Warmwell.com Front Page Archive
May 9 ~ Quote of the day from Kendal
Elaine has sent us this:"Today's best understatement from the Cumbria Inquiry:
Dr Jim Cox, the Caldbeck GP and personal friend of Prince Charles being questioned after his submission this afternoon about suicides, effects on the community and all things relating.
Very leading question from Canon Geoffrey Ravalde:
"Is there any institution that people have lost faith with?"
Pause, weak laugh.
Answer: "Well, MAFF"....."
May 9 ~ Were victims of vCJD ever tested for headlice?
asks Dick Sibley. " DEVON vet Dick Sibley is profiled in the NFU Cornwall Journal for April and it makes particularly interesting reading..." says the West Briton
"He is president of the British Cattle Veterinary Association and as such was the only practising vet on the Foot and Mouth Disease Advisory Group set up by the Government as the epidemic got out of control.....
On the future of BSE, he thinks it will never be totally eradicated in the world. It has probably always been there as a sporadic disease and he doubts if it will do any harm at that level. As far as the sheep equivalent is concerned he would rather research was done on how the victims of CJD got the disease in the first place. "Were any of them treated for headlice," is one of his comments."
It is interesting that others - particularly others such as Mr Sibley - are asking questions about vCJD at a time when BSE regulations are being swallowed hook, line and sinker as if they are self evidently necessary.
May 9 ~"Professor Ebringer said his position may have been drowned out by the "prion noise", but he remained undeterred in pursuing his research."
This was reported by the BBC in 1999
"All discoveries start with a minority of one so that the person who has made the discovery has to convince his colleagues and his peers ....." he said. The funding for Professor Ebringer's research has been cut off this year after he appeared for 25 minutes in front of the SEAC committee. If his autoimmune theory of BSE were correct then the vast list of TSE regulations in SI 843 would be as unnecessary as they are unwieldy and unEnglish. Why has his research been stopped? Why were the minutes of the SEAC meeting at which he presented his research so oddly misreported? Why are the media so ready to swallow the received wisdom about BSE - an unproven prion theory - when all research that might threaten it is so ruthlessly sidelined? Dr Venters too bases his opinion on the fact that the rate of growth in the number of confirmed cases is much less than might be expected from a food-borne source.
He suggests the rate of growth in the number of vCJD cases is more consistent with a previously misdiagnosed but extremely rare disease being found. We cannot inderstand why the priority is not research but a jealous protection of the prion theory. See more on the BSE/CJD page
May 9 ~ Foot-and-mouth curbs relaxed
LONDON (Reuters) - "Farmers will be allowed to send sheep and goats to market
for sale to other livestock producers for the first time since last year's
foot-and-mouth epidemic, the farm ministry said on Thursday.
Most live sheep markets are expected to re-open in the week beginning May
20, opening more routes to normal trade after the crisis, which choked off
the country's meat trade and severely dented the rural economy."
May 9 ~ We are told that the breed associations, the BVA and the NFU are all "relaxed" by the SI843
which (from page 117) includes giving the Minister and his "officials" powers to
We are envious of their relaxed state - but do not share it, and are glad that there are Noble Lords who feel likewise.
- (i) seize any TSE susceptible animal
- (j) give any direction under regulation 83 below
- (k) serve any notice in connection with the slaughter of any TSE susceptible animal
- (l) slaughter any TSE susceptible animal
from page 119
- 80.- (1) This regulation applies where an inspector is satisfied that for any
purpose connected with the administration or enforcement of Chapter IV of the
Community TSE Regulation it is necessary to prohibit or restrict the movement
of any TSE susceptible animal, whether or not the animal is suspected of being
affected by a TSE, from or to any premises...."
May 9 ~ "..the rest of the world see us now as a nation so wealthy and uncaring that we can waste billions of pounds killing healthy livestock without a shred of good scientific reason."
There was no doubting the sincerity of Mrs Greenhill during her oral evidence onTuesday "We consider ourselves a Nation of animal lovers, a civilised society, advanced in both science and technology. These ideals went up in the smoke from the pyres and the mistakes were buried alongside the dead animals.
When vets were agreeing to destroy healthy animals and slaughtermen were leaving half-dead animals to suffer, vaccination was dismissed as was the advice from all the World Experts on FMD. Then add to this the fact that the farmers were being threatened and bullied into having their healthy stock destroyed.
This barbaric, inhumane and discredited evil method of dealing with FMD should NEVER be used again. It has been proved to be so wrong and more so when you see how poorer countries deal with the same disease. No wonder the rest of the world see us now as a nation so wealthy and uncaring that we can waste billions of pounds killing healthy livestock without a shred of good scientific reason. (Mrs Greenhill's evidence)
May 9 ~ The first part of Nick Green's evidence to the Kendal Inquiry
May 9 ~ The Telegraph reports SI843
"Farm slaughter powers are slipped past MPs" is the headline by
Robert Uhlig and Charles Clover
"The Government has quietly introduced tough powers to seize and slaughter farm animals against their owners' wishes.
.....only three weeks after the House of Lords defeated similar measures in the Animal Health Bill.....
gives Government officers the power to cull any cow, sheep, goat or cat - whether healthy or not - and impose a penalty of up to two years' imprisonment ..."
The article shows that these regulations take away the necessity of needing reasonably to suspect the presence of TSEs and are now permitted legally to use "reasonable force" to enter any premises housing any "TSE susceptible animal" and slaughter all animals and even to seize computers or records.
"After peers rejected the Animal Health Bill, Lord Whitty... said there might be "other channels"....these measures appear to be one such channel."
Peter Ainsworth is reported as saying:
"...very few people are going to be in favour of measures that will allow officials to kill just about any farm animal except the dog."
"A Defra spokesman said that the new legislation in the statutory instrument had been "put out for consultation last August, before the Animal Health Bill came into being".
He added: "It is a more robust package of BSE and scrapie measures designed to bring us into line with EU regulations."
We wonder what George Orwell would have made of the word "robust" as used by Defra in connection with forced entry and slaughter without the need for evidence of disease.
May 9 ~ The FMD Forum writes to the RCVS about scrapie testing
The letter has been sent to the President of the RCVS and copied to the RSPCA and to the President of the BVA, Mr Andrew Scott
- Who interviews and what practical tests do would-be DEFRA veterinarian employees have to undergo when recruited? Is their professional status taken as adequate qualification for them to deal with farm animals?
- To whom can an owner turn for help in the emergency that arises, when DEFRA practitioners display woeful inadequacies in their professional abilities, or exhibit a complete lack of common sense?
- To whom can an owner turn when the DEFRA authorities display a flagrant disregard of the law - 'when it suits their purpose'. In this particular case in the laws of transport. In innumerable other cases, during the FMD outbreak, in those of slaughter and animal welfare?
- Please explain the reluctance to tackle the overall appalling cruelty inflicted on these sentient farm animals. Compare this with the handling of domestic animals and explain why as animal organisations, there should be allowed to be a difference, in a civilized society, in the name of trade? Why for example risk using a bolus instead of a micro-chip?
- Surely, even had the whole operation been carried out efficiently, the inadequacies of the system are obvious to people with knowledge of and sympathy with animal behaviour? A more humane and workable system should be thought through for the future of sheep farming.
May 9 ~ Conservative Party try an Early Day Motion against the SI 843
The Conservatives have put down an Early Day Motion on May 1 with a prayer to annul this SI. Very few EDMs ever get debated. The House of Lords are going
to debate the SI on May 15. The relevant pages of the Statutory Instrument are now here.
May 9 ~ "The countryside has become a place of death - people can feel that - that the
joy and refreshment has gone"
said Mrs Jean Dixon, the Skipton campaigner at the Kendal Inquiry yesterday. " It's all
very well for the Government and those promoting tourism to say the countryside is open and every
thing is back to normal - it isn't. ....We have a dictatorship in Britain - when are we going to
realise it? ....ordinary people's feeling have been swept under the
carpet. They can't believe it's happened in this civilised
country - it's been like a passing nightmare - but it really happened. Yet it is so difficult to find articles in
press or ny mention of what the country is suffering in the popular rural soap operas. It seems that in the media there has been a conspiracy of silence.
Like so many at the beginning I wanted to trust the government but it's caused a barbaric, wanton
waste of life - why has the Church and RSPCA not spoken out? I know that the
Churches have helped via ARC Addington but why didn't they speak out against the
immorality?" The Chairman asked Mrs Dixon for her notes to be given in as a written submission.
"We will take on board all views," promised Professor Thomas.
May 9 ~"If you don't stop demonstrating we will ensure that your stock is
Mr Tom Griffiths Jones explained that he was able to go beyond hearsay. He had suffered at first hand and was speaking out - and could give the names and addresses of others who similarly were not to be intimidated - such as Matthew Knight, threatened with the words above because he had objected outside the Maff offices in Exeter to the slaughter policy.
turned a disease - not even life threatening to most animals - into one that became life
threatening to humans."
The Upton case had been won on proper
scientific evidence which, the judge said, was impressive.
The Ministry had had 5 months to get their evidence together but Fred Landeg,
Defra's veterinary head of exotic diseases, had given only "waffle and opinionated rubbish" Judge Harrison in his
summing up said the issue Mr Landeg had called a red herring was, in fact, the crucial issue.
The Ministry was ignoring scientific evidence and failed to disclose it in previous cases. It was
"dishonest and unacceptable for public servants to behave in this way"
In the December 2001 Brussels
conference at which all leading players were present the director of FAO expressed dismay at the waste of life when so much of the world goes hungry - the
rest of the world cannot understand what you lot are playing at...it is not
acceptable behaviour...the only people out of step were "our delightful government minsters
who thought they'd done a wonderful job"....
Mr Griffiths Jones explained how the Government had been offered the US PCR device in March but had refused to trial it perhaps because it was "not in Pirbright's interests ..it wanted to get a device of its own on the market.
Movement restrictions lacked all common sense.
We must look after our own country - a ban of exports should have been
balanced by an import ban so meat was used not wasted.
