From Jane at the Farmtalking website:


I have posted the following on FARMTALKING.com (News Reports page) and have
copied it here for your information.

Bracing for Battle  If you take a look at the DEFRA website, a copy of the
Minister's statement to the House on 22nd October can be viewed. I have
copied the relevant paragraph below having corrected the typo errors but
ignored the grammatical ones!  "The National Scrapie Plan is a long-term
voluntary programme to breed genetic resistance to scrapie and to BSE into
the national sheep flock.

Moreover the House will already know that the National Scrapie Plan to breed
in resistance to scrapie in the national flock has been developed and
progressed on a voluntary basis.

I can tell Members today that over the summer my Department has been
preparing a Bill which, among other things, which allow Government to take
powers compulsory to remove the flock genotypes of sheep susceptible to
scrapie.

Of course the House will want to give this proper scrutiny; I hope it will
have an opportunity to do so
in the very near future."  I have always thought it an excellent idea to
'breed out' genetic faults in livestock if at all possible. If for no better
reason than the welfare of the animals concerned. Therefore I welcomed the
voluntary testing program for breeding stock that were Scrapie resistant.

However, the Minister appears to want to take this matter considerably
further than is warranted by scientific knowledge at the present time and
her department's reasons for the proposal are unclear to say the least.

Both Scrapie and BSE are degenerative diseases of the brain. The actual
cause of both afflictions are unproven although it is believed they can be
inherited. Further research into both is needed and should be welcomed.

However, we do know BSE affects cattle and Scrapie affects sheep. We do not
know that Scrapie affects cattle or that BSE affects sheep.

Some sheep have suffered from Scrapie for generations and humans have eaten
the meat with no known ill effects. To breed out the disease would be of
great benefit to the animals concerned but on the known facts to date, of no
benefit to human beings other than the commercial interests of farmers, who
would not lose valuable animals to the disease.

If the Minister and her department want to eradicate the national sheep
flock, it seems to be for reasons known only to themselves that they are
unwilling to divulge to Parliament or the public at large.

With respect, I would suggest they divulge the truth and avoid their attempt
'con' the public with pseudo science to achieve their aims. Too many of us
just won't 'buy it' and are 'bracing for battle'!

ENDS


From Michaela:


Like Richard, I do not for a moment believe that vCJD is caused by eating
beef infected with BSE.
The only certainty is that the disease BSE and CJD and vCJD are
characterised by a prion (there is a new  urine test in which the prion
isoform can be determined - just a question of validation again!), if it
only detects advanced disease, or if it throws up a high frequency of false
positives it will not be much use...

Possible causes?  Individual susceptibility (for the same reason that some
succumb to flu while others don't), combined with factors such as OP's that
may act as adjuvants, together with bacterial/viral infections (in the same
way that are considered to trigger some cancers), maybe even that Chernobyl
fallout!
Why has the incidence declined?  Widespread use of OP's declined, Chernobyl
well past, combined with early slaughter before the disease
develops/manifests itself.

Sheep with BSE ...Baaa

ENDS


Richard sends this contribution:


A&R

Below is a piece I wrote in 1993....  plus ca change..,

R

- - - - - - - - -


CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Richard North

The 19th Century political commentator, Walter Bagehot, sometime editor of
the Economist, had a thing or two to say about freedom.  One of his finest
arguments against the steady incursions of centralised government was summed
up in the following passage.

"Our freedom is the result of centuries of resistance, more or less legal,
more or less illegal, more or less audacious, or more or less timid, to the
executive government.  We have accordingly, inherited the traditions of
conflict, and preserve them in the fullness of victory.  We took on State
action, not as our own action, but as alien action; as an imposed tyranny
from without, not as a consummated result of our own organized wishes".

Essentially, Bagehot was articulating the principle that freedom is not
given, but taken; the maintenance of freedom is a continuing battle and we
keep it only by constant struggle.  Or, as one unnamed American commentator
put it, "ain't life a bitch".

