Further to the recent claim by Anthony Gibson of the NFU that nobody had
"thought" of vaccination in the early stages of the epidemic, Matthew sent
Dear A & R
Just thought you might be interested in the text of this email which I sent
A Gibson on the 22nd March 2001. Did I hear him say this week that no-one
was suggesting vaccination at that stage? He certainly replied to this
message at the time and I followed it with increasingly urgent requests for
NFU action as F&M cases spread towards us from the Hatherleigh area
Dear Mr Gibson
We are NFU members, a young couple with small children, struggling to make
an Organic farm work near Chulmleigh. Over the last 3 years we have
converted to Organic and diversified the farm business into a sustainable
food and woodland products enterprise. we have created 5 jobs on a farm that
was previously almost derelict.
If MAFF come and slaughter all our Organic stock we will find it extremely
difficult to replace them in the short to medium term. Jobs will be lost,
perhaps we will be unable to continue. There is a perfectly good and sound
alternative: vaccination without slaughter.
If you have not already done so please read the full text of the recent
paper from Elm Farm Research Centre, calling for vaccination. Available at
www.sheepdrove.com/why_vaccinate.htm Critically a TEST to determine whether
vaccinated animals have been exposed to infection is now likely to be
available. Vaccination without slaughter is a distinct possibility and,
potentially could enable us all to return to normal far sooner than the
current, inneffective, slaughter policy.
We are members of an informal Organic producers group locally. We have
something like 20 farms in our immediate area with Organic status who
represent the future of sustainable stock farming in this area. If we all
lose our animals there will be little chance of stocking again in the near
I implore you to help us pre-empt the uneconomic and destructive cull of
healthy livestock in this area by calling for a change of policy and for the
European committee deciding the availability of this new test to be pushed to
bring the decision forward, potentially enabling us to insist on a legal
option of vaccination.
PLEASE HELP US, WE MAY NOT HAVE MUCH TIME.
Lawrence sent this contribution:
Dear Alan and Rosie,
I haven't been paying much attention to the reporting of killings, blood
test results, etc. but after last night's Farmers for Action meeting at Blackmoor
Gate, I tried to find reports of Devon culls and blood test results. I
couldn't find anything apparent on my first look through [admittedly I
didn't search at length]. DEFRA site only seemed to report 'cases'. BBC Devon
didn't seem to report. I notice that a recent correspondent to warmwell
inbox has been highlighting the inadequate reporting of killings elsewhere.
Mary at warmwell asked me about positive antibodies being found at
Barnstaple. I haven't heard anything about positive results or culling at
Barnstaple but she may have heard this as a loose description of the
positive blood tests at the Western edge of Exmoor. Have you heard anything?
At last night's meeting, I heard about a positive blood test and sheep being
killed at Parracombe. I think that this must be the same as that reported
on 'Farming Today' as being at Kentisbury. That report said that 1,700 sheep
had been killed on the basis of one positive blood test and 25 inconclusive
results. The report said that no infected premises had been declared.
Martin, the farmer who told me about the positive tests at Parracombe has
sheep nearby and had gone through all the licencing performance to sell
seven rams. He had a great deal to say about the number of times his sheep had
been blood tested and the competence of the testers. After a particularly
fraught daylong session during which he accidentally floored one of the
testers, the Ministry team started to drive off, leaving the case of blood
samples on a straw bale. He had to call them back and point out the
mistake. It doesn't inspire much confidence in the subsequent handling of the
samples! The positive result knocked the ram sales on the head and he has
now given it up and turned them all out with his surprised ewes.
He also remarked to another Exmoor farmer on the number of helicopters
flying around. I asked what he made of this and he suggested that they were
spotting where the sheep are on Exmoor... He remarked on the reports of
infecting sheep with BSE in the laboratory by injection. "What's to stop
them dropping off a couple on Exmoor and then 'finding' them by blood
testing?" It would open the way for clearing Exmoor of sheep.
