Earlier Front Pages
April 29 ~ "We were asked to reconsider the entire situation related to the crisis ......
From the Western Morning News report on Saturday about the MEPs' trip to Devon. "We were also asked to make recommendations that the communities living in the neighbourhood of the landfill sites are given blanket compensations for blight of property. Finally we were required to consider the possibility of vaccination for animals infected with the disease in case of another outbreak." .....Visiting the site run by Viridor, a company owned by the Pennon Group, Mr Watson (South West Euro MP Graham Watson) explained: "We heard a lot about Heathfield and wanted to see what really happened there. We will meet local residents who have complained about experiencing health problems and will definitely keep them informed of the outcome of our investigation." . .
Sue comments, "Remember my question about what DEFRA did with the leachate from burial sites? Well, in the case of Heathfield it was discharged into the sea ...one wonders whether it was treated before being discharged and whether it was proven to be harmless to river, estuary and marine life...... I love the bit from Viridor ..."We intended to tell the people about the Government's decision to use the site as a burial pit, but they found out about it before the initial date we fixed for publicising the fact." "
April 29 ~ A decision must be based on science and welfare, rather than on politics?
At the May meeting in Paris of the OIE, there will be a vote on a proposal to change the OIE Code on vaccination without slaughter such that the period of waiting before regaining freedom be reduced to 6 months if vaccination is followed by screening for antibodies to nonstructural proteins of FMDV in the vaccinated population. At the request of Mary Marshall, this will be discussed at the next DEFRA Stakeholders meeting on 9 May, where a DEFRA vet will be present to explain the UK's position and to answer questions. "DEFRA have agreed that their decision must be based on science and welfare, rather than on politics," says Ms Marshall.
New OIE proposal :
April 29 ~ "over the last hundred years there are only a few cases where circumstantial evidence suggests the introduction of new disease by carriers. This circumstantial evidence does not exist for vaccinated carriers."
Dr Paul Sutmoller in an email sent to the December Brussels conference. Yet we are still hearing the old nonsense about water buffalo trotted out. Dr Sutmoller's email here links to the list of points he made jointly with Dr Barteling. Had they been properly studied and understood we would be in a very different situation now. Yet Professor Roy Anderson has the impudence - there is no other word - to stand up in Aberdeen and prate about honesty, openness and the "gaps in our knowledge".
April 29 ~ Cattle allowed to graze GM maize.
Lawrence writes to alert us to a farming today item this morning. "....Alan Simpson [email@example.com] Labour MP for Nottingham South described how he had put down a question about the monitoring of these GM releases. Michael Meacher's reply was that there are rules for GM sugar beet: but maize like T25 are merely subject to an 'industry agreement'.
Alan Simpson drew attention to the dangers indicated by the inadequate tests which 'give science a bad name'. He said that those who breached the agreement, by, for example, allowing cattle to graze on fields planted with the test crops should be able to be called to account: and that after he had put down his question, he had heard from farm workers and observers giving specific field locations and cattle ref nos. where cattle had been allowed to graze the GM maize. ......our Government and our Civil Service, in the form, presumably, of DEFRA [wearing the old shoes of MAFF] don't require proper safety testing, let alone environmental impact assessment, before these potentially highly dangerous organisms are released into our environment and our food [note that cattle were allowed to graze the test crop] and that no one with our interests at heart is monitoring what is happening. I am horrified. (see Lawrence's full email)
April 29 ~ "These measures make it look as if we still have a foot-and-mouth proble m and I am open-mouthed at some of the silly rules suggested to control it,"
Adrian Johnston, the chief executive of the Newark and Nottinghamshire show. For bio-security run mad, see today's Times report (also on the newspaper page)"....New rules that ban cow pats from showgrounds...... People will be forbidden to touch bulls, dairy cows, pigs or llamas. Sheep are already banned from being included in the shows. Show organisers believe that some of the controls are unworkable, unnecessary and will be extremely expensive to adopt. ...... Among other rules are a regulation which states that cattle must be isolated for 20 days after attending a show. A show on farmland must also be left empty for 28 days before and after the event. This means that there can be no grazing of animals during that period. ..... Mrs Godman Law, Chairman of the South of England Show council, who farms near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, has told Ministers that if they were really determined about new rules, then she would strongly advise the Government "to insist all footpaths crossing farmland where livestock are grazing also be closed down with immediate effect"......" A Defra spokesman said that the rules represented "good agricultural practice and were based on veterinary risk assessments". ...." The crazy regulations proliferate...Utter madness.
April 29 ~ "Like so much else that this Government seeks to do, it will further undermine the Briton's ancient right to liberty from the state's interference".
Opinion column in today's Telegraph. "The law as it stands reflects that fact, in 11 separate Acts of Parliament governing our treatment of animals. There is now a strong case for updating and simplifying those laws, so that all those who deal with animals know exactly where they stand. But there is no case for the sort of extension of the law that the Government is proposing.
Until now, it has been an offence to inflict unnecessary suffering on animals, and that is as it should be. But the Government plans to introduce a new offence of treating animals in a way "likely" to cause suffering, whether or not it actually does. This will be a charter for busybodies to report their neighbours to the police or the RSPCA if they feel that the budgie next door has not enough room in its cage, or that Mrs Jones has been snapping at her dog."
April 29 ~ "Critical witnesses, including two outspoken senior vets Roger Windsor and Alan Richardson, were allowed just a few minutes at the end. At least when Redondo tried to cut short Nick Green of Heart of Cumbria he managed to wave her impatient interjections aside until he had finished.
Private Eye's Muckspreader is not impressed by the EU Temporary Committee ".......the greatest drawback is the investigation's complete lack of structure. A succession of witnesses like Nick Brown or Lord Whitty turn up to read out prepared statements. MEPs' questions are then lumped together in batches, giving all the witnesses a chance to comment on whichever bits of the questioning take their fancy....
As an ex-civil servant La Redondo is notably deferential to 'official' witnesses, like Brown and Whitty, who are allowed to drool on way over their allotted time and to get away with absurd claims without being challenged. But when it comes to witnesses who challenge the government line, Redondo can barely bring herself to be polite. Having been summoned to Brussels, vaccination expert Dr Keith Sumption was allowed barely five minutes.
April 29 ~ "Unofficial papers, however expert and relevant to proper understanding of the crisis, are ignored"
According to the report in Private Eye this week, which seems extremely well informed, we learn to our great consternation that, "Almost all the documents circulated by the inquiry secretariat are from official sources. Unofficial papers, however expert and relevant to proper understanding of the crisis, are ignored. And when researchers asked for tapes or transcripts of the evidence, to check what witnesses had said, they were told these were being kept under lock and key. Tapes can only be listened to under supervision. ...." This is deeply worrying since it suggests that the very mistakes the UK government made, sidelining the real experts and relying on those with sharp elbows but little understanding, are being repeated in Brussels. It suggests that papers such as Val Lusmore's painstaking analysis of the mathematical modelling are simply not being looked at. The OIE itself is driven by forces that seem to have little to do with common sense. People who persist in believing that our lives are in the hands of generally benevolent experts are very sadly mistaken. To many, it seems that the time is fast approaching to reclaim responsibility and fight back against the dead hand of centralisation.
April 29 ~ "My cull is with the Ombudsman too"
writes another farmer today."I have complained about no Form A and how I feel this is mal-administration. Our MP, Mr Brown, wrote me a letter to say that he was sorry but that they will not be issuing any Form A now. This was not sufficient evidence for the Ombudsman who needed to know that I had exhausted all communications with SEERAD before they could get involved. I got a letter 22/4/02 from SEERAD who said that there was no record of a form A being served. Thats funny because they sent me a letter a year ago to say that Form A had been changed to a Form B. The Ombudsman is walking hand in hand with me as I travel this last part of the road. I am sure it must be quite an insight.
I write because I wish to let your writer know that many people are fighting their own battles and thanks to this web site we can know about it. Best of luck! Hang in there."
April 28 ~ 8. Massive killing and disposal cannot be carried out with sufficient bio-security and, therefore, represents a high risk of spreading FMD
This statement, one of several in "Points to consider in the prevention, control and eradication of FMD" (see left menu) presented to the Brussels conference in December, is "substantiated by literature references and our own experience gained in many years of FMD research on pathogenicity, epidemiology, vaccine technology both in the laboratory and in the field."
"In the UK - and in The Netherlands at the beginning of the outbreak - computer models, which had not been validated by practical experience, guided the eradication measures. This led to "circle" stamping-out of supposed contacts and to create a "fire corridor". However, FMD virus does not spread in mathematical circles and livestock on many farms were killed unnecessarily."
April 28 ~ "So the Gretna meeting did get to hear about FMD handling in Dumfries and Galloway"
writes a participant The only problem is they did not say the things that suited the Brown/Murray (Local Lab MP/MSP) line. ...Brown/Murray are certainly correct to assume that the Gretna meeting showed that there were TWO points of view about how FMD was handled. Could it be that Murray and Brown are worried that this delegation might listen and that the result will be unfavourable to the government? It seems that they are too late to worry.
The truth will out.
April 28 ~ "5000 lives snuffed out, but not one animal tested for fmd."
An account of the Forest of Dean Memorial Service for the free-roaming sheep by Diana Jeynes "....A short distance away is the place where 5000 free-roaming Forest sheep and lambs were slaughtered just over 1 year ago. I have been past this place few times since last Spring. I am hoping that our little service today may lay the ghosts which have haunted me since that period of killing caused so much despair. Last year, the road was closed off to the public in this beautiful place where the innocents were brought in their thousands to meet their death. An act so awful and obscene for its wanton destruction of so much healthy life, many just weeks, days, hours old. Some being born as their mother died at the slaughterman's hand and meeting the same fate. Today the woods are peaceful....... If you did not know, you could not imagine the evil act that took place here.... there were only 13 confirmed cases of fmd in the whole of Gloucestershire.. we gathered to remember all the other healthy animals that were slaughtered all over the country, and the tortured and caring people who lost their own lives as a result of the obscene policy which led to the slaughter.... Poppy (16) got permission for the event and enlisted the help of local newspapers, local radio and The Western Daily Press to publicise the service. She wrote letters, gave interviews and spoke on the radio, and as a result of her efforts we had a wonderful service... "
April 28 ~ "The Ombudsman has agreed to investigate the handling of the cull of our sheep"
writes a farmer today. And adds, "After so many dashed hopes that someone independent would look at what SEERAD did, say it was very wrong and castigate them for it, I am almost in tears. .... I do want the guilty exposed for what they are. I do most earnestly want them punished. I don't ever want this atrocity to be able to happen ever again. ....... I do not know what the outcome will be. .... I try not to put too much reliance on the result. Cynicism does tend to creep in. But this is supposed to be an independent inquiry into what went on in our particular instance and I sincerely hope that it is.
April 28 ~"I am not quite clear about the claims of excessive slaughter, which do not seem to be backed up by evidence. There may have been a misunderstanding, and I shall deal with that in a moment...."
( Elliot Morley apparently attempting to rewrite History) From Commons Debate 25th April 2002 on findings of Northumberland Inquiry "As for the claim that animals were killed unnecessarily, Professor Dower seemed to be under the impression that there was a 3 km cull in Northumberland. There was never a 3 km cull in Northumberland - he is mistaken."
However, the chairman of the Northumberland inquiry, Professor Michael Dower said "Saying that the 3km cull just applied to Cumbria and not Northumberland does not wash. The evidence we received at our inquiry points towards such a cull. "We were shown by Trading Standards Officers the maps with the 3km circles marked on around infected premises ... And we heard from a significant number of farmers that were not right next to an infected farm whose animals were culled." Prof Dower said that the evidence the inquiry received gave the impression of unnecessary slaughter and he highlighted the case where 16,000 animals had been slaughtered as a result of a rushed diagnosis. (see also)
Mr Morley continued, "Professor Dower and his committee may have been labouring under a misapprehension."
Not at all. Mr Morley is "Labouring" to exonerate the government but he may well find, as did Lady Macbeth, that some things simply "do not wash". (See debate on warmwell page)
April 28 ~ "The most important issue is whether the disease was brought under control-and it was" Elliot Morley
No- this is NOT the most important issue. Any callous fools can stop a disease in its tracks by killing all the potential victims of it for miles around. This is not "success" It is murderous madness.
Mr Morley:" It became clear that biosecurity was crucial. We were pleased that members of the NFU and its president shared platforms with us to try to drive home the message that biosecurity was important. "
Bio-security, that political phrase, was often disregarded by DEFRA vets and slaughtermen. We find it interesting but not surprising that the government and the NFU heirarchy are clinging together so tenaciously in the rising storm of outrage. ( See also on the question of "bio-security")
April 28 ~"We have an obligation to treat animals in the way that a civilised society expects," Elliot Morley.
Sunday Times story...The debate will centre on how far the government is prepared to go to protect pets. The RSPCA wants "five freedoms" to be adopted for all pets and circus animals. It believes they should be entitled to: * Freedom from hunger and thirst - enough good food and water to keep them healthy. * Freedom from discomfort - comfortable cages or resting areas. * Freedom from pain, injury and disease - and rapid veterinary treatment if they are ill. * Freedom to express normal behaviour - so they have enough space and company. * Freedom from fear and distress - treatment that avoids mental suffering. "
Tell that to the unifected animals slaughtered last year on a political whim. Tell that to Carolyn Hoffe whose home was broken into and her five healthy pets slaughtered in her living room. Tell that to Kirstin McBride - and to all those who cared for the animals snatched away and subjected to the joking slaughtermen, paid for by the taxpayer to kill as many animals in an hour as they possibly could. Tell it to the Winslades. Tell it to the lambs lying in agony from illegally used bolts and spikes. Tell it to the animals transported still living to the pyres. Mr Morley and the RSPCA proclaim that we have an obligation to treat animals in the way that a civilised society expects. Blessed be the name of the Minister and the RSPCA.
April 28 ~ "On farming, New Labour is living up to its reputation by facing in both directions at once.
Observer Comment Extra "On the one hand Margaret Beckett and the new Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs have started to talk about changing the huge, cumbersome and environmentally destructive system of agricultural subsidy, to encourage conservation, organic farming and local food production. On the other hand, Tony Blair and his Science Minister Lord Sainsbury are still passionate fans of genetically modified food. GM and organic farming cannot co-exist in a small country like Britain, and in the end the Government will be forced to make a choice.
Finally, Labour must put into practice the joined-up Government it promised. The environment is not the property of one Government Department. It requires action across Government - from ending Britain's uncritical support for the World Trade Organisation, to ensuring that environmental protection is a central objective of our tax system and at the heart of public spending decisions. A green speech from the Prime Minister every few years is just not enough.
April 27 ~ Heathfield Campaigners are listened to by contingent of EU Inquiry
"We are being constantly tormented by these gases (that have not been contained in the designated area of the Viridor landfill site) causing us; severe long term sleep deprivation, our whole bodies shake so severely that we are unable to function, not able to string sentences together sometimes, or to drive our cars! Also electric shock type stings come in waves up over our bodies. Our noses and throats are constantly affected, our eyes made so desperately sore their only relief is to keep them fully closed! We have been told these symptoms are exactly like nerve gases used during the War..." On Friday April 26th a contingent of the European Inquiry: (Graham Watson, Nick Clegg, Jan Mulder who were also accompanied by Mr Richard Younger Ross MP for Teignbridge ) made a visit to the notorious Heathfield Viridor Landfill site in Devon. They had earlier been refused admission to the Ash Moor site - although we understand they were later allowed in. At Heathfield they listened to campaigners - who have had no response from the UK government about their grave concerns. 600 signatures from people who have been made seriously unwell because of the smells & fumes were collected within hours after it was confirmed at 1.30pm on Thursday that the meeting would take place.. (See letter from the campaigners) and compare it with the report about Viridor from the Herald Express on April 8th. Like Snowie, here is a company that is whiter than white...what stinks here is either the site or something else.
April 27 ~ Cumbria Inquiry Report to go to EU
According to the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald today,"The European Parliament's temporary committee on FMD will take in evidence the report and conclusions of Cumbria's own FMD Inquiry, which begins early next month. ....." our own inquiry is independent and non-political. An independent panel of experts will consider every piece of evidence submitted and produce a detailed report, which we expect to publish in July. I fully expect its conclusions to be of not just regional but of national and European significance. That's why it is so important the lessons learned here in Cumbria are considered fully in Europe and Westminster."
April 27 ~ Elliot Morley has dismissed the findings of the Northumberland Inquiry
Today's Newcastle Journal reports: "Earlier this week Food Minister Elliot Morley disputed central claims made in the report in a Commons debate secured by Berwick MP Alan Beith.
He said the Northumberland inquiry had failed to produce evidence of excessive slaughter and rejected its call for more on-farm burial sites to be used in future outbreaks.
But the chairman of the Northumberland inquiry, Professor Michael Dower, last night said he stood by his conclusions, especially in the absence of counteracting evidence from Defra, which refused to attend the inquiry. He said: "Saying that the 3km cull just applied to Cumbria and not Northumberland does not wash. The evidence we received at our inquiry points towards such a cull. "We were shown by Trading Standards Officers the maps with the 3km circles marked on around infected premises ... And we heard from a significant number of farmers that were not right next to an infected farm whose animals were culled."
Prof Dower said that the evidence the inquiry received gave the impression of unnecessary slaughter and he highlighted the case where 16,000 animals had been slaughtered as a result of a rushed diagnosis ..."
April 27 ~I hardly think 'honesty' was at the top of his priority list when he and his friends 'engineered' the presentation of his 'model
Jane at farmtalking.org is irritated by the pronouncements of Prof Anderson, as reported by The Scotsman today. Jane sums up the situation admirably. '"FMD is an infectious viral disease, affecting cloven hooved animals for which there is a vaccine. The only reason the vaccine wasn't used as far as I understand it, was because of a ridiculous agreement that Europe should maintain its self declared FMD free status. Add to that the possibility that our Government wished to reduce stocking levels in the UK and chose to ignore the advice of the 1967/8 Northumberland report - and therein lay the recipe for the disaster we have witnessed. Nothing too 'complicated' or 'scientific' about that is there? Or am I missing something?"
April 27 ~"There would seem to be no power of a blanket contiguous cull policy." (Lord Onslow)
From yesterday's Farmers Guardian "Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty has again been forced on the defensive over the legality of the contiguous cull employed during foot-and-mouth outbreak. Giving evidence to the European Parliament's foot-and-mouth inquiry earlier this month, he said the cull had been carried out with EU approval and that its legality had been tested in the courts. These comments were challenged in debate in the House of Lords last week by a number of peers. The Countess of Mar asked Lord Whitty to give precise reference to the EU approval ' as the relevant directives make no mention of the slaughter of animals not exposed to disease.' "Will he also tell us who are the relevant court cases?" she said. In response, Lord Whitty reiterated his claims that the contiguous cull was legal and hit out at farmers who resisted it, "The legality of the cull is not in doubt," he said. "However it was inhibited and ineffective because we were unable to enter certain premises due to resistance based on the current legal position." He cited two cases which the Government won. MAFF v Winslade and Westerhall Farms v Scottish Ministers. "The British courts and the EU endorsement therefore fully support the comments that I have made in Strasbourg and have repeated today" he said. The Earl of Onslow said, however that a more relevant case involved Grunty the pig in June 2001.......
The indications are therefore that there has been no legal challenge that supports the Minister's contention that the contiguous cull was legal. On the face of it the (EU) directive appears to authorise only testing and examination."
This issue of legality is becoming more and more crucial and it looks as though the government will find it has made the gravest of errors.
April 27 ~ GM crops safety report flawed.
Safety tests on genetically modified maize currently growing in Britain were flawed, it has emerged. The crop, T-25 GM maize, was tested in laboratory experiments on chickens. During the tests, twice as many chickens died when fed on T-25 GM maize, compared with those fed on conventional maize...(BBC)
Meanwhile, Lawrence writes," bear in mind the flaccid under reporting by the BBC of the issues related to Foot and Mouth. [If Farming Today carries such a damning report the true situation is likely to be worse.]....What are the allegiances of the compliant 'scientists who make up the MAFF "Advisory Committee on the Releases to the Environment" [ACRE]. Looking at their website, [http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/acre/index.htm], I see that applications for new places on the Committee closed yesterday. I wonder who Aventis and the like have lined up for the new membership - and to ease their future products into the UK environment? I wonder how they operate in France and the EU, where the maize was approved in 1996?
Points mentioned in the BBC report included comment by respected scientists that the research on the safety of the GM maize [and, note, this was research into the 'direct' safety of the animals eating it - not those eating the animals fed on it - or the environment at large] "wasn't really good enough to base a student project on, let alone the marketing consent for a GM product". (Read Lawrence's important message in full)
April 27 ~ Professor Anderson warns scientists to be 'more honest'
In one of the most breathtaking examples of attack being the best form of defence, we read in the Scotsman today that Professor Anderson, whose "kill-everything-quickly" mathematical modelling led to the destruction of millions of healthy animals last year, speaking at Aberdeen's Macaulay Institute, has said,"the media wanted their science in sound bites, even though these issues were not amenable to being easily explained in a few sentences" He continued, "Scientists should also be more prepared to admit a lack of knowledge," said Prof Anderson. "Many find it difficult to say 'we haven't got a clue' or 'there's no information on this currently available'. For instance, at the start of the FMD outbreak there were huge gaps in our knowledge about the potential effectiveness of the emergency vaccine, about possible transmission routes and about UK animal movements. ...."
It seems something of a pity that this has occurred to Professor Anderson only after all the heartbreaking damage has been done. There were gaps in his knowledge certainly and in the knowledge of the other key players in this fiasco - but the expertise about emergency vaccination , about transmission routes and about UK animal movements was all there, the experts willing and wanting to help. It was ignored and treated with contempt.
April 27 ~ Under the headline "Police State UK"
the American news site World Net Daily is running two articles this morning about the UK FMD crisis. They are well worth reading in full. See newspapers page for summary and links.
April 27 ~ No pat on the back for the Scottish policy
"Something that disturbs me is the praise apparently given to Scotland for its handling of the FMD outbreak by the EU Inquiry," writes our knowledgeable correspondent, Anne Lambourn. "This was the area ( Dumfries and Galloway) where the "scorched earth" policy was applied without "rhyme or reason". Roger Windsor, Dumfries, in the letter from 40 vets to Tony Blair, exposes the madness that was going on. ..... I certainly do not have praise for the Scottish Executive nor Jim Walker of the SNFU. It seemed to me that the slaughter in this area was carried out with an almost fanatical zeal, and my telephone conversation at the time with the particular DVM responsible did nothing to change my view. Roger Eddy in his letter to Tony Blair of April 20th refers to "one ludicrous example" of a slaughter, simply because the sheep shared a field boundary of a few yards (regardless of the fact that these sheep were 6 miles away from the IP).
How can one praise a policy where the following happened: of 15 so-called Infected Premises diagnosed clinically in Wigtownshire (part of Dumfries and Galloway), TWO only of the thirteen tested were actually infected. Furthermore, the 15 farms resulted in a further 203 premises being slaughtered out (mainly contiguous and 3 km), and 90,000 animal were slaughtered, the vast majority of which were healthy. Looked at another way, this means that for every premises that tested positive, another 108 were slaughtered out.
Another madness was the slaughter of 2 pet (quarantined) goats in Craigs Road, Dumfries, 7 weeks after an outbreak on an IP within 3 km - a housing estate in beween apparently didn't stop the plume of virus bearing down on the goat shed. .."(more)
April 27 ~ THE nine-man panel which will head Cumbria's foot and mouth inquiry includes one of the county's strongest supporters of vaccination during the crisis.
Professor Derek Ellwood was one of the first experts in Britain to call for "firebreak" vaccination to stop the spread of FMD. He claimed at the start of April last year that the disease was already out of control in Cumbria, urging a "jab and mark" strategy that would have seen animals injected with vaccine but not later slaughtered. (report in Cumberland News)
April 27 ~ In Scotland, praised for its so-called "local control"; the truth is that vets were taking orders from Page Street
An urgent email received from Lockerbie about the news item from the Scottish "Press and Journal" report (below) "Please don't swallow the Dumfries and Galloway /NFU line that Dumfries and Galloway did it so well because "the council took control."
"The sight that I witnessed of almost non existent bio-security did not stand up to the most basic test; wiping feet on grass verge, no protective clothing ....True, there did not seem to be the delay between slaughter and transport/pyre, but the vets were taking orders from London. They were constantly on their mobiles to Page Street, when on farms, trying to get advice etc. The farmers around here spoke about this frequently.
It is a pity more of them don't know about this website because it is seeing the sham written down that certainly raises my hackles.
"Evil deeds happen whilst good men sit back and say nothing" ......"
No delays in D and G? Has anyone any comments here?
April 27 ~" Journalists are often defensive when asked why they faithfully follow the deceptions of great power."
"It is not good enough for ITN to say dismissively, in response to the Glasgow Media Group findings, that "we are not in the business of giving a daily history lesson", or for the BBC to waffle about its impartiality when some recent editions of Newsnight might have been produced by the Foreign Office. In these dangerous times, one of the most destructive weapons of all is pseudo-information..."writes John Pilger in yesterday's New Statesman. The article was specifically about how the "response of Britain's media to the conspiracy in Venezuela provided an object lesson in how censorship works in free societies. The episode was a journalistic disgrace...." but the silence or misreporting of the press about the outrages of the foot and mouth policy in this country caused us first bafflement, then anger and finally understanding of the nature of their compliance. It is chilling.
April 26 ~ What happened during the 2001 UK foot and mouth crisis was almost unbelievably atrocious. It was an outrage. It is not to be swept under the carpet
An email has just been received here from a member of the public who knows little about the foot and mouth crisis. It reminds us that we have been close to the issues for twelve long months. It is almost shocking to see the reactions of a normal kindly human being faced with the truth for the first time. He writes,
"I only wish the hideous people who have instigated this policy of mass-killing could be inflicted with the sensations which I experienced when I read the warmwell.com site a couple of days ago. I even considered speaking to my doctor about it. I've seen some nasty things in my time, but reading about these atrocities just got to me in a big way."
April 26 ~"The deep cuts in staffing at the State Veterinary Service were responsible
for some of the difficulties in bringing the UK's foot and mouth epidemic under control last year, a European Parliament committee said yesterday." (Press and Journal)"The MEPs said it had quickly become clear during their visit that a key factor in the UK's difficulties in bringing the epidemic under control was the depletion of the State Veterinary Service. The number of full-time Government vets had over the last 21 years fallen from 564 to 235. The committee is to compare the UK figures with the situation elsewhere in Europe. The committee added: "Another clear lesson from the UK's experience was that the disease can be handled much more effectively at local and regional level than from central government"........"
April 26 ~ "... serious consideration must be given to a Europe-wide policy on using vaccination to control the disease in any future outbreak."
"Wolfgang Kreissl-Dorfler, the German Socialist Group MEP who has been tasked with drawing up the committee's recommendations, promised farmers, vets, businesspeople and Government officials that vaccination, and the related issue of export rules, would be examined in his report. It is expected Mr Kreissl-Dorfler's report will also call for an international strategy on combating foot and mouth. ...The committee, which is made up of MEPs representing all the main political groups, also said there had been considerable confusion on the ground in the UK about the provisions of EU legislation on vaccination and culling and its interpretation. " (more)
April 26 ~ "Committee chairman Encarnacion Redondo Jiminez, of Spain, said the depth of human misery and emotional suffering
caused by the epidemic was an essential aspect of the crisis and would not overlooked in the committee's conclusions. ....During their visit last week, the MEPs visited farms near Carlisle and Hexham, as well as the Longtown and Hexham marts at the centre of the epidemic, and visited Great Orton Airfield, where nearly half a million animals are buried. They heard harrowing first-hand accounts of the devastation wrought by the epidemic. The delegation also met local businesspeople whose livelihoods had been wiped out as a result of the epidemic and who had received little or no support. "
April 26 ~ Sir Don Curry, Chairman of the Policy Commission for the Future of Food and Farming, was interviewed this morning on the TODAY Programme
He called on the Government to get on with funding his proposals and said that we didn't need any further consultation. It was reported in the Times on April 18, the day after the Budget, that Margaret Beckett has made clear that the future strategy for rural reform will depend on the next public spending round in July. The CLA have issued a press release backing Sir Don Curry's demands that his report should be implemented.
April 26 ~"There would seem to be no power of a blanket contiguous cull policy.
See today's Farmers Guardian. "The indications are therefore that there has been no legal challenge that supports the Minister's contention that the contigious cull was legal, On the face of it the (EU) directive appears to authorise only testing and examination."
April 26 ~ "a government who don't care about farmers and the countryside"
The Telegraph today reports that the crisis in agriculture is forcing one of the country's best-known families to quit the land it has farmed for more than five centuries.
Michael-John Knatchbull, a godson of the Queen and grandson of the late Earl Mountbatten of Burma, has announced with "deep regret" that he is to give up the 2,000 acres near Ashford, Kent, that has been farmed by the family since 1485.
He put the blame on poor markets and "a government who don't care about farmers and the countryside".
April 26 ~" There should have been a full inquiry" says David Drew
A letter written by the chairman of the Labour Group of Rural MPs and vice-chairman of the Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee, David Drew, conceded that there should have been a full inquiry. It was written on April 12 from the House of Commons and leaked to The Daily Telegraph. The letter was condemned by Peter Ainsworth as "deeply offensive to all farmers" and betraying "ignorance as well as prejudice" of rural affairs among Labour MPs. "John Berkeley, a Deputy Lieutenant of Gloucestershire who lives at Berkeley Castle, his ancestral home, said he had written to Mr Drew to call for a public inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis.
"I suffered severely, both emotionally and financially, when 11 of my tenants lost their herds to foot and mouth and I had to close Berkeley Castle to tourists," he said. "But I was shocked by the reply I received from David Drew. It was brutal in tone and content."..."Mr Drew conceded that there should have been a full inquiry. But he added that it should "look at all the factors that caused foot and mouth including poor husbandry, over-intensive methods and deliberate spreading of the disease". The sentence that seems to have rightly provoked most outrage was "The nature of what was going on among farmers helped spread the disease."
April 26 ~ Where did Mr Morley's "information" on Uruguay come from?
House of Commons Standing Committee E (pt 3) Animal Health Bill 4th Dec. Mr Morley said in reply to Mr Wiggin "My information is that prophylactic vaccination in Uruguay failed to eradicate the disease, and it is still endemic."
But these are weasel words. Most people listening to this would think a) Uruguay's vaccination programme failed b) There is therefore no point in using vaccination. Wrong on both counts. The OIE website entry for 16th November reports that Uruguay was disease free by August 21 2001 - and it is surely unlikely that no one thought to inform Mr Morley.
We have already reported the factsof the Uruguay 2001 FMD vaccination success. As Dr Sutmoller, with admirable restraint, says of vaccination, "..... it is all about politics and trade and not about science. If the control and eradication in Europe would be based on scientific arguments, vaccination would have its right place in the toolbox against the fight of the disease. Unfortunately, as long as people get the facts wrong (even if they are presented in a straightforward manner) the dialogue will be less then fruitful." (see vaccination pages)
Even the RCVS has got it into its head that vaccination wouldn't work in the UK - a body that one would have thought would take a pride in finding out for itself rather than listening to such nauseating spin as that above - but there are many vets all too ready to assert that their collusion in an outrage against animals and owners was "justified"
April 26 ~ New Labour loves all sorts of good-sounding words like "modern", "radical", "transparent", "accountable", "stake-holder", "fairness", "kids", but gets a bit shy about "freedom".
In a refreshing Telegrah article yesterday, Charles Moore says, "This is a government for whom central control - of administration, the media, of Parliament is the issue. The checks and balances of the constitution are not seen as "modern": they are just a nuisance. The Government's "anti-terrorism" measures turned out to be, in part at least, an attempt to allow government departments to share unprecedented amounts of information held about all of us for whatever range of purposes government might determine. Government Bills, and, even more markedly, measures originating in Brussels, are rushed through Parliament without proper scrutiny. We decided it was time, to use a New Labour phrase, "to blow the whistle". ....Next Wednesday - May Day - the campaign enters a new phase. The Daily Telegraph has joined forces with Channel 4 for a televised conference in London on freedom in Britain today......Free Country Conference, BP Lecture Theatre, The British Museum, London WC1, May 1, 10.30-5.30. Tickets at £10 from 0870 8303 413
April 25 ~ "the fact that the contiguous cull was being found to be legally questionable, and that every time it was challenged in the courts the government gave way, .... played a greater part in the reprieve of Phoenix than the science"
Today's Guardian story about Phoenix reveals the extent of the lying that came from No 10. When Downing Street, (without bothering to inform Nick Brown, David King the chief scientist, Jim Scudamore the chief vet, the Ministry or local Maff offices), gave the press the story of Phoenix' s reprieve, neglecting to tell them that the change (later "refinement") of policy applied only to cattle "Downing Street had turned potentially the biggest public-relations disaster of the whole foot and mouth epidemic so far into a pre-election publicity coup for the government," wrote the Telegraph. The government was portrayed as compassionate, in touch with popular opinion and drawing a line under the horrendous killings of the past three months. " Maff tried to save face by saying it had been Maff officials who had reprieved the calf. Alistair Campbell's deputy lied blatantly but ineffectually that "this was not a decision taken by politicians", pretending that all key players had been involved in the decision
"And this week", reports the Guardian today, "No 10 refined the story again: 'The final decision was taken on the Wednesday morning, following meetings that morning with Nick Brown, Jim Scudamore, Professor King and others.' But Brown was at this time in Luxembourg. "
Certainly the culling did not stop, and it is unlikely that many animals were saved by the shift in policy."(Guardian article)
No wonder the government is desperate to give the contiguous cull retrospective legality by means of the Animal Health bill. The whole affair was a farce; a fortnight later they were still killing contiguous cattle at Bronllys.
GIVE US A PUBLIC INQUIRY.
April 25 ~"Great Orton...The scene of the most horrific animal massacre known in this country and considered by DEFRA as A job well done"
writes Nick Green today, "Anyone who has been there cannot help being moved by the aura of the place. It is an unimaginable place, akin to being, I imagine, in hell. It is interesting to note that DEFRA are to convert this English Auswich into a nature reserve. There will be guided walks and of course the obligatory children's play area. This will not be visited by locals and I can only imagine the very unwary tourist falling for DEFRA`s brain washing brochure detailing the benefits of visiting Gt Orton. Hell on earth. The birds do not sing there, nor do they sing at Auswich.
At Gt Orton there were 4 pens containing sheep gathered for slaughter. DEFRA proudly states that 600 ewes an hour were slaughtered .
This means 150 sheep an hour per pen. One slaughter man killed in each pen.
Therefore a slaughter man could earn: - 150 X £3 = £450.00 per hour. A 4 hour morning shift would therefore bring each man:- £1,800.00. or £3,600.00 per 8 hr. shift. Or £18,000 per 5 day week.
Am I naïve or is it just possible that the undeniable attraction of earning £18,000 per week may just have contributed to the appalling welfare standards witnessed throughout FMD 2001?..." (more)
April 25 ~ MAFF's crimes were not to be discussed.
A stockholder (name and address supplied) in East Anglia writes, "...the writer became steadily disenchanted with the performance of MAFF and, in particular, of the State Veterinary Service. They were hopelessly incompetent and they were faking blood tests...........Finally.... we got a phone call from MAFF to say that Alick Simmons (yes, the professor on the symposium platform at Exeter) a DVM allocated to East Anglia, at the time, was on his way.
I thought he might be coming to apologise, as a consequence of my complaint to the Select Committee about MAFF's faking of blood tests and misbehaviour at our home. I knew that he was informed about the matter by Trading Standards.
I rushed to put together a quick confidential paper, firmly believing that I was helping keep our neighbours on the Continent clear of disease
Not a bit of it. Simmons was more interested in making sure we could not speak about anything he decided was not on the agenda. He was exceptionally rude to my wife, when she tried to speak. MAFF's crimes were not to be discussed.
"We will have no raised voices in this house!" said Simmons, when she tried quietly to interrupt his monologue on what he was insisting we were to do...most of which we believe was actually illegal. He was comfortably ensconced in my chair in our drawing room at the time..."
"....I have now come to realise that CSF was not carried on vehicles, or in the air. They were lying. Simmons knew that there was no risk. That is why they were not worried about their vets faking blood tests. It simply did not matter.
Alas, a familiar story: most of the pigs did not have Swine Fever and it was not being spread by lax biosecurity. They wanted them out of the way. Just as in FMD, the animals simply did not have the illness. " (full story)
April 24 ~ : "The message we have to get across is that now is the time to come out.
"Every business that's been affected - and I can't think of a businesses that hasn't been affected in some form or another - should come forward and claim for the loss of income they have suffered." Mr Tom Griffith-Jones in the Western Morning News who said that in just one day he had received more than 30 calls on the matter.
"Most of the calls were from people who wanted to get behind the whole thing," he said, adding that the recent Western Morning News coverage of the campaign had helped enormously to highlight the need for people to come forward, and some people had distributed copies of the article to give the issue further publicity...."
April 24 ~"it is not enough to claim that, since the epidemic was ultimately brought to an end - that this strategy was necessarily successful"
In the control of epidemic disease (and especially in an epidemic where there is no threat to public health from the infection), economic considerations are highly relevant. Thus, the test of success must include whether the strategy was implemented in the most cost-effective way. Any fool can, at great cost, destroy animals and, by that means, bring an epidemic to a halt but this cannot be used as a basis for claims. Richard North has sent us a memorandum entitled Foot and mouth disease - what went wrong?
April 24 ~ "How can you expect farmers to co-operate when the very organisations set up to lead the way have all failed us yet again?
