prior debate about the control measures to be adopted.' You can say that again. You can say it more bluntly than the report's authors allow themselves to do.
/Farmers welcome vaccine 'option' "You can say that the responsible department (last year the Ministry of Agriculture, now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA) needs to have at least some idea of what modern British farming is all about. "
"Last year, the ministry did not realise how many farm animals moved around the country, or how fast and frequently. It did not realise that sheep were often sold informally, without entering a market.
"Now there is no excuse. The report says: "The precautionary principle should be adopted more widely to ensure that any disease outbreak cannot develop into an epidemic. "
July 16 ~ Encouraging news just in from EU Temporary Committee Inquiry is that Paul Kitching has given evidence on the contiguous cull
and has said in no uncertain terms how the so-called "pre-emptive" killing did not help the control of the disease. The Committee members were all shocked and said they couldn't understand why Professor David King had told them the opposite....
July 16 ~ "There are now no insuperable problems with vaccination, whether technical, scientific, trade or cultural," says Brian Follett,
the biologist who chaired the Royal Society report panel.
"Much of the pressure to resist vaccination came from the National Farmers Union, which pointed out that exports to FMD-free countries would take longer to resume if animals were vaccinated. This is because it has been difficult to tell apart animals that have had the disease and those that have been vaccinated.
But the Royal Society report argues that tests that make that distinction exist, and are now undergoing evaluation. Furthermore, an international agreement in May has cut the delay in the resuming of exports following vaccination from nine to six months. ..."
The New Scientist article by Andy Coghlan goes some way to counteract the spin from those whose dissemination of misinformation has indeed been bordering on the "malicious".
July 16 ~ More misinformation on BBC in the wake of the Royal Society report
From the BBC news"......Sheep farmer Kevin Littleboy, however, had misgivings.
He told the BBC: "If a vaccination is not 100% safe, you vaccinate all your animals, inadvertedly give them foot-and-mouth and it spreads.
"How are you going to tell the difference between an animal that has had the vaccine and an animal that actually has the disease?" ....
We can only suggest that Mr Littleboy reads up about vaccination - and that the BBC, who ought to know better, stops this sort of mischievous misreporting . A thoroughly incensed emailer writes, "Even opponents of vaccination for FMD have never gone so outrageously far as to claim that "faulty" vaccination can actually be the cause of an outbreak. It is thoroughly irresponsible of the BBC to give such prominence to people who have no understanding of the issues, especially as no informed response to this farmer was provided..."
July 16 ~ A new and authoritative evaluation of the modelling for FMD disease control
by Susan Haywood PhD, BVSc, MRCVS and George Haywood BSc, MSc (Structural Eng), MSc (Knowledge Based Systems) is now on warmwell
Extract: "... In the virtual world of the modeller only the selected criteria - in this case disease control - are considered. However in the real world the outcome of this approach immediately runs into difficulties of an ethical and legal nature. For example, once the decision has been taken to cull on suspicion rather than awaiting confirmation, veterinary professional ethics are breached - as has been cogently argued by Alan Richardson MRCVS.
Also the implementation of the 3km cull went beyond the 1981 Animal Health Act (Order 1983) - tacitly acknowledged by MAFF/DEFRA in the need to get the "voluntary" co-operation of farmers and the more recently proposed Animal Health Bill.
After such guidelines were breached, the tactics employed to implement the cull policy created such dismay and loss of confidence in the government's handling of the FMD epidemic that the co-operation between the farming community and central government will probably never be regained....." (Read paper)
July 16 ~ "DEFRA is bridling...."
Sir Brian's committee will recommend the establishment of a Centre of Exotic Animal Diseases, at a cost of £220 to £250 million." The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is bridling at the cost, and favours an animal health "overbody" costing £100 million. Who's counting? The outbreak cost £8 billion, so either of these amounts, generous as they sound, would represent a bargain if they could prevent a recurrence. The irony of scientists and Government slamming a stable door will not be lost ..." Today's Times.
July 16 ~ "Questions will be asked....."
" Pressure mounted yesterday for the Government to make vaccination its primary weapon of attack on future foot and mouth outbreaks. With several other independent inquiries having already pressed for vaccination, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh expected today to recommend a vaccination policy, questions will be asked again about the wisdom of last year's slaughter policy. " Today's Telegraph
July 16 ~"We had it once: a solid research base and an agricultural advisory service second to none. We frittered it away, and got exactly what we deserved.
Bear that in mind as you read the chronicles of disaster that are about to descend upon you." says Nigel Hawkes in the Times today in advance of the next two Inquiries to report: The Royal Society (England) today and the Lessons Learned Inquiry next week. "The £8 billion was the price we paid for a decade of unjustified cuts in animal health research and a decade of prevarication over BSE. The effects of both were to diminish the pool of expertise and to devalue its advice. Now, if reports are right, we are to get a glittering new centre for exotic animal diseases or, more likely, the Government's animal health 'overbody' spending £100 million a year. Given the destruction wrought in the past decade, that is doubtless no less than is needed.
How misguided the wisdom of 20 years ago now seems. The truth is that Government needs strong, well-resourced advice from experts paid to think the unthinkable, and with the credibility to make their advice count. When disaster strikes, spin is no substitute for substance.... "
July 15/16 ~ "we turned what was a tragedy into an unmitigated disaster.
From the full BBC Transcript of File on Four on the Foot and Mouth crisis with Jenny Cuffe.
Extract: ........We were asking for resources such as pressure washers, disinfectant, electricity. We were working late on into the night with no lights." "The first two days we were working with torches, and we had no water to wash our hands. There was large articulated lorries bringing coal, bits of wood, diggers, machinery, heavy tackle coming on and going off the farm and they weren’t disinfected. There was no disinfectant at all. ... If we needed something, if something broke down, we had to tell the vet that was in charge. They had to phone Dumfries office, the Dumfries office had to phone the Ayr office, the Ayr office sometimes made their mind up there and then. If they couldn’t make their mind, they phoned Edinburgh, which is the Head Office in Scotland. And then the Head Office had to phone MAFF in London to get final confirmation on whether to spend an extra £20 or £100. It sounded absolutely ridiculous to me. They should have spent the money at the start. If they’d spent, I don’t know, £10 million in the first fortnight getting the job under control, it would have saved billions of pounds.
July 15 ~ Apologies. Warmwell has been unavailable today...for reasons we cannot understand
However, it looks as though the news from Edinburgh is very good news indeed..... is in favour of vaccination to live, suggests prophylactic vaccination in the future, and asks for validation ... just a confirmation of what we have all asked for and pushed for months. The NFMG and Vets for Vacc are acknowledged and thanked for supplying the strategy. This is a huge victory for everyone involved. We are very grateful to the Royal Society of Edinburgh for its open-minded hard work! See summary of report
July 15 ~ Why slaughter after vaccination? Because - although completely unnecessary scientifically, it is politically expedient. It is a compromise.
A much respected emailer writes, "The NFMG vaccination programme and the technical papers from Intervet on the vaccines and marker tests address the problem areas that farmers' leaders apparently feel are associated with vaccination. The vaccination programme provides an excellent workable strategy which shows there is no scientific need to slaughter after vaccination.
It was drawn up in consultation with Keith Sumption, and incorporated the expertise and advice of many experts, including Dr Sutmoller, Dr Barteling, Dr Sheila Crispin and Dr Janet Binns, as well as Dr Paul van Aarle from Intervet. It would provide a very constructive base from which to respond to the RSE, and I am sure they will want feedback from regular readers of warmwell.com.
July 15 ~ IN all the flurry of reports being published, we should not forget why people are still traumatised
".... Nothing was done to avoid the suffering. I would like to bring to your attention the Welfare and Slaughter Regulations 1995, where it states that no person shall stun, slaughter or kill, or cause to be stunned, slaughtered or killed any animal without restraining in an appropriate manner in such a way as to spare any avoidable pain, suffering, agitation or injury.
My husband will never forget the look of terror on the cattle's faces that came into our land. For the first few weeks afterwards we could not talk about it ....."
The full transcripts of the Knowstone Meeting that so shocked the MEPs is now on warmwell, thanks to Jon Dobson, Research Director of the FMD Forum
July 15 ~ Still ill informed about vaccination
By suggesting slaughter after vaccination some people are presumably looking at the economic arguments in order to return to DFS more quickly, but they may also be appeasing those who are still ill informed about vaccination and have worries. It is an enormous quantum leap for the RSE to have recommended vaccination - one has only to think of the Scottish NFU and Jim Walker, and their powerful anti vaccination stance, plus the letter posted on the NFUS website from influential members of the food industry to realise the strength and entrenched nature of the opposition to vaccination.
If we can find out what the concerns are, then the NFMG programme can be used to counter those worries.
It has been sent to the Royal Society Inquiry, the Lessons Learned Inquiry, and the Cumbrian Inquiry, so it will be interesting to see how they deal with vaccination.
Here we have a vaccination strategy which has been approved and praised at the highest levels plus all the technical detail from Intervet which very few "experts" in this country are aware of. We have the tools. Let's use them!
Please, please, warmwell supporters - write with feedback to the various inquiries, politely drawing their attention to the vaccination programme on this website, backed up as it is by so many eminent and knowledgeable people with no political axe to grind.
July 15 ~ "I accuse the Ministry of negligence... I cried from one end of my barn to the other end of my barn, because he wouldn't go down, he wouldn't fall to the floor. ..."
" I think DEFRA should remember this when they insist that last year's performance over Foot and Mouth was a small triumph. " writes Jon Dobson who sends this transcript of a witness statement to the EU Committee".....up the drive went these slaughtermen plastered in blood from these infected dairy cattle. When they got to the farm gate near a major thoroughfare, John the farmer and his son got held back, they had to stay on their own farm. They were pretty clean.
The vet and the bloody slaughtermen walked across the road plastered in blood and guts, and if that wasn't bad enough, when they got to the field to kill sheep on the other side, they had no pens. They went straight over the fence and into my farmyard. My defence against the cull ended that afternoon.
...... it took 3 shots to penetrate that bull's head, and I cried from one end of my barn to the other end of my barn, because he wouldn't go down, he wouldn't fall to the floor.
Why did my stock have to die? Because the Ministry couldn't follow their own rules, by which they were to have pens, they were to get the stock secure. I accuse the Ministry of negligence..."
July 15 ~ Not one of the Inquiries investigates how 88% of infected premises in this epidemic became infected
As predicted when the separate Inquiries were set up, vital information is slipping between the gaps between them. DEFRA, who alone has the data to make this investigation or put the data in the public domain, will not do so - because if they did it would enable us to understand the epidemic.
If we understood the epidemic we could determine
- The true scale of the epidemic - which was not unprecedented although the scale of the culling certainly was.
- Whether the adopted culling policy was appropriate
- How many premises were culled illegally and unnecessarily
And, more importantly, we would ensure that the right lessons are learned for the future. Until the infected premises are analysed taking into account their laboratory test results ( that is - of the 2026 so-called IPs only 1324 definitely had FMD, 401 probably didn't and 301 may or may not have had FMD) we can not say with any certainty how the disease was spreading and over what distance.
There were many more market related infections than initially thought. We now know that many of these infections were not traced for weeks even months after they had occurred -and it was wrongly assumed that these were "new" infections spreading from farm to farm. In many counties there was no disease spread - but healthy animals on many farms were still killed - and no blood testing was allowed. To use insufficient laboratory capacity at Pirbright as a reason for not testing is an unacceptable excuse, given that within the EU there are 9 other laboratories which could have tested samples.Indeed, Denmark had offered to test samples....
The work of Nicola Morris fills the gap left by all the Inquiries.
July 15 ~ RSE report - "Animals within the vaccinated rings would still be culled"
The report recommends that "future plans should incorporate emergency barrier or ring vaccination as an adjunct to slaughter of clinical cases, as this would lead to a considerable reduction in the number of animals requiring to be slaughtered" It says that fears over the safety of meat and milk from vaccinated animals are entirely without justification and it must be the job of the FSA to make this quite clear. Routine or prophylactic vaccination of all animals every year is not advised although Professor Gavin McCrone, vice-chairman of the RSE inquiry, said the inquiry had not ruled it out entirely in the case of a 'serious and continual threat' of FMD.
The report tells us what we have known for the past 18 months - i.e. that modern testing methods can distinguish between vaccinated animals and infected animals. The report says that this allows "animals a set distance from an outbreak epicentre to be vaccinated. Animals within this protective ring would still be culled."
'Whole communities, not least children, were affected, and planning must take account of these consequences.'
The report calls for the creation of a post of chief veterinary officer for Scotland that is not subordinated to the chief vet at DEFRA, as at present. The Scottish chief vet would be backed up by a 'territorial veterinary army' that would take part in regular mock-outbreak exercises.
July 15 ~ Vaccination is the best way to beat future disease outbreak, advises Royal Society report - but it intends this to mean vaccination followed by slaughter
The Royal Society of Edinburgh's Inquiry into FMD reports today. There will be a press conference at 11a.m and the report should be available from the RSE website. It will strongly advocate the use of vaccination to isolate herds that have been infected, removing the need to slaughter the huge numbers of healthy animals killed last year (eleven million at least whatever one may read elsewhere) The report will put pressure on the government not to resort to a cull. This must be an embarrassment to David King and Lord Whitty who have gone on record many times to say that any future response would be essentially the same.
It will be interesting to see how the English language will be manipulated during the publication of the various reports in the next few days. Language - and truth - will be stretched to its limit in an effort to convince the voting public that there are now new circumstances allowing vaccination whereas before it was impossible - and that all concerned were always in favour of vaccination anyway. "We never ruled it out!" they will loudly proclaim. "It was the all farmers' fault - oh and the British Public who didn't want to eat vaccinated food." For "all farmers" read the NFU executive - and for "British Public" - who have been happily eating products from vaccinated animals for decades - read FSA.
July 15 ~ The public is "no longer prepared either to witness grotesque bonfires of dead animals
or to pay the subsequent compensation bill" will be another message from the RSE report - something that may come as a surprise to the urban population of Britain. After the first few weeks of pyres the general public were told virtually nothing at all about FMD and quickly lost interest. There was a news blackout in many of the papers and other media except for well orchestrated spin about how "farmers" have made "millions". Noble exceptions include the Telegraph and the excellent Western Morning News.
The National Farmers' Union Scotland, which resisted the vaccination last year, is to issue a response tomorrow. We shall be most interested in their response.
July 15 ~ No comment
David King - the government chief scientist whose Science Group appears to have drowned out all other voices when the FMD policy was being formulated in March 2001 - is due to give a lecture on Science and Openness with the Public ......- at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on July 24th at 5.00 for 5.30pm. This will be by "invitation only"...
July 14 ~ Any dissenting voices, from whatever quarter, were ridiculed and ignored
(see summary) "Many farmers who knew that their stock was uninfected raised objections. Hobby farmers and pet owners were even more upset. Nevertheless, they were browbeaten, cajoled, blackmailed or - as a last resort - threatened with court injunctions. Here, however, the Ministry knew full well that it was on sticky ground. Although threats of legal action in the courts were made, actual court cases were avoided as far as possible unless the Ministry felt itself to be unassailable. When the Upton case - a "Dangerous Contact" case DEFRA felt it could not possibly lose - showed that one High Court judge at least had been made aware of the relevance of new scientific research into the transmission of the current strain of the virus and gave his judgement in favour of Mrs Upton with costs to be paid by DEFRA, there were no more court cases....
The distress and trauma caused by the pre-emptive culling policy and by the way it was forced on people who did not know their rights will remain one of the most disgraceful episodes in recent history - the more so because the media have not been prepared to publicise the quite desperate misery and lonely bafflement of so many of the people concerned, preferring to follow the spin emanating for Number 10 about fat cat farmers getting "millions in compensation" ..."
July 14 ~ "We - and they - now know that the assumptions they made as a result of the data they had, was disastrously wrong.
A summary of what went wrong Extract:"...The mathematical modellers' advice in March 2001 was to kill animals in firebreak rings to prevent spread. The Pirbright FMD experts disagreed, saying that tried and tested methods of efficient 24 hour slaughter on IPs and testing and monitoring elsewhere was all that was required. Yet other experts of international renown advocated the use of the new effective vaccines. However, only Professor David King's Science Group and its team of mathematical modellers were heeded by the Blair government. ......
.... the modellers appear sincerely to have thought that draconian measures were needed. Since spread appeared to be leaping from farm to farm unaccountably it seemed logical and sensible to create the firebreak by taking out all animals in a wide circle around the Infected Premises.
Of course, any farmer resisting the killing of his animals seemed to be threatening all the rest with selfish ignorance. All possible means were employed to enforce compliance of the pre-emptive culling.
'However, most, if not all, of the few blood tests taken came back negative. There must have been some who quickly realised that the policy was utterly misguided after all. But how could they admit this? .......... "
July 14 ~" evidence must be published to allow independent researchers to evaluate the pre-emptive slaughter policy."
"The flaws in the models did not become apparent during the epidemic" writes Nicola Morris "because:-
- of the 10509 premises culled only 2370 were tested (PQ 6649 19/06/02)
- there was no acknowledgement that the reason traditional methods were not working, in some areas, was because of mismanagement of resources and lack of resources
- resurgence of disease in Yorkshire and Northumberland, and the difficulties in bringing the disease under control in Cumbria appeared to support the models. Futher analysis of the disease transmission in these counties is required before any conclusions can be made.