All this seems to be buried in secrecy, silence and apathy. There was more
despair and anxiety at the meeting than positive suggestions for action.
With best wishes
Lawrence had previously raised an enquiry about blood samples as follows:
One of my neighbours mentioned that her sheep were blood tested - and the
results came back negative... all OK. But as she was telling me a thought
came to her: she remarked that "they seemed to take an awful lot of blood
from each sheep. Do they carry out other tests on the samples; like tests
for BSE?" [or ?OSE?]
Have you any lines on this? The FMD Order gives Defra the right to take
blood tests to determine whether the animals have FMD. Does Defra have a
general power to take blood tests for other purposes, I wonder. Are they
using the opportunity provided by the availability of all those blood
samples to carry out other investigations?
So we raised the issue with Pirbright laboratory, to receive this response:
It is a good idea. But no! The only component of the blood that is tested is
the serum. This is prepared by leaving the blood to clot naturally and
allowing the clot to settle under gravity to the bottom of the tube, leaving
the clear serum to be poured off and tested for antibodies. [We have a small
army of technicians doing this who are called "blood tippers". The robotic
system does this too, and the ELISA test as well, but the ELISA part of the
automatic operation is still being validated. So the blood tippers are still
tipping away to their hearts' content.] The clots - revolting heaps of
them - are heat-sterilised and then thrown away along with all the red and
white blood cells that they contain. If one were testing for TSE
(transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, the generic term for BSE, CJD,
etc) it would be the white cells one would need, not the serum. So there is
no way samples can be tested for TSE. It would be difficult anyway to get
the samples out of the Restricted Area of Pirbright Laboratory to wherever
they do TSE testing; we certainly don't do it here.
Why they take so much blood in the first place I can't say. Maybe that's the
only kind of blood sample that vets have been taught to take. It is worth
noting that the clot occupies more than half of the original blood volume
and so the quantity of serum recovered is really quite small. And we need to
keep enough serum so that we can retest, e.g. by VNT, if necessary.
Adrian sent this almost unbelievable item:
I reckon we should drive a large lorry into Noble house - they've gone
Subject: Defra bans composting!
4th October 2001
I am writing to you as part of the Community
Composting Network. We are trying to build a coalition to tackle some very
bad decisions being made by DEFRA and the Environment Agency. I am about
to write a briefing paper on the subject, so I will try to keep this letter
short, and follow it up with the briefing paper.
On the 13th June the Environment Agency announced at the Institute of
Waste Management Conference an amendment to the Animal By-Products Order. It is
now illegal to compost organic kitchen waste from both domestic and commercial
sources, and then use the material on the land. Technically this includes
home composters as well, but it is unlikely that they would be prosecuted.
This is part of the fall out of Foot and Mouth Disease. The justification
is that all kitchen scraps could either include meat and dairy products or
have been in contact with meat in the kitchen. Infection could then be
passed to birds and livestock either during the composting process or while the compost is used outside.
There are countless problems with this line of thinking, and I don't see
them trying to ban the hazardous part, namely the sales of meat and dairy
produce. Instead they are quite clearly going for the wrong end of the
This ruling has several implications. One is the damage it will do to both
community and farm site composters. These are projects that have taken a
lot of hard work over the years and they are being disregarded in the name
of no vaccinations. It is unclear yet what will happen to a group if they
continue to compost, but they can and may be prosecuted. I can also say that local authorities such as Chesterfield
have had to abandon plans to start a kerbside collection round for organic
With these constraints community industries are being crushed and the
knock on effect is that there is less environmentally sustainable employment,
less training opportunities for the community and less educational
activities about sustainable environmental practice.
