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Date : Thursday, 15 August 2002

To : Sandra Beckett

Subject : FMDv – Vaccination, with related topics

Dear Sandra,

I am obliged that you have taken over from Linda to continue the exchange of views regarding last years FMD and the government’s proven abysmal handling of the affair – the phrase used by the LLI supremo, "a serious problem into a disaster" will forever linger and haunt your department.

Using your idea, I too will deal with your comments in turn; and as Linda has not been allowed to comment, I shall ask you Sandra the same questions that were left unanswered.

I did not have any "queries" about vaccination, my letter was full of observations and facts the New Labour government had chosen to ignore – the defence of cowards.

Your attempt to "clarify the situation" has unfortunately failed Sandra, as this opening remark of yours signifies. "we will continue to assess the viability of both emergency vaccination and routine vaccination in the future".

If we assume FMD started again next week, then it looks as if a slaughter only policy appears to be your only weapon – or am I wrong, as you suggest more assessing and viability studies ?

The viability of losing £20 BILLION from the UK coffers against £600 million (meat products exports) does not seem very viable to me !

I would have loved to have seen a more sensible commitment in your answer Sandra, by saying we WILL carry out EMERGENCY vaccination if FMDv hits us again next week, or as you put it, "in the future".

How long do we wait for these "scientific advances" you talk about ? As long as it takes your government to find BSE in sheep ?

I know EMERGENCY vaccination "could still only be used in conjunction with slaughter, movement restrictions and biosecurity" so why can’t you tell me you WILL use it, as you are more than confident we will have "future outbreaks".

I am pleased you said, "You were quite right to say that the Dutch used vaccination to combat the outbreak of FMD last year" but I was immediately saddened to see you failed to positively acknowledge the major impact vaccination made in that country in stopping the disease in its tracks.

We all know their, "outbreak was much smaller and more easily contained" – why was that Sandra ? Why do you think it was easier to contain ? VACCINATION !

Had your government one ounce of common sense we too could have contained our outbreaks – maybe on a couple of fronts, but it would have prevented the unhindered and illegal slaughter of healthy animals - don’t you agree ?

The "vast distinctions" you talk about are basically,

  1. They acted quicker and with educated conviction
  2. They used VACCINATION straight away
  3. We, as you reminded me, had dithered with the idea that "vaccination was under consideration at all stages"

Let’s even use your fabulous second point Sandra, "Secondly, they used vaccination as a means of suppressing the disease and the animals were subsequently slaughtered to allow the country to return to its FMD free trade status".

Answer me this Sandra, why did we not do the same ?

"There is little comparison to be drawn between the UK and Uruguay FMD outbreaks". You have lost me there Sandra !

I have to call your bluff here and ask you why you cannot see there is more than a passing comparison.

  1. Uruguay 2057 holdings affected; UK 2026 holdings – I call that more than a "little comparison"

  2. Uruguay FMD 24 April 2001; UK 20 Feb 2001 – I call that more than a "little comparison"

  3. Uruguay last case 21 Aug 2001; UK 30 Sep 2001 - I call that more than a "little comparison"

  4. Uruguay gets EU permission to export to the EU on 9th Oct 2001; UK free from FMD 21 Feb 2002

Perhaps you can see why I am dismayed that you consider there is "little comparison" between the two countries in FMD terms. That Uruguay got the disease after us and were exporting again BEFORE us, just demolishes your argument. The EU Decision 2001/767/CE – 31 Oct 2001 must surely irritate you to examine your rationale ?

Of course the UK suffered a primary outbreak; they all start somewhere. What do you think happened in Uruguay ?

You mentioning Argentina with their FMD problems only goes to show that we had more of a chance to solve the problem, but ‘blew’ it by incompetent amateur dithering.

I regret that I have to despair at the level of knowledge of your department or your researcher (or indeed your own knowledge) whoever told you Uruguay carried out "countrywide vaccination of cattle and PIGS".

Maybe this quote from their Embassy in London will embellish your grasp on the FMD situation down there.

"Pigs are very important, due the well-known role of the species in viral multiplication, but, since response to vaccination is poor, massive vaccination was not applied".

Likewise the inference that the slaughter only policy failed is not too clever either, as South America never just slaughters to get rid of FMD. Have a look at how they deal with it on any of the good websites.

You say, "The vaccine is short lasting and boosters will be required regularly until 2004". So what !

We are eating their vaccinated meat, and it’s a hell of a sight cheaper on the National purse than £20 billion. They are exporting all over the world; Israel, Egypt, Chile, all take their meat for they rely heavier on this sort of export than we do, so where is the weight in your argument ?

"Achieving "FMD free without vaccination" status had taken Uruguay six years and much hard work since ending mass vaccination in 1990". I suppose you are saying we did nothing in that same period ? Is that your point ?

"The results of this work have now been lost". I’m afraid the international community does not see it that way. Look at their boast about exports; granted it cost them some grief in 2001, but not £20 BILLION pounds worth we suffered. UK Farmers and Tourism £9 BILLION – that’s a loss !

It will take more than 14 years worth of UK meat exports to catch up on what this ludicrous "FMD free without vaccination" mantra that you keep pushing on behalf of lack lustre and challenged ministers.