"The Ministry abused and failed the rural community"
May 9 ~" Last April, at the height of Britain's foot and mouth crisis, Uruguay had a nasty dose of the same strain"
wrote John Vidal in the Guardian. " As in Britain, the authorities in Uruguay banned animal movements and slaughtered infected beasts and others that were in contact with them. But three days later the disease was found to have spread. At this point, Uruguay departed from British practice and introduced a massive vaccination programme. Some 11m animals were injected twice. Although the disease spread to more than 2,000 farms, just like in Britain, it was totally eradicated in under four months and Uruguay was allowed to start exporting meat again to the EU and other countries shortly after. The epidemic cost the country very little. No supermarkets or trade federations in Uruguay tried to tell government that the public would not accept vaccinated meat, nor was there re-infection from "carrier" animals, or spread of the disease due to sheep with antibodies. Should Defra want advice on how to avoid tears and massive compensation payments, calls for public inquiries, bankruptcies, ill-feeling, loss of earnings and meltdown in communities in future, Eco soundings suggests they call the Uruguayan embassy. "
May 8 ~ "At no point was there an alert to the County Council."
" We contacted Maff and were told to contact the SVS at Rosehill. .......Using the Sellafield analogy the plan is very clear: the moment the NFL detect a problem in Sellafield they will phone and there's a laid out alerting cascade which alerts the police and another alerting cascade that alerts the County Council, the Environment Agency and a hundred and one agencies - but at no point were we ever formally notified by Maff that "there is a problem". It was very much from our side, saying we want to come along..we were offering help, that's right, yes...
(Question from panel): Do you as a County Council have any evidence at all that the culture within DEFRA has changed?
(Long pause.)"I suppose the fact that we haven't leapt forward with an answer speaks for itself. No. And then we come to the purpose of the Inquiry and the other Inquiries that are going on; we hope to influence that change ....." (Evidence this morning at Kendal
May 8 ~ Cumbria FMD Inquiry team will have an open forum
There will be a meeting next Monday 13th. May at Salterbeck in the Oval Centre at 7pm where the Cumbria FMD Inquiry team will have an open forum. This information has comes from The Times & Star (local paper)
Salterbeck is a small area close to Harrington, Workington. The centre is "brown signed"
May 8 ~ Kendal Inquiry live here ~
Nick Green, calm and clear, has given his verbal evidence, particularly with regard to the Hathaway memo, the letter sent to farmers if they refused to cooperate with the "voluntary" 3 km cull and poor MAFF bio-security. The Committee has promised to look very carefully at the extensive written evidence and photographs he has submitted. When Professor Thomas reiterated the need for verbal evidence to be verifiable by means of documents and asked for names of farmers, Nick pointed out the continuing fear among farmers at the bullying that has taken place. He added that when you have a farmer, a strong countryman in tears at the end of a phone, you do not stop to make notes of name, address, time etc. He mentioned the fear that is still rife among the many farmers he has spoken to, including a farmer two days ago who was still traumatised by the way MAFF slaughtermen shot cows in the legs running about in a field then, as they were writhing on the ground, shooting them in the head. Nick Green's evidence was listened to in total silence. It was disappointing that members of the panel did not ask him to elaborate many of the points - but Nick says that since the panel realised that he knew his stuff they had no need to ask major questions. Here is his full verbal submission
May 8 ~ The papers choose their headlines for Birtwhistle's evidence
To read Valerie Elliot in the Times one would be forgiven for thinking that the brigadier had said little other than to blame farmers for the foot and mouth chaos. In fact the article goes on to report his saying "that delays between diagnosis and slaughter were running at four or five days, there were too few lorries, slaughtermen and guns, and there were an estimated 50,000 dead animals waiting to be disposed of.
".....Some of those bodies had been there for two or three weeks."
He said that there was no national policy to dispose of the carcasses. ...." So why, one wonders, should the farmers blamed headline have been chosen?
May 8 ~ While stating that the Army had a contingency plan for every disaster, including the disease, he did not believe soldiers should have been recalled to Britain to deal with the outbreak
which he called "a management problem"......" continues the Times report on the brigadier's evdence yesterday at Kendal.
The Telegraph headline is "Quarantine failure led to farm epidemic" - also hardly sums up the main thrust of what the brigadier said.
He seemed tired and ill yesterday. We are grateful to him for speaking out and do not consider his words amounted to a general criticism of farmers. As a criticism of management it could hardly have been more damning - and when that "management" happens to be the administration of Britain - an administration that is so jealous of its reputation that it cannot face a public inquiry or even accept an invitation to answer questions at the Cumbria Inquiry - then something is rotten in the State. As we reported yesterday, the " U.K. Independence Party has obtained EU documents which reveal that last year's multi-billion pound foot and mouth disaster was caused by a total breakdown of European Union & British emergency planning.
.....shows that more than 9 million animals might have been spared from the mass slaughter, and the British economy could have been saved the £10 billion cost of the catastrophe."
May 8 ~ TSE testing is what the second part of SI 843 is about, set out in neat regulations as if it is all plain sailing. But here is the reality:
" ... Blood samples were taken from the neck vein using standard "vacuum" tubes, but the first few sheep sampled proved such a struggle for the operator, with blood everywhere, that the owner insisted upon the older, more experienced person taking over. .....the bolus was too large for her Shetlands to swallow, .... they saw no reason to change and administered the first bolus, which stuck part-way down the throat of a ram. Undeterred, they tried a second ram and this bolus also became stuck. At this point the owner flatly refused to proceed any further unless a smaller size was used. ....
The whole process took six hours from start to finish, for just 23 Dorset Downs and 30 Shetlands. The owner commented that at this rate, a national testing programme would be a physical impossibility.
...... The next day .... DEFRA announced the rams would have to be put down. .... a huge lorry arrived to take them away. The owner refused to load them, as there was no provision inside the lorry for partitioning into a suitable small space, so they would simply be sliding around all over the place.
It was agreed they be slaughtered on site, and this was done. The DEFRA vet said that this was extremely unusual and that it was only the second time that any animal had needed to be put down. The lorry driver, on the other hand, said that he had collected thirty carcases already - some with a stuck bolus, and others with damage to the back of the throat caused by the administering gun." See full report
So-called "scientific" advisers, out of touch SVS vets, bureaucrats and the politicians who nod through these scenarios appear not to have the least understanding of the reality. The trauma, the waste and the animal terror is the last thing on their minds.
May 8 ~ SI 843 "...the 'Prayer against'
route is only useful as a way (the only way) to debate a S.I. on the floor
of the House - Commons and Lords - "
says a representative of the House of Lords, who writes: " we may debate and vote but that vote does
not annul the S.I. We had the same situation when the Conservatives
introduced the Meat Hygiene Regulations in 1995 and when this Govt.
introduced the Beef on the Bone regs. Both of those were prayed against and
although the vote in the Lords was won by a huge majority the then Minister
for Food and Farming, Lord Donoughue, stated before the vote that should the
Government lose it would not make any difference - the regulations would pass into law
anyway. So much for our parliamentary democracy and the power of Parliament
to control the Executive.
The only way to annul an S.I. is to have a debate on the motion that the
regulations be annulled. If won, that kills the S.I. stone dead. BUT while the
Lords have the power to do this in theory, in practice it has never been
Are we not lucky to be living in such a principled country?
Principles? When I hear the word 'principles' I reach for my pistol...
fear that we are not going to be able to do much about this (S.I.s cannot
be amended- you either swallow the lot or reject the lot).
There is a Prayer Against down for 15th. so we can at least attack
the wretched thing then."
May 8 ~ Sir John Krebs and co say they'll review 30 month beef rule
"....it is right to update our assessment and management of risk in light of the latest scientific evidence." Latest scientific evidence.....This does not, we assume, include Prof Ebringer's five year study into the possibility that BSE is an autoimmune disease. The same names keep reappearing when it comes to "scientific evidence".
The SEAC committee, as we mentioned back in October, includes on its panel of twelve members, Professor Roy Anderson (Fellow of the Royal Society and modeller of FMD). The body it advises, the Food Standards Committee, is chaired by Anderson's colleague Sir John Krebs (Fellow of the Royal Society). The spectre of vCJD being spread by infected sheep was publicised by "reassuring" pronouncements by the FSA and SEAC.
Professor King (Fellow of the Royal Society) has been the chief scientific adviser to the government which, in 2001, has presided over the killing of millions of healthy animals and the threat of a cull of all 44 million British sheep, "should even one be found to be infected with BSE" has been given by our Chief Vet, Jim Scudamore. The Statutory Instrument referred to above, has made legal the possible slaughtering of TSE susceptible animals across Europe. If Prof Ebringer is right and BSE is caused by the immune system of an animal destroying its own brain cells in mistake for the bacterium Acinetobacter then none of this is necessary, there is no danger whatsoever to humans from beef and SI 843 is carte blanche for millions more unnecessary animal deaths. If Prof Ebringer's theory were proved right it would destroy not animals but reputations. The funding for further research has been culled.
May 7 ~ "I am normally proud to be a vet, proud of my profession but when I consider some of my colleagues in the State Veterinary Service I am ashamed."
Norman Leslie, veteran vet with experience of 1968 outbreak at today's Inquiry at Kendal "I knew what the forms and paperwork from the Ministry were like in those days.....I spent 8 months in Newcastle last year......The State Veterinary Service has been run down and over centralised. Defra vets become indoctrinated in Ministry ways and as they move up the ladder - if they do - they become civil servants and lose touch with livestock and with the countryside. Few are left with local knowledge and local capability. I am normally proud to be a vet but when I consider some of my colleagues in SVS I am ashamed. The reason why we are here is because National and Central government have failed in their responsibilities of care. They have failed to admit their mistakes and Local Govt has to full the void. The people of Cumbria, who love Cumbria, have to fall back on their own resources to pick up the pieces of what is left.
Strange coincidence that Bobby Waugh's trial begins today...a very convenient peg on which to hang the whole story... Many Defra vets' (and TVI's) experience of modern farming techniques was very poor. As for "compensation" - there is no compensation. Animals are compulsorily purchased then it is the Ministry's responsibility to kill and dispose of those animals - properly and humanely with respect for the animals and for the keepers....... This is an opportunity for local democracy to be seen at its best -government of the people, by the people and for the people - and not to perish from the earth."
