"Silence of the lambs, calves, sheep, cattle and mathematicians"An article to his fellow vets in the Veterinary Times, March 2006, by Bob Michell, BVetMed BSc PhD DSc MRCVS, Former President of the RCVS
Rapid Diagnosis RT PCR - " a transforming moment"
" ...the means to eradicate and control these diseases are now available ... ..." Read in full
Warmwell.com Archive ~ Bird Flu pages Contact the site How FMD crisis was turned into a disaster - Scotsman, TimesPlease use F5 button to refresh the page RPA latest bovine TB Harriet - latest --------------------------------
Archive November 2006
November 29 2006 ~ cost sharing between Government and the private sector for animal disease control
Animal Disease Control Written Answers to Questions Monday 27 November Hansard (David Drew is the Labour MP for Stroud)
(Warmwell recommends to anyone with an interest the paper, Industry Cost Sharing By Dr. Roger Breeze, CEO, Centaur Science Group, (formerly, Associate Administrator, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service) "Cost sharing offers industry a chance to sit at the table as a partner to make sure that when it pays what is asked, it gets what is promised...")
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to deliver cost sharing between Government and the private sector for animal disease control; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We are committed to working in partnership with industry on finding ways to share the responsibilities and costs of animal disease. The Government intend to publish a consultation document on the principles of responsibility and cost sharing for animal health and welfare in December. This consultation follows on from the work of the Joint Government and Industry Group which informed the debate on how to share the responsibilities and costs of exotic animal disease outbreaks.
November 29 2006 ~ "If it is ever decided that we need more sheep to graze the hills, there may not be enough farmers left with the experience to manage the flocks.."
Yorkshire Dales Country News yesterday looks at the downturn in farming that "mirrors a slump in the industry nationally since the mid 1990's"
"....... "Ten years ago, we shared rented moorland with seven other farms, but there are now only two of us left," says Mrs Hird. "It seems that hill breeds may be in danger of dying out. Foot-and-mouth disease took a heavy toll on Swaledale breeding flocks, and the low profitability of sheep farming has meant that many have not been replaced."..( Thanks for this link to FMD News - a service provided by the FMD Surveillance and Modeling Laboratory, University of California at Davis.)
hardy breeds like the Swaledale to graze the uplands, there is a risk some areas would revert to scrubland says Mrs Hird, and as she explains, this would have a dramatic effect on the region's landscape.
"People generally visit North Yorkshire to enjoy the open spaces and walk in the hills. But the scenery would look vastly different without sheep, as the grassland would become covered in trees and bushes. That could also restrict access for ramblers."
"Spiralling costs, poor returns and price pressure because of cheap imports are posing a real threat to hill farms at the moment, " she adds." Fewer young people are choosing a career in agriculture, so shepherding skills are not being passed on by the older generation. It will not be easy to reverse this trend. If it is ever decided that we need more sheep to graze the hills, there may not be enough farmers left with the experience to manage the flocks..." ."
November 28 2006 ~ Ex-RPA chief 'still being paid'
The government is apparently still "trying to end" the employment of Mr McNeill eight months after he was replaced.
The BBC "...Since he left in March, he is thought to have cost the taxpayer £71,000. Junior minister Barry Gardiner said they were trying to end his employment "as a matter of urgency". "Johnston McNeill is currently on paid leave of absence and we are in the process of taking the appropriate action to bring his employment to an end," he said in a ministerial statement. ....Some farmers are still waiting for their 2005 payments ..." See RPA pages
November 28 2006 ~ Water Crisis - Has the government a duty to protect health?
See environment page
November 26/27 2006 ~ Papers from the 23rd November 2006 Stakeholder meeting
It is pleasing to see that DEFRA's website was updated with notes from the FMD stakeholder meeting last Thursday on the very day that it took place. This is impressive - and very helpful for people who have an interest but who, for one reason or another, are not able to attend the meetings. The Powerpoint presentation on diagnostics (by Don King of the Molecular Characterisation & Diagnostics Group at Pirbright) can be viewed, even if one does not have ppt, by visiting the Powerpoint website and downloading a free reader.
