We attended the Green Party conference in Exeter today on the future of
farming after FMD - an interesting day, report tomorrow.

Also a final reminder for Hector's march in Gloucester tomorrow, details as
previously circulated.  Be there if you can!


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

Jane sends this message:


Re your final comment on the Wednesday Wipeout:  I'm with you all the way,
Fighting in the Interests of Sheep and the Truth ( FIST).  What the hell is
going on, and why can't one of the many many intelligent people on our email
circuit work it out?  I may be wrong about many things, but at least I
usually have some sort of gut reaction which often proves not so far from
the truth, but I just DO NOT UNDERSTAND why sheep are such bad news in this
country.  Why can no-one find this out?

The other point which has struck me very forcibly (and so far no-one else
seems to have made) is that IF there are these odd farms which are genuinely
testing positive for anti-bodies, then presumably that means that the
disease must have been in their flocks some months or weeks ago.  So how
come there have been no problems on any of the neighbouring farms?  If there
had been ANY justification for contiguous culls then surely this would be
shown up now because (according to the lies we have been told by Maff, Defra
and the abnoxious and traitorous government scientists) this disease spreads
like wildfire from farm to farm.  Surely the lack of ongoing infection on
neighbouring farms proves far more effectively than any scientist or
computer model can that the spread of the disease simply doesn't happen in
the way they all insisted it did?  Do you think anyone in authority has
actually noticed this?

The situation has got so absurd now that I know I will simply not believe
the results of any future "tests" the government will come up with - even if
it would be in my interests to do so.  Just how much "Wolf" can you cry and
expect the people to believe you?  I feel we are all creeping ever closer to
anarchy and it frightens me.

ENDS


Our comment:  Jane makes a very valid point about sheep with antibodies.
The lack of spread from such flocks confirms what Paul Sutmoller, Simon
Barteling et al have been saying all along, that the disease is NOT
self-sustaining in sheep and simply dies out if left alone.  It also
confirms that the risk of windborne spread from infected sheep is close to
zero, otherwise, as she points out, neighbouring farms would have become
infected.  And finally, it confirms that sheep with antibodies present no
threat to other livestock.

But none of this fits with THE POLICY.

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


From Roger:


BSE and nvCJD and Prion Protein PrP

Mathematical epidemiologist Roy 'liar' Anderson says the data shows that PrP
has an incubation period which is longer that the life span of a human. This
is quite an achievement for something with 254 amino acids (FMD has 8 000).
It is of course complete nonsense, as the medical scientist interviewed on
Radio 4 on 26 10 01 said with some irritation.

The obvious conclusion is that Prion protein is not an incubating life form
but is a natural protein that is present throughout the life span. However
too many reputations would be affected by the truth.

Instead we have scientists continuing to discredit themselves, British
science and the Britain nation.

ENDS


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



From the Warmwell website:

NOT THE FOOT AND MOUTH report

Private Eye

"Everything Tony Blair didn't want you to know about the biggest blunder of
his premiership." Extract: ..the inside story of how the Blair government's
handling of this crisis became a chapter of maladministration without
parallel, involving: * the illegal destruction of millions of healthy
animals * handing over direction of strategy to scientists without any
expertise in animal diseases * lawbreaking by government officials on an
unprecedented scale * the massaging of official figures to support Tony
Blair's election plans ( - but please buy a copy.)
Had the government heeded advice from the world's top foot and mouth
experts, the epidemic could have been halted within weeks, restoring the
UK's export trade sooner, saving rural communities from despair and
Britain's counytryside from a financial, social and environmental disaster.

THE DEATH TOLL
As of 30 September, defra's website showed the total number of premises on
which animals had been or were due to be slaughtered at
9,503
The total number of animals slaughtered or identified for slaughter was
3,905,000
in addition, the total number of animals slaughtered under the welfare
disposal scheme was
1,751,786
This brought the officially admitted total of animals killed to
5,656,786
but this did not included calves, lambs and piglets estimated by the
Farmers' Weekly at another
2,000,000
making the total number of animals killed around
7.7 million
or
One eighth of all the farm animals in Britain
More extracts to follow - but please buy a copy.