May 7 ~ Tom Lowther ~ "A gross, unjustified and wasteful vast scale appropriation of national property - supposedly in the National Interest"
He pointed out the successful use of vaccination in Uruguay, pointed out the disastrous delays in this country, the over emphasis on sheep as spreaders of the disease - that the 3km cull was a supreme act of folly - and devious. He said he had documents with the words "voluntary depopulation scheme" at the top. He suggested that, since airborne spread was not thought of great importance then the impact of machines, especially milk tankers ought to be considered. There was no clear guidance on disinfectant - so that the use of citric acid could neutralise other products. He mentioned the quick diagnosis equipment that had been offered at the beginning of the outbreak. The next speaker, a tenant farmer spoke quietly about the continuing problems "that will last for at least another two years" The Welfare Scheme had been hard to get into and then before getting in the price had been dropped. The movements - even to get from one side of the road to the other - were very difficult. " We were dead against vaccination, afraid of double labelling, afraid of losing our markets - especially if you were going to kill them afterwards... The scientists .....just made it more confusing. But we don't pretend to understand it. It's not down to us.... If the government tells us to vaccinate - we'll vaccinate."
May 7 ~ Suzanne Greenhill "There was a total lack of knowledge about hefted sheep...a complete mystery to all at MAFF and the Ministry.
She said that the lack of information was a disgrace. Carlisle was unable to answer questions because they had to refer constantly to Page St. There were disastrous delays even when warning was given well in advance...... The culling policy was "barbaric and mindless".... Experts and many farmers were ignored on the question of vaccination. Farmers were made to appear criminally negligent in the eyes of the nation - but DEFRA's own bio-security was appalling. Rules were very stringent for farmers and lax for officials.... Mrs Greenhill mentioned the importance both Gower and Northumberland (1968) placed on the trauma and terrible sense of loss and she talked movingly about the stress and division, the split families and the fear, dread and hopelessness of the months when farmers were imprisoned in their homes - often with the wife away trying to earn money and the children sent away just at the time when the family most needed to be together. Asked what she would suggest for the future, she said, "vaccinate"
May 7 ~ Veronica Waller of the NFU at Kendal.
She said how important it was not to underestimate the level of grief felt in the County and referred to "bitterness" The lack of communication from Carlisle and from Page St was seen as very regrettable. "Page Street didn't realise the scale" Local slaughtermen and contractors were keen to help - and their offers were not taken up. There was just one phone line to start with - trying to deal with all issues. The lack of local input was disastrous. Cumbria is very different from Shropshire and local conditions were not taken into account in any contingency planning. Local vets are trusted but there was an "attitude" between the Defra vets and the private local veterinary profession. Farmers were not told anything. The DEFRA website wasn't considered helpful. There was cynicism over the looming General Election. There was not sufficient information for farmers to make an informed judgement about vaccination. One farmer, Steve Dunning, had saved the government £1.5 million by surviving - but was now much worse off. He felt that Prof King and Neil Thornton "hadn't a clue" about what they were being told on 10th September about conditions in Cumbria. Ms Waller blamed "lack of resources" for poor communication - but then, very interestingly, added that it would all come out "in a National Inquiry" She appeared unaware of the fate of the Animal Health Bill. Was the cull perceived to be "voluntary", she was asked? Her reply was that "a lawyer would have to say but anyone who didn't "offer" their animals for slaughter was told that a vet would be sent to confirm the farm as "Dangerous Contact" anyway".
"We need to find out who the experts are." was a notable comment of the session
May 7 ~ The Cumbria foot and mouth inquiry, on its first day has been told of disastrous failures to keep the public and particularly farmers informed.
The BBC reports
that "Keith Sutton, editor of the Cumberland News, told the inquiry that for the first two weeks, Ministry of Agriculture officials refused even to identify which farms had the disease, when this was the most important information to help stop it spreading.
He said it was only with the arrival of the Prime Minister that things began to change.
Gorden Swindlhirst, a producer at BBC Radio Cumbria then added to this, by saying the low of information and lack of communication a problem, and that in the early days getting information was like "getting blood from a stone" and that the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) didn't see the media as a public information tool in the early days of the outbreak. He also said that he didn't subscribe to any of the conspiracy theories, just a lack of understanding from MAFF.
Brigadier Alex Birtwhistle has been giving evidence at the opening day of Cumbria's foot and mouth inquiry in Kendal. The Brigadier, who's widely considered to be responsible for getting the outbreak back under control, said he quickly decided that dealing with the disease was a simple problem: "We had three key words - Infectivity, which meant don't spread the disease to our team. Humanity; it had to be done with humanity towards both the animals and the people concerned. Legacy; I wasn't prepared to tolerate or be driven into disposing of animals in a way that was not scientifically proven to be safe."
May 7 ~ Failures in EU & UK planning led to FMD disaster
U.K. Independence Party
( 01322-278878/07960-584161 )
Press Release - 7th May 2002 -
Failures in EU & UK planning led to FMD disaster
The U.K. Independence Party has obtained EU documents which reveal that last year's multi-billion pound foot and mouth disaster was caused by a total breakdown of European Union & British emergency planning.
.....shows that more than 9 million animals might have been spared from the mass slaughter, and the British economy could have been saved the £10 billion cost of the catastrophe.
Mr Titford said, "Had planning been more effective & realistic, the 2001 epidemic could have been a minor incident over in weeks, instead of one of the greatest catastrophes ever inflicted on Britain's countryside."
Mr Titford's report highlights the breakdowns in the system, with blame apportioned evenly between the European Commission and the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food (MAFF, now DEFRA).
The primary failure was that, although MAFF complied with a Commission decree of 1990 to draw up contingency plans, the plans were neither checked by the Commission, nor did MAFF ensure it had sufficient resources to implement it in any but the smallest outbreak. See full press release
May 7 ~ Warmwell readers start to agitate over SI843
One writes: "...We have contacted our MP (Adam Price, Plaid Cymru, Carmarthen East & Dinefwr)
he had no knowledge of SI 843 whatsoever. We have forwarded all your information so far to him, and urged him to attend the debate on 15th May.
We have contacted our local branches of the FUW and the NFU. Surprise surprise, neither of those organisations had heard anything of it either! But then, they are so far behind the times they don't do anything about anything till it jumps up and down in front of them waving a red flag!
We have also contacted our local daily paper (Western Mail) but they have not replied and do not appear particularly interested.
We are spreading the word by mouth amongst the local farming community, and urging everyone we speak to to make as much noise about it as they can."
May 7 ~ The Cumbria County Council inquiry into Foot and Mouth begins today
Brigidier Birtwhistle will be the first witness to give oral evidence. Acccording to today's Scotdsman, "Cumbria NFU's written evidence centres around the key recommendation that decisions need to be taken locally by Ministry officials and vets. It also states that the process of contingency planning for operations throughout an emergency should involve local people.
The submission highlights the cases of two Cumbrian farmers. Tebay farmer Steve Dunning was not struck by the disease, but had 42 veterinary visits by Defra each lasting five to six hours. He estimates his additional costs from not being able to move animals resulted in a loss of income of more than £26,000. " The progess of the Inquiry can be seen LIVE on the internet at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cumbria/news/foot_and_mouth_inquiry/audio_video/index.shtml See also the latest email to be received at warmwell from Cumbria
May 7 ~ What can be done about this SI?
What can be done is called "Negative Procedure":
Some SIs become law on the date stated on them (in this case April 19th), but will be nullified if either House passes a Motion calling for their annulment within a certain time, usually 40 days including the day on which it was laid. Such a Motion is known as a prayer, couched in such terms as, eg, "That an humble address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the SI 843 Animal Health, England - TSE (England)
Regulations 2002.. be annulled". A "prayer" has duly been made and a
close comparison will be made between the European regulations and the
British ones to see where this SI may be trying to take powers that are not appropriate in view of recent events. SI 843 will be debated on May 15 in the evening. We need letters to the Media and general agitation about this. It must be pointed out that this SI is undemocratic (and underhand) in view of the Lords' majority vote to await the reports of the inquiries before proceeding further on legislation to slaughter animals as disease control.
May 7 ~ Bobby Waugh in court today
Mr Waugh will appear at Bedlington Magistrates Court, Northumberland. The courtroom is small - there is not likely to be much spare space for all the people who will be there, and there are likely to be many. Bobby Waugh and his supporters claim that he has been made the scapegoat for the failures of the government and there are likely to be revelations during the trial that make headline news.
He faces allegations under the Animal Health Act 1981, the Protection of Animals Act 1911 and the Trade Descriptions Act.
Among the 22 charges against him are claims that he failed to notify officials of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, caused unnecessary suffering to animals, fed unprocessed catering waste to pigs, failed to dispose of animal by-products and failed to record the movement of pigs. We shall be watching the trial as closely as possible.
May 6 ~ SEAC has succeeded in stopping further research into the autoimmune theory of BSE. We can only speculate why.
Meanwhile, we see that measures to kill "TSE susceptible" animals continue apace.
SI 843, to be discussed by Parliament on May 15th suggests that the prion theory of BSE is the only theory that is acceptable. Is it because the members of SEAC do not relish the thought of the prion theory being shot down in flames, taking with it many reputations and making the future existence of SEAC itself highly dubious? We have no idea which theory is correct - but we are alarmed to see any reputable research in this area scotched by the hand of SEAC itself.
If the autoimmune theory were to be accepted, the destructive legislation of panicky governments across the globe would be shown up as utterly misguided.
Perhaps Professor Ebringer's £234,260 worth of work is being discarded before it is finished because the prion theory is so useful? It permits further widespread and legalised killing of livestock, particularly sheep, in the UK - as the SI 843 so very quietly shows. (See what happened when Prof Ebringer was given precisely 25 minutes to present his work to SEAC)
May 6 ~ It will be remembered perhaps that SEAC identified a "theoretical" risk of "catching vCJD" from traditional surgical equipment used in removing tonsils.
Consequently, on January 4 last year, the Department of Health duly ordered a ban on multiple-use surgical equipment for tonsil removal. The decision caused chaos as waiting lists for tonsillectomies grew ever longer and manufacturers were ordered to produce 60,000 disposable kits at a cost of £25 million. These cheap disposable instruments have now been linked to two deaths and scores of injuries
Professor Peter Smith (Chair of SEAC) admitted a few days ago, "It is a theoretical risk and there has been no transmission by this route so far, so my guess is that (were it medically necessary) I would go ahead and have it done. "
£25 million seems rather a lot for the country to have spent on a risk that is considerably less than the one we take when we get out of bed in the morning. It is also £23 million more than the two million pounds that Prof Ebringer was asking for in order to shed further light on the autoimmune theory of BSE, his associated work on MS and the test for BSE on live animals.
