Following the widespread circulation via the Internet of Alan's critical
analysis of computer modelling mythology, we have received this unsolicited
Dear Mr Beat,
I have read your data on the internet with interest. I have spoken to
Professor Woolhouse and also to Professor Anderson and both agree that
the data input without sensitive molecular testing for the organism was
unsatisfactory. Unfortunately none of the contigious culled animals
were tested and so we have no data on the efficacy of the policy which
they promulgated. This is of course convenient. I agree that the
modelling must be very poor because of the inadequate data .
Yours sincerely, Dr Colin Fink
Our comment: Colin Fink is a virologist working for an independent UK
laboratory; Professors Woolhouse and Anderson are the main architects of the
two modelling groups at Edinburgh and Imperial College respectively. Alan
spoke to Dr Fink by telephone and he confirmed that the data available to
the modellers from DEFRA was completely inadequate to justify the claims
that the two groups are making for the efficacy of contiguous culling etc.
He also confirmed his willingness to be the "expert" opinion that newspapers
could quote on such matters in place of Alan - so we are trying to set that
Meanwhile, Alan has spent much of the day studying the Edinburgh team's
paper, sent to him by Andrew King of Pirbright. In broad terms, it is "more
of the same" with a few refinements but still using deeply flawed
assumptions. It won't be difficult to discredit this one either!
Roger now adds to his discussion with Andrew King, following what we
described as a disappointing response from AK last time:
Thanks for the reply from Andrew King at Pirbright. The reply is not at all
disappointing. Here is my response.
You make 2 interesting points in your reply to my comments about FMD
1. You accept that is useful to compare FMD and the common cold. This is a
change in your position. Previously you called the common cold a distant
relative of FMD. FMD and the common cold are both picornoviruses. They have
a small +-sense single strand RNA genome and infect the upper respiratory
tract of mammals.
2. You point out that I am suggesting that they have different methods of
and correctly challenge me to explain why.
I will do this by using Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection,
which we agree is relevant.
Originally cattle and men moved about freely in groups. Transmission of FMD
and the common cold would have been similar.
 head to head within groups
 through mud at drinking places and by wind blown aerosols, between
However that has changed over that past 5 000 years and so each virus has
evolved in response to the changed situation.
Cattle are now domesticated, that is moved by people Herds rarely come into
People remain free to move in a man made environment.
FMD virus that stick to and can be moved by people will be selectively
Common cold virus that sticks to human-made objects, such as doorknobs will
You agree that human-made objects spread colds. Research into the recent
outbreak in UK says FMD transmission is not by wind but by movement of
animals and people.
FMD transmission is now mainly animal-human-animal.
Common cold transmission is now mainly human-artefact-human.
The differences between transmission of FMD and the human common cold are
real and consistent with accepted theory.
Neither evidence nor theory supports the carrier state concept. It is
however used effectively to discredit vaccination as a policy.
I have just read and signed the online petition:
"Oppose the Animal Health Bill"
hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, the free online petition
I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might
agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and
consider signing yourself.
Hi Alan and Rosie,
I was rather surprised to see where the Warmwell site comes from. As it was
so full of info I thought perhaps it was a team of scientists who had set
it up. Well done that lady. I think she deserves a medal.
With regard to the correspondance with Andrew King in last night's
Newsletter, I can't resist observing that judging by the quality of most of
the MAFF/DEFRA 'intelligence', I find it difficult to place much trust on
their statistics. I am certainly not surprised to read that they haven't a
clue about the reasons for the spread of the majority of infections. I am
reminded of the confident pronouncements that the spread of the disease had
never been found to be caused by walkers. Since in my experience, many
walkers wander from the line of the public footpaths and that I, as the
farmer on the spot don't necessarily know when a walker has crossed on or
off the paths on my own farm, I know that MAFF had no reliable data on which
to base their advice on walkers and footpaths. I listened to their
politically expedient pronouncements with no surprise - but did not conclude
as MAFF/DEFRA did that walkers don't spread infection.
I am also disturbed by Andrew's logic in comparing the 1967/8 outbreak with
this year's. He writes:
"Whatever the reasons, in 1967/8 there was no contiguous cull policy and
only IPs were slaughtered out. The comparison with today's experience is
interesting. There were more cases in 1967/8 than in this year's more
dangerous, and geographically dispersed, SERIES of epidemics in Britain. The
modellers say that, if the contiguous cull policy had been adopted from the
beginning, the number of animals needing to be destroyed would have been
many FEWER than actually were destroyed, whereas, if IP culling only had
been adopted, three and a half times as many animals would have had to be
destroyed before the disease was eradicated (in fact, the epidemic would
still be raging). In short, you have to be cruel to be kind."
