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Foot and Mouth. Nothing much of value has changed in policy since 2001

  • The Contingency Plan fails to recognise that FMD is a very tricky disease to diagnose - as we saw in 2001 when many animals were misdiagnosed.

  • Can the UK realistically go on putting the responsibility for non vaccination at the feet of the OIE trade rules?

  • It would seem that the Chief Veterinary Officer, Mr Nigel Gibbens, and DEFRA are not aware of the need to validate DIVA vaccines and tests.

  • An objection given on "Farming Today" from Mr Nigel Gibbens was the length of time he said it would take to re-establish our credentials as being FMD free:

  • Decision making on the question of vaccination is taken with the interests of the few - ie the meat export trade - in mind, rather than the many - the ordinary livestock farmers, smallholders and local producers.

  • The meat trade's claim that UK consumers would balk at eating the products from vaccinated animals was reported in the Veterinary Record in January as the reason why vaccination was discounted in the recent Silver Birch exercise.

  • It has never been publicly acknowledged that the premises and assumptions of the Imperial College mathematical model were faulty in almost every possible way - It was, however, the driver for the contiguous cull policy that intended for all susceptible animals in a map-drawn 3 km circle around a supposed IP to be "culled out" - usually without being tested.

  • The "permanently operational expert group to maintain expertise in order to assist the competent authority in ensuring preparedness against an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease", prescribed by EU Council Directive, has not been set up.

  • Will those whose responsibility it is to solve the next outbreak have a clear idea beforehand of the actual steps to be followed?

  • There are higher principles in question here, questions of legality and human freedoms - not to mention compassion and decency.