We will no longer be able to produce a valuable locally produced
alternative to shop bought peat based compost products. These are all
things provided by Community Composters
The second implication is what will happen to the waste instead. It is
either going to go to landfill or incineration. Landfill sites are hardly
free of birds and rats scavenging for food so this option is the same as
composting. Incinerators on the other hand need to stay at high
temperatures to burn the mix of chemicals they put in them 'safely'(?!),
and the reason behind Sheffield incinerator having one of the worst
in the country is that they put to much organic waste in, which takes us
back to composting.
This change in the regulations is not necessarily permanent and there is a
consultation process going on as we speak. It has been said that this
could take several months, but there have been hints that there could be
announcements in the next few weeks. We are assuming that, given the
history of short sightedness in environmental decision making in this
country, the decisions may well not go in our favour.
We would like to get this out to as many environmental groups and
journalists as possible, so that if they do, as we fear, make the wrong
decisions, then there
are as many people as possible to tackle the issue. Please circulate this
letter to anybody you think may be interested.
In the meantime you can contact Phillip Walker of the Environment agency
Philip.Walker@defra.gsi.gov.uk 020 7944 6404
Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs
7/F9 Ashdown House
123 Victoria Street
I look forward to working with you in the future.
for info on all that's going on in Sheffield check out:
Our comment: We agree with Adrian . . . . . .
Just read Lawrence's report re helicopters over Exmoor. This happened in
Wales and I believe in Scotland. I understand the flights took place at night
and white powder was sprayed from them. All knowledge of these flights was
denied by the MOD. There were witnesses who were very frightened. I
understand a sample of the powder was sent to Colin Finks who said he'd
never received it. Sue Hills in Wales was involved and there were several
letters in the Farmers Guardian. These events sound very alike. Sounds as
though the sheep on Exmoor are doomed. Can we do anything to stop this ?
Our comment: A year ago we would have laughed out loud at such "conspiracy
theory". But now, we are so disillusioned with the authorities that govern
our lives that we are not quite so sure. Can anyone out there add any
evidence to substantiate these rumours?
Video of Penrith meeting 27th July, with Dr. Ruth Watkins, Dr. Richard
North, Tom Lowther, Jane Barribal, Alistair McConnachie, David Maclean MP
for Penrith & the Border, Nick Green (and Les Armstong!). 1 Hour. For sale
Ten Pounds. All proceeds towards helping farmer A. Smallholder M. and
Smallholder C. Cheques to be made out to SAD, and sent to Stop Animal
Deaths, 1 Spinneyside, Brookfields, Wigton, Cumbria, CA7 0AF.
Also, sad to hear Big Demo on 20th cancelled because of terrorist fears. I
have sent train fare money instead to Janet Hughes for her fund to save the
Brecon Sheep. Suggest others may like to do the same.
Below is the full transcript of a letter in the Vet Record about what I
assume to be the SmartCycler machine - although it doesn't name it. Fred
Brown - who has tested it in the lab - thinks that it is exquisitely
sensitive. I no longer trust Dr Donaldson. I believe that Pirbright has
deliberately suppressed this machine, and now, like the mad modellers,
Donaldson is covering his back by suggesting that the machine's use in the
outbreak would have been disastrous. He is said to be developing a PCR
machine of his own and there is no doubt at all that Pirbright has
commercial interests in the development of such equipment.
Evaluation of a portable, 'real-time' PCR machine for FMD diagnosis.
SIR, - Claims have been made during the UK foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)
epidemic that the use of portable 'real-time' PCR instruments would have
enabled on-farm rapid diagnosis, and thereby accelerated control procedures
and reduced the amount of culling.
The performance of a portable 'real-time' PCR instrument has been compared
with a laboratory-based 'real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR system at the
Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright. Before the trial, the portable PCR
machine was calibrated by a representative from the supply company so that
it performed optimally. The reagents used in the assay were recommended by
the manufacturer of the instrument.
In tests which included identical DNA/cDNA aliquots and a range of clinical
specimens from experimentally infected animals, the portable machine
functioned faster than the laboratory-based system, but with some samples it
was up to 100 times less sensitive and it failed to detect a series of weak
positive samples. The use of such an instrument for diagnosis during the
FMD epidemic could have been disastrous.
