"Silence of the lambs, calves, sheep, cattle and mathematicians"An article to his fellow vets in the Veterinary Times, March 2006, by Bob Michell, BVetMed BSc PhD DSc MRCVS, Former President of the RCVS
Rapid Diagnosis RT PCR - " a transforming moment"
" ...the means to eradicate and control these diseases are now available ... ..." Read in full
Warmwell.com Archive ~ Bird Flu pages Contact the site How FMD crisis was turned into a disaster - Scotsman, TimesPlease use F5 button to refresh the page RPA latest bovine TB Harriet - latest --------------------------------
Archive October 2006
October 28 2006 ~ The CVO, Debby Reynolds, congratulates SVS, Meat Hygiene Service and Pirbright for their swift response
See DEFRA site for CVO's message on lifted restrictions. At a time when the budgets for vital agencies are to be cut this should be a day to be remembered.
To general relief, the foot and mouth scare turned out to be a false alarm. It should be said that Debby Reynolds herself seems to have worked fast, tactfully and with genuine transparency, holding a telephone conference for stakeholders within hours. The brief report about the teleconference and its attendees was posted quickly on the DEFRA website yesterday. Dr Reynolds also said yesterday that her phone line 'door' was open. All this is encouraging and there are many who feel gratitude.
October 27 2006 ~ Initial tests negative.
Warmwell has made a transcript of the World at One interview Today's false alarm - if that is what it finally turns out to be raises worries that vaccination can take place only when a "complex range of factors" has been considered. As Paul Flynn ( Labout MP for Newport, West), commented in May 2004 about future vaccination being "considered":
" .... Only "considered," when to protect an export market of only £500 million, the taxpayer spent £9 billion slaughtering 7 million animals, many of them unnecessarily?
We now know that vaccinated animals are perfectly acceptable in the marketplace.
Should we not have a firm policy - not merely consider it - that we shall never again slaughter millions of animals without good reason? If there is another outbreak of foot and mouth, the great danger is that we shall be subject to the waste, futility and cruelty of mad cull disease. .."
October 27 2006 ~ Farming Today this morning reports a suspected case of FMD
The pig suspected of suffering from foot and mouth was at Cheales - the same Essex abattoir where FMD was discovered in 2001. Samples were sent to Pirbright for testing last night - and there is no mention of rapid diagnostic on-site testing. The provenance of the pig has not been reported. Movement restrictions have been imposed only around the abattoir.
More as soon as possible. Listen again to Farming Today It is not the first item. "The jury is still out....complex range of factors" on whether vaccination would be used in any confirmed outbreak. We also hear the phrase: "...What's still believed to be the source of the disease - Bobby Waugh's farm..." Transcript
October 26 2006 ~ RPA - The mess causing cuts to vital agencies will further damage the SVS
Defra will be raiding its veterinary research budget. in order to cover the costs and EU fines. To hamper the agencies responsible for research, diagnosis and surveillance on livestock diseases now - at this time of uncertainty and fear about bovine TB, Bluetongue, H5N1, the return of FMD - seems utterly extraordinary. As Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, says today (See Shetland News)
"The State Veterinary Service is already stretched. It is frankly hard to believe that the government is even considering cutting their budget at this time. This is one of the worst possible examples of a false economy. When you think that the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak cost the public sector over £3 billion and the private sector more than £5 billion to make these cuts simply does not make sense."See also RPA pages
October 25 ~ DEFRA overspent by 200 million pounds - but vital agencies pay the price.
To make up for the RPA fiasco (and - says the government - "bird flu precautions"), the Treasury has ordered cuts whose effects will be serious :
See BBC and now, Western Morning News
- Environment Agency £23.7 million
- Natural England - £12.9 million
- British Waterways - £3.9 million
- State Veterinary Service - £3 million
- the Marine Fisheries Agency - £1.7 million
- Food From Britain - £403,000
- National Forestry Company - £300,000
- Meat and Livestock Commission - £15,000
October 25 ~ German H5N1 vaccination plan
There are, at present, no reported outbreaks of avian influenza in either domestic poultry or wild birds in the EU. Protection and surveillance zones around previous outbreaks have now all been lifted.