The structure of farming has changed so radically since 1967, that
comparisons in terms of numbers of "cases" seem to me to be misleading and
of little value. Without looking up the exact statistics, there are so many
fewer farms now than in 1967, and the whole structure of the farms, their
internal organisation and ownership of outlying parcels of land are so
different that the numbers of cases don't compare the same thing at all and
must be a very unreliable basis for analysis. One only has to compare the
numbers of animals slaughtered per "case" to see the vast difference. One
case this year would have represented many cases in 1967. The EU directives
regarding FMD allow for the slaughter of groups of animals within any one
farm; and would not necessarily require the slaughter of all the animals on
the IP, let alone the contiguous farms. In terms of 1967, one IP slaughter
could be interpreted as including a full contiguous slaughter within its own
boundaries.... I am afraid that I am not convinced by Andrew's thinking
Our comment: We fully agree with Lawrence's observations on Andrew King.
We have always argued that the measure of the epidemic is the number of dead
bodies counted, however they are arrived at. Indeed the cynical view is
that the contiguous cull was designed to reduce the number of "cases" by
killing these animals out before disease could be detected, thus falsely
deflating the IP figures at the expense of a higher overall slaughter total,
thus confirming the illusion of "control" before the general election.
Now of course, we're not cynical . . . . . . . . .
Re another committee: NFMG, Warmwell., Farmtalking, Hearts of Britain,
Farmers for Action...I second RN, join the Countryside Alliance whose
membership interests cover all aspects of the countryside.
As seen in the Explanatory notes for the new Bill:
51. The Regulatory Impact Assessment for the FMD provisions concludes that
the benefits of introducing additional control measures to tackle the
outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease and future animal diseases outweigh the
costs. Almost all the provisions will only affect farmers and others whose
stock are slaughtered for disease control purposes. The Bill will not in
itself impose any additional costs on farm businesses which are meeting
current requirements as it does not introduce any new obligations. The main
benefits of the measures would be to allow a more flexible and effective
slaughter policy, more effective enforcement of existing disease control
obligations and the creation of a positive incentive for farmers to comply
with these obligations. Quicker containment and eradication of the disease
would indirectly benefit all farmers, other sectors of the rural economy and
the taxpayer in general.
Clearly there is an absolute determination to change the face of farming in
As with FMD free status and marketing ploys, I feel sure that this is part
and parcel, although there may still be anxiety to the idiots that scrapie
and BSE masking might be occurring and in the interests of public health
the government will use that point to rationalise what the Bill proposes.
If I can offer a possible explanation (not justification), to the mindset
of politicians (stated simply in order that I can attempt to understand
things), 'they' are used to hearing the opposing views of 'experts', they
therefore simply go with the view of the 'expert' that best suits their
As we have observed with FMD during this epidemic, despite historical
reference, effectiveness of vaccination in other countries and the pleas of
FMD experts for an altered method of dealing with an outbreak, anti culling
meetings and marches, resistance at farm gates; our farming community have
Unless this is nationally supported we may as well be whistling in the wind.
>THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP
>PRESS RELEASE: 5 November 2001
>ROYAL SOCIETY INQUIRY INTO FMD IS A FOREGONE CONCLUSISON
>Sir Brian Follett, Chairman of the RS Inquiry, has already made his views
>known on many of the key issues of the Inquiry, even though the Call for
>Detailed Evidence was only issued 3 weeks ago and the closing date for
>submissions is not until the 30 November 2001.
>Speaking to farmers in Cumbria Sir Brian Follett said "If anything, all the
>evidence points that we should continue with the present approach." He
>dismissed the prospect of protecting British livestock through vaccination,
>saying vaccination was not available. He also said that vaccination might
>not be possible for a decade.
>The NFMG Group and Compassion in World Farming had arranged for two leading
>world scientists in FMD, Dr Simon Barteling and Dr Paul Sutmoller to
>evidence to the Inquiry. Both scientists have widespread experience in
>controlling FMD throughout the world and in the use of vaccination to
>control. As yet the Inquiry has not heard any evidence from either of
>The Group, who had also been preparing other evidence to submit to the
>Inquiry, are dismayed. "We have been drawing together leading scientists,
>vets and other experts to present our case believing the Inquiry to be
>independent and were reassured at the scope and extent of the issues set
>in the Detailed Call for Evidence; vaccination being specifically
>We now hear that the Chairman of the Inquiry has already made up his mind
>many of the issues. We will be contacting Geoffrey Findlay, the secretariat
>to the Inquiry to find out exactly what is going on."
>Janet Bayley, who has been co-ordinating the expert submissions said "We
>liased with the Inqury in good faith and believed it to be fair and
>independent, but to determine the outcome before hearing all the evidence
>shattered our belief in its integrity. The Committee to the Inquiry has
>met since issuing the Call for Detailed Evidence, so how can it have
>The Call for Detailed Evidence specifically asked for views on vaccination,
>the issue of Disease Free Status, how effective were disease surveillance
>systems and diagnosis, and what methods of control for FMD should be
>We have learned today that the Inquiry has already heard from Jim Scudamore
>and Prof David King, and Prof Anderson of Imperial College, Ben Gill and
>the BVA and BCVA are also due to be heard. However, despite assurances
>the Secretariat that Dr Sutmoller and Dr Barteling would be asked to attend
>the Inquiry, they have not been approached.