We think it is time producers voiced their opinion loud and clear to those co-operatives or groups to whom they sell their milk - your time is running out for delivery of your promises!" A very worrying press release from David Handley at Farmers for Action
April 24 ~" will anyone in the Government accept the findings of Dr Anderson's inquiry if, as seems inevitable, it find fault with Ministerial handling of the crisis?"
asks Mr Peter Ainsworth, Shadow DEFRA secretary, who met and talked with Dr Iain Anderson last night and seems to have been impressed. "I have stressed to Dr Anderson that, in the absence of a full public inquiry, which the Government continues to duck, we need his inquiry to be thorough, robust and transparent. It appears from our meeting that Dr Anderson wants the same thing."... See the recent press release
April 24 ~ The Cumbria Foot & Mouth Enquiry is to be broadcast live daily on the Internet -
Latest briefing from Cumbria County Council on their Inquiry. The main Inquiry link is: http://www.cumbriacc.gov.uk/news/footandmouth/inquiry/default.asp There will now be weekly briefings. DEADLINE for submissions this Friday.
Also Farming Today, Radio Cumbria, investigates the EU Inquiry.
April 24 ~ "He dismissed existing FMD computer models as worthless in the UK epidemic."
We have received an account of the Exeter symposium on FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE AND ITS RELATED ISSUES last Saturday from Alan Beat. It amply justifies its opening paragraph "Speakers were smug and complacent, had fixed prejudices and said little that was worthy of repeating here".
However, as a breath of fresh air and real veterinary understanding, there was "Doctor Marcus Hutber, ... He had worked on FMD research at Pirbright under Paul Kitching, and lived in Czechoslovakia for three years where FMD is endemic; there, vaccination of only the cattle had reduced outbreaks to zero despite large numbers of pigs being present. The reason was simply that housed pigs do not pick up FMD by aerosol, so housing with effective biosecurity stopped disease. ...... If slaughter takes eleven months to eliminate the epidemic, as in the UK, the much faster elimination and lower cost of vaccination outweighs the twelve-month trading penalty. If slaughter provides a much faster route to elimination, then the benefits and costs of vaccination versus slaughter can be weighed, and a decision taken, at the very beginning of an epidemic. He described a computer model, developed to make these predictions, from basic input data of farms and their livestock in any given situation. (more)
April 24 ~ "when Professor Brownlie misrepresented the Dutch outbreak of 2001 with false statements about more animals killed per case because of vaccinate-to-kill requirements. I interrupted and challenged him to give an honest account instead
and outlined the facts i.e. Dutch permission was for vaccinate-to-live, Dutch farmers had agreed on that basis, the area vaccinated was generous on that basis, and only after the disease had been eliminated did the Dutch government go back on its word and slaughter instead, for solely economic reasons.
Both he and Dick Sibley admitted that these facts were correct and hastily re-drew their description of the Dutch epidemic.
Janet Bayley....said that the EU was now considering a revision of policy in this area to allow resumption of trade after six months instead of twelve following vaccination-to-live, via the use of tests to distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals.
This was the only opportunity to challenge the speakers throughout a long day." "The question-and-answer session that followed was restricted to pre-submitted written questions, enabling the previous speakers to repeat themselves ad nauseam without challenge."
We are sourly amused to read that Alick Simmons, DEFRA, found himself unable to comment or answer questions about the contiguous cull because it was "government policy". (Other questions, about DEFRA bullying for example, were not put to this official.) Government policy was sacrosanct at an apparently serious symposium? One would be pardoned for believing this Stalinist Russia rather than Britain.More on the Exeter "Symposium"
April 24 ~ Mr. Morley: We will have discussions with a range of international experts. My information is that prophylactic vaccination in Uruguay failed to eradicate the disease...
So spoke the man who, more than any other in Britain, ought to have made it his business long ago to hold such discussions about vaccination. In December, after months of horror for the affected areas, his muddled understanding was still directing policy, as this transcript shows. Is Mr Morley less muddled now? Has he now made it his business to find out about Uruguay's success with vaccination? Will he share the views of the international experts - the real experts - with those most involved; the stockholders? It will be noted too that Mr Morley said "At the moment, we do not have the power to pay compensation" Can it be possible that even the junior Minister at DEFRA has not familiarised himself with the EU Article 11 of the 90/424/EEC: Council Decision of 26 June 1990 on expenditure in the veterinary field? Hardly.
April 24 ~ "Current captive-bolt equipment is not designed for small animals. It is illegal.
MAFF/DEFRA used captive bolt guns to cull infant lambs at Great Orton and elsewhere. Not all TVI`s allowed this illegal practice but some did. The results of this procedure were horrific. The lamb was rarely killed outright and its final demise was brought about after several attempts at extinguishing the animal. Eyewitness reports of lambs writhing in agony on the floor during slaughter. MAFF, under orders of Morley, then introduced the Accles and Shelvoke poultry stunner... During the FMD crisis, technical staff had the opportunity to trial this hideous equipment to see the effect on infant lambs. .....There are many other accounts of MAFF/DEFRA atrocities. I have witnessed many. The fact that DEFRA representatives stated at the EU inquiry "There were no animal welfare problems." is simply a lie. "
The contiguous cull itself was not legal. Here, Nick Green points out that many of the repulsive methods of slaughter were illegal too. This account is distressing.
April 24 ~ Defra department threw away agricultural expertise
Andrew Taylor explained to warmwell how bullying in a DEFRA department (the cattle tracing project (CTS) that developed software for British Cattle Movements System) at Guildford in November 2000 resulted in his being unjustly sacked, just months before his unique combination of farming experience and expertise in farming related software were so desperately needed. "I felt so dreadful about this that I couldn't watch the news about foot and mouth for six months. I felt I could have helped - and that was unbearable." ....""I want people in the farming community to get the best and quickest response from the department - and for that there has to be decent management and decency in its internal dealings." (short account of what happened)
April 24 ~ "Britain and several other EU countries want milk quotas scrapped
and new research to be discussed at a conference in Brussels (today) highlights the economic gains of such a move.
The research by some of the world's leading dairy economists found the overall benefit to the European economy of this plan would be just over two billion euros (£2.9 billion) a year....." See farmgate.co.uk An emailer writes in despair, " if this is the future then it is grim indeed... Facing the lowest milk price for a decade, and we are told to be more competitive ..."
April 23 ~ "It is good to know that so many farmers and others in the countryside approve of what we did."
Lord Moran has written to thank those who sent letters of appreciation to this website thanking him and his supporters for their successful amendment.
April 23 ~ Leachate from Great Orton
Burial at Great Orton from the Foot and Mouth bulletin from Cumbria just over a year ago.
"Some difficulties have arisen at the mass burial site at Great Orton due to the advanced state of decomposition of some of the early burials. Large quantities of liquid leachate have been drained from the pits and sent to sewage works for treatment and discharge into the Irish Sea through the pipeline at Workington." However, we also heard (as reported below) " last year the liquid being drained from the burial site at Gt Orton was being drained and transported by tanker to the West Cumbrian Coast. It was poured, untreated into the Irish Sea. My source was a very reliable local journalist. This may still be happening, I will do some checking"
April 23 ~" The English will, as always, put things right their way - late, without obvious passion and with little warning."
It would not have surprised Chesterton to see that the first mass challenge to oppression would come from the small business sector (Class Law Action) or that it would take a highly legalistic form..
Napoleon's "Nation of Shopkeepers" is alive and well, still hiding their emotions in their wallets and purses and pretending that their cause is only money. ..." Pat G provides a Thought for St George's Day
April 23 ~ " the spider at the centre of a huge web of snoopers and informants in the countryside"
Today's Telegraph Opinion. "Freedom lovers should view with deep suspicion the Government's decision, announced yesterday, to establish a National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit. The official justification for the new police unit is that international criminals make more money from trafficking in protected animals than from any other activity apart from the drugs trade. We very much doubt the truth of that claim.......we wonder about the priorities of a Government that diverts money from protecting British citizens against violence and burglary to looking after Tibetan antelopes and rare orchids.
A sinister aspect of the new unit is that it brings together so many different authorities under one roof. Based at the London headquarters of the National Criminal Intelligence Service, it is to be funded jointly by the Environment Department, the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Scottish Executive. It will liaise closely with HM Customs and Excise and with animal charities such as the RSPB and the RSPCA, politicised bodies which are gradually accumulating too many powers. In short, it will be the spider at the centre of a huge web of snoopers and informants in the countryside.
Used in the wrong way, the unit would pose a formidable threat to freedom. ....."
April 23 ~"I knew very well one man who was ruined by a case brought by the RSPB and Suffolk police "
(email received after the Telegraph Opinion story was spotted) " I'm very disturbed by the inclusion of the RSPCA and RSPB. These bodies are outside democratic control and have, to my mind, appalling reputations for being more interested in a high press profile and their own salaries than real charity work. This development is very sinister and should be opposed by all especially in respect of RSPCA involvement. Rolf Harris has gone to their head.
I knew very well one man who was ruined by a case brought by the RSPB and Suffolk police. This man had a Victorian collection of stuffed birds in his pub. Somebody thought it "inappropriate."
Frankly, I believe him when he tells me he was totally innocent of all wrong-doing. He was broken by the case and lost everything. Almost everybody in rural Britain seems to detest their use of charitable contributions to launch cases on dubious grounds."
"A feature of the recent epidemics has been the secret creation of "joint organisations." There were some very strange meetings during CSF in East Anglia bringing together a range of bodies including several police forces. It is only through Nick Green's inimitable style of home-spun investigative journalism that we know of the Suffolk police's national role during FMD."
April 23 ~ "When the pyres were stopped, it left the yard with a large quantity of sleepers etc. This caused great cash flow problems. MAFF refused to pay
- until the firm took legal action in the form of Breach of Contract. MAFF eventually paid SOME money in August 2001
BUT They were told they would only be paid if they signed a confidentiality agreement stating they would not talk about the dealings with MAFF.
I have the name and telephone number of the woodyard and would be happy to talk to anyone concerning this." From a letter received by Class Law. The truth about the Minisrty's dirty dealings is coming out.
April 22 ~ "MEETING British farmers has left a group of European MPs visibly moved during a whistle-stop tour of areas worst hit by the foot and mouth crisis."
reports the Farmers Weekly interactive under the surreal headline "Euro MPs visit virus farms"
April 22 ~"We used to trust vets and "official" scientists. Now it is plain that they cannot be trusted"
"....Michael was also very sceptical about the reasons for the reporting of bovine TB. He said his neighbour is also due for testing. He, himself, won't keep cattle any more: too much hassle. The family farm had five 'BSE cases'. All, he said, had different symptoms... The first two were old cows with little market value - unless they were "BSE cases" - so they were identified as BSE cases. He suspects that only about a third of the official cases were genuine cases - and that the official statistics are about as reliable as those relating to FMD. He also marvelled that none of the cattle kept on his away fields ever tested positive for TB unless they had been brought back to the main holding - and that a newly tested cow bought in a batch of ten, TB tested clear from the local market was identified as a reactor by the vet, five days afterwards. He doesn't believe that the TB tests and the statistics derived from them are any more reliable.
We used to trust vets and "official" scientists. Now it is plain that they cannot be trusted. As in the case of the salmonella in eggs scam exposed by Richard North and Christopher Booker [see "the Death of British Agriculture"], they collect selective statistics and fudge their test results to suit their own purposes or so that their political or corporate masters can carry out their intentions under the cover of "being guided by science..." a typical email received on the subject of TB, dodgy diagnosis and the political spinning of statistics
April 22 ~ How much more are the British people going to take before they revolt?
The French have proved they are sick to death of spin. Plastered across France are the posters that may well have accounted for the extraordinary success of M le Pen in yesterday's first round of French Elections. "France and the French FIRST" say the words below a picture of a serious le Pen, so different from the simpering faces of all his opponents. So many otherwise silent French are fed up with European bullying, regulations and the imposition of the euro. They love France and French traditions and -forgetting all his other views - believe that le Pen is their man. Meanwhile, in Britain, the BBC who used to be renowned across the world for being the quiet, sane voice of British decency has decided to ditch Frederick Forsyth because "some senior executives do not like his views" . As we read on the news pages of the Campaign for an Independent Britain, "the BBC proves how far it has travelled since the days it spoke for Britain during the Second World War. It is now dominated by those who are only happy at the dining tables of North London pseudo intellectuals, where they can sneer at everything decent about this country, deprecate the views of the ordinary British people, connive at the suppression of free speech, and yet, by the process of doublethink of which Orwell warned, can believe themselves to be fine, upstanding liberal minded individuals." If readers share our affectionate regard for the forthright and witty Mr Forsyth and the refreshing nature of his broadcasts, please could they complain loudly to the BBC or to the press? Here he is, for example, on The abolition of Habeas Corpus . Please ring 0870 0100222 : FAX 0141 3075770 email : firstname.lastname@example.org - and, as usual, we would be very pleased to hear from you too. These letters have already been sent to the Newcastle Journal
April 22 ~ WHERE are they sending the Great Orton leachate?
Susan writes, "Having just read Pet er Greenhill's report on the visit to Gt Orton, a question arises in my mind - WHERE are they sending the leachate from these sites? Does anybody know? And how on earth are they transporting it?"
Anne L, a highly knowledgeable emailer to this site, says "In reply to request by Sue on your website for info re Great Orton, Sunday Telegraph article, Feb 17th 2002, by Francis Elliott (much of article about Birtwhistle) stated that the leachate is taken away by tankers - "about 300,000 litres each day for treatment at special plants in the Midlands." "From the start, however, the principal problem with the mass grave has been the fluid, leachate, seeping form the trenches. Last summer it was producing waste equivalent to that of the sewers of Carlisle - now the engineers responsible for its maintenance say that it is now equivalent to the waste from a small village."
Another emailer writes: " last year the liquid being drained from the burial site at Gt Orton was being drained and transported by tanker to the West Cumbrian Coast. It was poured, untreated into the Irish Sea.
My source was a very reliable local journalist. This may still be happening, I will do some checking"
April 22 ~ Class Law Solicitors (hand) delivered the following letter to the Government today. This signals the beginning of a landmark legal challenge over the Government's handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis.
Class Law uphold that MAFF/DEFRA ignored opportunities to pick up on the disease, and failed to stop all movement of animals for four days after official notification. Scientific evidence and expert witnesses support the case at every stage, and the letter states clearly that the Government acted unlawfully and irresponsibly.
The letter, addressed to DEFRA, seeks Pre-Action Disclosure on behalf of the UK Rural Business Campaign which represents victims throughout Britain. "The UKRBC is fighting for full and fair compensation for all those affected, a public inquiry and the establishing of safeguards to ensure an outbreak on such a scale never happens again. In parts of the country, some were so desperate that they committed suicide....Some businesses have survived, but at a great cost; others have not. Although the disease has now been eradicated, its scars remain - no longer on the animals, but on the lives and livelihood of thousands of people. It is these people who have felt constrained to join together to form the UK Rural Business Campaign " (See full press release)
April 22 ~ " The evidence that our clients have uncovered so far indicates that the Department were negligent in relation to both the detection and also the control of the disease...
...Their failures set out above amount also to breaches of statutory duty, breaches of European law and of Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the ECHR. More particularly, it is likely that the above failures are indicative of misfeasance in public office. "
The Class Law letter refers to alleged failures on the part of MAFF and/or DEFRA to investigate and/or recognise FMD before the official confirmation on 20th February 2001
It points out that in January 2001 there were sheep in various parts of the country which were lame and there were sheep miscarrying. No laboratory tests were carried out.
Export certificates were signed without the necessary checks being carried out.
A vet at a slaughter house in early February, suspected FMD and ordered all the animals to be slaughtered but Ministry tests do not seem to have been carried out to eliminate or confirm FMD.
After antibodies were detected in sheep exported to France and the authorities redistributed the sheep at the points of export (against advice) among various farmers through the country.
The Department permitted the livestock haulier, who had delivered the allegedly infected pigs to Cheale meats, to drive around in the same van without its being ordered to be disinfected.
The letter points out that, contrary to Article 1 of Commission Decision 2001/145/EC of 21st February 2001, the Government appear not to have imposed restrictions on movement .....during which time the disease was free to spread through the UK. (see letter)
April 22 ~ "Ms Lucas said it had become obvious to her that a smokescreen of confusion had been created around the whole issue of vaccination during the foot-and-mouth outbreak."
A news report from the Scottish site,courier.co.uk, reports that Caroline Lucas said that she "felt that the farming unions in the United Kingdom had been less than open about using vaccination as a control method, saying that it could never be anything other than one step away from slaughter." and adds, "Perhaps one reason why a vaccination policy had not been considered was provided by one of the Dutch MEPs who observed just how much the overall control policy had been wrapped up in bureaucracy. In his country, he said that local vets were able to take quick decisions and this was critical in viral disease control. Ms Lucas agreed that it seemed the inability of local vets and ministry officials was a major factor in the disease spinning rapidly outwards."
April 22 ~ Illegal Imports a red herring?
from the same news report (above) "...Carolyn Lucas, a Green Party MEP from the UK, said that the illegal importation of meats used by ethnic minorities was one of the big concerns that had been raised with the touring group of MEPs." - but an emailer comments: "The question of ethnic minorities has been raised again in connection with illegal imports. This tune has been constantly sung by the NFU since the 2000 Classical Swine Fever outbreak in East Anglia. There is no evidence to tie illegal imports with the recent outbreaks...and the desperation of the pig industry, in particular, and MAFF/DEFRA to prove otherwise makes me highly suspicious.
They found the CSF source pig and insisted that a rambler had fed the sow a ham sandwich from a footpath. When it was pointed out that there was no footpath they said someone had strayed from a path "because of mud" and fed the pig a ham sandwich. When it was pointed out that CSF is not carried by cooked ham, they said the ham sandwich must have been made with foreign uncooked ham. How many ramblers do you know that make their sandwiches from non-uk ham?
Then the pig industry published material that, by implication, blamed illegal immigrants. Why?
The fact that the source pig was owned by a company with third world farming interests never got a mention." "Incidentally, MAFF held back the names of both the owners and the infected farms claiming "it was against RCVS rules."
Their field staff were under orders not to identify farms or exact locations. Why?
Then FMD and the story about South African seamen and Chinese Restaurants. Someone in MAFF planted that story. Why?" (full message)
April 22 ~ 'When is vaccination not vaccination? When it is 'foot and mouth' vaccination!" Jim Clapp Veterinary Surgeon.
This 'Quote of the day' ( from Kendal EU Inquiry meeting)was sent to us by Alicia Eykyn who adds, "The trip to The North is now completed. There has been much criticism of the tour, but is my belief ( and I hope I am not being naïve) most of shortcomings were not intentional.
For example, I know for a fact we have the Conservatives to thank for checking with the EU Legal Dept, and clearing up the matter of public or private meetings. In consequence we now know that all meetings except those on 'visits' MUST be open to the public, subject to space available and all may be recorded." Mrs Eykyn also intends to make the following suggestions to the secretariat and feels that if they were taken up, much of the criticism would disappear.
April 21 ~ "Even the short distance from the UK means that Brussels is devoid of the essential fine detail
of the past year and Peter (Greenhill) thinks that after Gt. Orton, the pfennig began to drop about the tidal wave of anger which is building up and was seen to overflow on a couple of occasions. "
Please read Suzanne's message if you too share the tidal wave of anger.
April 21 ~ Warmwell asks, how on earth can Lord Whitty still make out that the contiguous cull was legal? Testily repeating over and over again that it was, does not make it legal.
The "we won Winslade" argument is fatally flawed. Lord Whitty in Wednesday's Livestock debate in the Lords cited the Winslade case as proof that the contiguous culls were "legal". But, by omission, the Ministry misled the Court. Judge Mitting in the Winslade case was unaware of the articles by Professor Donaldson that so impressed Lord Justice Harrison in the Grunty case. Defra had not brought them to his attention - even though Fred Landeg has acknowledged that he had them in draft before they were published on 12th May 2001. This must mean that he had them in late April/early May.
In a letter that has been on this website since last July, Stephen Smith QC, pointed out in paragraph 25: "The judgments of Mitting, J., on which the Ministry has been wont to place reliance are flawed because the Donaldson articles were not drawn to the Judge's attention (even though the Ministry had had those articles in draft for some time before the hearings in those cases). Nor did the Judge have the benefit of evidence from an expert such as Dr. Sumption, Professors Elwood and Duffus, or Dr. Kitching. Indeed I do not believe that any independent scientific evidence was put before the Court on those occasions. "
Our understanding, (from a conversation with Barbara Jordan solicitor,) is that there is a fundamental rule that when you make an urgent application to Court for an injunction without giving the other side proper notice (as happened in Winslade), you must make "full and frank disclosure" of all material facts and matters. But the Ministry never mentioned the Pirbright research into local spread when they made the application in Winslade (20th May). That research was directly relevant to the position the Ministry adopted in Winslade. In short, by omission, the Ministry misled the Court.
Why did Mr Fred Landeg not draw the attention of the Judge in the Winslade case to Professor Alex Donaldson's articles? Was it his own decision? Was it a lawyer's? Was it an official's or politician's? In the Grunty case, where this material was brought to the attention of the Judge, (see paragraph 14 of Stephen Smith QC's letter) Mr Landeg tried ineffectually to make light of it. It is highly likely that that evidence would have made a significant difference to the outcome of the case. However, it does not actually matter whether it would have made such a difference or not; the decision would not have stood if it had been challenged because that material from the Veterinary Record was highly relevant, was available to the Ministry and had not been put before the Court.
(a reminder of what that judgement did to the family)
April 21 ~ "My wife is terrified and we still have a padlock on the front gate of the cottage in a pathetic attempt to try to stop government vets getting back in."
"Both The Chief Veterinary Officer and then Nick Brown the then Minister of Agriculture promised us a full investigation in writing a year ago tomorrow, following a request to the Speaker of the House for protection.
We have heard nothing, but I see that the Defra manager responsible has been promoted, so I guess we have our answer...." Read why Pat will not be responding to EFRA's request for information
April 21 ~ " Last week I challenged agriculture minister Lord Whitty's claim to MEPs that the controversial 'contiguous cull'...had been upheld by the courts"
writes Christopher Booker in today's Sunday Telegraph. "On Wednesday three peers, Lord Monro of Langholm, Lord Onslow and the Countess of Mar, asked Whitty to substantiate his claim. His reply was that the cull was upheld in two cases known as Winslade and Westerhall. "The legality of the cull is not in doubt". When I read this to a senior lawyer involved in the battle over the cull, he was incredulous (his exact word was 'b******s!"). Although the government won those cases, they were resolved on individual circumstances. In no way did they approve the cull in principle.
The nearest thing to a legal test was the case of 'Grunty the pig' last June, when Mr Justice Harrison ruled in the High Court that the government had no power to impose a "blanket slaughter policy" and that, under the Animal Health Act 1981, each case must be assessed individually. In other words, wherever the government slaughtered on general principle it was acting illegally. Lord Whitty thus misled not only the European Parliament but also our own. This strangely casual approach to the truth shown by our agriculture ministers was further illustrated by a saga which began last November when Margaret Beckett based the case for her new Animal Health Bill on a claim that 55 farms around Thirsk had resisted the ministry slaughter policy, 29 of their appeals had been upheld, yet nine were later found to have foot-and-mouth. Following pressure from Lord Jopling, Lord Whitty admitted on December 20 that these figures had been applied to Thirsk in error. They related to the whole of North Yorkshire. In a letter to Jopling on January 10 Elliot Morley further corrected the figures, admitting there had been only 16 appeals from Thirsk and only two farms found infected; and Lord Whitty grudgingly conceded on the floor of the House that the Thirsk farmers had been maligned. Yet, when appearing two weeks ago before MEPs, he without a blush repeated much the same figures for which he had earlier apologised, claiming that in the Thirsk area 27 appeals had been upheld and seven farms found infected.
Again he must have hoped that if he repeated his untruths, no one would notice. It is getting rather a habit. " (full article)
April 21 ~ "The UK could have controlled the disease by vaccination using the present potent vaccines. The cost in terms of money and the suffering of rural communities - including farmers suicides - was many times higher than in Uruguay."
(see article on Uruguay) But from Fordyce Maxwell in Saturday's Scotsmanwe read, "Wolfgang Kreissl-Dorfler, German MEP and former farmer, who will write the committee's report, said that vaccination had not been possible in the UK last year as the epidemic spread too quickly and too far but he expected recommendations for a future vaccination policy to be a central part of his report. Malcolm Corbett, chairman of Northumberland NFU during much of the epidemic, was one of the farmers who met the MEPs at Hexham mart yesterday, and supported "vaccination next time". He said: " It was not possible last year, but we vaccinate animals to try to prevent a wide range of diseases, so why not foot-and-mouth?
WRONG WRONG WRONG. It was perfectly possible. Why have the farmers here swallowed the spin? Why do journalists print that vaccination wasn't possible? They have believed the information that originated NOT with the scientists who knew most about the practicalities of vaccination but with the government, chemist David King, Chief Vet Scudamore and the mathematical modellers. If vaccination wasn't going to work in the UK how did it work in Uruguay? In Uruguay, the outbreak lasted from the end of April until the end of August. The incident rates were comparable with those of the UK in 2001 and were about 50 per day one month after the outbreak. At this point - one month in -vaccination of all the cattle was started. There was no slaughter on infected farms because the farmers resisted the idea. Instead, animals were quarantined and there was a stand still of animal movement. Almost 11 million cattle were vaccinated - the 12 million sheep grazing beside them were not. Vaccination was carried out by the farmers themselves. . On the 26th of August Uruguay had their last case. (see vaccination pages)
April 21 ~ "Yet Mrs. Beckett, as combative, unbending and unwilling to listen as ever, sticks to the discredited old line. She refuses to accept that anything whatsoever of use came out the the Devon inquiry and declares it a mere "local issue"....
"Mrs. Beckett has been in the job for less than a year. Her department has been in existence for the same short period. But when it was set up, from the wreckage of the old Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, rural people were prepared to give it - and her as its new boss - a chance, Her time is now up. Country people are not quick to judge. But they will not be taken for fools. And the evidence has been stacking up against Mrs. Beckett virtually since her first speech in her role as Secretary of State.
She has lectured farmers about accepting change - when the vast majority have been adapting and diversifying in an attempt to stay afloat for years.
She has snubbed invitations to visit rural areas - even though she could have learned a great deal about the problems faced by those people who her department is supposed to serve.
She told country people there was "no problem " with disposing of unwanted fridges in the countryside - as the mountain grows ever higher and the search for a solution remain elusive.
Worst of all she never really connected with rural Britain, in any meaningful way since her very first day in the job. Farmers felt badly served by Nick Brown, the last Agriculture Minister, but at least he listened, tried to understand their difficulties and, initially at least appear to offer some hope.
Mrs. Becket looks like the wrong person in the wrong job with no interest and no answers for the countryside. Her dismissal of the hard work of the Devon foot and mouth inquiry just about puts the lid on it. She has to go."( Opinion: Western Morning News)
April 21 ~ .....Gretna for the visit's only scheduled public meeting, which was due to last about two and a half hours. However, a considerable portion of this time was given over to invited "expert" speakers.
The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald was not impressed by the EU Temporary Committee's visit. "Friday's itinery included visits to Hexham mart, Hadrian's Wall, the Great Orton airfield burial site and the Shepherd's Inn, Carlisle. A number of farms were also visited and the delegation's trip was due to end this morning at the Castle Green Hotel, Kendal, for discussion on the effects of the crisis on the tourism industry.
The itinery did not include any meetings or farm visits in the Eden area. Former Cumbria NFU chairman Chris Woods, of Newby, said: "All they seem to be doing is running around the countryside - they should have come to Penrith and Appleby areas where things really went wrong. Also, I understand the people invited to these meetings were allowed to take a guest, but the guests were not allowed to speak. What's the point of that?" He added: "I'm told that most of the committee members don't speak English, which doesn't help."
There was also criticism of the organisation of the visit, by the Green Party, even though its MEP for South East England, Dr Caroline Lucas, is vice-President of the Inquiry team. She was said to be feeling "deeply frustrated" that her efforts to ensure the public got the right to speak had been "obstructed at every turn". North West Green Party spokesman Vanessa Hall said: " What kind of public inquiry would seek to hinder public involvement like this? This is an extremely important issue in which many farmers and others in the North West feel they've been trampled on." She added: " It's completely wrong of Labour politicians to try and muzzle and nobble the inquiry." ......
April 21 ~ "As for Gretna, the so called 'public' meeting, the 'experts'....three politicians (two Labour) and a SNFU member are a long way from giving the "ordinary" viewpoint.
In fact it was obvious they did not want anyone at that meeting to make any contrary criticism of their slap on the back, "everything went very very well", speeches. No public there - then no one likely to contradict what they are saying. If you don't want the public there - don't tell them they can come. Quite simple.
Better still, stay far away from the very areas that you know you will get the flak - Cumbria (especially Penrith Spur) and Yorkshire. And somebody please tell me, why why why has nobody thought to take their inquiry to Settle/Skipton/Clitheroe area? Perhaps we might find that as the carnage there in May last year was so intrically woven in with all the political decision making about a General Election that the risk of a potentially damaging confrontation might be more than the spin machine could withstand? Is anyone brave enough to go there?" (Elaine, eloquently voicing the anger of many)
April 21 ~ "The 3 day media blitz on Welsh TB - 10 cows in one herd? So what?
we can tell of 72, 62, 46 etc etc from Staffs to Hereford & Glos to Devon. So why? How about to keep the EU party of MEP's (Caroline Lucas, Robert Sturdey and co.) off the trail of one Welsh farmer who reckons he had clinical FMD in October 2000 - and Defra didn't want to know. The media is full of TB and burying the story of this chap, while the EU enquiries are going on. Just like the Sept. 11th - spin city. Or am I just a cynical old hack?" writes a farmer who isn't.
April 21 ~ "Ooooer, Ooooarrr"
comments a sheep farmer in Devon who has cattle too. " I still don't get all the huff and puff about bovine TB. Perhaps the news media just want another "shock, horror" animal story. I noted from Richard North's "Death of British Agriculture" that Sir John Krebs' PhD thesis was on the territorial habits of woodland birds...."
April 20 ~"I heard that the previous night's meeting had been somewhat contentious with the farming and tourism sectors on directly opposing sides. Today there were distinct efforts to try and bring the two sides together".
Elaine sends this account of the Kendal meeting "Luckily we only had a few brief statements from a few of the MEPs present in the Chairman's efforts to give everyone a chance to speak, if only for a few minutes, as they had to leave on time to catch their flight back to Europe.
Amongst those who spoke were the Labour Leader of Cumbria County Council; a selection of business people involved in tourism who spoke about vaccination, Ruth Watkins, Prof Fred Brown and MAFF incompetence as well as their own business problems; a health worker talking about the mental effects of the outbreak; a gentleman from Wensleydale highlighting the problems there; three well known members of the local NFU ( Peter Allen, Steve Dunning & Gordon Capstick) plus another farmer; the vets Helen O'Hare (on animal welfare) and Jim Clapp (on the use of TVIs); a gentleman requesting the EU look at the legality of the contiguous and 3 km cull; and me asking if the EU committee could return to Cumbria again and have a proper fully open public meeting as we did not think we were given a proper chance to air our views at Gretna."
April 20 ~" 'Vets Missed F&M Outbreak' - Sky news tonight
A Welsh farmer is claiming there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease on his farm several months before the national epidemic broke out in February last year. Vernon Evans says some of the cattle on his Aberdale property were showing signs of the disease in September 2000. He claims that at the time, the Ministry of Agriculture didn't make a proper examination of his cattle which were salivating and had sores on their hooves. Mr Evans now wants two dead animals buried on his farm exhumed and tested for the disease. The Welsh Assembly has so far refused to dig up the animals." See Sky News article We are told that, although the spokesman for the Welsh Assembly said " it would be too late to determine whether the animals were infected", RNA tests would indeed be able to determine whether the dead animals had had foot and mouth.
April 20 ~"This tour was unreal. It had all the pride and glory of the Nazi party conducting a Heritage Tour around Belsen..."
Peter Greenhill's account of the EU delegation's trip to Great Orton is essential reading. "I think everyone was stunned into an uncomfortable silence except for the extended chatter of our well-meaning guide."
April 20 ~ "In answer, if your question were to me. Nobody is in control of Defra. I've seen this scenario before. When Labour won power, they were not interested and left a vacuum. "
An emailer writes, "The MAFF civil servants filled the gap with a poorly understood version of Thatcherism aided by some of their big business pals (often Tory grandees ) and the NFU. Their official Mission Statement or whatever encouraged them to believe their duty was to big business, especially once their food safety role was taken away.
I think they thought "*** it" and flew too close to the flame.
Civil Servants of all kinds are very vulnerable if left unguided and unprotected. Thatcherism works well in the economic field, but it needs strong clean government and an incorruptible civil service. It is neglect by Labour and of course they must take the ultimate responsibility, but it is a sin of omission rather then commission.
Actually, I'm far more sympathetic to the individuals concerned than I appear....
I worked very closely with some of Hitler's ex-officers (unrepentant ones too) and I learned the hard way that you must go for the "sin" not the "sinner" but sometimes it is necessary to halt the sinner in his tracks first.
It is for the justice system to show clemency, not us"
April 20 ~ "The whole tragedy is beyond my comprehension. Here was a group of country people, a cross-section of rural society, who had just been through the worst farming disaster for centuries....."
Ten million animals had been killed at the behest of a non-understanding, urban government in cahoots with an out-of-touch agri-business organisation calling itself, inaccurately, the National Farmers Union.
Now that same government wants to criminalise hundreds of thousands of these people because they chase foxes, and this after most of the foot and mouth slaughter - possibly more than 90 per cent - was illegal and involved healthy animals." Robin Page, writing today in the Telegraph
April 20 ~ "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
This website has, for a year, deplored the "insidious encroachment" by the dead hand of centralisation on much that we hold very dear in England and in what was the United Kingdom. Now, we quote Richard North's article from 1997. Then it was concerning the docks blockade and the beef on the bone ban - but how horribly familiar it all sounds. Extract: "...Walter Bagehot, sometime editor of the Economist. I quoted one of his arguments against the steady incursions of centralised government, summed up in the following passage:
"Our freedom is the result of centuries of resistance, more or less legal, more or less illegal, more or less audacious, or more or less timid, to the executive government. ..... We look on State action, not as our own action, but as alien action; as an imposed tyranny from without, not as a consummated result of our own organized wishes". .......And, once again I find myself quoting from the same piece I wrote those many years ago, this time United States Judge Louis Brandeis, in 1928, who warned that,
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion to their liberty by evil minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. ... ".....(read more)
April 20 ~ "Madame Redonda did not chair the Kendal meeting, thankfully
- it was the Dutch MEP Mulder so it went like clockwork and all who wished to speak got a chance, albeit very briefly, a few minutes only. There were supposed to be 50 invited guests - name tags on chairs but mnany did not turn up. Quite a few left through the proceedings too. Although we started off on a tourism theme, it soon became apparent that anything was up for discussion and I really felt that this should have been the open meeting - with perhaps another hour given to accommodate it. "
(email just receivedfrom Elaine)
April 20 ~ Who IS in control at Defra? Why are we hearing information from government vets which is then denied by Elliot Morley?
The TB/Wales story appears to show a crack emerging between HMG and the SVS. Mr Pugh evidently spoke without consulting. He is out of order by Whitehall rules. It is quite normal and right, not to allow multiple contacts from any large organisation with the media. That is not the same as encouraging spin. This sort of discipline makes sure that the media gets the right information, correctly presented. Anything less causes chaos.
Also it makes the person at the top fully accountable. If Mr Morley is in control of the press office, he has to take responsibility for what comes out. Allowing regional managers to say what they like is a recipe for disaster. Why cannot Mr Morley control those in the SVS? During the foot and mouth crisis so many of the DVMs were less than impressive - not up to the job and full of bluster - yet they seem to think they can speak on behalf of their Ministry. We can only feel sympathy for the many civil servants caught up in the muddle - who are likely to be the scapegoats for the Ministry's shortcomings if we are not careful.
April 20 ~ "No livestock production in the UK - would be the objective of a lot of Groups."
"It certainly seems to have been decided in a secretive, undemocratic EU that Britain's livestock industry is as expendable as was our fishing industry. Once we are unable to provide even the current 50% of our food needs, we will finally have lost the battle and be forever subservient to the EU. I believe the loss of our fishing to the EU was more about the EU needing our oil, which lay in our territorial waters. The EU has now almost exhausted our oil fields as opposed to Norway who had the foresight to remain outside the web of the EU."
In a well-argued letter in reply to a farmer in Kansas, David looks at the morass of legislation British farmers are stuck in and the legitimate, heartfelt - but often less than helpful concerns(to farming) of CIWF.
April 20 ~ "Your report for the Hexham meeting isn't very clear and I think you may have suffered from 'Chinese whispers' "
warmwell has received the following welcome clarification: from Roger Walker.
"Pat and I were invited by Dr Caroline Lucas MEP to submit evidence to the delegation of MEP's at the meeting of the European Parliamentary committees inquiry into FMD. We prepared a presentation of about 8 minutes, all we were allowed, covering cases that we had been involved with. I gave our presentation which was well received by the delegates and then Pat made an admirable job of fielding questions from the delegates. We also had the opportunity to chat with delegates one-to-one and handed over a dossier of reports and information including press cuttings for cases in which we had been involved.
Evidence was also submitted by representatives of the NFU, land owners/large farmers and a representative from the rural business sector."
April 20 ~ We find it interesting that so many of the MEPs are pro-vaccination
- but they were before the inquiry even started, so it cannot be said that the inquiry has helped them change their minds. Perhaps it is that they sense the popular mood and will happily latch on to it for no other reason than it is the current popular flavour.
What escapes them perhaps is that vaccination was right for the 2001 epidemic - but it may not be right for the next one. The crucial feature of 2001 was that it was an uncontained epidemic with multiple outbreaks, where the classic policy of "contain and slaughter" could not and did not work. If we have another epidemic of the the 1967 pattern, spotted early, then the original policy of contain and slaughter could probably be perfectly adequate. There would not be any call for vaccination.