Faced with the torrent of legislation which still oppresses the egg
industry, there could hardly be an egg producer who would not agree with
that last sentiment.  Currently, the crass stupidity of the Egg Products
Regulations is exercising the minds of many.  One producer, to make up 3kg
of broken egg a week, has to turn his farm into a veritable "hygiene"
palace, in order to conform with the regulations.  But if ever there was a
public health success story, it was the 1963 egg pasteurisation law, which
was replaced by these current regulations.

Producers are being asked to spend unnecessary amounts of money to deliver a
standard for which there is no possible justification and no demonstrable
need.  Other producers, because they do not produce their frozen liquid egg
from a registered packing station, are being told that it is now against the
law to do something they have been doing for decades, without one hint of a
problem.

United States Judge Louis Brandeis, in 1928, would have recognised the
situation.  He warned that,

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when
the government's purposes are beneficial.  Men born to freedom are naturally
alert to repel invasion to their liberty by evil minded rulers.  The
greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal,
well-meaning but without understanding".

Anyone who understood the egg industry and had the remotest knowledge of
public health would readily admit that there was no problem in the
established practice, yet they seek to ban it.  They are the danger to
liberty of which Brandeis warns.

Similarly, those who would seek to impose the animal feed controls
implemented by EEC Directive 92/118 (The European Zoonoses Order) are in
danger of so encroaching on producers' freedom to supply feed at an economic
rate for their birds, that their freedom to produce eggs at all may be
severely damaged.  We have yet to see quite how damaging this Order will be.

Then there is the limited but important problem with the registration and
testing of small breeder flocks.  This could not be better described than as
"insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without
understanding".  A better description of the denizens of MAFF has yet to be
penned.  Similarly, the raw farce of the egg marketing regulations, with the
pretence of consultation, the irrational demands and the plain nonsense of
telling all and sundry to keep their egg refrigerated, is again "an
insidious encroachment on our freedom".

They are not evil men, these men who write and enforce these stupid laws,
but collectively  they do more damage to our freedom, in the long term, than
ever did Hitler.  Hitler failed because he was recognisably evil.  But the
grey, colourless men who rule us are not recognisable as the foe; they do
not wear alien uniforms and goose-step across the country (or at least most
of them do not).  Nevertheless, they are potentially and actually the
greater threat to our liberty.

So how do we deal with them?  More or less legally, more or less illegally,
says Bagehot.  But who can afford the legal route?  The costs of challenging
laws, irrational or otherwise, are such that the fortunes of the entire
industry, such as they are, could be dissipated in lawyers fees, to win but
a few victories which would be quickly overturned in the next torrent of
legislation, drafted by the salaried masses.  The legal route or writing
detailed, carefully drafted responses to proposals is of little avail, and
hardly possible when only 24 hours is given for the process.

Not yet though is it time for the bomb and the bullet; Northern Ireland is
an experience too horrible to contemplate.  But, as a sociologist called
Michael Haralambos will testify, civil disobedience is an approach which has
been used by a wide variety of "interest groups", from ratepayers'
associations withholding rates, to Womens' Liberation groups disrupting
beauty competitions, to meat traders withholding veterinary inspection fees.

To those groups and many more, can and should be added one more; egg
producers.  There is an honourable and necessary tradition in civil
disobedience.  Few bad laws, few corrupt administrations have yielded to the
polite lobbyist and the reasoned argument.  The egg industry is beset by bad
laws and corrupt administrators, good men who do evil.  The way forward is
obvious and inevitable, if only because now, the consequences of yielding to
evil are greater than those of opposing it.

RAEN 16 November 1993

ENDS


****************************

From the Farmers Weekly website:

25 October 2001
Euro-vets ease beef export ban


By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

BRITISH beef could soon be back on Continental dinner plates after European
vets lifted the foot-and-mouth export ban for some counties.

The counties covered are those which have had no cases of foot-and-mouth at
all - the same categorisation agreed for pigmeat two weeks ago.

In another move, the vets also extended a list of regions that can export
pigmeat to counties that have not had the disease for over 90 days.