The Commission and Member States have endorsed a vaccination campaign against avian influenza that the German authorities intend to carry out on 3 commercial farms in North Rhine Westphalia over the next 2 years. "The vaccination will be carried out for research purposes only, as part of a major field study to determine the effects and results of vaccinating against avian influenza." See: http://ec.europa.eu
October 24 2006 ~ RPA: "the Germans, who applied exactly the same scheme, paid on the nail within a matter of weeks"
2,400 UK claimants have yet to receive a payment - and no one will accept responsibility The blame should not rest with politicians said Lords Bach and Whitty to the EFRA Committee. The Western Morning News reports this and quotes Anthony Gibson:
"It's an attempted whitewash. It's all there for anyone to see what happened.And in the debate in the House of Lords yesterday, Baroness Byford reminded us that, ".... the delayed English single farm payment system has cost farmers between £18 million and £22 million in interest and arrangement fees on additional bank lending, to say nothing of the human misery....."
It's the usual politician's trick. They will try and pin the blame on anyone except themselves...."
Lord Plumb added:
"Loss of revenue is one thing, but the loss of trust and confidence, both in the Government and in the department, is considerable. Why cannot the English scheme be delivered in the declared time scale when the Germans, who applied exactly the same scheme, paid on the nail within a matter of weeks from the beginning of their scheme?"See RPA Latest
October 23 2006 ~ Bowland Dairy. The EU assumption that only their own version of antibiotic testing is allowable has closed down Bowland, humiliated the FSA and made the UK subject of a major legal action.
An unholy row has been unfolding since June in which a small Lancashire dairy company has been forced to close, its reputation in tatters. News reports containing phrases such as "floor waste" and "antibiotic residue" have seemed to condemn the company out of hand, yet "floor waste" is the technical term for excess cheese that falls into stainless steel vats, while "residues" - if any - fell within FSA approved safety limits. Indeed, Bowland seems to have cooperated fully with the FSA, passed their milk safety tests, kept proper records and agreed at once with advice and instructions. The FSA maintain that their tests, used elsewhere in the EU, are scientifically sound. EU officials however insist that the FSA tests won't do and that only its own tests must be used. No bilateral talks with Member State scientists have been held in order to back this assertion.
In September, the Courts of First Instance ruled that the EU officials withdraw damaging comments about Bowland products. This was ignored, and very soon afterwards a Commission audit of Bowland resulted in an EU wide product recall. Bowland wants to fight in the European courts.
If Bowland obeyed all the FSA food safety rules then it would seem to have been treated more than harshly. If the FSA is right about its monitoring and testing methods then it should surely have been allowed to back Bowland and challenge the EU - but the Government has forced it to cave in. If the FSA is so wrong that the Government sees fit to override its judgement, one is left wondering what on earth the Agency is for. (See also www.nutraingredients.com )
October 21 2006 ~ "Teinaz says he and fellow environmental health officers are slowly making a difference, tracking down gangs, confiscating meat and educating the public. "
Today's Guardian tells the story of Dr Yunes Teinaz and his crusade against illegal meat and its consequences for both humans and animals
".....In Hackney, bush meat used to be openly on sale in markets; now it is nowhere to be seen - although the suspicion is there is a thriving black market.The consequences of illegal meat are far more serious than has been generally acknowledged. All kinds of zoonoses - including Ebola - can spread to the UK via such illegal imports and slaughtering, while the cruelty involved is unspeakable. See Meat Crime pages.
There is, then, a sense of achievement for Teinaz, but one also of frustration with the sentencing of criminals. "Meat smugglers face sentences of up to six months and fines of up to £20,000, or both," he says. "But a few years ago I did the biggest seizure of the year - 120 illegal carcasses - but the man responsible was fined only £250."
October 21 2006 ~ Details of 17 new avian and pandemic flu research projects have been announced
EU memo IP/06/1413 announces 28.3 million euros (£20 million pounds) of new funding for research projects in the field of avian and pandemic influenza. Those addressing animal health will cover vaccines, better diagnosis and early warning systems, increased knowledge of the avian influenza virus itself, technology transfer to third countries and a network for monitoring migratory birds.