So, the central lesson that they are missing is that, in 2001, there was the wrong contingency plan - it was the wrong type of epidemic. There was no contingency for dealing with an uncontained epidemic. What followed was a panicky and illegal "kill everything quickly" policy carried out for motives that have been widely discussed already.
April 20 ~ Carwyn Jones off the hook?
The key players who ordered the widespread killing of healthy animals and who remained deaf to all urgent pleas for common sense to prevail are now, it seems, anxious to explain to the various Inquiries that it was all because of "orders from above" - in particular from Professor David King, Mr J Scudamore and COBR.
"FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE CONTROLS - AN ASSESSMENT BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES" has been published on the internet. The question about vaccination starts at paragraphs 26-30. And the final paragraph of the report reads:- The need for stronger legal powers on contiguous culling would have made it much easier to implement the policy; this has now been recognised through the provisions of the current legislation going through the UK Parliament. What will be their line when it emerges definitively, as it will, that the contiguous cull was illegal and that "stronger" legal powers cannot right an already committed wrong?
April 20 ~ "..clear hints that the whole European Union should return to a vaccination policy to control the disease."
Today's Scotsman: "A report of the (i.e. EU FMD Temporary Committee) committee's findings will not be produced until early autumn, to be debated by the European Parliament in November, but during its visit to Northumberland yesterday, its vice-chairman, Caroline Lucas, said: "Vaccination is a key issue. Personally, I think there should have been much more emphasis on it last year.
"The NFU did its members a disservice by not making it clear that there was provision for vaccination and compensation."
"......Philip Whitehead, the Labour MEP for the East Midlands, said an action plan was vital because foot-and-mouth would be back: "World trade and people travelling much more make that certain. "We're not the only country having problems with illegal meat imports. Germany alone has great problems with large numbers of its Turkish work force bringing meat back when they visit their home country. "We'll be better prepared for animal disease next time, whether it's foot-and-mouth or swine fever, but it will be back."
- Pat Gardner sends this comment: "Ye Gods! An MEP has grasped the essential point. You can't stop illegal imports. Anyway many of the risky ones are legal. A fact long known to every professional in Customs, international shipping and transport. It is no good howling at the moon, you must deal with the consequences of increased trade and travel, not waste time and money mucking about at sea and airports or screaming for unenforcable legislation."
April 20 ~ "Farming Today This Week" concerned an item on E.coli 0157 [becoming endemic in farm animals, private water supplies - responsible for deaths - and increases in food and farm regulations.]
A Google search on CIA and E.coli 0157 [connected because of allegations about Tyson Foods, CIA "Industrial Espionage" work and the UK outbreak of FMD] quickly brings up this reference to an article from Jane's Defense Weekly, May 1, 1998. It is a long article and deals with anthrax, Iraq, and many other current themes.
..extract:".....This has caused scientists to speculate how E.coli 0157:H7 originally came into existence, and how it became a toxin- generating microbe. There are some scientists who argue that the strain emerged naturally and mutated from bacteria exchanging genetic information. According to others, it could have been bio-engineered in a laboratory and spread from there. Most scientific favor rests with the first argument. In terms of research into E.coli, Croddy's view is that: "All the major European powers are tinkering about with it defensively..."
April 20 ~ TB cases down on last year?
The Guardian today says," The latest figures for Britain as a whole, covering January and February, suggest 184 herds were confirmed as having new TB cases, 147 in England, 34 in Wales and three in Scotland. This was fewer than the 311 in the first two months of last year, and 478 cases for all of 2001. Unlike foot and mouth cases, only affected animals are slaughtered, although others are put under restrictions and tested again two months later. "
April 20 ~ This Sunday, April 21, the United States will seek to remove Jose Bustani, the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), from his post.
Under his lead, according to the Guardian article by George Monbiot: "His inspectors have overseen the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world's chemical weapon facilities. He has so successfully cajoled reluctant nations that the number of signatories to the convention has risen from 87 to 145 in the past five years: the fastest growth rate of any multilateral body in recent times."
But in the eyes of the US State Department, Bustani has been a nuisance. First, he's attempted to treat the US like any other signatory to the body, and the US, not unlike its enemy Iraq, is unsatisfied with the inspectors he's chosen. Second, he's actively working with Iraq to encourage it to accept inspectors, which would undercut support for a second US-led Gulf War. For these reasons, the State Department wants him deposed....."
April 20 ~ In Eire, Seán MacManus has called for government action to bring an end to the massive level of red tape and bureaucracy involved in farming.
"It is therefore vital that this income is received on time, with minimum red tape. The Department of Agriculture must end their practice of treating farmers as fraudsters for basic errors made in applying for monies to which they are legally entitled.
"Sinn Fiin favours a simplification of EU procedures that have our farmers plagued with overcomplicated forms and regulations. There needs to be an Irish examination of EU laws relating to farmers to curb and control Brussels bureaucracy.
"Small farmers in particular are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a living off the land. We should not permit regulations and guidelines to place an extra burden on them.''....(see report in the Leitrim Observer)
April 20 ~ "The National Trust has criticised a lack of Government resources to develop and deliver policies which recognise the link between farming, public access and the health of the countryside.
The Trust said its tenant farmers lost nearly 50,000 sheep and cattle to culling and the charity lost £4.5 million due to extra costs and a decline in visitor numbers. The charity today called on ministers to take a wider view of the link between farming and the prosperity of the countryside, when tackling disease outbreaks. " (Ananova article)
April 20 ~ 320,000 units of sheep quota have been withdrawn from the UK as a result of last year's package of changes to the EU Sheep Regime.
April 19 ~ "We are consulting on the sheep envelope in remote rural areas," said Elliot Morley
who's minister for stuff in the ministry of rural stuff, or whatever they call it now. The sheep envelope? For heaven's sake, what's that? Is it like a gigantic Jiffy bag? "If you think your ewes might have foot and mouth, just pop them into this reply-paid envelope and mail it to the ministry, if you can find a postbox big enough"?
Every time I go to see questions on rural affairs, "(writes the admirable Simon Hoggart today in the Guardian) "they have more of this jargon. And it's all different. They do their turn once a month, and every four weeks they come up with language which nobody has ever heard before.....
Then you get Elliot "Bring Me Sunshine" Morley back to talk about the problems of "rural-proofing". This seems to have something to do with "grazing regimes". No one knows what these are. Maybe they're military juntas whose members eat a lot of snacks.
"Generalissimo! The traitor Ainsworth has been discovered in the act of stuffing sheep envelopes with drugs, used twenties and copies of the Daily Mail. Permission to have him tortured!"
"Mmmff, shorry, my mouthsh full at the mumment ... "
( some background to TB in cattle from the Guardian on March 1. Vaccine at least 10 years away. What did Mr Morley mean by:- "This is a world-class scientific breakthrough which gives us a wide range of new information with which to fight this disease." ??)
April 19 ~"During the 3 harried phone calls that various vets made to my house, I tried in vain to explain that we had no contact with any livestock
and that the field was surrounded by track ,road and garden. I was refused blood tests and was told that I "was holding up the cull" One pet owner's story, just received by email. She adds, referring to yesterday's gretna meeting, "When Phil Jones the Chief Executive of Dumfries and Galloway Council, stood up to object to Nick Green's correct assertions of bullying tactics of Dumfries and Galloway I could no longer remain silent...."
April 19 ~ "One side only wants to look back and cares about little else than embarrassing the Government. The other won't look back where it can avoid it and is trying to ensure the focus is firmly on the future"
(From the Viewpoint column of the Farmers Guardian today ".... Questioning in Strasbourg has for the main part left witnesses unscathed. Then there is this week's four day jaunt to the north of England and Scotland. Farmers had hoped it would give them a real platform to explain what really went on. But just one public meeting was organised, in Gretna in the middle of Thursday afternoon. The invite only system of the other meetings has created only confusion and never going to be suspicion that witnesses have been hand picked.
It is difficult to believe that moves by Labour MEPs to limit the number of public meetings, were not influenced in some way by the Labour Government. But committee members from other parties who have drawn attention to this have not been averse to manipulating the investigation to suit their own ends, either political point scoring has split the committee in two and robbed it of direction. One side only wants to look back and cares about little else than embarrassing the Government. The other won't look back where it can avoid it and is trying to ensure the focus is firmly on the future....(read article)
April 19 ~ "My sheep were culled on April 4 2001, and to date I have not received any payment for them."
"They were slaughtered in the 3 km cull, which incidentally was five weeks after the neighbouring farm was confirmed with FMD. My sheep were perfectly healthy and yet were still slaughtered. I'm quite sure they could have been tested, found to be healthy and left alone, along with numerous other sheep within this area, particularly as they had been left for five weeks anyway.
Are there any of your readers that had animals culled and not yet received any payment for them? If so could they please contact me and maybe together we can get compensation payments for these animals.
Up to now I have written numerous letters to DEFRA, Scottish Executive and local MP's but no-one is interested.
V. Heath. K9Beck@btinternet.com " A letter in today's Farmers Guardian
April 19 ~ Cumbria Foot and Mouth Disease Inquiry will add to EU Report
The European Parliament Temporary Committee on Foot and Mouth Disease will take in evidence the report and conclusions of Cumbria's own Foot and Mouth Inquiry, which begins early next month. The news comes following a meeting between the County Council and the EU Temporary Committee yesterday when representatives from the Council and other agencies explained the devastating impact that the crisis had on the county. County Council Leader Rex Toft explains: (see Cumbria County Council Press Release)
April 19 ~ "This time last year, there was a perfectly adequate vaccine and it could have prevented millions of animals being culled and unimaginable human trauma.
"We have heard a lot of nonsense about looking to develop a vaccine which could prevent foot-and-mouth but a perfectly good one already exists and has done so for many years. "Because of an election last year, the control of the disease was taken out of the hands of animal experts and put in the hands of mathematicians in London." The senior vet, Roger Windsor, speaking at Gretna yesterday. The meeting was reported in the Scotsman.
April 19 ~ TB reactors have been found all over Devon, for years; without all the dramatic reporting.
Lawrence writes tonight, "I am puzzling over the BBC reporting of the TB cases in Wales. TB reactors have been found all over Devon, for years; without all the dramatic reporting. Even finding TB in a new area hardly seems to justify news items which seem to imply that we are in for a new mass killing of farm animals. ....control of TB was in the hands of Sir John Krebs, credited with helping Prof Anderson into the position which allowed him to mastermind the FMD killing [- of how many? - was it 11 million healthy animals?] last year. I wonder if the same gang of psuedo scientists have some more devastation in hand.
They want to come and test my cattle again..."
April 19 ~" I worry if this is a prelude to introducing AHB through emergency powers..."
Radio 4 World at One news - comments from Tony Edwards (Chief DEFRA Vet. Officer for Wales) about TB in cattle on farms in Powys..... He said it was serious because it was a new area of Wales affected, and it was "insidious" for farmers because unlike FMD, where you can spot the disease easily (sic) you can't spot TB easily. Also with FMD "you can get on top of the disease quickly", unlike TB where it takes a long time to test herds and to establish when clear of TB. " It will be remembered that at a meeting in Builth Wells (18th June), promises were made by the spokesman from the Welsh Assembly and also by Tony Edwards, the Divisional Veterinary Officer for Wales, that there was to be no mass cull in Powys. However, hundreds of healthy animals were killed at Libanus, near Brecon (on clinical diagnosis only) followed by the deaths of thousands of hefted sheep.
It is believed that 30 farms are involved in the TB scare and that 10 cattle have already been slaughtered.
A well-respected and frequent emailer to this site comments: "Speechless! Also I am now so cynical that I worry if this is a prelude to introducing AHB through emergency powers..."
April 19 ~ "his last comment was chilling: 'It's as bad as last March in here.'
an unmissable article in Cumbria's Business Gazette The writer first describes the embarrassment of the man on the Defra Helpline whom he phones to ask for advice about the new movement regulations. - " a chap who had reached new levels of cynicism. "
"His job was to explain the new movement regulations to me. To help him do this, he had exactly the same leaflets that I had - Not only that but he hadn't seen them before he arrived in the office at 9am that morning. Indeed his last comment was chilling: "It's as bad as last March in here."
So in spite of several public inquiries, cunningly targeted at everything except the workings of the ministries, we have a situation where they have learned absolutely nothing and good people at the bottom of the heap have to learn it on the hoof because the centre cannot cope.
This is more than casually unfortunate. Defra is supposed to be one of the driving forces for British agriculture. The level of performance one sees from the upper echelons is not such as would engender confidence.
This is sad because confidence is what we need at the moment......."
April 19 ~ "..should agriculture go belly up and incomes remain at the same derisory level then such things as ESA and Countryside Stewardship payments must fall further to match. At this point we will see those poor devils who signed up to these schemes trapped in them but not being paid any money.
"One example of why is the current enthusiasm for modulation of agricultural payments. The idea is that the money is taken from direct support to commodities and put instead into environmental mes. So in theory, instead of getting so much a ewe the farmer would get less per ewe, but could make up a little of the deficit by managing a proportion of his farm under an ESA agreement. There are lots of disadvantages to this system but one that I have not seen mentioned is that the very nature of the funding is suspect. Government expenditure on environment schemes has risen steadily from £1.8 million in 1987 to £192.7 million in 2000." (That is 1.8. million pounds in 1987 to 192.7 million pounds in 2000) "Of this, only 7% or £15 million comes through schemes run by English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Countryside Council for Wales. The rest comes out of Government or EU spending. This 93% of government spending is of course obliged to fall within the guidelines laid down by both EU and WTO, especially with regard to the concept of "income forgone." ......the money that trickles into agri-environment schemes is on a strict income forgone basis, where the recipient is to be no better off than they would be if they had not done the environmental work. Last year there was an attempt to cut the various payments on the argument that the income forgone has fallen..... Unfortunately, should agriculture go belly up and incomes remain at the same derisory level then such things as ESA and Countryside Stewardship payments must fall further to match. ...." (more)
April 19 ~ "The only parliamentary inquiry team looking into last year's outbreak of foot and mouth came under fire for holding no public meetings in the county during their visit.
But MEP Neil Parish, representing Devon and Somerset, said witnesses were travelling from Cumbria to give evidence at the only public meeting at Gretna, held yesterday.
Cumbrian Euro MP Lord Inglewood said a visit to the county was not on the cards in the early stages of putting together an itinerary. "Why this was we do not know, but we managed to change their minds."
His fellow North West EuroMP Chris Davies said the inquiry team wanted to learn lessons from Cumbria which would shape future policy for the whole of Europe.
Inquiry team chairman Mrs Encarnacion Redondo-Jimenez said it was vital they knew what had really happened in Cumbria. "We are available to listen to what people have to say," she said.....(see report in today's Cumberland News We also hear that the farm at Gaitsgill, Dalston that the EU visited last night is farmed by Peter Holliday ( believed to be a relative of the man who runs Border TV) and a friend of Les Armstrong (NFU).
April 19 ~ "Gretna was such a total farce ....."
"Scene: a not very large cafe. Most of centre stage is occupied by EU officials and MEPs, with mere members of the public, farmers, would-be witnesses etc forced to squeeze in along the walls or stand at the back. Centremost of stage is Senora Redondo, the whatever is the Spanish for chair (silia) (sillyass, morelike). She holds forth in shrill Spanish (all of which has then to be translated in low drone) about how the only purpose of this meeting is to show the people of Britain how much the European Parliament cares for them and their interests. This is followed by officials of the Scottish Executive, local councils and the NFU all being given the chance at enormous length to explain how wonderfully efficiently the FMD problem had been handled, punctuated by self-important interventions from MEPs.
Only after 1 HOUR and 40 MINUTES are members of the public at last allowed to chip in.
Susan Greenhill, Nick Green and Roger Windsor all performed brilliantly, according to (... eye-witness) who was particularly delighted at Nick Green's brushing aside of various impatient attempts by Senora Siliass to stop him. But the MEPs just stared incomprehendingly while they spoke and the whole thing was a travesty...."
(email received late last night)
April 19 ~"Lord Whitty: We have answered to the Temporary Committee in the European Parliament. We also answer questions time and again in your Lordships' House. We could not be more open, nor could we have a system that will deliver anything closer to the truth"
"....Various issues were raised in the debate, the most acute of which was the legality of the cull. I shall cite just two cases: MAFF v Winslade, which we won in the English courts; and Westerhall Farms v Scottish Ministers, which we won in the Scottish courts. The British courts' and the EU endorsement therefore fully support the comments that I made in Strasbourg and have repeated today. The legality of the cull is not in doubt......My Lords, the contiguous cull was legal. However, it was inhibited and ineffective because we were unable to enter certain premises due to resistance based on the current legal position. ....."
So spoke Lord Whitty in yesterday's debate. Words fail us (except that we are painfully reminded both of the QC's letter following the Grunty case and an account by Leila Winsladeabout what the killing meant to her elderly parents) - but we suspect that this assertion of Lord Whitty's will not leave everyone speechless....email us at email@example.com
April 18 ~"I listened to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, with..if I may say so..incredulity.
The noble Lord said that farmers ought not to "overstate the case". I do not know how you can overstate the case for going bankrupt.
On another occasion he said that farmers ought to "stop grumbling" and be "more competitive". Today he said that they ought to "invest", "raise standards" and "improve efficiency". That is all fine, but how can you invest when you do have not the money to do so? Even if you do find the money to invest, having done so, what is to be done about an inadequate return?.....Some five years ago, the price of milk was around 25p per litre. It then fell to 13=p per litre. The price rose again but, as my noble friend Lord Plumb pointed out, it is now falling again to somewhere around 13=p per litre. Those are crippling factors. With the greatest respect, it is no use for the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, to say that people ought to compete. You cannot compete like that; you will go bust. "
"Some £42 million worth of European funds were made available in April 2001 to take account of alterations in the rates of exchange. The Government never took them. Then £57 million worth were made available in October 2001. Again, the Government never took them. .." Part of Lord Ferrers' speech in yesterday's Lords debate on the Livestock Industry
April 18 ~ "Costing the Earth - Pits and Pyres" (A report on environmental legacy of FMD.)
will be broadcast apparently on Radio 4 tonight Thursday 18 April, at 9 pm
April 18 ~ Clarke, Wilmott and Clarke - appeal -"You may like to tell all those parties who have contacted me and given money on the basis of the terms set out in your Web Site that I am utilising the money on those terms"
the anonymous donor of £10,000 erroneously mentioned by the otherwise excellent Western Morning News is in fact the last ditch support offered by those who, among others, regularly look at this website. See Mr Tim Russ' latest email.
April 18 ~ The other Northumberland report (of 33 years ago)....
An email received this evening says..."Yes, Northumberland is excellent, although some of the detail in vol. 2 was a bit turgid for me. What a shame no-one in authority appears to have made the effort to read it in late February 2001. One of the problems with our PM, I fear, is that he easily falls for slick presenters, has no time for those who appear to be bumblers, and likes to make quick decisions. So he fell for the King/Anderson image/promises. If someone as slick had earlier said that the blueprint was all clearly set out in Northumberland, being the considered, collective wisdom of a committee of great experience, who knows where we might have been now.".
April 18 ~ Cumbria Foot and Mouth Inquiry panel
The 9 members of the panel have now been selected. See email just received.
April 18 ~ CLA SAYS REGULATION IS A THREAT TO SUCCESSFUL COUNTRYSIDE STEWARDSHIP
Speaking out today against excessive rules and regulations, the ClA says "excessive regulation and legislation is driving more and more farmland out of environmental stewardship schemes ......the CLA, National Trust and the RSPB are working together to create a basic stewardship scheme which will be simple and easy to apply over all the countryside of the UK...... . Unfortunately farmers faith in environmental schemes has recently been severely shaken by unnecessary regulation and the effective entrapment of land in totally uneconomic use. We must assist the Government to restore their faith.
"Land voluntarily entered into environmental schemes in the past can now be caught by the Environmental Impact Assessment, and denied the right to return to productive farming. It has all created the perverse situation whereby the better your land does in environmental terms, the more danger you are in of losing the right to determine future use of your own land. ..." (full statement)
April 18 ~ In Uruguay 2001 the (foot and mouth) outbreak lasted from the end of April until the end of August. The incident rates were comparable with those of the UK in 2001 and were about 50 per day one month after the outbreak. At this point vaccination of all the cattle was started.
There was no slaughter on infected farms because the farmers resisted the idea. Instead, animals were quarantined and there was a stand still of animal movement.
Almost 11 million cattle were vaccinated - the 12 million sheep grazing beside them were not. Vaccination was carried out by the farmers themselves. (see vaccination page)
April 18 ~ Hexham EU Meeting: "they really listened"
Jane from farmtalking.org writes, "Individual farmers' stories were handed to them as well as Press cuttings from last year, for instance the NFU and Ben Gill stating their anti vaccination policy as well as the recent statement from Ben Gill published in the Farmer's Guardian indicating some change of his opinion.
Pat said the NFU representatives did really come across very well and seemed amazed, as did the Inquiry team, when she said that she had bothered to find out from experts such a Prof. Brown, and Drs, Barteling, Sutmoller and Watkins, the truth about the virus and vaccines available." (see also warmwell vaccination page) "She said she had also contacted the Supermarkets to ascertain that there was no problem selling vaccinated meat. Pat told me she was nervous when going there, but she felt that they were genuinely interested and concerned to discover the truth. From talking to the Dutch and German members of the team she felt sure that vaccination would be recommended and introduced..." "... The NFU did not come across very well." ".... The meeting ran over by an hour or more and afterwards Inquiry team members also spoke to them individually." "Most importantly, she told me the Inquiry team were very concerned that these meetings, apart from the one to be held at Gretna were by invitation only and not Public meetings. They most definitely are and anyone can go to them - so if you are able to get to them - please do and if you are able to tape or video record them please do so too!...." (The Hexham meeting was recorded and a transcript will soon be available.)
April 18 ~ "..at no time did retailers lobby for or against the vaccination of animals as an alternative to slaughter
"William Moyes director-general of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has revealed that he told the Prime Minister that he and other members who were consulted at the time were happy to let the Government decide.
Addressing the committee in Strasbourg, set up to examine the outbreak in Britain and it implications for Europe, he said his members would have had no objection to vaccination, as long as certain conditions were met.
"It is important to realise that at no time did retailers lobby for or against the vaccination of animals as an alternative to slaughter," Mr. Moyes told members of the committee..." See article in Monday's Western Morning News.
" Mr. (Nick) Brown told the European committee: "We were only 24 hours away from vaccinating. However representations made to me from large retailers and in particular Cadburys stating they would not take products from vaccinates persuaded us not to vaccinate. Mr. Moyes was part of a delegation brought to address the committe by South West Conservative MEP Neil Parish, who has urged members of the Westcountry business and farming community to contact him if they have ionformation the European Committee should consider.
He said the committee had already seen evidence of the Governments's reluctance to accept responsibility for the handling of the crisis.
He referred to comments from the Parliamentary Under Secretary to DEFRA , Elliot Morley, who revealed that the Government would consider seeking emergency powers if it could not push the Animal Health Bill through Parliament, which would allow civil servants to force entry to slaughter animals.
"It is just sheer arrogance and shows they have learned nothing from the last outbreak," Mr. Parish said...."
April 18 ~ "The reporter asked if any farmers had signed up as members with us. I explained that we were taking on hundreds of them
- mostly all had been on movement restrictions. He pressed me for the actual numbers involved. The precise figure I don't know, however, I suggested to him that we probably had more farmers in the UKRBC than the NFU ... Hope he prints that.
Classlaw's office is being bombarded with callers wishing to join, so everyone is working extremely hard" email received from the United Kingdom Rural Business Campaign
April 17 ~ Gretna Meeting Tomorrow - April 18th - 3 p.m. in the Blacksmith's Museum
Elaine writes angrily, "I think the fact that nobody even knows about the MEP's visit here or even the fact that they can attend meetings speaks volumes. A re-run of all the other Govt Inquiries; don't tell the victims, they might come along and complain. Having just a piffling little public meeting in the middle of nowhere just emphases the fact that they don't really expect anyone to turn up. Ignorance is bliss if you want to keep things away from public scrutiny!"
(a letter on farmtalking from Neil Parrish MEP explains that:".... Like Mrs Lucas, I am outraged that in order to try and prevent the Committee from getting to the truth, the Labour party attempted to block any public meetings taking place. It is clear that they obviously have a great deal to hide. However, this does not mean that the public cannot attend the meetings in the UK. All meetings of the European Parliament are open to the public, anyone can simply come along and listen and I would urge you to do so. Disappointingly, only the meeting in Gretna will allow the public to make contributions from the floor, but anyone may attend the other scheduled meetings.
"There is to be another visit to the South West of England and Wales in June of this year, providing the opportunity for further representatives to give evidence to the committee. I would also urge people to submit written evidence to the committee as soon as possible. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and am more than happy to forward evidence on to the committee, or alternatively, submissions can be made via our website http://www.epp-ed.org/Activities/pcurrentissues/fmd/default_en.asp ")
April 17 ~ one of the actions we're taking this week is to demand from DEFRA now documents relating to the particular incidents
we've been given information about because if these incidents occurred in the way that we've been told then documents will be in existence and we're entitled to see copies of them." Transcript of Farming Today with Stephen Alexander of ClassLaw
April 17 ~ RURAL ECONOMY LEFT LYING ON A TROLLEY IN THE CORRIDORS OF THE TREASURY
CLA press release "Rural reaction to today's budget is likely to be a story of missed opportunities and being left waiting on a trolley in the corridors of the Treasury. Gordon Brown has clearly signalled that his own stated ethos of increasing "business and economic activity" does not extend to the countryside because he has not been prepared to introduce the tax simplification needed to break down the barriers to rural enterprise.
Tax barriers to rural diversification have not been removed or reduced and little has been done in relation to environmental issues or renewable fuels. Rural communities want help to help themselves but no significant effort has been made on their behalf...."
April 17 ~ Mr Tim Russ of Clarke, Wilmott and Clarke has today lodged an application for permission to appeal
against the decision at the High Court last month. It may, after all, be possible to get an open public inquiry.
April 17 ~ Foot and mouth lawyers allege ministry cover-up
Peter Hetherington in the Guardian today writes, "Lawyers acting for rural businesses devastated by the foot and mouth epidemic are pressing the government to exhume diseased sheep in an attempt to prove that the former Ministry of Agriculture tried to cover up the disease...... In addition lawyers, who will serve the government with notice of their intent to sue for substantial damages this Friday, are claiming that other sheep with foot and mouth - or with antibodies - were found at an abattoir in Staffordshire in January last year along with another big consignment bound for France. The outbreak was officially confirmed at the end of February. Stephen Alexander, of London solicitors Class Law, who are acting for 25,000 claimants in the UK Rural Business Campaign, said they had evidence that an official from the former Maff told a farmer in Aberdare to bury diseased sheep in October 2000. He claimed this underlined arguments of a cover-up. "It shows that the disease was in the system and that the government didn't do anything about it and there are other examples ... we are building up evidence that it was around in significant amounts before January." Specialists were on hand to check for signs of foot and mouth in exhumed animals. ...... The UK Rural Business Campaign has already raised over £2m to fight the government. Val Sinclair, (see below)... had lost up to £100,000. "The countryside is simply not getting back to normal and we are determined to fight for compensation because the government sent out all the wrong signals when the disease struck," she added. " (Classlaw letter to Defra)
April 17 ~ Pig horror quietly shelved? Another government cover-up connected with the meat industry? .
The Sunday Times reported on March 17th "Lord Carter, the government's chief whip in the House of Lords, is part-owner of a Wiltshire farm in which hundreds of animals were allegedly crammed illegally into tiny pens where they had no room to turn around or lie down. Others are said to have died through heat exhaustion and related conditions. Pigs that became ill were sometimes beaten to death by staff with iron bars or had their heads swung against a wall, according to sworn statements from farm workers...."
Apparently, (according to these Parliamentary Answers on April 11th) - at the Oldlands Pig Unit, Wiltshire and (b) Shoddesden Pig Unit, Hampshire, which were at the centre of the Sky news report, "no breach of welfare regulations were found" As for inspections on these farms, we read in the Parliamentary Answer that "the most recent visits in June 2001 and January 2002 were pre-arranged"
(Source PQs 45156 and 45151) And where is the follow up news about the Scotpigs incident involving "King" Arthur Simmers? We learned from Fordyce Maxwell's article in the Scotsman on April 11th that Quality Meat Scotland has withdrawn its Specially Selected Scotch farm assurance pig scheme certification from the Scotpigs unit at Ormiston, Kirknewton. But why did they, if as was quickly reported, an SSPCA superintendent who visited the holding said: "Although the pigs were dirty, they were physically OK. We found nothing to indicate the suffering suggested in the video...." ? Professor Hugh Pennington however said "the conditions were a nightmare" and voiced worries about salmonella ..
April 17 ~ PUBLIC INQUIRY STILL A POSSIBILITY
says the Western Morning News "Cash has been provided to fund an appeal against the High Court's decision not to hold a public inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis. Following a hearing in London in February, judges turned down a call on behalf of 15 claimants, including farmers, vets and rural businessmen from Devon and Somerset, who demanded a full public inquiry into the crisis. But an unnamed benefactor has come forward to provide the necessary £10,000 to pay for the application for an appeal, just in time for Friday's deadline. A Law Lord will look at the application early next month and decide whether or not there is a case for an appeal. "
" If the Court of Appeal gives permission, an appeal would be heard in the High Court in London by three Law Lords. Mr Russ believes that the appeal would be won and there will then be a 50-50 chance of persuading the Law Lords that the Government was wrong not to hold a public inquiry into foot and mouth. However, Mr Russ said that between £50,000 and £250,000 is still needed to fund the case."Anyone who would like to give money towards an appeal should telephone Mr Russ on 01823 445218. ( Please see what we said yesterday about safeguarding your donation Our cheque is on its way.)
April 17 ~ "On or about 4th October 2000 he advised the relevant MAFF authorites and asked that an official call on him at his farm to discuss the matter and issues arising therefrom;
.... 4. An officer of the Department of the Environment, one Mr XXX, arrived at his field for the purpose stated in paragraph 3 above. Mr XXX discussed the matter with this official who was not interested in the fact of the death of the two cattle nor the cause thereof;
5. The cattle were consequently buried by the witness in the field.
It is obviously highly relevant to the proper and thorough investigation of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and the actions of your Department prior to February 2001, that it be established whether the two animals did in fact die from the disease and we consequently call upon you to exhume the carcasses of the cattle and to conduct the necessary tests thereon so as to establish whether they died from FMD or not....." Copy of the letter from the law firm Classlaw to Defra re October 2000
April 17 ~ "So it's one rule for us, and another for them!"
Alan Beat's letter refuting Mr Morley's letter in the Times on April 11th is published today. (see newspaper page). He writes also to tell us that "Stuart Flitton (assistant letters editor of The Times) rang me to check my sources - he was very thorough and wanted every detail justified. Fair enough. Then he wanted to "edit" some of my language that was clearly too "strong". After some discussion, we agreed a compromise. Fair enough. But then Rosie asked me whether Elliot Morley had justified his sources of information in the same way - good point. So I asked Stuart. He said no, there was a presumption that ministers were well-briefed and in the event of errors or spin, it was up to the vigilance of the public to call them into question, as I had done in this case. So it's one rule for us, and another for them!"
April 17 ~ Classlaw are saying the following :
"Fmd was in the country in October 2000, it was in animals in Wales. We will be exhuming those animals shortly. DEFRA have to be present. We are using the only micropathology lab in the country capable of extracting the virus.
We also have other evidence, not made public, as yet, regarding fmd in 2000. This is not spin. Tonight I have taken dozens of calls from people who have promised to send money for the fighting fund. Many of them have said they wish the money to go to farmers who have suffered as a result of movement restrictions." See also
April 17 ~ "The point to bear in mind is that the power to slaughter animals is a discretionary power. Whilst the Government is entitled to adopt a culling policy it cannot do so on a blanket basis.
It must consider each case on its own facts. Further, the idea that a farmer who has appealed and subsequently been confirmed as an infected premises should cause his neighbours, automatically, to be culled as contiguous premises is an illustration of:
(a) the Minister fettering his/her discretion by adopting a blanket culling policy; and
(b) according to the likes of (Dr Paul) Kitching and (prof Alex) Donaldson probably wrong in the absence of direct contact." ( a solicitor writing in December)
April 17 ~ Two more interesting Parliamentary Questions and answers last week.
The first about the printing of foot and mouth related warning signs and the second about 405557 sheep, 3344 pigs and 147 goats killed in what was called the "voluntary" cull...."where keepers were willing to co-operate with the cull, hence the use of the term voluntary cull" as a shorthand for the 3km cull operation," explained Mrs Beckett We are particularly struck by the use by Margaret Beckett of the following sentence:"The figures may be subject to revision as DEFRA's data cleansing exercise is carried out ..." Data cleansing?
April 17 ~ It was with amazement that I realised that I was being arrested last week ....
Val Sinclair writes, "I, amongst many others, have been investigating on our own behalf, the activities of several people involved in fraud and more importantly, the situation concerning Over Thirty Month (OTM) cattle and condemned meat entering the human food chain. Our investigations, carried out with the knowledge of our respective legal teams have led us to contacting the media/press and the relevant government bodies. Within the last few weeks the media has covered this story. (See report) It was with amazement that I realised I was being arrested last week, although no charges have been brought. This appears to be a 'dirty tricks campaign' by the person or persons whom we exposed during the course of the investigation. These people wish to divert attention from themselves and seek to discredit myself and others...(more)
April 17 ~ "Ben Gill (giving evidence in Strasbourg) couldn't withstand the onslaught from Reimer Böge"
We are reliably informed by an onlooker that Reimer Böge (German MEP from Schleswig-Holstein) won the day by insisting that because the NFU and MAFF/DEFRA continuously used the word 'vaccinated' in front of the word 'meat' they propagated the myth that vaccination for FMD was hazardous and they (DEFRA and the NFU) should be made to stop doing it. It was pointed out that all the food agencies in fact had no problem with vaccination. Even William Moyes (Director General British Retail Consortium) was made to admit that Argentine meat is not labelled as 'vaccinated'. William Moyes referred to papers he had submitted early on in the outbreak. It is evident that the British Retail Consortium (BRC) wrote to the Prime Minister and Nick Brown that they were happy to let the Government decide on vaccination. This is not the impression one would get from listening to Mr Gill.
April 16 ~ LAST DITCH Plea for funds for an appeal for a public Inquiry.
Clarke, Wilmott and Clarke solicitor Tim Russ says, "I need about another £3k to get there and a plea today may sort this out. I need to decide what to do tomorrow.." i.e. Wednesday 17th April.
Warmwell would very much support the appeal being made but realises that many people, like ourselves, are now very low in funds and have already freely given a lot of money and time to fighting the government's refusal to allow an open inquiry. The lawyers were acting on cfas for the first hearing; understandably they consider they have already suffered enough of a loss and wish to be remunerated on a traditional basis for the work they have to do to get permission to appeal. We suggest that potential donors might offer money under the same conditions that we ourselves are going to and make this clear : i.e. if we donate the amount we have pledged towards funds we feel we must insist that they be used for the purposes of funding an application for permission to appeal only; that if an application is made and more than £10k has been collected, donors should be reimbursed pro rata; that if the application is not made, their cheques returned; and that if the application is made, is successful and the appeal is subsequently heard and succeeds and costs are recovered from the Minister, then all donations are to be reimbursed.
Mr Russ can be emailed here (links mended. Apologies). Given the safeguards we suggest, we do hope that most readers of warmwell will feel able to get in touch with him today or this evening with a pledge of support.
April 16 ~ Losses to agriculture and the food chain estimated to be in the order of £3.1 billion -
the figures seem to keep on climbing... But of course all this (not to mention the trauma and misery that accompanied it) was to save the cherished "foot and mouth free without vaccination" status...a trade worth how much?
"Parliamentary Written Answer 10th April
Mr. Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the cost of the recent foot and mouth disease outbreak to the (a) cattle, (b) pig and (c) sheep sectors. 
Mr. Morley: The recent foot and mouth outbreak is estimated to have resulted in losses of some £3.1 billion to agriculture and the food chain. However, some £2.6 billion has been paid by the Government in compensation for slaughtered livestock and payments for disposal and clean up costs. Separate estimates for the different sectors are not available...."
April 16 ~ Since January 2002 DEFRA Ministers have received in excess of 45,000 letters from members of the public.
(Anyone had an answer?)
(Source: Hansard, House of Commons Correspondence, 11th April - our emphasis) Correspondence
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria she uses to decide which letters from (a) hon. Members and (b) members of the public will receive an answer signed by herself. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 October 2001]: A range of criteria-including the position held by the individual concerned, the subject matter and the background to the correspondence - is used to determine whether my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State responds to letters from hon. Members or asks one of her Ministerial team to reply on her behalf. By convention, Privy Councillors only receive replies from fellow Privy Councillors, unless they have expressly written to another Minister.
Similarly, whether or not my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State replies in person to letters from members of the public depends on whether the letter-writer holds a particular position in public life, or if he or she is known personally to the Secretary of State and on the nature and content of the letter.
The hon. Member may be interested to know that since the beginning of January 2002, DEFRA Ministers have received over 4,200 letters from hon. and right hon. Members, and in excess of 45,000 letters from members of the public. The majority of these were addressed to my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State.
11 Apr 2002 : Column: 586W
April 16 ~ Mrs Beckett says "No!"
Peter Ainsworth asks for the details of the letter of appointment for Dr Anderson to be available. Parliamentary Written Answer for 3rd April. (Hansard)
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the letter of appointment agreed between the Government and Dr. Anderson in relation to his duties as Chairman of the Lessons Learned Inquiry. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 28 February 2002]: No. It is not normal practice to publish such letters of appointment.
April 16 ~ "The report .. of Devon County ...clearly provides a local perspective and reflects local views and conclusions. I am afraid I do not accept those conclusions...."