- NFU and RCVS chose to ignore any members who criticised culling policy and refused to raise these concerns with any of the policy makers
All epidemic data and anecdotal evidence collated to date suggests that at best the pre-emptive cull policy resulted in the unnecessary slaughter of some 8226 farms and at worst it actually prolonged the epidemic by taking vital resources away from the truly infected premises and high risk dangerous contact premises.
To continue to assert that the pre-emptive slaughter policy saved lives is not enough; if the evidence exists to support this statement, that evidence must be published to allow independent researchers to evaluate the pre-emptive slaughter policy."
July 14 ~ "Cattle cull needless "
"THOUSANDS of animals were needlessly slaughtered in Scotland ..... a damning report will reveal this week," says Scotland on Sunday, following the leak of the findings of the RSE report tomorrow.
"The study by respected think-tank the Royal Society of Edinburgh will accuse London-based civil servants of reacting too slowly to the crisis, with devastating consequences for Scotland. ....
The report will criticise the lack of such a facility during last year's outbreak, which meant samples had to be sent to the government's Pirbright laboratories in Surrey.
That meant it could take over a week before a case of foot and mouth could be confirmed and the infected animal destroyed. During that time the infection was able to spread to neighbouring farms, the report will say...... "
July 14 ~ The inquiry criticises the transparency of the decision-making processs
as "lacking" and highlights the fact that only a fraction of the "considerable" scientific expertise in Scotland was called on. ...says the short report in the Sunday Times today about the RSE report, coming out tomorrow.
This will be followed on Tuesday by the Royal Society's report and next Monday by the Lessons Learned report.
July 13 ~ "the data that the modellers were working on was that every Infected Premises that was identified after March 3rd was a farm to farm transmission. Clearly that isn't the case."
" The key thing is transmission." said Nicola Morris on Farming Today this morning."DEFRA still has not identified the mode of transmission for 88% of the infected premises. They are defined as being "local spread" but they haven't said HOW it was moving. Now we need to know that.
Was it movement of people? Movement of animals? Spread on the wind? Once you have identified that you then know what is the best way of controlling the disease.
I have had very little support from any of the farming organisations that potentially could have helped me. I was listened to at the Inquiries - but I only got there by default. I was quite shocked really because it became apparent in our discussions that they hadn't had access to the same amount of raw data that I had managed to collect. My reading of it is that they were given an analysis of the raw data...it wasn't deemed necessary for them to see the raw figures. I think it IS necessary to see the raw figures because you have to do your own analysis
.....a lot more infections were in place before the movement ban but they weren't identified for sometimes two months...three months..afterwards. Now, that is not a "farm to farm transmission" that occurred after the movement ban, it occurred way before it.
That is significant because the data that the modellers were working on was that every Infected Premises that was identified after March 3rd was a farm to farm transmission. Clearly that isn't the case. The mode of control was based on data that wasn't correct. There were several problems with the model. They used a hypothetical animal that built in all the potential windborne transmission that you get with pigs whereas most of the animals that were infected were sheep. Tracings were not available so you have got methematical errors in there that would have grossly overestimated the spread of the disease...." (Hear Farming Today)
July 13 ~ "Our main aims are to ensure rapid detection of an outbreak and plan for a rapid scale-up contingency"
Why has MAFF-Defra kept a suspected case of Aujeszky's secret since March 15?
- Why did they eventually announce it in June?
- Why don't they know still whether the poor animal had the disease or not?
- Why have they not issued a statement? Defra had previously said, "Our main aims are to ensure rapid detection of an outbreak and plan for a rapid scale-up contingency".
But health scares hit profits and the company involved here is very large indeed.
July 13 ~ Still no answers from Margaret Beckett
According to the "This is the Lake District" news website, the report of Cumbria's own foot-and-mouth inquiry will be delayed because of the "sheer weight of evidence gathered at the hearings in Kendal, Carlisle and outlying areas." Council leader Rex Toft told a meeting of the CCC cabinet in Carlisle this week that: "Due to the mass of evidence that they have acquired it may not be possible to produce a written report before July 25."
Professor Thomas is still expected to attend the meeting to update councillors on the inquiries progress to date.
Questions submitted by the inquiry panel to Margaret Beckett, secretary of State at DEFRA, as part of the inquiry in May have also yet to be answered."
July 13 ~"...hang on, this is 2002 and no one accepts responsibility anymore..."
("The barbaric conduct in Britain last year was a disgrace to humanity." Fred Brown..and quoted by a journalist, Jeff Swift, who has only now begun to realise the full truth.)
"A recent report I read claimed that, in the earlier outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, more than 90 per cent of animals culled actually did have the disease - whereas in 2001 more than 90 per cent of the animals slaughtered did not.
What an incredible waste! That has to be the main difference between the two outbreaks.
Incidentally there was a query as to how many of the half-million carcasses buried at Great Orton Airfield actually had foot-and-mouth disease.
I understand a spokesman said: "NONE".
Talk about unbelievable; that lends credibility to the acceptance that over 90 per cent of animals culled out did not have the disease.
Where does the responsibility lie? But, hang on, this is 2002 and no one accepts responsibility anymore. (read full article)
July 13 ~ A critical analysis of the DEFRA report "Origin of the UK FMD Epidemic 2001"
by Alan Beat can be read here. He says, "Jim Scudamore's report published in June 2002 sets out his view of the start of the FMD epidemic, based on the considerable efforts made to establish the possible source and early spread of the disease. However, the full data on which the reports conclusions are based have not been released into the public domain. This paper therefore examines the limited information given in the report, and applies questioning analysis to the conclusions reached - a review process to which all science is normally subject prior to publication. Summary
- There is no evidence of clinical disease at Burnside Farm earlier than 12th February
- There is no evidence that sheep sent from Prestwick Farm to Hexham market on 13th February were infected as a result of airborne spread from Burnside Farm
Other important issues raised
- Pigs can show clinical signs within 24 hours of exposure to virus
- Pigs recover quickly from the disease to show no residual signs of infection
- There is clear evidence of rising infection at Prestwick Farm to invalidate computer modelling assumptions
July 12 ~ Some producers believe Defra's handling of the Aujeszky's Six was a smokescreen
to help convince the sheep sector of a continuing need for a 20-day movement restriction. See today's top story on the pig site.
July 12 ~ "the slaughter of clinical BSE or scrapie suspects, the offspring of confirmed BSE cases, and animals, which may have been exposed to the BSE agent, is permitted..."
writes Elliott Morley in a letter received by a warmwell reader. He thinks this is reassuring? He says, "the approach taken in these Regulations precisely mirrors the new EU legal requirements on TSEs, effectively going no further than those in place in the UK before 19 April 2002...."
Isn't the government's use of language interesting? The word "effectively" is very telling - and, as intended, misleading. The Minister's careful words still amount to what might be termed a terminological inexactitude - or lie - since the European version of the regulations refers only to animals who are genuinely likely to have been exposed to BSE, not, as here, any susceptible animal. Following the government's realisation that they were on highly dubious legal grounds during the FMD slaughtering, some bright spark at DEFRA must have suggested the word "susceptible" as a useful cover-all term.
July 12 ~ FIBS AND FOOT AND MOUTH
Emma Tennant recalls official incompetence, waste and bullying in today's Spectator.
Extract: "Between 60 and 70 suicides have been attributed to the disaster. A GP friend tells me that she thinks some of her patients will be on medication for depression and high levels of anxiety for the rest of their lives. Why? Because what happened was unthinkable. Who could have imagined that in Britain in the 21st century the police would break down a widow's front door so that soldiers could shoot healthy pet sheep in her bedroom?
Professor Fred Brown, FRS is an English scientist who is generally regarded as the greatest living expert on FMD. Needless to say, his advice was ignored in 2001. He recently told the EU inquiry in Brussels that the British government's cull policy in 2001 was 'a disgrace to humanity'. Thank you, Professor Brown, for telling the truth. "
Read this article from today's Spectator here
July 12 ~"a campaign of misinformation that bordered on malicious."
"The Royal Society inquiry has considered all the current scientific understanding of vaccination and found that there is no fundamental reason why it should not be used as the primary weapon against any future outbreak.
The report says that animals vaccinated with highly purified vaccines, free from the Non-Structural Proteins of the foot and mouth virus, could be used to vaccinate animals efficiently and yet still allow vets to distinguish between animals carrying antibodies because they have been vaccinated and those carrying antibodies because they have been infected.
The Royal Society has found that three tests made by Intervet, Merial and United Bio-Medical can distinguish between vaccinated animals and infected animals. The Intervet test, Chekit-FMD-3ABC, can be used on any strain of foot and mouth virus and can produce an immediate result.
The test has been validated in principle by the Office International Epizooties, the international animal health bureau in Paris, and needs approval by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, Surrey. The United Bio-Medical test has been going through a licensing process with the US Department of Agriculture and is expected to be licensed for use soon.
Another test, PCR viral assay, can detect a virus during the latter part of the incubation period." Telegraph today
July 12 ~ The images of hundreds of thousands of dead animals smouldering on pyres should never be seen again
if the Government adopts the Royal Society's primary recommendation. Vaccination was suggested several times as a possible strategy during last year's foot and mouth crisis, but the Prime Minister fought shy of the decision, partly because of pressure from farmers' leaders but also because of a campaign of misinformation that bordered on malicious.
The Royal Society inquiry has considered all the current scientific understanding of vaccination and found that there is no fundamental reason why it should not be used as the primary weapon against any future outbreak. See Robert Ulig's article in today's Telegraph
July 12 ~ The official scientific inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis will recommend ...vaccination in the first instance; safeguards to ensure that disease control tactics are not influenced by party political considerations; and better livestock disease surveillance.
The Telegraph has learned that "the report from the Government-appointed inquiry, headed by Sir Brian Follett for the Royal Society, will say that the slaughter policy that cost £8 billion and led to the deaths of more than 10 million animals would be "untenable" in future as animal exports are worth only about £100 million a year.
Potentially the most damning tacit criticism of the handling of last year's epidemic contained in the 136-page report, which is due to be published on Tuesday, is that the contingency plan for dealing with an outbreak should be debated before Parliament to ensure ministers do not avoid implementing measures for political reasons......"The recommendation to debate contingency plans in front of Parliament is to stop any obstruction - whether for politically sensitive or any other reasons - from impeding the tactics needed to stop disease spreading." Evidence seen by the Royal Society inquiry also showed that vaccination would be expected to stop the disease in its tracks within 30 days. Last year, it took seven months to bring foot and mouth under control using slaughter in Britain. Vaccination brought the disease under control within eight days in Holland...."
July 12 ~ The Chequers meeting attended by Nick Brown, Jim Scudamore, scientific advisers and supermarket executives in April 2001 decided that vaccination was desirable.
As we now know, the lack of contingency preparation meant that in the first 4 weeks only 10% of infected premises were killed within 24 hours, only 40% within 48 hours and only 65% within 72 hours. After the end of the movement ban, what seemed like "new cases" - but which were in fact no such thing - convinced the mathematical modellers that only new draconian measures could stop the disease. The "contiguous cull" meant that soon Britain's real nightmare began. Hundreds of thousands of animals, many of them healthy, were being slaughtered. Tony Blair was anxious to get the pictures of burning pyres off the television screens in the weeks before the General Election. Vaccination seemed to offer a solution. In mid-March Blair began a series of private meetings to see if vaccination was possible after all. In April, at a Chequers meeting attended by Nick Brown, Jim Scudamore, scientific advisers and supermarket executives the decision was reached that vaccination - certainly in Cumbria and Devon - was desirable.
The Inquiries, about to be published, will be saying the same thing. It is a bitter irony.
July 12 ~ Why was vaccination not adopted?
Ben Gill heard about the meeting at Chequers (to which he had not been invited) he said that farmers would not tolerate vaccination - not because it didn't work, but because it would prevent them selling their produce in Europe. Slaughter and compensation was what the NFU executive wanted. Vaccination - for which Britain had no plan prepared anyway - was dead in the water before it was even attempted.
Why Ben Gill was allowed to hold sway in this way is a mystery. Since then however we have had all the strange, often repeated false mantras about vaccination - that the supermarkets wouldn't wear it, that it wouldn't have worked, that it was the "wrong kind of outbreak", that vaccination produces 50% "carriers" who can then silently spread the disease, that the Consumers Council were demanding special labelling. All these statements are untrue. All these statements have been constantly trotted out to defend the policy of hand to mouth chaotic slaughtering that resulted in billion pounds worth of lost revenue,and the unnecessary deaths of breeding animals, rare breeds, just born lambs, calves and piglets and pets as well as the "bred-for-meat" animals whose carcasses were simply wasted. But what, for Britain , is even more important is that hundreds and even thousands of ordinary people who had trusted authority and believed in the essential benevolence of government were bullied, threatened and literally terrified into compliance. Television cameras watched police and ghurkas forcing their way into a private house to kill five pet sheep in Dumfries. The veil hiding the nastier side of political power was ripped aside and it was seen just how ruthless officials can be. The many personal traumas will last a long time. The publication of Inquiries in the next fortnight will do nothing to heal them.
July 12 ~The government's contingency plan for handling an outbreak of FMD was drawn up in 1991.
In July 2000 the ministry did conduct a revision of the plan; but the only changes were warnings that since some parts now contravened European legislation they should be ignored. One part of the plan recommended that staff hire any heavy equipment needed from the National Rivers Authority - which was abolished in 1996. The plan's worst case scenario involved a maximum of 30 cases; the possibility of thousands of cases was not remotely considered. No expert teams were trained. No local centres were prepared with contingency instructions. MAFF had had no idea of the precise location of 121,000 farms, of which 35,500 held livestock - even though it was paying out the 1.3 billion pounds in livestock subsidies each year. The vet who ran the Maff surveillance scheme around Longtown in Cumbria when the FMD epidemic was at its peak, has described the Maff database as "absolutely useless". He said: "They had no idea on the number of farms or where they were. I was sent to some that had housing estates built on them. I was also sent to a pub, a garden centre and several barn conversions."
July 12 ~ The systems for diagnosis and culling were simply overwhelmed
When FMD was spotted at Cheale Meats, the vet Craig Kirby had shut down the abattoir and called in the government vets within hours . They began to trace all the abattoir's contacts - and found there were 600 places from which the disease could have come. Jim Scudamore and Nick Brown overlokked warnings of how fast the new strain of FMD could travel. Brown rejected a ban on livestock movements, fearing it might lead to food shortages. "An immediate ban would have left animals in marketplaces all over Britain," recalled Scudamore. "We also feared that supermarkets would run out of meat." Research by Defra shows that there in those few days there were more than a dozen key movements of infected animals -- starting chains of infection that spread the disease from Cumbria to Anglesey, West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire, and from Devon to Wiltshire and Northamptonshire. MAFF clung to slaughtering infected animals and those at risk in surrounding areas but their systems for diagnosis and culling were simply overwhelmed. The only possible chance of stopping the spread was efficient and extremely speedy killing and disposal.
July 12 ~ Still no explanation or results
from MAFF-Defra about the Aujeszky's tests. Final results were due a week ago (if not before.)
July 11/12 ~ interesting how the NFUS presented the anti vaccination argument.
Anne Lambourn writes, "In view of the very interesting article that you posted on warmwell yesterday from the Scotsman FMD inquiries converging on vaccination by Fordyce Maxwell, particularly his comments from the "farmer" who was anti vaccination, it is helpful to view some of the Info Sheets/advice posted by the NFUS (National Farmers' Union of Scotland) on its website over the weeks.
See the type of advice they gave e.g. "Vaccination not legally allowed" in article "Why slaughter? Why not vaccinate?". Also, see the letter below and note the signatories.
In "Vaccination - the raising of false hope" it states that "Around 50% of the vaccinated animals would become carriers potentially spreading infection to other non vaccinated animals." ....(See Anne's full message)
Some of those signatories are indeed interesting to see below the letter warning vaccination would create new risks of spreading the disease and that, if it goes ahead now, it will be seen as a betrayal of all the farmers who have already sacrificed large numbers of animals under the pre-emptive cull.... cause chaos for the government's whole eradication strategy. .
And as for the utter nonsense about carriers we are sure that the Royal Society Inquiries at least will have put paid to that particular piece of mischief making.
July 11/12 ~ The launch of the Lessons Learned report been delayed until 22nd July
(it was supposed to be the 18th) because, apparently, "too much was already going on that week"..which does make one rather wonder why that should matter - unless the concern is for putting media interest before the public interest.
The Royal Society report will duly appear on Monday - and then, early in August, a report from the Cumbrian inquiry chaired by Professor Phil Thomas. Did DEFRA ever see fit to reply to his letters politely requesting cooperation?
July 11/12 ~production subsidies will be bundled up into a single payment and progressively reduced thereafter...
Because the CAP in its present form is simply not compatible with expansion of the EU to include countries like Poland and Hungary...it has to be vastly simplified before they join, otherwise it will go bust.
Besides, there has to be a better way of supporting farmers and the rural economy than a policy which, in the UK, cost £2.5 billion every year and still leaves farmers with the lowest incomes in half a century.
So, what will all of this mean to the typical Westcountry farmer? Well, we can now see clearly the direction which agricultural policy is travelling in, even if we don't know how long it will take to get there. Sooner or later, production subsidies will be bundled up into a single payment and progressively reduced thereafter. Sooner or later, virtually the only support which farmers receive will be for managing the countryside.
As a vision, that may appeal, or it may appal.