"The primary aim of this project is to develop avian influenza vaccines based on live vector vaccines which can be mass applied through spray, drinking water or eye drop instead of injection.. This would offer considerable advantages like mass applicable administration and a less labour intensive and much more animal friendly application. Furthermore, vaccination via the airways, the natural route of infection also for influenza virus will result in a more complete and faster protection, which can be very important in case of a disease outbreak..."
October 20 2006 ~ Avian Flu : "...the struggle Defra had to get enough poultry workers for the cull "
business.edp24.co.uk reports today on the very nasty reality of the UK's Bird Flu culling policy in Norfolk last March, mentioning "the grieving is probably akin to losing a relative", the lack of adequate compensation, the ostracism and - not least - the difficulties DEFRA had getting enough people to carry out the mass killing. (Any attempt to make the killing quicker by the revoltingly termed "ventilation shutdown" has been roundly condemned.)
This all suggests that when H5N1 is here there will be a miserable chaos unless policies change.
The East Anglian paper reports the words of the owner, Mr Dunn:
"......"I clearly remember the day they culled both flocks, it was my wife's birthday... ..As Valerie Elliot in the Times reported in May, these free range birds "... had to be culled because H7N3 flu is a notifiable disease...." even though this was low pathoenic H7N3 and "...Birds on the free range unit... suffered only a mild form of the flu and none died from the infection." Times May 2 2006
I have never seen my staff in tears before, we just couldn't face being on the farm that day - I think I spent the day gardening. Afterwards the grieving is probably akin to losing a relative but eventually you have to think this is here and deal with it."
"We were six months without any income.....They need to review the fairness of the compensation system." .... "You really find out who your friends are..... there were people telling us 'If you come in one door then we will walk out the other'. It was like suddenly becoming a leper."...the family also received lots of messages of sympathy and support .."
As we never tire of saying, use of on-farm diagnosis would enable a rapid decision about the risks of disease. Vaccination (see H5N1 page) for those owners who would prefer not to suffer as Mr Dunn's family did should surely - as the EU now concedes (see also below ) - be requested.and allowed.
October 20 2006 ~ Public opposition to GM crops is being overridden by a government determined to back the industry, says Michael Meacher
Extract from today's Independent Defra accused of introducing GM through back door " "This consultation is the Government's latest attempt to back the GM industry over the wishes of the British public," Mr Meacher claimed. "Instead of paving the way for GM crops to be grown in England, David Miliband must take on board the thousands of responses rejecting the Government's GM contamination plans and put in place policies that protect GM-free food and truly promise his vision of sustainable farming." .............. Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett said: "The Government's proposals to deny organic and other farmers the choice of staying free of GM contamination break their repeated promises."........ GM Freeze director Pete Riley said: "The Government appears to be willing to rewrite EU law."
October 18 2006 ~ Killing sauce for goose is not sauce for the rare breed gander
Newcastle Disease (pigeon variant) in East Lothian. The SVS has, for the moment, finished killing. However, because Newcastle Disease struck premises containing a number of rare species "of high conservation value" it was decided to exempt them from the mass culling: "These birds will be vaccinated, tested and kept under quarantine conditionsfor 60 days under strict biosecurity." (www.scotland.gov.uk)
(Once again, we see that the reasons cited for mass culling are not based in veterinary science. They are pragmatic decisions made by those in control. Yet the reasons used so contemptuously to dismiss the pleas of owners who want to preserve their livestock so often masquerade as "best scientific advice". It is worrying that such illogicality and downright dishonesty is not being roundly and loudly challenged. )
As a moderator at ProMed says, "Details of the vaccines used, the vaccination schemes (including revaccinations and their timetable) applied in the various bird species involved, and results of the anticipated post-vaccination serological follow-up are of significant value for similar possible future disease events elsewhere and will be welcomed."