(see Hansard extract) Anyone who feels that Mrs Beckett might be mistaken about the concerns of the Devon Inquiry reflecting only local views and conclusions might care to write to this website with their location We will put their remarks, however brief, on a special page where it can be viewed by the researchers from the Lessons Learned Inquiry who regularly monitor the website.
April 16 ~ Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for DEFRA has dismissed the conclusions of the Devon inquiry into last year's Foot and Mouth outbreak as reflecting only "local views".
In her answer to a Parliamentary Question from the Shadow DEFRA Secretary, Peter Ainsworth MP, Mrs Beckett stated: "I am afraid I do not accept those conclusions."
Commenting on Mrs Beckett's statement, Mr Ainsworth said:
"This is a bland and arrogant insult to Devon County Council's efforts to explain what went wrong during the foot and mouth crisis.
"Maybe she would have accepted Devon's conclusions if her Government had attended the inquiry; it was Ministers' shameful refusal to take part that hampered its search for the truth. Perhaps she is simply unhappy that the findings described a catalogue of errors made by government officials.
"It adds insult to injury that the Government will not accept Devon's conclusions, while continuing to dismiss calls for an independent public inquiry. It seems that Ministers are in no hurry to reach any conclusions whatsoever about the foot and mouth outbreak." (press release)
April 16 ~ £940,000 is the cost to public funds of just two of the government Inquiries...
£620,000 has been set aside for the LLI Inquiry alone. The RSI is estimated at £320,000, and the Future of Farming and Food at £176,000.
Source: Parliamentary Written Answer 10th April to Peter Ainsworth.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimates she has made of the total cost to public funds of the three inquiries following the foot and mouth epidemic. 
Margaret Beckett: The estimated cost of the Policy Commission into the Future of Farming and Food is £176,000 (including gross salary costs of secretariat members). The estimated likely cost of the Royal Society study is £320,000. £620,000 has been set aside for the Lessons Learned Inquiry, which expects to complete its work within its budget. ...."
Within its budget...hmmm. Those who have been working tirelessly for a year on no budget at all will be, no doubt, delighted to hear that others can manage on a mere £620,000. The government's protestations that it wanted to save taxpayers' money by not having an open inquiry is looking rather thin.
April 16 ~ From revised schedule: "Meeting - no particular theme. PPE/ED & PSE invite two experts or other guests, the other groups two experts or other guests to be divided between them...."
the new Hexham schedule has been received. We can only echo the sentiments expressed below:... "serious problem is the chairmanship and the rapporteur - Spanish and German. Neither have any real grasp of the issues involved yet they tend to run the show, working with the secretariat to get the show on the road. Communication with them and the rest of the committee is poor so...they tend to come up with their own "solutions" which are not necessarily to the liking of the committee ...... the central problem is to do with the Tories themselves who called for the committee and orchestrated the votes which brought it into being.......they do not have a coherent idea of what they want the committee to achieve. By and large, they see it as an opportunity for "Labour bashing", and revel in scoring political points but, beyond that, they seem to have very little idea of where they want to go. .. the political vacuum - reflects right thoughout the committee. Everybody is working to their own agenda and at no time has the committee - either in the coordination group or the full committee - actually sat down and decided on these matters. And, in the absence of deciding what it is we want to achieve, it is hardly surprising that there is no clear plan on how to achieve it."
April 16 ~ "More and more evidence is coming forward every day and it's looking worse and worse for the Government. "Our evidence is compelling and, judging from what we have seen, we feel we have a reasonable prospect of success."
"Mr Edwards who was keen to stress that the legal action was not politically motivated, added: "By simply applying one's intellect, it is obvious that the Government should have done more or done it differently." Major organisations backing the action include the Aberdeen Angus Steak House chain and the Youth Hostel Association......The legal action could prove extremely damaging to the government because in effect it will act as a public inquiry in its actions during the crisis. Mr Alexander added: "The court case will enable many of the issues the Government wish to hide being given a full public airing."
Lawyers acting for claimants believe the Government's determination to avoid such an inquiry might be enough in itself to win a settlement." See fuller quotation from Express Article
April 16 ~ "This action is hardly surprising, given that the Government has consistently ignored the problems facing rural Britain in the wake of foot and mouth."
Peter Ainsworth." ....the Government dithered and bungled its way through the crisis. Businesses in rural communities were brought to their knees, as Ministers allowed the idea to circulate that the countryside was closed. "In the absence of a full public inquiry, which the Government continues to dodge, this legal action might offer rural Britain its only chance to ask questions of the Ministers that presided over this disaster." press release
April 16 ~ BLAIR MUST COME CLEAN ABOUT THE FOOT AND MOUTH FIASCO
syas the Daily Express today in its Opinion column.
April 16 ~ " This is not a matter of Labour control-freakery..."
"The PPE (to which the Tories are aligned) plus the ELDR (Liberals), together with the Greens and the alliance of small groups such as the UEN and the EDD, constitute a considerable majority in the European Parliament. They should, therefore, collectively, be in a position to impose their will on the structure and conduct of the inquiry by outvoting the socialists. This is not a matter of Labour control-freakery.
In fact, there are a substantial number of more serious problems which are hampering the inquiry. One is the "tower of babel" effect, where the administration of the inquiry is carried out by a small, underfunded, multi-national secretariat, working at great speed with little contact with working members of the committee. They forge ahead, against impossible deadlines, in a partial vacuum, presenting faits accomplis which are too late to change.
Another serious problem is the chairmanship and the rapporteur - Spanish and German. Neither have any real grasp of the issues involved..." (See full message)
April 16 ~ Dr Caroline Lucas's latest press release about the political manipulation that is going on
with regard to the EU Temporary Committee looking into the UK foot and mouth outbreak does not seem to have been reported in the press. Listen again to Dr Lucas speaking on Farming Today this morning. "First Labour tried to stop the Parliament from setting up the Temporary Committee on Foot and Mouth by voting against the proposal, but it failed. Then it tried to limit the duration of the Committee to just 6 months, but again it failed. Now it is trying to ensure that public meetings in the UK are not genuinely "public", and that people's genuine concerns are muzzled. This is Labour control-freakery gone wild. I am horrified and dismayed to see the way in which such an important inquiry process is being politically manipulated." The only genuinely public meeting is one to be held in Gretna..." she says. Attempts to control this visit to the northern counties makes it imperative that knowledgeable people speak out.
(The BCVA is criticised on Farming Today this morning too. Dick Sibley alone is allowed to speak about this. Listen to Farming Today. The report follows Miriam O'Reilly's quick interview with Dr Lucas.)
April 16 ~ The Express Front Page.."Blair is sued 7 billion over foot and mouth"
The Express story is not on line. Details will be posted here as soon as possible. Ananova's version is summarised: "A £7 billion compensation claim is to be launched over losses sustained in the foot-and-mouth crisis, according to reports. Ministers and rural officials could be summoned to court within a month to face allegations of negligence over their handling of the crisis, says the Daily Express. It's reported lawyers acting on behalf of 25,000 claimants will serve Tony Blair and the Department of Environment, Food and Fisheries notice of their intent to sue for damages on Friday."
April 16 ~"the UK government seems convinced we have far too many small and medium-size dairy farmers, and is happy to see them melting away like snow in the sun...
David Goddard.. "has 130 Holsteins, producing a million litres at an average of 8400 litres each. How is it, he mused, that the Irish can make a living from production levels we left behind in the 1960s while British farmers with herds 30 percent more efficient are going out of business at a rate of hundreds a month?.....The most obvious reason why the UK milk price has gone through the floor is that the UK market is awash with cheap milk imported from Ireland and the continent.
But hang on.
Why, if British farmers are 30 percent more efficient, can't they afford to sell their own milk at a competitive price? The explanation is, firstly, that the milk price is set in euros and the devaluation of the euro means that these euroland farmers start at a massive 15 percent price advantage. Secondly, thanks to the Brussels milk quota system, the continental and Irish producers have huge surpluses, which they can afford to offload into Britain at knockdown prices. Thirdly, the Irish, French and German farmers have governments which do everything they can to assist them, with tax breaks, hidden subsidies and imaginative use of the rules of the common agricultural policy. Meanwhile the UK government seems convinced we have far too many small and medium-size dairy farmers, and is happy to see them melting away like snow in the sun, even though they are more efficient than their competitors . ..." Read Muckspreader in this week's Private Eye
April 16 ~ "The environment had not been invented when Shakespeare wrote, though I bet he knew about agrimony"
writes Emma Tennant in this moving article from the Country Life section of the Times, Sat. 12 April. "His grandfather was a farmer. He certainly knew what happens if the land is abandoned. Listen to the Duke of Burgundy as he describes war-torn France after the Battle of Agincourt:
The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth
the freckled cowslip, burnet and green clover,
Wanting the scythe, all uncorrected, rank,
Conceives by idleness, and nothing teems
But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, burrs,
Losing both beauty and utility.
April 15 ~ "Labour control-freakery gone wild"..."I am horrified and dismayed"
Dr Caroline Lucas has put out a press release tonight in which she speaks of her shock and disappointment at the political manipulation of the FMD Temporary Committee in Europe. "... people's genuine concerns are muzzled. This is Labour control-freakery gone wild. I am horrified and dismayed to see the way in which such an important inquiry process is being politically manipulated."
"The only genuinely public meeting is one to be held in Gretna. The meetings at Hexham, Carlisle and Kendal are by invitation only, and are politically manipulated..."
" For the visit to the burial site at Great Orton airfield, committee members were initially told that they could invite guests or experts, but that they would be unable to speak (what kind of Inquiry refuses to listen to those it invites?)...."
"The farmers who the committee will visit are being carefully selected .. the committee secretariat is being advised on farmers to visit by the NFU... "
".... it seems that Blair's paranoia is not limited to Westminster, but stretches to Brussels and the European Parliament as well. People deserve better: with up to 10 million animals killed and thousands of livelihoods needlessly destroyed, the public has a right to know what really happened...."(full text)
April 15 ~ "The Rt Hon David Maclean MP... This is analysis at 12 o'clock on Thursday 12 April (i.e.2001) Views still coming in but generally same pattern. Pedigree producers generally AGAINST (13/6). Commercial producers FOR (96/19)
.. particularly those closest to approaching F&M. " "...If most farmers vaccinate what is the harm of letting some pedigree specialists not vaccinate and if they get F&M it would not spread to their vaccinated neighbours?" Here is the text of the "Analysis of soundings on Vaccination of cattle to live in Cumbria" carried out by Mr Maclean last April which shows that, contrary to what has been widely believed, the majority of farmers and vets who were surveyed in Cumbria at the time were in favour of vaccination.
April 15 ~ "BSE advisers to meet in public in anti-secrecy drive" says the Guardian. Well, well...
The Guardian today We are concerned about this article: "its deadly human form" - but little is yet known for sure about the disease labelled vCJD. The cattle disease known as BSE is so often linked to it that a link would appear now to be a given - but there are independent scientists (really independent) whose work suggests that the official thinking about TSEs is seriously flawed. £20 million pounds a year in funding to the faithful is not likely to be channeled towards the "heretics" however, and the losers are human health, truth and public confidence. Seac, says the Guardian "has sent shivers through Whitehall and the farming and food industries by its readiness to update the public on issues such as the possibility of BSE in sheep" but what does this mean? The public have certainly been fed the idea that sheep with scrapie could give them vCJD - a notion that has absolutely no basis in proved scientific fact.
If, as research very unpopular with the government and SEAC shows, so-called BSE is actually a bovine form of MS and caused by a microbe, then a reliable test for BSE is possible, the frantic global slaughter of healthy cattle could be stopped and it would be possible not only to make an early diagnosis of MS but also to find a cure for this widespread and deeply upsetting disease. The Guardian and SEAC are right that all should be brought out into the open as the Phillips report advised - but earlier this year, SEAC quietly dismissed the King's College programme that has done this valuable research and it will be wound up. The very government agency set up to look at BSE and CJD, SEAC, has caused Professor Ebringer's funding to be terminated. Without government backing for the work, it cannot go on. As for SEAC's proviso that "only scientific papers seen before publication and information that might be commercially confidential will be discussed in private" this covers most of it! Can the writer of this article, James Meikle, really be unaware of the flaws in SEAC's pronouncements?
April 15 ~ "On the basis of the above, there is an urgent need to determine (and for the EP Committee to decide) whether UK government's contiguous cull policy was legal within the context of UK law and whether it was authorised under the terms of Decision 90/424/EEC
" If the policy is shown not to be legal under UK law, it has significant implications in that, being an illegal act, farmers and others who have suffered as a result could then be entitled to consequential losses. In the latter event, this would mean that the Commission would not be authorised to reimburse (any part of the) payments made by the UK government to farmers, or any of the costs incurred in implementing the policy. ...." See the Memorandum Legality of the "contiguous cull"
April 15 ~ "Mr Wigglesworth advised that ..... "as we had reached Day 6 we could breathe again, when we reached Day 10 we could sleep again at night and by Day 12 we could sleep easy".
.... On the Thursday, 3rd May, Mr Wigglesworth rang to say a "clean" vet from a private practice would be out to inspect our cattle on Friday. I waited throughout the morning of Friday for this vet. Al I .3Opm I rang MAFF's office in Taunton to find out when the vet would arrive. A MAFF civil servant, Martin Boyce, told me that a vet would ring back shortly. No one did. At 4.30pm my father rang and was told a vet would ring back, again no one did. At 5.00pm a deluge of calls came in from friends and the press saying that MAFF had held a press conference saying that my stock was to be slaughtered. .....During that conversation my father asked Mr Bowman how I should go about appealing the slaughter decision if I so wished. Mr Bowman replied that there was no right of appeal. This is not true and I believe Mr Bowman was aware of this when he made the statement......We were aware that if a farmer agrees to allow a valuation he waives all rights to appeal against a slaughter notice. My parents realised that was the reason for the determination to come in and "value" the stock even when it was dark. ......."
The evidence from Mr Thomas Everard illustrates how very difficult it was for farmers to know their rights, to see through the misinformation, avoid the many pitfalls and withstand the evident bullying. His determination and realisation of what was going on saved his healthy stock. Most farmers would have been in no position to defend themselves in this way. At Strasbourg, Lord Whitty said that "if every farmer had acted like Mr Thomas Everard and refused the cull, the disease would have spread much more dramatically." Could it be that Lord Whitty has been woefully misinformed by his officials about this case - or is there another explanation for his extraordinary attack on a hard-working and determined farmer who saved the country between 1.5 and 2 million pounds in compensation?
April 14 ~ From the Northern Echo Saturday 13 April 2002 . Page 4 "Plea for Evidence on Virus Effects"
Companies in the North East are being urged to contribute to a report being compiled on the effects of the Foot & Mouth outbreak which will be presented to the European Leaders. Experiences and statistics are needed from members of the business community for a report being complied by the Federation of Small Businesses. The Chairman of the Darlington Branch, Peter Troy is collating the information which he will hand over to the European Parliament for its inquiry into the epidemic.
Mr Troy said yesterday, "people can provide us with hard information on the amount of business they have lost as a result of the epidemic, or they may want to tell us how much or how little support the bank or the Inland Revenue have provided.
"The idea is that, on behalf of small businesses in the North-East, we go along to the European Parliament, which is having this Inquiry at the moment and also present this information to politicians in this country." "At the end of the day, we want financial assistance for rural based businesses and we also want a full public inquiry." Mr Troy can be e-mailed at email@example.com or telephoned on 01609 760624
(warmwell note: Can anyone tell us who is compiling this information in the other areas?)
April 14 ~ In view of legal action over FMD, and also wider concerns over GM crops, we recall an article "Lord Woolf criticises official secrecy"
by Joshua Rozenberg, a Telegraph article of 25th May 2001. This is as relevant now as when it was reported. ..particularly the statement concerning "relying on discredited science"
GOVERNMENT secrecy has fuelled public anxiety over issues such as GM foods and BSE, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, said last night. Giving the Environmental Law Foundation lecture, in London, Lord Woolf said the immense secrecy that often surrounded issues of controversy, such as experiments with GM foods or the outbreaks of BSE and foot and mouth disease, often encouraged public distrust. To overcome the deep "anxiety and distrust that today surrounds all things scientific and to ensure the environmental health of our world is recognised, openness is a necessity", he said. He spoke of "a vicious spiral of secrecy leading to suspicion, and sometimes irrational hysteria about the environment, which in turn leads to more secrecy". Lord Woolf said that "in exceptional circumstances [the courts] may also be able to reconsider some of the merits" of a decision. ...... A challenge might also be possible if the minister relied on "discredited scientific evidence", or if he had given too much weight to economic interests, compared with threats to public health. ......."
April 14 ~ An irresponsible money saving ploy? This was reported last March. It is worth looking at again in view of the Inquiries, and also the possible legal action against the government by the Rural Businesses Campaign.
Extract below. The rest can be viewed on http://www.warmwell.com/articlesoct10.htm
Simon Walters - Mail on Sunday 18th March 2001
"A special unit set up to crack down on rogue sheep dealers - some of whom are being blamed for spreading foot-and-mouth in Britain - was abolished by the Blair government months after taking power. ....... And a senior Government source said MAFF experts believe the decision in October 1997 to scrap the unit was a 'catastrophic mistake'.
The unit, based in the Ministry's Animal Health Division in Tolworth, Surrey, was secretly abolished to save just £400,000 months after the election. "The unit was very effective in curbing the activities of rogue dealers," said Bryn Pass , a senior RSPCA investigator who has spent years in tracking down sheep dealers accused of flouting the law. "There is no question that its abolition is a major factor in the increase in their trade. It has made it much harder to police them." Mr. Pass's claims were backed up by a MAFF insider who said:' The Government scrapped it in a penny-pinching, cost saving drive, and we are now paying the price.' ...."
Unsubstantiated but serious reports that CSF and possibly even FMD was introduced to this country by rogue dealing in pigs in 2000 also comes to mind.
April 14 ~"... our system has sufficient sensitivity and specificity to detect evidence of infection in vaccinated herds
(e.g., potentially infectious carrier animals if they truly exist) while distinguishing the antibody response to infection from the response to vaccination...." (United Biomedical)
Mrs Alicia Eykyn has sent us the correspondence between the FMD Forum and Biomedical Inc. in USA on the subject of FMD tests.
April 14 ~ Whitty steers clear of facts - Booker's Notebook
From today's Sunday Telegraph ".... No issue thrown up by the Government's handling of this disaster has become more sensitive than whether the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food had the legal power to order its contiguous cull, under which more than nine million healthy animals were slaughtered just because they were within three kilometres of a farm where animals were infected." (warmwell note: or - as was more usual -within three kilometres of a farm where animals were wrongly thought to be infected) "All the evidence is that it did not have this power, which is why the Government is now so desperate to ram through its Animal Health Bill, recently stalled by the Lords.
Yet when questioned on this by the inquiry's vice-chairman, Whitty blithely assured MEPs that "the cull was absolutely legal, was approved by the EU and tested in the courts".
Apart from the approval of the EU, this is simply not true. The nearest last year's cull came to a genuine legal test was in the case of Grunty the Pig, when Mr Justice Harrison ruled in the High Court on June 21 that the ministry had no power to order the blanket slaughter of healthy animals and that each farm must be assessed by a vet on its individual merits.
Lord Whitty was also questioned on the equally sensitive issue of Maff's lamentable shortage of vets. .....he told the MEPs that "total resources are very much the same as they were in 1967". ...... Even allowing for 90 vets transferred to Maff's Veterinary Laboratory, Maff was ..... contrary to Lord Whitty's claim, 200 vets short on numbers. When the MEPs produce their report, it will be interesting to see whether they recognise how they were so blatantly misled......."
April 14 ~ "It appears in the vaccination directive 511 that zoo animals could have been vacccinated after all, whereas I was under the impression that we were told that no such permission was available."
The Commission introduced the following proposals:
(1) Draft Commission Decision laying down the conditions for the control and eradication of foot-and-mouth disease in endangered species in application of Article 13 of Directive 85/511/EEC (Doc. SANCO/1466/2001-Rev.2) (page 4)
Subsequently to the outcome of the meeting that was held on 30 March 2001 concerning endangered species in relation to foot-and-mouth disease, the Commission proposed:
* to require strict precautionary measures in zoos, such as closure of animal houses of the susceptible species to the public, prevention of contact and feeding of these animals by the public, disinfection controls at entrance, etc.
* to allow the emergency vaccination of endangered species in zoos, as listed on the red list laid down by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Vaccination is only permitted when an outbreak of FMD has been confirmed within 25 kilometres of a zoo. Competent authorities may extend this vaccination to other animals such as extremely rare breeds or animals used for irreplaceable and important research work. Such animals may not be traded, transported between Member States or enter the human food chain.
Vote: unanimous vote in favour.
During the meeting of the Standing Veterinary Committee on 4 April 2001, the Member States agreed that the killing for reasons of confirmed foot-and-mouth disease of susceptible animals in Zoos or experimental herds representing a particular scientific value, would not be acceptable from an ethical point of view.
April 14 ~"The Labour's government's plans to integrate the personal data held on British citizens by various government departments and agencies is a dagger to the heart of liberty"
says Libertarian Alliance Director, Dr Chris R. Tame: "It is ironic that when the state has demonstrated that it is incapable of providing any 'public service' adequately, when it cannot defend its citizens from predators of every stripe, that is should be attempting to turn us into supplicants and serfs. The common argument that 'if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear' is absurd. .... it is clear that everyone can be subjected to the prejudices of demented paternalists - whether of the fundamentalist religious nutters, the peddlers of PC pieties, the environmentalists, or the feminist anti-sex cranks. Your life style, your tastes, your sexuality, your political and social views, can be subjected to tomorrow's moral panic, propaganda scare campaign and witch-hunt and legislated as 'crimes' or as 'politically incorrect'.
The citizens of Britain need to send a message to our would-be masters that we are not numbers, that we will not be pushed, filed, indexed, stamped, briefed, debriefed, or numbered - that our lives are our own." http://www.libertarian.co.uk
April 13 ~ ".... recently been speaking to Dr Fussel, senior vet and legal adviser for the European Commission. He had informed her that the EC had offered the UK one million doses of FMD vaccine, to be closely followed by a further 500,000 doses six days later."
from a letter in the North Devon Journal(on the Western Morning News website) published on April 9. "...At this stage production of the vaccine would have matched demand.
She told me that it was a matter of fact that the NFU and Government ministers opposed vaccination and that it was commonly felt amongst our European friends that the NFU was UK agriculture's worst enemy!
She also informed me that the EC is currently conducting an investigation into the NFU...." (more)
April 13 ~ "It was brutal, wasteful and bloody - the nearest thing Britain has seen to what Europe saw in the Second World War," Alan Richardson in Strasbourg
Under the headline, DISEASE BROUGHT 'COMPLETE CHAOS' the Western Morning News reports that " Mr Richardson also criticised the Government's reliance on scientists to try to assess the best way to handle the disease: "If your car is broken you do not take it to a physicist." The way in which computer-modelling had been used, based on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in humans, had been completely inappropriate, he said. He also had strong criticism for the depletion of the State Veterinary Service, which he claimed had dwindled to less than half its size. "If you abolish the officer corps and tell the army to go to war and expect your clerks to direct the soldiers on the ground you will get beaten. Any system of control in the future will fail unless it has a core of veterinary officers who are trained in carrying out the work," he added.
....Earlier Guy Thomas Everard ... also addressed the committee. He told them of the anguish his family had endured on learning of the intentions to slaughter their pedigree herd through a press conference given to the media. ......" (Mr Thomas Everard's cattle were completely disease free, of course. )
(read full article)
April 13 ~ "The European Parliament has a specific mandate to determine if the cull violated EU law. It has written to the European Commission requesting a clear legal response."
In a remarkable article in today's Telegraph, we read, " British ministers were on the ropes in Strasbourg this week trying to justify the mass slaughter of four million non-infected animals during last year's foot and mouth outbreak. Lord Whitty, minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told increasingly sceptical Euro-MPs that the contiguous cull was "absolutely legal and approved by the European Union".....' For a telegraph journalist to report that the Euro-MPs were increasingly sceptical is significant. He continues: " ..... Elliot Morley, let slip a major statement of policy at the hearings on Monday night, one that is likely to cause fury in Westminster. He admitted that the Government would ignore Parliament if it blocks the Animal Health Bill, which gives Defra draconian powers to slaughter livestock with no right of appeal and restricts civil liberties.... " This is language that we never thought to see in a leading newspaper and we are impressed. The article, well worth reading in full, continues, "British MEPs accused the ministers of misleading the committee about the legality of the cull, saying British law authorises only the slaughter of infected livestock or those exposed to the disease. By the Government's own definition, the cull covered animals that were not exposed. The law has never been tested fully in the British courts, though Grunty the Pig was famously saved from execution last year after a judge ruled that the Government did not have authority to carry out "blanket slaughter". As for EU law, which has primacy, it permits "monitoring and inspection" of contiguous areas up to three kilometres. It does not authorise mass slaughter, and certainly not as far away as 22 miles. There is no paper trail indicating that the Government requested the necessary authorisation from Brussels for emergency measures on a mass scale....."
(warmwell note: apologies for erroneously mentioning the name of a Telegraph journalist in an earlier edition of the website. The article is in fact unsigned in the electronic version but in the print version we see that Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is the journalist. We are grateful to him for this report. )
April 13 ~ Near Mutiny - at last - at the DEFRA stakeholders meeting on Thursday.
Finally....some of the animal owners and representatives of sheep organisations have rebelled at the rigidity and bureaucratic illogicality of the 20 day standstill. The stakeholders meeting became noisy and mutinous.
Perhaps it will finally dawn on the frantic DEFRA penpushers who try to impose 'hand-to-mouth' regulations from centrally heated and carpeted offices that there is a limit to the tolerance of responsible owners of livestock. Farmers have obeyed command after command, reluctantly agreed to spend hour after ill-spared hour in following regulations and diktats and filling out forms utterly foreign to the British mentality. On Thursday, however, they demonstrated that they have - after all - only limited patience. They are not - as the government appears to imagine - sheep themselves, and will not be harrassed and chivvied to the slaughter of everything they have worked for. If farmers begin en masse to ignore the ridiculous restrictions, DEFRA has no one but themselves to blame.
April 13 ~ 'The European Parliament hearings - the only public inquiry anywhere into Britain's handling of the epidemic - are becoming a headache for Labour.
Pressed three times for an answer on whether the Government came close to meeting the target of slaughtering infected animals within 24 hours, Lord Whitty finally replied with a tart "No".
At times it took seven days....'..' today's Telegraph
April 13 ~ "It seems the judiciary feels it has little choice but to let Government off the hook, effectively putting the lid on any further judicial review claims,"
quotation from the prize winning entry to the Woolf legal scholarship.
"Lord Justice Simon Brown observed that the decision to hold separate and private inquiries rather than a public inquiry falls within the bounds of legality, even if it was not necessarily "right", says Philip McGhee a 22 year old law student. "A....tempting, avenue is the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. Not strictly bringing Government to account on legal grounds perhaps - no formal procedure, no legal sanction - but the possibility of substantial ex gratia payments following a report may be enough to attract claimants' attention. As happened after the Barlow Clowes affair, the Government might escape admission of liability and having to accept any critical findings, but individuals might secure much-needed compensation without cost to themselves. Constituents need only to contact their MP and request that the "Ombudsman" be called upon to investigate a particular decision for maladministration."
April 13 ~ Cumbria County Council Inquiry..Extra venues are scheduled for 14, 15 & 16 May. 40 nominations were received for Prof Thomas's panel and the names of those agreeing to serve will be published shortly.
From those submitting evidence, a selection will be made of those invited to appear in person at the hearings. They will be notified by 30 April. This is to give oral summary of their evidence and be given the opportunity to clarify issues in response to questions from the panel.
The proceedings are in the form of a public hearing and the press will be in attendance. The main hearings at Carlisle and Kendal will be recorded on camera and audio equipment and it is intended that those recordings will be broadcast live by BBC Online.
April 13 ~ "The suspicion remains that the controversial contiguous cull policy was massively stepped up, resulting in the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of animals, to clear the decks for last June's election."
"That remains a question to be put to the Prime Minister in the full glare of an open, accountable and very public inquiry...." The report of the independent North Devon Journal of the proceedings in Strasbourg is rather different from those in most of the media. "The inquiry under way in Brussels and Strasbourg - at which British officials, veterinary officers and, crucially, Ministers have been called to give evidence - is slowly teasing out the truth. But it is getting next to no national exposure and, quite clearly, the Government is getting off the hook. ......The arrogance that characterised so much of the Government's approach to those affected was still apparent, as was Ministers' failure to understand that this was so much more than an economic crisis to those farmers who lost their stock. Worst of all was Lord Whitty's cheap attack on Exmoor farmer Guy Thomas Everard, who was also giving evidence this week. The Minister said that if every farmer had acted like Mr Thomas Everard and refused the cull, the disease would have spread much more dramatically. That was an unwarranted charge to level at a hardworking farmer who successfully fought to save his animals from the slaughterman because they weren't infected with foot and mouth. Mr Thomas Everard told the hearing he and his family had been "bullied and intimidated" by MAFF over the cull and had only learned via a media press conference that their animals were due to be killed. When Neil Parrish, the Westcountry Euro MP cross-examining the Ministers, asked if those were the tactics that would be employed if the Animal Health Bill - which gives Ministry vets access to affected farms - were to fail, he got a chilling reply. Elliot Morley told him that in those circumstances the Government would consider using "emergency powers" overriding the view of the House of Lords, which has stopped the Bill in its tracks because it has caused such widespread alarm across the countryside."
"There was more alarming evidence from veterinary surgeon Mr Richardson, who had a role in both last year's outbreak and the one in 1967. He told the hearing that when he visited a Ministry of Agriculture office at the height of the foot and mouth outbreak last year he was appalled to witness overflowing in-trays yet staff going home at 5pm. "
April 12 ~ Another scare - the Brucellosis one - has been quietly negatived.
(See today's Cumberland News)It may be remembered that the animal disease fear has been kept on the boil by more than recent foot and mouth wolf cries. The story of the five animals imported from France to Cumbria in February which were suspected of having brucellosis hit the headlines, as did the others, around the time of the lead up to the Animal Health Bill. They have all tested negative for disease. "I must once again stress that it is important that we're all vigilant when restocking herds following FMD to prevent the introduction of any disease." was Mr Morley's comment. The animals around which the brucellosis scare centred had all been blood tested, with negative results, in France before they were imported - which would appear to have been as vigilant as could be humanly expected. On the other hand, perhaps, we all do need to be vigilant about the timing of "animal disease" scares, "food" scares and "health" scares - and to be aware of their political value.
April 12 ~ "Mr Everard ...giving evidence to the committee in Strasbourg, blamed the government's lack of consultation and bullying tactics for any delays."
From the Farmers Weekly
(warmwell apologies - this report was wrongly attributed to the Farmers Guardian in previous update)today..."His farm had only been identified as a dangerous contact because of a visit from an agricultural contractor. After testing, MAFF had agreed his animals were free of the disease. Two days later it changed tack, announcing at a Press conference its intention to slaughter the stock. Mr Everard refused access and, after a seven-day stand-off, MAFF backed down. 'To announce to the Press before informing me was typical of the way MAFF operated throughout the epidemic,' he said. Other farmers were not so tenacious and many healthy animals had been killed unnecessarily, wasting vast sums of taxpayers' money in compensation, he added. ....."
We are disturbed to read in the same article that Lord Whitty said that "farmers' right to appeal was a real problem"and "the government may have to take emergency powers to deal with it in case of future outbreaks." " If more farmers had acted like him, the situation would have been even worse" he said... This is a classic case of attack being considered the best form of defence - and the government's desperate attempts to defend its cruel and ineffectual foot and mouth policy before the illegality of its measures bring the roof crashing round its ears must be all too apparent to many, here and in Europe. The House of Lords showed how it felt on these issues by condemning the Animal Health Bill (or Animal Slaughter Facilitation Bill) to a dusty shelf where it belongs.
April 12 ~ "negative" appears to mean "negative" -"... but we may know something more definite within 96 hours" - DEFRA
The Telegraph reports,"Initial test results from a North Yorkshire farm at the centre of fresh foot and mouth fears have come back negative, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed today. Concerns were raised yesterday after a vet examining animals on the farm at High Worsall, near Yarm, noticed a cow with signs of what could be the disease.
A ban on livestock movements was immediately put in place in a five-mile radius while tests were sent to the Institute for Animal Health laboratory at Pirbright in Surrey.
A Defra spokesman said: "Preliminary laboratory tests from Pirbright have come back negative. But culture testing will continue and we may know something more definite within 96 hours, it may be considerably earlier." None of the cattle on the farm, which was classed as an "infected premises" last May, have so far been slaughtered. "
April 12 ~ While still fuming at SEAC's shabby treatment of Professor Ebringer we read in the latest email: "is it that the wish to protect the interests of pharmaceutical companies and the public bodies which underwrite the safety of medicines continues to be paramount?"
Lawrence writes, "I am just reading the section of Richard North's Book "The Death of British Agriculture", in which he deals with the Department of Health [Department of Stealth] and its cover-up of the dangers of BSE transmission by biological medicinal products. How much more possible it seems that if spread by an infectious agent, BSE would be spread by injectable medicines, which are introduced directly into the bloodstream, bypassing all the body's normal defensive barriers! And how completely and successfully has the DoH suppressed public consciousness of this!
My thoughts turned to the Farmers Weekly report of 11th March, about the speculation as to why "14 young cattle developed the disease even though they were born after meat and bonemeal was banned from feed on 1 August 1996."
The speculation of Professor John Wilesmith of the Veterinary Laboratories Agency that "feed may have become contaminated with meat and bonemeal while it was shipped into the UK." seemed extraordinarily tenuous. How much more likely that the calves had, sometime in their lives, received a shot of a contaminated injectable. I wonder if anyone has looked - or is it that the wish to protect the interests of pharmaceutical companies and the public bodies which underwrite the safety of medicines continues to be paramount?"......(see also BSE/CJD page)
April 11 ~ Another Scare
One cow suspected. Movement restrictions in force. Suspected case is at High Worsall, Nr Yarm. Initial results expected Friday. Samples at Pirbright. At this stage it seems only DEFRA is putting out the news. How timely in view of Mr Morley's letter to The Times. There will be some topspin on this tomorrow we are betting.
April 11 ~ There is to be a Symposium on FMD hosted by the Devon and Cornwall Branch of the Institute of Biology.
It will be held in the Peter Chalk Centre of the University of Exeter on Saturday 20th April and costs £10. Chaired by Prof Colin Spedding and Prof Ian Mercer. Speakers include Geoff Bateman (Environment Agency), Prof Joe Brownlie (Royal Veterinary College), Prof Philip Duffus (University of Bristol), Prof Alick Simmons (Veterinary Head of Endemic Diseases and Zoonoses, DEFRA)and an NFU representative.
Anyone interested in going should contact the branch secretary Chris Fry by April 12th at latest.
firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01395 278556 (warmwell note: as we remarked before, there are some questionable luminaries assembled here. we hope there will be counterbalances...)
April 11 ~ The Times has printed a letter from Mr Elliot Morley who appears to believe that the contiguous cull was not a mistake.
He says, " the whole idea was to remove neighbouring animals that had been exposed to the virus before they incubated the disease and spread it further. " Yes indeed. If you kill all the animals in a county the disease figures do tend to reduce. Mr Morley continues, "Existing tests do not show positive for the disease in the early stages so it is no surprise many of the contiguous cull animals tested negative. A negative test was no guarantee that disease was not present." In other words, according to Defra, the killing of any animal is perfectly justified in attempts to save animal lives. Pour encourager les autres perhaps? Tests are irrelevant since healthy animals show negative results.
On Mr Morley blunders: "As experience in the Brecon Beacons showed, where contiguous culling was not carried out at an early stage the disease spread very quickly. In the end it was the contiguous cull which brought the area under control. " This is wishful thinking which would be laughable had it not been so utterly tragic. Since DEFRA figures mean nothing and records were not properly kept no one knows exactly where live virus was. The hefted flocks were killed because one or two had antibodies and were no longer susceptible to foot and mouth. The contiguous cull would have wiped out even more thousands of healthy and irreplaceable hefted sheep had it not been for the courageous challenge mounted - a rocking of the boat DEFRA had not expected. There was at the time a powerful organisation at work that put a veritable stranglehold on "Cardiff" as they knew that there was £40,000 of underwriting to take them on immediately one farmer resisted. There is no doubt that this stopped them in their tracks.
Mr Morley's enthusiasm for "culling" has not been checked by the Lords' repulsion at the terms of the legislation now known as the "Animal Slaughter Facilitation Bill". "We have always been open to alternative approaches such as vaccination, " he says in the tones of one saying "we, in the Labour government, have always been open to the notion that we might be mistaken." He adds with astonishing impudence,"The Animal Health Bill would give us strengthened powers to vaccinate and take blood samples as well as culling. That is why it is important." Why would Mr Morley want to take blood samples when he would not believe any negative results? No farmers objected to their animals being tested - what they objected to was the killing of their stock without benefit of testing. The government has ALWAYS had statutory powers to vaccinate by force and needs no new power to do so - which makes their claim that vaccination was abandoned because of lack of agreement from the NFU so dishonest. As a justification for the contiguous cull and for legalised indiscriminate slaughter, Mr Morley's letter is ludicrous and blatant spin.
April 11 ~ "Science has always been concerned with factual knowledge - suddenly it is being regulated by politicians, and controlled by threats and censorship. The single duty of scientists is to divine the facts; the sole responsibility of health advisers is to make the facts available."
" The Labour government has boasted of its spirit of openness, and I am not the only scientist who is waiting to see it pull its finger out, and give people the facts...." wrote Brian J Ford in 1998. In 1997 Professor Alan Ebringer of King's College, London wrote to tell Dr Ford that he had a theory of his own on BSE. He was wondering if it could be related to organisms normally present in the intestines of cattle, and to prove the point he needed to test specimens of serum from cattle with BSE. When he requested some, MAFF refused to let him have any samples.