- Agenda (11 KB)
- Dangerous contact assessment - Decision support tree (195 KB)
- Overview of the FMD Modelling Excercise (62 KB)
- FMD Diagnostics (1.33 MB)
November 24 2006 ~ Old habits of 'Command and Control' are hard to break - The EIG give praise and a warning
Key documents from the England Implementation Group (the EIG) have been updated on the DEFRA website today. From the report Building a better future for England's kept animals (pdf) we read:
"....Whether Government is really ready to fundamentally change its ways of working is a key question. We have been encouraged by a very different approach from that which was heavily criticized during foot and mouth, for instance, as contingency plans were developed for Avian Influenza. Key players have felt much more involved and in touch with developments and the rationale for decisions. Setting up the EIG was, itself, an innovative and potentially risky approach! However old habits are hard to break, and Defra will need to guard against an instinct to return to its default position of "command and control" and of withholding information that could, actually, be in the public domain. The Chief Veterinary Officer's support for our commitment to openness and transparency - meeting in public for all bar the super-sensitive or boring bits, publishing minutes on our website - has been clear from the outset, and welcome..."
November 23 2006 ~ Harriet. Evidence suggests she does not fit the "cohort" definition - but even if she did, the EU no longer demands slaughter
When Mark Harper MP debated the question of Harriet with Ben Bradshaw on November 7th, the Minister said,
"..There is no exemption under EU law or domestic law for live cattle, whether or not they are considered to be pets. In fact, the German Government have recently been taken to task for their lax implementation of the cohort rule. We would face exactly the same infraction proceedings were we to follow the position suggested by the hon. Gentleman."But yesterday's email from Brussels clearly shows that the opposite is true. Even cattle proved to be from a BSE cohort need only to be kept under surveillance and not permitted to enter the food chain. Mr Bradshaw cited EU rules to justify the killing of the pet Jersey cow in the Forest of Dean - but these rules have been changed, as the Brussels email makes clear. It is to be hoped that DEFRA will soon be able to reassure her very anxious owners, the villagers who have given their full support and many others across the country who were moved by the Harriet item on the BBC's PM Programme.
November 22 2006 ~ Harriet. Brussels will not put restrictions on a country that doesn't kill suspect animals
We have been told today by a Policy Advisor of the European Parliament that EU legislation on TSEs is very soon going to be changed in order to allow more flexibility with regard to "cohorts" and that measures in place to keep suspect animals under surveillance and to make sure they don't enter the food chain are sufficient.
"DEFRA is well aware of this change, as they were strongly involved in all negotiations which took place form September 2005 to May 2006. ....It will be remembered that Ben Bradshaw said in the debate about Harriet, "EU legislation requires all member states to kill cohorts as soon as possible". Today's news shows that this is not in fact the case. More
The future legal text was agreed by Parliament and Council in May 2006, but has not yet been finalised for technical reasons.
As regards cohort culling ( see page 21 of the attached document):
(c) after the first subparagraph, the following subparagraph shall be inserted: "At the request of a Member State and based on a favourable risk assessment taking particularly into account the control measures in that Member State, a decision may be taken in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 24(2) to allow the use of bovine animals referred to in this paragraph until the end of their productive lives."These provisions will be in force early next year as we are doing our very best (including extraordinary meetings of our committee) in order to allow publication of the text before the end of this year."
November 22 2006 ~ Harriet
We are very concerned to learn that DEFRA will arrive at Harriet's field today to - as the Reverend Pinkerton puts it - "arrange the time of Harriet's demise". The case is an extraordinary example of the precautionary principle taken to senseless extremes. Please see Harriet's page where it becomes clear that the Jersey cow - a family pet and not destined for the food chain - can pose no threat to anyone and whose slaughter will cause extreme distress.
