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".....Professor Derek Ellwood lives on the shore of Derwent Water. The former director of the Government's pathenogenic microbe lab at Porton Down, he has worked with deadly human viruses such as Ebola and HIV, and he is scathing about the way the epidemic ran out of control...."

Extract from http://www.observer.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4170643,00.html

Why farming will never be the same

Sunday April 15, 2001 The Observer

David Rose

"........The most shocking thing is that contrary to Maff spin, if we had adopted vaccination at the start of the outbreak, we would merely have been carrying out official EU scientific policy. In March 1999, the European Commission adopted the Strategy for Emergency Vaccination against Foot and Mouth Disease, the work of its scientific committee on animal health and welfare. Vaccination, the report said, can achieve several objectives: a reduction in numbers of infected animals; the slowing of the spread of the disease; the reduction of economic loss. It also set out criteria for when this would be the best course to adopt, many of which were clearly met in Britain when the epidemic was beginning: a high density of animals in affected areas; evidence of widespread animal movement; a suitable vaccine available; a steeply rising incidence of cases.

There are eminent British scientists who agree. Professor Derek Ellwood lives on the shore of Derwent Water. The former director of the Government's pathenogenic microbe lab at Porton Down, he has worked with deadly human viruses such as Ebola and HIV, and he is scathing about the way the epidemic ran out of control. 'There was no proper, open debate about what to do, especially over vaccines. The scale of the outbreak could have been massively reduced, and there would have been no need for many of the Draconian measures which have been introduced.' His own research leads him to conclude that airborne spread is far easier than Maff will allow - suggesting the effectiveness of slaughter will always be very limited.

So why did Maff and Brown so easily disregard all this advice? Partly, perhaps, for cultural reasons: as the historian Michael Worboys points out in his book Spreading Germs , slaughter, rather than vaccination or treatment, has been the preferred way to deal with livestock illness since the cattle plague of 1865. But also, inevitably, because of the power of agribusiness. The NFU ensured that when vaccination might have been seriously effective, in the last week of February, it was not seriously considered. A fortnight ago, when Brown was last dithering over whether to authorise vaccination, he was headed off again by the NFU. Its deputy director general, Ian Gardiner, insisted 'we are moving into the endgame'. In Cumbria, Devon, Dumfries and Gloucestershire last week, that was beginning to look like a criminal delusion.

And so it is that over the length of Britain we begin to count a vast and rising cost, and the despair and anger mount. ..." Read in full