HINDSIGHT? Hardly...Dr Paul Kitching - the Channel 4 interview in 2001 "Certainly there's a lot of perfectly healthy animals that are being killed, I think when this outbreak is investigated in the future, we'll get a clear idea of just how many animals were slaughtered unnecessary, yes."
October 12 2006 ~ "A consortium of leading scientists is to undertake research to combat animal diseases in Scotland, using a £2.5m Executive contract over the next five years at a "centre of excellence"..."
We continue to be very worried by the idea that "Leading Scientists" and "Independent Scientists" are at the forefront of disease control in the UK? As we know, following the honours heaped on several of the leading lights of the tragically unnecessary policies of 2001, bad science is no bar to success and status. The Scotsman reports that Professor Mark Woolhouse of the University of Edinburgh, director of the new centre, said: "This is the kind of resource that was needed during the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic of 2001 and will be needed again."
Professor Woolhouse led one of the two modelling teams, oddly termed "independent" by Elliot Morley, in 2001, and has been anxious to dismiss any criticism of the contiguous cull as "hindsight" (This website - and the many dissenting voices -can hardly be accused of hindsight when we have been wearily repeating the same dismay for nearly six years.
Alan Beat, the much respected Devon smallholder, wrote in an open letter to Radio 4 November 19th, 2001
"Woolhouse and Anderson, the respective team leaders, were formerly close colleagues at Oxford University before Andersons disgrace and forced resignation from his post there; and since both teams have promoted the novel concept of contiguous culling from the start of their involvement, they are hardly going to expose flaws in their earlier work at this late stage. Their two reports are not peer reviewed, they merely offer a one-sided perspective for the original culling strategy based on false assumptions and completely inadequate data.Was it hindsight when Dr Kitching, in a Channel 4 interview in 2001, said
"Certainly theres a lot of perfectly healthy animals that are being killed, I think when this outbreak is investigated in the future, well get a clear idea of just how many animals were slaughtered unnecessary."Yet, the same scientists are reaping golden research rewards and the country's animal health policies still not making proper use of technologies available in 2001.
Please see the pdf file from A. Lambourne 27 February 2002 FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE: LESSONS LEARNED INQUIRY
Extract: "When questioned by Krishnan Gurumurthy, of Channel Four News, about the way the epidemiological modelling had been used, Dr Kitching replied,Dr Kitching explains why the necessary data was not available. It was because of resource problems.
"I think this aspect of the whole handling of the outbreak is controversial. The modellers produced some very seductive graphs which would indicate where the virus is going, what the disease outbreak is likely to be in the future. The problem has been that there's been such little epidemiological investigation into the outbreak that the data which the modellers really require to input their model hasn't really been available, and if there isn't good data going into a model one has to question the value of the data coming out.".He makes the same point again later:
"there hasn't been the expert advice sought to feed into these models", and "it's essential to have the right inputs to get a satisfactory output."It is a basic tenet of science, which even a layman like myself knows, that models are only tools, to be used in an array of other tools at one's disposal, and that models are only as good as the quality of the material that is put into them. "Rubbish in, rubbish out."
"So much of the resources were actually consumed in tracings and slaughter that very little epidemiology was actually undertaken and therefore the information required by the modellers wasn't available."He highlights further weaknesses:
Kitching goes on to state:
- i) "There hasn't been, for example, (a) distinction between the different species affected with foot and mouth disease and how they would influence the model;
- ii) The amount of production of aerosol virus from this particular virus is considerably reduced, compared with the 1967 outbreak.
"Work carried . out here at Pirbright by Alex Donaldson, has already shown that aerosol production by this strain is much less from pigs that from previous strains that we've seen."Referring to the 1967 outbreak Dr Kitching says
"it mainly affected cattle and pigs, and that time, it was very important to slaughter the infected farms as soon as possible because they were transmitting a large amount of aerosol virus which would affect neighbouring farms."
- iii) The current disease has been extremely difficult to identify clinically in sheep, giving rise to enormous problems of diagnosis of Infected Premises. This contrasts sharply with 1967, when the disease, which was predominantly in cattle and pigs, was easily identifiable clinically.
- iv) The current outbreak was predominantly in sheep, which anyway produce much smaller amounts of aerosol than cattle. This, together with the fact that this particular strain of virus produces significantly lower amounts of aerosol than the 1967 virus, indicated that a different control policy from 1967 was in order.
- v) In this outbreak, the disease had been present in sheep some 6 weeks before the first outbreak was reported. So, "What is the urgency of the 24 hour slaughter if it's already been there 6 weeks?"
"These type of things haven't been addressed by the modellers and clearly this has had an influence on their output. The alarming thing is how it seems to have influenced policy to such an extent."He summarises by saying
"So there's a lot of differences between this outbreak and the 1967-68 outbreak, and yet it's policy driven by that outbreak that's dominated in this particular control programme."Kitching went on to say,
"If we knew more about its behaviour in sheep right at the start, the spread through sheep, the contact, the transmission rate within sheep flocks I'm sure it would have affected the policy on contiguous slaughter."
"Certainly there's a lot of perfectly healthy animals that are being killed, I think when this outbreak is investigated in the future, we'll get a clear idea of just how many animals were slaughtered unnecessary, yes."