But that is the way we are heading, and yesterday's proposals - whatever their eventual fate - took us a big step further along that road." WMN today
July 11/12 ~ "These tenders are contingency plans for ANY disease.."
writes Nick "So could be tied up with the Animal Health Bill going through - possibly scrapie. It's obvious something is brewing."
He wonders what they are up to ..
"New AHB, Scrapie suddenly "found" to relate to BSE etc. etc. Who knows. One thing is for sure, DEFRA are so hoplessly organised that this pre-planning is way beyond them. Something smells. But what?..."
One thing that hasa a curious smell is the missing Aujeszky Disease results. There has been no explanation and no results from MAFF-Defra about the Aujeszky's tests. Pat comments, "They must have a reason for saying nothing. To promise results and then deliberately not publish them is very strange behaviour, even for them. "
July 11 ~On the day that they found out the results were negative, cow after cow, five hundred cattle were shot, a thousand sheep were shot.
"Just because FMD stopped doesn't mean that the policy was right. It wasn't. We fought a contiguous cull. Maff were incompetent enough to be unable to find us. They were unable to find Bennett in our village, a village of precisely 15 residents. We told them we weren't going to go, and that we wanted to wait for the test results. The test results came back negative on day 12. They were negative. Maff's reply to this was that it was irrelevant and that the tests could be wrong, and that perhaps the vet was incompetent. Well, if the vet was incompetent, so was his clinical opinion.
On the day that they found out the results were negative, cow after cow, five hundred cattle were shot, a thousand sheep were shot. The vet himself was unsure that it was FMD, but Page Street told him to declare it positive.
That to me is the most disgraceful aspect of this whole epidemic, to ignore science when you are saying "Science said from this computer model". What we did in this country was wrong, and I hope Europe will tell us that we cannot ever do this again."
Gail Bennett, a witness at one of the EU Temporary Committee Meetings.
July 11 ~ DEFRA has been contacting people to ask whether they will be available to tender if another FMD outbreak occurs....
In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, it is being widely maintained that
- It was the biggest outbreak ever known worldwide
No. It was not. It was merely unnecessary killing on a scale almost impossible to imagine
- It was impossible to use vaccination as there was no way of knowing where to start and finish the 'rings'.
And yet the contiguous rings of slaughter around so-called IPs were ruthlessly identified. The expensive killing was not only unnecessary in view of disease transmission but also often widely carried out around premises known to have returned negative tests or that were not laboratory tested at all.
We now hear that DEFRA has been contacting people to ask whether they will be available to tender if another FMD outbreak occurs
And if it does, will any lessons have been learned? Although members of the EU Committee visiting the worst hit areas of Foot and Mouth became increasingly sympathetic as the tour progressed, indications are - (indications such as the constant repetition by erroneous statements such as those above and the hectoring assertions of Gordon Adam, Carwyn Jones and others) - that the utter wrongness of what happened is very likely to be glossed over by Jan Mulder and Co in their report. The suppression of expert advice, the ignoring of laboratory tests, the bullying of the animals' owners, the deflection of blame by an orchestrated attack on farmers - all these will be glossed over. The saving of reputations is being put before the need to learn from what went wrong, and the clinging to political power being put before scientific truth or the humane treatment of animals and people. Government mismanagement will continue - and thoroughly unpleasant and ambitious people will seize even more control over the lives of others.
A full Public Inquiry has never been so urgently needed.
July 11 ~ CAP reform. The papers are full of it
All you ever wanted to read and much that you did not on the subject of EU farm subsidy reform can be read on today's newspaper pages Also, the news that Mrs Beckett has secured the 500 million pounds to finance the Curry reforms. However, since we read on July 6 that "the government has refused to deny reports that the cost of Donald Curry's plans to rebuild farming has more than doubled to £1.1 billion. "....this may not be quite enough. .
July 11 ~ Just a cheap shot? asks Lord de Ramsay
Today's Telegraph. Sir - Your editorial (July 1) on the Prince of Wales's address at the Royal Show is an extreme example of a quote snipped in isolation from a well developed, thoughtful speech. The Prince rightly linked agriculture with a healthy environment, a vibrant countryside and animal welfare, which all have costs, remarking: "It is utterly incredible to me that farming - the basic industry of mankind - can be in such a state of crisis as it is today. It is an indicator of a society that takes its food for granted."
To suggest that he was pleading for more subsidies of expensive food was either wilful misunderstanding or perhaps just a cheap shot.
From: Lord De Ramsay, Colonel E C York, Royal Agricultural Society of England, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire
July 10 ~ NFU position on insurance may well have influenced their stance on vaccination.
Writes a regular correspondent. "You will note that if insurance was not available, farmers could not have insured. They are blameless. There was no suggestion that they are to blame. But it is perfectly proper for the question of FMD insurance to be raised.
Vast sums of taxpayers' money was paid to compensate people owning animals that were culled. The largest of these sums were paid to public limited companies listed on the stock exchange. They could not by any stretch of the imagination be called farmers in any true sense of the word. Plcs are not normally compensated for business risks. They take it through to the bottom line if insurance is not available.
The last point is the crucial one. It may be to their advantage if insurance is not available.
Why should the taxpayer be picking up the tab for Plcs? (that privately may well have caused the problem in the first place.) Britain's NFU has been resolutely pro slaughter for yonks. They may well have financial imperatives that encourage this stance. The big players seem to benefit from a pro-slaughter/ anti-insurance policy. Now the NFU's position needs examination. Especially since they react so strongly. Their position on insurance may well have influenced their stance on vaccination. I'm told reliably, I think, that the NFU bureaucracy is not really financed by membership fees but by insurance sales. The big organisations pay the big premiums and call the tune...." (See full message)
July 10 ~ David Mitchell, NFU Scotland's representative on the inquiry, has resigned.
Today's Scotsman reports, "What looks like orchestrated leaks from the Follett inquiry suggest that it will recommend a major role for vaccination next time while an early draft - the one finally approved is believed to have been number eight - of the Royal Society of Edinburgh inquiry indicates that it will make the same recommendation.
That likelihood, and a general approach in the report which seems to favour some of the more emotional evidence given to the committee at public meetings, has produced another casualty - it is understood that David Mitchell, NFU Scotland's representative on the inquiry, has resigned. Mitchell, on union business in Brussels this week, was unavailable for comment, but it is also understood that his colleagues on the committee took a dim view of his decision. "
July 10 ~ The DEFRA report to the OIE below dates from January 2002
we are reliably informed. It seems to have been the basis for Defra getting the all clear from OIE for Disease Free Status without vaccination. It is quite surprising that this report is available on the DEFRA site. We rather wonder if it will remain. They have actually removed the last Press Release about Aujeszky's disease (2nd July) from the "front page" of their site overnight, despite leaving on other releases from the same day. ... and there is still no news on Aujeszky's. No confirmation and no cries of False Alarm.
July 10 ~Blatant bare-faced lying - or simply bureaucratic obfuscation, implying that everything it did was rational and reasonable?
"Is there another Report to the OIE superseding and perhaps amending any of this?"asks Anne Lambourn. "It looks as though DEFRA is claiming to the OIE that it had sampled all the Confirmed Cases. What do you think? Presumably this would have links with claiming for EU compensation re verification?"
warmwell comments: If this report is very recent - and we will try to find out if it is - it may well be a damage limitation exercise to avoid being left high and dry with a huge...really unbelievably huge...bill for the compensation the EU may well now refuse to pay.
If the EU knows that premises were culled where no blood test was taken and no epidemiological link can be proved with a premises that was positively blood tested - then it is likely to refuse to authorise compensation from EU coffers. The EU Temporary Committee will have been asking some very awkward questions indeed - in spite of all the best efforts of those trying to distract attention from the handling of the crisis.
It seems very likely that this report is intended to give an impression that all was done correctly. We know of course that it was not. (See main message on this very suspect report)
July 10 ~ "There are lies, damned lies, and Defra lies (these being in another league altogether)"
writes a furious emailer this morning, who has just seen the item above.
"Regarding the blood-testing last year, we have evidence in our case, that Margaret Beckett replied to a Parliamentary question by the admirable, and sorely missed, Mr Peter Ainsworth, that only the 2 farms of the infected premises in our local outbreak were blood-tested. However, when we eventually were sent our somewhat sanitised FMD file, it contained a photo-copy of a document (unsigned) that purported to be the results of Blood tests on 21 of our sheep.
Now, either Mrs Beckett was lying or, and we consider this to be the case, this document is a forgery and included to cover certain individuals' backs. It's now subsequently, of course, used as evidence by Defra/Seerad that all was done correctly - which, as you so rightly remark, it most certainly was not !"
July 10 ~ a criminal waste of money
From Robert Ulig's article this morning... "CAP reform in the 1990s introduced set aside, under which all arable farmers were paid to take 15 per cent of their land out of production, a measure regarded at the time as a criminal waste of money. But under the new proposal, simply growing grass across an entire arable, livestock or mixed farm would qualify as keeping the land in agricultural production.
Instead of filling in lengthy forms, backed by proof from satellite imagery and animal passports to show how much arable land is in production and how many animals they keep, farmers would receive a "single farm income payment". This would be based on an average of the farm's three previous subsidy payments up to a maximum of 300,000 euros - £193,500.
Not surprisingly, farmers' leaders are in favour of the idea. However, they are less keen on many of the other proposals that Franz Fischler, the Agriculture Commissioner, will unveil in Brussels today."
If the European Union wants to become a superpower it must expand. It cannot do so if that would mean paying the newcomers the CAP subsidies. The highly ambitious Mr Gordon Adam, MEP, Labour's farm spokesman in Brussels, said farmers had to play by market rules and be weaned off the drip-feed of EU subsidies. "When all the horse trading is done, I believe the bones of this package will be left intact," he said. What a curious and revealing mixture of metaphors.
July 10 ~ "When there is no defence available to excuse arrogance, ignorance and injustice.... launch a vitriolic attack on the victims"
Putting this principle into practice as so many of his ilk have been doing recently, Lord Whitty, in an interview with the Western Morning News published today supposedly about chinese imported pigmeat, smears farmers for constantly blaming Government rather than delivering good bio security. Similarly, Gordon Adam, Carwyn Jones and Lord Haskins all seem to belong to this same school of mud slinging. Alan Williams, the Labour deputy committee chairman, loudly and pointedly asked DEFRA's Brian Bender last week whether he knew how many of the 59 farmers who received more than £1 million each in compensation from the Government had also taken out insurance for the disease. The implication here - which came across loud and clear as intended - was that these were fat cat farmers who had cheated the government and the taxpayer by being "insured" and yet compensated by the Government at the same time too.
Poor Mr Bender was unable to answer. He was in no position to point out that so-called FMD "insurance" is only for consequential loss NOT for the loss of animals, Obviously - since animals slaughtered are compulsorily purchased by the State and consequently paid for - no insurance company is going to insure the actual animals. So an "insured" farmer, whose animals' value is agreed by the loss adjuster to be say £100.000, would be entitled to 25% consequential loss in the event of FMD, TB or brucellosis.
This was not apparently understood by the Public Accounts Select Committee. Thus another decibel was able to be added to the much broadcast volume of outrage maintaining that all farmers were themselves responsible for the horrors of FMD and were "cheating" the taxpayer. It is all part of the very nasty spin campaign which is so very desperately being waged against all UK farmers at the moment. The great hope is that if farmers can be more and more vilified in the public perception then, when the shocking truth about the handling of the crisis comes to light as it very soon will, there will be even less sympathy for those who suffered and even less interest taken in the flaws revealed in central government. It is a clever and most unpleasant ploy.
July 9 ~" In Mr Adam's case, it is not "emotion" that is not enough - but intelligence, compassion, awareness..."
We have just received this message: "Well done warmwell readers in response to Gordon Adam's outrageous letter of 5 July. The following letters are printed in the Newcastle Journal today. (9 July)"
See also news extract about "Tory stooges" FMD jibe"
July 9 ~ The scrapie insanity begins in earnest
Scrapie - a rare disease - has been quietly with us for 250 years. It has had no effect on humans for 250 years. But for some reason, the FSA and SEAC have for months been softening up the Sheep Associations and the public for what is to come. Why? The journal Nature ran a thoroughly alarming and unscientifically expressed piece of spin on July 5 containing the extraordinary and very carefully expressed statement about scrapie : " It is thought to have triggered the BSE epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, when farmers gave cattle food containing sheep remains. This is believed to have passed into humans who ate infected meat products, causing the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease."
It is becoming more apparent that the race for a fully scrapie-resistant national flock is on and the FSA and SEAC and co are determined to win it- unless there is an even more odd explanation.
The motive for getting the agreement of the sheep owners is the same mixture of flawed but confident-sounding "science", financial carrot and emotional-blackmail stick that we have become used to over FMD.
But, as in FMD, those directing the juggernaut have no scientific justification. If they had there would be none of this "thought to have been" and "believed to have". We are operating in the dark. Only SEAC approved research is allowed funding it appears.
Are we as a nation losing our collective mind?
And not just us. Europe is also racing towards the goal of racial purity in its sheep.
July 9 ~ The Animal Health Bill returns to the House of Lords
In order to give the powers needed to force the"racial purity" urged by John Krebs and SEAC onto the national sheep flock, the AHB is being quietly reintroduced in less than a fortnight. It will be a truncated version after the defeat of March 26 - but it will attempt to give the government new powers with regard to sheep with scrapie and, by using the dread word "susceptible", to enforce the National Scrapie Plan. More information on this as soon as possible.
The one sure thing in a sea of uncertainty is that all this will have huge financial and legal consequences. Farmers and owners will no longer have the right to resist the arbitrary killing of their animals.
Research into scrapie has been a bonanza for the researchers within the establishment fold who have been awarded the research grants. In America, the deer that succumb to TSEs are slaughtered at a cost of literally many millions of dollars. No one, it appears, has been allowed to investigate the role played by manganese in their sickness. Mark Purdey, ( whose new website can be visited here), currently finding a link between CJD-like symptoms in aboriginal people and the manganese oxide produced by the mines on what used to be their land, was excluded from the funded scientific community when it began to look as though his findings might raise a voice against what Professor Ebringer calls the "prion noise". It seems that DEFRA and SEAC have now - without acknowledgement and without any attempt to reinstate the credibility in his research that they deliberatel destroyed - taken over Mark Purdey's research - the details of which they tricked him into giving them. (See earlier note) We find all this deeply disturbing, as will many readers of warmwell.
July 8/9 ~ BSE Status - a catalogue of denial across Europe
See email about "BSE status in Europe"
"1996 is the relevant date. After 1996 the use of meat & bonemeal was banned in UK for any species. In 1997 (unpublished) reports from the EU commission showed a catalogue of denial across Europe with no SRM removal etc. etc
The assumption was that BSE was British - and so the Europeans ignored regulations.
In France, "untreatable staggers" increased by 22%...There is, of course, no such thing. Now, 6 EU countries have more cases born after 1996 than the UK. Until other countries do take the necessary measures cattle will die. And even when action is taken, the average lead-in time for symptoms is 4/5 years so there is still a while to go to the peak.
Defra also confirm that in September the group steering the OIE regulations will discuss doubling the limit of 'lower incidence status', currently set at 100 cases per 1 million head of cattle over 2 yrs old, to accommodate the EU's dramatic increase. Our UK cases are mainly born prior to 1996, and we are almost through it. For the EU the worst is yet to come. But it's done its job. We now import 40% of our beef, much of it from Europe.
July 8 ~ "Surely an MEP of his standing should have the self control to conduct himself in a more restrained manner?"
email received today: " I gave evidence (on behalf of the Epynt Action Group) to the European Parliament Enquiry in Wales on 20th June. I am probably "one of those farmers" whose evidence Carwyn Jones feels should be taken "with a pinch of salt" and whose "Political background" should be taken into consideration! (Just for the record, I have no particular political leanings, and certainly not towards the Conservatives as Mr. Jones suggested ..... I think they are pretty much all as bad as each other!... but I do take great exception to the suggestion that the evidence I gave was anything but the truth).
I enclose the text of a letter Gordon Adams left on every seat at the enquiry meeting in Builth Wells. What I should like to know is why he should try to influence people in advance of the committee's conclusions.
Is he (and the Labour party as a whole) so afraid that the truth will out that they feel obliged to act in this way?
His behaviour at both the Builth meeting and at the Sennybridge meeting that followed was despicable. Surely an MEP of his standing should have the self control to conduct himself in a more restrained manner? In the circumstances I might be able to understand a certain amount of heckling from the floor, but such behaviour from one of the MEPs is, in my opinion unforgivable.
However, like Carwyn Jones' comments in Strasbourg on 2nd July, it is typical of the arrogance we have come to expect from the Labour party.
The NFMG has also replied to Mr Adam's letter in the Newcastle Journal
July 8 ~ MAFF-Defra's results on the Aujeszky's tests are late.
They were to report by the end of the week, according to their website.
July 8 ~ "So exactly what is Whitty saying? "We are going to enforce the law" ?
Lord Whitty and celebrity chef Anthony Worral-Thompson will be at Heathrow Airport today to launch the much vaunted DEFRA "campaign" called "Don't bring back more than you bargained for."
Ananova tells us, "Holidaymakers will be told risks can be reduced by following a few simple steps. The campaign, which has the backing of chef Antony Worrall Thompson, will use leaflets, posters, and advertising. Banned items may land travellers on-the-spot fines Travellers bringing banned meat or plants into the UK could be fined under measures being considered by the Government."
