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THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP

 

PRESS RELEASE: 20 August 2001

 

NATIONAL F&M GROUP JOIN MARCH TO CALL FOR PUBLIC INQUIRY

 

Group demand full Public Inquiry - Inquiry must address why vaccination has not been used to control the 2001 UK epidemic

 

The National F&M Group is to join the March today from Hyde Park to Downing Street to add its voice to the call for a full public inquiry into the 2001 UK F&M epidemic.

 

One of the key concerns which must be addressed is why vaccination has not been used as part of the strategy to control the current epidemic.

 

Agreeing with Roger Eddy, Senior Vice President of the RCVS, the Group believe that the three planned inquiries will lead to confusion and duplication. The really important issues; regarding vaccination, the justification of the contiguous cull policy and the anti-body positive culls, may not be addressed at all, or dealt with in different ways by different inquiries. The result will be no cohesive outcome or sensible analysis.

 

The Group also want to know how the NFU resistance to vaccination is to be considered. Throughout all the crisis, the lack of knowledge about vaccination demonstrated by the NFU has been at best, a disaster, and, at worst, negligent. Judging by Ben Gill's recent public statements at Penrith, even now he is not acquainted with the facts regarding vaccination. This is deeply worrying.

 

Why did the Government not apprise the NFU about the detail of the EU decisions of 30 March and 24 April 2001; which permitted the use of protective vaccination in Devon, Cumbria, Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall - and did not allow for vaccinated animals to be slaughtered? Similarly, why did the Government not explain the OIE rules and regulations to the NFU regarding vaccination? Why did the Union remain unaware of the effectiveness of such control, as demonstrated elsewhere in the world, to eradicate FMD, without the punitive long term loss of export markets.

 

The Inquiry must address what contingencies, if any, the Government prepared to incorporate vaccination - and why it did not involve leading world scientists in the control of FMD to deal with the epidemic - but preferred to consult scientists with no background in FMD, such as Prof King, a physical chemist, to determine policy. Why did the Government rely on epidemiological models from scientists with no experience of FMD or its transmission?

 

Will we be allowed to see the minutes of the meetings, the decision charts and the cost benefit analyses of the various control routes? Do they exist?

 

If lessons for the future are to be learnt then, sadly, the mistakes of the past will have to be identified - otherwise we will learn nothing.

 

A full public inquiry is the only way to reveal the truth behind this terrible catastrophe. All those who have suffered, lost livelihoods, their life's work, their animals, and more, deserve nothing less. The damage to the nations standing in the international arena, the destruction of so many healthy animals, the dreadful images of pyres and pits and the disgrace to this nation's reputation by the primitive, crude and barbaric control methods, demand a full, accountable public inquiry. Only such an inquiry will provide the means of restoring self esteem to the country and its people.

 

THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP

Co-ordinating Office: 3 The Common, Siddington, Cirencester, Glos GL7 6EY

Tel: 01285 644319 or 01285 656812