Something that disturbs me is the praise apparently given to Scotland for its handling of the FMD outbreak by the EU Inquiry.

See some recent Press reports. This was the area (particularly Dumfries and Galloway) where the "scorched earth" policy was applied without "rhyme or reason". Roger Windsor, Dumfries, in the letter from 40 vets to Tony Blair, exposes the madness that was going on. This was Mossburn, Carolyn Hoffe, Kirstin Mc Bride, Laggan Burn farm country. I certainly do not have praise for the Scottish Executive nor Jim Walker of the SNFU. It seemed to me that the slaughter in this area was carried out with an almost fanatical zeal, and my telephone conversation at the time with the particular DVM responsible did nothing to change my view. Roger Eddy in his letter to Tony Blair of April 20th refers to "one ludicrous example" of a slaughter, simply because the sheep shared a field boundary of a few yards (regardless of the fact that these sheep were 6 miles away from the IP).

How can one praise a policy where the following happened: of 15 so-called Infected Premises diagnosed clinically in Wigtownshire (part of Dumfries and Galloway), TWO only of the thirteen tested were actually infected. Furthermore, the 15 farms resulted in a further 203 premises being slaughtered out (mainly contiguous and 3 km), and 90,000 animal were slaughtered, the vast majority of which were healthy. Looked at another way, this means that for every premises that tested positive, another 108 were slaughtered out.

Another madness was the slaughter of 2 pet (quarantined) goats in Craigs Road, Dumfries, 7 weeks after an outbreak on an IP within 3 km - a housing estate in beween apparently didn't stop the plume of virus bearing down on the goat shed.

Not far away in the Borders near Jedburgh, two farms had FMD confirmed. 34 other farms, none of which were tested, were despatched very swiftly, with a mass cull, that was the talk of the area, of approximately 29,000 animals. Testing of the 10 km surveillance zone revealed no infection, or antibodies.

There should very definitely be no pat on the back for the Scottish policy. Hopefully the EU Inquiry is looking seriously at how this mass slaughter of healthy animals can be prevented from ever happening again. A vaccination strategy must surely be the future front line policy.