On sale from 26th October at UK newsagents. Overseas customers may order
direct on +44 (0)20 7228 0425.

Please email subscriptions@private-eye.co.uk for further information. NOW
AVAILABLE at the Eye Shop. Price #2.50 includes p&p (anywhere in world)

ENDS



Week In Week Out - the foot and mouth crisis
This programme was broadcast on Welsh Television.

Extracts


...have the politicians really been acting in the interests of the country
or has there been another, hidden agenda? Getting answers to these questions
won't be easy because the prime minister has ruled out a full public
inquiry.

Roy Miller is a business man and farmer. This is his case against the cull.

"The past seven months have brought terrible hardship to communities like
mine and farmers are deeply concerned about the future. The presence of foot
and mouth has been bad enough - but I believe the treatment has been more
deadly than the disease. The way the government in Cardiff and London have
handled it has been a disaster. At least twice as many animals have died as
have needed to and in consequence the rural economy has been brought to its
knees.

At the beginning, in common with most farmers, I supported the policy of
culling animals to eradicate foot and mouth. The government kept telling us
it was under control, that success was just around the corner but it soon
became obvious that their strategy wasn't working. It would almost appear
that the government had been operating like a compulsive gambler believing
that if they kept on betting the same way and pushing down the same road
eventually it would come right. I think with hindsight they probably know
themselves that they ought to have been doing something different.

From the very beginning when the disease was detected in an abattoir in
Essex I believe the authorities responded too slowly. They should have acted
sooner to ban livestock movements, the army should have been called in
earlier to hasten the slaughter. They lost control and they panicked. What
we've had, certainly to begin with, is a sloppy attitude to dealing with the
problem, then a massive overreaction - you'd think it was the bubonic plague
or the Black Death - the panic that these people got themselves into,
slaughtering animals left right and centre and then afterwards we get the
results that it was OK.......

Anne Morgan's farm was ten miles away from the nearest case. When an
inexperienced young vet reported abnormalities in /a handful of her sheep
officials from maff now defra ordered her entire stock to be slaughtered.
Days later the lab tests came back: negative.

Anne Morgan: They are supposed to be the experts and they're telling you
that you've got foot and mouth. Even if you don't believe it they're telling
you you've got it, so you have to do something to protect other people"

Anne showed me the lambing shed where she brought her animals to be killed.

Anne Morgan "This was just a morgue. We had to witness it all. The smell was
horrendous. The sheep came down as you say like lambs to the slaughter. they
followed us in i.e. just to have their cake or corn or whatever..."

Roy Miller: "Trusting you as usual?"

Anne Morgan: Trusting us as usual and that's the feeling that never goes
away, that you actually led them to their deaths. On the day, I didn't make
the decision: Defra did. Defra, due to panic, have been incompetent in
several areas. There was inconclusive proof or scientific proof here for
them to take the measures that they took."

BELFAST

Roy Miller "I have come to a conference in Belfast with some of Britain's
leading experts on animal health. Until the end of May, Dr Paul Kitching was
head of the world reference laboratory for foot and mouth at Pirbright. He
believes good clinical science was put to one side in the handling of this
outbreak and the models used to plot the likely spread of foot and mouth
were based on wrong information.

Paul Kitching: the models were quite clearly not correct and they resulted
in a situation where veterinarians were having to make immediate clinical
diagnosis in sheep in particular where you cannot make a clinical diagnosis
of foot and mouth disease. There are too many other conditions that mimic
foot and mouth disease in sheep to be convincing and this was manifested by
the samples which we received at Pirbright for confirmation which turned out
to be negative. But by the time we reported them not only had that premise
been slaughtered out but the contiguous premises as well.

Roy Miller: What would your assessment be of the degree of overkill that we
have had in animals as a consequence of these measures?

Paul Kitching: Well I don' t know the answer to that but this is some thing
that would come out at a public inquiry into the running of the outbreak
just how many animals had been killed unnecessarily but from my own
information I'd say that at least half of the animals slaughtered were done
so unnecessarily.