In attempts to improve the performance of the portable instrument, the
reagents normally employed in our laboratory-based system were used in the
instrument instead of the reagents recommended by the manufacturer. This wa
s found to raise the diagnostic sensitivity of the portable machine to very
close to that of the laboratory-based system. While these results are
encouraging, further tests are required to validate the instrument for
specific diagnostic purposes. When the investigations are completed the
data will be submitted for publication.
It is important to point out that the nucleic acid in FMD virus is RNA and
that, before a PCR can be performed, the nucleic acids must be extracted
from the test sample so that the RNA can be converted into cDNA. Currently
this is a time-consuming exercise and not well suited to the conditions
likely to be encountered in the field. Furthermore, multiple steps in the
assay complicated the process, increase the risk of contamination and limit
the number of samples that can be tested within a short period. These
requirements appear to have been overlooked by those who have promoted the
use of portable 'real-time' PCR instruments.
Alex I. Donaldson, Anna Hearps, Soren Alexandersen, Institute for Animal
Health, Pirbright laboratory, Woking, Surrey GU24 0NF
From the warmwell website:
Letter from Richard Mawdsley (Bassenthwaite Cumbria)to the Cumberland News -
9 October 2001 (not published yet, if at all)
Re: the cursing stone in Carlisle Millennium subway
The Bishop of Carlisle wants the Archbishop of Glasgow to lift the old
It was originally called down for the protection of all the people of the
English and Scottish West marches from the depredations of the reivers.
I say that curse should be strengthened and invoked upon those who, over the
last eight months, have destroyed and continue to blight not only the
livelihoods, but the whole way of life of this region; flocks and herds
carried off and destroyed, other businesses bankrupted or brought to the
edge of ruin, good people reduced to ill health, despair and even suicide.
No, not the reivers, but those we should have been able to trust, our own
government and its agents.
Those who have told and continue to tell us so many lies and half truths to
justify their actions,
those who bullied and browbeat, behaving with insensitivity and callousness
to both man and beast
and whose deeds went beyond the law and yet who sheltered behind that law
and those who could have helped, yet turned their backs. I curse them
".........I curse them waking, I curse them sleeping, I curse them standing,
I curse them lying, I curse them eating, I curse them drinking, ......."
Let God have mercy on them, for I feel little. Long may they live with the
memories of what they have done.
It must always be remembered that in this country we are governed and
policed by consent. When trust and respect are lost, then that consent may
Our comment: We emphasise the last paragraph of the above letter and agree
wholeheartedly with it.
From the BBC Devon website:
Wednesday 10th October 2001
Foot and mouth Inquiry - Day Three
Devon's chief constable has accused the Government of using a foot-and-mouth
contingency plan more than 30 years out of date.
Speaking at the county's public inquiry into the epidemic, Sir John Evans
said "the policeman in him wanted to take control of the crisis".
In Britain's last major foot-and-mouth outbreak in 1967, the police played a
major part not only guarding farms but also taking charge of the overall
operation to bring the disease under control.
This time, their role was more minor, still guarding farms but leaving the
strategic command to the Government's farming department.
Speaking about the Government's handling of the crisis Sir John said: "They
need to get better at developing contingency plans and exercising those
contingency plans in the areas they are likely to be put into use.
"The central Government plans didn't look to me like they had been updated
since the last major outbreak."
Among the many victims of foot-and-mouth were children in rural areas whose
home and school lives were disrupted.
One head teacher spoke of his school's "total isolation" at the height of
the epidemic. The criticism came on the third day of the council's public
inquiry, being held at County Hall in Exeter.
Mark Raven, head at Black Torrington Primary School, said the foot-and-mouth
outbreaks affected pupils - who, he said, could "see it in the fields and
smell it in the air."