In 2002 Professor Ebringer was finally permitted 25 minutes to present his theory and explain his live test for BSE to SEAC, that strange body so closely allied to the Food Standards agency. The committee listened sceptically and dismissed the professor's work. It appears that they would rather have no test at all for BSE than one with 75% proven efficacy. On March 25 the Veterinary Times (Vol 32, no 11) devoted its front page, a summary and leader, to this extraordinary behaviour. As Magnus Linklater wrote on Dec 13th: "If (Prof Ebringer) is right, the implications are far-reaching. The public's fears about meat safety could be allayed; a reliable test for BSE would mean that the slaughter of healthy cattle could be stopped; most important of all, it would be possible to reach an early diagnosis of MS and thus, eventually, to find a cure for this most damaging and intractable disease. .." ) more
April 11 ~ Last Ditch Appeal - for an appeal. Deadline April 19
Western Morning News "Hopes have been raised that a High Court decision not to hold a public inquiry into foot and mouth crisis could be challenged..... ...the deadline for an appeal against the decision was extended by Lord Justice Simon Brown to Friday April 19.
Taunton based Tim Russ called on membersof the rural community to pledge money towards an appeal. We need about £10,000 to prepare our application for permission to appeal against the High Court ruling and about £50,000 to finance the appeal itself. Mr. Russ said that the decision to turndown the challenge was premature, prior to the outcome of the Government's own inquiries into the foot and mouth outbreak. "The fact the House of Lords seemed to agree with us by booting out the Animal Health Bill until the curent inquiry results come out is encouraging."
"There is a very important bigger issue as to who had the right to call an inquiry and why. The judges were quite worried about that in the first instance."
Ian Johnson, spokesman for the South West National Farmers' Union, said the regional branch had approached its head office to see if funding could be given to the cause - but without success. He added "If there are people who have any spare cash in the farming industry - which is extremely unlikely - then we ( warmwell note: i.e. the South west NFU, not to be confused with the unelected Council in London) would wholeheartedly back them in giving money to this appeal." Anyone who would like to give money towards an appeal should telephone Mr. Russ on 01823 445218....." warmwell.com will telephone Mr Russ at 9.00 a.m.
April 11 ~ "We are not open at the moment, normal office hours are 9am till. Yes, yes but we have FMD! "Please call during normal working hours". So they did, first thing in the morning. What then happened will never leave the memories of this family".
The first to arrive was "Victor" the vet. Around 10:00. A leisurely start for "Victor" who eventually turned up muttering lots of nice things like, "You farmers want FMD anyway." And "You only want the compensation." ....
Soon the valuation of the herd was under way. Around 85 milkers and some young stock. Victor became increasingly callous in his approach. A crude and very rude little man with absolutely no consideration for this family or their animals.
Soon he had a young cow that was showing signs of FMD isolated. Only a very thin metal gate separated this animal from the remainder of the herd. He wanted the animal killed straight away, as "It was breathing virus." The slaughter team had not arrived yet. Victor placed his weapon between the eyes of this terrified animal and pulled the trigger....an adult cow! A large animal.. The cow still stood there.. Eyes glazed, heavily traumatised and in deep shock. She was bleeding profusely.She was still very much alive. ..in agony. ... The owners looked on, unable to speak. In the shed, mass panic enveloped the 85 milkers... so distressed they began to abort their calves. ..
The owners of the stock reported the incident to the Army personnel who were responsible for some of the administration. Nothing ever happened. Our owners were never consulted about this incident. They never heard a thing....
Sue told me that the real name of the Vet involved in this horrific action was a Mr CLIVE MEDIROS from OXFORD. He specialises in Ostriches" (full story)
April 11 ~ Dalehead Foods is currently reviewing the future of its factories in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket which employ a total of 227 workers. ...The factories are part of Flagship Foods, one of the country's largest pig producers, slaughterers and processors, supplying fresh meat to retailers and major manufacturers.
Pat Gardener writes," If my memory is right, (needs checking ) this is the company that acquired the massive British Quality Pigs from the late Gary Weston's Associated British Foods, in less than 24 hours - for no money and without any documentation being done. This was after BQP had been caught pig smuggling and later convicted. BQP were also had the first case of CSF in the UK. BQP were also the subject of serious animal cruelty charges by the RSPCA. Defra got the charges thrown out of Court and all the press records on the internet have disappeared.
The whole thing stank to high heaven.
If anyone has the time, facilities and skills to investigate properly they will get my entire co-operation. ..."
April 11 ~ "This leaflet does not contain all the information about the legislation and has no legal standing."DEFRA booklet "New Rules on Sheep & Goats Identification - a guide".
So even if you do read it all and try to follow what it advises, DEFRA can still get you! For some reason I was honoured with not one but two copies. Setting out to read through its 21 pages I was encouraged to find the statement: "This leaflet does not contain all the information about the legislation and has no legal standing."
Strangely, nowhere in the 21 pages does it define and describe exactly how and where the various numbers should be stamped on the tags. I do tag my sheep already - from when they are young lambs. Each year I find that about 20% have lost their tags... I use the small plastic two part tags: the great flags illustrated in the booklet would, I am sure catch on any obstruction available. I put, formerly my name - now my DEFRA flock number - on the 'female part of the tag' [which goes inside the ear] and the animal's own number on the male part on the outside of the ear - so it is easy for me to read it and identify the animal. I had hastily to ring the DEFRA helpline [mostly busy with long delays] to check that this arrangement complies with the "New Rules". It does - but why on earth couldn't the fundamental reqirement for the tag printing have been described in the guide?
I fully sympathise with Sue and Adrianne's objections to mutilating their animals. We do not tag our goats and I hate to think what driving a blunt plastic spike through the ears of our adult goats would do to their trust in us.
Lawrence Wright Middle Campscott Farm
April 11 ~ From the RCVS submission (see extracts) Question: Would the use of vaccination have made any difference to the scale and/or duration of the outbreak, and its wider impact?
RCVS answer: ..... Vaccination could have been used with the permission of the Commission as a control measure during the outbreak, and we believe it would have made a significant difference.....For the future, the EU should consider allowing animals vaccinated in order to control an outbreak to live instead of being killed later
April 10 ~ "Animals were starving, ewes giving birth unaided and newborn lambs drowning in mud."
One of the stark, unemotional sentences in the RCVS Inquiry submissions. (More)
April 10 ~ "18. Veterinary decision-making was unduly centralised."
http://www.rcvs.org.uk/fmd_info.htmlFrom the RCVS submission to the Lessons Learned inquiry
19. The prime task of the local veterinary surgeons (TVIs and permanent DVO staff) was to diagnose the presence of the disease, but their diagnoses were subject to confirmation by veterinary surgeons in HQ. This system worked well in 1967/68 when the HQ staff manning the telephones were all highly experienced DVOs with great knowledge of foot and mouth disease. It was a disaster in 2001 when many of the telephone decision makers at HQ had no experience of the disease. During the first four weeks HQ often insisted on laboratory tests, even when the clinical diagnosis was clear, thus causing significant delays before diseased animals were slaughtered. At the end of March the position was reversed, in that TVIs were not allowed to take samples for testing but required to decide at once whether the disease was present or not. In many instances the preferred course would have been to slaughter animals with suspect symptoms and put the farm in quarantine for a few hours until a firm diagnosis could be made. Usually, however, HQ insisted on a positive diagnosis of the disease if the local veterinary surgeon was not sure, and often refused to allow a second opinion.
This led to unnecessary slaughter not only of the herd concerned but also of animals on many contiguous farms and farms within a radius of three kilometres.
Later the policy of slaughter on suspicion was introduced, but veterinary surgeons were still not allowed to wait for laboratory test results before a flock was slaughtered.
April 10 ~ An apparently secret EU Inquiry meeting is taking place at the Shepherd's Inn at Carlisle 19th April at 5 pm.
This was the unlisted mysterious meeting mentioned with a row of ......dots... on the EU FMD schedule list. The meeting is being kept quiet for some reason and we have no idea who is to attend. So there IS a Cumbria meeting but obviously no one "ordinary" is to be invited or told about it.
We are tired of the secrecy surrounding the whole subject of the Foot and Mouth policy in the UK. WHY was the Official Secrets Act used in so widespread a way? What possible justification can there be for it - except as a way of keeping unpalatable facts from the press and the people? However, if there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the Cumbria meeting being closed, perhaps someone who knows will let us know?
With regard to the submission of evidence to the CUMBRIA CC inquiry, the deadline for expressions of interest to give evidence to the inquiry is set for 12 April 2002. The deadline for written submissions of evidence to the inquiry is set for 26 April 2002. Comments and written submissions can be sent to electronically to email@example.com or posted to:
FMD Inquiry Cumbria County Council The Courts Carlisle
CUMBRIA CA3 8NA
It is anticipated that the findings of the inquiry would be reported to the meeting of Full Council scheduled for 25 July 2002.
April 10 ~ "The Government can't stop us like they blocked calls for a public inquiry. It's everybody's right to litigate.
Solicitor Wynne Edwards from the London law firm Class law "We would only litigate if we thought the case had considerable merit. It does. "This is serious stuff. We are on the right trail. When we get to court the Government and everybody else will see how serious it is."
Legal proceedings to sue the Government over its handling of the foot and mouth crisis are underway. London law firm Class Law is bringing the action on behalf of the UK Rural Business Campaign that lost money during the outbreak.
April 10 ~ A vet writes, "...farmers should report the vets who signed the form A on contiguous premises (and not the later form-modified D) to the RCVS
making the case that this was false certification if the animals showed no signs of disease and they were not examined by the vet. The case of the 2 vets in Scotland is ongoing...."
We quite agree - but on past experience we are not very hopeful. Perhaps now that the truth is beginning to dawn in some quarters it is more likely that such complaint will be taken seriously and so we urge such farmers to contact the RCVS and complain. While we are sympathetic to those inexperienced and non English speaking vets who were placed in difficult positions by those demanding their cooperation, our sympathy only goes so far- and does not extend to those who must have known perfectly well that they were merely taking the easy road. They were compromising not only with their consciences but also with the ethical basis that made the veterinary profession so highly respected in the past. We expect the question to be properly and professionally addressed - and very much fear that it has, up to now, been quietly swept under the carpet.
It is also high time something/someone did something about these welfare breaches. Have any slaughtermen had their licences revoked? It would be kind of anyone with information to let us know.
April 10 ~ On the vexed question of the .33 of a witness required by the Green Party (see below), owing to the EU regulations
..... we have received this suggestion: "How about William, the farmer's son, who wrote to Prince Charles? He's less than a third of the age of most of the other contributors...." William added to his letter a picture of a happy live sheep and an unhappy dead one with its legs in the air, lying in a pool of blood. It brought tears to his father's eyes to read it (and to the eyes of others). We reprint it here exactly as William wrote it.
"Dear Royal Hiness Prince Charles. My name is William. I am 11 years old. I am writing this letter in English because I dont know if you can understand Welsh. I live on a sheep farm in the Brecon Beecons National Park. Please can you help save the rest of our sheep because they have alredy killed thousands of them today on the mountain you are the prince of wales in school we learned that in olden times the prince of wales was the rwler. everyone had to do what he said. can you tell the people not to kill our sheep otherwise there wont be any left. My mam and my dad have been crying a lot and it makes me sad and makes my tummy feel funny when they cry. I always help my mam and dad with the lambs and the shearing and I want to be a farmer but if you kill the arosfa sheep the new sheep will walk off the mountain and they wont know where to stay. our farm is below the mountain and our sheep arnt on the mountain but dad says they will come to test the sheep by here as well. i dont want them to kill our sheep they are NOT ill. lots of sheep are been killed on the mountain up by storey arms today and they are not ill. why cant you make a law so they cant kill them please help them please. from william."
April 10 ~ email just received. "How I agree with your latest emailer about the Rules and Regs. Today I opened another large envelope from DEFRA and nearly collapsed in disbelief..
"How anyone can be bothered to farm with all the Rules they are now introducing, all the ear tagging of countless sheep and the pages and pages of rules, definitions, exceptions, etc. etc. It really is beyond belief. They are trying to drive us all out of business. I really do believe this now. That stupid steaming great nit, Ben Gill, has walked right into their trap. If vaccination had been brought in none of this traceability rubbish would apply and the poor sheep would not now be subject to disgusting mutilation of their ears by at least two tags (many of which are torn out by brambles, heges, undergrowth) or tattoos. When I remember how that smart alec Dr. Frood, from the NFU, told us all that vaccination would require too much labour to undertake on a national scale, (never mind that we already do vac. for seven deadly diseases anyway) whatever does the NFU imagine will be the labour requirement for DEFRA's latest wheeze??
Honestly it just makes me sick, it's so Orwellian - why can't people see what is happening to this country?? People like Ben Gill are the "useful idiots" so beloved of Lenin. They are leading the farmers into a blind alley and sounding the death knell to farming in this country. Our farming, which has created the beautiful landscape and made this country self sufficient in food, is now being sacrificed to the greed and ambition of puppet emperors with global designs. Tell me, how are they going to enforce this ear tagging and traceability amongst Turkish shepherds, or Greeks, or any of our "partners" in the EU?
Yours in rage and fury, Adrianne.
April 10 ~ Very well worth reading, and extremely significant, particularly as it recommends ring vaccination.
"There appear to have been no national contingency plans. (MAFF) seems not to have heeded the recommendations of the Northumberland report that, in the absence of a meat import policy which would substantially reduce the risks of primary outbreaks occurring, the slaughter policy should be reinforced by a ring vaccination scheme, and that contingency plans for the application of ring vaccination should be kept in constant readiness".http://www.rcvs.org.uk/fmd_info.html It is interesting that in the Editorial for the Veterinary Record for March 30th which reviewed the RCVS submission to the LLI makes no mention of the ring vaccination advocated by the RCVS; it is completely ignored. (Details of submission by the RCVS are in article "RCVS criticises organisation and planning" VR March 30th)
April 10 ~ the Association (BVA) commented ...."legal challenges to powers of entry and slaughter delayed and prevented such action being taken and hindered efforts to control the spread of the disease"
(Extract from Veterinary Record April 6th "Animal Health Bill blocked by Lords".) Warmwell.com, along with many others, hotly contests what is implied, though significantly not quite stated, by these words. What is implied is what the government has on several occasions actually said - and later quietly withdrawn - that farmers who resisted spread disease. The lack of any evidence to support such a view shows that legal challenges were absolutely justified. The animals protected by such resisting farmers have remained healthy - as have contiguous farms such as all those around Iddesleigh in Devon, which missed by days the imposition of the "contiguous cull" legislation. It now appears, that this legislation actually originated from the EU and was merely given convenient "justification" by the mathematical modellers (see also submission to Lessons Learned about the flaws in the modelling)
"In this respect, the Association (BVA) said, the Bill provided "welcome clarification of the powers which should prevent such delays in the handling of any future FMD outbreak".
The BVA, although as apparently insensitive as ever to the fate of animals and owners, and welcoming powers to cut them off from the protection of legal challenges, was anxious to protect its own...
" it drew attention to concerns that the proposed measures, particularly those relating to the wider culling powers, might cause professional difficulties for veterinary surgeons where their professional responsibility for the animals under their care might be in conflict with the requirements of the law. . ..." (more detail)
April 10 ~ From a German farmer - Another argument about the EU and farming subsidies -
(see original message) "I can understand what people, especially farmers, feel about Europe and the EU. But I think they never ge to the bottom of things. ..Pointing fingers and shouting that 'others are always better off'' is a big mistake because it is what gives the ones with the power the tool to treat us like they do. I know what I am paid for premium heifer ( 125 p/kg deadweight!) and that's well below the price paid in the UK for the same animal. And the cattle farmers in Germany are not better off than their British counterparts. And I doubt the picture in Belgium or the Netherlands is different.
European farmers must unite to show how Europe should work, otherwise they will pick us (off) one by one and play us off against each other - which will weaken the farming community further. The only chance to survive is in joining together, try to built a very strong link and work together no matter whether we are from Greece, Holland, the UK or Germany. Together we are strong! If the Governments don't like what's going on in Europe they should get their acts together and kick some asses for the benefit of their own people. .every Government can decide to obey the regulations or simply say NON.They don't do this. This should give us .. food for thought as well. Maybe they like what's going on?...."
April 10 ~ The formal sittings of the Cumbria County Council Inquiry will be held in Carlisle and Kendal.
The first session will open on Tuesday 7 May and will run until Friday 10 May. The second session will open on Tuesday 28 May and run to Friday 31 May. Venues as yet not determined.
Please note that the deadline for expressions of interest to to give evidence to the Inquiry is 12 April (THIS FRIDAY). In other words, if you wish to speak you MUST let them now NOW. Please, please do not delay. Please write now to say you will be submitting points (however brief) The deadline for written submissions of evidence is 26 April 2002.http://www.cumbriacc.gov.uk/news/footandmouth/inquiry.asp Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org Queries to: John Hetherington, FMD Inquiry Lead Officer 01539 773430
Chief Executive's Directorate Cumbria County Council The Courts Carlisle
Cumbria CA3 8NA
April 10 ~ More EU Madness
Under the system for calculating representation in the different political groups in the European Parliament, the party of Dr Lucas, the Green Party, has a problem. They are entitled to call 3.33 witnesses.
April 9 ~ "A cruel ineffectual joke"- eye witness account of yesterday's Temporary Committee hearing in Strasbourg
"Yes, I was there and yes, Gill was challenged... Dr Lucas had a go at him. However, as always, the structure of the hearing defeated any real attempt at searching questioning. There were four speakers, Lord Whitty, Ben Gill, Guy Thomas Everard and Alan Richardson. ... There was no direct (one to one) questioning of individual speakers, and no confrontation, as such. Questions had to be directed to the "Chair" and Whitty and Morley were allowed first pick. Then Gill was politely asked to comment, as and when he chose.
Within that mishmash, there could be no continuity and, with the best will in the world, even a willing witness would have found it difficulty to remember all the questions that had been asked in each block. Gill... could "cherry pick", with plenty of time to think of an answer. There was no way that anything serious was going to come out of this mess. ....when witnesses are prepared to lie and evade, there is really no mechanism for dealing with them. I walked out half way through the session, before Morley gave his dissertation. I could not see any value in wasting my time giving this man a hearing.
And, to cap it all, we are no told that there will be no transcripts of the hearings, so we cannot evaluate the testimony. For all the high hopes of this inquiry (those that had them), this is turning out to be a cruel, ineffectual joke." (full email)
April 9 ~ The Sunday Herald reports that in Scotland, for example, insurance companies consider that genetically engineered plants are "as risky as war and nuclear accidents."
Insurance companies have decided not to provide farmers, their neighbours or anyone else with cover against the risks of GM contamination.http://www.mg.co.za/mg/za/archive/2002apr/features/03apr-cracked.html
"This means that there will be no pay-outs for anyone whose health is harmed by GM food and organic farmers put out of business by genetic pollution will get no compensation. As a result, leading land agents are advising their clients not to get involved with GM crops. The revelations come amid growing alarm about the dangers to human health and the environment posed by genetically engineered plants in Scotland. Doctors say GM food is a "gamble", while conservationists fear GM crops could breed "superweeds" resistant to herbicides.
Despite all this, the Scottish environment and rural development minister, Ross Finnie, is still backing the 14 farm-scale trials of GM oilseed rape in Aberdeenshire, Ross-shire and Fife."
This is not just a problem for our friends in Scotland. It affects us all. Once again, warmwell asks for your help. Please phone and email. It does make a difference. If you could let us know that you have it would be very much appreciated.
Three weeks ago Charles Saunders, chairman of the British Medical Association's public health committee, called for the GM trials to be halted until scientists can prove they are safe.
April 9 ~"United Milk have cut the milk price to their suppliers by 4.6p a litre. The collapsing milk price is across the board - it doesn't matter whom you are trying to sell to."
David (dairy farmer) writes, " Someone suggested I sell my milk to a specialist cheese maker who might pay me a better price but why should he? The point is any processor looking for milk to process can buy it at 12p a litre right now so why bother to pay a farmer the price needed for the farmer to be sustainable - which is 24p a litre? The Government is totally impotent - unable under the terms of the CAP to support its own farmers even if it wanted to. We are so asleep in this country that we have not woken up to the fact that our contributions to the EU are effectively being used by other member states to subsidise their farmers in order that they can undercut our markets. The Government could try to help by either pulling out of the CAP altogether (if it could), cutting off the funding that is undercutting our market (saving £bns) or pull out of the EU full stop.
It is no good saying we need to renegotiate of reform the EU because the UK vote is only 1/15th of the overall vote and the others would not want to see our money pulling out.
...... we are getting involved in a totally alien system of Government. We should pull out until the EU considers reforming its system of Government to:
1. A Democracy system of Government that we understand - set up a House of Representatives and a Senate, allow MEP's to become the legislators, stop the un-elected Commission from making laws, diktats and regulations etc etc
2. Address the £4bn fraud scandal
3. Revoke immunity from prosecution for politicians and employees of the EU
4. A level playing field for farmers and manufacturing. Our system of Government is the basis of the majority of Democracies in the world. It has been exported all over the world. We should get up a wish list and say we have no intention of jeopardising our country for the ideals of an alien system of Government." (see also A British Agricultural Policy)
April 8 ~ Mr Gill, fearing perhaps to be made a scapegoat for the horrible catastrophe that was the UK FMD policy, went straight into attack as the best form of defence in Brussels today
We await eye witness accounts, but it would appear that Mr Gill has breezed through his examination with self righteousness intact. Instead of being instructed to explain how it was that farmers who trusted the NFU were given such disastrous misinformation about vaccination and, in particular not told about EU provisions to compensate them for any losses incurred as a result of vaccination, it seems that he was encouraged to hold the floor. The Temporary Committee simply sat and dutifully listened while Mr Gill went into sermon mode. The man who, according to many, sabotaged the planned vaccination policy in April, told them how " only "co-ordinated global scanning" could protect against the spread of major animal infections in future. "Countries and continents need to co-operate if they are to protect themselves against diseases like foot-and-mouth in future." " Diseases like this know no boundaries" he informed his audience. "It is important," he burbled,"that predictive modelling and surveillance is used to provide a detailed and up-to-date picture of infectious diseases around the globe as they occur and develop."
Did no one interrupt all this to ask, "Mr Gill, can you still not recognise that you made a fatal error of judgement? Which of the factual arguments condemning the stance made against vaccination, clearly given by witnesses here in Brussels, do you fail to understand? Why are you still blustering irrelevantly about mathematical models and global cooperation when your own uncooperative behaviour has resulted in pain and distress on a level that is difficult even to comprehend?" No one did, apparently.
April 8 ~ Ben Gill will have his five minutes at Brussels today
(see below) Meanwhile we read on the farmtalking internet FMD forum, " Goebbels would be proud of this man. Gill may have won the argument (as in street brawl) by virtue of dissenting voices being disallowed ;but he did not win the debate because a) we never had one and b) such requires facts which were essentially withheld.
I would contend that the disgraceful slaughter figures along with the allied human loss of life, suffering, pollution, financial damage, rampant homo-centric greed and mismanagement made manifest, and damage to the credibility of our democratic process only testify to how wrong he got it. Still, as we all know,' if you tell a big one long enough and often enough '... thank goodness such individuals as Nick Green and various others are prepared to dog down the Truth of this ghastly episode, to which I add my voice -- I'm right with you Nick, as long as it takes. .. Who is going to reply to Gill?"
April 8 ~ Another case of almost unbelievable cruelty to pigs has been revealed today in the Scottish newspaper, the Daily Record.
"PIG king Arthur Simmers made his millions from piggeries across Scotland. A former chairman of the Scottish Pig Association, he once owned a quarter of all sows in the country. ....... he resurrected his career shortly later when he set up his new company Scotpigs - much to the outrage of his creditors. In 1995, Simmers appeared in court on charges of pig cruelty but was cleared. ......... Scotpigs have farms across the country. The boss is Aberdeenshire-based tycoon Arthur Simmers, nicknamed the Pig King because of his massive control on pork production..." This echoes stories about other large pig concerns, particularly those involved in the East Anglian CSF crisis, whose bosses have the ethical principles of piranha fish. There are millions of pounds to be made from the mistreatment of animals - if big business is involved. There are all kinds of reasons why those who do are protected. We have not heard the last of this yet - and that there is a connection with FMD seems very likely to become apparent.
April 8 ~ "We are dealing with the equivalent of a huge oil-tanker, and to stop it in its tracks and make a U-turn, a lot of force is necessary. Don't underestimate all the inflated egos that will need a lot of convincing before they admit that they were wrong."
"It is time for reflexion.
"I have come to the conclusion, with regard also to the situation in the UK, that this policy (non-vaccination) is contrary to everything that veterinary medicine stands for and is thus unacceptable. ... Our RDVA has a motto: 'Animalium hominumque saluti', in English 'To the well-being of animals and people' ... how shall we calculate animal and human suffering, social unrest, "the threat to rural life" as was recently said in the UK? But futhermore there is something morally and ethically absolutely wrong. To me, there is an essential difference between food production and destruction. How shall we explain the images shown again and again on TV, to our children and grandchildren? Therefore I have, together with a group of colleagues, proposed a motion for our Annual General Meeting ... with continuing non-vaccination policy, a new outbreak in the near future can be predicted with a probability of nearly 100%
...we find the consequences unacceptable for animals, farmers, veterinary surgeons and many others concerned, especially in the light of a alternative with proven efficacy....if the non-vaccination policy is continued, we will no longer cooperate in an eradication program as carried out in spring 2001 ...
It is time for veterinary surgeons to look in the mirror, ask themselves where they stand ... if we want to have any impact in discussions in Brussels and with the OIE, Holland alone will probably not be able to change the policy." Dr. Peter Poll PhD. DVM, writing last year. (See more) about his resolution to the Dutch equivalent of the BVA.
April 8 ~"...as for the BVA.... These persons should not have statutary monopoly of the treatment of animals. Vets cannot be trusted."
concludes this angry letter to warmwell today from Lawrence and Karen Wright, the Devon sheepfarmers who fought hard for - and were refused -permission to vaccinate their stock last year. "You reported on 6th April, Jon Dobson's email about the apparent policy of the RSPCA to avoid prosecutions..and asked if we, as readers are happy about this. Karen and I ARE NOT.
You may remember my highlighting of a report in the Western Morning News on 31st October last year. It described how "an upset pet owner from Scotland wept yesterday as a court heard how she and her husband left their dogs to swelter and almost die in their car on a hot summer's day..." The two dogs were rescued, treated and they recovered. The brave, welfare-conscious RSPCA prosecuted their owners - who were given a twelve month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £352 towards the RSPCA's costs.
The report concluded "RSPCA Inspector Rob Skinner said outside the Court: "These are caring pet owners who love their animals but made a terrible, stupid mistake. ....."
I noted at the time - "This is the same RSPCA... that sent me information sheets justifying the slaughter and misinforming me about the efficacy of vaccination. They have no excuse for apparently continuing to maintain this ignorance - a representative of theirs attended the Bristol Forum on vaccination. Why were not the RSPCA officers ... doing duty at the farmgate of the Winslade farm when the slaughtermen forced their way in?" (See the letter in full, with others we have received on the same subject.)
April 8 ~ "These powerful visual images brought another to all of our minds at the same time - the Nazi holocaust"
Alan Beat describing "In the Shadow", writes, "These scenes were shocking enough, but it was the people carrying out such tasks that made the most impact on me. A contractor described the operation in a casual, relaxed manner as the camera recorded lorries tipping sheep carcases into a vast pit, a swingshovel levelling out the heap, a bulldozer with spiked roller puncturing the bodies and compacting them.
As the voice detailed how many hundred thousand carcases each pit held, I simply could not comprehend how human beings could be doing this from choice - as a job of work, for money. These powerful visual images brought another to all of our minds at the same time - the Nazi holocaust.
The parallel was re-inforced by footage of Vicky Clegghorn, the MAFF vet who personally handled the "difficult" cases. Clearly revelling in her power, she wore down resisting livestock owners until she "won". She was really annoyed to "lose" at Mossburn (her body language was telling) but the final touch was cuddling and fussing her own pet dog for the camera - look at me, I love animals really! The Nazi mass-murders often chose to be photographed with their dogs, too. Powerful though the film is, it makes no attempt to interpret or analyse, justify or criticise. It is simply a record and tells only part of the story." (More from Alan can be read on the Today page)
April 7 ~ We note (sourly) in the Veterinary Record that the BVA in their submission re AHB say that they supported the bit of the Animal Health Bill wanting stronger powers of entry and slaughter because individual farmers held up the control of the spread of the disease by legal action.
Oh really? and where is their evidence, pray?
The full text of the BVA submission is available on the members' section of the BVA website at www.bva.co.uk However, the Atticus column in the Sunday Times had this: "As if Tony Blair's handling of foot and mouth had not been bad enough ( "I'm taking personal charge," he soothed in a silly space suit, then disappeared), he has now upset children from Barnoldswick in Yorkshire who wrote a book of poems about the crisis. While the Prince of Wales and even Margaret Beckett sent thank yous and donations, the prime minister's office sniffed: "Mr Blair receives so many requests he has decided to support cases where he has close a personal connection." It then returned the book so badly damaged it could not be sold. The kids asked for compo, but No 10 said it had no petty cash - perhaps it all got spent on funerals for dead cows."
April 7 ~" throughout the outbreak Ben Gill has made some claims which at best were not the whole truth, but at worst blatantly wrong."
writes Mr Jon Dobson, Research director of the FMD Forum, today. "I have included a list of these in a document along with detail on why each NFU statement is wrong. I can provide original documentation and source references for each one of the points made should you want further detail."
April 7 ~ Foot and Mouth was discovered in 30 cows in Malaysia today.
Movement bans have been immediately imposed and ring vaccination is under way.
April 7 ~ "officials of the government's Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) approved meat for sale when it should have been condemned"
Fraud and corruption on a massive scale is being uncovered - involving the very agencies set up to protect the public: the Meat Hygiene Service, itself allied to the Food Standards Agency. " The swoop was part of a multi-agency investigation into the illegal slaughter, processing and selling of meat, and involved officers from Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire environmental health teams, the Meat Hygiene Service, DEFRA (Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), and the Food Standards Agency. "
"A story in the Sunday Times today is about arrests in connection with the multi-million-pound trade in recycling condemned meat back into shops. "....officials of the government's Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) approved meat for sale when it should have been condemned because it was decomposing or banned under BSE regulations. ...Last week police raided a Welsh regional office of the MHS and arrested Peter Maguigan, a meat inspector based at Oriel Jones abattoir in Llanybydder near Lampeter. " Peter Maguigan is the main MHS man at the Oriel Jones abattoir. Dafydd Raw Rees is ex District Councilor and stood as an MP for the Lib Dems in the last election. He worked for the Health Authority and HMG in Valuation Tribunals.
April 7 ~ "..a senior member of staff in the meat technology department at the college had been making false applications for funding in relation to the College and abattoirs in the UK."
The front page of the Meat Trade Journal on Friday features Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology and their connections to Oriel Jones and various other abattoirs around the country. A correspondent, Val Sinclair, who has for months been investigating these meat scandals, is in contact with the police in Wales, who have admitted that the scam is nationwide and involves the MHS and many abattoirs. Our correspondent writes, "The Sunday Times will be printing more next week and naming more abattoirs. The Meat Hygiene Service is up to its neck in this - and since it is now allied to the Food Standards Agency - it would appear 'our wonderful government' wish to kill us all with BSE..." (or get their predictions about vCJD cases right? or know that OTMS beef is perfectly fit for human consumption? who knows...?)
April 7 ~ "... it is a sure bet that an agency with the sole responsibility of safe food will ensure its continued survival and prosperity by being at the forefront of any and every crackpot scare about the safety of food, arguing for more powers and controls...
... In short, any "food standards agency" would quickly become a government- sponsored scare factory..." "Like the groups dealing with BSE, they will be working in a vacuum of knowledge, unable to make sensible, science-based decisions because the field work will not have been done, and the key data will not be available. On this basis, the cut-back of the VIS is criminal folly. In all respects, it is a cut too far, a cut which the farming community and the public - to say nothing of government - will have cause to regret."
" Coverage is now dangerously stretched, particularly in Wales where the Aberystwyth centre has been reduced to a skeleton staff.
"All this is happening while the government is adding £15 million to the funds of the MHS, which already extracts £35 million a year from the meat industry. This is to finance another 300 more officials to look at dead cows to see if any spinal cord is present - after they have already been inspected by another set of MHS officials for the same purpose..... "..."With so much wasted money sloshing around the system, it seems short-sighted in the extreme, verging on criminal folly, to be cutting back on the one service which is vital to the early detection and control of animal and poultry diseases. Without an effective early warning system, much more money will have to be spent when problems get out of hand, as they did with BSE and salmonellosis, and as they will do in future if the VIS is unable to function effectively. .." This prescient article was written by Richard North in 1996. How right he was.
April 6 ~ India's environment regulator has approved the use of a genetically modified (GM) cotton for commercial production.
The BBC reports today that clearance, mandatory for field trials and commercial production of GM crops, has been granted by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) . "(The) GEAC has approved the release of BT (bacillus thuringiensis) cotton into the environment of the country with certain conditions," said chairman A.M. Gokhale. Agriculture minister Agit Singh told the BBC's World Business Report he was very much in favour of GM cotton. "Farmers are clamouring for GM seeds. You cannot stop it and put a blanket ban on it. I don't think any country can avoid it for long," he said..." However, Vandana Shiva, Director of Research Foundation of Science, Technology and Ecology, and highly respected worldwide (and particularly by this website), said "Trials have shown that other varieties like LHH can have higher output than Bt cotton" Bt cotton may destroy Indian agriculture, farmers and ecology, and lead to corporatisation of farming.
April 6 ~ "Further to the recent furore over the EU Inquiry not having an open public meeting in Cumbria, I wondered why Alwyn Strange of the EPP-ED Secretariat neglected to mention one vital point."
" Alwyn Strange said there will be "a large meeting in Cumbria on the morning of Saturday 20 April (foreseen to take place at the Castle Green Hotel). 50 people from Cumbria will be invited to this meeting by the political groups - the total being divided up among the groups on the basis of their numerical strength in the Parliament.".... but neglected to mention that the theme for this breakfast meeting is "the effects of the FMD crisis on the tourist industry"....... A farmer's wife recently remarked about the Lessons Learned Inquiry meeting: "One of the problems is that the ordinary farmer does not know how to make a contribution. We thought it was an officials only event, exclusive to ticket holders." Likewise the "public meeting" to take place at Gretna... "First the experts will be given the floor, then the public according to the principle "catch the chairman's eye"". Do we know how good the Chairman's eyesight is or does he have a bad blind spot?
When is someone going to realise that to get the views, statements and evidence from the "ordinary" person who is frightened of officialdom, scared of big venues, terrified by public speaking and microphones, worried about saying something in front of authority or unions and concerned about repercussions on themselves or their families, you are either going to have smaller local meetings in pubs or village halls or find someone who they can all trust to visit them personally in their homes and obtain it that way...... But then is there anybody who really wants to hear it?" (see full email from Elaine)
April 6 ~ "There was no plan or strategy to get on top of the spread, he said. No lists were available of vets, slaughterers, hauliers and waggoners. Information from the earlier outbreaks held on file were gathering dust in Whitehall
- never having been updated or checked every month as they should have been. Instead of outbreaks being dealt with in 24 hours and neighbours farms within 48 hours, vets initially had to send tests away to London, sometimes taking three to four days to get confirmation for culling the animals. So the horror unfolded and the human trauma with it.
Crisis point was reached - the NFU councils, emergency services and communications all offered help, but MAFF stated that it could cope. The London civil services were imposing their authority, not allowing slaughter and carcasses to be moved. He said the response was disastrously slow. Local MPs could not even get the interest of the politicians" (...full report of the important speech by Nick Utting, secretary of the National Farmers union of North Cumbria)
April 6 ~ The EU's own laws on animal welfare were broken over and over again in the UK foot and mouth crisis.
WASK 95 - alias EU Directive 93/119/EC -makes it an offence for any person engaged in the movement, lairaging, stunning, slaughter or killing of animals to cause or permit avoidable excitement, pain or suffering to an animal.
Slaughtermen must be licensed... ...to ensure that he has the competence, skill and knowledge necessary to carry out his duties humanely and in accordance with the law. How many cases were like this one? "... The whole episode still gives me nightmares. There was no vet present. I found out later he was on his way as he didn't realise that my sheep were being done that day until later..." Has any action ever been taken?
April 6 ~ "A pattern that has begun to emerge is that although the RSPCA are keen to take on the instruction for a new case, they then drop it days, or in one case that I include, hours after the 6 months limitation date is up.
Jon Dobson, Research Director at the FMD Forum writes an alarming email today: "Once the 6 month limitation date has expired, the case is then null and void.
Now that we are well and truly past the 6 month period after the last officially reported case of FMD on September 30th, is anyone aware of one case of cruelty that has been brought to trial?
.... slaughter guidelines were completed ignored.... suffering that took place. Suffering that we have laws to prevent, such as the WASK 1995 law, which has never been tested in court.
I also attach a letter faxed from the RSPCA to my solicitor on a case well known to some of us, that of Gilwern. This letter was faxed on the 5th month 31st day 11th hour" Mr Dobson says.. The RSPCA have admitted privately that they are "tied by their charitable status"..... There is a whiff of fox hunting here
. There have been only 2 cases related to FMD now, the slaughterman shooting another slaughterman, and now the Gilwern case where Health and Safety are litigating because of safety risks to bystanders and to the slaughterman himself - that's to say no cases to litigate over animal cruelty...
Are we all quite happy about this? ( If not - we'd like to hear from you. A line or two is enough but please sign the email.)
