This message group has a number of overseas members and it's interesting to learn of the perception abroad of the UK situation. This came from Bonnie in San Francisco:

When I read Mrs Beckett's statement about how she'll "bear down", all hope for the new regime went out the window.

I thought of our bombing of Cambodia, in the Vietnam war--In the face of defeat, try total, all out escalation. Moving up into more recent history, the phrase "ethnic cleansing" comes to mind, call it "biological ethnic cleansing," with all the evil it connotes.

Along those lines, we note an increasing use of the word "bio-security" in government issues. A very chilling phrase. Robert says the animals are just the canary. In other words, the potential down the road for even greater (harm? damage? Evil?) seems very present and possible if people do not stay extremely awake.

Ripple effect of FMD has reached us in the seemingly innocuous new restrictions in our Marin County Fair (Marin is a landscape rather like the Dales). So now, people are not allowed to wander around with their hot dogs or popcorn in places where animals are penned. Fences are put up so that people may not touch animals. (Imagine life where you can't touch animals!) Signs everywhere will warn against and decline admission to people who have visited abroad in the last 5 days.

With all that paranoia, general American knowledge about the disease is pitiful. At a lawn party yesterday, the topic came up and I asked a (very educated and elegant) woman what she knew about FMD. She shrugged and gave an embarrassed smile and said, "Well, not much really. I just know they've killed 90% of their cows over there." Yikes.

ENDS

We decided to check up on the Dutch situation and E-mailed our friend over there as follows:

Hello Betty,

>Why did the Dutch government decide to slaughter all the vaccinated animals? >Was it to regain FMD free status faster than if they were left alive? Would >FMD free status have been lost at all (see Michaela's message below)?: > >"Forgot to say... there was a meeting with 2 Dutch vets in London. Holland >has never lost its FMD free status as a result of vaccination. Apparently a >% of vaccinates in the population are allowed. This is surely published >somewhere, somebody responsible knows!" > >Also can you please confirm how many animals have been slaughtered: >1. in general culling >2. as vaccinated animals > >Thank you > >Alan

Dear Alan & Rosie,

The vaccinated animals were slaughtered because otherwise Holland would have been closed for one year. The options slaughter or live was rapidly turned into slaughter, adviced by LTO (Dutch Maff) because of export status. In general about 270,000 animals were slaughtered. About 200,000 of them were vaccinated. 2800 farms (big and little) were involved. This weekend there was a little article in our newspaper saying: 'Animals in the Zoo but also rare sheep breeds can be vaccinated for FMD without a country losing its FMD fee status ". This should be in the new rules of the OIE, Willem Schaftenaar of Rotterdam Zoo told me so, but I was not yet able to find it. I will ask him were to look. These are new recent rules. But still, non vaccination is a gospel.

All the best, Betty

Our comment: This sounds to us like progress - a small step, but progress nonetheless.

Of course the UK has a scheme to "spare" rare breeds from slaughter under a host of special circumstances, but we have not seen any reference in this country to zoo animals being exempt, nor vaccination for either category. Anyone know different?

We seem to remember reading that Holland could regain FMD free status within six months if vaccinates were slaughtered.

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Michaela sent us this report from the meeting in Wales:

The meeting was 'interesting' and was hugely attended. It had been organised by the Farmers Unions; NFU and NWFU, with Gareth Jones, DEFRA Operational Officer (Wales) and Tony Edwards CVO, as Welsh Assembly messengers in the hot seats.

The objectives were to dispel myths of extended culling, hotel bookings, cancelled police leave (all refuted) and to answer practical questions posed by farmers. The vaccination question came up as usual with Tony Edwards trotting out the usual excuses. Very unfortunately for him Ruth Watkins (virologist) was there and he had to publicly acknowledge that he really did not have much of a clue and could offer no sensible reason as to why government has/, continues to refute vaccination.

A former MAFF vet from Devon had the opportunity to voice his abhorrence at the false certification and bully tactics that have taken place in Devon. What transpired though is that it is now a month since the last 'infected' case in Wales and testing is underway with a vengeance. For the first time a 7km testing 'donut?' has been mooted.

There was the admission that animals with antibody would be slaughtered despite there being no evidence of recovered animals infecting healthy ones.

They have no idea as to how long all the testing will take, when markets are likely to re-open, no idea as to what to do regarding the September sheep sales, when most sheep farmers make the bulk of their years income and no solution to the forage supply problem.

They admitted that they are dancing to Brussels tune

and Brussels has not decided exactly what criteria will be imposed before an export trade will again be contemplated. What they heard from the farmers was a great deal of disquiet. What the farmers got was nothing. I had a real sense though that come autumn, and no solutions, farmers will find their own way. ENDS

The same meeting was reported like this on the Farmers Weekly website:

19 June 2001 Vet warns of five-year export ban

By Robert Davies, Wales Correspondent

ANY moves to resume full-scale livestock trading without approval from Brussels could result in a five-year export ban, a leading vet has warned.

Producers within foot-and-mouth restricted areas can only trade within these areas, limiting outlets for stock. They are calling for access to other markets.

But at a NFU Wales meeting at Builth Wells on Monday (18 June) night, Wales's chief vet Tony Edwards cautioned against rushing to resume full trading.

If this took place before blood testing was complete, and without approval from the EU standing veterinary committee, a five-year ban could result. At present, exports should be able to resume three months after the last foot-and-mouth case, provided blood testing of sheep in infected areas is complete. "Until blood testing is complete Europe will insist on a standstill in intra- community trade," Mr Edwards told a packed audience of 650 farmers.

"We are very aware of problems stacking up on farms, but we have to balance disease control against the needs of the industry and animal welfare."

