DUTCH SLAUGHTER: ( On September 15th 2001, Jane Barribal - (Farmtalking.org ) received from Peter Poll, a Veterinary Surgeon in Holland the following message:

......there is something morally and ethically absolutely wrong

In spring 2001 when Foot & Mouth Disease manifested itself in the UK, the Royal Dutch Veterinary Association (equivalent of the BVA) invited all veterinary surgeons to form a volunteers pool, in case this disease would come to the continent, and so I found myself in the crisis centre on March 21, when a very severe suspicion on a calf and goatfarm existed.

Together with colleagues and laystaff I worked in "screening" (looking for clinical signs, taking blood samples and checking paperwork). After approx. 14 days I was transferred to a slaughterhouse, where the killing and destruction of the animals (260,000 in all) from the designated area took place. My task was "supervision of humane slaughter and of desinfection of vehicles". I did this for another two weeks; at the end of that period I found myself emotionally exhausted to such a degree, that I withdrew from the whole thing.

My reason for cooperation up to that time was that we had a national emergency on our hands, that we had to try and get the outbreak under control with the means available at the moment, and that it was necessary to have "all hands on deck".

Where do we go from here?

Now that the situation in the Netherlands is under control (at least, that is what we hope and pray for!) it is time for reflexion.

I have come to the conclusion, with regard also to the situation in the UK, that this policy is contrary to everything that veterinary medicine stands for and is thus unacceptable. If this was Chernobyl(radioactivity, danger to human health, no means of preventing or combatting contamination) it would be a totally different matter, and draconic measures would be justified. Up till 1991 we have used and tested a system of vaccination, and it is my absolute conviction that it should be re-introduced. Our RDVA has a motto: 'Animalium hominumque saluti', in English 'To the well-being of animals and people' (I?m not a linguist, this is the best I can do!). There are several reasons not to accept any longer what is going on: economically, the estimates of the cost of an outbreak in the Netherlands that were made in 1991 were totally wrong. It was suggested that an outbreak and the following stamping-out would cost 450 million guilder (approx 125 million pound), the actual cost is now estimated at 2.5 billion guilder (approx 700 million pound). And how shall we calculate animal and human suffering, social unrest, "the threat to rural life" as was recently said in the UK?! But futhermore there is something morally and ethically absolutely wrong. To me, there is an essential difference between food production and destruction. How shall we explain the images shown again and again on TV, to our children and grandchildren? Therefore I have, together with a group of colleagues, proposed a motion for our Annual General Meeting on october 6th. The content is: - that many veterinary surgeons have loyally cooperated during the crisis
- that, with continuing non-vaccination policy, a new outbreak in the near future can be predicted with a probability of nearly 100%
- that we find the consequences unacceptable for animals, farmers, veterinary surgeons and many others concerned, especially in the light of a alternative with proven efficacy,
- that, if the non-vaccination policy is continued, we will no longer cooperate in an eradication program as carried out in spring 2001
- and that we instruct the Board of the RDVA to negotiate with the Government and the industry about the conditions, under which we will resume those tasks.
There is a more than reasonable chance that the meeting will accept and support the motion, especially now that the Board has pledged its support.

We have, in the past, warned about what would happen, pleaded to change the policy, written scientific studies about the consequences, pleaded in Brussels (almost on our knees!) to rethink, all to no avail. Now we have only one tool left: to strike. It is a very heavy weapon, one most think umpty times before one uses it, it is very strange to our profession, but now we find ourselves in a situation where there is no other method left.

It is time for veterinary surgeons to look in the mirror, ask themselves where they stand and then, also and especialy in the UK which is so dramatically suffering under this crisis, "to stand up and be counted".

It is still necessary to get all hands on deck, for if we want to have any impact in discussions in Brussels and with the OIE, Holland alone will probably not be able to change the policy.

We are dealing with the equivalent of a huge oil-tanker, and to stop it in its tracks and make a U-turn, a lot of force is necessary. Don?t underestimate all the inflated egos, that will need a lot of convincing before they admit that they were wrong!

Peter Poll PhD. DVM.

Dutch vet fights the EU orgy of slaughter

The policy against foot and mouth vaccination is under pressure, writes Charles Clover in Arnhem PETER POLL, a small animals vet recalled from retirement during Holland's foot and mouth outbreak, is an unlikely revolutionary. But the uprising he has begun could end the orgy of slaughter that is Europe's way of fighting the disease. Dr Poll, 68, worked for the Dutch government during the vaccination and slaughter of 260,000 animals in Holland after an outbreak of cases on 26 farms last March. But he now says that if the policy of slaughtering vaccinated animals remained, he would not do so again. Dr Poll is not alone. He and 10 other vets have tabled a motion for a meeting of the Royal Dutch Veterinary Association on Oct 6 warning that the profession would go on strike if slaughter on the scale seen this year - 10,000 animals per case of infection, compared with 1,900 per case in Britain - were called for again. To Dr Poll's delight, his motion has been accepted by his professional body with one small amendment. It is likely to win majority support.The vets' revolt has stiffened the resolve of the Dutch government, which is already seeking - with the support of Holland's main farming union - to persuade Brussels to change the rules governing the eradication of the disease to allow vaccinated animals to live and their meat and milk to be consumed. Vaccination has proved popular in Holland as it stopped the foot and mouth outbreak in two weeks.

But the subsequent slaughter of thousands of inoculated but healthy animals has caused widespread revulsion. Unlike in Britain, where the Government's policy of all-out slaughter has met with only muted criticism from the RSPCA, the slaughter drew criticism from animal welfare groups.

The EU's Standing Veterinary Committee currently rules that vaccination may be used to damp down outbreaks. But all vaccinated animals must be slaughtered, or a year must elapse, before trade with other countries may resume. ...The (Dutch) decision to vaccinate was taken partly to "damp down" the outbreak and partly because the government foresaw difficulties disposing of thousands of carcasses all at once. It chose vaccination so it could kill the animals in slaughterhouses instead of on farms and dispose of them through rendering plants. The result, though tastefully removed from public sight, was carnage on a scale five times greater per case than in Britain. There were riots when officials notified farmers they would have their livestock vaccinated and then slaughtered. .........
It was assumed then that paying to slaughter in the event of an outbreak every 10 years would be cheaper than the cost of vaccinating as a matter of course; the cost of slaughter and disposal has turned out to be five times higher than assumed. The Dutch Farmers' Union is equally adamant that the policy of vaccination and slaughter must be abandoned. Siamyjan Schenk, the chairman of the union's cattle division, said:

"It is an ethical problem.

.............Farmers concede this would have major implications, such as an end to the trade in livestock products with America. Jan Markink, a pig farmer and chairman of the union's pig division in the region where the disease broke out, said:

"European trade with the United States is perhaps five or six per cent of the market. Losing five or six per cent of trade is better than losing all of it with each other."

Sept 7

Alan Beat's comment at the time: comment: We are less than happy with the statistical presentation used in the above argument. To talk of 10,000 animals slaughtered per infected premises, and five times as many as in the UK per case, is a travesty. The significant figure is that 260,000 were slaughtered in total, compared to - well, who knows how many millions in the UK and its not over yet. The Dutch lost quarter of a million, the UK has lost maybe 8 million so far and still rising. They stopped the disease in one month, we have allowed it to run on for over six months. In a war, the final body count is what matters, not some statistical wizardry. And if they hadn't decided to slaughter the vaccinates, the Dutch would have lost only 60,000 animals . . . . . .