October 18 2006 ~"APHIS allowed states to use the ARS test without validation"
It may be remembered that when Newcastle disease broke out in the Southwestern U.S. in the Autumn of 2002, "USDA again chose not to deploy the real time PCR test developed and demonstrated 2 years earlier by ARS scientists in Athens, GA." - but was then minded to change its policy in the face of financial losses - and the "stated reason" for ignoring the test was suddenly found not to matter any more. See www.humanitarian.net/biodefense
" The stated reason was that this test had not been validated by APHIS - lack of APHIS validation had also been cited as a reason not to deploy the FMD test in 2001. In fact, in February 2001, APHIS had never validated any of the PCR tests it had long employed for detection of foreign animal disease agents, had never licensed any PCR test for any animal disease in the U.S., and had no protocols for how validation should be conducted.
Some weeks after the State of California developed and deployed its own real time PCR test for Newcastle disease, APHIS allowed states to use the ARS test without validation. But much critical time had been lost. "
October 18 2006 ~ " The whole afternoon was an eye opener to the complete incompetence of the body which rules farming..."
The pet Jersey cow, Harriet, still under threat for reasons that seem illogical, now has her own page on warmwell. One witness to the fiasco of "valuation" on October the 9th is wearily scathing. "......The two people who came out to "value" Harriet were there under false pretences. They admitted that neither of them were valuers...DEFRA's argument that "The Law is The Law" goes against their attitude in this case. Laws run on Evidence and Proof. They have neither..." More
October 18 2006 ~ RPA's Johnston McNeill is still being paid his £114,000 salary
The NAO report reminds us that Margaret Beckett, ( now, of course, appointed to the most important political job after PM), and Lord Bach, were both warned in June 2005 that the scheme would not work - and that was seven months before it was even due to come into action.
They made no contingency plan.
See RPA latest
October 18 2006 ~ The required double-dose Bird Flu vaccination costs around 6p a bird - but DEFRA says that EU "requirements" could make vaccination cost £2 pounds for a single bird
Ruling out any pre-outbreak vaccination programme, Defra says that any decision to vaccinate during a disease outbreak would be "risk-based on expert advice". See H5N1 page. Not surprisingly, dismay among poultry owners has been expressed at DEFRA's estimated costs when the actual vaccination costs only 6p. All this seems to make even less sense when we remember that only a few days ago, the European Commission SANCO/10103/2006 rev. 3 Discussion Paper was saying:
"... Despite the constraints that make it difficult to properly assess the risks and the benefits of using vaccination as an additional HPAI H5N1 prevention and control tool, it appears wise to further explore this option in the EU, taking also into account the valuable experience gained in recent years in Italy, where following the major outbreak of HPAI of 1999/20002, a DIVA vaccination strategy has been developed and implemented..... Further experience has also been recently gained in France and the NL, which have implemented vaccination of poultry in the framework of the new AI control Directive 2005/94/EC. .."(See also below. )
October 17 2006 ~ Hopeful evidence for Harriet the cow
Warmwell has been told that the former owner of Harriet, the threatened healthy Jersey cow, has sent the family a fully detailed feed list together with times, amount and so on. (See covering letter) This shows quite clearly that the cow could not possibly have eaten from the same trough as an animal found later to have contracted BSE. Harriet was a mile away. Her vet has written a confirming letter. Mark Harper MP is also very concerned about this situation and the questionable principle that is driving it. Readers could contact the Reverend Patricia Pinkerton if they wish to support Harriet's very anxious owners.
October 15 2006 ~ "... let us remember that the line between too much food and too little is very thin indeed. This country must retain the ability to grow its own food.."
Extract from an email from a farmer to warmwell yesterday:
".... The ones in charge will never understand that it's not the disease that destroys all the trust one might have in "experts" but how they (the bureaucrats and supposed experts) bulldoze their way, hiding behind man made rules without understanding the relationship between animal, men and rural life...... farming : it is a very small part of the economy and it might not have an impact on the financial statistics of a country but destroying this part of the society will have a devastating effect in the long term.Read in full
I will never forget the speech the Prince of Wales made when opening the Royal Show 2002; here are some extracts :
"....I have to say that it is utterly incredible to me that farming - the basic industry of mankind - can be in such a state of crisis as it is today. It is an indicator of a society that takes its food for granted and, as I am sure all of you can testify, it shows how frighteningly detached too many people have become from the reality of how it is produced. ......As you can see we are not alone so I think we will do what we have always done : to fight on. And think of Edmund Burke : evil prevails etc. ..."