And of course there are the two sniffer dogs.
Pat, who sees the whole thing as a smoke screen, comments, " Groan - they already can be fined. What is this bit of disinformation all about? Whitty really is a total p**t, isn't he? It has always been an offence...and prosecuted where appropriate. So exactly what is Whitty saying? "We are going to enforce the law?" "
July 8 ~ "The UK must validate, authorise and bank modern NSP free vaccines immediately"
The National Foot and Mouth Group writes,
" I think the reason there was so much opposition last year was because the various vaccines stored at Pirbright were the old type - circa 1990 - not the modern, highly purified, NSP free - and thus it would not have been possible to apply the various differentiation tests afterwards to determine animals which had responded solely to vaccination - and those which had responded as a result of actual infection. Hence the oft quoted opposition that the disease would then become endemic - as it would not have been possible to screen out infected animals from non-infected and hence the risk of carriers was maintained.
I think what we have now demonstrated is that the process using solely highly purified NSP free vaccines and the various differentiation tests takes this uncertainty out of the process. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't have vaccinated - certainly not -but in economic terms it would have taken at least 12 months to get back to Disease Free Status - possibly longer - because their vaccines were the old type.
Using the NSP free vaccines and the appropriate test - there should be no difference in the timescale to Disease Free Status between using slaughter and using vaccination - as freedom from the disease will be shown by the sero-surveillance testing.
What we need to make clear is that the UK must validate, authorise and bank modern NSP free vaccines immediately."
( warmwell footnote: The vaccine that was used in Holland was fom the Dutch vaccine bank, NSP-free and could - through Intervet - also have been delivered to the U.K)
July 8 ~ The letter on Foot and Mouth from Gordon Adam MEP published on 5th July demands a reply, as in my opinion it misleads your readers.
writes Alan Beat to the Journal "... He (Gordon Adam) writes "vaccination could not have brought the outbreak under control in Britain because of the widespread infection before the disease was confirmed." In fact, the EU committee has received a considerable weight of evidence, from leading veterinary scientists all over the world, to the opposite effect; that vaccination should have been used precisely because the epidemic was widespread - these are the very conditions that demand vaccination in place of slaughter.
I gave evidence to the EU committee concerning the Ururguay 2001 epidemic, similar in all main respects to the UK epidemic, but extinguished faster and at vastly lower cost, by means of vaccination. Afterwards I personally supplied Mr Adams with a copy of the data, so he cannot now claim to be unaware of it. ....... He continues "there are not yet available reliable vaccines or tests". This is not true. Modern vaccines are highly efficient and are used extensively across two-thirds of the world. Tests that distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals have been commercially available for several years - all that has been lacking is the political will to validate and use them.
We share Mr Beat's hope (his full letter can be read here) - but are now fearful that the EU Temporary Committee report will - after all - perpetuate the misinformation we, like Alan Beat and many others, have tried so hard to refute by means of the true facts.
July 8 ~ "The three most heavily involved companies in the FMD fiasco in Cumbria "earned" £77 Million pounds of taxpayers' money
writes Nick Green. "Snowie, Scottish haulage company and Blair devotee, received £38.4 Million pounds, Carillion, £21.1 Million and Cumbria Waste Management, £17.5 Million.
3. Cost, so far of the Gt. Orton landfill sight, where around 2 million animals were buried, £35.1 Million. DEFRA paid £6,000 per acre for 10 months.
Costs at Gt. Orton and other landfill sights in the country are continuing to escalate daily. ...." (see Nick Green's full message)
July 7 ~ First rule of tyranny : Treat victims as criminal aggressors
As we have seen more and more, the blanket propaganda against farmers - and it really is too serious now to call it "spin" - is more and more blatant. Propaganda permeates Brussels these days too. We remember the leaked document in the Telegraph reported by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on July 1 that "Brussels is going to 'counter the growing mood of Euroscepticism across Europe by abandoning neutral presentation of facts and instead creating an aggressive spin machine modelled on the Downing Street methods of Alastair Campbell'
Christopher Booker writes: "Interestingly a minority report was tabled by a Leftist Italian MEP, Marco Cappato, who argued that criminalising people's beliefs might be seen as interfering with human rights, and that Voltaire's famous defence of free speech was in danger of being trampled by "a form of Eurobureaucratic folly more dangerous than the 'monster' it claims to be fighting". But his MEP colleagues pre-empted this by declaring that no one must be allowed to defend themselves against charges of xenophobia by advancing "spurious arguments invoking freedom of expression". Booker's Notebook today in the Sunday Telegraph
Meanwhile in the land of the free, Unity is accused of being "militant", Ann Morgan is accused of being motivated by politics and, according to the Telegraph, "the career criminal seriously wounded by Tony Martin ... has been granted legal aid to sue the jailed farmer."
July 6 ~ Vaccination would be to slaughter - Lord Haskins perpetuates the nonsense
Lord Haskins, claiming that he is "in favour of vaccination" - and who is not these days - has made the extraordinary statement:"with current vaccines taking 11 days to confer protection, it would have to be vaccination followed by slaughter to control an outbreak" This is not only a non-sequitur it also purports not to understand that the slaughter of vaccinated animals is a decision made for economic (export) reasons - and has nothing to do with disease control. ".. immunity in cattle and sheep can develop as early as four days post vaccination but it may take longer in pigs.....There is no veterinary need to slaughter vaccinated animals."(From vaccination page about Merial vaccines)
He said it would be "interesting" to see how the Government developed its control strategy for the future on the back of the Royal Society scientific inquiry and Dr Iain Anderson's Lessons Learned Inquiry due to report later this month.
(Warmwell asks, "Unless we are very much mistaken, both these reports will be published on the Friday that Parliament breaks up for summer recess or during the summer recess so that no debate will be possible.) See more
July 6 ~ Carwyn Jones lashes out again
According to today's Western Mail, Unity, the farmers' group who saved so many healthy animals in Wales from the contiguous cull - and now apparently branded as "militant" -is "threatening to take legal action over alleged comments on the foot-and-mouth epidemic by former Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones.
Roy Miller, one of the founders of the group, said, "We have never been militant. We've only always been persistent; no one could ever say we have been militant." Mr Miller said he would be seeking legal advice on Mr Jones's comments both in the article and during the European Parliament's inquiry into foot-and-mouth. "We have never said there was a government conspiracy," he said. "All we have said is that the disease did not come from Welshpool market."
July 6 ~ Still no official Aujeszky's test result - but why the DEFRA presence, complete with white suits, at the largest UK-based pig genetics company?
JSR Healthbred, Home Farm, Puddington, Chester....JSR Pig Production - At a glance
Turnover £10.5m in 2000 ~ 8000 sows on 13 breeding farms ~ 1100 GGP & GP Landrace ~ 3900 GGP & GP Large White ~ 7000 place finishing farm in the Wirral ~ 2 x 4000 place finishing farms in East Yorkshire ~ 100 staff employed ~ Own computer recording system (P Plus P) linked to the genetic programme (PEST) ~ Average cost of production 94p (breakeven 90p) ~ Genetic improvement of £5.50 per pig over 10 years ~ "JSR Pig Production is one of the leading pig producers in the UK, managing sows in nucleus and multiplication units strategically located in East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Cheshire, the Wirral, Oxfordshire and Shropshire. Several of these farms are surrounded by our own arable land located in relatively pig free areas with low disease pressures. After the selection of breeding stock, which accounts for about 20% of total production, most of which is destined for the JSR Healthbred pig genetics business, the remaining pigs are sold for slaughter to major processes........ Some 28 practising veterinary surgeons regularly visit our farms to conduct rigorous independent health checks. ...."
No wonder other farmers in the area are terrified of the outcome....
July 6 ~ USA assesses swine fever risk from EU pigs and pig products
From Pighealth.com "The USDA is compiling a revised risk assessment of swine fever (CSF) in pigs, semen and pigmeat from the EU. This is being conducted against a background of increased US jumpiness about biological threats in general and exotic livestock diseases in particular (in the wake of the disastrous UK experience with FMD).
Our American allies are generally feeling much more vulnerable than in years gone by. The EU is in a tricky position in this risk assessment because of the endemic CSF in wild pigs of Germany and Italy, plus neighbouring East European countries. In the last risk assessment the EU successfully argued in favour of regionalization of the risk (i.e. banning imports just from currently affected regions).
More details of the current and past USDA risk assessment at www.pighealth.com"
July 5 ~ Does Mr Gordon Adam have the right to pre-empt the findings of the EU Temporary Committee?
There has been widespread condemnation expressed of Mr Gordon Adam's letter in the Newcastle Journal. One email sums up the feeling very succinctly - "Does Mr Adam have the right to pre-empt the findings of the EU Temporary Committee in this way? Surely it is not correct and a complaint to the committee is in order? Or is he worried on his party's behalf that the official verdict when it is given, will be extremely damning?"
Mr Adam wrote:
The overwhelming weight of evidence given to the committee so far is that vaccination could not have brought the outbreak under control in Britain because of the widespread infection before the disease was confirmed.
Secondly, there are not yet available reliable vaccines or tests. The European Parliament has voted more funds for research and there are promising prospects under validation.
Thirdly, vaccination without subsequent slaughter has trading implications which involve global agreements. Within Europe even there is no consensus on this point.
I have not been popular for pointing out these problems at our public meetings, but emotion is not enough.
As another emailer writes, "We do indeed need facts, not hearsay and unfortunately the only people with those facts are unwilling to produce them."
July 5 ~ Even more...
another email just received from Susan who has just considered Anne Lambourn's paper on costs "Plus the costs of training people to vaccinate (hardly mentioned at the time and abandoned after a lot of money had been spent)......
Plus the costs of storing the rendered meat from carcases for later disposal (was it 42,000 tonnes? in special storage buildings in Exeter and somewhere else up country.....
Plus... what about the costs to local councils etc. involved in closing and reopening footpaths, etc??
Plus what about all that Regional Development Agency activity for giving advice to businesses affected by FMD??
Plus disposable protective gear for slaughtermen and other operatives
Plus the cost of all that killing equipment (guns, hypodermics, pithing equipment.....) some of which I believe was reported to have disappeared?"
July 5 ~ the costs of the FMD epidemic are enormous, they are ongoing, and they will continue long into the future.
The cost to the taxpayer of the 9500 farms culled by the end of September was nearing £2.5 billion. This almost reaches Gordon Brown's figures, and yet ... what about all the other costs that Brown is including in his £2.6 billion e.g. £471 million for the LWD scheme, £156 million for agrimonetary compensation, £354 million for the Business Recovery Fund? Booker and North estimate that the cost to the Exchequer is much nearer £8 billion. This may well be the case if one considers the following:
The cost of TVIs is considerable, with 2575 TVIs being paid over £33 million. This does not include the costs of the 286 full-time equivalents in the SVS, mentioned in PQ 22104, 17th December. Why did DEFRA inform the journalist, Ann Treneman ("The new haves and have-nots", by Ann Treneman, Times 2, 31st Jan., 2002) that the veterinary costs were only £15 million? When she queried this, they insisted on £15 million, saying these were "direct" veterinary costs.
Is this another attempt to cover up the true scale of costs?
Anne Lambourn writes, "The sheer scale of costs is difficult to imagine, and how it has been allowed to escalate is quite incredible. In a time when our public services are appalling and are desperately needing large injections of capital, it seems incomprehensible that our government embarked on such an insane mass slaughter policy, which had never been tried and tested, and which had never had any cost benefit analysis carried out. ..." (more)
July 5 ~ Adding up the figures
IN addition to the costs above...The cost of the vets, will obviously include board and lodging, and that has to be accounted for somewhere.
What about the costs of flights over to this country for all those foreign vets (approx. 1800 of them)?
What is the cost of the massive blood and tissue testing programme?
What are the costs of the Army?
What are the costs of the Police?
What are the total Civil Service costs? They must be very considerable, yet apparently no mention is made of them in the Chancellor's estimates.
What was the cost of the 2 million lambs slaughtered under the "Light Lamb Disposal Scheme", and also the incentives given to supermarkets to sell some of this meat?
What has been the true cost of all the burial and incineration sites, and what are the estimated risk assessment, maintenance and monitoring costs for the future? How many of these sites are there?
What has been the cost of digging up of carcasses and ash and reburial?
What has been the cost of discharging of the effluent from the Great Orton site and the costs of Epynt burial and incineration site - and the unused Ash Moor site? John Burnett, (Torridge and West Devon), estimated the total cost of purchase and preparing the site to be in the order of £10 million. The weekly cost of monitoring and keeping the site is £20,000. What would be the costs of restoration?
What is the cost of the Inquiries that have been set up by the government to investigate the FMD epidemic? (warmwell was offered money for travel to Lessons Learned from SW France at the taxpayers' expense. We did not claim it)
What is the cost of court action by the government to date?
Why does DEFRA need 16 Press Officers, at a cost of £693,410 from 1st April to beginning of November? (PQ 10608)
We recall that "At 50p a shot, with a further £4.50 for administration, the cost of vaccinating even 40 million of Britain's 60 million farm animals would have been £200 million." (Booker and North). (See Anne Lambourn's work on costs)
July 5 ~ Not content with discrediting Mark Purdey, the government steals his research
Mark writes: "DEFRA have been beavering away behind the scenes researching all of my own original findings. The Dutch professor mentioned ( in the email Mark attaches, where he learned that " DEFRA has already for sometime research going on copper shortage and the effect of pesticides and organofosfates. Not as a cause for BSE but might make the animals more sensible to get the disease, he says" ) is head of the Dutch government vet research institute so is a reliable source - I gave them a lecture !!
Whilst it was outrageous that DEFRA have not funded my work after all their promises, I am pleased - from an objective perspective - that they are following up on my work by funding all of these other projects ( David Brown et al and now this mystery one ! ). But surely, at the very least, they could have the decency to respect and restore my credibility in the public domain and remove their lies from the Gabriel Horne report !! They have conned me into handing over all of my twenty years field research ( by inviting my grant proposal ) free of charge.
What makes me furious is that they are sitting on / not replying to this solicitor's letter as a deliberate ploy to enable the publication date of the Gabriel Horne report to exceed the one year mark - in which case, they will be exempt from the possibility of prosecution.
I guess they are going to succeed."
July 5 ~ One failure is the disappearance of accountability, the arrogant refusal to accept responsibility
just as Brian Bender of DEFRA seemed to think he had only to assert that the handling of the foot and mouth tragedy had been "effective" for all questions to cease. Look no further than this morning's Times in which Jill Sherman, Whitehall Editor, reveals that Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell, the Prime Minister's top political aides, have refused to give evidence to the Wicks Committee on Standards in Public Life. They had been summoned " to appear before its inquiry into relations between ministers, officials and political advisers. Sir Nigel Wicks, the committee chairman, had planned to question the two men on their extra powers, which allow them to manage civil servants. "
"It emerged last night, however, that Mr Campbell, director of strategy and communications, and Mr Powell, Mr Blair's chief of staff, had rebuffed the committee. A Downing Street spokesman said: 'These officials do not generally appear before such committees.'...."
In short, they don't feel like it.
July 5 ~"... a massive failure in the core systems and function of government "
" ...the various post-mortems are missing the point. The point is NOT "why did we not vaccinate?" but why, where and how did the system fail in such a way that this option was not readily available when it became obvious that it was needed.
What we were dealing with was a massive failure in the core systems and function of government and very little of what is being explored actually touches on this issue - in focussing on vaccination, we are simply addressing the symptoms rather than the cause.
Thus, while we may get an acknowledgement (partial and heavily hedged) that vaccination should have been carried out, what we will not learn is why (and by whom) the mistakes were made....the serious structural faults and weaknesses in the system of government.
Merely addressing what was a symptom of a larger maliase, we will get no further towards dealing with the inherent deficiencies and thereby improving responses to crises in the future (which will not necessarily be FMD)"
July 5 ~ "The fundamental lesson was that the Contiguous, 3km and Firebreak Culls should never be applied again.
These measures did not assist in controlling the disease and greatly increased its impact"......"The Key Lesson was that there is an ethical, moral and social responsibility for a modern, humane and civilised approach to disease using modern science – not primitive and arbitrary control." Extracts from the National Foot and Mouth Group's (NFMG) meeting at the Lessons Learned Inquiry
July 4/5 ~ The delay was inexcusible.
" Maff had the massive benefit of hindsight: endless postmortems were written about the last major outbreak. Maff also had the expertise: Britain boasts some of the world's leading epidemiologists and the food and mouth reference laboratory at Pirbright.
Maff's apparent defeatism over the lack of resources to cut the time between diagnosis and slaughter may have been cheaper for the ministry in the short term, but will prove costly to all in the long term." This Telegraph article was written in April 2001 and was prophetic. It went on to speak of " millions of dead or doomed animals" - little realising that the contiguous culling - far from bringing the crisis skidding to a halt on election day - would result in the needless deaths of millions more - including the most irreplaceable breeding stock, non-meat animals, pets and rare breeds - in the course of the next six months and more. The article continued: "5The Phillips report on BSE revealed the need for timely scientific advice and to encourage competition between experts in Government, universities and beyond to stimulate fast results and have confidence in them. ..... " And looking back over the fiasco we see that Lord Phillips, like the Duke of Northumberland before him, might just as well have saved his breath. Lessons do not get learned when secrecy, spin and back-saving cover-ups hold sway at Westminster and in Whitehall. See below.
