Critical report of Foot-and-Mouth crisis to be adopted

The Government's handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis traumatised farmers
and broke animal welfare laws, according to a report to be adopted by

A European Parliament committee of inquiry blames officialdom for adding to
farmers' woes with red tape and bureaucratic delays in disposing of
slaughtered animals.

It warned a mass cull on the scale conducted by the Government during the
2001 crisis "will not be publicly acceptable again".

And it said in any future crisis, emergency vaccination must be a first
choice option and not a last resort - something the Government has already

The report, the result of the year-long inquiry by a cross-party panel of
MEPs, was described by Caroline Lucas, the inquiry's vice president and
Green Party MEP for South East England, as a "damning indictment" of the
Government's response to the crisis.

Tory agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament Neil Parish said it
proved the government "got it wrong" and failed to listen to rural

But Labour agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, Gordon Adam,
said the report contained "unsubstantiated" opinions, including claims the
Government was no better prepared for an outbreak now than before.

It also relied mainly on "hindsight", and Mr Adam pointed out that on the
day the first UK case was confirmed, 57 farms in 16 counties were already
infected - far beyond the scale of any reasonable contingency planning.

The findings, which have no legal force, recognise the Government's
emergency measures complied with EU criteria for tackling foot-and-mouth

But it was wrongly assumed that the disease would remain localised, with no
more than 10 outbreaks. In the end, the unprecedented outbreak contained 12
"mini epidemics".

Story filed: 17:47 Monday 16th December 2002