"The only areas not able to export pigmeat are Cumbria, North Yorkshire,
Northumberland, Devon and mid-Wales," said a government source.

The date from which these decisions will take effect is still to be
confirmed. But the move has already been welcomed by meat industry
representatives.

Peter Hardwick, Meat and Livestock Commission international manager,
described the developments as "an excellent step forward".

There was, however, an urgency to sort out the paperwork to enable business
to actually resume, he added.

"Customers in Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal have been waiting for
British pork exports from last Monday (22 October), said Mr Hardwick.

"So far, they have received nothing."

Peter Scott of the British Meat Federation warned that any resumption of
beef exports would be limited.

"Exporters will still have to meet the terms of the date-based export scheme
which is very restrictive and very expensive."

Of two plants registered - Scotbeef and St Merryn Meats - only Scotbeef is
able to resume business, being located in a county with no foot-and-mouth.

There was no decision from the European union vets on a resumption of
British sheepmeat exports.

A proposal from the commission to allow shipments from the same counties as
for beef will be reconsidered in a fortnight.
ENDS


25 October 2001
BSE-in-sheep answers 'in months'


By FWi staff

FARMERS could know within months, rather than years, whether BSE exists in
sheep, according to the government's chief scientist.

Professor David King has been asked to review the current state of research
into BSE-type diseases in sheep.

His appointment comes after experiments into whether BSE exists in sheep
collapsed because scientists were mistakenly testing cattle brains.

In the wake of the fiasco over the Institute of Animal Health tests,
ministers are desperate to get to the bottom of the issue.

Prof King told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that new tests which produce
results within 48 hours will help.

"I am rather confident that, using this fast technique, we will be able to
gather a significant amount of data in a short period of time," he said.

The government only has "one or two instruments" conducting the tests. It
would take months to come up with definitive results, said Prof King.

The experiments are "very sophisticated and rather difficult", he added.

Prof King said the government is in the process of validating the tests, but
gave no indication of when the validation will be completed.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said 465 sheep had
already been tested and have shown no sign of BSE.

But he admitted there is a "grey area" over whether the tests can be deemed
credible if they have not been validated by European Union scientists.

Food Standards Agency chairman John Krebs said was an urgent requirement to
develop a validated rapid test to detect BSE in sheep.

He also warned that other experiments similar to the doomed Institute of
Animal Health tests could take years to produce definitive results.

ENDS


From the Warmwell website:


Oct 25 ~ Months rather than weeks to test sheep for BSE
Prof King on the Today Programme this morning failed to clarify for the
layman why tests, already validated by the VLA, cannot give a quick answer
to the question mark now hanging over sheep ( a question that would never
have been asked had it not been for the research fund hungry scientists
themselves) However, pressed by John Humphrys, he said, "I follow the advice
of the Food Standards Agency, so yes, I eat lamb." A suggestion heard this
morning that we no longer feel like discounting out of hand was: "If five
leading figures in Britain's Intelligence Service could have been secret
agents for the Russians a couple of decades ago, is it so fanciful to think
that a coterie of British scientists who have manouevred themselves into
such a position of power and influence could not also be acting deliberately
against the interests of Britain?" We look again at the hidden strands
connecting such figures as John Krebs, Roy Anderson, David King, Neil
Ferguson, Christl Donnelly and others. We see the huge resources of
companies such as Glaxo-Wellcome and we start to wonder.

ENDS



From The Scotsman:



