NEWS RELEASE
From the office of the Green MEPs


17 December, 2002

GOVERNMENT FAILS TO DEFLECT FOOT & MOUTH CRITICISM

- GREEN MEP V-P CONDEMNS GOVERNMENT WHITEWASH BID

THE Government traumatized farmers, damaged health and the rural environment
and broke animal welfare rules during its handling of last year's foot and
mouth outbreak, according to a report adopted by the European Parliament
today.

Vaccination should replace the disastrous contiguous cull as the response of
first choice in any future outbreak, the report also concludes.

The report was adopted by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today after
almost a year of meetings, sifting evidence and visiting affected rural
communities by members of a specially appointed Temporary Committee into the
outbreak. The committee's Vice-President, Green MEP Caroline Lucas, welcomed
the report.

She told the Strasbourg Parliament: "It is quite clear from the evidence we
received and the communities we visited that much of the blame for the
devastation which followed the outbreak lies at the door of the British
government."

Dr Lucas added: "I'm particularly pleased that the Parliament has rejected
attempts by Labour to water down the report and to re-write history.

"Their efforts to pretend that their were no violations of animal welfare,
no intimidation of farmers, no health or environmental effects from pyres
and burial sites were a cynical attempt to whitewash the past with no basis
in fact."


Labour MEPs led by Gordon Adam lost their fight to water down the report by
removing criticism of the Government. First, they opposed the establishment
of an inquiry, then they tried to limit its working life to six months and
today, they introduced amendments seeking to remove references to the trauma
suffered by farmers, breaches in animal welfare and environmental
legislation, and the failure of the contiguous cull policy - which led to
the unnecessary slaughter of over 10 million animals - to curb the spread of
the disease.

The report's key findings include:

7             The decision to operate a contiguous cull policy rather than
vaccination was taken to protect meat export markets - but resulted in a far
greater economic loss to affected communities from the collapse of tourism
and other industries. Vaccination must take precedence in dealing with any
future outbreak
7             Farmers were 'intimidated' and 'pressurised' in connection
with the culls
7             Burning pyres and mass burial sites caused environmental and
health ill-effects

Dr Lucas added: "People would have a lot more respect for the Government if
it could just bring itself to admit that it got things wrong and apologise.
For as long as it seeks to dodge responsibility and criticism there can be
no guarantee that it won't act exactly the same way again."

ENDS