May 6 ~ No show for sheep, goats and alpacas
We read in the Telegraph, with mounting fury at the nonsense of it all, that the Royal Agricultural Society for England has imposed a ban on sheep and goats at the Royal Show despite Britain being accepted as clear of foot and mouth by the European Union and the OIE because after "discussions with the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and our vets, and in the light of published guidance, we decided the risks are too high." Are there no tests that can quickly determine the presence of the virus? The misinformation about foot and mouth has been disseminated far and wide. Surely it is time that the real facts were insisted upon by those with so much to lose.
May 6 ~ Another goose-step towards stifling centralisation
We see from today's Times that "parish councils across Britain are likely to disappear as the result of strict new rules requiring their unpaid members to declare private financial details. The rules come into effect this week.
Councillors had until yesterday to agree to a new code of conduct which requires them to declare everything from employment details to shareholdings and any gifts and hospitality dispensed or received over a value of £25.
Scores of councillors who give their time for free and deal with nothing more controversial than maintenance of children's play areas or cutting of grass verges have quit, claiming the new register is instrusive and unjustified.
Tim Hoddinott:"...they were told 'sign up or else'. They felt they'd done their bit for the community and this was their reward.
"For the rest of us it was the last straw. We tried to struggle on but was no way we could do all the work that was expected of us, which included drawing up a 'strategic plan' for the village. "
May 5 ~ Cumbria Inquiry may call Ministers
According to Sky News, the Cumbria inquiry panel, chaired by Professor Phil Thomas, has sent written questions to Government officials.
"If the panel is not satisfied with the answers, ministers could be called to give evidence in person."
May 5 ~"there was no disaster plan in effect to combat FMD....and they'd just got through conquering "Hog Cholera" or "Swine Flu."
Plus, they had FMD not 35 years ago that had more infected premises than this epidemic. Wouldn't you think they would develop a disaster plan of attack? .....The stresses on the people in the farming community are at the extreme limit." wrote Lorna, an American vet acting as a TVI. Extracts from her remarkable emails home can be seen here. ", apparently it is now becoming an issue to have this disease wiped out by the election. Thus, Page St. is saying to vets to not take samples on farms that have lesions, but to go ahead and call them an SOS, slaughter on suspicion....meaning they don't have to call it a confirmed case.......
".Here's a thought: if there are say 100 TVIs at each of 10 DECCs, incl. hotel, laundry, car rental, cellular, per diem, comes to over £15 million per month!-just for the TVIs! And then add all the directors, support staff, supplies, admin; then the cost of the reimbursement to the farmers, well it does boggle the mind. .
"......Either we're dealing with a huge political problem, and FMD is still spreading more than the reports; or,...we have been grossly overdiagnosing the disease.
A US TVI .. has been suggesting using PCR to accurately dx the cases. Makes sense to me. Anyway, there seems to be a fair amount of confusion, frustration, and distrust here among the TVI's--something we can ill afford to have happen at home. ......."
May 5 ~ In similar tone to Mr Black Adder, may I just state the bl***ing obvious?
"It took the British government 4 days to stop stock movements. In conducting the slash and burn policy, they failed to instigate a 24/48 hr policy ever and in the early days of the outbreaks culling of infected animals took up to nine days. Animals lay on the ground for weeks rotting and stinking. We endured weeks of the stinking pyres and months of MAFF`s incompetent, belligerent bullying!
The facts are that we now have to incompetent organisations covering each others backs. (The EC and the British government).
Does the EC, MAFF/DEFRA and Blair's government really think we are that stupid? In another chat with a local farmer yesterday, they explained their dealings with MAFF/DEFRA. Bullying incompetence with no regard to Bio-Security whatsoever is becoming a common theme. Not one of breathtaking brilliance!" Nick Green has read the Booker's Notebook column this morning....
Meanwhile another emailer adds, "It would seem that ministers such as Elliot Morley are desperately trying to
cover their tracks by constantly insisting that FMD was spread by farmers
objecting to culls and poor bio-security.The reality now appears to be
emerging that the main spread was caused by nothing more than the failure of
Government policy from day one."
May 5 ~ Page 3 of the Sunday Times has a photo of a large truck - out of which are 'spilling' live piglets,
some look to be hardly a week old. The truck is parked next to a large pit. The piglets are being buried alive in the pit.
The caption with the photo says "cruel fate".
This is Seoul - South Korea - dealing with an outbreak of foot and mouth. Those who think that farm animals are mere products, as do so many bureaucrats, government officials, scientists and even - as the last months in the UK have shown - vets, are unlikely to be sickened and distressed by this. Not so the rest of us. What is happening in Seoul is evil cruelty powered by economics. So was the handling of the FMD crisis in the UK. In the public interest, we need a public inquiry.
May 5 ~ Failure of Brussels strategy made farm crisis a disaster
Booker's Notebookin today's Sunday Telegraph.
"DOCUMENTS that have come to light only thanks to the European Parliament's inquiry into last year's multi-billion-pound foot and mouth disaster reveal that it represented a far more extensive failure of Government than has hitherto been supposed.
A report to be presented to the inquiry tomorrow by a British MEP shows that, had it not been for the total breakdown of a strategy for the handling of foot and mouth outbreaks by the European Commission, more than nine million animals might have been spared from slaughter and the British economy could have been saved more than £10 billion.
The 2001 outbreak might have been a minor incident, over in weeks, instead of one of the greatest catastrophes ever inflicted on Britain's countryside.
One of the best-kept secrets of last year's disaster was the extent to which, under European Community directive 85/511, overall direction of the handling of foot and mouth had been handed over to Brussels. .....
It will be fascinating to see if the inquiry pursues this evidence that the EU system failed, or whether most MEPs simply close ranks in endorsing the cover-up." ( read the rest in a new window here)
May 5 ~"The modellers produced some very
The tireless Anne Lambourn has suggested we look again at the interview between Dr Paul Kitching and Krushnan Gurumuthy on Channel 4 last year. She adds, the automatic culling of contiguous and 3 km premises was not justified from a veterinary point of view.
There is no doubt that there was not the level of infection in the contiguous and 3 km premises that the modellers had predicted. This can be seen clearly from the statistics obtained by Peter Ainsworth (in response to PQ 2164) showing,county by county, the numbers and types of premises slaughtered, the numbers tested and also the test results. (see on warmwell some examples) These figures reveal that not only was there not the degree of infection in CP and 3 kmPremises, but that there was not actually infection present on a significant number of the so-called Infected Premises either. Similarly with SOS. It is important to bear in mind at this stage that Paul Kitching has refuted on several occasions the claim that negative tests are not necessarily negative.
Also there are other well documented examples from over the country e.g. Forest of Dean, Welshpool, Iddesleigh, and cases of Alayne Addy and Burges Salmon, which showed that FMD was not actually present in premises deemed to be infected.
May 5 ~The disease didn't spread - it fizzled out.
The article "Very limited transmission of FMD following introduction into a sheep flock" by S.J More, (Univ. of Queensland) in the Veterinary Record, April 27th........ (open here in new window)
This article describes an outbreak of FMD in a sheep flock in north-east England, "where there was strong epidemiological and laboratory evidence of very limited transmission of disease following introduction." Although the time between likely introduction of FMD into the flock and slaughter was three and a half months, only a very small number in the flock of 200 showed antibodies (and none of these had live virus present), there was no clinical sign of infection, and a good lambing had taken place over the month after exposure to infection. There was no increase in lambing mortality. "Following introduction (of the disease) and despite close flock contact for approximately 90 minutes per day while the ewes were consuming cake from troughs and hay from the ground, there was very limited disease transmission among approximately 200 animals." The author stresses that this evidence from the laboratory and in the field should be considered in the future disease control policies.
"This seems to correspond with both Kitching and Donaldson's research, which indicates that the automatic culling of contiguous and 3 km premises was not justified from a veterinary point of view," writes Anne Lambourn.
May 5 ~ Will the significance of the negative results ever really come to light with the EU Temporary Committee?
Anne Lambourn:" Back in April, one of the leading FMD experts exposed the faults in the models, but he was ignored, and the mass slaughter policy continued unabated. Laboratory and field evidence supports Paul Kitching's statements, but more infomation is needed.
What form should that take? I quote one source:
The basic question is still, how many of the "infected" premises slaughtered were confirmed positive - as is required
by EU legislation. The original submission by DEFRA to OIE actually claimed that all were sampled.... All this data is in the database at Pirbright, but it would have to be linked to the Maff database. It would then be possible to work out the number of contiguous premises that were slaughtered next to actually uninfected premises. this would require a lot of work, but something that a full inquiry into the outbreak would address.
Would any warmwell readers consider contacting their MPs, with a view to tabling specific questions concerning the number of CPs and 3 km premises taken out directly as a result of incorrectly diagnosed IPs? A starting point is Table iii) of PQ 2164 (see Hansard website), working on the county figures. For example, for the x number of negative test IPs, how many CPs and 3 Km/DCs were slaughtered? How many animals were killed? (If you could let us know you have it would be much appreciated)
In the meantime, who is going to enlighten the EU Inquiry, when Anderson and King are due to appear?"
May 5 ~ He did a neat sideways shuffle. It was a matter for the British People.
....The room wondered why the Government was dumping on hunting and not shooting and fishing? Well, you see, it was all a question of balancing "cruelty and utility", which means that they think that they can get away with hunting, but the timing was not right for the others. Our timing was also up. Mr Michael was marched away by his grim-faced minders. I could not but admire the nimble footwork of his performance, but not everybody was impressed.
"Man, what a load of slather and shite," said the old farmer next to me. Spot on. A friendly Conservative MP said that in the end it would come down to whom Tony Blair was more frightened of - his own backbenchers, or the Countryside. We will just have to show him, won't we?" Willy Poole in the Sunday Telegraph
May 5 ~ The final nail in the coffin for many rural folk in the Westcountry was the
refusal to hold a full public inquiry into the foot and mouth crisis.
writes the the North Devon Journal.
suspicion, rightly or wrongly, in many rural communities hit by the crisis
is that the Government in general, and Mr Blair in particular, have
something to hide.