Only a dozen positive results had been found among the 67,000 blood samples taken in the 7km surveillance control zones around the 93 Welsh confirmed cases.

But Brussels wanted wider scale testing.

Mr Edwards acknowledged complaints of low prices resulting from restrictions on the movement of livestock in restricted areas direct to slaughter. He promised an announcement within three days covering cattle, but admitted that traceability problems made it more difficult to ease controls on sheep.

Gareth Jones, director of the Welsh National Assembly's foot-and-mouth control unit, was applauded when he dismissed rumours of a new mass cull of Welsh sheep.

But he was loudly jeered when he claimed that no healthy animals had been killed unnecessarily.

He hoped that the disease was under control but, as experience in north Yorkshire showed, it was vital to maintain bio-security measures.

The strongest attack on the way the epidemic was handled came from

consultant clinical virologist and farmer Dr Ruth Watkins.

She slammed the 'totally inaccurate' information about vaccination that was peddled by the NFU and others throughout the epidemic.

Dr Watkins insisted that the modern oil based vaccine was inexpensive at 50p/dose, very safe and very effective.

There were tests to distinguish between vaccinated animals and those exposed to the live virus, and no recorded case of a vaccinated animal infecting another.

All animals vaccinated to create firebreaks, which would have controlled the spread in days not weeks, would not need to be slaughtered, she said.

Mr Edwards said he had not made the rules by which the disease was controlled, and he conceded that the EU could decide to use vaccination in future. ENDS

Our comment: Note especially the reference to 12 positive test results out of 67,000 taken within 7 km of infected premises in Wales. Bear this in mind next time you hear or read the oft-repeated claim that "the disease is widespread in the sheep flock".

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From the BBC Devon website:

Meanwhile, the new agriculture ministry Defra is to to cull livestock on farms neighbouring the county's latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth, at Bondleigh, near North Tawton.

Blood tests on sheep at Clapperdown showed up the disease on Sunday. The tests were carried out as part of the process of lifting foot-and-mouth restrictions.

Government officials haven't yet decided if hundreds of other animals on contiguous premises will have to be killed because the incubation period for the disease has passed. Anthony Gibson, regional director of the NFU, believes further culling in that area would be pointless: "It is a difficult one for the Ministry. They found antibodies when they blood tested sheep at Bondleigh, then they found active virus when they took throat swabs. "But it is more than three weeks since there was any disease in that area and they have tested all the animals on all the neighbouring farms, so any disease would have been picked up in the blood testing," said Mr Gibson.

He added: "I frankly don't see what would be achieved by slaughtering animals on neighbouring farms which we know for a fact have not picked up the disease from these sheep."

ENDS

Meanwhile this gem appeared in the Western Morning News:

To date there have been seven cases around the village of Clayhanger, which is close to Stawley, and DEFRA officials are keen to stamp out the disease quickly. There were no new cases reported yesterday.

Mr Deane also observed that there seemed to be no clear consensus on the spread of the disease.

He said ministry vets dealing with the outbreak in Clayhanger had made the suggestion that it could have been in the sheep flocks in the area for some time.

They were considering the possibility the antibodies could lie dormant in the animals and were only triggered when the animal was stressed in some way.

At Clayhanger and North Tawton, where there has been sudden outbreaks of the virus with no apparent link, the common factor has been that sheep had been sheared in both places which could possible lead to a temporary change in body temperature triggering infection in the animals.

Our comment: Remember the 12 out of 67,000 positives? Yet the disease is still "dormant in the sheep"? And as for antibodies being "triggered" . . . . . . words fail us.

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Report from Radio Lancashire (June 18th):

"Over 200 people attending the meeting at Rainhall Road County Primary School, following last week's first outbreak in Barnoldswick, were stunned when he detailed the complaints.

Slaughtermen have reportedly been chasing cattle with quad bikes and forward drive vehicles until (the cattle were) exhausted, then shooting them with rifles, taking two or three shots." The RSPCA is investigating allegations that slaughtermen have acted with unnecessary cruelty when culling cattle infected with Foot and Mouth disease. RSPCA Inspector Richard Oddy revealed there had been six complaints of 'unwarranted cruelty' in East Lancashire during a heated meeting in Barnoldswick.

Said Mr Oddy:"I have received half a dozen a number complaints from farmers who have of culls not being done in a humane method."

Over 200 people attending the meeting at Rainhall Road County Primary School, following last week's first outbreak in Barnoldswick, were stunned when he detailed the complaints.

Slaughtermen have reportedly been chasing cattle with quad bikes and forward drive vehicles until exhausted, then shooting them with rifles, taking two or three shots.

He said:"It is totally unnecessary and causing a lot of suffering."

The RSPCA believe it is possibly one or two 'rogue teams' employed by the DEFRA (formerly MAFF) responsible for the cruelty. They are appealing for evidence from farms to take forward to the Agriculture ministry.

While there were reports of ill-treatment by some culling teams, others praised the sensitivity of the DEFRA's slaughtermen. Ministry condemned Those attending were angry with DEFRA and Gordon Prentice, Barnoldswick's MP, for failure to turn up for the crisis meeting.They declared a lack of confidence in the ministry's handling of the outbreak. Said Lord Greaves who chaired the meeting: "People of Barnoldswick don't believe the present policy is working and they are frightened that it will spread further." DEFRA's policy of 'contiguous culling' was condemned and those present called for vaccinations. He added: "Contiguous culling should stop.There is no evidence at all that it is working and almost certainly a policy of vaccination is going to have to be brought in." Lord Greaves will bring up the anxieties raised at the House of Lords next week. # # # # from Alan & Rosie