..And, Ladies and Gentlemen, let us remember that the line between too much food and too little is very thin indeed. This country must retain the ability to grow its own food. Situations can change in the world unexpectedly and there could easily come a day when the UK might be reduced to relying on its own resources once again. So let us not sacrifice long-term security for short-term convenience...."
October 14 2006 ~ "Be very careful what you write. Nature is illiterate and therefore does her own thing, regardless of what is published."
writes the moderator MHJ on ProMed today following a letter about the published paper by Dr Rosie Woodroffe. (See TB pages for full posting and DEFRA site for Government Veterinary Journal - Bovine TB special (Volume 16, no 1, September 2006)
The letter also describes in some detail the little-studied effects of the FMD disaster on the ecology of the UK. ".....agricultural practices which supported those 11 million dead cattle, sheep and pigs also went into a state of suspended animation for over 12 months, and the ecological balance of thousands of acres changed...."
October 2006 ~ Follow-up letter in the Scotsman links FMD trauma with that suffered by British Army
Andrew Bell wrote to the The Scotsman
"I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Tennant's comments. The policy followed during FMD 2001 was almost certainly driven by factors that had nothing to do with the risks posed by the disease itself or animal welfare considerations..... The parallels with FMD 2001 and what is currently happening in Iraq is drawn into sharp focus by the recent comments in the news of the head of the British Army Sir Richard Dannat. He is standing up for his men in a way that those in charge of the FMD epidemic completely failed to stand up for those persons in the front line fighting FMD. Many of them are still traumatised and suffering as a result. If you read 'Following Orders' you will understand why."(link to Amazon.co.uk for "Following Orders" here)
October 2006 ~ How FMD crisis was turned into a disaster - Fordyce Maxwell in the Scotsman quotes Toby Tennant
".....Let one fact illustrate the point. The contiguous cull policy was ruthlessly applied in south-west Scotland, and the results were acclaimed by Walker, Ross Finnie and Maxwell as a great success. But of 15 so-called Infected Premises in Wigtownshire, 13 were tested in the laboratory and only two were positive. Yet on 218 farms thousands of healthy animals were culled as a result of these misdiagnoses. Success? Or disaster?The article is very well worth reading, not least for the informed comment of Anne Lambourn, which appears below it.
To anyone with an open mind, these facts speak for themselves. Until influential figures take the trouble to understand what happened, the public will continue to be misinformed, and policy will continue to turn crises into disasters."
"...The tragedy of the wider preemptive killing of 481,000 sheep at Great Orton from an area supposedly "heavily infected" by FMD is underlined by the fact that tests on sheep from 115 farms (5786 sheep) revealed that only one farm had definitely had the disease, with positive tests on only 9 sheep. I understand that these were probably antibody positive results, showing that the sheep had had the disease in the past, but had recovered. The contiguous and 3 km culling resulted in massive overkill of healthy animals elsewhere - Gloucestershire 326 farms culled, 46 tested but ony 13 had the disease. In the Forest of Dean the culling of contiguous farms was prevented after local protest - timely, as the 34 contiguous farms all returned negative tests. The real tragedy is that the flawed science on which the contiguous and preemptive culling are based is enshrined in current legislation and disease control policy. ...."(Read in full)
October 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 fear that an elite clique at the very top of the scientific establishment is 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." He seems to forget that the resources needed to combat the disease were indeed available in 2001 but the dissenting veterinary and expert voices urging their use were ignored. As leaders of the two modelling teams, oddly termed "independent" in 2001, Professor Woolhouse and Professor Anderson drove the contiguous culling policy with models that made false assumptions and in which the data was flawed. Supporters of the overkill policy have been anxious to dismiss any criticism of the contiguous cull as "hindsight" - but the inadequacy of the models was known from the start. This website - and the many well informed dissenting voices -can hardly be accused of hindsight when we have been wearily repeating the same dismay for nearly six years.