April 6 ~ "If they were prepared to take the Judas Penny then they should be prepared to stand up and be counted"
"If they feel shamed now - why didn't they feel ashamed then? Why did they do what they knew to be wrong?" said a farmer yesterday, most of whose words about the vets who are angry at being named in the BBC2 Scotland film "In the Shadow" - one woman in particular - are unrepeatable. This hard hitting and excellent film, shown only in parts of Scotland, was not accessible to half of Dumfries and Galloway - the area involved - who get their signal from Cumbria. "Everyone should see it." said the farmer. "They would then see what the culling was really like - what these crazy policies really did....someone holding a little kid in their arms and watching its eyes close...When it got to the end of the film I just wanted to go about the place shouting. I think everybody would feel the same. And that vet - all unconcerned - sitting at her desk with her dog there in the bunker. How was that supposed to be good bio-security?""It's an archive of the greatest calamity most of us will ever see - utterly shocking and brutal - and those clowns go to Brussels and talk as if they did the country some sort of great service..."
This film on BBC 2 in Scotland went out last week (March 28) People need to see it in order to understand why the voices of outrage are still so loud and so insistent. Please ring 0870 0100222 Additional to their telephone number is : FAX 0141 3075770
and better still email is: email@example.com (And if - like so many kind others -you could email this website to say that you have phoned, I should be very grateful indeed)
April 6 ~"The findings indicate that plant genes are incapable of "jumping" naturally into animals, resolving a common fear about the safety of GM crops".
Is Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent of the Times, (see yesterday's article) seriously telling the population that the unravelling of the genetic code of rice RESOLVES the widespread dismay at the way genetically modified crops are being encouraged by governments? Dismay at the obedience shown to corporate giants like Monsanto and Dupont, which leaves farmers with little choice but to accept Terminator seeds? Since the dawn of history, farmers have saved and exchanged seed, a practice that is vital to the survival of 1.4 billion subsistence farmers in the world today. And here in the UK, against the wishes of the majority of the population, GM trials are quietly taking place. (See this urgent plea for a last chance to protect Scotland) Our Colleges of Agriculture are accepting grants from these companies - are these big payments philanthropic donations? The NFU has a financial stake in Monsanto, while governments now accept donations as a matter of course from the most questionable sources. In a game of such very high stakes these huge sums mean little to the players.
"In a world in which a handful of trans-national enterprises dominate agricultural biotechnology, in a world where the Terminator is the platform technology upon which all new biotech breeding is undertaken, it is not difficult to believe that corporations or governments would use the technology to impose their will." (Pat Mooney)
April 6 ~ Someone desperate to tell his story.
Nick Green has written an account of what he had to say.... Extract "...a man of great integrity, honour and honesty with an inbuilt respect for animals. During last years FMD crisis his innate skills were in great need, but as with others like him, his offer of help was initially ignored. This man was a Huntsman. It was only after a slaughterman was killed at Great Orton that this man and others like him were called in to help.
This man, like the others called up, wished to help the countryside. They were very unaware what to expect in the killing fields of Cumbria. In fact, what they saw here left an indelible mark on them for life. . He found it hard to put into words simply saying, "It has changed my life."
For this man, what he witnessed here in Cumbria has left him traumatised. He told of teams of sheepdogs, Border Collies, coming from a dirty farm to gather sheep for slaughter. After gathering, they were told that it was the wrong farm. They had to kill all the stock anyway (they and the dogs were designated dirty) even though the sheep and cattle were healthy. They then went on to the "correct farm" and killed them out as well. All in a day's work.
He told me of how numbers were controlled during the four weeks leading up to Blair's election, the infamous June 7th. Remember how Professor King stated that FMD would skid to a halt by this date? It didn't and many, many more thousands of animals were killed after this date. In fact, the killing accelerated after the election. ..." (more)
April 5 ~ " Mr Ben Gill will be allowed FIVE minutes to make a statement...."
Then, Lord Whitty, Ben Gill, Guy Thomas Everard and Alan Richardson, will be questioned together by the committee for 65 minutes. This disparate group will thus be able to field questions intended for others and, since they all have their different "takes" of the situation, the scope for confusion is endless, especially as some of the questions will be deliberate, time-wasting "patsies". Since most members will want a question, there will be no time for supplementaries and Ben Gill will be able to ignore any questions he doesn't like. This is a sham." email just received See news item from FWi
April 5 ~"If the Government had any arguments to put in favour of the Bill, why did no one put them?"
" So it is the Government and not the hereditary peers, who should be criticised. Who were these 123 silent dummies who mindlessly went out to vote for a Bill which has no place on the statute books of any free country.
So I will tell Lord Witty what he can do with his pernicious little Bill. It needs only one futher, very small, amendment to clause 87(2)(a) of the Animal Health Act 1981 by the deletion of "except man". Then it should be sent to Roberty Mugabe. If passed into law in Zimbabwe, it would give full legal powers for everything that Mugabe and this thugs are doing to the farmers there, including killing them. ......" from a splendidly forthright letter in the admirable Western Morning News.
April 5 ~ Gill claims vaccination victory 'We won the argument and have been proved correct'
If any further proof were needed that there are members of our species who inhabit a different planet, we read today in the Farmers Guardian, "Mr Gill, who will give evidence in Strasbourg, on Monday, claims he won a major victory for farmers by changing the Government's mind about vaccination."
"BEN Gill, president of the National Farmers' Union, has defended his controversial role in preventing animals being vaccinated against foot--and-mouth disease, ahead of his appearance at the European Parliament's inquiry into the crisis. Mr Gill, who will give evidence in Strasbourg, on Monday, claims he won a major victory for farmers by changing the Government's mind about vaccination. The controversy over the subject has refused to die down a year on from when it split the farming community down the middle and evidence now being given to the various foot-and-mouth inquiries is bringing it to the fore again...........
Mr Gill said the cull policy was right in principle, 'given that the unavailability of a proper effective vaccination policy meant there was no alternative'. The cull was not sufficiently targeted at the farms most at risk, but there was a lot of myth around about animals being culled unnecessarily. "People have to realise that there was no effective test available to diagnose an animal that was infected but not infective," he said. Explaining why it did not vaccinate, the Government's submission to the Anderson inquiry said: "Farmers unions were strongly opposed throughout." These words were echoed by Nick Brown in his evidence to the EU inquiry. Responding to Mr Brown, Helen O'Hare, a temporary vet-erinary inspector during the crisis, said the NFU did not represent the majority of farmers and were not experts at disease control. Writing on the Warmwell website, she also attacked the excuse that a two-tier domestic market would have developed, claiming the consumer already buys vaccinated meat and EU money was available to offset losses. Countering other reasons put forward by the Government for not vaccinating, she said "There were enough vaccines available and blanket vaccination would have eliminated the disease within one month. There is no scientific reason for a 12-month ban on exports following vaccination and the EU could end all financial penalties of using vaccination at a stroke."....." (Alistair Driver's full article)
April 5 ~ "No sign of BSE in doomed water buffalo Tests on destroyed bull find no mad-cow disease as pair work to save herd"
Vancouver news reports a story from Canada that has a horribly familiar ring: the distraught livestock owners, the crazy policy, the negative results, the refusal to change the policy and the "sympathetic" bureaucrats.
"VICTORIA -- The first of Darrel and Anthea Archer's 18 water buffalo to be destroyed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has tested negative for mad-cow disease. Bond, the herd's gentle bull, was euthanized Feb. 21 at Fairburn Farm in the Cowichan Valley, then shipped to a provincial laboratory in Abbotsford where brain samples were taken. .... The negative results were revealed to the Archers just days before the next three water buffalo to be destroyed were picked up yesterday. "People say it's good news. Well, we knew what the results would be," said Anthea Archer. "That makes this whole thing a horrendous witch hunt."
.... Ten more animals are scheduled to be destroyed in June, followed by the final four in July. The CFIA ordered the Archer's original herd of 18 be destroyed last month, after conducting a second risk assessment of the animals. The herd was imported from Denmark two years ago with approval from the CFIA. But the agency declared the animals were under suspicion of having mad-cow disease in September 2000, after the death of a Danish cow with BSE one month after the Archers' herd arrived in the area. The CFIA has determined it's impossible to conclude that water buffalo aren't susceptible to the fatal brain-wasting disease, even though the Archers' herd was quarantined in Denmark and wasn't fed feed with animal proteins -- known transmitters of BSE (warmwell's italics).
"We totally empathize with the Archers -- completely," said Dr. Cornelius Kiley, animal health program specialist for B.C. "But we have a job to do...."
April 5 ~ Euro F&M team not holding public talks in Cumbria
Cumberland News 5th April 2002 "A 40 strong team from the Euro inquiry into foot and mouth will hold NO public meetings during a four-day visit to the county. Members of the public wishing to air their views will have to travel to Gretna if they want to be heard. Instead the delegation will visit individual farmers and have lunch at Longtown mart in their bid to get to the bottom of the outbreak.
"They will also go to the mass carcass burial site at Great Orton and hold dinner and breakfast meetings at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal. Details of the visit, from April 17 to 20, were revealed at a meeting of Cumbria County Council's cabinet this week.
Aspatria farmer Nick Fish said: "Cumbria should be top of the list for a public meeting because we had a very high percentage of cases.
"It would be a lot more appropriate to hold a public meeting here rather than in Gretna. "We need answers. We need to know where the disease came from and why it carried on.
I think the decision to hold the meeting in Gretna will anger a lot of people."
(Full story and Nick Green's reaction)
April 5 ~"..an official report rebuked the Government for ignoring warnings by Britain and the European Union which could have helped to prevent the outbreak of BSE.."
Once again, we are reminded of how little those two important words "could have" are noticed - nor how often the supposed link, never proved, between BSE and MBM comes up in political stories in the press. The one issue over which public opinion becomes a real force to be reckoned with is not cruelty or crime. It is the new pseudo terror of food safety. And this is a force that can so easily be harnessed. Poor old Tsutomu Takebe, the Japanese Agriculture Minister, has been accused of "the bungling of an outbreak of 'mad cow' disease..." Today's Times Why? Did he deliberately infect the animals? Of course not. Only scientists in research laboratories do that (and a lucrative occupation it is) Mr Takebe's error - and one that may cost him his career - was to be sceptical about the claim that BSE is caused by feeding MBM to cows. The Japanese BSE problem triggered a food scare and sales of beef in Japan plummeted. Now the BSE crisis there looks as though it might be the catalyst that brings down the Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, himself. Worries about food and water are set to become very powerful political tools indeed in the world of tomorrow. Will common sense be strong enough to counterbalance the scares and the propaganda?
April 5 ~ "It was as if the three star witnesses, former UK farm minister Nick Brown, EU food safety commissioner, David Byrne, and UK chief vet, Jim Scudamore, had met in private beforehand to confirm their stories. There was little to suggest that the authorities' handling of the crisis had been anything other than a total triumph. "
The Farmers Weekly today considers that the EU Temporary Committee "after the first two days of deliberation, doubts are emerging as to its likely effectiveness."
"The meeting only got a bit feisty when Conservative MEP Robert Sturdy asked why the UK government had refused to hold a public inquiry? Why Mr Brown had lost his job at the height of the crisis? Why Tony Blair had to assume personal responsibility? And why the army was not called in sooner? These were easily fended off by the affable Mr Brown. There had been a public hearing, he insisted, in the form of a select committee inquiry; government reshuffles were quite the norm after a land-slide election victory; Mr Blair had taken charge because so many departments were involved; and army vets had been requisitioned at an early stage. At one point Mr Byrne did concede that certain welfare aspects "left a lot to be desired"....And Mr Scudamore admitted that the three-day delay from the discovery of the first case to the imposition of the total move-ment ban had made things worse. But generally the British government did a pretty good job.
"That is far from the experience of those at the sharp end the farmers, slaughterers and hauliers. The inexcusable lack of controls at airports, the lamentable delays in calling on the army's expertise in logistical management, the horrendous welfare abuses by over-stretched slaughtermen, the unacceptable hold-ups in removing week-old rotting carcasses from farms for disposal. Sitting in the plush surroundings of the European Parliament's debating chamber, it was all too easy to forget these harsh realities. ..." See full report
April 5 ~ "We have had to go on increasing our efficiency to survive EU imports from inefficient farmers subsidised with UK and German money. It is like being forced to pay for the bullets so that your enemy can shoot you!"
David Goddard, having read an article in the Irish Examiner, asks," So how come these farmers are still in business at levels of "efficiency" that the UK was forced to leave behind in the 1960's? These are typical figure for most of Europe and they are still in business because unlike the UK, they are heavily subsidised (at the expense of the UK and Germany)....." (read more)
April 5 ~ "If you thought about it, you'd go crazy," he said. "the trucks would roll in and there'd be all this noise of lambs crying for their mothers, and ewes crying for their lambs and then silence. All that life-- and then, nothing."
Bonnie Durrance, the American film director who interviewed so many whose lives have been shattered, writes, " We did, by the way, look at the Rex Pyke's tape (In the Shadow ) last night. It so powerfully illustrated the comment of a man I interviewed in Marlborough, a huntsman and very decent fellow who'd been called up to work as a slaughterman at Great Orton. "If you thought about it, you'd go crazy," he said. "the trucks would roll in and there'd be all this noise of lambs crying for their mothers, and ewes crying for their lambs and then silence. All that life-- and then, nothing." What those scenes show, in their quiet, uneditorialized way, is what it looks like to destroy innocent life. It's like witnessing a rape.
Whether or not it will ever bring those responsible to justice, at least those of us with the power of speech can help to call what has happened by name."
April 4 ~ " The Northumberland Report..... Impressive work from an impressive bunch of people. None of your ridiculous contiguous or 3 km cull stuff".
writes a much-respected emailer today.." There was one dissenting voice - in favour of automatic ring vaccination in the event of an outbreak (but not slaughter of vaccinated animals). And that was the only QC on the panel, who also farmed (Sir Anthony Cripps QC).
Why does New Labour always think it knows better than anyone else has ever thought? Even the voices of highly respectable experience after long and careful cogitation?"
April 4 ~Magnus Linklater " It is time that the whole truth about this epidemic was placed on the record, and the Government accepted responsibility for what happened..."
Writing in today's Times, Magnus Linklater, whose articles have been excellent since the beginning of this horrible rural catastrophe, says,"...The recent contingency plan, announced by Defra, the department which will again be in charge if an outbreak occurs, shows that next time the same tactics would be used, up to and including the infamous 3km contiguous cull, which accounted for the bulk of the slaughter - despite evidence that more than 80 per cent of all animals killed under that edict were disease-free........
.... the Government still refused to countenance vaccination. Mr Brown said that the main reason against it was the resistance of the farmers, and the absence of sufficient doses of the vaccine. It now appears not only that there were five million doses available, but that the farmers were kept in ignorance of a fairly crucial piece of information: under a European directive, they were entitled to compensation for any losses incurred through vaccination. Since their principal objection was fear of losing their export market, this disclosure might have played a vital role in changing attitudes, winning them round to vaccination, and thus bringing the disease to a far earlier conclusion. It is the gradual emergence of evidence like this which is eroding confidence among farmers. Ministers should realise that if the worst comes to the worst, and foot-and-mouth breaks out again, they will need the farmers as allies, not enemies. It is time that the whole truth about this epidemic was placed on the record, and the Government accepted responsibility for what happened, rather than taking every opportunity of shifting the blame elsewhere."
The article is followed by an invitation to join the debate via Comment@thetimes.co.uk ( It would be very helpful if warmwell.com could be mentioned in readers' emails to The Times since so much useful material is now here.)
April 4 ~ "That is like a drunk driver saying, 'I'll drive much better if I have another bottle of Scotch,"
The American journalist, Sarah Foster,writing in World Net Daily today, quotes Lord Willoughby's comment on the Animal Health Bill.
"Had it passed, farmers, pet owners and owners of animal refuges in England and Wales would be blocked from mounting challenges against actions by DEFRA inspectors, as many did successfully last year. Owners of animals would not be able to appeal until the slaughter had taken place, and then essentially only to haggle over the amount of compensation. Not only would it be a crime to resist, but simply refusing to help inspectors carry out orders would be a criminal offense carrying a six-month prison sentence. Organizing and participating in on-site protests and demonstrations would be criminalized as well. Few outside the government heralded the legislation, which was roundly condemned by lawyers, columnists, farmers, owners of animal refuges and pet owners. "
She also quotes Barbara Jordan "What they're attempting to do now, without a public hearing, is to take to themselves enough power to go in and cull animals with or without [blood] testing and be able to do everything they were trying to do by sheer harassment - but legally." and " Magnus Linklater, columnist for The Scotsman, in a Nov. 4 piece, whacked the bill as "an outrage" and a "licence for incompetence." .."
Interesting and cause for national shame to see how the proposed AHB legislation, (which as Magnus Linklater points out, is likely to return in another form very soon) appears to commentators in the United States.
April 4 ~ "From being on the fringes, as we were, it was difficult to follow the logic of MAFF...." Superintendent Horn from the Cumbria Police.
Nick Green has been given some distressing information about the killing, by MAFF employees using wholly inappropriate methods, of cattle in Cumbria. Extracts: " Bull escapes pen after MAFF thugs had attempted to kill the bull using a .22 calibre rifle. This was an evening call out. Police Teams unable to locate the bull that evening. The bull was eventually located and dispatched the following day, some 2 miles from the original location and positioned on an uninfected farm. Supt. Horn did not know if the uninfected farm was taken out. Police dispatched the bull using .308-calibre rifle."
"...there were many recorded incidents of animals recovering after MAFF slaughter teams had left the sites. One famous incident, near Penrith was reported in the local press. The farmers awoke, the day after the culling of their herd, to a lot of noise in their yard. On inspection it was noted that young cattle were crawling around the yard. A bemused MAFF de-tox team were rushing around like idiots wondering what to do." (More - but not for the faint-hearted)
April 4 ~"What sort of alternative universe does Professor Anderson and his kind inhabit that the welfare of man and beast, the future sustainability of UK agriculture... takes second place to the short term commercial dictates of a niche export market?"
"Professor Anderson's most recent attack on vets who called for vaccination during the recent FMD epidemic....called into doubt both the integrity of the Veterinary profession and the science on which it is founded. His derisory comments are arrogant, insulting and defamatory and call for a refutation," writes Dr Susan Haywood, honorary senior fellow in the department of veterinary pathology at the University of Liverpool. "Apart from the lack of prediction displayed by the modelling, the unquantifiable destruction of our genetic resource arising from the cull policy has been entirely overlooked by the modellers.
Operating no doubt from the contention that science is 'value free', the data incorporated into the models did not distinguish between the real value of the actual animals on the farm, for example between the pedigree breeding stock - and the cross bred animals destined for the abbatoir. The former are the result of decades of breeding and as such gene banks in their own right of incalculable value, the latter have only their current market value.
The result of the cull has meant the irrecoverable destruction of pedigree blood lines established over a hundred years, perhaps more - in Swaledale alone there is a 50% loss of pedigree breeding stock and this could be repeated many times over around the country.
I return finally to the 1968 Inquiry that stated that slaughter is "a crude and primitive way of dealing with the disease. We recognise the mental anguish of those who suffer..the shattering disaster, not computable in terms of money, that it may bring to a farmer who has to see the work of a lifetime destroyed in a day".
(See full paper by Dr Susan Haywood PhD,BVSc,MRCVS, published in the Veterinary Times)
April 4 ~ Brussels uses internet to do down the UKIP - yesterday's Peterborough revealed
" The UK Independence Party's internet discussion forum, at www.independenceuk.org.uk, presently includes a bevy of colourful postings abusing the UKIP. A typical one asks party members: "Do you get jackboots with your uniforms?"
Amazingly, Peterborough has traced all these postings to an EC office address: the Commission of the European Communities, Batiment Jean Monnet, Plateau de Kirchberg, Luxembourg.
Nigel Farage, one of the UKIP's three MEPs, says: "This is clearly a concerted attempt by the EC to suppress our arguments and shut us up. They must be worried. They jolly well ought to be."..."
How far is the government refusal to agree to public scrutiny of its actions over FMD motivated by extreme reluctance to admit that so much of what it now does is under instructions from the EU? So many of its policies towards the country and agriculture are, it appears, merely obedience to the commands of the EU.
David Goddard writes to the FMD internet forum:"You say you are confused and I bet that goes for 98% of the population of EUROPE - but at least you are addressing the matter and not being taken in by the spin and the lies.
When we were taken into the EEC, the implications and facts were concealed from us and in fact successive politicians have misled us - a lot of what they have said has in fact turned out to be a lie. .... Most of the things that .... are detrimental to Britain, have come about as a direct result of an EU diktat or law and these overrule British law. .... Funnily I know there is no future in farming in this country but I still seem to want to hang in there."
April 3 ~ " It quickly became apparent at the beginning of this outbreak that things were not as they should be.
writes Alicia Eykeyn. "The FMD FORUM was born out of the Bristol Forum and the Chairman's Challenge (attached for information).
"All over Britain and from all parts of the world, extremely talented and effective people were struggling against the relentless attitude of the authorities. Their voices were not heard and they should have been heard. Worst of all the true experts in the field, with no political axe to grind, were neither being consulted or listened to. Consequently, one of the many frustrations was, that the powers that be were able to divide and rule and belittle everyone's efforts. In fact, what was lacking in the action was, to coin a phrase, 'cohesion without coercion' and a central 'name' to use for extra weight if and when required.
This together with a receptive and inquiring approach to modern science is the purpose of the FMD Forum, and, as you can see, we already have a powerful list of Founder Members.
This is a cross-party, non-political organisation. If you have not already, we very much hope you will join us in the FMD FORUM. It will work closely with www.warmwell.com and www.Farmtalking.org to keep information flowing"
April 3 ~ Responses to Richard Mawdsley's article
Hilary says, "Many thanks Richard Mawdsley. That sums it up. I would like to see us use that as THE definitive summary of what's wrong and move on to proposing solutions." while David says, "... the question is what are we going to do about it? - because it doesn't matter which of the three parties you vote for, they will ALL lead us by stealth further down the road of being paymasters for enlargement of the EU where they see fantastic opportunities of highly paid jobs with expense accounts that would make your mouth water. I am increasingly thinking of giving my vote to UKIP merely to make the statement that I do not want to have our country represented by foreigners at G8, NATO, WTO, UN etc. and on the basis that it doesn't matter which party is in power any more. Our say in the EU will be even smaller once it is enlarged and we will have even less say in our own affairs."
April 3 ~ "They have more than enough power and have blatantly abused it and broken the law repeatedly during this epidemic."
Helen O'Hare, the veterinary surgeon who was a TVI during the crisis and whose submission to the Lessons Learned Inquiry generated such interest and concern, has written today about her reaction to Nick Brown's evidence in Brussels, her response to the much repeated accusation that farmers themselves were much to blame, and her memories of her time as a TVI
Extract: "The American vets were amazed at how co-operative the British farmers were. In their country, in such a situation, they would have been met by shotguns and marched off the premises. It was shameful to see how these same British farmers were bullied by those in authority. And have any lessons been learnt so far?"
Nick Green adds, "I read, with great interest, the further report written by the informed and courageous ex. TVI Helen O'Hare. I was particularly interested in the comments concerning the lack of bio-security..." and sends us a long list of biosecurity lapses seen at first hand in Cumbria.
April 3 ~ And now, a word from our Sponsor...... "DuPont and Monsanto Reach Agreement That Brings New Technologies to Farmers Worldwide "
"WILMINGTON, Del. and ST. LOUIS, April 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- DuPont and its subsidiary, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., (NYSE: DD) and Monsanto Company and its affiliates (NYSE: MON) announced today a broad- reaching business agreement that will ensure farmers worldwide have greater access to the new agricultural technologies they want, in the seed brands they prefer to plant.
The agreement gives both companies cross-licenses to enabling technologies that enhance the performance of corn, canola, and soybean crops, and improve the farmer's productivity and efficiency. "This is a ground-breaking agreement that enhances our ability to serve our customers more effectively," said Howard Minigh, group vice president, DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition. "Both DuPont and Monsanto have excellent products and technologies, and this agreement further ensures that farmers can use the best of what both companies have to offer." "This is a win for farmers and a positive development for how the agricultural industry brings new innovations to market..."
Oh Eric Blair where are you? The irony of Orwell's real name will not have been lost on regular readers of this website....." ... partnerships that are growing between smallholder farmers, the global agricultural community and Monsanto to produce more food, care for the land and protect the environment..."(Monsanto's Developing Country Initiatives brochure)"...contains examples of specific partnerships that are already making an important difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers, their families and their communities. " " An important difference"...to 20,000 farming families likely to be thrown off their land in Andhra Pradesh perhaps? And as Joyce says in a recent email, soon we will all be eating GM soya either in a vegetarian diet or via the Brazilian beef " ...Either way DuPont & Monsanto will control the food supply!"
April 3 ~ "Tokyo under pressure for 'grave' BSE blunder"
writes the Financial Times in an article. See also the Asahi Times which reports: "Bureaucrats who failed to prevent the mad cow crisis will get pay cuts and official reprimands, the health and agriculture ministries announced Tuesday. The punishments came on the heels of the release the same day of the final report of an investigative panel commissioned by the two ministries to look into the handling of the crisis. "
It is assumed as fact that the recent BSE crisis in Japan -wiping millions from that country's economy when British scientists confirmed its presence - was as a direct result of the feeding of meat and bone meal. "The key error was made in 1996 when the government failed to act on a WHO recommendation that it should not use meat and bone meal in cattle feed," said Dr Takashi Onodera of Tokyo university, a member of the panel.(FT)
It seems that journalists everywhere are determined to present this MBM theory as fact and governments also consider it to be gospel truth. All, like the UK, are rushing to set up food safety agencies backed by very lucrative research funding - as in Japan: " Beef consumption is down 80 per cent from last year and only after a new food safety agency is set up can we hope to regain the public's confidence in food" Only very few brave souls point to the research of independent scientists such as those mentioned on the warmwell BSE/CJD page who dissent - and who are ridiculed loudly by such bodies as SEAC. But yesterday, Richard Mawdsley wrote in his article on this website: There is not and never was any irrefutable evidence to prove that BSE was caused by feeding Scrapie infected Meat and Bone Meal to cattle. There has been a great deal of pseudo-science and surmise, but NO PROOF. Great Grandfather fed meat and bone meal to his stock, and used it as a fertiliser, with nothing but beneficial results.
April 3 ~ Archant is linked to £150m bid (Eastern Daily Press) An emailer writes, "Looks off-topic but it is not...
and further alleges"...To my certain knowledge this group played a malignant role in Classical Swine Fever. Orders were sent from the centre to drop stories criticising Nick Brown. I had the Agriculture editor howling down the 'phone at me. 'You are lucky MAFF did not throw you out of your home.' They don't need any more titles in agricultural Britain. People worry about Murdoch. I worry about Archant."
The Eastern Daily Press article says: Archant - the regional media group which publishes the EDP - has been linked with a possible£150m swoop for three prestigious Scottish titles owned by the cash-strapped SMG Group. According to a national newspaper report, Archant - the new identity of the former Eastern Counties Newspapers Group - is one of three potential bidders to have expressed an interest in a portfolio including The Herald, the Sunday Herald and the Evening Times. Archant chief executive Peter Strong tonight declined to be drawn on the strength of the report. In principle, we are always interested in deals of this nature, but we never comment on market rumours, he said. Other parties said to have expressed an interest to SMG are the reclusive Barclay brothers, publishers of The Scotsman, the Daily Mail and General Trust. Publisher DC Thomson is also tipped as a fourth possible bidder. ....... Archant is the largest privately-owned newspaper publisher in the country. It publishes 61 newspapers, 44 monthly magazines and a clutch of annuals, as well as having a new media presence which now includes 40 separate websites. Its local media presence stretches from the north-east of Scotland to Devon."
The Media seems to be under the control, of fewer and fewer people in Britain. Should we be worrying about this?
April 3 ~ Two weeks only to stop GM trials in Scotland
Visitors to this site will remember recent worrying news reports about GM spread, and also the disgraceful case of Donnie McLeod,the courageous organic farmer, imprisoned for refusing to name a fellow GM protestor (whose case was subsequently dropped)
Mr Ross Finnie has been given 2 weeks (until 14th April) by the Transport and Environment committee to justify the continuation of GM trials in Scotland See European Environment Agency Chapter 3.9 Genetically modified organisms Environment in EU at the turn of the century
For further details and contact email addresses
Ross Finnie must be given encouragement to stop the GM trials in Scotland.
April 3 ~ "corporate protectionism in the form of global intellectual property rights "
As we have said many times on this website, the threat facing the smaller independent farmers is a worldwide one and comes from the same source. The imposition of GM crops is also anything but a well-meaning attempt to feed the world as can be seen by the rapacious behaviour globally of the GM giants Aventis, Monsanto and their ilk. In recent days we have seen reports from Mexico, Argentina, Japan, India, Canada that show the underlying method behind all this madness. "The international organizations, which pushed ahead for the creation of free trade regimes, are an axis of evil as they bring hardship to farmers worldwide...." says the Jakarta Post today. "The IMF had imposed a structural adjustment program (SAP) on struggling economies like Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
"The program might be a medicine to cure the banking crisis, but it certainly has brought losses to other sectors of the economy, including the agricultural sector"
Perhaps the most worrying opinion of all came from the highly respected George Monbiot yesterday when he wrote, very seriously, in the Guardian about Clare Short's support for the disatrous GM "Aid" for Andhra Pradesh. He suggests the possibility that she - " like everyone else in the cabinet..has succumbed to corporate pressure and the neo-liberal ideology associated with it. Her enthusiasm for corporate protectionism in the form of global intellectual property rights suggests that this is at least partly true. It is also clear that governments tend to club together against their people..... "the future is a matter of political will and choice, and only governments have both the legitimacy and the opportunity to exercise that will". Development policy, in Britain and elsewhere, has often been a matter of brokerage between global elites, at the expense of everyone else. "
April 2 ~ "Some of us suspected that the findings of the Anderson Inquiry were likely to be pre-empted piecemeal by this excuse for a Government in order to deaden its likely impact. "
(Email just received) "Their first statement was No.1 - they would stop livestock movements more quickly
Since then we've had No. 2 - They would be more selective and flexible in shutting down the footpaths.
Today they have announced No.3 - that they would bring in the Police and Army immediately.
We should be clever enough to anticipate No.4 and say so."
We might reply "...when tomorrow, or in the next day or so, the government lets it be known that in any future epidemic Page Street's communications channels would be much improved, I don't think any of us will be falling off our chairs at what will be hailed as the forthright, manly acknowledgement of past mistakes".
April 2 ~ "...the trauma of FMD this last twelve months. I simply cannot conceive that responsible agents of a responsible ministry could have acted with such callous incompetence....
..... unless they were obeying orders." Richard Mawdsley has sent us an article entitled "Economy and Policy" Extracts: "As the nation that has already destroyed its Health Service, once the envy of the world, its Education, its Law and Order, its Defence, its Transport system, its Wealth producing Industries and its Agriculture to the degree that we can no longer come near to feeding ourselves they must already regard us as 'bloody daft'...........
"Perhaps the major cause of embarrassment there was not that the wrong brains had been tested, but that someone spilled the beans before they "proved" that the National Sheep Flock had BSE and therefore had to be "culled". ....
And there is word misused, nowhere in a dictionary does it imply the wholesale slaughter of healthy, useful animals. "
April 2 ~ " A Foreign & Commonwealth paper has just come to light under the 30 year rule. It has been kept from the British public for 30 years..."
writes David today, "and it lays out exactly what we will lose, how control will seep away to a central authority.
We cannot set our own budget because it has to be within EU guidelines, we cannot protect ourselves from unfair imports that are driving our businesses into the ground, we have been Regionalized into 12 Economic Regions, each with a Super Council or Regional Government. Westminster is now turning into a Parish Council within Europe, unable to criticise the EU and forced to carry out its bidding for fear of suffering huge fines. Most people in this country (and Europe) have not woken up.."
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing in the Telegraph recently, wrote: " Even the "federalists" are starting to share the former Prime Minister's alarm over the European Union's takeover of defence, diplomacy, justice, social policy, race and gender rules, the environment, and economic policy in the euro zone. Edward McMillan-Scott, their former leader, said: "Things are now going much too far, much too fast, and its now reaching crunch point...." (see also article about the FCO document released under 30-year rule)
April 2 ~"The constants involved are that the so-called contingency plan was ineffective and outdated; the remoteness of the centralised bureaucracy in Page Street was divorced from the reality in the field..."
Centralisation, that blight on democracy, was at the heart of the problem over FMD too. Lord Willoughby's contribution to last Tuesday's debate (Column 184) makes this point very clearly. "Local vets were sidelined...control operations must be handled at local level and not by remote control from London...the centralised bureaucracy in Page Street was divorced from the reality in the field.."
April 2 ~ Clare Short is known in India as the Angel of Death
George Monbiot's deeply disturbing article today in Today's Guardian reinforces our concern about Andhra Pradesh. Very fair to Mrs Short, he praises her for bravely blocking the aid money which would have gone to Tanzania and then uselessly spent on a British air-traffic system that would have been of no benefit to the country at all. She is known as the left-wing conscience of the Cabinet - but the 65 million pounds that are to be used in Andhra Pradesh to "eliminate poverty" will, say the people it most affects, be more likely "to eradicate the poor".
Monbiot writes,"The scheme envisages the "rationalisation" of farming in Andhra Pradesh. Small farms will be consolidated into large ones, bullocks will give way to tractors and combine harvesters, traditional seed varieties will be replaced by genetically modified crops. Some 20 million people will lose their land or their jobs on the land. Last month, a "citizens' jury", composed of people drawn from the social groups the scheme is supposed to help, rejected the project unanimously. Last year, the Guardian obtained a leaked copy of an internal DFID report, which warned that the scheme suffered from "major failings", threatened the food security of the poor, and offered no plans for "providing alternative income for those displaced". Yet the "cabinet's leftwing conscience" continues to back it. "
Possibly the most alarming sentences in the article from this most honest and reputable journalist is the following: "The second possible explanation for Clare Short's support for this scheme is that, like everyone else in the cabinet, she has succumbed to corporate pressure and the neo-liberal ideology associated with it.....Short's deputy, Hilary Benn, recently made the extraordinary assertion that "the future is a matter of political will and choice, and only governments have both the legitimacy and the opportunity to exercise that will". Even the eloquent and well-argued objections from the still independent thinkers in the House of Lords can be excluded from the Cabinet's view of what "government" is...the Animal Health Bill has been scotched but not killed. It will be back with a vengeance.
April 1 ~ Why did Baroness Gibson need to have the Bill explained? Had she not read it?
"Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen: My Lords, I was present for the last debate,...... I am saddened that the amendment is on the agenda today. I shall oppose it ..... Yesterday at Question Time I took the opportunity to ask the Minister whether or not at the present time we have powers in this country to deal with a further foot and mouth outbreak. He said, "No". He explained that the Bill would cover part of what is needed..... I believe that it would be wrong for us to hold up this legislation......it would be totally irresponsible for us to do so, having been told by the Minister that we do not have the legislation at the present time to cope with foot and mouth. It is rather strange that we hear this afternoon that there is no urgency for this matter. All the way through the debates on foot and mouth disease-and I was here for almost all of them- we were told how urgent action was needed; how the Government had dragged their feet; and how things had to be done as quickly as possible. Now we hear the opposite. As I previously said, it would be irresponsible for us to wait for the reports. That could put us back months. It would be irresponsible because as legislators we have a duty to act in the best interests of the people......" (debate)
This is sad. Who does the Lady Baroness think the "people" are, one wonders? And what a shame that she fails so dismally to understand the difference between an indiscriminate slaughter policy rushed through for the purposes of retrospective legality, and the need to deal swiftly with the virus - the answer to which was metaphorically put into Professor King's hands in March last year by the Real-Time PCR machine which detects the virus on the farm more than 60 hours before the onset of visible infection.
April 1 ~ Lord Moran -" Part 1 of the present Bill is based entirely on legalising and extending the mass slaughter of animals...Part 2 of the Bill on scrapie, which also appears to be based on disputed science, may result in the extinction of many rare breeds of our sheep....I do not believe that it is sensible for us to devote time and effort to debating amendments to such a Bill...."
" Having taken part in that debate and listened to so many powerful speeches, I thought that the Government might at the end of it have taken the advice of a song in one of the early Astaire/Rogers films, the theme of which was,
"Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again".
I expected that, at any rate, the Government would table amendments making major changes in their proposals. I waited week after week for a Government reaction, but none came until last week, when we had from the Minister three useful amendments on detail but nothing fundamental. My wife suggested to me that the Government would probably have the Committee stage just before Easter when some of their critics might have departed on holiday. She was right.. "
What a privilege it is to be able to read verbatim the wise and often witty speeches of the members of the Upper House. The full debate last Tuesday can be read here. At the end you will see the names of the 130 peerless peers who stopped this horror bill in its tracks.
April1 ~ " In the Shadow of Foot & Mouth" BBC2
This film on BBC 2 in Scotland went out last Thursday. People in England need to see it too. Please could ALL visitors to this website who care about what has happened in Britain ring 0870 0100222 as soon as possible and ask the charming lady who will answer for it to be shown nationwide. (And if you could email this website to say that you have phoned, I should be very grateful indeed)
Mar 31 ~ An Easter egg-related thank you to Marks and Spencer who say they will remove all battery eggs from their stores.
Ghandi said that a nation can be judged by the way it treats its animals. Millions of british hens and pigs live out a cramped and unnatural existence behind locked doors away from public knowledge. To those who say - "Oh but people can't afford poncy free range food" we say "Nonsense. It is the exploited animals who are paying the price for the nation's cheap food."
The unwritten contract between man and animal has only ever been valid if the animal gets a reasonable, natural life in return for the meat, eggs, wool or milk we take. Intensive livestock farming is wrong - just as the handling of foot and mouth has been an obscene departure from veterinary ethics. Prince Charles was right a few days ago when he said that most children haven't a clue where their food comes from. Nor have many of their uninterested parents. ' Education, education, education' is important only to the government spin machine in terms of measurable numbers - such as the prices of computers put into schools. For today's unenviable children it is now measured in terms of soulless "targets" achieved and not achieved.