November 22 2006 ~ "Farm-industry representatives said they were not familiar with the new reports..."
A report written by researchers at the University of Iowa's Environmental Health Sciences Research Center says that the huge areas of factory farming and feed lots, in the U.S. and Europe, are "poorly regulated, pose health and ecological dangers and are responsible for a deteriorating quality of life in America's and Europe's farm regions" (Los Angeles Times) They are "contaminating water supplies with pathogens and chemicals, and polluting the air with foul-smelling compounds that can cause respiratory problems." They also warn that the livestock operations are contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant germs.
Their recommendations include limits on the density of animals ("hundreds, often thousands, of cattle, hogs, dairy cows or poultry are confined often in very close quarters") and mandatory extensive environmental reviews for new feedlots and a ban on the use of antibiotics to promote animal growth.
Many feel (as the leap in sales of organic food shows) that the unnatural exploitation of animals, by those who treat animals as mere protein, threatens more in society than its physical health. It will be interesting to see if the report makes any difference.
November 21 2006 ~ EUFMD Inventory of web accessible recent FMD Real-time Alert Exercises
The European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EUFMD) is a Commission established under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Its website links to a pdf page which is an Inventory of web accessible recent FMD Real-time Alert Exercises carried out by European and other Countries by Tom Murray, EUFMD's associate Professional Officer.
"Council Directive 2003/85/EC of 29 September 2003 states that "Member States shall draw up a contingency plan specifying the national measures required to maintain a high level of foot-and-mouth disease awareness and preparedness" and "Member States shall ensure that real-time alert exercises are carried out in accordance with their approved contingency plan". This report gives a record of European countries and others which are known to have carried out simulation exercises since 2001 and links to reports and evaluations of such exercises if they are available."It is interesing to see that the report of the UK Hornbeam exercise (pdf) is one of the few that is available freely on the internet.
November 20 2006 ~ Technology to fight ".. the tricks of a very dirty trade"
Hot on the heels of stories about non-organic eggs being passed off as free-range and the news that Spanish imports are full of salmonella, comes an Independent article revealing what modern technology can now achieve in the way of rapid testing . DNA testing, remote sensing using satellite images and Isotope testing and now, a "reliable way of testing the provenance of "organic" pork and chicken.." - although:
".....of all the produce on the shelves at your local supermarket, the organic shelf remains the most difficult to police, requiring so many tests to determine whether so many different pesticides and fertilisers have - or have not - been used. "There can be no doubt that massive fraud involving the meat trade is still rife in the UK. Those involved will stop at nothing to intimidate or smear those making any attempt to stop their activities. Another Independent article "Abbatoir fraud could bring BSE back to Britain" unfortunately repeats, without qualification, the journalistic assertion that "BSE can be passed to humans through the food chain in the form of variant-CJD"- a theory which, while it may well be true, has not been adequately proved to be true. However, far more seriously, the article reminds us that
"....Inspectors say... meat is entering the food chain without being properly checked. .... A union spokeswoman refused to name the plants concerned because abattoir managers "routinely attempt to intimidate inspectors for doing their job". ...."( It seems grimly ironic that the real criminals continue to carry on their billion pound trade with impunity, while the innocent, such as poor Harriet the pet cow, are victims of legislation that takes the precautionary principle to ludicrous lengths - a blind bureaucracy concerned more with the ticking of boxes than with case by case practicalities .)
November 17 2006 ~ Mark Purdey 1953-2006
Messages of condolence and tributes are published on this page of his website - www.markpurdey.com may be sent by e-Mail to Jane Barribal firstname.lastname@example.org
He will be deeply missed by those lucky enough to have been in contact with him and to have been aware of his quite extraordinary, selfless thirst for truth. Full posting
November 17 2006 ~ "The issue of rapid diagnostic technology still needed to be looked into."