Roy Miller: How would you sum up the way the whole affair has been managed?

Paul Kitching: I suppose in a sentence one would have to say it should have
been left in the hands of professionals who know what they're doing.

The cull was incredibly insensitive. It didn't allow for local common sense
and gave no discretion for people on the ground. it was a policy of shoot
first and ask questions later and clearly the orders were coming from
London. Worse still, I'm convinced the cull itself helped spread the
disease. The operation was staffed by a small army of largely untrained
contract workers, and truckloads of infected carcasses were ferried through
the countryside. We should have had a much stronger grip on the contractors.
There's no doubt about that We've got plenty of evidence of these major
assurances of lorries that don't leak then find that on the Epynt issue they
were leaking and we've even had live sheep tipped from lorries on the Epynt.
Some of this stuff's inexcusable, completely inexcusable.

We're all hoping it's over but we'd be very wise to prepare for the worst as
it could strike back with a vengeance in the colder weather. The outlook for
livestock farming is grim. In this crisis, the government in London and in
Cardiff have blundered on, stubbornly refusing to admit to their mistakes
and change course. So why have they destroyed these millions of animals?
many believe that it's because they saw foot and mouth saw the ideal
opportunity to change the face of farming. Perhaps this explains their
unwillingness to listen to common sense from those of us who have the
countryside at heart.
ENDS


An E-mail posted on the Warmwell website:


Wearing my conservationist hat, I believe the Govt's threat to wipe out
sheep for ANY reason is unsupportable.
When smallpox was on the verge of being eradicated by vaccination programmes
(!) there was actually a debate among scientists as to whether the last
batches of virus, kept under lock and key (ha ha) should be destroyed - one
of the questions being, did we have the right to cause any organism, even a
microbe, to become extinct? If smallpox can be accorded these
considerations, so can sheep.
We have 30 rare native breeds of sheep and goats in Britain. In the end the
bottom line where these are concerned is not a commercial one, but
evolutionary. It's about the survival or extinction of a unique genetic
heritage. They're as crucial in their way to this country as the tiger is to
Siberia.

WRT lethal genes. In my view, the best way to eradicate disease
susceptibility is to let Nature work it out. That means having programmes
for running self-determining, self-selecting breeding groups on natural
ranges, rather along the lines of the Chillingham cattle. Nature always does
the job better than us. You may end up with animals that have a stripe or a
spot in the wrong place, but from a conservationist point of view this is
trivial.

What is absolutely incontrovertible is that the last people on EARTH who
should have anything to do with it are politicians. The thought of breeding
programmes to produce politically-correct sheep defies the imagination.
There is no one currently in government who has the first idea about
eugenics - or who gives a sh*t. They should not be allowed anywhere near
sheep.

Will the various interest groups mount any kind of a challenge? If past
experience is anything to go by, it looks doubtful. I feel that already our
representatives are being seduced by scientific rumour, political spin and
the line of least resistance.

So let's get mobilised. Get informed. Consolidate. Start building the
barricades.

Ley.

ENDS


Oct 26 ~ Mossburn Animal Centre (Dumfries and Galloway) has been refused
money from the Council's emergency FMD Recovery Fund
and desperately needs help to feed the animals (including 5 horses, 3 sheep,
15 pigs, 4 cattle and 13 goats). While an ailing Choral Society has been
granted funds, the Animal Sanctuary, which works with with mentally and
physically disabled people, has not. Juanita Wilson and her supporters had
to fight heroically to save these animals from slaughter at the height of
the FMD outbreak and Juanita used her savings to do so. No visitors have
been allowed at the Centre since, and its usual therapeutic work had to
stop. If you can help at all, please send a cheque (payable to "Mossburn
Animal Centre") to: Juanita Wilson, Mossburn Animal Centre, Hitae,
Lockerbie, PG11 1LE Tel. 01387 811288 You can become a Friend of the
Sanctuary for #10 per year. See http://www.mossburn.org

ENDS


From the Telegraph:


Epidemic of human BSE 'may be at its peak'
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
(Filed: 26/10/2001)


THE epidemic of "human BSE", which has killed more than 100 people, may be
at its peak, according to an analysis published today.

