Written to the Newcastle Journal by Alan Beat.

The letter on Foot and Mouth from Gordon Adam MEP published on 5th July demands a reply, as in my opinion it misleads your readers.

He writes "vaccination could not have brought the outbreak under control in Britain because of the widespread infection before the disease was confirmed." In fact, the EU committee has received a considerable weight of evidence, from leading veterinary scientists all over the world, to the opposite effect; that vaccination should have been used precisely because the epidemic was widespread - these are the very conditions that demand vaccination in place of slaughter.

I gave evidence to the EU committee concerning the Ururguay 2001 epidemic, similar in all main respects to the UK epidemic, but extinguished faster and at vastly lower cost, by means of vaccination. Afterwards I personally supplied Mr Adams with a copy of the data, so he cannot now claim to be unaware of it. This is just one example among many of the effective use of vaccination against FMD.

He continues "there are not yet available reliable vaccines or tests". This is not true. Modern vaccines are highly efficient and are used extensively across two-thirds of the world. Tests that distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals have been commercially available for several years - all that has been lacking is the political will to validate and use them.

Finally he makes the point that "vaccination without subsequent slaughter has trading implications" but he omits to mention that the OIE, the international body that regulates such matters, has recently reduced the trading standstill from twelve months to six when vaccination-to-live is used, precisely because the existing tests justify this change. There are powerful arguments that this six month standstill should be further reduced to three in the near future, so that both vaccination and slaughter will have identical trading consequences.

I sincerely hope that other MEPs serving on this committee have more open minds than Mr Adam has demonstrated.

Yours faithfully
Alan Beat
Smallholders Online www.smallholders.org
The Bridge Mill, Bridgerule, Holsworthy, Devon EX22 7EL