The brief report of the last FMD stakeholder meeting on September 7th ( 7 weeks before the most recent FMD scare) can be seen at http://www.defra.gov.uk We note item 4.3. At a meeting scheduled for 23rd November David Dawson, the chairman and Director of Animal Health and Welfare, has promised to answer a question about why Rapid Diagnostic technology has not been adopted in the UK .
November 16 2006 ~ DEFRA's False Alarm answers raise more questions
Thanks to a concerned member of the public, Bryn Wayt, who asked 10 questions about the recent suspected FMD outbreak in Lincolnshire, brief answers now appear on the DEFRA website.
Although the relevant DEFRA page links to photographs of animals with disease, it was apparently not thought necessary to take photographs on the suspect farm to show how the lesions there were able to give rise to concern.
Diagnostic kits giving rapid on-site results are being used around the world and have been for some years now - but no on-site rapid diagnostic testing was done at the suspect Lincolnshire farm.
Instead, samples were sent to the OIE Reference Laboratory in Pirbright in Surrey. Perhaps the Conference in Brazil, aiming to "further promote the updating and setting of standards for methodologies in the fields of diagnostics, vaccine quality and biosecurity; the improvement of links between existing Reference Laboratories, Collaborating Centres and national official and private laboratories..." will pave the way for a more modern, streamlined approach to potential disaster.
November 15 2006 ~ " no one wants to see mass slaughter, piles of carcasses, incineration " but "vaccination would prevent meat exports to third countries"
TV Link Europe describes a video feature put together by DG SANCO "showcasing concrete examples of animal disease outbreaks and the solutions put in place to control the spread of the diseases."
In the "Prevention" section, we read
" To avoid crises, lots of people are in favour of vaccination but it is not applicable everywhere. After a vaccination campaign lasting more than 15 years, a majority of EU Member States is rabies free. But in the advent (sic) of foot and mouth disease, vaccination would prevent meat exports to third countries."It would seem that - to DG SANCO at least - FMD vaccination should be rejected because its use may be given as a reason not to export meat outside the EU. But the reason for such rejection cannot be on any scientific, veterinary or health grounds. It is protectionism - as everyone is surely aware. Mr Bradshaw, after the usual somewhat meaningless phrase that "emergency vaccination will immediately be considered" and referring vaguely to the existence of an Expert Group, did at least make clear in his answer below, there are no health reasons to reject meat vaccinated against FMD. "..we have worked with consumers and retailers to stress the message that products from animals vaccinated against FMD would not have any implications for food safety." See below
November 14 2006 ~ Parliamentary Question: Vaccination
Hansard Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress he is making on plans for the vaccination of stock in the event of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Bradshaw: In the event of an outbreak, emergency vaccination will immediately be considered as a disease control measure for foot and mouth disease (FMD). Any decision to adopt an emergency vaccination strategy against FMD will be based upon epidemiological, logistical and other factors.
An Expert Group has been set up to advise the Government on FMD preparedness, including vaccination. We have established a vaccine bank which could be used to protect against various strains, the composition of which is reviewed regularly by the Expert Group. We have also put a contract in place to ensure we could carry out vaccination should it be needed.
Finally, we have worked with consumers and retailers to stress the message that products from animals vaccinated against FMD would not have any implications for food safety.
Further information is set out in the Government's Exotic Animal Disease Generic Contingency Plan which is available on the Defra website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/fmd/contingency/index.htm.
November 14 2006 ~ DEFRA budget - among the cuts, an increase - 11% for the RPA
The news that DEFRA repeatedly underspent its budget (£ 750million over five years) has been called "staggering" (see RPA news)
In a Parliamentary Question Chris Huhne asked by what (a) percentage and (b) total amount DEFRA required cuts from its executive agencies. Among the cuts to agencies such as the British Waterways, Natural England, Environment Agency, Food From Britain , Marine Fisheries Agency, Meat and Livestock Commission,National Forest Company, Pesticides Safety Directorate, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the State Veterinary Service, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Veterinary Medicines Directorate - will be noted a £23.0 million (11 per cent.) increase to the Rural Payments Agency.