A couple of years ago Mr Blair made a high profile trip to the Westcountry
in a bid to ditch the "Townie Tony" tag once and for all.
Mr Blair received a warm welcome and made a good impression, telling the
WMN: "Don't tell me we don't care because it isn't true."
But the fact that he appears to be listening and understanding makes it
worse when he fails to deliver.
"Trust me", he said to one Devon pig farmer during that trip.
farmer is now out of business.
May 5 ~ "An Inspector may tag a suspect animal for later slaughter...refusal to cooperate can result in imprisonment...
Sue is appalled by the SI 843 and writes to the Forum,
".......Statutory Instrument 843 is 200 plus pages discussing meat and bonemeal and
slipped in amongst it are the following points:-
...An Inspector can get a warrant from a JP and break into your premises with
reasonable force to slaughter
...An Inspector may make enquiries and carry out such investigations as he
....The owner or a Vet is under obligation to inform the DVM of TSE susceptible
....The government may slaughter any TSE susceptible animal
....Any cleansing & disinfecting required by DEFRA will be at the owners'
....The owner of a carcass shall pay any reasonable costs or expenses incurred by
the Secretary of State in connection with the seizure or disposal.
....Compensation for sheep and goats at the end of their productive life
If they get killed but were not infected, the same, or their market value or a
maximum of £400 as appears fit to the Secretary of State.
.....If the animals are not fit for human consumption then you get nothing.
....The Secretary of State if she thinks fit may cause to be slaughtered any
...An Inspector may tag a suspect animal for later slaughter.
....If you do not comply you can be fined or imprisoned.
....It further prohibits pithing in slaughterhouses for animals destined for
This is due for debate on 15th May" See also similar email from another vigilant reader
May 5 ~" A book about the Falklands "Beyond Endurance" by its Captain the late Nick Barker has some unexpected topicality for students of government and its foibles because of similarities to the Foot and Mouth scene.
The sub-title was "An epic of Whitehall and The South Atlantic".
H.M.S. Endurance was the RN Antarctic patrol ship at the time of the Falklands War and was put up for sale beforehand; this fact sent an unfortunate message to the Argies with their
Half the book is about the Whitehall bunglefest which preceded the Falklands conflict. The details were wondrous. There ws the same kind of deaf, arrogant Ministry - but then it was the Foreign Office. There were Enquiries too but equally opaque. Nobody was to blame
More or less the same for Foot and Mouth I'd say - just a different Ministry. .... When Marageret Thatcher sent the fleet they were flabbergasted. In Europe each outpost rang around the others to ask if every other Embassy was just as astounded as they were. The idea that all their views were utterly alien to those of the nearly all the people who paid their salaries was a shock. More or less the same for Foot and Mouth I'd say - just a different Ministry. " writes an emailer
May 5 ~ DEFRA still owes Cumbria CC £629,000
" The Cumbria county council-owned maintenance company carried out about £2.5 million worth of work for DEFRA, constructing lagoons and operating vehicle disinfectant points. (They also disposed of animal carcasses.)
However, at a meeting of the county council cabinet on Tuesday, council leader Rex Toft revealed that £629,000 for this work was still owed by the department," writes Nick Green.
"(Mr Toft) said: It is particularly galling given that the prices charged by Cumbria Contract Services were in accordance with the day rates recommended nationally and agreed by DEFRA at the time."
"I hope that some degree of negotiating will now take place and is successful.".......ick suggests that the Council "send them an invoice, now already months overdue, FINAL DEMAND! Give them 5 days to pay. Then, if they do not pay, simply commence proceedings ...... DEFRA should be absolutely hammered. Not a day goes by without me hearing of locals who are owed money by DEFRA... ."
May 4 ~ Even if 'speed is of the essence', why should farm animals have been treated
differently from domestic animals?
Jon Dobson quotes from the APC report of Harlan UK 1999
p 21 point 2.10.9
"The BUAV report cites a European Commission report 'Euthenasia of experimental animals' on
humane killing. The commission document favours intravenous injection, and describes intra-pulmonary
and intra-cardiac administration as 'very painful'. The 1997 edition of the Home Office Code of Practice
on Humane Killing similarly advises 'Direct Injection into the heart through the chest wall in
the conscious animal can be painful and should not be used.'
On April 2, Jane from farmtalking.org wrote, "I have been appalled to be told by experienced vets, that they have killed hundreds of animals during the recent outbreak of FMD, by intra-cardiac injection, without the prior use of a sedative. One even admitted to me that if he found it difficult to get the heart first time, or after a few attempts; he found that injecting into the liver (IP), did the job fine...." Helen O'Hare (TVI) had first hand information about this which is almost too distressing to read.
May 4 ~ Government asks Class Law for more time
The BBC, reporting on the class action FMD case, says: Solicitor Wynne Edwards, who is handling the case on behalf of UKRBC, said: "We had a letter from the government recently asking for more time. "If they reject the claim we will then proceed with an application for a group litigation order. "We think it is a valid claim. The amounts lost vary from £5,000 right up to £3m."
Class Law is asking for internal memos, e-mails, reports, instructions, contingency plans and other documents dealing with the outbreak of the epidemic. "The evidence we have gathered to date shows that the disease was in the system and that the government didn't do anything about it," says Stephen Alexander. "There are other examples. [W]e are building up evidence that it was around in significant amounts before January ."
May 4 ~ Is There any Alternative to Suing the Government ?
(From the UKRBC website)
"It would appear not. Demonstrations, pleading, lobbying, meetings with ministers, press reports of hardship etc have produced - almost nothing. Except increased handouts to Tourist Boards and sundry bureaucracies whose structures ensure that very little real money reaches those desperately trying to pay their bills. Lord Haskins, like most of government, speaks from a different world. He says that there is little rise in the unemployment figures in the affected areas. Presumably he is so out of contact with real life that he does not realise that the self employed have little to gain by registering as unemployed. He also suggested that £40m. was an adequate sum to compensate those who the government say have lost £5,000m. Margaret Beckett, apparently seeking to outdo Haskins in being out of touch, lowered the figure to £24m."
May 4 ~ South Korea has confirmed an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease
authorities to order the slaughter of thousands of pigs.
It is two years since the last outbreak which devastated the country's pork
exports. See Ananova
May 4 ~Blunt instrument
Statutory Instrument 843 "... is still being
processed for publication," says DEFRA. "In the meantime a proof copy has been placed on
this website for your information. "
http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/bse/tsereg2002.pdf On the Defra website, "information" is not so easy to come by, however. The language used by bureaucrats is not civilised and doesn't make the 220 pages of the pdf file an easy read (Example:" Any appointment of an inspector by the Minister or a local authority for the
purposes of the BSE Monitoring Regulations 2001 having effect at the coming
into force of these Regulations shall have effect as if it were an appointment of
that inspector respectively by the Secretary of State or the local authority as an
inspector for the purposes of these Regulations") One of the nastier prohibitions referred to is the outlawing of the pithing of animals- their one chance of a swift death in the slaughter house, while the spectre of the Animal Health bill with all its chilling coercive powers haunts Part Two under, for example, TSE Monitoring - (which may well come to mean - we're coming for your susceptible animals even if we have to force an entry to do it.)
"The record of all governments in scrutinising legislation arising from EU treaties is particularly feeble, with screeds of regulation nodded through without debate. How can this trend be reversed, and Parliament's authority over the executive be restored so that our freedom is protected?" asked Baroness Kennedy QC at the Daily Telegraph's Free Country conference on Wednesday.
May 4 ~ An object lesson in writing clear English and contingency plans
- we have been sent this refreshingly clear blueprint for any successful contingency plan
May 4 ~ "Irish, French and German governments are keen to help with things like tax breaks, hidden subsidies and their own interpretation of the Common Agriculture Policy
while the UK government shows no such initiative nor does it even look likely. Just to make the pill even more bitter, British taxpayers pay over to the CAP £5 billion of which only £2.2 billion comes back to help British Farmers. Put another way for every £1 we send to the CAP to help our own farmers, the UK taxpayer send another £ 1.50 to help our competitors. If you ever wonder why supermarket shelves are almost collapsing under the weight of cheap foods from the continent....." Jeff Swift in Westmorland Gazette -an article written before Lord Whitty announced that the agrimony payments offered by Europe were not going to be asked for by the UK government.
May 4 ~ What can Defra do other than write such letters?
It is inconceivable, alas, that they should write, "We were utterly and disastrously wrong. The attempt to cover over all the incompetent cracks, shortages and lack of planning just degenerated into downright panic. It was a total cock-up. It opened the floodgates for bullies and crooks - who should never have been allowed on any farm or near any animal - to persuade vets to betray their principles and slaughtermen to run amock while pocketing huge amounts of money. Our failure over Animal Welfare was on such a scale that we are unable to sleep at nights. We welcome an inquiry so that others will understand exactly how this vicious and unforgivable situation arose." Instead, Defra "Animal Health" spokesmen write what they would like to be the truth. Hilary an eye-witness of much of the horror, gives some brief replies. (see correspondence between Defra and Hilary Peters)
May 4 ~ the Whitehall bungle-fest
We have been sent an interesting parallel to the bungling of the FMD crisis. It preceded the Falklands Conflict. In that case there was "the subsequent enquiry", i.e. the Franks enquiry - "when that nice, really very sharp gentleman was bamboozled by Whitehall. With every page I read "Foot and Mouth" between the lines."
There was the same kind of deaf, arrogant Ministry. " Definitely interesting as showing the same dreadful pattern. In that case there was "a cabal of academics and commentators capable of making the government's civil servants and line experts feel unsure". In this situation, the experts who could have the same effect have been sidelined and others who are prepared to toe the line are wheeled in to give the government credibility.
May 3 ~'...until we start treating the
disease rather than the symptoms, we will continue to suffer a procession of
"foot and mouths" for ever more.'
An email today says
".........There is a refusal to accept that the system did fail, and that also is a fascinating dynamic. It goes to the heart of modern governance, and makes a mockery of the "lessons learned" inquiry.
It won't find anything because it is not looking in the right places. What, therefore, I think we need to do is redirect the searchlight and focus peoples' thinking on what I would suggest is the real issue.
........ In foot and mouth we did have massive system failures, failures of the mechanics of governance. It is relatively easy to identify (some of) the symptoms of that failure but, as so often, the best that can happen under the current inquiry process is that we put some over-large band-aids on the worst sores..."