July 4 ~ The furore over the untraceable FMD-suspect sow
on June 20th continues and has been boosted by the Aujeszky-positive boars found at abattoir in Essex last week ( "The seropositive readings of samples taken at slaughter at the Cheale Meats abattoir in Essex may have resulted from laboratory error or contamination of the samples," says DEFRA.)
For the latest news release and other related items such as a UK pig traceability review plus import-related developments in Ireland, see www.pighealth.com
July 4 ~ MINISTERS were trying to "take the heat off themselves" by unjustifiably blaming farmers
for spreading foot and mouth disease, an NFU official (Anthony Gibson) said yesterday. "Yesterday" was 10th April 2001. But the highly successful smear campaign of farmers - the latest manifestation of which was the extraordinarily venom-filled performance by Ian Davidson at yesterday's (July 3 2002) DEFRA grilling (see spin alert) continues so successfully that most people have been diverted from the truth. They have swallowed hook line and sinker the idea that farmers are to blame for just about all the ills facing the country - and foot and mouth in particular. Just as teachers dared not speak their name a little while ago - now farmers - all farmers rather than the minority of fat cats - are the undeserved pariahs of Britain. So will any of the National newspapers - all reflectors of New Labour in that they now only think Urban - leap to the defence of those who innocently suffered so much? Never has British Agriculture been in so much need of support - yet even the Telegraph poured scorn on Prince Charles' words yesterday. A disgraceful piece of sycophancy towards the new Political Correctness. The rubbishing of farmers is being very, very successful. Propaganda makes loathsome use of people's darker feelings - and envy and hatred can be so easily justified by righteous indignation. Some farmers enjoy hunting, some big farmers were insured - ergo all farmers everywhere are greedy, cruel toffs and we'd be better off without them.
July 4 ~ The Krebs/Anderson/King connection dished vaccination
Although this information has been on the warmwell website almost from the very beginning, it is possibly not familiar to new readers of the site (and we are pleased that there are many). Well may one ask..."but how did Professor Anderson manage to become such a dominant figure with respect to FMD cull policy? "
Private Eye commented in its "Not the FMD Report".... On April 5 the Chief Scientist's Group used Anderson's paper to brief the NFU against any use of vaccination to control the current epidemic.
By Monday April 9, when outbreaks reached 1137, Nick Brown claimed that, thanks to the Anderson strategy, the rate of new outbreaks was now diminishing and warned, along the lines suggested in the Anderson paper, that any use of vaccination might mean the epidemic lasted longer.
... Anderson showed his skilful exploitation of the media when the Daily Telegraph published a full page feature by its science editor Roger Highfield, headed "Has The A-Team Defeated The Virus?".(Warmwell note APOLOGIES! It is still there - for 12th April - and we apologise unreservedly to the Telegraph for suggesting earlier that it had been "airbrushed out" ... See Has the A-team defeated the virus? ) This was an adulatory profile of Anderson's team, complete with dismissive comments on vaccination and graphs from the famous computer showing how, if the accelerated slaughter-and-cull strategy had not been implemented, the epidemic would have reached 400 outbreaks a day by early May. But the graph also showed how, thanks to the cull strategy, outbreaks were now expected to drop to zero in early June, helpfully marked by the Telegraph as coinciding with Mr Blair's chosen election date. ..."
Prof Anderson, like Elliot Morley and many others, now presents himself as a champion of vaccination......
July 4 ~ Prof Anderson, in his appearance before the EFRA Select Committee on 7 November, 2001, throws some light on how the Science Group was put together.
He claims they had looked at the "best people" in Europe and the USA. The very close links with the FSA are also intriguing.
"...In the last week of February, I had a phone call from Sir John Krebs at the Food Standards Agency, who said, "Are you looking at this privately?" and I said, yes, we had; he said, "Would it be helpful to organise a meeting to ensure that you had prompt access to the data?" and we discussed membership of that committee, who were the best people, not only in Britain but more broadly, in Europe and the United States. That committee was organised by Sir John Krebs. Subsequent to that, we did some more work, very quickly, because it was quite clear the epidemic was not under control , and at a subsequent meeting of the FSA, which John Krebs organised, he invited David King. At that meeting, David King formally took a detailed interest in the problem and constituted the Science Group, and then for the following month we were asked questions almost daily, particularly at one stage, about, if you did this what impact would it have?"
Whatever claims are made about the Committees/Groups providing the "best scientific advice", the end result on the ground spoke for itself.
July 4 ~ "The events of last weekend, ( i.e. 9-11 March 2001) when the control of this situation moved from the Ministry of Agriculture to Downing Street
continued into the week. The virtual meltdown in control and implementation occurred on Wednesday ( i.e.March 14th) when it became evident that even the most simple policy decisions were subject to misinterpretation by the regional offices, and instructions were inadequate. .....Farmers were being put through mental torture by being unsure if they were to be slaughtered out, and vets were becoming tired and frustrated.
The final straw was when TVIs returning to base were told that they were to be taken off slaughter supervision. We received phone calls from dissatisfied TVIs to say that this was unacceptable, and indeed was contradictory to what was reported in last week's diary. It also raised other issues such as the poor line of communications that TVIs have into the local management, and the poor representation they have nationally. One major centre, which accommodates over 150 TVIs, apparently has only two washbasins and no car washing facilities. This is nothing short of shambolic. ..." ( From Richard Sibley's,( President of BCVA) diary entry for 18 March 2001. See Anne Lambourn's full message)
July 4 ~ The illegality of cull - contradiction in SEERAD Scottish Exec D&G FMD Report 10 December 2001
16. "The disease was highly contagious and spread rapidly. However evidence of local spread from sheep into cattle and into neighbouring flocks and epidemiological work by the SVS suggested that animal to animal spread was more likely than airborne spread in this outbreak."
17. "It was therefore agreed on advice of the CVO, that to reduce the risk of disease spread outside of those areas of D and G already infected, removal of all sheep within 3 km of an Infected Premises should be undertaken, recognising the risk that all such sheep might have been exposed to infection. A three km cordon is the designated protection zone under EU legislation taking account of aerosol spread.
On 15 March the Minister for Environment and Rural Development, Ross Finnie, accepted this advice and announced that sheep flocks that may be harbouring the disease would be identified and destroyed, whether or not clinical signs of the disease were yet evident. In practice this meant all sheep flocks within 3 kms of Infected Premises."
Anne Lambourn writes, "It is intriguing that in Para 16 it is acknowledged that animal to animal spread was more likely that airborne spread, and yet, the Scottish Executive seems quite content to use the aerosol spread argument to justify the contiguous and 3 km cull. My view is that you cannot have it both ways. I feel that the logic used by the SE was hardly scientific and therefore should be subjected to the closest scrutiny by veterinary experts in FMD control. "
So do we.
July 4 ~ what was the legal or veterinary justification for the intensification of the cull mentioned below on 24 March?
20. "On 24 March the Scottish Executive announced the intensification of the cull to include all susceptible species in farms adjacent/contiguous to premises at which FMD had been confirmed on or after 16 March, again prioritising farms on boundaries of disease clusters to prevent outward spread."
This in the event meant that some farms well within the 3 km radius were being slaughtered out 10 weeks after the IP had been diagnosed. Bear in mind that for Wigtownshire, only 2 of the 15 IPs returned positive tests in the first place, and that these results (displaying the very low level of infection in reality, compared to what was being claimed) would be known by the higher echelons of the Scottish Executive, as well as the DVM in charge of the slaughter policy for the area. Yet, they still pursued the "scorched earth policy". What was the scientific basis for that? The evidence from the acknowledged FMD veterinary experts would indicate there was no scientific justification whatsoever. (See below entry for July 3)
Anne Lambourn continues: "The strong support given by Richard Sibley for the slaughter policy in the Stakeholder Meetings cannot be underestimated, not least because of his role as President of the BCVA. Some idea of his depth of feeling about the anti slaughter/pro vaccination lobby can be gauged from the following further entries in the BCVA Diaries:
"The criticisms coming from some welfare groups and some of the public are crass. The slaughter of healthy animals goes on every day, and it is what meat production is all about...".(18th March 2001) Vaccination has been an issue all week. The growing calls for some form of vaccination strategy have been coming from all directions, including some vets and scientists. The recent paper (by Prof Brownlie) that we commissioned gave a good insight into the pros and cons of vaccination, but the messages were not getting through..... Now we have the Soil Association, Prince Charles, and all sorts of "we know best" individuals pontificating on the virtues of vaccination and alternative control strategies. (1st April 2001" (See Anne Lambourn's full message)
July 4 ~ Chinese tinned pork on supermarket shelves
An emailer writes, "The recent document "Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in 2001" indicated the strain of FMD as being 'Type O, Pan Asia' and its source as probably being meat or meat products from the Far East. DEFRA assures us that canned pork products are not licensed to enter the EU from China because there are no plants approved to EU standards in China.
Canned pork luncheon meat from the Peoples Republic of China is nonetheless available on the shelf of a supermarket in Torquay and probably many other places in the UK.
If it is appearing on supermarket shelves, one must assume that it is coming in by the container load. What on earth is happening in this country?
One must assume that some of this material is ending up at landfill sites for the seagulls to chew over and drop amongst livestock in neighbouring fields? Do the landfill operators have £20 billion of insurance cover to pay for the next outbreak of FMD? Why should farmers pay for the next outbreak of Swine Fever or FMD if HM Government is actively inviting the return of these diseases?"
July 4 ~ NESTLE is to ditch Cumbrian Dairy farmers anyway
Many will remember that Nestle's reluctance to take "vaccinated milk" was given as a reason for not vaccinating. Now it looks as though they are abandoning Cumbrian dairy farmers anyway - some of whom have recently restocked. The company's Dalston factory announced it was carrying out a milk supply review which could see contracts dry up with dairy producers in parts of West Cumbria, Eden Valley and South West Scotland. The announcement is a massive blow to an industry still struggling with the aftermath of foot and mouth and low milk prices. See report in the News and Star
July 4 ~ Brian Bender (Permanent Secretary at DEFRA) says FMD crisis was handled "effectively" and refuses to apologise
He appeared " defensive and uncomfortable" during a grilling by the Public Accounts Committee yesterday afternoon. The Times reports this morning that "MPs appeared unconvinced by his assertions that the outbreak had been handled "effectively" and were dismayed that he was not prepared to make any apologies for the department's lack of preparedness and financial controls.
He was asked by Alan Williams, the Labour deputy committee chairman, whether he knew how many of the 59 farmers who received more than £1 million each in compensation from the Government had also taken out insurance for the disease.
Mr Bender said he would supply a note to the committee. But Mr Williams snapped: "You don't even know and haven't even asked if they've got compensation as well as insurance. You've paid out £1.1 billion in compensation and you come here and you cannot even answer a simple question. I find that unbelievable." He demanded an urgent note on the issue. ..."
We note with gloom that the greatest outrage shown by the Committee appeared to be confined to the financial aspect of the fiasco. (Small and family farmers were told just before the outbreak that NFU insurance against FMD was not available. ) Did no one attempt to get Mr Bender to acknowledge the almost unbelievable levels of suffering set in motion by faceless DEFRA personnel behind closed doors?
July 4 ~ "The Scotsman is right. The pain will not go away"
Following Fordyce Maxwell's article yesterday, we have received this e-mail. "Less that 2 miles from Lockerbie, in Dumfries and Galloway, is the mass (400,000) burial site of Birkshaw forest (Site of a big Forestry Festival in Sept 02)
In the early days tankers (which had lime put into them) took gallons of leachate away from the pits.. The locals were told that it was pumped into the sea somewhere near Workington, in Cumbria. At the time many people around here said that they had dry "funny" throats. We all thought it was to do with the awful smell and the fact that we had many pyres around.
Lockerbie town itself had the first pyre in Scotland. The BBC gave a running commentary over the weekend of the pyre being constructed, then the animals being loaded onto it.
The Scotsman is right. The pain will not go away. Many farmers know that the way things were handled were totally out of order and unnecessary.
However the "powers that be" appear to appreciate the the two local NFU people who were mentioned in the honours list. That is Jim "vaccination would be a defeat" Walker of NFU Scotland and Robin Spence of NFU Dumfries .
We see it as more of a disgrace..
Less than two miles from the town of Lockerbie is the mass site approx 400,000 sheep. The first two pits were not 'lined' ...The others are supposed to be of a different construction. During the early days bodies were exploding from them until they trundled over them with spiked digger wheels. Sore throats were common at this time and I am now thinking that this leachate may be the cause rather that the pyres. The pits are about 1/4 of a mile up hill from the famous salmon river, the River Annan.... . ."
July 4 ~ MEPs defy UK government and back GM labelling. "This vote is also a defeat for the UK Government and Food Standards Agency chief, Sir John Krebs, who have been pushing for weaker rules
with the support of the US Government and biotech industry. They should now review their position and back UK consumers instead."
The European Parliament has voted for:
Full traceability and labelling of foods derived from GM crops.
It is estimated that 30,000 products may contain GM-soya and GM-maize derived ingredients such as vegetable oil or maize syrup. Under current EU law only a small minority of these products (restricted to the ones in which GMO DNA or protein is detectable) have to be labelled.
Labelling of GM animal feeds
Euro MPs have voted for GM animal feeds to be labelled. At present they are not.
No contamination by unapproved GM foods .
The Commission had earlier proposed that GM foods that have not been yet approved in the EU should be allowed into human and animal food up to a level of 1%. The Parliament has now rejected this proposal.
A threshold of contamination defined....
The proposals will now go to the Council of Ministers for approval. A further two votes are likely to be needed by the European Parliament over the coming year before the proposals would become law."see Press Release from Friends of the Earth
July 4 ~ "Your editorial criticising Prince Charles's speech fails to understand what is happening to British agriculture.
Take our pig industry, which is totally unsubsidised. The national breeding herd has reduced from 800,000 sows to 400,000 in five years and is still shrinking. The pig meat will probably come from eastern Europe, where they do not understand the word welfare where antibiotics will be fed by the bucketful and where cheap meat and bonemeal will be a major part of the diet. This meat will appear on a British supermarket shelf wearing an EU label, having travelled through another EU country to give it credibility.
Nearly everybody will be happy. The consumer will have cheap food, the supermarket and the middlemen will make plenty of money and the British countryside will be free of animal smells. Goodbye, British agriculture.
From: Robert Persey, Upcott Farm, Broadhembury, Devon
Letter in the Telegraph this morning
July 3 ~ Illegal, unlawful - so much of the culling
The latest statistics published in the NAO report ( 18/06/02) show that : of the 2026 so-called "IP" farms, 401 were shown not to be infected. (samples taken from these farms were found to be negative for FMD in the laboratory) Up to 1700 farms were culled around these negative farms, illegally, as clearly these contiguously culled farms could not have been exposed to FMD virus.
DEFRA maintain that a negative laboratory test is not reliable, but their laboratory at Pirbright will not support this statement. Pirbright have maintained throughout the epidemic that laboratory testing is at least 90% accurate.
Where negative blood tests were known - it made no difference. Contiguous culling or 3 km culling was still going on after negative blood tests had been received.
One such example was Blackfordby Hall when, according to information later leaked to the owner by someone at Maff who did not like what was going on, it had been known by the second day of the owner's almost month long fight for his pigs, that the blood tests causing him to be targeted were negative. It wasn't until May 15th 2001 that his A notice was withdrawn. Another was Matthew Knight in Devon who resisted the cull when DEFRA continued to press for his animals to be slaughtered even when the IP was known to be clear by means of a negative blood test.
(Margaret Beckett's "accurate words" show that much of the cull was illegal.)
July 3 ~ Yet another cheap jibe
- at yet another person who cannot defend himself - this time the venom is aimed at Prince Charles, highly respected and esteemed by this website for his fearless and knowledgeable behind the scenes support for all true rural values - in the usually balanced Telegraph opinion No clue about who wrote it.
One reader of warmwell was so incensed he has written to put the record straight and his letter will be published in the Telegraph tomorrow.
July 3 ~ Cheap political trick. We have been reminded that Carwyn Jones' unpleasant attempt to smear Welsh farmer Ann Morgan
with the accusation that her evidence was politically motivated has some nasty recent precedents. One emailer writes: " the government has already been slated recently for having started to investigate the political background of the lady (Pam Warren) involved in the Paddington rail disaster enquiry. She was really badly burned in the accident. I can't believe they are STILL trying to conduct investigations into people in this way..."
From Yahoo News on June 7th"Tony Blair also issued a statement apologising on behalf of his government for actions that were "wrong". Byers' successor as transport secretary, Alistair Darling, has ordered a halt to any similar "dirty tricks" in future. " It seems that Carwyn wasn't listening.
July 3 ~ We salute one person who admits he was wrong....
Perhaps the very first example we have come across of a public figure prepared to admit publicly he was wrong is Maxwell Fordyce of the Scotsman. Leaving aside his continuing blind spots about the "success" of the handling of the crisis in Dumfries and Galloway and naive assumption that Bobby Waugh was somehow responsible for the whole tragic fiasco, we do nevertheless praise him wholeheartedly for writing this morning: " The debate is, inevitably, about vaccination. Showing how wrong you can be, I recently took comments by Professor Ian Cunningham, chair of the Royal Society of Edinburgh committee of inquiry into foot-and-mouth in Scotland, to mean that its recommendations would be in favour of slaughter. Wrong. Later this month the report will recommend vaccination and criticism of the policy of contiguous and three-kilometre culling will feature.