Since 1996, when variant CJD was first linked to eating BSE-infected beef,
the public has worried about the size of the resulting epidemic.

The answer has been elusive because, although almost one million infected
animals were eaten between 1980 and 1996, no one knows how many people
became infected or how long it takes for symptoms to develop.

Prof Peter Smith's team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine predicts today that there will be no more than "several thousand"
cases. Four years ago, the team predicted more than 100,000.

Uncertainties plague this projection. Prof Smith's reassuring conclusion is
questioned by Prof Roy Anderson and colleagues at Imperial College who
believe the number of victims will be substantially higher.

The new estimate of the incidence of vCJD is reported today in the journal
Science by Prof Smith, the chairman of the Spongiform Encephalopathy
Advisory Committee, and colleagues Dr Simon Cousens and Dr Jerome Huillard.

Based on the yearly incidence of vCJD, they used a statistical approach
called back-calculation, already used to predict the Aids epidemic with some
success.

The team made a range of different assumptions about the biggest unknown
about the disease - the incubation period, the time between exposure to BSE
and subsequent development of vCJD.

Their findings suggest that it is most likely that the number of cases will
be in the hundreds. Scenarios involving more than a few thousand cases are
unlikely, as is an excess of 100 cases in any one year. The very worst case
scenario predicts 40,000.

The profile of the epidemic so far is compatible with a vast range of
infected individuals, from a few hundred to many tens or hundreds of
thousands. But the team found that the average incubation period is likely
to be very long, so that most infected individuals will die of other causes
without developing symptoms of vCJD.

Such people would pose a threat to public health because they could pass on
vCJD through surgery and blood transfusion.

Dr Huillard said the overall conclusion was more optimistic than before but
"will come as little consolation to those families affected by this terrible
disease. A reliable test for asymptomatic infection remains an urgent need,
as does an effective treatment."

The more pessimistic conclusion of Prof Anderson, Prof Neil Ferguson and Dr
Azra Ghani reflects how the lack of key information on numbers of infected
people and incubation time forces mathematical modellers to rely on
assumptions. In this case, the teams have made different assumptions.

A worst-case estimate published by Prof Anderson's team last year in Nature
was 136,000 cases and the refined estimate is similar, though slightly
lower.

ENDS


This comment on the above article appears on the Warmwell website:


Oct 26 ~ once again, in today's Telegraph, we find reputable journalists
implying that there is a proven link between BSE and CJD.
There is no such proof. We note also the reliance on mathematical modelling
for predicting cases used which proved so disastrous in the case of FMD -
and the disagreement between its rival practitioners. Prof Peter Smith's
team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine airily predicts
today that there will be no more than "several thousand" cases of CJD. Four
years ago, the team predicted more than 100,000. Prof Roy Anderson and
colleagues at Imperial College however, "believe the number of victims will
be substantially higher."
They talk, as always, in terms of statistics, never it seems considering the
reality of the disease and making assumptions about its cause that could
have catastrophic effects in the real world. Peter Smith, the chairman of
SEAC, has published his estimates in the journal Science. One begins to see
how the publishing of their erudite and incomprehensible "scientific"
guesswork is, for these influential and highly paid people, their eqivalent
of "productive work" since it gains them status among their contemporaries
and secures further funding. It is productive only in that sense - a vicious
circle of money manufacturing theories in order to secure more money. In the
real world, farmers who produce our food for less and less money, are hedged
about with more and more hampering restrictions and paperwork largely as a
result of the pronouncements of these lordly beings.

ENDS


Also from the Telegraph:


BSE test on sheep to be used after 5-year delay
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
(Filed: 26/10/2001)


A 48-HOUR test for BSE in sheep which was first recommended to the
Government five years ago by one of its most distinguished independent
advisers is to be used to establish once and for all whether the disease is
in the national sheep flock.

Prof David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser, said that
molecular strain typing tests would be used on large numbers of sheep.