(See more) Was it hindsight when Dr Kitching, contemptuously termed a "Neanderthal" by the establishment in 2001, said in a Channel 4 interview early 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 unnecessarily."Yet, the same establishment scientists are reaping golden research rewards and the country's animal health policies - for reasons that one can only guess at - are still not making proper use of technologies available in 2001 and which are now the gold standard for disease control.
October 2006 ~ Magnus Linklater - "false statistics, poor modelling, wrong deductions and bad science."
The Times Oct 10 2006 "We are used to politicians suppressing the truth. When scientists do it as well, we are in trouble. Not one of the government's senior advisers, from the Chief Scientist, Sir David King, downwards, has yet dared to confirm in public what most experts in private now accept, that the mass slaughter of farm animals in the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak was not only unnecessary and inhumane, but was based on false statistics, poor modelling, wrong deductions and bad science. ..." Read in full
(It should be noted that the figures in this article should be read in conjunction with those quoted by Anne Lambourn above in both the Times and the Scotsman.)
October 10 2006 ~ " the guidelines for the implementation of such vaccination are still hazy."
An article entitled "Supermodels - Mathematical modelling of infectious diseases " in the current newsletter of Wellcome Science ( also online at www.wellcome.ac.uk) suggests that the existing data from 2001 has at last been gathered into a useful form. Extract:
"...The data set is a list of every livestock farm in the UK..... a thorough account of which farms were hit by the disease and when. "We know reported cases to the nearest day, which is incredibly accurate compared to almost any other infection on record," says Dr Matt Keeling of the Biological Sciences Department and Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick.That the guidelines for the implementation of vaccination are still "hazy" seems, after so long, quite extraordinary.
Simulations support 'ring vaccination' of farms neighbouring an affected site...
. ...findings have profound implications for how we might go about confronting another FMD crisis. In 2003, an EU directive recommended that during the early stages of a future FMD epidemic, arrangements should be made for emergency vaccination ...... But the guidelines for the implementation of such vaccination are still hazy. .."
October 10 2006 ~ More on mathematical modelling exercises
As far as we understand, Prof. John Wilesmith led the modelling exercise in September (see query below) - although information is regrettably sparse and we are hoping to hear more. In a similar exercise carried out in 2002, (See FMD Modelling Workshop 23 May 2002 Summary Report ) the suave academic presentations given seemed to have little connection with the mass killings ushered in by the modellers. However, DEFRA's Sam Mansley did make the following blunt observations in 2002:
It would be comforting to be able to feel that such recommendations from four years ago as "greater communication between everyone involved" and "more understandable and transparent models" have now been taken on board.
- ".....the models contained incomplete data and lacked veterinary input.
- It was indicated that greater communication between everyone involved in controlling an outbreak (e.g. vets in the field, modellers etc.) is required in the future.
- transparent easily understandable models should be developed
- improved core and field data are also required. ..."
October 2006 ~"... using vaccination as an additional HPAI H5N1 prevention and control tool, it appears wise to further explore this option in the EU.."
DISCUSSION PAPER VACCINATION OF POULTRY AGAINST HIGHLY PATHOGENIC AVIAN INFLUENZA H5N1 (DIVA STRATEGY) Read in full on Bird Flu page.
The BBC has confirmed that Newcastle Disease has indeed been found in a flock of grey partridges at a holding in Fenton Barns in Drem, East Lothian. As so often in the UK, even with a disease that poses no risk to humans, this will result in 17.000 birds being put to death. One can only hope that it will be done "humanely". ProMed comments, "According to UK's information to the OIE, prophylactic vaccination of poultry against NCD is undertaken routinely. It would be interesting to note if the suspected birds have been vaccinated."