...... it is clear this is a hurt unlikely to heal, no matter what recommendations are made for the next time." (The Scotsman)
July 3 ~ Carwyn Jones - one arrogant step too far.
Fellow students of the 2001 UK foot and mouth tragedy will share our open-jawed astonishment at the latest attempt by Carwyn Jones to smear over the truth with the cheapest and most blatant of political jibes.
"At a session of the inquiry in Strasbourg this week, a former Welsh rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones put it on the record that the evidence of Mrs Morgan and other farmers should be taken with more than a pinch of salt....."
He simply hasn't got it, has he. The MEPs toured all the worst affected areas. They were certainly taking large pinches of salt in Cumbria. In Wales, they realised that what they were hearing was horribly close to what they'd heard in Cumbria and began to think.
By the time they heard the likes of Ann Morgan and references to the "These nameless faces behind closed doors who decided whether our animals should live or die" they were literally in tears and Signora Redondo was very visibly sharing her (and our) grief. On they went to Devon. At Knowstone there was no longer any doubt in their minds. The Forest of Dean simply emphasised what they all now knew (in spite of the best efforts of a certain Labour apologist to fling blinding pinches of salt in the eyes of all) Caroline Lucas was heard to say, " .. 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. .."
Not surprising then that those responsible should now seek so desperately to undermine the truth and try to discredit those brave enough to speak out.
"Mr Jones said that the farmers the inquiry spoke to in Wales "should surely have their political backgrounds taken into consideration". His comments drew expressions of disbelief from other members of the inquiry and representatives of the farming community..." And from us too. An utter disgrace. See Robert Ulig's article in the Telegraph today.
July 2 ~ "What nonsense! There are no rigid answers to these questions."
In response to the news report on our newspaper page this afternoon:
"David Hill, prominent livestock farmer and former chairman of Devon National farmers' Union, said that despite the suggestion that vaccination would be introduced, nothing had changed for that policy to be adopted.We have received the following exasperated email:
Mr Hill said: "There are still many unanswered questions. We have yet to be told what animals would be vaccinated, where animals would be vaccinated, if there is an outbreak in one part of the country will animals all over the place have to be vaccinated, how often will vaccinations have to be done and so on. "We also need to know if vaccination prior to slaughter will be done. If vaccinated animals are not to be slaughtered then how will the Government stop a two-tier market developing.
"Until we have the answers to these questions, it is utterly impossible for me or any other farmer to give a definitive and unqualified welcome to vaccination." Western Morning News
"What nonsense! There are no rigid answers to these questions Surely it depends on the situation which will include the number and location of outbreaks and of known dangerous contacts and the characteristics of the strain? The implementation has to be tailored to the circumstances - by the real experts (not the modellers). If David Hill doesn't accept this, who does he propose to be in charge next time? How can he have the nerve to talk for "any other farmer"? "
July 2 ~ Latest reports suggest Aujeszky's was a false alarm
See this report from the Northern Echo..." Last night, Stewart Houston, a farmer from Bedale in North Yorkshire and chairman of the food producer group of the National Pig Association, said: "No signs of it have been found on the farms and it's beginning to look as if the original tests are a case of 'false positives', which can happen. "We were extremely worried at the end of last week but I feel a lot more comfortable about it now.
"However, we are not expecting the final test results until Tuesday."
July 2 ~ The contiguous cull policy was based on epidemiological models showing how the disease would spread.
The trouble was that the data in the models was disastrously wrong. The mathematical modellers did not understand FMD transmission nor effective methods of control while those who had experience of or knew how to control foot and mouth disease were effectively sidelined. Those who DID know and understand did all in their power to try to get the government to listen. And in spite of their eminence, their international status and their years of experience, no one in the government was prepared to admit they could be wrong. No one listened. And even now, those responsible are too noisily claiming they were right to be able to listen. It is this that makes the 2001 FMD crisis such an unmitigated disaster
No lessons can be learned because the truth is not being reported. Here is some of that truth (see Nicola Morris' latest report):
The government justifies what was referred to on File on Four as "massive overkill" by saying that -"The animals involved in the cull policy on contiguous farms (those adjacent to infected farms) cannot be considered as "healthy". In fact, due to the high concentration of the disease, significant number of these farms were incubating the disease at slaughter Dead animals tell no tales - especially when there is no possible way to perform post mortems on burned, buried or rendered corpses. But we, armed with the scientific and epidemiological data, the apparent complexity of which seems to defeat the journalists, dispute the government's assertion in the strongest possible terms. See below
- There were 10,509 Premises culled in the crisis - that is ten thousand five hundred and nine farms or premises whose animals were killed. Only 12.6% of these had a positive test result - ((675 Cumbria, 121North Yorkshire, 99 Devon, 88 Dumfries, 58 Northumberland, 57 Durham, 44 Lancashire and 42 Powys, all other affected counties have less than 20 IPs. We know which counties they are in but we need to know precise locations within a county lto understand how the disease spread and, when the all important locations are finally released, it is likely that the vast majority of these will turn out to have been in the heavily infected county of Cumbria.)
- According to DEFRA's latest figures, 8226 farms that never reported disease nor had it clinically diagnosed and on which it was never subsequently diagnosed with a positive blood test were nevertheless "culled out" as a precaution. This is 78% of the total of premises killed.
- 1981(87%)of the premises with suspected evidence of FMD were tested.
- Less than 10% of the farms killed as a "precaution" (contiguous, 3km, or DCs) were tested
July 2 ~ Contiguously killed animals were NOT likely to have been incubating disease
David King, the Chief Scientific Adviser, gave an example which has been extracted from NAO Inquiry report (18/06/2002) (3.93 p 70) to demonstrate why - even though animals killed were not showing signs of disease - they were likely to have been incubating disease. It looks plausable
Date contiguous premises infected with virus Date contiguous premises culled Date clinical signs would have appeared if premises had not been culled 25/03/01 28/03/01 30/03/01
BUT...The date on which most contiguous farms would first be exposed to infection will be the day before clinical signs appear on the (IP) infected premises ( in the above example, 25 March) because before this time there will simply not be enough virus produced by sickening animals to affect the contiguous farms .
In this epidemic, since blood testing was not done to ascertain disease in advance, most infected premises were found the day after clinical signs appeared. (So, in Prof King's example above, the infected IP farm would have been identified on 27 March along with its associated contiguous farm. By 27 March the contiguous farm - if infected - would already be 2 days into its own incubation period, infected but not yet infectious.)
The VITALLY IMPORTANT thing to remember is that - because of lack of manpower and inefficient slaughter organisation - there was a 4-6 day DELAY in slaughtering the contiguous farm (see evidence of this)
the 1-2 day delay in identifying the infected premises and its associated contiguous farms coupled with the 4 to 6 day delay in slaughter on contiguous farms means that by the time the slaughter teams came to kill animals on contiguous farms clinical signs would have been apparent if the animals had been exposed to FMD virus. And yet this was not so. When farmers complained that their slain animals were perfectly healthy they knew they were right - and they were right. No farmer would have objected to his animals being taken out if they really were posing a risk (farmers made no objections in 1967 to the sensible policies adopted) - but, in 2001, the heartbreak of knowing that his stock was being sacrificed to save the government's face was altogether too much to bear.
July 2 ~ Had apparently healthy animals really been incubating disease, as the government voices continue to assert, new data shows that it would have been obvious at the time of slaughter
- since delays in slaughter times meant that the disease had time to develop if it was going to. It did not.
- We now know that many of these pre-emptive culls (40%) took place around so-called "IP"s where there was no laboratory evidence of disease at all. (Pirbright tests are at least 90% reliable and probably almost foolproof in fact)
- The modellers' predictions about likely infection were subsequently found to be very inaccurate. As reported in October in Nature 4/10/2001 vol 413, when the epidemic data was reanalysed in July, the Imperial team found that the spatial relationship between index cases and secondary infections was not as they had previously believed. They acknowledged that contiguous farms were less at risk of exposure than their March model had predicted. They had overestimated the likelihood of spread.
See the latest analysis from Nicola Morris
July 2 ~ "It was as if, as a captain of a platooon, you were taking your orders from a clerk at the Ministry of Defence rather than through your colonel.
Foot and mouth disease control needs a cadre of experienced and trained people who can direct it: there simply weren't any - or there were so few or so handicapped by admisitrators and politicians that they were sidelined. It was almost as if, as a captain of a platooon you were taking your orders from a clerk at the Ministry of Defence rather than through your colonel. The reason for that of course is that the State Veterinary Service was absolutely decimated in the middle pof the 1990s. There's a Black Hole there, a deficit at the very centre from which eveything else, everything else has ensued." (Alan Richardson, an veteran of 1968 and an experienced veterinary surgeon during the cull, talking (File on Four) of his deep disgust at the way the foot and mouth crisis was handled)
July 1 ~ Throckmorton is now leaking.... the misery continues
The excellent Mr Peter Luff (MP)who has asked so many useful Parliamentary Questions about the foot and mouth fiasco, now says a contractor who helped build the Throckmorton pit in his Mid-Worcestershire constituency told him it was not prepared properly. Ananova reports. "Now people living nearby have been struck down by sore throats," he told BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme.
"I have heard from one of the contractors involved in actually digging out the cells and he believes that the preventative measures that were planned were not put in place properly," Mr Luff said.
"It should make people very alarmed and I do hope the Government is going to look at this very seriously." "There may be serious environmental and health issues which will also have to be looked at in the environmental impact assessment. I think that will make very interesting reading," he added.
The Government has already had to deal with material leaking from burial pits dug to take foot-and-mouth carcasses, according to Farming Today. Matter from the Great Orton pit in Cumbria was taken away in tankers and pumped into the Irish Sea for more than six months last year, it said. The situation only came to light because of parliamentary questions tabled by the SDLP MP for South Down Eddie McGrady. The Government told Farming Today there was no risk from the material because it was treated before being pumped into the sea....
July 1 ~ Genuine democracy in Action: European Livestock Alliance sends out its first Press Release
"We feel that the situation in Europe has reached a point where the above mentioned factors must receive attention from those directly affected and involved... ...ELA as an international platform expects interested parties from other parts of Europe to join in due course, as threats continue to develop on almost a daily basis.
ELA working groups have already commenced working. One of them dealing with controlling FMD through vaccination.
Dr Simon Barteling and Dr Paul Sutmoller , both distinguished scientists, have produced a valuable paper which was presented and very well received in Brussels.
A second working group deals with BSE, Scrapie (TSE's) and related diseases giving priority to studying the epidemiology of TSE's. Because of the confusion surrounding the subject there is no consensus. ELA would like to receive a contribution from anyone concerned: scientists, breeders etc.
Other areas of interest may be swine fever, chlamydia, and tuberculosis in livestock. If you are sympathetic to the ELA cause you are invited to join us. ..."
June 30 ~ Dr Yves Leforban (Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome) said the possibility that vaccinated animals could be carriers had been over-stated
At the EU Temporary Committee on 17th June Professor Fred Brown called for the vaccines to be perfected and evaluated. Dr Kris De Clercq, from the Belgian Ministry of Public Health, advocated the development of mass virological screening as a means of avoiding mass culling in future... The policy (of vaccination) was abandoned in 1991 for trade reasons as importing countries were unwilling to take the political risk of accepting imports of meat and dairy produce from vaccinated animals. Dr J Pearson, from the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) stressed, however, that OIE rules did not actually ban the exporting of products from vaccinated animals. All the experts were adamant that there was no danger to human health from consuming products from vaccinated animals... ( from www2.europarl.eu.int)
June 30 ~" a slaughter policy which the government stresses is absolutely necessary"
The angry people of the little hamlet of Throckmorton were constantly reassured by Maff/Defra that the carcasses of "only healthy animals" were buried at the land-fill site visible from their houses. Now - to the almost disbelieving amazement of the 180 villagers at the way they have been so cynically manipulated - seven hundred and fifty political asylum seekers are to be detained at the site.
Healthy animals? Where from? In answer to the horrified realisation that literally millions of healthy animals died in the contiguous culling, the constant cry of the government spokesmen such as Elliot Morley and Margaret Beckett was -"The animals involved in the cull policy on contiguous farms (those adjacent to infected farms) cannot be considered as "healthy". In fact, due to the high concentration of the disease many of these animals may already be incubating FMD. So in order to combat the disease our strategy remains focused on a slaughter policy which the government stresses is absolutely necessary"
So - if Mrs Beckett and Elliot Morley are to be believed - none of the animals killed could be considered "healthy". So where could these 150,000 beasts ending up at Throckmorton have come from? It is a mystery.
No. Even New Labour cannot have it both ways.
Now, the International Herald Tribune takes up the Throckmorton case. " THROCKMORTON, England "What sort of image does it send if we say to the asylum seekers, 'We'll put you in a camp near the largest landfill in Worcestershire, next to a trench full of 150,000 rotting animal carcasses - and, by the way, it'll be three miles to the nearest bus stop?'"
June 30 ~ "dangerous lunatics are still in charge"
Jonanthan Miller's column in the Sunday Times today concludes, "..... I phone Defra, the department of rural lies and death, to ask whether there are any plans to rehearse a response to future animal epidemics in co-operation with our European so-called partners, after last year's foot and mouth fiasco. This would seem prudent to me..... A Defra spokesman told me, after consulting an official he would not name, that no such exercises are planned nor required since Britain is an island! I promise you - this is exactly what he said.
The only conclusion that can be drawn is that while the name on the ministry door has changed from Maff to Defra, dangerous lunatics are still in charge.
Respect for farm animals is an important value...... "How a people treats its food and herd animals is a measure of its humanity." Don't mistake our point. We eat meat ... and lots of it, we just don't believe in mistreating our dinner when it is on the hoof. "
June 29 ~ the initial models used in March 2001 have yet to be published in full for independent peer review.
From a letter in the Veterinary Record this week ".... The Sheep Veterinary Society believes that a policy based on computer modelling alone should be abandoned, especially when it is our understanding that the initial models used in March 2001 have yet to be published in full for independent peer review. Future planning must involve veterinary risk assessment .....
Furthermore, we would also urge policy makers in the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy field to be equally aware of the potential limitations of computer modelling and for the need to always place increased reliance on verifiable scientific evidence wherever possible .
Ian Gill (President), Chris Lewis, Colin Macaldowie (Secretary), Sheep Veterinary society, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik EH26 0PZ"
June 29 ~ Ministers to back foot-and-mouth vaccine
What do you do when you realise that - in spite of all your best efforts at misinformation, persuasion, propaganda and downright intimidation - the two "independent" reports into the UK Foot and Mouth disaster are still going to advocate vaccination and condemn your handling of the crisis? We eavesdrop on a lesson in spinning into control.
June 29 ~".. he is understood to have persuaded Dr Anderson to tone down some of his comments"
Today's Times lead story, after the usual jibe at farmers, says:".... The Times has learnt that an official scientific inquiry headed by Sir Brian Follett for the Royal Society will recommend scrapping the slaughter policy which saw ten million animals killed and the devastation of Britain's rural economy last year."...." healthy animals should be vaccinated to prevent the disease spreading and that there is no reason why meat or other products from such livestock cannot then be sold on supermarket shelves. "......
"Mr Brown, who was moved from Agriculture to the Department of Work and Pensions after the election, is believed to have been singled out for failing to take decisive action to prevent the outbreak turning into an epidemic.
However, he is understood to have persuaded Dr Anderson to tone down some of his comments. The final report is likely to acknowledge that ministers were facing a virtually unprecedented situation and had to make decisions under intense pressure. .."
We have a certain sympathy for Mr Brown. That Dr Anderson has been persuaded to "tone down" his comments is unlikely to surprise anyone - but they may well be surprised by further revelations about the crisis and its handling that are still to emerge.
June 29 ~ No dithering from Mr Morley
Elliot Morley November 6th 2001: "I do not accept that it was dither. The recommendation to us was taken by our chief vets and our chief scientists with the advice of the chief scientists advisory group. I understand that it was unanimous advice. We therefore recommended the vaccinisation but it was clear that, to do this, you did need majority support and you did need consensus within the farming and the food industry. That consensus was not there at that time. There has been an ongoing debate in the course of that vaccination. I think these are very important issues for the lessons learned report and also the Royal Society investigation to look at...."Efra Committee
Elliot Morley June 28 2002: "I am a firm advocate for vaccination as part of a contingency plan. I only want to have a policy of 'vaccinate to live' - otherwise what is the point?"
Elliot Morley June 25 2002: "Junior DEFRA Minister Elliot Morley defends the contiguous cull. He says they'd do it again in the event of a future outbreak" File on Four Programme
June 29 ~ "DEFRA ... set its face against vaccination and refused to listen to the scientific or economic evidence that supported it"
"a massive loss of trust between the farming community and Defra officials"
"The fact that ministers, including the Prime Minister, many of whom were privately in favour of vaccination, felt unable to resist these vested interests was a clear failure of leadership. "
"The case against the vested interests was made, with passion and conviction, by those who had worked with the disease throughout the world and knew it better than most. It was advanced by molecular biologists and by veterinary scientists, and it was urged daily by a group of campaigners, some of whom had never encountered an animal virus in their lives, but who were sickened by the slaughter. They picked up the science as they went along and conducted their campaign ceaselessly by e-mail and on the internet.