"When mum and dad are talking about it all the time because their friends
and neighbours are losing things, that's quite hard to deal with," said Mr
He had to close the school for a week during the height of the crisis, but
criticised the lack of support from the county council.
The inquiry has also been told that young people in the worst affected areas
turned to drink and drugs to cope during the height of the crisis.
The Devon Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs submitted accounts from youth
workers in the Holsworthy area that more young people were coming to them
with alcohol and drug misuse problems during the outbreak.
The county YFC organiser, Mark Goodman said the increase was an inevitable
result of the extreme pressure foot-and-mouth put on young people in rural
It is the third day of the county-council organised inquiry, which is being
held at County Hall in Exeter.
Yesterday, the focus was tourism and business. Devon County Council admitted
it had been wrong to impose blanket footpath closures when the outbreak
started, and had given the impression the county was 'closed'.
Its representative told the inquiry that scientific advice about the risks
imposed by walkers had since changed.
Our comment: Sir John Evans seems to have suffered an attack of amnesia at
the Inquiry. Does he not remember riot police wearing body armour storming
through barricades on farm gates at dawn? Does he not remember the
intimidation, wrongful arrests, and many other illegal acts that his own
force carried out, or their unwavering support for DEFRA's illegal slaughter
of healthy animals on so many farms? We can assure Sir John that we, and
many others, do remember these things and will hold them in our memories for
the rest of our lives. We will never forgive them.
From the Farmers Weekly website:
10 October 2001
Pigmeat exports to re-start
By Alistair Driver
BRITISH pork and bacon exports have been given the green light to resume for
the first time since the start of the foot-and-mouth crisis.
The European Standing Veterinary Committee said exports could resume from
counties which have not had foot-and-mouth cases from 22 October.
The move is conditional on there being no further outbreaks in the counties
given the go ahead, according to the Meat and Livestock Commission.
Exports will resume from south and east England, Gwynned and Clwyd in Wales,
and Scotland except Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.
Strict conditions will be attached to exports, including no movements of
susceptible species on or off holdings 30 days prior to slaughter.
Holdings must be at least 10km from the nearest outbreak and the slaughter
line must be dedicated to export-eligible animals.
Sheep exports will not be resuming, however, largely because of concerns
about identifying the disease in sheep, the MLC said.
MLC international manager Peter Hardwick said the organisation would be
working hard to re-establish pigmeat exports as soon as possible
It would also push for the lifting of restrictions on cattle and sheep.
The National Farmers' Union and National Pig Association said the decision
offered "desperately welcome access" to important markets.
NFU President Ben Gill said: "This is the first of many steps that will need
to be taken to re-build Britain's livestock industry."
NPA Chairman James Black said: "This comes as a huge boost to the pig
industry. Producers have been particularly hard hit."
He added: "We will, of course, be pressing for the resumption of exports
from other areas as soon as they comply with the EU requirements."
Our comment: We admit to some surprise at the speed with which the EU have
moved to start accepting pigmeat from the UK once more. Call us cynical if
you will, but we can't help feeling that it sounds too good to be true -
rather like beef exports being permitted again after BSE, except that nobody
wanted to buy it. So we will wait and see with interest. We also notice
the usual language of control that is used here - "comply with EU
requirements", "strict conditions" and so on.
Finally, tonight's joke is sent in by Betty:
Subject: GIVING 100% AT WORK? WELL HERE IS THE FORMULA FOR
ACHIEVING 103% !!!
We have all been to those meetings where someone wants over 100%. Here's
to achieving 103%
Here's a little formula that might prove helpful in the future! What
makes life 100% ??
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
H A R D W O R K
8 1 18 4 23 15 18 11 = 98 % Only
K N O W L E D G E
11 14 15 23 12 5 4 7 5 = 96 % Only
A T T I T U D E
1 20 20 9 20 21 4 5 = 100 %
B U L L S H I T
2 21 12 12 19 8 9 20 = 103%
from Alan & Rosie