October 7 2006 ~ DEFRA FMD "Modelling Exercise" notice on the DEFRA website is dated 20 September 2006
"FMD Modelling Exercise: Defra is holding an FMD Modelling Exercise (15 - 22 September), using the scenario of an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Great Britain. The aim is to test the capabilities of the current range of FMD models as well as to improve communications with external modellers and understanding of the models, their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Leading independent modellers and scientific advisors will be participating with key Defra strategic and policy making groups in a table-top exercise with some "real-time" components."This is interesting - but one wonders how many interested stakeholders were made aware of the exercise in advance or were able to take part in any way. Is any reader able to tell us which "leading independent modellers and scientific advisors" were advising?
October 5 2006 ~ In only three months, Harriet can be live-tested with a single drop of blood, with results after 30 minutes.
A rapid diagnostic live test for BSE should be validated and available within three months. When a live test is so close, and when seven years have already gone by, the killing of a healthy pet cow would seem an inflexible interpretation of a regulation that is anyway based upon EU rules that do not apply to animals not intended for the food chain. (See below) As the Rev. Patricia Pinkerton says in an email today, the Jersey cow might surely be allowed to live three months more to see if she really has BSE.
"..... because we are an EU country, they are going through the final validation for the EU and should have that done by the end of the year. The Hon. Mr Charlie Mayer and I spoke by phone call to Alberta for about 45 minutes. He used to be Minister of Agriculture in Canada, and I believe him to be an honest man, interested in stopping post mortem testing.Mark Harper MP is also very concerned about this situation
What a gift this will be to the agricultural industry. ...."
Oct 3 ~ Professor Donaldson "...I am very familiar with the claims made by Roger Breese (sic) and Fred Brown for the rapid diagnostic method for FMD..."
The tone of Professor Donaldson's riposte on ProMed mail betrays a certain irritation. More
It may be useful, for those interested in the UK's failure to use available technology in 2001, to read an extract from the EFRA committee meeting on April 25th 2001 in which we see both David King and Alex Donaldson attempting to answer David Curry's question: "....If this machine is as accurate as Professor Brown told me, he said it is 99 per cent accurate, could it not have saved this huge, vast, expensive cull of mainly healthy animals?"
Although we feel that Professor Donaldson's recollection of the situation may not accord with that of others, we do know that many are in Professor Donaldson's debt for his attempts to change the culling policy and for his published research on the airborne spread of the 2001 strain of the virus - a paper that not only helped to win the court case for Rosemary Upton but also appeared to discourage MAFF/DEFRA from threatening other stricken farmers with court cases. With scientists of such expertise and decency trying to advise the government, how could the UK have got it all so disastrously wrong? It is highly unlikely that any of those of us who had the privilege of meeting Fred Brown would doubt his sincerity, humanity or scientific rigour, while the effect of Roger Breeze's participation in the recent Manchester Conference was described with great appreciation in the Western Morning News "Hearing someone of that calibre talk, you quickly realise that your own government has its head firmly in the sand, ostrich-mode."
Oct 1 206 ~ "I cannot emphasise enough the opposition locally to this slaughter. I am concerned that there may well be a large number of people present when your representative arrives to object to this action."
Mark Harper MP, Member of Parliament for Forest of Dean has written to the "animal welfare" minister, Ben Bradshaw, about a pet Jersey cow, not destined for the food chain, yet condemned under the Minister's interpretation of BSE control laws. Regulation (EC) No 999/2001 specifies the measures that must be taken when an animal is suspected of being affected by BSE or scrapie. However, as the Countess of Mar pointed out in her criticism of the UK regulations last March,
"EU Regulation 999/2001 clearly states that the rules apply only to animals which will enter the food chain. They do not apply to show animals, special collections of animals or anything to do with cosmetic or medical work, provided they do not enter the food chain. I am confident that this is not made clear in the statutory instrument. "Since the sole point of the regulations to be used as justification for killing the Jersey cow is "providing protection for consumers and ensuring that potentially infected material is not recycled " one wonders how the killing of a much loved pet can make consumers feel happier or safer. Full posting including Mr Harper's letter to Ben Bradshaw and links.
See also email from the Rev. Pat Pinkerton
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