Their victory, if such it is, will be a slap in the face for Defra, the government department that set its face against vaccination and refused to listen to the scientific or economic evidence that supported it. The result has been a massive loss of trust between the farming community and Defra officials. ..." Magnus Linklater, who has been one of the few voices of journalistic integrity during the crisis, writes in today's Times that "Prevention was always better than slaughter" (See Best of the Press pages) It is a welcome antidote to another article in the same paper (not surprisingly, now New Labour's favourite paper ) the second half of which is pure spin
June 29 ~ That useful flying pig
A piece of information overlooked in the thick fog of accusation and counter-accusation over the poor ailing sow at Dawkins abattoir and her very timely appearance, is that the owner of Selby mart is quietly asserting that the sow did not come from his market.
Today's Guardian" According to the abattoir, the pig was one of a batch of 66 bought at a mart in Selby, North Yorkshire, by an agent acting for Dawkins International. The pigs would have come from several farms. Last night, however, the owner of the mart denied that the pig had come from it. "
June 29 ~ How many more times must we hear " The farmer who is thought to have started the Foot and Mouth outbreak has been today etc..."?
Mr Cosgrove QC (incidentally, personal friend of Gordon Adam, New Labour MEP) in his opening comments to Judge Prowse, said
"There is no charge either laid against Mr Waugh, nor available to be made, which can make such an allegation. Detecting where the epidemic started is irrelevant to your deliberation."
He made a point of underlining this because, as he put it, there had been much "public speculation about the origin of the disease."
Today's Independent reports "The judge said he had reminded himself during the case that Waugh was not standing trial for being the source of the foot-and-mouth outbreak. "You are not to be a scapegoat for what happened after,'' he said.
If, in a cheap and lazy desire for the dramatic phrase, journalists imply that foot and mouth can be laid at the door of Mr Bobby Waugh, they are very much to be criticised. Even theDEFRA report on June 21 had to make it clear that the way the virus entered the country is still not known in spite of the careful vagueness of "The origin is believed to have been a pig finishing unit in the North-East of England....." The fact that the true origins of the outbreak are not being urgently sought and the Waugh farm being used as a convenient scapegoat while the government stays (just) on the right side of the libel law, raises its own questions.
June 28 ~ "The judge also imposed a curfew order on Mr Waugh, which means he will be electronically tagged
and won't be allowed to leave his home between 8pm and 7am for the next three months." Sky News says "The pig farmer accused of starting last year's devastating foot-and-mouth outbreak has been banned from keeping farm animals for 15 years."
"...After a three-week trial, Waugh was found guilty of denying to vets and Ministry of Agriculture employees that his animals had the highly-contagious disease up to a week before it was first discovered at an Essex abattoir."
For an "unofficial" view of the Waugh verdict see www.warmwell.com/may31jobson.html
Electronic tagging.....what on earth do they imagine this unfortunate man is going to do that needs this sort of demeaning surveillance?
Burnside had received its annual licence inspection by Mr James 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, Counsel for the Defence continually asked Mr Dring to explain how it was that he had continued to license the premises, and to explain how he had continued to file his six-monthly reports, over the course of several years, by 'ticking' the box marked, 'Satisfactory'
We deeply deplore cruelty to pigs- and there have been rather a lot of pig scandals lately although they , particularly those involving BQP, have hardly received much notice in the press nor been subject to reports in the public interest from DEFRA . Has Lord Carter been tagged we wonder? What about the Scotpigs man "King" Arthur Simmers? We can think of a few vets too who ought to be the subject of surveillance.
June 28 ~ More untagged swine - the Missing Pig
How quickly the demon farmers are blamed! The market not know the provenance of the "suspect" FMD pig? This was not a flying pig - not in most senses anyway.
The farmer sends his pig to market. The pig now becomes the responsibility of the market. Trading Standards/Animal Welfare Officer have responsibility for all stock at market. If the pig is sold to an abattoir it has to have a animal transportation certificate in order to move out of the market. Now that pig is the responsibility of the transporter/haulier until the poor creature arrives at the point of destination marked on the certificate. It has to go straight to that destination; no stopping within 8 hours.
If this poor sow was so ill upon arrival at Dawkins it should not have left Selby market - nor should the haulier have accepted it on the lorry. The haulier is in breach of the Animal Welfare Transportation section of the act for carrying the animal. The act clearly states that animals going to slaughter have to be in a healthy condition " fit" for slaughter . This animal should have been isolated in the market and a vet called. All markets put animals from individual farmers into pens and mark those pens. As all farmers know, it is nonsense to suggest that they cannot trace the farm of origin - unless of course, they are prepared to be considered totally incompetent.
No animal would have been accepted in market had it not worn an ear tag. Journalists and politicians - please note - this is NOT an "irresponsible farmer" problem. It is a DEFRA/Trading Standards problem.
June 28 ~ Alice Stewart has died at the age of 93.
In the 50's Alice Stewart made the hugely important discovery of the asociation between irradiation and cancer and showed that a single diagnostic X-ray to a pregnant mother could double the risk of childhood cancer - her reward - "She never again received a major grant in England". If Dr Stewart had discovered that radiation was good for you, she might have won the Nobel Prize but, since (like Mark Purdey, Dr Dr Arpad Pusztai and many others) she was the bearer of bad news, she was sidelined.
The practice of X-raying pregnant women ceased in the 70's. The Woman Who Knew Too Much is a biography which details the ways in which the establishment stonewalls threatening information. We have come to know all about that in the past unbelievable months. However, Alice Stewart's favourite saying was "Truth is the daughter of Time" and we are happy to go on repeating this after the death of this brave and remarkable British woman.
June 28 ~ Rather than admit it was wrong, the Government clings to a policy that caused widespread anguish, lasting misery and inconceivably huge financial losses. This is a government that refuses to accept accountability, one that will try to cling to power, maintaining against all the odds that it was somehow for the good of the country that such bloody destruction was wrought.
"Junior DEFRA Minister Elliot Morley defends the contiguous cull. He says they'd do it again in the event of a future outbreak"
This statement was made on the File on Four Programme with no comment from the interviewer nor any attempt at justification from Mr Morley. Yet the programme convincingly demonstrated that the contiguous cull
- was introduced when the spread of disease was already in decline or stopped
- was pushed by mathematical modellers and a Science Committee with no understanding of the disease or of its transmission
- resulted in the needless deaths of millions of animals
- may well, by further overloading a system under extreme pressure, have prolonged the crisis because of local spread caused by cull workers and vets themselves
June 28 ~ Dr Sheila Crispin from Bristol University's Veterinary Department doesn't just have moral objections. She believes the cull may even have prolonged the epidemic.
(File on Four programme) "We may even have made the situation worse rather than better because we overloaded a system which was already working under extreme pressure. I think, for example, that it is accepted that the 24 hour target to kill infected animals and the 48 hour target to kill contiguous premise was very rarely met. It may have actually extended things because of course you had lots more movements of people involved in the culling process and I know that on occasions the cleansing and disinfection of individuals was not as good as it should have been - and that includes slaughtermen and veterinary surgeons themselves so potentially, the very people involved in the culling, may have helped spread disease."
"Nick Green...felt that farmers were being unfairly blamed for spreading foot and mouth so he began to collect evidence of poor bio-security by Maff officials and contractors. "This is a picture of a cull lorry that's waiting to pick up dead stock and you can see the trailer part of the lorry was tipped up and coming out of the back was red-coloured leachate pouring all over the road, and here you can see probably around 1500 pregnant Swaledale ewes but as you can see in the photographs here they just leave their bio-suits lying on the floor and there's a yellow bag there containing all the bits and pieces bloody suits and everything and indeed on numerous occasions I've seen bio suits blowing around the road, covered in blood and all sorts."
June 28 ~ But Mr Morley dismissed any suggestion that Maff workers spread the disease.
"All our officials and contractors have very clear guidelines about bio security. We did receive a number of complaints about people working on behalf of the Department breaching bio security. They were all investigated and hardly any of them were actually shown to be true." Yet he followed this statement with "But where there were cases either contractors were warned or in some cases they were dismissed"...Why? Why warn or dismiss officials or contractors if complaints were "Untrue". And what of the complaints which, according to such experts as Jon Dobson below, were never investigated at all?
June 28 ~ "you find that spread of disease was actually stopped by the time the modellers started taking over the policy.."
The Agricultural Minister announced that in Cumbria and across the Scottish border all sheep within a radius of three kilometres should be slaughtered. The "contiguous cull" policy was based on epidemiological models showing how the disease would spread. Paul Kitching was then in charge of the nation's Foot and Mouth Control Centre, part of the Animal Health Laboratory in Pirbright. He believes it was a serious mistake. "What unfortunately happened was that the whole programme got hi-jacked by the Science Committee and the Science Committee consisted mainly of modellers and then it was no longer in the hands of the veterinary services, the people who actually had experience and knew how to control an epidemic disease. It was now in the hands of mathematical modellers who were then advising the Prime Minister - and some of the Science Committee Meetings I went to were very much as I would imagine the Mad Hatters' Tea Party because they seemed to be totally out of touch with reality. If you look at the number of new outbreaks that had been recorded per day and subtracted from that the incubation period, you find that spread of disease was actually stopped by the time the modellers started taking over the policy - so the consequence of following a model was you had a gross overkill of animals in order to control the outbreak. Of course the modellers say, "Well we got the thing, the outbreak under control, and yes that's true - but then they could argue that if you slaughter every susceptible animal in the country you can get it under control within 24 hours." (verbatim from BBC File on Four)
June 28 ~ Elliot Morley denies that the contingency plan was inadequate
In the BBC's File on Four programme on Foot and Mouth, Elliot Morley said "The scale of the outbreak was unprecedented and really there wasn't any contingency plan that could have prepared for something on this scale ..."
One wonders why he thinks so, since only eleven months previously the EU Commission had said to ALL Member states, "The Commission notes the deteriorating situation and recommends that all member countries should learn from the experiences of Japan and the Republic of Korea, Iran and Turkey to strengthen and heighten their preparedness and awareness of the risk of Foot and Mouth disease."
Mr Morley continued, "All scenarios are looked at but of course there are lessons to be learned from this...."
He carefully used the present tense. The fact is, as Jenny Cuff pointed out, that the 2000 "contingency plan" looked at only the most modest scenario. It owed nothing to the highly detailed EU blueprint put out in 1993. Had that set of sensible instructions been followed, particularly as regards LOCAL DISEASE CONTROL CENTRES and, even more importantly, its suggestions for the setting up and keeping in constant readiness EXPERT TEAMS and its section on TRAINING there would have been no need for "lessons to be learned" since they would already have been learned by the putting into practice of these detailed, practical plans, so carefully worked out already by April 1993. But MAFF denied the need for local expertise and "Expert teams" were never to be used. Instead, as Paul Kitching says,"The whole programme got hi-jacked by the Science Committee - the consequence of following a model was that a gross overkill of animals took place".
"Because the contingency plan is designed to be able to ramp up you see and the number of cases, the initial ones, are relevant to this. .." continued Mr Morley drifting into incoherence. " Of course, having experienced the dreadful outbreak there are lessons for us to learn from this and we don't dispute that and that's why we must build this in, in future contingency planning and of course hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it..."
Hindsight may well be a wonderful thing - but so is foresight. The 1993 EU suggested plan - had it been followed - would have avoided the unmitigated disasters that are now coming to light and - what is worse for the government - now also coming home to roost.
June 27 ~ Lord Whitty's inconsistencies
After a study of the debate on the Hansard pages :
(1) Lord Whitty said that the Donaldson material was not before the court in Winslade. Correct.
(2) He then said it is "not relevant" whether that material was before the Court. Incorrect (because Winslade was treated as an airborne spread or nothing case).
(3) He then said that the material was referred to by the farmer's legal representatives. Incorrect (and somewhat inconsistent with (2)).
(4) He then said that the Ministry "have always been as open as possible about the advice received during that period". Incorrect (and inconsistent with the admission at (1)).
(5) Lord Whitty said the Upton case was completely irrelevant to the legality of the contiguous cull. Incorrect (because the risk assessment the Judge carried out for the animals on the adjacent premises was carried out on the assumption that the only possible spread was airborne).
(6) Lord Whitty then said that the Judge in Upton said that "the action of MAFF in carrying out the contiguous cull operation was reasonable". Incorrect (and quite extraordinary, as well as being inconsistent with (5)).
Finally, the peroration, viz. "the legality or validity of the contiguous cull strategy is well established in case law and European law" appears to be nothing more than delusion.
June 27 ~ Scrapie in Germany - the Final Solution...
"If you study the most basic rudiments of the history of scrapie from around the world, it becomes clearly evident that this disease does NOT spread via animal to animal contact or via ingestion of the one by the other. " Mark Purdey shares our sense of utter bewilderment at the German killing of sheep as a result of one case of scrapie. Icelandic farmers have always eaten scrapie sheep.. "So if scrapie can be passed onto humans via consumption - as the authorities would have us believe - why have no cases of CJD erupted in these Icelandic sheep farmers? In fact, Iceland has only ever witnessed two cases of CJD in its entire medical history, and these victims had both hailed the scrapie-free district in the far south of the country.....please could one person from this select clique of "experts" who are promoting this global masterplan just explain what scientific grounds you are working on ?" Read Mark Purdey's email here.
June 27 ~ "It wasn't news"
The decisive EU FMD Inquiry meeting at Knowstone last week was high drama. It was about literally a whole community alight with the desire to recount their experience and their outrage. There was hardly any standing room left in the hall. The people of Knowstone were expressing, in an atmosphere electric with human passion in spite of the passing of more than a year, their account of what happened to their community when MAFF descended in the middle of the election campaign to destroy their healthy animals; the terrified bellowing of panicking animals, the rural terrorism carried out very early in the morning by the very "authorities" that had been hitherto trusted, the bullying of people who had committed no crime but wanted only to prevent the crime of illegal killing. This was the background to the disgraceful Winslade case in which vital evidence about transmission - evidence that would certainly have resulted in a different verdict -was suppressed by MAFF. This was the English case Lord Whitty clings to as giving "precedence" for the legality of the killing of any animal the Ministry wishes to. The entire community of Knowstone were expressing what Lord Whitty chose to call "paranoia" in his bland replies to Lord Willoughby and others on Tuesday night. There were three camera crews and BBC Devon covering the meeting. The EU delegation were staggered by the atmosphere in the tiny Devon village. The accounts they heard moved them even beyond anything they had already heard.
But as far as the National Press were concerned, it wasn't news.
The press, who really could fulfil the function that H.L.Mencken thought justified their existence - to be an effective opposition to the "reigning quacks" - are now interested only in "news" as novelty. Journalists have an extraordinarily privileged position ; hardly surprising - the reigning quacks have made them feel so important that they don't notice that they might just as well be wearing collars and leads.
June 27 ~ Re: Is it the same Morley?
asks Robin Page in today's Telegraph Sir - Is Elliot Morley, the minister for animal welfare, who is concerned about battery hens (report June 26), the same Elliot Morley who backed policies during foot and mouth that killed up to 10 million healthy farm animals?
Is this the same Elliot Morley who, as fisheries minister, allowed millions of fish, accidentally caught, to be tipped back, dead, into the North Sea? Evidently, in the world of Elliot Morley, foxes and hens demand "welfare"; fish and farm animals do not.
From: Robin Page, Chairman, Countryside Restoration Trust, Barton, Cambs
June26/27 ~ "...the shame of FMD" Peter Ainsworth sends us a message
"I much admire the tenacity which you, together with an honourable band of others, have pursued the Government over the shame of FMD, refusing to accept the bulls**t and determined to get to the truth.
The great task now is to help bring confidence back to the countryside; given the challenges it faces - from the WTO, CAP reform, falling farm incomes, transport and housing difficulties, and a Government that doesn't care or understand - this is a daunting prospect.
I have been in the process of setting up a new organisation, Conservative Rural Action Group (CRAG) to help begin this work, and to reconnect rural people with the political process that takes decisions about their lives.
The problem with the Countryside Alliance, CPRE, CLA etc etc is that they are outside the political net. I have been asked to become President of CRAG (so I'm not walking away altogether!). We have a mission statement, a leaflet (rather embarrassingly bearing my photo as Shadow SoS), a bank account, and even a few members! What we are looking for now is enough money to employ a Chief Exec. and we are about to send out begging letters. If there is anyone you know who might be interested in receiving one, do let me know; or if you would like sight of a leaflet I'd happily send you a bundle. Of course I have no idea whether you generally support Conservatism or not; but I've made it possible to join CRAG without joining the Party, and there's no other political organisation doing the same thing.
End of commercial."
June 26 ~ The Hansard pages for last night's debate were eventually published this afternoon
and can be viewed in their entirety here.
Extract: The most persuasive evidence, which was later to blow the Government's case completely out of the water in MAFF v Upton, was two articles written by Dr Donaldson of the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright. The institute is one of the foremost establishments in the world dealing with foot and mouth research, and Dr Donaldson is an acknowledged expert on the subject. Dr Donaldson's papers concerned the risk of airborne spread, which was central to the Winslade case. The Donaldson papers confirmed, first, that infected sheep could not spread infection more than 100 metres, even downwind; and, secondly, that intensified clinical surveillance would be an appropriate alternative to immediate culling. It is highly likely that had this evidence been presented to the court, the judge in the Winslade case would have come to a very different decision. Why was this evidence not available to the court? MAFF was seeking an emergency injunction, and thus counsel for Mr Winslade had only a few hours notice to prepare her case, and Mr Winslade was virtually a prisoner on his farm because he had been served with a movement restriction notice. In cases where applications for injunctions are made and inadequate notice is given to the defendant - I understand that the relevant time period is three days - the applicant for such an injunction is obliged under the rules of civil procedure to make full and frank disclosure of all relevant facts, even if they are unfavourable to the applicant's case....(Lord Willoughby de Broke)
June 26 ~ CULL WAS 'ILLEGAL' BARBARIC DISASTER
Vivienne Morgan in the Western Morning News - covering the Lords debate last night under the huge headline above. We will bring you this report as soon as possible.