Education, (singular), on the other hand is about awareness, eagerness for knowledge, and the dawning of self-respect and personal responsibility. Real life not virtual reality. Educated children want animals to have a real life too. Thank you M&S. It is a start.
Mar 31 (Easter Day)~ "... the EU inspectors had required such a preventative slaughter policy "to get ahead of the disease", before they left Britain on March 16".
Bookers Notebook Sunday Telegraph
" Appearing last week before the European Parliament's inquiry into Britain's foot-and-mouth disaster, Brussels Commissioner David Byrne came up with an extraordinary new twist to the story behind the "contiguous cull" policy, under which millions of animals were illegally slaughtered just because they were on farms within 'three kilometres' of infected premises. As I reported last week, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has now admitted that at least 98 percent of these animals were not infected. Under the Animal Health Act 1981 it did not therefore have the legal power to kill them.
Until now it has been supposed that this "preventative slaughter" policy originated with its main champion, Professor Roy Anderson, who became the Government's chief scientific adviser on foot-and-mouth on March 23 2001. But Commissioner Byrne advised MEPs to look at the report on a visit made to the UK between March 12 and 16 by the European Union's powerful Food and Veterinary Office. When examined, this revealed that the EU inspectors had required such a preventative slaughter policy "to get ahead of the disease", before they left Britain on March 16.
It is because Defra ministers knew this policy went beyond their legal powers that they were so desperate to rush through their Animal Health Bill, giving them the power to kill any animal without having to produce evidence of infection. But last Tuesday the House of Lords approved a motion by Lord Moran to postpone the Bill until after the official inquiries have reported. Lord Whitty and other ministers were said to be "incandescent" at this shock defeat, because it leaves them still without the powers they pretended to have when the 'contiguous cull' was launched.( More)
Mar 31 ~" The Commission's concern will revive claims that the Government was over-generous to British farmers affected by foot and mouth because it wanted to keep them quiet in the run-up to the general election last year."
David Harrison's story in today's Sunday Telegraph reports that "British taxpayers face a £300 million bill after the European Commission rejected the Government's claim for foot and mouth compensation as "excessive and unrealistic". Britain is claiming £740 million towards the cost of paying farmers for the loss of four million animals (sic) during the crisis last year. ........
"Last night, Peter Ainsworth, the Conservatives' rural affairs spokesman, said: "This is another massive cock-up by a department incapable of getting anything right. They bungled and dithered and lost control of the budget during the foot and mouth crisis.
"Now we have another very expensive mistake. A lot of farmers have been treated generously but many other businesses received nothing and face ruin."
"A spokesman for the Defra department said: "We would be very concerned if the Commission is saying we paid over the odds, and will be seeking urgent talks with their officials to clarify this.
"We are confident that our claim is fair and realistic......" says DEFRA
Mar 31 ~ Genetically modified foods are poised to slip back into Britain after major advances by Monsanto in countries that have so far refused to grow them.
says the Independent this morning. "Last week, India lifted a four-year ban on growing GM crops to allow production of three bio-engineered types of cotton and hinted that it will also give the go-ahead to GM foods such as soya and corn.
"And earlier this month, the Brazil's commission on GM foods recommended the immediate authorisation of GM crops and foods, despite a similar ban. The recommendation would particularly benefit Monsanto, which has been lobbying hard for approval to grow pesticide-resistant soya.
"Brazil and India have been important sources for British and European firms that have been forced to drop GM materials from food and animal feeds. If bio-engineered crops now sweep through the two countries, companies will find it hard to find non-GM supplies.
"Brazil, for example, is the world's second biggest producer of soya. The first and third biggest, America and Argentina, already grow GM varieties, and the three countries together account for 80 per cent of soya production."
Monsanto's victories continue in the face of overwhelming public opinion. Does anyone still doubt that what is happening is deeply disturbing? What we are seeing globally has nothing to do with feeding people and everything to do with making the powerful more powerful at the expense of the independent food producers of the world. There is no part for democracy in any of the "agricultural" policies taking place swiftly and silently across the planet.
Mar 31 ~ Never has the folly of our EU membership been so cruelly and transparently exposed.
"Europe has cynically exploited its power to open up the UK as a dumping ground for beef which its own consumers did not want to eat". "In plain man's language, Britain has been well and truly shafted by ruthless competitors, masquerading as 'partners'. Never has the folly of our EU membership been so cruelly and transparently exposed.
"We are deluding ourselves if we believe Europe has anything to offer us in this current crisis other than blatant self interest. We should now go it alone." wrote Dr Richard North exactly one year ago. See also his Letter from Brussels last week "until there is a proper public inquiry, as requested by the Federation of Small Businesses, and many other bodies besides, the many questions about what must be one of biggest government fiascos of all time will remain unanswered. "
Mar 30 ~ "...the disclosure by John Wilesmith, that it had previously been unanimously agreed by the science group that the vaccination route should have been adopted by the government. "
Nick Green's further paper today, entitled "Who killed Vaccination?"
Extract: This route of vaccination was overruled by of all people the Chief Veterinary Officer, MAFF and NFU leaders. Lord Plumb who was also present at the meeting, went out of his way to point out he did NOT represent the NFU now, (he was a past President), but he did not think the NFU's decision had been swayed on economic grounds. What were the grounds then? No other farmers (and this includes rank and file NFU subscription paying members), farming bodies, tourist organisations, or animal welfare groups have been given any proper information, other than the myths spread, both by MAFF and their Veterinary representatives and the board of the NFU. (Even the 'help' line set up by MAFF, has, I see today in the paper, been exposed as a downright fraud, being manned by uninformed job seekers with a mandate to say whatever comes into their heads. This could explain the information I was given on ringing Reading, when I asked about buying-in hay. that I could give it to the animals, provided I had sprayed it with disinfectant first.)
Mar 30 ~ "Tony Blair might have thought this was an issue that had gone away. He's wrong. ...."...... it should be Mr Blair who stands in the dock to face tough questioning about how he arrived at those decisions..."
wrote the Western Morning News "...... And he should be doing so, not in Brussels before a committee of MEPs set up by the European Parliament, but in London before a properly constituted, fully accountable public inquiry with the power to demand his attendance.
....... There is one major question that the Government - and ideally the Prime Minister - ought to be asked about the foot and mouth outbreak and it's a simple one.
Did Mr Blair order the contiguous cull, thereby signing the death warrants of hundreds of thousands of healthy animals and destroying the businesses of hundreds of farmers, to protect his plans for a General Election to go ahead while New Labour remained the strong favourite to win?
The suspicion, here in the Westcountry and in other foot and mouth affected areas, is that he did.
All Nick Brown could offer when difficult questions about the contiguous cull came up at the EU hearing was silence. He did not comment on statistics from Wales showing that, out of 810 farms where animals were slaughtered in the contiguous cull, only 64 actually had foot and mouth disease. Nor did he have anything to say about the fact that out of the 34 contiguously culled farms in the Forest of Dean, none proved positive when tested for the illness.
........ The alternative to the contiguous cull - vaccination - did occupy Mr Brown at the European hearing. But he put the blame on everyone but the Government for the failure to implement a vaccination policy and claimed there was a shortage of vaccine - despite expert veterinary evidence that five million doses were available for immediate use."
Mar 30 ~" I now have irrefutable evidence that the Scientific Committee was unanimous that vaccination was the route that should have been taken by the government."
"This route was overruled by the CVO (Jim Scudamore), MAFF and NFU leaders...."
This note arrived from Nick Green just after his damning commentary on the Government's submission to the Lessons Learned Inquiry had been posted up on this website. Details as soon as possible..
Mar 30 ~ Rabies contingency plan not available to vets
A letter in today's Telegraph from the veterinary surgeon Helen O'Hare (see her submission to the Lessons Learned Inquiry here)
"SIR - Lord Whitty remarked that the Government's ability to deal with any future outbreaks of foot and mouth disease - or any other disease - would be seriously compromised because of the Lords' rejection of the Animal Health Bill. Perhaps he could explain to me, in view of the foot and mouth experience, why my recent request, as a veterinary surgeon, for a copy of the Rabies Contingency Plan was refused because it is "unavailable" for two reasons: one, that it is being updated, and two, that even if it were finished, it would only be available to ministry staff. Have no lessons been learnt?"
Mar 30 ~ " March 11th 2001 Agricultural Minister, Brown.... "It is all under control." he said during the programme Morning with Frost.
David McLean MP, Penrith and the Borders, "On hearing this my phone went into meltdown. My fax did not stop. An absolute disgrace."
Brown later said, "But what would people have thought if I had said it was out of control? There would be a complete lack of confidence." ...What?
Day 19. March 10th. 190 cases.
MAFF still chasing the virus. Nowhere near meeting the 24hr cull time.
Day 28. 19th. March. 352 cases......
Extract from "GOVERNMENT SUBMISSION TO THE LESSONS LEARNED ENQUIRY MORE SPIN?" in which Nick Green questions the government submission to the Lessons Learned Inquiry - particularly their claim "The scientists advised that the 24 - hour target was the most important parameter for disease control, and it was the one most fully achieved." His paper is detailed and damning.
Mar 30 ~ "I can assure you that any action taken would be proportionate to the risks and based on the latest scientific evidence available"
concludes Mrs Beckett in this recent letter to William Hague about the likely doom of sheep and goats "if research or surveillance results indicated the presence of BSE in sheep" Since the "latest scientific evidence available" always excludes evidence submitted by any scientist who has the temerity to stray from the line favoured by those "independent government scientists" from the FSA, SEAC and Imperial College (and who is, like Professor Ebringer, subsequently deprived of funding), we have little faith in her reassurances. (See letter)
Mar 30 ~ ......."This is a plain untruth: The National Farmers Union, which represents only a third of farmers, was against vaccination, but all the other farming groups we spoke to were for it. They were not listened to. Why not?"
Extract from the Green Party press release"Greens slam Government's submission to Foot and Mouth Inquiry" which says, "Why the Government handed control of the strategy to combat the epidemic to computer modelers who had never worked with animal diseases remains a mystery. The first known case of FMD was on 19 February. A month later the Soil Association made a well argued case for abandoning Plan A (mass culling) and resorting to Plan B (ring vaccination). This went ignored. And 3 of the world's experts in Foot and Mouth, Profs. Brown, Sutmoller and Barteling started to make the case for vaccination from March onwards the Government ignored them too. Why?"
Mar 30 ~ "The Lords have handed the under-fire Prime Minister and his Government a valuable lesson about the value of listening"
From the Farmers Guardian . "The Government's response to Tuesday's dramatic events in the House of Lords was telling. Not even in their wildest dreaams, had Ministers expected the Animal Health Bill to be thrown out be peers. As shock turned to anger Lord Whitty was soon claiming that peers were simply taking their revenge on the Government's stance on hunting. But the vote had nothing to do with hunting. The Minister had clearly failed to understand the strength of puplic opposition to what has been coined the 'ANIMAL DEATH BILL'. It was derailed on Tuesday because the Lords agreed it would be a brutal piece of legislation giving dangerous draconian powers to an already bloodthirsty Government....."
Mar 29 ~How many related cruelty cases have you attempted to take to court during the course of the Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK in 2001 and with what results?
Extract from a Letter from the FMD Forum to the RSPCA 1. How many related cruelty cases have you attempted to take to court during the course of the Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK in 2001 and with what results?
2. How many cases have you taken under Section 1 Suffering of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 through to the full span of the legal 6 months limit before announcing that you will drop the case ?
With the innumerable instances of cruelty highlighted by the press and witnessed by so many people, it is with dismay that we cannot find one instance where the RSPCA has taken any case to court, let alone follow one through to its successful conclusion.
Many times we ourselves were contacted by people on mobile phones, desperate to get the RSPCA to a scene where outstanding cruelty was taking place. On rare occasions we or they succeeded. Mostly (and these things rarely happened during convenient 'office hours' ) we drew blanks, receiving either recorded voices telling us the offices were closed, or desperate sounding telephone operators saying they could 'make a note but there is nothing more they can do.' Or 'that MAFF would not allow them on the land and therefore they would be contravening the law were they to insist'. The idea of setting up an emergency service at the Horsham Office was treated with ridicule. (See full letter from the FMD Forum)
Mar 29 ~ If the NFU were not driving the decision not to vaccinate (see below) then who was? Why were the farmers blamed (yet again)?
Why was the existence of the 90/424/EEC: Council Decision of 26 June 1990 on expenditure in the veterinary field hushed up? Why was there no proper open debate on vaccination and why - even more importantly, did Professor David King say, at the EFRA Select Committee on April 25th with regard to the Real-Time PCR machine that the relevant experts had already shown him, "We would like to see very distinct field tests on this instrument; but my final conclusion, from talking to all the experts, including Fred Brown, is that, unfortunately, it will not be available to us for this epidemic."
" Distinct field tests" in a real epidemic - vital for knowledge in the whole world - was blocked by the key UK players.
While USDA seem now to have accepted its use gratefully, the UK has stuck stubbornly to its loathsome policy of slaughter, backed up by the bully boy tactics. The hope that such policies could be given a retrospective legality by the Animal Health bill have been dashed by the decency and knowledge of 130 members of the House of Lords.
One wonders why the government, instead of looking seriously to see why so many experienced members of the Upper House should have prevailed, choose to spread far and wide (even as far as the Gloucestershire Echo, we see today) the lie that Lord Moran was motivated by a wish to "punish the government over its stance on hunting". Responsible government would not lash out with such an unseemly petulance. Responsible journalists would not have lost the ability to probe and question instead of meekly echoing the insinuations of No 10 (Real Time PCR)
Mar 29 ~ "No one is whiter than white. One positive aspect of last year, is that vaccination is now seen as a necessary part of future strategies." (Peter Rudman, NFU)
"The decision whether to vaccinate was not ours, it was based on independent veterinary advice. We talked to, among others, The BVA, RCVS."
"'What others', I politely asked?" "The CVO, Jim Scudamore, and epidemiologists." (replied Peter Rudman)
Go on, what epidemiologists? "
You will know the names Nick as well as I do; Dr Anderson and his team!"
Oh you mean Dr Christl Donnelly & Dr Neil Ferguson, I questioned.
"Yes that's them." ........
So how much better was the advice from the BVA?
President of the British Veterinary Association, David Tyson enjoined farmers to "Stick with the control measures that worked in 1967/68, vaccination would end the UK's disease-free status." Keith Baker, past president of the BVA went on, "There were 50 different virus types with no cross-immunity. If the wrong vaccine were used, animals would have no protection. Moreover, there would be no guarantee that all animals were protected. 'Stamping out the disease by slaughtering infected animals wins hands down, every time", he declared. Yet more TOP advice for the NFU then! .... (Read Nick Green's exposé and then read what Dr Sumption said at the EU inquiry )
Mar 29 ~ I was very struck by this phrase at the end of the Daily Telegraph report "Ministers could also pass an emergency bill in 24 hours if foot-and-mouth broke out again.
The government wants extra powers to slaughter animals to prevent its rapid spread." That seems a reasonable assessment of the situation and the Government's position." writes Pat G to this website this morning. " Why then do the Government need the powers they seek in the infamous Animal Health Bill?
If they can pass emergency legislation to handle any future outbreak within 24 hours, why do they need to give draconian powers of entry now, for routine use, to Defra and the State Veterinary Service?
The SVS, in particular, has a truly, terrible reputation for intimidation and bullying, faking of results and many other criminal activities. Why, even on the government's logic, give them more even power? It is an unnecessary abuse of democracy."
Mar 29 ~ Think back to the Easter holidays last year.
On April 19, the Government's chief scientist, Professor David King, said foot and mouth was "fully under control". The chief vet, Jim Scudamore, waved computer models showing that new cases would be down to one a day by May. Phoenix the calf was saved by Alastair Campbell. On May 3, Tony Blair announced the disease effectively beaten. Not long after this farmers were waving placards urging a full inquiry. The placards read: "Foot-and-mouth didn't ravage the countryside Mr Blair- you did."
Mar 29 ~ Foot and Mouth...I am not involved, says Mr Blair
We note Peterborough's comments in the Telegraph today about the note affixed to the front of the book of poems sent to Downing Street. " The book, Life Extinguished, is a collection of 300 poems by Yorkshire schoolchildren about last year's epidemic. Mr Blair was asked to buy and endorse the book along with other luminaries, such as the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Westminster. The Duke and the Prince supported the enterprise, but 10 Downing Street returned the book, stapling the following (dis)missive to its cover: "Mr Blair only supports cases where he has some close personal involvement." ......"
Mar 29 ~" The Conservatives speculated last night that the government might seek to salvage the bill by persuading the independent inquiries to release early interim reports."
In what we consider to be a disgraceful piece of government-slanted reporting, The Financial Times has given credance to Lord Whitty's petulant - but clever - accusation. He said that the Animal Health Bill was defeated because the Lords wanted a way, as the FT puts it, "of punishing the government over plans to introduce a ban on fox-hunting."
The FT goes on to quote Richard Burge out of context warning the government of a "summer of discontent" in protest at the ban. They quote the Conservative Lord Peel "A lot of people are telling me it is because the Labour backbenchers are furious with the way the government is handling the fox-hunting issue," he said. But Lord Peel was going on to refute such a ludicrous charge.
If the bill were really sound, based on proper veterinary advice, based on sound science and with the full backing of those most involved - the farmers - there is no way that the bill could have been overturned by the House of Lords. The whole hunting issue has been a stalking horse of spin behind which the plans this government has for the rural treasures of England could be hidden.
Mar 29 ~ Tales of "farmer greed" and "deliberate spread" have fabricated urban envy and class hatred in a way that would have gladdened the heart of Goebbels.
The reality is that the farmers in Britain who really do look after the environment (not the green tourist theme park of government fantasy) and care properly for their animals are in poverty-stricken despair and being forced to give way to the big intensive "profitable" industrialists. These big players, waiting in the wings, have no feel for the land and no care for animals at all. If reputable newspapers such as the Financial Times continue so dutifully to report government spin, the urban population will continue in its sleepwalking ignorance. We can only beg the journalists to ask themselves why -when the handling of the crisis by the government and Defra has resulted in such anguish and desperate loss of resources and when our neighbours abroad look upon Britains's behaviour over its farm animals with such abhorrence -why anyone in their right mind should support the government's seizing of further powers. Comments about a "police state" are not so far of the mark when the Media remain so silent about the bullying and the horror and the brutality of the past year which the bill sought to make legal and which would be impossible to resist next time.
Mar 28 ~ "Mr Brown waxed lyrical about how wonderful his team had been, but sat in stunned silence after Mrs Addy's evidence"
From the Western Morning News..."Mr Brown - now minister of State for Work - was quizzed by MEP's at yesterday's hearing, he insisted that the Government had acted swiftly and in line with European Union requirements in tackling the outbreak.
But Allayne Addy a campaigning Devon solicitor who helped many South West farmers oppose the contiguous cull, rejected Mr Brown's version of events instead describing the Government as being "swamped in a crisis with inadequate resources and a policy that changed by the hour."
She told the inquiry:" There was a huge confusion over who was doing what. Utter chaos reigned, with, in some cases, clean-up teams arriving before the culls had taken place. There was a lack of respect, sympathy and consideration for farmers and their livestock".
Mr Parish said last night "Mr Brown waxed lyrical about how wonderful his team had been, but sat in stunned silence after Mrs Addy's evidence". ...(more)
Mar 28 ~" French government scientists announced that they had drawn a complete blank when they looked for prions in muscles from several BSE or scrapie-infected animals
including mice, sheep, goats and cows. " reports the New Scientist today.
"The tests proved negative in the search for pathological prions in the set of samples, including those taken from the hind limb muscles," says the AFSSA, France's food safety watchdog. Reassuringly, tests on peripheral nerves and lymphoid tissue in the cow also came up negative, suggesting that meat will be safe even if it contains this type of tissue. "These observations are consistent with the findings made to date concerning the distribution of the infectivity linked to BSE in cows," they say. "
Not surprisingly, Peter Smith (SEAC) is furious. (See CJD?/BSE page) as well he might be. The french findings throw into serious doubt one of the much vaunted justifications of the recently disposed of Animal Health Bill and the ill advised National Scrapie plan. (See also the scientific concern about measures to eradicate scrapie)
Mar 28 ~ "It is difficult to decide whether the mind-set of this present Government reflects ignorance, incompetence, indifference or straightforward ill will. Perhaps a cocktail of all four?"
writes George Jackson, Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England in the Telegraph today. "In more than 50 years of involvement in and of service to the countryside, I cannot remember a situation where there have been so many "engagements" about, and so little enlightened administration of, our food, our farming and our countryside.
The report (Mar. 27) of Nick Brown's performance in Brussels together with the report of the meeting at 10 Downing Street called ostensibly to discuss the recommendations of the Commission on Food and Farming bring a chill to all those who are concerned with the future of farming and the countryside in these islands.
It is difficult to decide whether the mind-set of this present Government reflects ignorance, incompetence, indifference or straightforward ill will. Perhaps a cocktail of all four?
Once more, we all have cause to be grateful for the existence of an Upper House where, despite pressure, Lord Moran and his supporters, with sound good sense, blocked the Animal Health Bill at least until the two independent inquiries into the foot and mouth epidemic make available their findings.
On the information at present available and on the experience of the shambles of last summer, the idea of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs having even greater powers to enter premises and slaughter animals at will scarcely bears thinking about.
Mar 28 ~ "...what the Telegraph and everyone else missed was the central confidence trick Beckett is hoping to work
not just on farmers but on the media and everyone else, " writes Muckspreader in this week's Private Eye. "Defra's 'Big Idea', dutifully parroted by the Curry report on the future of British agriculture, is to switch farming subsidies away from food production to 'maintaining the environment' (code for 'keeping the countryside looking tidy for tourists'). Defra wants to transfer £220 million of the £2.2 billion it gets back annually from Brussels (out of £5.5 billion sent there by UK taxpayers to pay for farm subsidies in the first place) away from direct grants to farmers and into the so-called 'rural development fund'. One problem is that most of the money taken away from farmers to be put into the RDF would go not to improving the environment but to regional development agencies, simply to pay for propaganda, consultants, 'marketing schemes' and hiring more officials. In France, which already claims five times more than Britain from the RDF, almost all the money does go to farmers. A second problem, over which Beckett is being noticeably coy, is that, under EU rules, all funding to the RDF has to be matched pound-for-pound by the Treasury. The word from George Street is that, having already handed over £2.50 to Brussels for every £1 Britain gets back in farm subsidies,Gordon Brown is flatly refusing to play ball. So the net result of Beckett's Big Idea is that (a) it would achieve none of the results she claims, and (b) it is not going to happen anyway.
Mar 27 ~ "The Government totally fails to understand the scale of anger this Bill is causing in the countryside, not only with its implication that the farmers were to blame, but also in the detail.
Shadow environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth, in a counterblast to Lord Whitty, said: "This has got nothing to do with hunting and nothing to do with hereditaries, but it's got a lot to do with a nasty and bad Bill.
"The Government totally fails to understand the scale of anger this Bill is causing in the countryside, not only with its implication that the farmers were to blame, but also in the detail. "There were extraordinary powers to enter property, no adequate right of compensation and no adequate right of appeal. It trampled on ethical values.
"There were 80 or 90 Labour peers who didn't bother to vote last night. It is their responsibility to ensure that they deliver their business and they failed to do it. "So the idea that this is all to do with hunting is manifest nonsense. In the Commons we voted against the Second Reading and the Third Reading and we were planning to vote against it later in the Lords. "So I am delighted its demise has come sooner rather than later.''
Mar 27 ~ Did the Ministry - or did it not - advise farmers that compensation for losses arising from vaccination was payable?
Nick Brown simply ignored this question during the interview session yesterday and then fudged it afterwards when it was asked by a senior journalist. This dodging and weaving is significant. A great deal depends on getting at a truthful answer. (The EU Directive)
Mar 27 ~"The Government cannot have it both ways. They accuse the House of Lords of representing the interests of country people, land and livestock owners and then say that they are irresponsible about livestock keeping"
An extract from Honest Food's press release on last night's House of Lords' vote says, "To suggest that the only reason the Lords voted for Lord Moran's extremely sensible amendment was anger at the hunting vote in the House of Commons is preposterous and shows a ridiculous obsession on the part of the Ministers with spin and with hunting.
It was clear from the second reading of the Bill in January (before the Mittall affair, the Byers fisaco and the subsequent hunting debates) that feelings about it ran high in the House of Lords." explained Dr Szamuely.
"Lord Moran gave notice of his amendment at the time, pointing out that the Government should at least listen to the enquiries it had set up before rushing into legislation. The Government cannot have it both ways. They accuse the House of Lords of representing the interests of country people, land and livestock owners and then say that they are irresponsible about livestock keeping. It is quite clear that this Bill did not have the support of anyone connected with the welfare of animals; it was opposed by organizations connected with the countryside such as the Countryside Alliance and the CLA; it was opposed by the Rare Breeds Trust and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. That is a pretty clean sweep. Are they all irresponsible?"
Mar 27 ~ ANIMAL HEALTH BILL CULLED BY LORDS
Peter Ainsworth writes, "Having lost control of the arguments over the Animal Health Bill, the Government lost control of the vote, and were hopelessly outflanked by a cross bench initiative. They have consistently underestimated the strength of opposition to the measures contained in this illiberal Bill, which are both ethical and practical, and they have paid the price of their arrogant refusal to listen. "News that what had become known as "the Animal Death Bill" has itself been culled will be greeted with enormous relief by people throughout the countryside. The Bill implied that farmers were to blame for the tragedy; it offered inadequate rights of appeal; it was hastily prepared; it conferred draconian new powers on Ministers; and it did nothing to prevent the importation of illegal meat. "We will now consider what, if any, additional measures may be needed to enable future outbreaks of animal disease to be handled effectively, and if the Government orders a full independent public inquiry into the scandal of Foot and Mouth, we stand ready to cooperate with any reasonable, proportionate measures they may propose."
Mar 27 ~ "On and on Mrs Beckett went, blathering about "benchmarking" and the "spread of good practice".
Telegraph Opinion this morning would be fully endorsed by many, including the angry farmers in Cumbria.
"An "action plan" was to be launched over illegal meat imports (how the Government loves action plans, and how it hates action). There was to be an "industry-led initiative" to promote co-operation among primary producers, a "pilot network" of demonstration farms to "disseminate best practice" and another "action plan" on organic food. "We are urgently taking forward work in a number of areas," intoned Mrs Beckett, "and today we have set in train a process for working with stakeholders to develop practical ways of putting into practice the policy commission's ideas."
"Is this," asks the Telegraph, " what the farming industry, traumatised by foot and mouth, has been waiting for all these months - for a vague promise to take forward work that will set a process in train?" The most important finding of Sir Don's report was that European subsidies to producers, paid under the Common Agricultural Policy, should be diverted into environmental and rural development schemes. But the Government had not a word to say about that yesterday, except to hint that it would get round to thinking about it in the autumn. The truth is that until we get a Government that is genuinely concerned about farming, country people can expect nothing from Whitehall but abstract nouns"
The Times quotes Peter Ainsworth:" We have had five-year, 10-year, even 20-year plans for health and transport but now farmers look set to be offered a 50-year plan. "Given the average age of farmers, this means that most of them can look forward to seeing some action from the Government when they reach 110."
Mar 27 ~ Had farmers been told of a European Directive that provided compensation for any losses incurred because of vaccination?
Nick Brown's refusal to answer gave a deafening answer. Was Ben Gill aware of the directive? If not - why not? Were farmers aware?
It seems perfectly evident that the rank and file farmers were not. Will Cockbain in Cumbria (NFU), in his comments about how he and his farmers supported vaccination never mentioned it when he told Miriam O'Reilly that the NFU "early on in April were against the proposals that the government came out with for vaccinating cattle in North Cumbria because the government didn't put in the necessary assurances"
This website, watching events closely and reading the daily press throughout, has never heard the directive mentioned by anyone.
The government and Ben Gill have claimed many times that it was the farmers who rejected vaccination. Even if this is so - and we think that "farmers" here means "NFU executive" - there would have been a concerted and furious outcry from farmers had they realised that the EU would cover losses incurred by any repercussions caused by vaccination. No. It was the government who rejected vaccination - and their reasons for doing so and for seeking to blame others must now be scrutinised very closely. As Robert Ulig in the Telegraph points out, this question was evaded by Nick Brown at the Brussels inquiry yesterday. It is, of course, crucial.
Mar 27 ~ There was "not enough vaccine".......
according to poor blustering Nick Brown. But also questioned was Dr Keith Sumption, senior lecturer in international health at Edinburgh University. "There were five million doses in the EU vaccine bank," he said.
Dr Sumption told the meeting that if blanket vaccination had been used, "following typical epidemiology patterns after vaccination, the last case would have taken place around one month after vaccination began".
Robert Ulig writes, "Dr Sumption also scotched claims by the former Ministry of Agriculture that there were no reliable farmyard tests for foot and mouth. He showed the inquiry committee a £6 device akin to a pregnancy test kit that took 10 minutes to show whether an animal was carrying foot and mouth antibodies.
He said two types of instant "pen side" test kit existed, both of which were successfully used by Devon farmers to oppose contiguous culling but had not been officially verified because the OIE, the official body in Paris, cannot verify commercially developed tests.
Mr (sic) Sumption said: "The problem is not with developing a test but with setting up an independent, respected organisation to verify tests."
He also said that the current 12-month restriction on meat exports following vaccination "cannot be justified by current science" and told the EU that "at a stroke we could end all financial penalties of using vaccination".
Mar 27 ~ Nick Brown blamed "slaughtermen"
With deepening incredulity we read that the story Nick Brown gave yesterday for not vaccinating was not that farmers had set their faces against it but that the papers had been full of stories of slaughtermen having caught FMD and " it was thought difficult to persuade consumers to buy vaccinated meat and milk after they had read reports that the disease had spread to humans." ....This leaves one's head spinning as fast as the embarrassed Mr Brown's political advisers.
" Speaking at a meeting of the European Parliament in Brussels, he said the Government was forced to rethink plans to vaccinate in Cumbria, the county worst hit by the crisis, because slaughtermen had mistaken blisters caused by their guns for symptoms of "the human form of foot and mouth". (Telegraph) On June 28 the Guardian reported that 3 soldiers working on the cull had been infected with "Q fever" in May but no news stories in April or later appear to have raised fears about the possibility of humans catching FMD let alone from eating vaccinated meat.
The vice-president of the committee, Caroline Lucas, commented yesterday that Mr Brown's avoidance turned "evasion and ambiguity into a new art form" and was condemned as "shameful".
Mar 27 ~ Full report of the High Court judgement from March 15th
a long but interesting read, can be viewed here.
Mar 27 ~ a "pre-emptive strike" to stop a "bad Bill" proceeding before the Government had considered all available research.....
The Independent today reports that a "'surprise defeat' was inflicted on the Government last night over its plans to introduce "draconian" powers to allow the slaughter of animals in the event of another foot-and-mouth crisis. The Lords voted to halt the Animal Health Bill, scuppering Tony Blair's legislative timetable until the autumn."
Lord Moran's amendment, passed by 130 to 124, was that the Bill should not continue until several reports commissioned by the Government - from the National Audit Office, Royal Society and the "lessons learned" inquiry into foot-and-mouth - are published later this year. One of the Lords described it as a "pre-emptive strike" to stop a "bad Bill" proceeding before the Government had considered all available research - while Lord Moran himself said that it seemed "nonsensical" to proceed with the Bill long before the publication of the Government's own reports.
Most of the Liberal Democrats abstained, saying that the powers the Bill would give the Government to enter farms and slaughter livestock breached civil liberties. Many Tories supported the amendment, and several Labour peers abstained.
The voting -
FOR Lord Moran's amendment: Cross benchers 29; Con 92; Lib 5; Others 4.
AGAINST: Cross benchers 2; Lib 2; Lab 120. Result: 130 - 124.
Mar 27 ~ Food Chain Centre initiative was "pure window-dressing"..."All they are doing is talking." Peter Ainsworth
The meeting Tony Blair had with "rural leaders" yesterday at 10 Downing Street, on the same day as the intended but shelved Committee Stage of the Animal Health bill, began with the Prime Minister telling farmers that the Government recognised that the "past few years have been very, very difficult indeed".
Ben Gill, evidently unimpressed, challenged him to match his words with money and added, "A lot of these recommendations were recommendations we discussed almost two years ago."
Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, announced the creation of a Food Chain Centre to co-ordinate food issues but Peter Ainsworth, Tory counterpart to Margaret Beckett, said the initiative was "pure window-dressing". "There's a host of things they could do, such as cutting the appalling amount of red tape and stopping illegal food imports," he said. "All they are doing is talking."
Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said: "The Government doesn't appear to have said anything that would improve the position of farmers."
(Few people, reading the verbatim accounts of the audience at the Lessons Learned Inquiry meeting at Carlisle, would be likely to have much faith in any centralised plans for farmers coming from Defra at present.)
Mar 27 ~ France plans blitz on scrapie
France, according to Farmers Weekly, has launched a major new programme to eliminate scrapie from the french national sheep flock. This apparently in spite of a long primetime television documentary three weeks ago on France's Channel 2, ridiculing the notion among some British government scientists that scrapie could have strong links with BSE. . The 15 million euro (£9.2m) a year plan will involve tests on about 100,000 sheep aged six months and over, on farms where scrapie has been found. " French agriculture minister Francois Patriat also announced a tightening of the country's specified risk material controls. As from 1 July, 2002 SRMs will have to be removed and destroyed from all sheep over six months old, compared with the 12-month "norm" under EU legislation.....Mr Patriat said he would be pressing for this to apply for all EU member states, but for now France would press on with the measure unilaterally. France is also preparing to improve the traceability of sheep with a system similar to the EU's cattle passport system, in advance of impending legislation from Brussels. "
- and we remember noting on Mar 22nd:."if cattle rearing becomes too enmeshed in tiresome regulation then it will move to less closely regulated areas of the enlarged EU" and we wonder yet again if there is not, behind so many apparently incomprehensible and draconian measures, some common unseen thread pulling towards an unacknowledged European agricultural future. Meanwhile big food companies would appear to be eagerly snapping up farm land in the new Eastern block states.
To realise why the French action is ill advised, read the scientific arguments against culling to eradicate scrapie.
Mar 26 ~ "based entirely on legalising and extending the mass slaughter of animals"
The BBC report tonight uses the word "wreck" in its headline about the defeat of the government over its Animal Health bill. Ananova uses "ambush"....
The government has tried to suggest, presumably in an attempt to deflect sympathy away from those who had the courage to make this stand today, that the throwing out of the bill was somehow connected to Hunting - a piece of desperate spin not even worthy of comment. But the BBC report does quote the hero of the day, Lord Moran, who said of the Bill, with admirable restraint, "I am sure that, in order to get the legislation right, it needs to be based in the inquiries which the government set up. "I believe that it is very much in the government's own interests to do that." He said part of the bill was "based entirely on legalising and extending the mass slaughter of animals". "It is surely not a road down which we should go now," said Lord Moran.
Mar 26 ~ TRIUMPH!
The Animal Death Bill has been killed off in the Lords. Lord Moran's amendment passed 130-124
"no further consideration until after the Gov's reports have been completed"; The Government is "incandescent"
They will have to bring in an entirely new Bill. The Animal Health (Amendment) Bill has been kicked into the long grass. Thank the Lordships!
The result suggests that there may have been some Labour Lords who defied the three line whip. The carrying of his amendment means that the Lords are not dignifying the bill with a Committee Stage. Our gratitude to Lord Moran and his supporters can hardly be expressed.
Mar 26 ~ " evasion and ambiguity into a new art form."
We hear from Strasbourg that Mr Brown was pressed "specifically on numbers, and it was put to him that the true figure was over 10 million...asked him if he accepted that number, and if not, what total figure - including welfare cases, and on the hoof/close to birth - he would accept. He pointedly ignored the question.
It's been a hugely frustrating morning, with Brown turning evasion and ambiguity into a new art form."
Mar 26 ~ HOW MANY animals, Mr Brown?
Ananova persists in repeating - as does the government memorandum to the Lessons Learned Inquiry - that the number of animals killed by the FMD policy was "over four million". In January, Defra admitted that a conservative figure was nearer eleven million.
Of Nick Brown's answers at the EU Temporary Committee this morning Ananova reports: "He says the slaughter of more than four million animals had to be offset against more than half a million cows, pigs and sheep killed for human consumption every year in the UK."
Offset? Why offset? What does he mean? That because a country produces meat for consumption it is therefore perfectly reasonable and rational to kill millions more? Millions that include healthy pedigree and rare breed herds, hefted flocks and irreplaceable breeding stock? With no scientific or veterinary basis for the hated "contiguous cull" ? The advantages of Professor Anderson's model - among which were the permanent reduction of quota, the clearing the upland sheep for those who said they were causing flooding, and, above all, the promise that there would be so few animals left alive around centres of infection that the disease would be triumphantly over by the first week in June - these were not mentioned this morning.
Ananova adds, without comment, that Mr Brown said, "But the Government did believe that the EU's policy on vaccination had to be reviewed." Mr Brown failed to mention that Britain ignored the chance to use preventative vaccination as offered by the EU. This decision cost billions, ruined the rural economy, destroyed many human livelihoods and left hundreds close to despair. Farmers were silenced by use of the Official Secrets Act and subjected to threats and abuse if they protested about the needless and cruelly chaotic destruction of their stock. Animals were far too often killed by untrained thugs, without benefit of stunning or pithing.
Mar 26 ~"The urgency is prompted by the fact that the Animal Health Bill is moving in Parliament. If it passes, England is finished. Period. No nation based on the concept of individual rights could withstand the police powers embodied in it..."
( an email received today from America)
The House of Lords today begins the task of suggesting and debating possible amendments to the Animal Health Bill. But why should this bill be dignified by a Committee stage and a mass of irrelevant amendments? Why cannot the Lords say, as Lord Moran suggests, that its progress must be halted while Parliament waits for the Inquiries to report? Why tinker with details? There should be NO cooperation with this bill. Amendments, discussed at Committee with customary politeness, would just be playing into the hands of those who want it to look like an ordinary bill.