"I am rather confident that using this fast technique we will be able to
gather a significant amount data in a short time," he told BBC Radio 4's
Today programme.

The decision follows the Government's attempt to establish whether BSE had
crossed into sheep, which was abandoned after four years when it was
discovered that scientists had been testing cattle brains.

Prof John Collinge of Imperial College, London, director of the Medical
Research Council's prion unit, who discovered that variant CJD was the human
form of BSE, recommended that the Government used his test method as long
ago as 1996.

When nothing happened, Prof Collinge wrote to Labour ministers in 1999
urging them again to test the national sheep herd using his method. He said
yesterday: "It sounds like they are now using it."

ENDS


Our comment:  We have studied the background to Professor Collinge's tests
(kindly provided by Richard North) and they are not quite what he claims
them to be . . . . . we are hoping to post a straightforward summary of this
"science" shortly.



From the Farmers Weekly website:



26 October 2001
Greens slam 'Red Tractor' standard


By Adrienne Francis

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have renewed their calls for the British Farm
Standard to give better assurances about the food on which it appears.

Friends of the Earth claims that the "Little Red Tractor" standards are not
providing genuine help to farmers or clear benefits to consumers.

The group wants the scheme to include targets for pesticide reduction and
ban pesticides harmful to human health and the environment.

Food within the scheme should be British, free from genetically modified
organisms, and labelled to show the country of origin, it added.

Livestock standards should also be raised to an equivalent to RSPCA Freedom
Foods mark, said a spokeswoman for the group.

Reformed labelling would reflect genuine higher standards, providing better
consumer information about which food can be trusted, she said.

The National Farmers' Union expressed surprise that FOE had not raised the
issues with Assured Food Standards - the company that oversees the logo.

"Friends of the Earth is wrong on two counts. Only British food is licensed
to use the logo," said an NFU spokesman.

"And no GM crops are grown commercially in the UK - therefore no food
carrying the logo is from GM crops.

"Attempts to damage the UK market in this way can only lead to further
imported food, where assurance schemes simply don't exist.

The Little Red Tractor operates over 1100 independent checks covering animal
welfare, food safety and the environment, said the spokesman.

Assured Food Standards chief executive David Clarke suggested that the
complaints could be counterproductive to the scheme's success.

"We are conscious of these limitations, and it is probably a good thing that
Friends of the Earth is encouraging the scheme to go a bit further," he
said.

"But it is a shame that some non-government organisations are unwilling to
talk about what we are doing to move forward on these issues."
ENDS


26 October 2001
Ministers plan ram cull in scrapie fight


By Alistair Driver

RAMS susceptible to scrapie will be culled or castrated under government
plans to regain confidence after the fiasco surrounding its BSE tests.

Ministers have prepared an Animal Health Bill which aims to accelerate the
National Scrapie Plan and breed the disease out of the national flock.

The Bill, to be introduced within weeks, would give the government powers to
remove genotypes of sheep susceptible to scrapie from the national flock.

Scrapie eradication started this summer on a voluntary basis open only to
registered pedigree-sheep flock owners.

But only 4700 farmers - 30% of those eligible - have signed up, and the
government is considering opening it to non-registered pedigree flocks.

The intention is to force farmers to have sheep tested for scrapie
resistance, said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

A spokesman for the department added: "Any rams that are susceptible will be
castrated or slaughtered."

John Thorley, chief executive of the National Sheep Association said it
would be a mixed blessing if every susceptible sheep were eradicated.

"It will have some advantage as long as it does not take out too many sheep
that have important merits for commercial purposes."

ENDS

Our comment:   On the basis that Farmers Weekly may be reporting with more
accuracy than the Guardian on Tuesday, this news item is slightly less
scary.  BUT does anyone really know what the government's intentions are,
now that our favourite chemist Professor King has been brought in to review
the situation?  We all know what happened once he took over in foot and
mouth . . . . .


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

A final thought from Tom:


Cheri Blair takes Tony's shoes off for him when he gets back from a hard day
on his feet at the Houses of Parliament. We would all be so grateful if she
hid them so he had to stay at home.



from Alan & Rosie