>The pronouncments of Sir Brian Follett has already pre-empted the findings
>and the conclusion of the Inquiry. It has also called into question the
>validity and purpose of the Inquiry if the outcome is already determined.
>this stage in the Inquiry we are surprised to hear the Committe Chairman
>expressing any views at all, before all the evidence has been submitted.
>will also be contacting DEFRA to determine how the Government now intends
>Janet Bayley 01285. 644319 / 01285 656812
>Peter Woods - Vets for Vaccination 01452 523534 / 01452 520056
>Dr Barteling & Dr Sutmoller can be contacted via the National Foot & Mouth
From the Warmwell website (visit yourself at www.warmwell.com for full
details of the outline stories featured below plus much more):
Nov 5 ~ Extract from message sent urgently to members of the Welsh Assembly
and passed to Warmwell: FMD crisis and Auction Marts: The most important
debate concerning the future of the "Family Farm", hence the rural economy
takes place on Thursday 8th November. I cannot over emphasise the importance
of point 3 in the attached FMD FACTS. Carwyn Jones has been aware of our
evidence that contradicts MAFF's so-called proof since March. He has treated
us with disdain and failed to provide us with their "proof".
IT DOES NOT EXIST!!
Highly respected Veterinarians and Virologists agree with us. In Wales
MAFF/DEFRA continue to portray the most significant flagship of Welsh Lamb
in Europe, Welshpool Mart, as the cause of spreading FMD into Wales. It is
slanderous, libellous and defamatory nonsense. There are vested interests,
Supermarkets, that are exploiting the situation in order to remove
transparent competition in the food chain. They are in collusion with the
Government. The other points may be helpful in using science to fight off
the proposed Animal Health Amendment Bill."
Nov 5 ~ The more we hear about the apparently foregone conclusions of the
Royal Society's Inquiry the more alarmed we feel. In spite of the presence,
in the 15 strong group of advisers, of Professor Fred Brown, Sir Brian
Follett has already dismissed the prospect of protecting British livestock
saying vaccination was not available. He announced in Cumbria that there was
a need to find a vaccine "that really works". Britain could not find the
scientific solutions to make a radical change in policy in isolation, he
said. Professor Fred Brown FRS, who accepted an invitation to take part in
the inquiry says, (warmwell has the recording of his words): " evidence was
given to the Chief Scientist weeks ago by people with great experience in
the field that there is no evidence that a vaccinated animal will pass on
the virus to another animal...there has been no evidence that an animal that
has been vaccinated and then subsequently infected with disease ever passes
it on. And therefore the virus would die out." He added, "There are two
excellent examples of the value of vaccination. Number One: Europe. It used
to have 100,000 cases - that means farms in a year. It came down to zero by
this policy of vaccination and they vaccinated cattle. And that's what
happened. Number Two. Argentina, surrounded by all those other countries
with foot and mouth; Brazil, Columbia and so on, they had this policy of
vaccination and they got rid of it six years ago, no more cases. So they
kept on vaccinating for another five years. And then they had the president
going with the last shot of vaccine - oh yes, it was like Jefferson in the
United States with smallpox. And they stopped vaccinating. And within a year
they got an enormous outbreak. So vaccination works. I don't think there's
any doubt in that. And that's prophylactic vaccination, without subsequent
slaughter.". To suggest that there is "no vaccine" is surely preposterous.
Nov 5 ~ " The Animal Health Bill is an outrage," writes Magnus Linklater in
Scotland on Sunday.
It gives the government the right to slaughter any animal, including not
only cows and sheep, but family pets, horses, ponies, and even creatures
housed in zoos, if, in its view, they "pose a risk of spreading disease".
This means that if there is another foot and mouth scare, farmers or
householders will be deprived of the legal right to challenge the killing of
their animals. It is a savage and draconian piece of legislation, far worse
in its implications than the absurd Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991, which was
rushed through after the scare over pit-bull terriers, and was found to be
unworkable....The various inquiries which are examining FMD may well
conclude that the contiguous culls were invalid - that they failed to stop
the spread of the disease, and that they simply led to the slaughter of
millions of healthy animals. So far, Scottish ministers have not decided
whether they need more powers, and are holding off. I urge them to stay as
far away from this bill as they can get. (see full article)
Our comment: Also on www.warmwell.com is an examination of the proposed
Animal Health Bill by Stephen Smith QC, the barrister who successfully
defended "Grunty" the pig against culling. If you thought that some of the
comment about this new Bill was alarmist, you had better read Stephen's
expert opinion NOW.
Finally, please note that there will be no message tomorrow (Tuesday), hope
to resume on Wednesday.
from Alan & Rosie