(Ben Bradshaw's written answer to the House of Commons, in reply to Mr Drew's question  about what assessment the Minister had made
"..of the effect of the reduction in expenditure on the ability of the state veterinary service to deal with outbreaks of disease."was that
"there has been no reduction in funding for the SVS, on the contrary, the SVS has received an increase of £19 million this year in its funding..." (Hansard)One wonders if he was unaware of the £3.0 million (3 per cent.) reduction for next year or simply preferred not to answer the question.)
November 13 2006 ~ "The Conference will further promote the updating and setting of standards for methodologies in the fields of diagnostics, vaccine quality and biosecurity"
The First International Conference of the OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres will be held in Florianopolis, Brazil, from 3 to 5 December 2006
From Dr Bernard Vallet's introduction: "The purpose of the Conference is to provide a multidisciplinary forum for strengthening scientific cooperation within the Network of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres as well as Veterinary Services. The Conference will further promote the updating and setting of standards for methodologies in the fields of diagnostics, vaccine quality and biosecurity; the improvement of links between existing Reference Laboratories, Collaborating Centres and national official and private laboratories; and discuss methods to support developing and in-transition countries through capacity building and training programmes."
November 11 2006 ~ In addition to its vaccination programme, Malaysia is implanting identification chips in all of its 2.5 million farm animals.
Malaysia will spend £7.2 million (RM50 million) on radio frequency identification chips for all its farm animals and later, dogs and cats and other pets. Veterinary Services Department director-general Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin says Malaysia will be free of FMD in 2008 and will be able to make the official declaration in 2009, provided that there are no new cases.
The New Straits Times says:
"... it will take about a year to complete the process .... We want to ensure that only healthy animals were exported to others states while those without such identification would be sent for quarantine," he said. "Our staff will carry a handheld device that could read the information in the chip which include its breed, birthplace and owner." ...."
November 9 2006 ~ Harriet - BBC PM programme interviews the owners.
Harriet's story is far from being about one pet cow. It illustrates the "one size fits all" mentality that can impose draconian measures without taking all factors into account. Bureaucratically imposed slaughter, without proper case by case scientific justification, led to the sort of misery we saw during the foot and mouth crisis - and hoped never to see again. We have, many times. In spite of the fact that mass culling in 2001 has been revealed as having had nothing to do with either human or animal health and welfare and literally millions of healthy animals and their young unnecessarily killed, the 2002 Animal Health Act makes such killing legal and takes away the right of owners to object. As with the present Harriet case, trade, markets and an ignorance of what is scientifically and technically possible were allowed to eclipse common sense.
The UK fears another EU fine - but Harriet is healthy and - even if the facts about her feed and rearing were otherwise - could pose no risk. As her owner says, "she's such a healthy animal, it's so sad, isn't it? Just to tick their box..." (Read the Transcript)
November 9 2006 ~ "there's some super people in DEFRA who work extremely hard on our behalf"
Arthur Hill, an arable farmer in Shropshire - still waiting for some of his 2005 payments - explained the Single Payment situation and the cash-flow difficulties faced by farmers. Exasperated with the RPA he had, nevertheless, a balanced view of the difficulties and was very fair to DEFRA. See RPA latest
November 9 2006 ~ ".. what risk is there to public health from allowing Harriet to live?" asked Mark Harper
BSE debate Monday. At both the beginning and the end of the debate Mr Harper urged Mr Bradshaw to explain how Harriet's continuing to live posed a threat to human health. Mr Bradshaw's only suggestion was that Harriet - the pet cow not destined for the food chain and kept padlocked in a field with her passport seized - could infect human beings with vCJD since she might be stolen.