May 3 ~ The new proposals could end the way experienced and politically-aware Westminster-based journalists have been able to cross-examine Mr Blair's spokesman in detail on major issues.
George Jones, the Telegraph's Political Editor, says, "the changes will downgrade the importance of the lobby - a privileged group of journalists representing newspapers, news agencies and broadcasters - who receive daily briefings from Downing Street and ministers......Under Downing Street's plans journalists could find if difficult to subject the Government to such intense scrutiny - while ministers might find it easier to divert attention to subjects of their choosing. Ministers are concerned over the depth of cynicism in which Labour is held, with the Government's reputation for honesty questioned by the public. ."
Peter Riddell in the Times says, "The proposed changes in Downing Street briefings are about the Prime Minister's public image ...... Mr Blair and his advisers have concluded that he needs to appear more open. Last Friday he reversed his previous stance and announced he would be willing to be questioned twice a year in public by the chairmen of Commons select committees, sitting together as the Liaison Committee. This was presented, rather primly, and belatedly, as evidence of the recognition of the importance of Parliament as "the centre of political debate". All depends on whether the chairmen organise their questioning to ensure sustained scrutiny or whether they all want their five minutes in the limelight.
Yesterday's announcement is ..... secondary to the accountability of the expanded Downing Street operation, the full and rapid implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and the far-reaching plans for strengthening the ability of Commons select committees to scrutinise the executive..."
May 3 ~ Refurbishing the lobby
Under this headline, the Guardian
comments that the changes are on the "right lines": extract: "Information on
foot and mouth comes better from the chief veterinary officer than from Mr
Campbell. The chief vet is, in turn, likely to get a more thorough and
better-informed interrogation on the subject than any lobby reporter could
Better informed interrogation would be a refreshing change, certainly.
May 3 ~ suspected outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at a farm near Seoul
South Korea has begun slaughtering 6,500 pigs following a suspected outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease at a farm near Seoul, says Ananova
"Agriculture Minister Kim Dong-tae said the government would slaughter 6,500 pigs and 34 cattle within a 1,650ft radius of the affected farm near Ansung." The results of tests to establish whether this really is FMD have not yet been returned.
May 3 ~ Roy Anderson didn't make a copy....
Some readers of warmwell, intrigued by the snippets of Professor Anderson's speech reported here, wrote to ask the PR assistant at
The Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen whether it would be possible to see a full transcript of his speech. Back came the reply: "I have contacted Professor Anderson and he has informed me he does not have
a transcript of his lecture."
May 3 ~ When you hear what I have to say on Wednesday 8th May 2002 at 10:00hrs, Kendal, you will NEVER believe anything they say ever again
writes Nick Green. "Here is a list of the Cumbrian "Infected Premises"
Many thousands more were culled out completely or partially in the illegal 3km/Firebreak cull.
I live in the Eden Valley, the part of the infamous Penrith spur. Look at the devastating effect this had on my area. For those not from the area, look for Penrith, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen, Kirkby Thore etc. Remember this is a list of I/P`s. Think of all the other farms taken out as a consequence of each.
In at least one case, 17 farms were taken out!
Then look to see how many of our farms were located near the bottom of the list! The list is in date order.
All those farms went down long after Blair`s puppets told us it was "all under control! We are on the home straight!"
Will we ever believe these liars again?"
(The list of IPs alone takes some time to look at. It is a chilling sight - since, as Nick says, the killing went on all round them. This was before any laboratory diagnosis was made of the cursory clinical and often hurried diagnosis was made on the farms.)
May 3 ~ Downing Street transparency
"We have got to be less buttoned-up, far more open, far less worried about what you guys are going to write.... " says a spokespinner from Downing Street as the news is broken that the Prime Minister wants to scrap the lobby system. It is to be replaced by the sort of press conferences which allow a mass gathering of journalists but consequently precious little questioning. "Guys"? It seems an apposite word. The americanization of this country seems to be rushing onwards as fast as the cloning with Brussels. Sir Bernard Ingham can only shake his head and call the announcement "a load of nonsense" and "gimmickry". "First of all, the government can't scrap the lobby system," he said. "The government doesn't own the lobby - the lobby is an independent group. So they can't get rid of the lobby and I don't think that they intend to. I think that they are having a very rough time with the media at the moment, for obvious reasons. They aren't achieving anything and they are thought to be all spin and no substance and all manipulation. This is a further bit of manipulation." (See BBC report) Joyce adds this morning: "it would behove those that
think THEY rule Parliament to remember the historical GUY........."
May 3 ~ SI 843 will be debated on May 15 in the evening and we are very sorry to say we are so far unable to discover its terms.
If readers are receiving replies from their MPs or if anyone looking at the website can enlighten us - please let us know. Since mentioning this sidling back on, stage-left, of the Animal Health Bill in drag, we have received many agonised queries - but no answers.
May 3 ~ These figures originate from the economics department at the Meat and Livestock Commission and after initial denials, have
been reluctantly accepted by DEFRA as accurate.
Let us hear no more about the "four million" animals killed as a result of FMD. Thanks to Alan Beat and his evidence from the MEAT AND LIVESTOCK COMMISSION we can now be sure of official and therefore conservative figures (See Alan's email) " TOTAL SO FAR = 10,791,000
To this must be added the goats and camelids slaughtered, and the piglets that cannot now be estimated, to reach an overall round-figure total of around 11 million deaths." We are still waiting for accurate data to tell us just how many of these animals died unnecessarily or- as Pirbright puts it, " when the data from culled farms has been analysed to determine whether the mathematical predictions for spread made by the modellers were actually accurate or not." The figures above include a horrifyingly large proportion of breeding stock that would not have been killed as meat and they also include pets and rare breed animals. They cannot convey the scale of the distress, terror and pain in which many of the animals met their end, nor can they begin to present the fear, heartbreak and downright despair of many farming families. Will the Media and especially the BBC now begin to report the true figures at least, of the unfortunate animals caught up in the government's slaughter policies?
May 3 ~ the more serious the error, the more bizarre will be attempts to justify the unjustifiable
What are we to make of this extraordinary refusal, by those who persist in calling the policy "a small triumph" or "a success", to face the facts of the animal and human suffering? (apart, of course, from the obvious answer that the country is run by mad men, supported by the ignorant)
Norman Dixon, an eminent psychologist, explored the phenomenon of 'cognitive dissonance'.
Research indicates that cognitive dissonance has a particularly powerful effect on behaviour when there are strong pressures to justify initial decisions. The less justified those decisions, the greater will be the dissonance. Furthermore, the inability to admit error increases with the degree of seriousness of the error made: the more serious the error, the more bizarre will be attempts to justify the unjustifiable. Thus, given the overweening arrogance of MAFF and its belief that it is always right, it was inevitable that, when its initial slaughter policy showed signs of catastrophic failure, it would resort to further killing. (more)
May 2 ~ produce evidence or resign
According to Gloucestershire Today the Labour MP for Stroud, David Drew, who accused farmers of deliberately spreading foot-and-mouth (see below) has
been challenged to produce evidence or resign. Mr Drew had admitted in a letter to a constituent that there should have been a full inquiry but said it should have examined all the factors which caused the disease, "including poor husbandry, overintensive methods and deliberate spreading of the disease". A shocked NFU - who have assumed perhaps that Mr Drew was a friend to farming (the vice-chair of EFRA
committee and therefore a policy maker on agricultural matters) have reacted. Richard Haddock, vice-chairman of the NFU's national livestock committee and spokesman for livestock producers in the West told the paper - "Had Mr Drew ever met any of the farmers who locked themselves away for months on their properties because they were petrified of foot-and-mouth arriving, he would know better than to claim the disease was being deliberately spread.
"These remarks are an insult to 99.9 per cent of farmers who had nothing to do with foot-and-mouth spreading. Unless Mr Drew can produce evidence then he must go."
"We thought he was one of us - he sat on the rural committee," said a
furious Martin Wright, South Gloucestershire secretary of the National
May 2 ~"it could be asked why the Commission seems to be attempting to justify ex post facto what appears to be an indefensible decision by the UK authorities not to vaccinate. "
Dr North's Memorandum to the Temporary Committee: "... points which deserve further investigation by the Temporary Committee are:
- Whether the UK government had produced an adequate emergency vaccination strategy in accordance with Council Directive 90/423/EC, as amplified by Commission Decision 91/42/EEC, Commission working documents VI/5211/95 - Contingency plans for epidemic diseases - and VI/6319/98 - Guidelines for FMD contingency plans in non-vaccinating countries (as redesignated XXIV/2655/1999).
- If a strategy was not prepared, did the failure so to do lie at European or member state level, or both?
- If a strategy was prepared, why was it not implemented, apparently when the criteria set out in XXIV/2655/1999 and the Strategy for Emergency Vaccination against Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) were apparently satisfied?
May 2 ~ "Several questions remain to be satisfactorily answered:
1. Was the contingency plan adequate and, if not, why not?
2. Could or should the contingency which did arise in the UK have reasonably been predicted?
3. If it could or should have been predicted, why wasn't it?
4. If it was predicted, why was no provision made for it in the contingency plan - did the failures lie at European level, the member states or both?
5. How can systems and decision-making be improved to ensure that predictable contingencies are adequately planned for?
Furthermore, since the Commission approved the plan in 1993 yet only commenced an evaluation programme six years later, it is appropriate to question the validity of the approval process and/or the reason for the delay in carrying out evaluations. Surely these should have been done before approval? Then, if the FVO, with its missions on the ground at crucial times during the epidemic, apparently failed to note the "chaos at the start of the epidemic", it would seem necessary to question the competence (or terms of reference) of the officials concerned. These are issues that the Temporary Committee could with some validity consider........there is some justification for examining the adequacy of expert advice on which the Commission relies, and its judgement in choosing its sources of expertise... (See Memorandum in full)
May 2 ~ "The great danger is that the wrong lessons are learned, in the manner of generals who are always fighting the last war."
From the memorandum above: " simply correcting the failures of the past does not address the reason for those failures. Furthermore, if they arose as a result of system defects, there will be nothing to stop other failures occurring in the future, albeit perhaps in different although allied areas. For that reason, it is important not only to observe that some failures occurred - and even these have not been fully defined - but also to determine why they occurred.