"The UK has been able to regain international "FMD free without vaccination" status since the 2001 outbreak whereas Uruguay, even though their outbreak ended last August, has been subject to trade restrictions".

Tell me the trade restrictions Uruguay are suffering from please.

What annual tonnage of vaccinated meat have you told them will be accepted by the UK ?

Is it going to less than the 9,161 tonnes that we imported from Jan 2001 to Dec 2001 ?

If you tell me it is quarter of that, then I will believe you when you say it is approaching the "devastating" factor you pretend the UK would suffer.

Assume we were to limited to half what we export now, that’s about £300 million/year (Prof Midmore would say about £150 million). That is PEANUTS Sandra, and well you know it, when we compare the £BILLIONS it has cost us without VACCINATION playing a part in controlling FMDv.

Your argument Sandra about vaccination seriously damaging the UK is quite fatuous, thin and easily scuttled.

Look at the GDP of Uruguay as it relates to Agriculture – 10%.

Now look at the UK GDP in the same agricultural sphere - 1.7%.

You tell me their main export is beef; OK but Argentina and Brazil take 50% (let’s not bother about the ins and outs of how it qualifies through pH and de-boning etc – we could do that could we not ?). The EU plays only 20% in the whole export trade with Uruguay, our export trade in meat products is embarrassing small to bother about.

By the way, can you explain how 104 tonnes of "Bone-in" meat arrived from Uruguay in 2001 and was for sale ?


You try to regain ground by talking about exports of pig and sheep meat, as if our very existence depended upon it.

The secret is, it does not ! Did you know the UK imports 240,000 tonnes of pork and 125,000 tonnes of lamb, while exporting 195,000 tonnes of pork and 102,000 tonnes of lamb ? (Ref : Economic evaluation of farm animal welfare policy. Final Report to MAFF by Bennett, R. et al. Department of Agricultural and Food Economics, University of Reading. December 2000 and Eurostat data). These figures illustrate quiet adequately what a silly argument you are trying to deliver with the unpropitious warning, "The UK exports more pig and sheep meat for which de-boning and maturing are not suitable or financially viable. Countrywide vaccination would have seriously damaged these industries and the rural economy".

Look at the figures Sandra, and then without laughing, tell me you still believe what you wrote.

Uruguay does not need these "new generation" vaccines you talk about do they ? Even the OIE is telling the world via their website, with some overt pleasure I see, "despite reports to the contrary vaccine is there".

I do believe there are pulling their punches for the sake of the UK crestfallen New Labour government !

Using your own fine words Sandra, "Contrary to your email" the models used by your MAFF/DEFRA scientific (ha!) team to slaughter animals on contiguous premises to alleged IP’s have not been validated either, so your smug inference that present vaccines are lacking is akin to the kettle calling the pot black.

You are trying to tell me something here, "to clarify the slaughter policy, culling animals infected or exposed to FMD is vital as the disease is highly infectious and spreads rapidly affecting many animals in a short time" – what is it, for it does not equate with the fact that the Taiwan outbreak of FMD which ravaged pigs did not affect the cattle they were housed with - how does that stack up with your assertions ? Jim Walker (Scottish NFU) could not answer that either – maybe you know something he does not ?

"The disease may be severely debilitating". And it may not ! It can pass through a herd of sheep and not bother them much at all. Am I wrong ?

"FMD is not a mild disease as affected animals lose condition and secondary bacterial infections may prolong convalescence". This is a very misleading statement (I expect such from DEFRA) and I direct your attention to a small historical event of some significance that will squash such meaningless generalities.

The Duke of Westminster had 400 cattle (including the celebrated Eaton herd of dairy shorthorns) 300 sheep (almost all pedigree stock) and 250 pigs whilst FMD was doing its rounds in 1922-24. His animals were spared from slaughter as he fought off that nonsense and treated the animals with old fashioned remedies (he treated the blisters with salt and water – burst blisters were covered with Stockholm Tar). No animals died and the cows were back to their previous full yields on the following lactation – having produced almost no milk whilst they were ill.

"The disease causes significant distress in animals that are affected and there is therefore an important welfare benefit in controlling disease". That statement is possibly the most hypocritical and distasteful amalgamation of duplicity so far produced. Lambs drowning in mud because your MAFF/DEFRA would not allow them to be moved; healthy sheep giving birth as they were slaughtered; cows jumping fences because of bungled culls; between 20 and 60 farmers committing suicide because of your MAFF/DEFRA slaughter only policy and its attendant lunatic rules – you have not earned the right to talk about "important welfare" scenarios when it comes to controlling a curable disease Sandra.

I note well your summation, "As I said, we are currently responding to the two reports, "Lessons to be Learned" and the Royal Society Inquiry" and all I can say is, your barbarian tribe have a hell of a lot to learn.

And by the way, trying to teach me about FMD and New Labour’s excuse for a policy (old or new) is trying to teach Muhammad Ali to box. If you care for another round or two I’m here and a Triple World Champion and a PhD in the affair, so have sharper arguments the next time if you do not want a metaphorical boxing lesson.

Yours sincerely,

Bryn R. Wayt


Cc: David Lidington, MP

----- Original Message -----
From: Beckett, Sandra (AMED)
To: ''
Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2002 11:47 AM
Subject: Foot and Mouth

Please find a response to your email attached below.

Sandra Beckett.