Even if cattle rustlers were active in Newent, widespread assumptions (including Mark Harper's) do not prove any causal link between vCJD and the eating of BSE infected meat. Dr Martin Jeffrey (Journal of Pathology 2006) is the most recent expert to have expressed doubt. The Countess of Mar asked in an earlier TSE debate this year ".. .. I want the Minister to know that I am extremely concerned that all regulation in this field is based on a hypothesis- not even a theory - that none of the "establishment" scientific community can prove, despite millions of pounds of taxpayers' money being thrown at the subject.... . "
Interestingly, the Select Committee on Science and Technology has just published a report saying that scientific evidence has been often misused or distorted to justify policy decisions. (Guardian) It is to be hoped that Harriet will not be led off to slaughter this month merely to give unnecessary reassurance and to appease the "precautionary principle" - a concept which, according to the select committee, is now widely misused.
November 2006 ~ US readers told that FMD can kill humans and that the 2001 outbreak was caused by illegal pork being fed to livestock
A report about the consequences of a future FMD outbreak in the US, made by a DHS senior adviser at the Association for Intelligence Officers' annual convention in America, was reported and evidently misrepresented in a way that could not be allowed to pass without remark. The article, appearing on November 6 at http://www.govexec.com, prompted warmwell to send this email to the journalist concerned.
(Journalists continue to misreport the UK foot and mouth crisis. One is no longer surprised, for example, to see the number of animals slaughtered - which conservative estimates put at between ten and twelve million - reported as having been as low as four million.)
November 2006 ~ "authorities were not willing to use the U.S. real time PCR test for Foot and Mouth and neither would they use the differential test that discriminates vaccinated animals"
Stephen M. Apatow, Director of Research and Development, Humanitarian University Consortium Graduate Studies Center for Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Law, has sent a communication to colleagues
"As per our current discussion associated with molecular detection technologies, I would like to pass on the following reply by Roger Breeze to Alex Donaldson.Dr Breeze's letter is here.
In 2001, British authorities were not willing to use the U.S. real time PCR test for Foot and Mouth and neither would they use the differential test that discriminates vaccinated animals from those previously infected: both were rejected .."
November 2006 ~ "British Intelligence had been made aware of this U.S. technology previously and they were reminded again in February 2001."
The letter, written by Dr Breeze on November 2nd as a courteous response to the letter to ProMed from Alex Donaldson (see below), aims to set the record straight about the UK's refusal to use the offered real time PCR portable kit for on-site testing for foot and mouth - a refusal that led to the " non-validated techniques of mathematical modeling and contiguous culling that resulted in the slaughter of millions of uninfected animals and made the human, animal and financial costs of the outbreak far greater than they would otherwise have been.." The letter explains that
"British Intelligence had been made aware of this U.S. technology previously and they were reminded again in February 2001.The letter also examines the behaviour of those most influential in the rejection of the technology. Read.
In March 2001, my boss, the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), the world's largest and most respected agricultural research organization, asked me to approach British Veterinary authorities to offer them the new foot and mouth PCR test with its devices and Internet technology. It was on behalf of USDA and ARS that I contacted Dr. Donaldson and Mr. Jim Scudamore, the Chief Veterinary Officer, with the intent of first making the Institute of Animal Health comfortable with the technology and its science and then taking the portable devices into the regions of the country where disease was spreading..."
November 2006 ~ Did British authorities imagine that the ARS would offer a test that did not exist?
Dr Breeze's letter: Extract " ..In late summer 2001, the ARS Administrator, who was personally astonished at British failure to use the best technology, took a scientific team directly to Dr. King in his Cambridge University office to demonstrate the technology and share U.S foot and mouth test data but he was uninterested and we never heard from him again..." Read in full.
November 3 2006 ~ Disease levy "preposterous"
MP Tim Farron (Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming and Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale) has tabled an Early Day Motion protesting against plans that could result in a disease levy imposed on farmers.
"That this House believes that the economic, social and emotional costs of livestock disease fall most heavily on farmers, their families and their communities; recalls the huge cost to rural communities of the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001; notes the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' consultation which focuses on the financial cost of animal disease outbreaks; and opposes any move to place an animal disease levy on farmers as this would add insult to injury in cases of future outbreaks of the disease."There are today 14 signatures. He says, (see Cumberland News) "As we saw during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001, the emotional cost of these outbreaks weighs heavily on the farmers themselves, and I think it is preposterous that the government would want to burden them further. ..."