Vaccination should have been used

THE government should have used vaccination to help fight the foot-and-mouth
epidemic one of Scotland's most eminent scientists said yesterday.
Professor Sir William Stewart, president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,
said
that the Ministry of Agriculture should have tackled foot-and-mouth in the
same way
that the Department of Health fights 'flu.
He told a conference in Edinburgh: "Some people have said there are so many
variations of foot-and-mouth that a vaccine would not be effective. But
there are
many strains of 'flu. Are we seriously saying that vaccination has no part
to play in
foot-and-mouth when the Department of Health is giving thousands of patients
'flu
jabs?"
Sir William, chairman of the Microbiological Research Authority, was chief
scientific
adviser to the government 1990-95.
Making the keynote address at the conference "Beyond foot-and-mouth"
organised
by the Edinburgh Centre for Rural Research - a cluster of 24 basic and
applied
research organisations - he added: "I'm not saying vaccination would have
removed the need for slaughter. I'm saying is that vaccination had a role to
play if
the disease had been targeted quickly."
Vaccination must be used if there is a next time, he said. The most
important
aspect of an independent inquiry into the epidemic set up by the Royal
Society of
Edinburgh under the chairmanship of Professor Ian Cunningham - which is
expected to take six months and report next summer - must be lessons learned
and recommendations for the future.
Without pre-empting his own society's inquiry, he added: "Vaccine must be a
tool
ready for use. They can not make the same mistake again."
Global horizon-scanning alerted the Department of Health to the incidence of
'flu
throughout the world and which strains were likely to reach Britain,
allowing it to
take effective vaccination action using a well-defined protocol.
Exactly the same methods could be used, and should have been used, against
foot-and-mouth, said Sir William.
The epidemic began on 20 February this year with 2,030 confirmed cases up to
30
September - no new cases since then. Animals on a further 7,000 farms were
also
slaughtered.
Robert Balfour of the Scottish Landowners Federation told the conference
that his
organisation had argued for ring or "firebreak" vaccination in March when
the
epidemic was raging in Dumfries and Galloway.
He added: "Such action could have been invaluable and may have significantly
reduced the true cost of containing the disease."
He said that his federation was continuing to ask for an over-riding single
inquiry
into the epidemic - at present, including the Royal Society of Edinburgh and
three
separate government inquiries, about a dozen are being held or about to
start.
Balfour said: "We need a single public inquiry without delay. We don't want
a witch
hunt, we simply need to find answers."
Michael Thrusfield, a vet and senior epidemiologist at the Royal School of
Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, was more dubious about the
value of
vaccination.
Currently analysing information which he believes will show that the
epidemic was
dealt with more successfully than it seemed at the time in both Dumfries and
Galloway and Cumbria, he told the conference that 'flu and foot-and-mouth
were
totally different genotypically and could not be treated in similar ways.

Fordyce Maxwell Rural Affairs Editor
Thursday, 25th October 2001

ENDS



From the Farmers Weekly archive (note the date AND READ CAREFULLY):


10 August 2000
BSE crossover to sheep 'unlikely'

By FWi staff

BSE is unlikely to have crossed from cattle into sheep to any extent, claim
the authors of a new report.

Researchers from the Institute for Animal Health in Berkshire addressed
concerns that sheep could have been infected by BSE-contaminated feed.

In a report in the journal Nature the group acknowledges that although so
far no cases of BSE in sheep have been found, these may have been
misdiagnosed as scrapie.

But analysing data describing the historical changes in scrapie incidence
the group found no evidence for a peak in scrapie before, during or after
the BSE outbreak.

It concludes this means that it is "unlikely that a substantial epidemic of
BSE has occurred in the sheep population".

This comes as agriculture officials in the USA press for the slaughter of
two flocks of sheep they claim may have BSE.

British experts are sceptical about these claims saying there are no
reliable tests to distinguish scrapie from BSE.

ENDS


Our comment:   This is a powerful argument against the near-hysterical panic
whipped up by the government/mad scientists combination.  With no increase
in scrapie cases, there is no evidence to even suggest that "BSE-in-sheep"
cases may have been misdiagnosed as scrapie, which is what the current
scaremongers are claiming has happened.

So, where is their evidence?  Remember the government's catchphrase of the
FMD crisis, "the best scientific advice"?  Let's all see it their "advice"
then.

**********************

A joke from Tom to cheer us up (we need it):


A missionary is being cooked in a pot by cannibals who are dancing around
him. Every time one cannibal went round, he hit the missionary on the head.
The Chief asked why he did it? Came the reply. "He's eating the carrots".


from Alan & Rosie