Submission From : Captain Bryn Wayt
Phone: 01435 864937/fax too
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Background : Aviation Professional. Retired airline Pilot with 38 years of accident free flying. UK CAA Certified Flight Safety/Safety Training Instructor.
FMD Connection: Strenuously against the abominable handling of the FMD crisis by the Labour government. I am "For" vaccination - without slaughter.
Vested Interests : NIL. I am not a "farmer".
"Dr Anderson said he was aware of a mass of anecdotal information about the handling of the disease, but he needed verifiable facts to get at the truth."
Without a Full PUBLIC Inquiry it is very unlikely, verging on the impossible, that the truth from the ruling political spectre will emerge, as they continue to hide behind their cowardly cloaks of office and claim diplomatic immunity.
That is the first lesson to be learned ! Nobody should be spared from giving verifiable evidence which will be available to the public - they are the servants of the electorate lest they forget and should never hide their misdemeanours.
"The Inquiry instead intended to identify those areas where there were significant shortcomings and failures in processes".
I think everybody at your meetings will tell you, COMMUNICATION was abysmal from government.
They were caught off guard and without clear leadership, or a defensible plan; there was no Contingency Plan that to talk of, it was a "suck and see" whilst their only thought was mass slaughter. Their excuse for a scientific based slaughter policy has been proved lamentable; with different ideas from different camps. Even the recently retired Chief Scientist from DEFRA is ill at ease with the mechanics of government, "With the benefit of hindsight Dr Shannon questions whether the claims about the committee still hold, namely that 'the group of experts set up to inform the Chief Scientific Adviser's advice on the current foot and mouth disease epidemic draws together a wide range of experts, including epidemiologists and animal biologists". February 2002 edition of Science & Public Affairs.
I think it best to intertwine my other comments amidst the bare bones of what you are trying to achieve in your paper'.
My comments are in RED.
These are as follows:
- How adequate were the contingency plans at national and local levels for dealing with Foot and Mouth Disease in Great Britain? We, the public, are STILL waiting to see what these Contingency Plans were - that is how adequate they were ! They were meant to be placed in the Commons Library in the House, but I have yet to read of an unbiased MP having acquainted himself with them.
- What were the specific strengths and weaknesses? There were NO strengths from where I was standing as a horrified spectator. The weakness was, there was NO plan that used the 1967/8 outbreak as par for the course - it was a daily dose of a New Instruction or a New Law as the government blindly raged through the countryside killing needlessly, million upon millions of healthy animals. They cannot even tell the truth on the number slaughtered. They do not count a pigs litter, but call it one unit.
- How effective and timely was the Government's response to the emerging crisis nationally and in local communities? The resulting mayhem, lasting almost one year, illustrates more than anything the lack of planning and control and how ineffective the government machine was in dealing with a treatable animal disease. It was a dithering mess of biblical proportions, and a consuming disgrace inside and outside farming.
- What roles did MAFF/DEFRA, Headless chicken comes to mind. the State Veterinary Service a shocking and withering display of vets agreeing to kill healthy animals without just cause - their profession was discredited, the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales looking everywhere but in the correct direction - getting conflicting central advice, which clouded the water, Local Government clueless, the Armed Forces brought some semblance or order to the sordid affair, but a demeaning task for heroes and others like the NFU I presume you mean - well they were as their initials stand for..NoFlippingUse play in the crisis?
- Were they adequately organised, co-ordinated and resourced to do so? No ! No ! and No !
How ready was the farming industry to handle a major infectious disease like Foot and Mouth totally unprepared for the unlawful and totally ILLEGAL Contiguous Cull policy and did the existing national and EU regulatory regimes have any influence? EU Law forbids the killing of healthy animals (EU Directive 82/894/EEC  ) - but that did not stop the MAFF or DEFRA playing outlaws and destroying a nations soul. What more could be done to prepare for possible future outbreaks of infectious disease? How about Agricultural Ministers that knew what the devil they were talking about ? The ignorance of Elliot Morley was staggering; and he was meant to be clued up and on the ball. Being a paid professional assumes responsibilities amongst which is solid knowledge of your subject. "I don't know of any country that vaccinates sheep against FMD" was one admission of ignorance. Mrs. Beckett's calling the final outcome a "sort of minor victory" was an insult to the UK populace - having lost about £20 Billion to this fiasco, gives no room for such entirely stupid boasts by paid Ministers.
- Once the scale of the crisis became clear, was the response proportionate to the impact on the wider rural and UK economy? No ! Having slaughtered needlessly, this domino effect just exploded the logic of killing and eradicating the disease. One just has to look at Anglesey for instance; 40,000 sheep killed for nothing. Figures as high as 86% of animals that did not have ANY sign of the disease illustrates a hideous mismanagement of a CURABLE disease.
- Would the use of vaccination have made any difference to the scale and/or duration of the outbreak, and its wider impact? Does the Pope have a balcony ? Humans get vaccinated and rightly so - why is it so difficult to encompass a vaccination policy to protect from FMD ? Other countries do it, and have done it for decades. We import vaccinated meat from these countries (Argentina). The balance of the value of exports ( £350 million/year) against the £20 billion wasted on trying slaughter the 10% of the UK's farm animals is simply a dumb and hideously stupid policy. Prevention is ALWAYS better than cure. Vaccination is a prevention technique - the entire EU import vaccinated meat, what in God's name is stopping them adopting the same regime ?
- What could have been done differently to alleviate the economic, social and animal welfare impact of the unprecedented level of culling and disposal? Identify POSITIVELY animals with FMD before killing them. Vaccinate cattle IMMEDIATELY..sheep will ride through an outbreak and you would not notice it. The animal welfare disgrace was a government self inflicted injury of monumental proportions - where else in the world would good meat be slaughtered and left for a week to rot in view of schoolchildren or burnt on mountains of other corpses ? Plain visible truth that the government were running wild with a bad policy. Using the word "unprecedented" illustrates the level of incompetence the Labour government displayed to the world. The "Watergate" in the animal world.
- How effective were the communications systems for handling and responding to the outbreak? Useless ! Emergency FMD phone numbers were solidly engaged and Centres were manned with people who knew less about the disease than the government. Had it not been for the internet and the self formed FMD groups, knowledge about the whole affair would have been left to the local and national press - not always a good thing. Mr Blair was elected by only 25% of the UK who were entitled to vote, yet he has inflicted more damage to the rural economy than the 41% who stayed at home on polling day in 1997. He has been a disgrace to his position for a unbridled display of power politics chasing, in proportion, a wholly imaginable disease. A sledgehammer to crack a nut. The lesson is to be honest in government; this government has been proven to be dishonest. They failed to get scientific advice outside of the small clique that has been discredited in terms of the modelling' used to kill from a assumptions that never applied to the facts on the ground.
Dr David Shannon, chief scientist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Defra during the BSE and foot and mouth crises, said,
the committee that advised the Prime Minister made incorrect assumptions about the outbreak because it did not fully understand the disease,
If the committee did not understand the disease, as sure as day turns to night, the government knew less, and the world was witness to that.
Ministers are public servants, Mr Blair is head butler, his head should roll for running a renegade, lawbreaking circus which shamed this country to its boots.
Signed: Captain Bryn R. Wayt