"The whole thing just makes me want to howl at the utter callous cynicism of the stringpullers behind this. Because the Animal Health Bill is NOT an ordinary bill but one to pave the way for something very nasty indeed, having neither science nor veterinary care behind it any more than did the handling of the foot and mouth crisis itself.
The sycophants who politely go along with the killers and spoilers... no good can come of it. The same thing is very likely to be happening simultaneously in Strasbourg today when Mr Scudamore and Mr Brown are courteously questioned for all of 40 minutes each - and Mr Blair, Professor Anderson and Professor King are not questioned at all. It is the old problem of power - no one with a little wants to offend those with a lot because to do so might compromise their own. To echo words used at the very beginning of this horrible thirteen months:
'We are sleepwalking to disaster'."
Mar 26 ~ No mention at all of the Animal Health Bill - one of the most disastrous and disgraceful measures for the UK we have ever seen - in most of today's media.
Instead, as a top headline - we have such things as (from ITV.com) " Farming overhaul unveiled The Prime Minister is to announce the biggest change in farming and food production for half a century. A report commissioned in the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis suggests that subsidies hinder farmers more than they help. Tony Blair is meeting farmers' representatives at 10 Downing Street to discuss the way forward for the industry....." The government will grab the top headlines in our "independent press" when they choose to do so.
Mar 26 ~ The establishment line, though still unproved, has been built into official policy and other possibilities rejected.
writes Paddy Rooney is today's Western Mail, reporting on the fact that no less a journal than the BMJ has published Dr Venters' views that the long-established link between BSE and vCJD is a fiction. He goes on, "It is astonishing that such a crucial issue has not been opened up to debate. Unchallenged ideas, in science as in any field, can lead to misguided policies. Some believe that this happened during the foot-and-mouth outbreak and that many animals were slaughtered unnecessarily. Perhaps it applies with BSE also.Two of these, at least, could substantiate Dr Venters's conclusions, and one seems well on the way to providing a live-animal test for the disease, yet in Britain, though not elsewhere, they receive scant regard. It is a disturbing situation.
How did it arise? Three factors contribute, it seems: Sensationmongers exploiting public anxiety and
scientific ignorance, policy-makers desperate to be seen to be doing something, and savage competition for insufficient re-search funds. Policies developed in panic are too often based on one set of views rather than on proper debate, because this is easier and cheaper in the short term. Once adopted they become set in stone, long-term social and financial costs are built in, change would be embarrassing, and alternatives are brushed aside.
"Variant CJD is dreadful for sufferers and those close to them. They deserve support and the public must be protected. But if it does not derive from BSE, the protective measures now in place are irrelevant. Dr Venters is not alone in raising doubts about the BSE link - the National CJD Surveillance Unit has for some time reported that it cannot find evidence for it, (See CJD/BSE page) The implications are profound. It would follow that consumers have been scared, the beef industry devastated, the sheep industry threatened, livelihoods destroyed - and CJD sufferers misled - to no constructive purpose.
(Paddy Rooney is a former chairman of Dyfed Country Land and Business Association.)
Mar 26 ~ An impressive few minutes on the Today Programme
Caroline Lucas (MEP) on the contiguous cull and flaws in the mathematical models Today program - about 6.50am if you re-listen on the BBC
Mar 26 ~ the "gut-wrenching terror of what they might do next"
" the particular horrors of the past 12 months, ... tales of incompetence on a grand scale, stories of intimidation of farmers pressured to co-operate in the 'voluntary cull' of their healthy, irreplaceable flock, ...how it was impossible to get any clear information. 'You felt you'd complied with the destruction of your sheep, and betrayed that bond you had,' ..."It is a huge and massive betrayal, and it feels very wrong. And that won't ever go away'.... the new Animal Health Bill now going through .. the House of Lords, of how it enshrines in law the enormous powers assumed by Defra over the past few months: the power to come on to any farmer's land and slaughter his stock . .... we're reacting not so much with anger but with fear. 'I think we are very frightened of the government,' .... 'It would be possible to come to terms with the depravity and destruction of what went on if you could see a future. But really we just live with this gut-wrenching terror of what they might do next.' (hill farmers in Cumbria: see below)
Mar 26 ~ "Talk to many hill farmers in the region, and you will hear the figure 16million. That is the number, you will be told, that an EU debate in 1998 threw up in relation to British overstocking of sheep.
....the level of incompetence showed by Maff and Defra could not simply have been unwitting, that there must have been more pernicious forces involved. The epidemic was seized on... by a government under pressure from Europe and the Treasury to depopulate the fells of sheep; the slaughter policy was conceived and stubbornly held to with this end in mind, and in the knowledge that the sheep in large part could not be replaced." Tim Adams 10/02/2002 The Observer
Whatever the truth, Foot and Mouth has been a godsend to those individuals in Maff (later DEFRA) and government obsessed with the need to depopulate the hills of their sheep, incapable of understanding what the impact of the juggernaut they set in motion would be. The idea of celebrating its anniversary with a celebration drink and a barbecue (as in the jokey off the record 'phone briefing to agriculture journalists last month) is one indication of just how callous and divorced from its dreadful reality this contiguous cull policy has been for its perpetrators.
Mar 26 ~ Norwich Hall Road Market closes
The EDP revealed yesterday that Norwich City Council could not afford the £100,000 needed to reopen the Hall Road market to comply with Government "bio-security" regulations brought in after the foot-and-mouth epidemic.
...It also emerged yesterday that mid-Norfolk farmer Peter Howell had offered to take over the running of Norwich's livestock market on a 12-month trial at no cost to the taxpayer to prove its viability. (EDP24)
Mar 26 ~ Where does Mr Byrne get the idea from that effective vaccination involves vaccinating every susceptible animal?
It doesn't. There is no need to inoculate sheep if the cattle are vaccinated. There is so pitifully little knowledge about vaccination from those who have such huge power. Story today from Online.ie "EU health and consumer Commissioner David Byrne told the committee in Brussels this afternoon that there was no evidence that it was wrong for new governments to reject vaccination as a weapon in fighting the disease. He acknowledged that there had been suggestions that the crisis could have been avoided through a generalised vaccination of the EU livestock population. But he added: "It is simply not credible that the entire population of susceptible livestock should have been inoculated." He said the last outbreak of the latest foot-and-mouth disease crisis had occurred on September 30th last year, but went on: "However it would be a very serious error to believe that the book is therefore closed on the crisis. The sheer scale, cost and impact of the crisis called for a fundamental review of our approach towards major animal diseases."
Mar 25 ~ "The truth is beginning to seep out, nonetheless. It is a sorry verdict on the Government's performance and a warning for the future"
says a leading article in Sunday's Independent. But then, appallingly, it also says, "farmers would be subjected to much greater scrutiny to try to stop them spreading the disease and to make sure that they do not swindle the public with inflated compensation .."
How can a reputable newspaper possibly justify such a sentence? We are angry with the farmers' unions too - but not for that. That is just simple-minded recycling of sickening government propaganda which had to be publicly retracted in the House of Commons. Spread the disease? Does anyone with any knowledge of the trauma involved seriously consider that any of the stricken farmers in Devon, Wales, Yorkshire or Cumbria spread the disease? And how could any farmer "swindle the public with inflated compensation?" So-called "compensation" was EU decreed payments for compulsory purchase as has been explained many times. It was not the farmers but the government who set initial levels so ludicrously high. At the start, this was the carrot to stifle any concerted refusal to cooperate and when it failed among those who cared for their healthy stock, the stick of bullying and threats was used. Hefted sheep in the Brecon Beacons were ludicrously overvalued in a cynical attempt to stop a rebellion among the hill farmers and it was coupled with the equally barbarous use of the Official Secrets Act. The majority simply could not stand up against such tactics and they gave in. If brave and now worse-than-penniless Janet Hughes had not made her stand, the holocaust in Wales would have been far more widespread. Janet's dire financial situation is a cause for much embarrassed shuffling of feet and deliberate turning away now. Janet was not a professional farmer and she was a woman - two irredeemable faults which meant she was denied the crucial support she needed from the Welsh farmers' unions. In spite of which, she largely succeeded in her courageous and magnificent attempt to save the hill sheep of Wales. But at what personal and financial cost.
Mar 24 ~ 98 per cent of the animals were killed illegally
Sunday Telegraph "ASTONISHING figures just extracted from Defra confirm that last year's "contiguous cull", the strategy promoted by the Imperial College computer to tackle the foot and mouth crisis, was one of the greatest criminal acts ever committed by a British Government. The only legal power Defra had to order the killing of some nine million animals, just because they were on farms within three kilometres of an infected farm, was provided by the Animal Health Act 1981. This permits the killing of animals only where there is evidence of infection or of direct exposure to infection.
The new figures show that not a single one of the 3,305 farms which lost their animals under the cull tested positive for the virus. Of 3,873 farms "slaughtered out" only one tested positive. Defra weakly pleads that, despite its own figures, other evidence indicates that 120 out of 2,960 cull farms were positive. But this is still less than 2 per cent of the total, meaning on its own admission that 98 per cent of the animals were killed illegally.
It is precisely because the Government knows that it was acting way outside its legal powers that it is pushing through its new Animal Health Bill, giving its officials power to kill any animal they wish, without having to produce justification and making it a criminal offence for anyone to object. A final chance to stop this extraordinary Bill lies with the peers who consider it at Committee stage this week." (From Christopher Booker's Notebook)
Mar 24 ~ The House of Lords are to consider amendments to the Animal Health Bill on Monday
But amendments can only tinker uselessly when something is so fundamentally wrong. Worse - to agree that it can be usefully amended plays into the government's hands. Objectors are being pressured into a panic response and knee-jerk reaction - which could well result in this nasty ill-judged and unnecessary bill being made law within weeks. Why should it be made law when the Inquiries have not even reported yet? Why the rush? The only answer is the one that is suggested above - that it will retrospectively make the criminal killing of millions of healthy animals legal. The Bill is Wrong. It is a Bad Bill. It should be thrown out in its entirety.
Mar 24 ~ Landfill Sites - an urgent plea from John and Diane Irwin in Kingsteignton
"A documentary needs to be made to highlight the dangers of landfill sites around the country. 40 Children have been known to be damaged in Gelli in the Rhonda Valley in Wales. I have submitted documentation to the FMD Lessons Learned Enquiry, asking for all the 8,055 tonnes of carcasses to be removed and incinerated. Recently this year I was reliably informed that they are still not sealed into the cell. The carcasses are still left in the working cell, spewing out prions & organo phosphates with their Grade 1 Toxic Waste. Foot & Mouth Plague still continues in our Village. This is a totally new science. No other country has ever placed such a massive volume of large animal carcasses into a landfill site before. From the Western Morning News 29-11-01, "Torridge and West Devon MP, John Burnet, tabled a series of questions in Parliament to DEFRA concerning the safety of the Ash Moor Pit. He said ' Studies in the United States and from our own microbiologists confirm the effluent from buried animal carcasses is dangerous to human health'". Heathfield Viridor's contaminated load is far greater than just any of the other usual Landfill Site's ingredients..."
Mar 24~ The UK pig industry is not alone and many other sectors of UK agriculture are heading for the exit. If people think it is wise to rely on cheap imports, my reply is HONEY.
Mr Robert Persey, who was David to the Government Goliath in the recent High Court case for a Judicial Review (see "Alicia in Wonderland") writes to warmwell about the end of the British pig industry. He writes, of the farm leaders who are to meet Mr Blair in Downing Street on Tuesday, "History will judge our leaders as they meet in Downing Street, but I suspect that they will be likened to the foolish virgins who allowed their lamps to run dry when they were most needed." Read his letter.
Mar 24 ~ "Modern prime ministers are no longer first among equals: they embody the government. They encourage the notion that it is they who get things done."
Writes John Humphrys in the Sunday Times today " If the issue is big enough - health, education, crime - Tony Blair must be seen to take charge. "
.....And take charge he did. At a time when he was convinced that we were on the "home straight" and that the calf Phoenix was a useful emblem of hope and renewal, Mr Blair publicly took charge of the foot and mouth crisis. But is Mr Blair going to answer questions in Strasbourg? Is he prepared to accept responsibility for the illegality of most of the killing, for the chaos and for the widespread rural misery of those long months after June 7th? No. It looks very much as though the Labour MEPs have decided to block calls to have him "invited" to attend - which, in turn, saves him from either a damaging public refusal or an embarrassing grilling that might reveal some very unpleasant truths. But if a prime minister wants all the glory for "being the one who gets things done" he must also be prepared to carry the can when, after he has so publicly assumed personal control, things are done so disastrously badly. Such sycophancy from the Labour MEPs - if this emerges as the reason for Mr Blair's having been left out - will be seen as yet another murky dimension to the whole sorry business.
Mar 23 ~ " It was the subsidies which caused the problem in the first place...... hard working farmers, subsidised to the hilt, waste away in penury, while cheap food imports - mainly from the EU flood the supermarkets. This is a policy of insanity...."
"How can one policy - one support system - take account of the special needs of the sun-soaked Basques and frozen Sweden, or the needs of farmers on the Rhineland plains, or of the intensive farmers in lowland Holland or in Denmark, where a population of 4.5 million produces 22 million pigs a year.
"If we paid our farmers directly, instead of recycling the money through Brussels, not only would they not lose out, they could actually receive more without any increase in taxation. .....You cannot reform something which is fundamentally flawed. It will still be fundamentally flawed. "What we need is a British Agricultural Policy - a rural policy - to suit British farmers and the British people.
"We need a Ministry which implements the policy on behalf of Britain, instead of acting as a branch office for Brussels. "We need Ministers who can make decisions instead of whining that their "hands are tied" every time there is a crisis. "We need Ministers who do not have to go rushing off to Brussels for permission, every time they want to do something.
"We need Ministers who can produce genuine aid, targeted to where the need is greatest, instead of producing "smoke and mirrors" packages of pretend-aid because the EU will not allow them to do anything else.
"All of these things we need. None of these things we can have, as long as we are members of the EU." (The case for a British Agricultural Policy, written before the CSF or FMD epidemics hit farmers and the rural catastrophe really got under way:Read it here.)
Mar 23 ~ Government's foot and mouth lesson: 'improve our spin'
Robert Uhlig, Farming Correspondent of the Telegraph, writes today, of the government's submission to the "Lessons Learned" inquiry,
"it avoided taking any responsibility for the mismanagement of a crisis it described yesterday as "bigger and more complex, for example, than the UK involvement in the Gulf War".
"It made no mention of the fact that the crisis caused Tony Blair to postpone the General Election and did not explain why it took five weeks for the Prime Minister to take charge of handling the Government's response."
"It also failed to explain the political dynamics that led to the use of scientific modelling that was untested on a livestock epidemic and which resulted in the controversial contiguous cull policy."
"Instead the Government's submission says one of the key lessons is how to control foreign coverage of a domestic crisis "when the UK media is concentrating on negative stories and being picked up overseas". "It concluded: "In this case effort needs to be directed to communications which provide positive information focused on the particular concerns of individual countries."
Mar 23 ~ Level of inaccuracy in National Press is alarming
(we exclude the Telegraph, whose reporting has been generally excellent) We are STILL having to read such nonsense as "More than 4m animals were culled" and "Iain Anderson's Lessons Learned inquiry is being held in private" (Financial Times) when the figure for slaughtered animals given by the Meat and Livestock Commission as nearer 11 million - and that, a conservative estimate, was accepted by a DEFRA spokesman in late January this year. The Lessons Learned Inquiry, while regrettably holding some sessions in private is nonetheless holding public sessions and promises to write a full report. It is far from an ideal situation - but to be fair to Dr Anderson, the team appears to be making a genuine effort to listen - and has been profoundly shocked at what it has heard.
The Guardian states: "The Dutch vaccinated animals in tight zones and then slaughtered them as a final precaution, whereas Britain ruled out vaccination." But the Dutch experience has been consistently misreported - as we have many times tried to point out. The Dutch Government insisted on slaughtering the vaccinated animals - not as an "extra precaution" - but in a bid to qualify for normal trading after three months - behaviour that met with disgust from the population and the Dutch veterinary service. Britain's stance on vaccination has been illogical. They consistently covered themselves with the mantra that they "had not ruled it out" and yet they also say "it would not have helped." The phrase "with hindsight we could have done better" - picked up by the press - is merely a clever attempt to win praise for a pretended humility. The experience of Classical Swine Fever in the East Anglian pig industy, handled in the same overbearing and secretive way, ought to have taught some lessons for improvement. But no lessons were learned then and are unlikely to be learned now. The disastrously ill-judged Animal Health Bill - rushed through without waiting for any government inquiry to report - shows what we are to expect.
Mar 23 ~ "DEFRA is contributing fully to the independent inquiry process, and is assisting the Lessons Learned Inquiry in any way possible."
Mr Ainsworth has already commented on the complacency of the government submission to Dr Anderson's team (see below,) We too will shortly be commenting on certain aspects of it. Meanwhile, we can only wonder at the statement above..."contributing fully to the 'independent inquiry process'"?....has it slipped the government memory that they did not offer assistance to the local independent inquiries? They did not attend and sent only sketchy, vague answers - late - in answer to questions. Devon and Northumberland were snubbed, as were the others.
We note that Brigadier Birtwhistle is going to take part in the Cumbria County Inquiry. Although he will still be hedged about in what he can say by the extraordinary and widespread use of the Official Secrets Act - as so many have been in this murky affair - he will now be able to speak a little more freely than before since he has now retired fully from the Army. He is widely regarded as an honourable man. We look forward to hearing his views.
Mar 23 ~"He said that he believes this is a deliberate strategy to make it difficult or impossible for farmers to access the grants"
Our correspondent in Devon writes, " Just back from a meeting of the North Devon Agricultural Forum. Someone pointed to the confusing tangle of grants and assistances which are said to be available to farmers - and the plethora of agencies administering them, each working in isolation, not cross referring nor redirecting applicants to the more appropriate scheme. He said that he believes this is a deliberate strategy to make it difficult or impossible for farmers to access the grants; comparing the arrangements in Wales and Southern Ireland, where this type of scheme is administered by a single body which can and will advise farmers what is available and how to apply..."
Mar 22 ~ "They have the effrontery to imply that they did a pretty good job, all things considered, when everyone knows they did a thoroughly lousy job. This is another shabby attempt at rewriting history through spin"
"They contradict themselves over vaccination policy, saying that "it has never successfully been used" and then that they "considered" using it;
"On pyres, they say that "the worst option would have been to leave carcasses to rot in the fields", yet this is exactly what happened;"....Peter Ainsworth has immediately responded to the submission made by the government and DEFRA to the Lessons Learned Inquiry today. Read his initial reaction
Mar 22 ~".... it was on this crashing error that the team based its advice that all animals within 3 kilometres of an infected farm should be'culled', leading to the pointless and often barbaric slaughter "
Private Eye's Muckspreader column looks with close attention at data analyst Valerie Lusmore's Lessons Learned submission criticism of the modelling on this website. "Prof Anderson was well known to Blair's new Chief Scientist, Prof.King, and had worked at Oxford with Sir John Krebs of the Food Standards Agency. Thanks to backing from Krebs, Anderson's team was the one chosen by King to run the epidemic and, thanks to its computer model, originally designed to track sexually transmitted diseases in humans, the 'contiguous cull' was launched on its way.
As a specialist in computer modelling, Lusmore began to keep a close eye on what was happening. "Along with many other people" she writes, "I tried to understand the factors behind this model, and found it difficult to understand why this particular approach had been used", particularly since so much information was available via the internet on other methods used elsewhere in the world...
....Much of Lusmore's paper is concerned with showing how the data compiled by Maff was chaotically inadequate, inaccurate and inconsistent. But her main conclusion is that choice of the Anderson computer model was due to "pressure from political sources to come up with a quick solution" and was a grotesque mistake. ."
Mar 22 ~ The Animal Health Bill - its casually brutal provisions hardly known, let alone discussed or criticised
- was, until very recently, being promoted on the premise that farmers who appealed against the slaughter of uninfected animals "slowed down the response to outbreaks of the disease .....and contributed to its spread." This seemed to be accepted on all sides except by those who knew that it was mischievous nonsense - the farmers themselves. It is completely untrue. What appears clear is that the Thirsk cull, their last claim of "farmer spread", subsequently abandoned after evidence to the contrary, had little to do with exposure to infection and more to do with a desire to firebreak cull to protect the pig units to the east....illegal under the current legislation. True figures are not being given so even experienced journalists, not surprisingly, are wary of quoting the December 4th county figures,now not wholly accurate. (It seems that 274 "new" IPs have been added to the list - but the locations, tests, dates are not known and there seems no up to date figures available). The bill will be passed because the truth about the Ministry's behaviour has been suppressed; once passed, it will give carte blanche to the Ministry to repeat the slaughter - but this time they need not fear the disquiet of any humane judges. As the Penrith Herald said on July 14th "The reality is that if you tell people too much, then they might organise themselves, object to the Government's barren and mechanical thinking and slow down the supposed clear-up rate. "Kill everything quickly" is the reality behind the empty rhetoric of the "rigorous action" to tackle foot and mouth.." Voices raised in polite protest - such as that of Dr David Shannon former Chief Scientist at DEFRA, are drowned by the noisy assertions of David King, Elliot Morley, Margaret Beckett, Lord Whitty, Roy Anderson, Mark Woolhouse and all those others whose reputations are at stake. But the stark fact is that a terrible and avoidable calamity was brought about from which many people and a whole way of life will never recover. "It was individuals behaving inappropriately who caused all the problems." writes Mr Griffiths Jones and their guilt is not going to be forgotten.
Mar 22 ~ "People are just beginning to recover from foot and mouth and now we have a Bill to decide not to make the fox a protected species but to decide which method we use to cull it
.....Adrian Simpson, director of the Countryside Alliance in Wales, said: "The mood of the countryside is a tinder box." (See Telegraph report) The Government proudly proclaims that it intends to rely on the existing legal definition of cruelty - "causing unnecessary suffering" - to curb hunting. By this definition, how does the government stand on the charge of cruelty to healthy animals - some are now citing a figure of 15 million - in conditions that the experienenced vet Helen O'Hare described as those that "would normally result in prosecutions. For example: starving animals unable to move across the road to available food, animals born and drowning in mud. " She said that Arthur Griffiths, DistrictVeterinaryManager at Kenton bar, Newcastle, banned the use of sedation prior to killing "as it was too expensive" The cost of the commonly used sedative " is approx £5/animal which is negligible when the animal may be valued at £900 and when the total cost of the kill is considered."
Mar 22 ~"If energy becomes too expensive then steel making will switch to countries where it is cheaper. Likewise if cattle rearing becomes too enmeshed in tiresome regulation then it will move to less closely regulated areas."
From an article in today's Scotsman objecting that the (result of) " the environmental lobby headed by Friends of the Earth has been a proliferation of regulations which has hastened the demise of small and medium sized farmers." But the increasing regulation comes from something of which the environmental lobby appears to be an almost unwitting accomplice. When livestock production has finally moved to the new member states of the EU, will people finally see the food scares, the animal "health" policies and the ever increasing rules and regulations for what they really were?
Mar 22 ~ "It is not my intention to produce a fudge or compromise ... but to produce good legislation,"
The announcement that the bill to ban almost all fox hunting will not be brought forward for another six months, as announced by Alun Michael, enraged backbench Labour MPs opposed to blood sports. The Rural Affairs minister, told the Commons that legislation would be based on the principles of "cruelty and utility ... rather than a list of activities to be banned" The Independent says that this raises "the prospect of exemptions for upland hunting, where alternative forms of pest control are considered impractical." and that it has "sparked confusion and anger on both sides of the argument. Anti-hunt MPs attacked the delays and warned of the prospect that new legislation would stop short of a ban, while hunt supporters branded the statement a "black day for liberty".
We take no sides in this matter - just wishing that common sense rather than ignorance could direct the House of Commons.
What we do notice is their realisation that they need another six months "To make sure the legislation is right" The Animal Health Bill (like the Terrorist Bill) is being rushed straight through in spite of legal, scientific and common sense objections. The unseemly haste, by Alun Michael's own admission, shows that the legislation is wrong.
Mar 21 ~ "Rough Justice" says the cover of Farmers Weekly "It was a David and Goliath battle and Goliath won", says the Western Morning News
"We were absolutely right to do what we did but the Government threw its might at us and Goliath won." "The judgment provokes some disturbing thoughts. It seems to say that if a government chooses to make itself unaccountable to the people on a matter of great public disquiet over its conduct, there is no potential redress in the courts." said the editor, Barrie Williams.
A statement from the BBC expressed "disappointment" at the decision of the High Court judges: "At the time we submitted our representation we said we believed that there is overwhelming public interest in the issue and an open and transparent public inquiry would have the public's confidence; that a public inquiry would encourage others to assist the inquiry; and that a private inquiry could result in distortion of the evidence and findings of the inquiry. This is still our position." ( See report )
Mar 21 ~ MAFF had turned a disease which was not even life-threatening to animals into one which had become life-threatening to humans.....
The unnecessary slaughter of our own fine pedigree herd of North Devon cattle, and the pedigree flock of Portland sheep, hit me much harder than ever I had expected. It has driven many farmers to suicide, not just in this epidemic. And now that farmers, in this area at least, are beginning to restock, I have heard of renewed incidents of psychological disturbance amongst them as they resume daily milking, but with completely unknown and alien animals. The old characters and habits, which they knew so well and worked with, have all gone. It will take months to become as familiar with the new herd, and in the meantime, they feel even more keenly the loss of their original herd. Inevitably they will have bought in animals whose behaviour is unhelpful or whose performance is inadequate, and who will have to be moved on in due course, causing further disturbance. 7 All this distress, disturbance and financial loss has not been created by the foot and mouth disease. 15 million animals could not have died from the disease in eight months. It has been the result of inappropriate and ill-considered responses to the disease by Government officials and Ministers. If lessons are really to be learnt from this, then you have a duty to look closely at what happened and why. So I cannot understand the answer which you gave at that meeting that you would not be investigating the actions of individuals. It was individuals behaving inappropriately who caused all the problems. Certainly all the abuses which I suffered myself were caused by mistaken behaviour of inappropriately trained people. If you do not investigate the behaviour of these individuals, then you will have no idea why they behaved in these ways, and will not have learnt the key lessons of this fiasco. In particular, I believe that you should look very closely at the behaviour of Fred Landeg at Page Street, and Stella Bevan at the DVS in Exeter.
.....The personal abuse which I experienced was not limited to me, not surprisingly. I have written details of a number of other cases, in hard copy form, which I will submit to you by post. These all need to be investigated closely by you, and the officials at fault identified and questioned.
A submission to Dr Anderson by Tom Griffiths Jones
Mar 21 ~ " When I go to Strasbourg for the week....at the beginning of the week, I am quite chippy. By Tuesday, I am suicidal, by Wednesday homicidal and, on Thursday, both"
writes an EU watcher, "Despite wanting it to be otherwise, now that I have seen the committee in action, I really do not have any serious expectations of the EP inquiry coming up with anything startling." See here the details for the FIRST SESSION of the "Temporary Committee" ON FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE Experience acquired in the United Kingdom"
Mar 21 ~ "I firmly believe the Cumbrian foot and mouth inquiry is of national and European significance,"
said Cumbrian Councillor Rex Toft today, announcing that the Cumbria inquiry will start in May. It will have an independent chairman: Professor Phil Thomas, who will be supported by an independent panel of local experts. Report in Cumbria's News and Star
Mar 21 ~ "...the committee has already 'bottled out' and chosen not to call the most important witness of all..
..Tony Blair" "...witnesses have been nominated not only for the value of their potential contributions but for the opportunities offered for political grandstanding. And, given that most of the MEPs involved have a very limited knowledge of what happened, they are not really in a position to make an informed choice as to what witnesses to call. Thus, the initial list of British witnesses to be called is missing two absolutely key players - Professor David King, the government's chief scientist, and Prof. Roy Anderson, leader of the foot and mouth science group which advised Tony Blair on the disastrous 'contiguous cull'.
And, without the powers to demand the attendance of witnesses, the committee has already 'bottled out' and chosen not to call the most important witness of all, Tony Blair - who took a personal hand in managing the crisis. Anticipating a refusal, an invitation is not even to be issued. " (From "First Voice" - the magazine of the Federation of Small Businesses. The article can be printed from the new window)
Mar 21 ~ Who is giving Mrs Beckett such erroneous information, and why? What are the criteria for the "Infected Premises" category?
We hear this morning from another farmer baffled by the data coming from DEFRA ".... the more you learn,the less you seem to know about this epidemic..... None of it makes any sense at all. We had our M.P ask Mrs Beckett for a list of premises culled out with the 3 Km zone in our outbreak and we know there are several missing. We were told after our cull, by phone, that our blood test results were negative and yet, Margaret Beckett answered a question from the admirable Peter Ainsworth saying the only premises tested (in the county) were the 2 "Infected Premises" farms."
This message, together with the information from the Cumbrian farmer (see below) who declares that his own farm - reclassified as an "Infected Premises" - was never tested at all, makes for disquieting reading. Who is giving Mrs Beckett such erroneous information, and why?
Mar 21 ~ "..many of the contiguous premises 'missed' are still disease free - many appeal cases also remain disease free. Welfare was a low priority."
The submission by the experienced vet, Helen O'Hare, makes harrowing reading. It also raises questions about why one vet only was expected to supervise up to 10 slaughter sites, why those in positions of authority had no local knowledge and were constantly moved,why TVIs who did have relevant skills and experience were not allowed to make many decisions , why TVIs who did not, many untrained, foreign and lacking in confidence, were put in the position of deciding single-handedly that a farm had foot and mouth, and be responsible for all that that entailed. Extract from submission:
"VOs from other areas of the country were placed in positions of authority. They most commonly had no experience of working at a DECC and often could not make a decision at a DECC. They would stay for 2 to 3 weeks and then leave, to be replaced by another inexperienced person. This was especially noticeable in licensing and sometimes welfare animal movements, and appeals would not move for the time that certain individuals were in charge."
Mar 21 ~ Lessons Learned goes to Yorkshire
see notice The visit to Yorkshire is the final visit in a series of six around Britain to see first-hand those areas most badly affected by the disease. The Inquiry will be visiting key sites affected by the outbreak around Skipton, Northallerton, Thirsk and Helmsley and holding a public meeting in Harrogate. The note adds, " The deadline for receiving written views passed on 15 March, however we recognise that the Yorkshire visit comes after the deadline and we will be accepting information relating to the outbreak as it affected that region on our visit. Those views can be sent via the website www.fmd-lessonslearned.org.uk or to The Secretary, FMD Lessons Learned Inquiry, First Floor, 9 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DD.
Mar 20 ~ " 4,000 animals were killed on this farm and a further 10,000 plus animals on contiguous premises. The appeal case neighbour is still disease free.
Extract from TVI's submission" There was pressure applied by Page Street to reach an instant decision and NOT to re-inspect 12 to 24 hours later in uncertain cases. For instance, this led to one farm being culled following the application of lime by the farmer to his fields. FMD sample results came back negative. Approximately 4,000 animals were killed on this farm and a further 10,000 plus animals on contiguous premises. The appeal case neighbour is still disease free. The neighbour to the neighbour, with a few pet sheep were spared initially and blood tested negative. However it appears neighbour pressure resulted in these animals being taken also.."
Mar 20 ~ We are asked that the information that 0 of the 3305 "Contiguous" cases having positive results returned be amended to 120 out of 2960
Warmwell has been informed that the DEFRA note about 274 cases that returned positive results after the publication of the county figures makes it important to adjust the figures quoted on this website.
240 "dangerous contacts" of which 120 were "contiguous culls" and 54 Slaughter on Suspicion cases have now been included as "Infected Premises". Or:
IPs - 1450 current, 1184 sampled and 883 positive results.
SOSs - 256 current, 249 sampled and 54 positive.
DCs - 5377 current, 559 sampled and 221 positive.... Of which contiguous - 2960 current, 320 sampled and 120 positive)
This is said to account for the increase of 250,000 slaughtered animals since September 30th. (We do not know - and cannot find out - in which counties these "new" IPs are to be found.)
We therefore print this information.
Mar 20 ~ The DEFRA figures are for animals slaughtered since September 30th are remarkably round.
DEFRA says that the one case in the positive column on Dec 4th was there because "the tissue required for probang could not be taken" and "only 1 of the 32 blood samples taken initially returned a positive result" Whole flocks, it will be remembered, were slaughtered on the basis of antibodies in the blood of recovered animals. Probang samples were not taken in the Brecon Beacon culls as far as we know. Does the category of Infected Premises mean "infected with live virus as confirmed by probang test" or does it mean "premises where everything was killed because some animals had recovered and antibodies were detected by blood test"? A mixture of both? Is there a data base somewhere that shows how many premises really were infected? These may seem simple, even näive questions - but where are the answers? What seems certain is that a proper scientific determination to use available tests for valuable disease data would have saved millions of pounds, millions of animals, a great deal of continuing heartache, and many people's livelihoods. Extract from NGMG submission: "This total of 274 premises, which were identified as infected from the DC's/Contig Culls and SOS's, taken as a percentage of all the DC's, Contig Culls and SOS's (7435) that were slaughtered, is only 3.69%. - not 17% as per Prof King's statements. "
Mar 20 ~ We asked "Would he declare publically that his slaughtered premises were changed from DC to IP without blood test?"
Nick replied this afternoon: " I am sure he would. I asked him if I could chase it up. He said no problem.
By the way, the day this disease was supposed to be over, his sister was being slaughtered out locally (June 7th!)"
Mar 20 ~ Human welfare has been covered by others but words can never describe the misery and lasting effects of this epidemic.
For example, the eight year old child whose farm was culled because she had been visiting the pony on the neighbouring farm. "Breaking of the welfare codes without justification which included: 1) Transport to burial sites of live animals in late pregnancy , animals giving birth , animals having recently given birth, mainly sheep, lame animals unfit to travel
2) Herding of newly born animals and their dams, and very lame animals
The submission of Helen O'Hare, a vet who worked as a TVI throughout the crisis
3) Restrictions allowing conditions to develop which would normally result in prosecutions.
Mrs O'Hare adds, " communication... a major problem. This wasn't helped by the fact that while I worked at Newcastle there was little internet access and certainly no time to keep up to date as there were only two and sometimes no computers available to 180++ TVIs."
Other submissions to make the unwitting population gasp can be read here Particularly recommended is the detailed criticism of the mathematical model responsible for the contiguous cull
Mar 20 ~ "I WAS A DC, MADE AN I/P BUT NO BLOOD TESTS WERE DONE. MY STOCK WERE COMPLETELY HEALTHY!"
Nick Green writes today (Wednesday), "This morning, when walking the dogs I met a local farmer. He farms just outside the village. This farm was taken out in April as a DC to a farm in my village. The farmer had not been in contact with his sheep that lay adjacent to an I/P for over 10 days. However the MAFF killing machine decreed that all his stock must go. The family fought hard, the farmer in question became ill and eventually gave in to the MAFF bully boys. All stock was slaughtered on this farm and many others.
"I was made an I/P Nick!" he said.
"Really, did the blood tests come back positive?"
"What blood tests?"
What blood tests?! NO BLOOD TESTS WERE DONE and yet this farm was made an I/P! Why you may ask? ...... So, 2.19 farms taken out per I/P as stated in the MAFF... sheet is simply a nonsense! Just like the whole bl**dy policy!
There is an increasing unrest here. The same farmer has just restocked with Friesians from Denmark. He commented that he does not trust MAFF/DEFRA, they lied and the whole sorry business was simply a way of getting rid of US!
"We are an island Nick, how the hell did it get here?"
"They know, but the buggers won't let on!"........"
Mar 20 ~ the figures for Cumbria simply do not add up
"2844 premises culled. 892 I/P's. That means 3.19 premises culled per I/P That is rubbish! I know of one farm where 17 others were culled out as a result of this one I/P. Tom Lowther was one of the farms culled. Here in the Penrith spur, MAFF openly admitted that they took out over 85%! In the Crosby Ravensworth Parish, out of a total of 26 farms they killed out.......26! Fact! They are lying..." Nick Green
Mar 20 ~ UKELA CALLS FOR PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE
The UK Environmental Law Association adds its support to those calling for a full, transparent and independent public inquiry into the events of the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic. These events provide a striking example of a protracted environmental emergency, and it is in the interests of all to establish how current legislation related to that situation, and the way in which it was applied. (see papers)
Mar 20 ~ Lord Carter knew all about the conditions on the farm, it appears
Sky News says "..... Lord Carter, until now the a senior government whip, who speaks about farming issues for Labour, claimed he had no knowledge of the farming methods reported by us.".....
"In 1998 Lord Richard, the then leader of the Lords visited Lord Carter's farm with his wife Janet Jones and 10-year-old son William. She published her diary entry for that day in her 1998 book, Labour of Love.
An extract said: "Drive to Wiltshire to visit Denis Carter's farm. There are 3,300 sows and their piglets so, we reckon, 30,000 pigs. And 500 cows. And 4,000 acres. Are they millionaires? We think they must be. "Some of the pigs live out in the fields with hummock-like huts. Some of the live in 'Pig Units'. These include the longest pig hut in England.
It continues: "It is factory farming. The pigs are in iron pens. They cannot move. There is no bedding. They sell 50,000 pigs a year. Before we saw the 'pig units' Denis told us he was not 'happy' with them. They are illegal from the end of the year." " I describe our local Conservative taking a piglet into her kitchen at tea-time to sew up its torn ear. 'None of that here!' says Denis's farming partner with a laugh that has nothing to do with being funny" 'I've learnt about cruelty to pigs,' says William on the way home." The report from Sky News
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Mourning the Death of the Truth Feb 28 2002 Outside Parliament - photo:David Knowles