"Euro-MPs have today backed Green proposals to force states to vaccinate rather than slaughter healthy livestock in any future outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
The decision was taken by members of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee considering European Commission proposals for tough new rules for handling future FMD outbreaks, following the European Parliament's inquiry into the 2001 FMD epidemic.
The Committee of Inquiry, of which Green MEP Caroline Lucas was Vice-President, published its final report in December 2002, criticising the Labour Government's mismanagement of the outbreak singling out the contiguous cull policy for particular criticism.
Members of the Agriculture Committee voted to adopt a proposal tabled by Dr Lucas, demanding emergency vaccination be considered "*the first choice in case an outbreak of FMD is suspected or confirmed".
The committee also rejected Labour proposals to weaken the Commission proposal by making vaccination simply an option to consider.
Dr Lucas said the decision was a victory for farmers, livestock and rural communities.
Speaking in Brussels after the vote, she said:
"More than 11 million healthy animals were needlessly slaughtered during the 2001 epidemic thanks to the Government's decision to prioritise protecting the UK's agricultural export market over making a serious attempt to halt the spread of the disease.
The proposed directive will now be passed to the full European Parliament for debate on June 3.
The European Parliament's inquiry into the outbreak blamed the contiguous cull policy for bringing financial ruin to much of rural England and recommended vaccination should be the first response in any future outbreak. Today's vote takes us one step closer to ensuring that this happens.
"Of course the welfare and livelihoods of rural communities should come before the interests of the globalisation agenda still being promoted by Labour's german Socialist allies."