June 26 ~ Morley said that "every report of bad biosecurity had been investigated" Completely untrue!
Jon Dobson agrees with Nick Green's comments below and adds, "Last year I filmed several biosecurity lapses by DEFRA and went on Farming Today and in the Farmers Guardian (also Farmers Weekly) about it. Whitty, on interview in both, said he would be interested in having a look at my evidence and they never bothered to contact me. I suppose as per usual we have to do the legwork and pester them until they accept our invitation to look at our evidence. I couldn't believe Morley said that every report of bad biosecurity had been investigated as it is completely untrue."
June 26 ~ "Morley blustered unconvincingly...."
Nick Green writes, (extract):"The Radio 4 research team spent 5 hours interviewing me, looking at photographic evidence and reading the leaked documents I obtained proving that Morley lied in relation to the 3km cull.
They used around 15 seconds of my verbal evidence, did not use any of over 2 hours of Fred Brown's interview and completely failed to grill Morley, mercilessly, on why he lied!
Sadly, despite my giving them evidence of the delays in slaughtering, they did not include much of this either!
Morley blustered unconvincingly. To all of us who know the real story, we sat there in disbelief as Morley was let off the hook again!"
We agree with Nick - but the programme is well worth listening to. Few people will be convinced by the poor answers given to Jenny Cuff's questions
June 26 ~ "The Government's cupboard was bare of answers..."
Another eye-witness to last night's questions in the House of Lords, writes: "..Lord Whitty accepted that the Ministry did not put the Donaldson evidence before the Court in the Winslade case; his reason why they didn't was incomprehensible to us - something to do with the Court having evidence of all modes of transmission, to which the obvious retort is
(a) the only issue in Winslade, as the judgment makes clear, was airborne spread; and
(b) why suppress (I use that word because we have known for a long time that they had the material) the best available evidence on the only issue before the Court?
" Lord Whitty said that the farmer's side in Winslade had referred to the Donaldson evidence at the hearing. This was news to the farmer's barrister who, we discovered, was sitting not far away listening - she had not even been aware of Donaldson's material at the time of the hearing.
" Lord Whitty said nothing about the Westerhall decision. This was all the more glaring an omission when at least two of the other speakers referred to the case as well.
as your e-mailer pointed out, Lord Whitty did not address the question concerning the refusal to fight a CC case after Grunty.
Lord Whitty said the Grunty case was irrelevant because it was a DC, not a CC, case. A truly remarkable statement given that Fred Landeg had taken the same line in his evidence ("red herring") and been rubbished by the Judge. Clearly the Minister has either not read or understood the judgment (unless you are one of these who thinks he is attempting to pull the wool over)."
June 26 ~ Hear last night's File on Four
on the internet Hear Sheila Crispin, Alan Richardson, Longtown Market, Paul Kitching, Jan Bayley, Nick Green and others all talking about the massive overkill. Elliot Morley denies everything...extraordinary.
Coleen's comment: "According to Lord Whitty on Radio Four's foot and mouth programme last night the cost of compensation to farmers for their animals was still going up right at the very end of the outbreak. This was not picked up on by the reporter - but am I wrong in believing that the Government slashed the compensation packages relatively early on in the outbreak? I am sure I have newspapers articles of farmers saying they were not even getting the 'market' value towards the end. "Whitty had nothing to say - infact the reporter said it was "the same old mantra time and time again." How I bet they wish that this would all go away. They have NO idea, what they have done - and why we still want answers.
"What I fail to understand is why the people affected by FMD are being blamed for the costs of the cleaning up operation. The fact that some farmers were being paid £15 per hour to clean their own farms - well is that not the fault of the Government for allowing such ludicrous prices. After all if I was offered that rate I would not turn round and say - I will do it for less! Contractors making fortunes, and again according to Whitty over 40% of claims for cleaning up operations are being investigated. He told the reporter they were bogus claims. Lord Whitty - if you and your fellow colleagues could not control the 'cleaning' up process - how might I ask did you ever hope to control the virus?"
"There are lessons to be learned" he said. What an understatement, Lord Whitty"
June 26 ~ "Lord Whitty hedged his way around all the questions from the separate speakers
and was reminded just before they ran out of time that he had not answered all 5 questions from Lord Willoughby de Broke" writes an emailer who watched the debate. " Just listened to it. Very good. Lots of speakers that I cannot name. Lord W spoke straight from S Smith's supposition and asked 5 specific questions. The last (and killer!!) being along the lines of why they never pursued a case after losing the Grunty case. He (Lord Whitty) waffled something about a written answer...Lord Whitty (who was looking and sounding extremely rattled) hedged his way around all the questions from the separate speakers and was reminded just before they ran out of time that he had not answered all 5 questions from Lord WdeB. He waffled something about a written answer. I did not record it so cannot give you a transcript but "our side" were brilliant.."
It will be very interesting to see Hansard and, in due course, the Minister's written answer . It is certainly the opinion of some people that he was out-whitted by Lord Willoughby de Broke whose probing questions and comments received the determined backing of other peers. For Lord Whitty to have said that the Upton case - after which there were no further attempts to take farmers resisting the cull to court - was "irrelevant" was ludicrous. The fallacy that the UK government is legally entitled to kill as many healthy animals as it chooses was shown in the debate to be utterly indefensible.
June 26 ~ "The incorrect clinical diagnoses would have been known by SEERAD and DEFRA HQ, and also the DVM in charge in this area. In spite of this, the mass slaughter was pursued relentlessly.
"For the whole of Wigtownshire, there were only 2 positive results, yet nearly 90,000 animals killed, and how many livelihoods destroyed?"
Anne Lambourn writes, "I asked Peter Ainsworth to table some PQs for me (on behalf of a farmer, originally) to try to ascertain the scale of slaughter of healthy animals in Wigtownshire, part of Dumfries and Galloway. (The Questions, 56623 and 56624, are copied below). This region is included in the area that Roger Windsor was referring to in his letter from 40 vets from Dumfries to Tony Blair last April. In it he spoke of the "scorched earth policy" of mass slaughter, that was carried out "without rhyme or reason". (Carolyn Hoffe, with her 5 pet sheep - Wigtownshire).
Briefly, 15 Premises were clinically diagnosed as having FMD. 13 were tested, but only 2 actually had FMD.
The total number of animals on these 2 Premises was 1129 (299 cattle, 803 sheep, and 27 pigs) as stated in answer to PQ 56623 below.
However, in addition to the animals on these 2 genuine IPs, another 88,446 animals were automatically slaughtered in Wigtownshire, after a decision was taken on 15 March to cull all contiguous and 3 km premises. (Total of 89,575 animals slaughtered obtained from DEFRA website some months ago, but as DEFRA has been adjusting figures, the current figure may be higher).
Tests were only carried out on 3 other premises besides the 13 IPS, and these were 3 SOS premises, all of which returned negative results. See full text of the letter and answers to Parliamentary Questions
June 26 ~ "All this, Sir, was thrown out of the window as the massacre of animals proceeded and the incompetence and the mistakes pale into insignificance when compared with the lying, the bullying, the intimidation, and the massive misuse of the police."
this speech, given to the Council of the RCVS on June 6th last year.....
"Lies! You, Sir, will know yourself that a senior female member of MAFF/ SERAD telephoned you on a Sunday morning to say that because of my actions there were no vets working either "on the Cull" or doing the regular diagnostic work. You 'phoned me; I checked with a friend at the Dumfries Centre and with the vet-in-charge and both confirmed that work was proceeding normally. You can probably guess the object of the call.
The sorry story of vets examining herds and flocks of animals and, when finding them free from disease, signing the Form A declaring the farm to be an infected place, will forever be a blot on the reputation of MAFF. Vets were told by senior members of our profession that if they did not sign a Form A, then the livestock would be killed and the farmer would receive no compensation. Farmers were told that if they did not co-operate in the slaughter of their sheep then their cattle would be taken as well. Doors were broken down by police to tear away pet goats from young girls. A retired vet in Dumfries who lived in the wrong place had his goats killed although there was a large housing estate between him and the infected farm. He had been involved with the '67 outbreak, knew the disease and volunteered to keep his animals under close observation. The animals were killed. The widow of a veterinary surgeon had the door to her house broken down by the police so that her five pet sheep could be killed. It was a pity that they broke down the wrong door. The animals were killed. " So spoke Roger Windsor MBE. MA (Cantab), BSc (Edin) BVM&S, MRCVS
Anne Lambourn's latest letter about figures and Parliamentary Questions asked, reminds us of this first hand account of the killing in Dumfries and Galloway, later grotesquely to be held up as an example in how things 'ought to have been done.'
June 25/6 ~ The Divisional Veterinary Manager had wanted to blood test and not proceed with the Contiguous Cull (Forest of Dean) but told the group that the UK Government would not allow this.
The EU Temporary Committee into the UK foot and mouth crisis heard how Mr David Parker, the DVM, attended the Forest of Dean Action Group's meeting last year and "within 45 minutes had told us that he wished to blood test and not proceed with the Contiguous Cull - but that the UK Govt would not allow this.
However, he agreed to halt the cull and support us in lobbying the Govt to agree to blood test. 3 weeks later - with the cull still suspended - the Govt agreed to test.
All 34 of the Contiguous Culls that had been directed in the Forest of Dean gave negative results when lab tested. ..." (See the full text)
June 25/6 ~ "Their honesty and commonsense is commendable. It puts the government, most politicians of all parties, much of the veterinary profession and the farmers' unions to shame.
I've had many a caustic word to say about the inaccurate information on imports being disseminated. The accompanying xenophobia has added insult to injury and damaged Britain. It is a real pleasure to see that the group has such a good grasp of the true situation...." Pat Gardiner has read the NFMG presentation to the Eu at the Forest of Dean and sends these comments along with his congratulations
June 25/6 ~ At the Great Orton burial pits....from the ½ million (481,000) sheep that were sent for slaughter and buried there only 1 farm was definitely identified to have had the disease.
From the NFMG presentation to the EU Committee at the Forest of Dean In Gloucestershire 326 farms were culled, but only 46 were tested, and of these only 13 gave positive results.
Heref/Worcs: 394 farms culled, 49 tested 15 lab positives
Shropshire: 131 farms culled, 8 tested 5 lab positives
In Wales, only 60 lab test positives were confirmed - but 806 farms were culled.
On Anglesey only 5 farms proved positive in the lab - but 244 farms were culled.
In the county of Wigtownshire only 2 farms proved positive in the lab - but 218 farms were culled.
At the Great Orton burial pits....from the ½ million (481,000) sheep that were sent for slaughter and buried there only 1 farm was definitely identified to have had the disease.
June 25 ~ "the true scale of the slaughter had not been realised by most of the general public"
From Mrs Anne Lambourn "I have submitted evidence to the Cumbria Inquiry, emphasising firstly that there has been considerable misdiagnosis of FMD, resulting in needless slaughter of healthy animals, and secondly that the true scale of the slaughter had not been realised by most of the general public. This in part has been due to the way in which the figures are presented, and to omissions.
Even with the reply from DEFRA Carlisle, I still feel there may be loopholes, and that these latest figures still do not reflect the true scale of the slaughter. (I asked the Inquiry if it would be possible to take an area e.g. Penrith Spur and study that in depth to compare the official figures with what actually happened on the ground).
N.B. DEFRA figures have not, until the "data cleansing" of recent months, taken account of the progeny of the animals, so obviously the figures are still too low.
How are the antibody positive animals recorded?
An NFU official told me that he thought the figure quoted for the slaughter in the Penrith Spur was too low.
Similarly, another farmer told me that the scale of the slaughter was much greater.
The Welfare Disposal Scheme figures are not included.... " (see the correspondence)
June 25 ~ We will be watching the House of Lords this evening..
The timing of the starred question on the legality of the contiguous cull is unfortunate. The debate will take place in the "dinner hour" this evening - but we hope this will not prevent from being in the Chamber to support Lord Willoughby de Broke those absolutely sterling peers who saw off the original Animal Health Bill in March. The debate will be published here as soon as possible.
June 25 ~ ".. so many positive achievements,
and we have to focus on those - the OIE decision was extremely significant, there is real and crystallised public opposition in place to ensure that this all never happens again, the EU Inquiry is listening, and I am sure, in view of all the evidence on the current vaccines and tests, that the RS will recommend vaccination - not prophylactic generally in Europe, but ring/firebreak whatever to ensure that the insane slaughter policy is never repeated. There is too much at stake reputation wise if they are to be associated with further medieval slaughter policies." Message of cheer from Anne Lambourn. To this we'd add the evidence given by the scientific experts last week, the persistence of Channel Four in following up unanswered questions about the government handling of FMD, CSF and related meat scandals, the fact that eminent politicians in the House of Lords, motivated solely by a wish to uncover the truth, will be pressing Lord Whitty again this evening on the legality of all the killing of the healthy animals - and not least because when a government supporter such as Gordon Adam MEP starts heckling, he is turned on with weary irritation by all who actually understand the issues. Although Sisyphus has been heaving the boulder upwards for a very long time we feel the gods are relenting. The top of the hill might now really be in sight.
June 25 ~ "As far as I'm concerned, Mike German is part of the cover-up"
said the Conservative rural development spokesman in the Welsh Assembly, Peter Rogers. Mr Rogers says that on Anglesey the real total of confirmed cases was less than half the reported 13. He also says that cuts in the State Veterinary Service probably contributed to the failure of the government to respond effectively to the crisis. He also said that failure to use any of the recommendations of the Northumberland Report which followed the 1967 foot and mouth epidemic was the real reason for the chaos. In response to the report of the National Audit Office, Mr Rogers said: "I think the report's only a partial reflection of what happened. There's a lot that the report doesn't mention ...... more animals were actually killed than were ever recorded. This is because frequently lambs weren't counted when the ewe was dispatched.
"It is details such as this which should be addressed by a full Public Inquiry into the issue. Instead Rhodri Morgan's had the cheek to appoint Liberal Democrat Mike German to be rural development minister. It was the Liberals in our Agriculture Committee who voted against the Assembly conducting a Public Inquiry. As far as I'm concerned Mike German is part of the cover up."
June 25 ~ "Were the early signs of FMD ignored?"
For those with stamina - Radio 4 Tonight, Tuesday 25th June 2002. File On 4.
June25 ~ "the barbaric conduct in Britain last year was a disgrace to humanity"
said Professor Fred Brown F.R.S, O.B.E at last weeks EU Inquiry. Indeed it was - and the signs are that the Temporary Committee of the European Union conducting their Inquiry into FMD are more and more aware that this cannot be denied. The voices of protest from those who watched with horror from a distance and the expressions of anguish from people who suffered and were traumatised but who have nevertheless spoken out have been backed up by the scientific experts who, last week, roundly condemned the unnecessary extent of the culling. Many others have condemned the killing on grounds of illegality. There will be an important question asked tonight in the House of Lords about this. Sooner or later, as a result of these persistent voices, the truth will out - in spite of the extraordinary lengths the government spin machine has gone to, to try to silence them.
June 25 ~ why was there no PUBLIC, OPEN meeting in Cumbria?
"I remember listening to horrific stories emanating from The Brecon Beacons during last years crisis. Horrific stories of how 4,500 sheep had just been killed! There was public outcry and of course this was horrendous. But, as one local Cumbrian wrote "4,500 dead sheep go past my window every day!"
I heard yesterday that a relation of one of my farming friends is still being haunted by the horrific events of last year. This man, living and farming in a remote part of Cumbria, had all his stock killed under the 3km cull. They were healthy. Three generations of breeding gone in a morning! That stock laid rotting and stinking on the floor for 17 days! He was alone. His mother, who also lived on the farm had to be removed before the slaughter as she was undergoing medical treatment. She was given less than 24 hours to leave. She has never returned. This man is a mental wreck and will never be the same...." (More)
June 25 ~ ".. it could be some other poor county's nightmare next time"
Coleen, anxious that the letter above should not be interpreted as meaning that Cumbria feels itself more important than any other county to have suffered, sends this, (extract):"...everyone deserves a fair hearing ... I would have to say whether a county lost one farm or hundreds and hundreds it was still one farm too many. Numbers are not the most important facture here. The way it was handled - or not handled, is the key issue.
.... it could be some other poor county's nightmare next time.
We all suffered equally at the hands of DEFRA. We all lost perfectly healthy animals. ...probably the reason that NONE of us are being listened to, is this. That you really had to witness and experience first hand the attitude and the actions of Maff/Defra to fully understand just what a regime we were fighting against. In terms of numbers in the farming community the loss was high - but taken in terms outside of farming - the loss was miniscule. That is where the crux of the matter lies. Plainly and simple we are insignificant."
Not to us, Coleen!
And be comforted by the fact that you are being listened to at last. There are more and more people, here and in the wider world, who are realising that the 2001 UK foot and mouth disaster will - in spite of all the attempts to cover it up - go down in history as a disgraceful and wicked catastrophe, an avoidable disaster for animals, farmers, tourism and UK businesses. And for what? Just exactly what was being protected?
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