"... the College (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) should have led the way in condemning what I call "postcode slaughter" - the indiscriminate and unnecessary slaughter of animals because of where they are, - and I have tried to prod the College to action, but the response, particularly from the Registrar has been that we must not offend MAFF"
Roger Windsor is a Veterinary Surgeon of some
considerable standing and a Member of the Council of the Royal College of
Veterinary Surgeons. A damning indictment of the Government's slaughter policy.
His strong criticism of the College itself, for not doing more to call a halt an unscientific and barbarous method for the control of Foot and Mouth Disease is awesome.
the address he gave the Council at their most recent meeting on 6th
"This outbreak of foot and mouth disease has been a disaster: a disaster for
farmers, for the rural community and it has not been good for the veterinary profession or this College.
Today it is not what you do, but the public perception of what you do that is important and while we on College Council know what our officers have done, the profession in general and the public at large believes that the RCVS has done little, and when it has acted it has been late.
I have argued
for weeks that the College should have led the way in condemning what I call
"postcode slaughter" - the indiscriminate and unnecessary slaughter
of animals because of where they are, - and I have tried to prod the College to
action, but the response, particularly from the Registrar has been that we must
not offend MAFF. MAFF, however, have offended almost everyone: I will turn to
them in a minute.
The College and the profession should have refused to act when the direction of the campaign was taken over by politicians, and the Chief Scientist. The CVO states that he has been in control the whole time but the public perception was that the Chief Scientist and his side kick Prof. Roy Anderson had taken over. They decided that killing all animals on neighbouring farms and all animals within three kilometres of an outbreak was the way to stop the disease. Why should anyone listen to Anderson, a proven liar who was forced to resign his chair at Oxford? Did he offer the politicians a quick fix? His mathematical model indicated that a 2km kill would be adequate. However, MAFF decided to follow EU advice and stuck to 3km, which more than doubled the number of animals that were killed. Roy Anderson should be called not the Professor of Epidemiology, but the Professor of Extermination at Imperial College, London. I understand that he is now rapidly revising his model an!
d has come to the conclusion that the virus travels no more than 500 metres. Too many animals (probably two million) have been killed in the name of elections and mathematics.
The incompetence with which MAFF acts is legendary but this time they have excelled themselves. Ken Tyrell has been outspoken, in the Veterinary Times, in the condemnation of his former employer. I must state that the veterinary officers in charge of Dumfries, Charlie MacLean, John Mackenzie and Pauline Dunlop have behaved in exemplary fashion: cool, calm and courteous even when instructed to slap my wrists for asking awkward questions about the cull. They were badly led by their senior staff - I will quote a few examples:
Animals on two farms, one in Cumbria and one in Settle, were slaughtered in error. I have personal experience of a farm in Galloway that I inspected: two days before my visit the farmer was just completing milking when a collection of army lorries drove down his drive. They had come to slaughter his sheep: they had the correct map reference, but the wrong map!
We have had rodeos on farms, with marksmen shooting animals running round in a field, ewes lambing as they were rounded up for slaughter and doors broken down by police. On a lesser note it was common for vets to be sent to visit farms where all the animals had been slaughtered, or they arrived on farms in time to meet other vets just leaving. It is difficult to believe that MAFF could require one vet to supervise the simultaneous slaughter of animals on ten farms. The vets in Newcastle refused to do it.
I have been informed that they
are trying to resurrect this concept in Settle. Animal welfare has been
completely ignored - farms with no food, no straw, were not allowed to move
anything. Cattle and sheep had to calve and lamb miles away from the care of
the farmer because all movement was prohibited. Animals were kept in conditions
for which under normal conditions they would have been prosecuted.
"Animal Health - A Centenary" - published in 1965 - MAFF's own history and a testament to its successes, states that for a successful campaign of disease eradication:-
"The farming community must be willing to co-operate in every aspect of the work." (page 361)
"It is essential that the official control regulations are simple and readily understood by the farming community. The test of good regulations is that they are observed" (362)
".veterinary surgeons must be taken into consultation so that they are convinced of the value of any official duties they may have to do.(362).
All this, Sir, was thrown out of the window as the massacre of animals proceeded and the incompetence and the mistakes pale into insignificance when compared with the lying, the bullying, the intimidation, and the massive misuse of the police.
Lies! You, Sir, will know yourself that a senior female member of MAFF/ SERAD telephoned you on a Sunday morning to say that because of my actions there were no vets working either "on the Cull" or doing the regular diagnostic work. You 'phoned me; I checked with a friend at the Dumfries Centre and with the vet-in-charge and both confirmed that work was proceeding normally. You can probably guess the object of the call.
The sorry story of vets examining herds and flocks of animals and when finding them free from disease signing the Form A declaring the farm to be an infected place, will forever be a blot on the reputation of MAFF. Vets were told by senior members of our profession that if they did not sign a Form A, then the livestock would be killed and the farmer would receive no compensation. Farmers were told that if they did not co-operate in the slaughter of their sheep then their cattle would be taken as well. Doors were broken down by police to tear away pet goats from young girls. A retired vet in Dumfries who lived in the wrong place had his goats killed although there was a large housing estate between him and the infected farm. He had been involved with the '67 outbreak, knew the disease and volunteered to keep his animals under close observation. The animals were killed. The widow of a veterinary surgeon had the door to her house broken down by the police so that her five!
pet sheep could be killed. It was a pity that they broke down the wrong door. The animals were killed.
The Animal Sanctuary at Mossburn had upset people by refusing to have their animals killed. However, after court action it was finally decided that they had to go and so SERAD agreed with the owner's practitioner that he could put her animals to sleep at 10:00 am on the Saturday morning. At 6:00 am the police arrived in force and blockaded the road to keep away the protesters. Ross Finnie the Minister of Rural Affairs in Scotland, like Tony Blair, when confronted with Phoenix, decided that, with an election coming, there was just too much bad publicity and the policy was changed.
These horror stories refer only to Dumfries; they have been repeated in Cumbria, and in Devon, and probably other areas as well. One wonders if MAFF has any idea of the meaning of decency, compassion or even justice. It seems to me that to MAFF the word ETHICS stands for the place where the first case of disease was diagnosed in the 2001 outbreak. The slaughter of healthy animals continues and the College must stand up and say enough is enough.
It is being said that tomorrow, with the election behind him, the Prime Minister will announce that the new cull will commence. On behalf of the farmers and our profession, I ask you to say NO ! If there is a choice between slaughtering another million animals or vaccinating them, then Sir, it must be vaccination".
Roger Windsor. MBE. MA (Cantab), BSc (Edin) BVM&S, MRCVS.
So spoke an esteemed member to his peers at the prestigious Royal College. It is as far beyond belief that Veterinary surgeons should, for over the past three months, have been condoning and taking part in the wholesale slaughter of healthy animals in an effort to eradicate a disease for which there is a vaccine.
The time for Vets to say 'No!' is well overdue.
Jane Barribal - Farmtalking.com