MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
FOOT AND MOUTH TEMPORARY
COMMITTEE VISIT TO WALES AND SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION
The committee has two broad tasks to consider. 'What needs to be done at
worldwide level to reduce or eliminate the incidence of foot and mouth disease
and at European level to prevent the disease from entering Europe? Further, we
have to ensure that the European Union arrangements can be carried out
effectively by Member States.
1 All the evidence so far is that a future
outbreak will occur. Therefore, the committee must consider what government and
farmers should do: a) on a suspected outbreak and b) on a confirmed outbreak. We
must ascertain what measures are needed to bring it quickly under control and
limit the economic impact on the rural community.
As the farm where the
outbreak almost certainly began is only a few miles from my home, 1 have already
had much insight into the impact of foot and mouth disease and 1 have found that
the question most frequently asked by my constituents is "what can be done to
prevent bad farming practice?" The committee would benefit from answers to this
question. Further questions are what can be done to improve recognition of the
disease by farmers and livestock handlers'? How was the disease transmitted and
whether countrvside access can lead to accidental spread?
Then there is
the contentious topic of culling and vaccination. So far, there has been no
convincing evidence presented to the committee that a vaccination policy would
have brought the disease under control more quickly and reduced the number of
animals slaughtered. It would be helpful to have detailed evidence of how a
vaccination policy could be employed after an outbreak and in what circumstances
slaughter would subsequently take place. It should be remembered that the
Standing Veterinary Committee of the European Union was unanimous in approving
the control measures employed and therefore, any major policy change must
convince fourteen other Member States.
The influence of the European
Parliament in determining future policy towards foot and mouth disease will be
strengthened by a unanimous report. Political self-indulgence in government
bashing carries little weight in European councils. Our concerns have to be
control of the disease and support for rural communities.
Your comments on these or related issues would be welcome so please
contact me using the details above.
Dr. Gordon Adam
MEP North East
Labour European Spokesperson for Agriculture and Rural Affairs