It may well be that some failures were unavoidable, given the uncertainties of the very nature of contingency planning, where events have to be predicted in a world where there are infinite possibilities. ..... the adequacy of responses to future potential disasters may well rest on the adequacy of the evaluation of the failures which this Temporary Committee alone seems in a position to determine."
May 2 ~ (Correction added May 8 : We have since been told that The Lessons learned inquiry did in fact seek out Brigadier Birtwhistle and had a very useful two hour interview with him. )
"Brigadier Birtwhistle had to insist on being seen because he was not on the agenda."
Concern about the Anderson Inquiry has been voiced in this email from Robert Persey:"I spoke to Guy Thomas Everard. He was asked to give evidence at the Inquiry in Europe but has not been called to see Anderson. Apparently Brigadier Birtwhistle had to insist on being seen because he was not on the agenda. If major players are not being called , who is giving verbal evidence?. How thorough is this inquiry?. There are some specific issues relating to the pig industry that need to be addressed, but what are the chances of them appearing on the limited agenda of the Anderson Inquiry?. We all said right from the beginning that this Inquiry would not have the resources to do the job and that appears to be the case. Will Dr.Anderson be prepared to say that there needs to be a second inquiry to complete his work?"
(warmwell note: we do have faith in the Anderson Inquiry and, feeling it unlikely that the omission was deliberate, are merely reporting on what is evidently a cause for concern in Devon )
May 2 ~In a pig's ear....
"In 1999 the Government drew up new rules to prevent the spread of highly contagious diseases, such as swine fever and foot and mouth, by scraps of meat - a real fear since the last outbreak of swine fever was blamed on a rambler's ham sandwich." says today's Telegraph
Pat Gardiner's remarks on the subject are important: "The news reports from the early days of CSF were amazing and worth study.
They found the 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 uncooked ham?"
May 1 ~ SI 843 will be debated on May 15 in the evening ~ and we still do not know its terms.
All we do know is that the government is trying to undermine the perfectly constitutional rejection of its notorious Animal Health Bill by the House of Lords on March 26th. (See Lord Moran's account of this triumph of sanity). By reintroducing many of the coercive powers that Bill sought to confer on the Minister by means of this Statutory Instrument, the government would appear to be attempting to circumvent the constitutional process - once again using the EU as its stalking horse. Recent media stories fuel fears about animal disease. More regulations "protect" the population....to the ludicrous degree that cow pats are not to be allowed on showgrounds and people forbidden to touch bulls, dairy cows, pigs or llamas. (Sheep are already banned from shows.) No acceptable veterinary reasons are given for these mad rules.
TSI 843 is not available by means of the Stationery Office site. We are, however, hoping to print extracts very soon. But it is to be hoped that it isn't the responsibility of an amateur and unfunded website alone when there are journalists, vets and public figures with the experience and backing to take up and question why there has been so little information about such an important statutory instrument. It is fortunate that there are people, many of whom visit this website, who are very good at writing letters and demanding answers and we are very grateful to them for their support. (Fax your M.P. here)
May 1 ~ "A good start would be to slash the amount of unnecessary red tape that your Government has imposed on farming. "
Mrs Ann Winterton has written an anniversary letter to Tony Blair..."Since 1997, over 15,000 regulations concerning agriculture have been introduced and, in 1999 alone, your government broke the record by imposing a staggering 3,500 new regulations.
Your Government could press for honesty in labelling which would recognize the stringent animal welfare and food production standards that are a matter of pride for this country. Farmers should be allowed to reap the rewards of their professionalism. Consumers would also benefit and would welcome the chance to buy food from the UK helping indirectly to sustain the traditional country landscape that they so value.
The agricultural industry has suffered under five years of a Labour Government. It is essential that profitability is restored to farming because otherwise, by the time of the next General Election, British agriculture as we have known it will be beyond saving." (full letter)
May 1 ~
"...the 24/48 culling policy went against the available scientific evidence"
We deplore much that is in the Pirbright submission - but not all. On the 2001 slaughter policies and modelling,...... para 4.2.5
"The full flexibility of modelling requires the close integration of modelling and disease/infection expertise. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the predictions made by biomathematicians are scrutinised by experts in the veterinary or other scientific fields. We consider it essential that there is close collaboration between modellers and disease experts, especially those experts who have actually generated the biological/virological data for models."
We discern well-disguised Pirbright fury at the inaccuracy of the mathematical modelling and its lack of reliance on proper science.
With this we are in full agreement.
4.3.1 ..." The control measures introduced during the 2001 epidemic, in particular the 24/48 hour cull can only be judged as being ethical or not when the data from culled farms has been analysed to determine whether the mathematical predictions for spread made by the modellers were actually accurate or not."
But note also bullet point under 4.3.3:
7 "The 24/48 hour culling policy went against the available scientific evidence which showed that the virus was unlikely to spread over significant distances provided the control measures, in particular movement control, were enforced effectively. The fact that extensive local spread did occur indicates either that the predictions for airborne (uncontrollable) spread were too conservative or that there was widespread failure of biosecurity."
It is not clear whether Pirbright is accepting that there was extensive local spread, or saying that the data needs to be analysed. 4.3.1 seems to speculate there was extensive local spread, 4.3.3 that the data needs to be analysed.
However, the law (as opposed to "ethics") works on available evidence, not speculation. The statement that the 24/48 culling policy went against the available scientific evidence is therefore of considerable significance - and we have been saying it ourselves for months.
May 1 ~ Pirbright Submission: 4.3.1 Are present methods compatible with modern ethical views?
"IAH does not consider it unethical per se to kill a farm animal since, in
the case of food animals, that will be their inevitable fate."
This sentence alone shows Pirbright's lack of understanding of the real farmer - and dodges the real thrust of the question which is not asking, "Is it ethical to kill an animal for food?". Read the farmer Julia Horner on the subject of the methods employed in the North of England ; "The preservation of the well being of the hardy indigenous breeding sheep that are so vital to the ecology of the hills, and these small family farms is paramount.
We have already seen enough good herds and flocks wiped from our hillsides. We have seen too many perfectly good lambs wasted through bungling bureaucracy." Pirbright would not, presumably, consider that Hitler's methods of removing those in the death camps were also ethically justified since, in the case of people, dying will be their inevitable fate.
May 1 ~ Cumbria FMD Inquiry: Inquiry Schedule
The whole Inquiry Panel meets for the first time on Wednesday 1st May 2002. The first public hearing commences on 10 am Tuesday 7th May in Kendal County Offices, Council Chamber and runs to Friday 10th May.
The second hearing takes place in the City Council Chamber in Carlisle Civic Centre from 28th to 31st May. There will be the following additional OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS: Tuesday 14th May -
Ulverston Coronation Hall - all starting at 7 pm (access from 6.30pm)
Wednesday 15th May - Appleby Public Hall
Thursday 16 May - Longtown Memorial Hall
The Cumbria FMD Inquiry formally opens on the morning of the 7 May 2002 in the Council Chamber, County Offices, Stricklandgate, Kendal. The first morning will concentrate on general issues about the outbreak. Witnesses currently identified to give evidence during these formal sessions are as follows:
May 1 ~ Departments not even aware of each other's Rubbish pronouncements
One of the myriad rules and regulations to assail us recently is the embargo on composting."Regulations require compost heaps to have a licence and an environmental
risk assessment if the compost heap is within 250 metres of a dwelling or
workplace. The penalty for failing to get a licence is a £5,000 fine," proclaims the Environment Agency. Yet Alan Titchmarsh, that well known criminal, has been encouraging the nation's gardeners to recycle garden waste. And we read in the Guardian today that
"The Department of the Environment, however, does not seem to know what
its enforcement agency is doing. The department is exhorting parks and local
authorities to compost to cut the nation's growing pile of waste." The left hand and the other left hand of New Labour seem not to know what each other is up to.
"...An embarrassed environment agency said yesterday it would not be
prosecuting individual gardeners or asking them for a licence. Householders
are exempt but guidance on health effects is being formulated."
May 1 ~ What truth is there in TB hype?
(No reference intended to the Prime Minister here, but rather bovine TB). Data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) showed there were 726 new herd incidences of TB between January 1 and March 31, of which 396 have been confirmed, 192 are unconfirmed and 138 are still unclassified.
DEFRA said there were 478 cases in herds last year, but the figure is incomplete due to the suspension of testing. So stories of a massive increase in TB cases have yet to be verified. But stories about animal health are kept simmering, it seems, for purposes best known to Downing Street -possibly the deep desire to get some form of Animal Health Bill through Parliament as quickly as possible before the truth about the legality of culling healthy animals is finally established. North Wales DVM David Pugh sparked a media frenzy when he said the situation concerning TB in cattle could be "as serious, if not more serious" than foot-and-mouth. Elliot Morley's response was to protest loudly, claiming the North Wales vet's comments were "misleading". It all kept the issue in the papers and probably at the front of the minds of MPs, most of whom - even those who have admitted recently that there should be a proper public inquiry into FMD - seem to have very little genuine interest in farming or the rural economy.
May 1 ~"I am so angry I can hardly speak. What is this?
Where is the acknowledgement of existing science and scientists?
This submission reads to me like a straight forward proposal for funding - a blatant PR exercise for the promotion of Pirbright. A total subversion of the truth with no one to contradict or point out the discrepancies as in so much of what has gone on in this UK FMD outbreak.
It is, I believe, an absolute disgrace.
They claim they were ONLY asked to look at the economics. Animal welfare of course doesn't feature in this any more than it did in Roy Anderson's appalling model. It is dismissed at a stroke as a 'political problem' Any cost of looking after the animals, any consideration given to them does not even enter into the equation when adding up the economics. HOW can this be allowed?.
In these days of so called 'caring' society, with endless laws on racial equality and human rights - how is it that the nerves of sentient animals are never entered into any of the calculations?" Alicia Eykyn, Executive Director of the FMD Forum, speaks for many.
The "gold standard" of IAH Pirbright looks remarkably like dross to us this morning.