See also Dr Roger Breeze's article on Industry Cost Sharing advocating that Performance Benchmarks should be met both by government and by industry.
November 3 2006 ~ Harriet. Mark Harper has secured a Parliamentary debate
Mark Harper, MP for the Forest of Dean, has secured a Parliamentary debate with the Government on the future of Harriet. He says,
"I welcome this excellent opportunity to argue Harriet's case in Parliament with the Minister. I will now have the opportunity to put the arguments against Harriet's slaughter directly to the Minister. Harriet is a perfectly healthy cow. .. I hope the Minister will listen to the arguments .."The debate, entitled Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy regulations and pet cows will be held in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 7th November at 1pm. The debate can be watched online at http://www.parliamentlive.tv
November 3 2006 ~ "Misinformation has led to wild birds bearing major blame for transmission of the disease"
.... the trade in caged birds and human movements may well play a far more significant role in the spread of bird flu.... in some cases, these pathways have been underestimated and do not receive proportionate media exposure." Dr Vincent Martin - UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. See Bird Flu updates.
November 3 2006 ~"How can anyone justify the continuation of this sordid trade?"
asks Joyce de Silva in this Compassion in World Farming release about the nightmare journey of British calves in the middle of October. The number of young calves exported for veal production into Europe so far this year, since exports resumed in May, is 43,358. Those that survive face either a barren indoor environment of wooden slatted floors, steel bars and concrete or will be confined alone in veal crates - a practice which has been illegal in the UK for 16 years.
As Alan Bennett says (Untold Stories p293): "In fifty years' time I am sure that we will not handle animals the way we do now and to succeeding generations our behaviour will seem as barbarous as bear baiting...."
November 2 2006 ~ Uruguay farmers vaccinate their calves
See www.espectador.com The new FMD mass vaccination campaign starting this week in Uruguay will vaccinate all calves born from January to August 2006 . Calves born between September and October will be vaccinated in February 2007. The Uruguay Ministry of Agriculture will make available 1,230,000 vaccine doses to its farmers throughout the country (who will then vaccinate the animals themselves, as in 2001).
(For sending a link to this information, Warmwell is grateful to FMD News, a service provided by the FMD Surveillance and Modeling Laboratory, University of California at Davis.)
November 1 2006 ~ "Do you know whether Defra sent a vet to the source farm?"
A Devon farmer has sent us copies of two emails sent this morning to BBC's Farming Today. We take particular note of the following question.
"Does Farming Today know whether Defra sent a vet to the source farm and if movement restrictions were imposed on it? If these elementary precautions were not taken, it seems that a repetition of the disastrous chain of events in 2001 were prevented by the luck that it was a false alarm. Can the Farming Today team shed any light on this - rather important - matter?"Warmwell, too, would be very interested to know- from any source - if rapid on site diagnostic testing was carried out on the suspect Lincolnshire farm as soon as the suspected FMD case was discovered.
November 1 2006 ~ Disease compensation: "concerted lobbying campaign by the main UK farming unions and DEFRA in Brussels has forced a rethink"
Warmwell reported in September that EU officials had sought - under the commission's own authority, and without the involvement of the European parliament or the Council of Ministers - to cut the rate of compensation from 100% to 75% as part of a review of the rules surrounding national state aids. Payments would have been restricted to farmers who had lost at least 30% of production, and only to small- and medium-sized businesses.
Farmers Weekly reported last week
"concerted lobbying campaign by the main UK farming unions and DEFRA in Brussels has forced a rethink. A new proposal was presented to a member- state working group this week with all the restrictions removed."FWi quotes NFU Scotland president, John Kinnaird: "Anyone who faced the horror of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 knows the impact that disease outbreaks have. Reducing aid to farmers in times like these would have been potentially disastrous."
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