May 1 ~ "The chaos at the start of the epidemic clearly showed that the national infrastructure and logistical support was inadequate for dealing with an epidemic of the scale encountered.
says the IAH submission to the Royal Society Inquiry Pirbright appears to be at some pains in the submission to explain away the delays in laboratory diagnosis : "The IT for linking Pirbright and DEFRA for the electronic transfer of results was unsatisfactory and inefficient and was never properly corrected." It points to its own expertise, its need for funds and its developments, including its own penside antigen-detection kit and real-time RT-PCR. IAH fails to mention its distinct lack of enthusiasm during the outbreak for offered but unvalidated rival tests for rapid detection of FMD. These, it seems, were "sat on" rather than being given a fast-track test - unlike Pirbright's own which were developed with a commercial partner - a fact also not mentioned in the submission.
There are some curious statements made which are inadequately explained. One example: "In ring vaccination a zone is selected beyond the infected area and all species are vaccinated to create an immune belt. The objective is to contain infection inside the ring. This strategy will only work if the ring is small and can be clearly defined." (Why? Our understanding of ring vaccination is that the ring can be as large as you choose.) The submission is predictably and understandably negative about any measures that would reduce its own status and importance. We are sorry to see that the submission repeats many of the old statements about so-called carriers - "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" says Dr Sutmoller who, after about 50 years' experience of FMD in the field, actually does know.
May 1 ~"There was total inaction for too long for the policy of eradicating the disease to have any hope of success.
The Western Mail on Tuesday reported that Eurig Wyn,
recently elected as coordinator for the European Parliament's Foot-and-Mouth Disease Inquiry team, is gathering views from around Wales on the outbreak.
"Farmers told me that it might take three years for the industry to return to normal and in many areas, because of farmers opting to leave the industry, it might never recover."
"The Northumberland inquiry, he said, highlighted the need for a thorough and comprehensive inquiry to be conducted on a local level Mr Wyn said anyone who wished to present their views should go to Carmarthen Mart between 11.30am and 1pm tomorrow. Those who are unable to be present can send written comments to Mr Wyn at 3 Hill Street, Haverfordwest SA61 1QQ, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
May 1 ~ "a day or two delay in diagnosing the disease, establishing a quarantine zone, and starting the stamping-out program could make the difference between a contained outbreak and an economic disaster"
From The Newsletter of the UC Agricultural Issues Center
Volume 12. NO. 2. 1998 N.B. this article, written four years ago, asked the question: What if a highly contagious livestock disease -foot-and-mouth disease, in this case- suddenly appeared in California?
More specifically, how much economic loss could be avoided by quick and effective control measures? What are the possibilities for quick and effective control? ........
A crucial finding of the model scenarios is that, in an area crowded with livestock like Tulare County, a day or two delay in diagnosing the disease, establishing a quarantine zone, and starting the stamping-out program could make the difference between a contained outbreak and a statewide economic disaster. "The opportunity for decisive intervention lasts only one week," the report emphasizes....
May 1 ~ Question: Is the commission still, in principle, in favour of a stamping out
Answer from EU Commission: "Stamping out of animals infected or suspected of being infected is
an essential part of the eradication policy whether or not accompanied by
The requirements for stamping out of infected animals is technically based
on the fact that infected animals, whether or not vaccinated, may become
carriers for a long time (about two years in cattle)
Therefore the Commission will, in future, continue the stamping out policy
as laid down in Directive 85/511/EEC, either with or without emergency
However, Drs.Barteling and Sutmoller, with about 85 years field experience of FMD between them, say, "Over the past hundred years there are only a few
documented cases where (convalescent) carrier cattle probably played a role
in the introduction of FMD into FMD-free herds. Such cases are not known for
..... The risk that a carrier produces sufficient virus aerosol
to transmit disease is negligible or close to zero. (See Vaccination page)
April 30 ~ AHB by any other name would smell as rotten
Just when you thought it was safe to keep animals...along comes the Animal Health Bill creeping back in disguise: SI 843 Animal Health, England - TSE (England)
Regulations 2002 It is a long - 200 odd page - SI that puts in many of
the provisions of the second part of the Animal Health Bill "SI" means a "statutory instrument", in other words, not something that has to be debated in Parliament before it can regulate our lives. It was placed before the
Houses on March 27 and has come into effect on April 19. There are now 40 working
days to do something about it. It will be argued that it is
coming in under European legislation and that we have no choice but to accept it. However, a
close comparison will be made between the European regulations and the
British ones to see where DEFRA is hoping to slip in the boot - as it did with the UK legislation that put paid to so many of our slaughter houses - wrongly blamed on European rules.
Vets and others with specialist knowledge need to be aware of this. We are hoping to be able to get a copy onto the website soon.
April 30 ~ The wrong kind of outbreak....
We are frankly quite sickened to hear the string of excuses as to why the UK did not vaccinate - in particular the mischievous (because wilfully inaccurate) statements of some scientists in this country who loudly reiterate that "the disease had spread too far for vaccination to have been of any use in bringing the disease under control". Uruguay illustrates quite dramatically how vaccination was precisely the tool to use in that situation. This is just the point that must be made again and again - that the uncontained, multiple focus epidemic with unknown foci and uncontained spread is precisely the circumstance when vaccination should be used.
April 30 ~ Defra: ten lawyers short of a picnic.
Defra advert today reads:
"Law and the essentials of life"
Legal advisers for DEFRA
Starting salary up to £49,157 London
DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, deals with
the essentials of life - food, air, land, water and people....
DEFRA is looking for up to ten lawyers to join its legal team which works
closely with Ministers and policymakers in the Department and across
The posts involve advising on the legal implications of policy options, with
a strong emphasis on EC and human rights law. They also include drafting
secondary legislation and instructing Parliamentary Counsel (who draft
Well there we are - now we know why they made such a pig's ear of the
law: they were 10 lawyers short last year.
Their advert was evidently not properly checked for accuracy or it would have read: "Law and the essentials of death"
Strangely, it makes no mention of animals or farmers anywhere.. they perhaps are not considered essential for food, air, land, water and people by the Department for the Eradication of Farming, Rural life and Agriculture .
April 30 ~ "... any adequate plan should have at its heart different strategies to deal with the situations encountered, more or less along the lines of: "if A happens, we do B... if C happens, we do D".
In other words, there should be a definition of the types of contingency that are being planned for, with an appropriate response detailed for each.
What seems to be missing from the UK contingency plan is precisely that. The preface to the "veterinary chapters" defines it as "instructions and guidance". It appears to have been standard, mechanistic instructions - with no variation to take account of differing circumstances.
Events indicate that the instructions were based on a model which presumed early detection/reporting of the disease, permitting early intervention at a stage when the epidemic was limited to known or immediately detectable foci and was thus amenable to containment. There does not appear to have been defined an alternative strategy devised to cope with what actually happened - late reporting/detection of the disease with widespread dispersion in multiple, unknown foci - to which effect, there appears to be no adequate instruction to deal with this contingency.
Therefore, as an additional issue, the Committee might consider the following:
7. What were the overall control strategies of the Commission and the UK in dealing with outbreaks of FMD? Were they clearly defined and so framed as to present practical options for reasonably predictable contingencies? (See the full memorandum)
April 30 ~ "The site began to suffer odour problems"
Under the headline: LANDFILL SITE SMELL PLEDGE the West Country Herald Express writes, "A Delegation of Euro MP's has heard assurances that obnoxious smells from a South Devon landfill site were not caused by the dumping of animal carcasses.
Three MEPs paid a fact-finding visit to the Heathfield landfill site near Kingsteignton.
They also met with villagers who claim odours from the tip have led to health problems...."
We note that the Viridor spokesman confidently predicted.. "tests were expected to confirm previous evidence that there was no link between the smell and the disposal of animal carcasses at the site last year...." and we share his expectations. This does not mean that there is not something here that smells rotten - the whole fmd fiasco and its aftermath is suffering heavily from odour problems.
April 30 ~ "Next day we learned that Lord Whitty had said on the BBC Farming Today programme that the result had been due to a wish to avenge the Government's decision on hunting,
aided by hereditary peers who had been bussed in for the purpose. This was clearly rubbish, and I am glad that Lord Willoughby de Broke was given the opportunity of refuting it on the radio next day. Hunting had nothing to do with it. The 130 voted for what appeared to them obviously right and sensible.
But I still found it hard to believe that we could win this vote. Nobody expected it. The government, knowing that the two Opposition parties were not disposed to mount a challenge did not, I think, take my effort seriously, though they did put on a three-line whip. They clearly thought it inconceivable that one elderly Cross Bencher could, without whipped support, defeat them." In this month's Country Illustrated, Lord Moran describes how "In its own silken language, the House of Lords gave a soldier's farewell to intended but malodorous Government legislation on animal health (i.e.animal slaughter)"
(Lord Moran's article is as full of suspense as a thriller. These extracts from it link to the March 26 debate)
April 30 ~ Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether liquid animal carcases were dumped in the Irish Sea
from 1 May 2001 to 28 February 2002; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: Liquid animal carcases have never been dumped in the Irish Sea but I can confirm that between 1 May 2001 and 10 December 2001, the leachate from the Watchtree (Great Orton) mass burial site was discharged via a long sea outfall at Workington, into the Irish Sea. ......(see Hansard)
What is leachate from Great Orton if it is not "liquid carcasses"?
April 30 ~" later admitted to be a requirement of Brussels"
" The most bizarre element in the new reporting protocol was the requirement to examine the suspect FMD case last of all, perhaps hours after first arriving at the farm. The instruction was to begin examining the outlying stock and work towards the suspects. On many Cumbrian farms this must have caused delays of several hours before any diagnosis. This ludicrous procedure was first justified on the spurious grounds of gathering "epidemiological" information but later admitted to be a requirement of Brussels. Once the full horror of the situation was grasped, it was no longer insisted upon." The experienced vet, Alan Richardson's very full and clear criticisms, first hand knowledge of what really happened are well worth looking at again even though they have been available on this site for months. Mr Richardson B.Vet Med., Ph.D., M.R.C.V.S remembers the 1967 situation with clarity and makes some damning comparisons. It will be remembered that, having been summoned to give evidence at the EU a few weeks ago, he was then allotted just a few minutes to speak and answer questions whereas Mssrs. Scudamore, Whitty, Gill and Brown were able to say as much as they wished. At the top of his paper Mr Richardson quotes Professor Harry Burrow, who in 1963 said prophetically, "Foot and mouth disease finds you out." We believe it does in more ways than one and can wait patiently.