Dear Dr Adam,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 4 September, in reply, I believe, to my third open letter to Ellen Kenny of DEFRA. Your answer, though delayed, has certainly left hers standing. What do you think of my suggestion that we should all get together and discuss the current foot and mouth epidemic publicly on an internet site such as ? You don't say anything about this idea.

You do say that you have not seen any report which convinces you that vaccination "would have been" an answer to "the problem which has been faced by the farming community". This raises a couple of points.

Firstly, I cannot believe that you have deliberately refrained from reading the paper on vaccination by Dr Ruth Watkins (mentioned specifically in my letter and available for all of us, including yourself, on Presumably, then, you can offer us solid and persuasive arguments which refute her conclusions. It is not enough to tell us that she has failed to convince you. You must also tell us why.

Secondly: "the problem" is being faced (note the present continuous) not only by what you call "the farming community", but by a multiplicity of small businesses, families and individuals throughout this country; and, in the long term, its outcome will affect conditions of life in Britain as a whole.

To continue with your letter: you say the government's Chief Scientific Adviser does not recommend vaccination. Leaving aside rumours that he is about to change his mind, would you claim that he has as much knowledge and experience in these matters as, say, Professor Fred Brown of the US Plum Island Animal Disease Centre, or Dr Alex Donaldson and Dr Paul Kitching of Pirbright, all of whom flatly contradict his advice ? If not, what possible motive could Mr Blair have for allowing this under-qualified person to dictate government policy ?

You emphasise the crucial importance of the European Standing Joint Veterinary Committee. Do you not find it disturbing that these unelected people should have the casting vote in deciding how we should deal with FMD within our shores? If our government lets us down we can send it packing. The ESJVC, however, is, like all things emanating from the EU (including its "parliament"), beyond the democratic control of the people of Britan. Do you not agree that, if we are to remain an independent nation, subject only to our own amendable laws as laid down by those whom we have elected to manage our affairs for a strictly limited period of time, any agreement with the EU should not be set in stone, but subject to modification by our Westminster Parliament, if the people of Britain so desire ?

Regarding the need to slaughter vaccinated animals, and the strain of vaccine involved, as well as the way in which sheep are affected by FMD, I refer you once more to Dr Watkins, and What grounds do you have for disagreeing with the answers to your objections offered repeatedly on this website? If you have valid reasons to doubt what Dr Watkins and many others equally or even better qualified so clearly spell out, your constituents deserve to be informed of them in detail, and not fobbed off with the second-hand opinions of arbitrarily appointed government advisers and the NFU, who have no practical experience in dealing with a major epidemic of FMD.

We must certainly hope that the "detailed enquiries which are taking place" will help us to cope with any future outbreak, as it seems to many of us that, if we are to continue importing large quantities of meat from countries where FMD is endemic, future outbreaks there will certainly continue to be. However, it is not enough for any enquiry to be "detailed". If we are to be convinced that nothing has been swept under the carpet, it must also be public. Nothing less will satisfy an ever-growing number of people in your own constituency and throughout Britain.

I see we agree that FMD is being used to further the agenda of special interest groups; but perhaps we disagree about the identity of the groups in question. I was referring, in particular, to agribusiness and the big food-processing firms, who have no ultimate interest in the well-being of our small farmers, or of anyone else in Britain; and to those Eurocrats of every country, including our own, who feel their own superior status and intelligence entitle them to a free hand in planning the "spatial development of EU territory" - to the point of dictating exactly what people in different "EU regions" should be allowed to produce.

Unfortunately, their unswerving confidence in their own ability does not make them immune from failures of judgement. As you say, "there are now twice as many sheep as there were at the time of the previous outbreak". True. You do not mention, however, that this superabundance of sheep was deliberately engineered by the EU, when our farmers were bribed, with the offer of easy subsidies, to produce not what their own common-sense dictated, but what the planners happened to be pushing at the time. Now those same planners cannot believe their luck, as FMD gives them the chance reverse their own misguided policies and usher in some (perhaps equally misguided) new ones, at no cost to themselves: always assuming that a public enquiry can be avoided. If vaccination is delayed, against all reason, for another six weeks, they will no doubt succeed in reducing British livestock farming by the desired 40%; a good proportion of unwanted small-scale farmers will have been bribed or driven off land which is now required for other purposes; and there will be even fewer opportunities in this country for anyone to survive independent of government or corporate patronage.

In conclusion, I would point out that you are unlikely to discover all the facts about FMD if you look no further than the Country Landowners' Association, DEFRA, and the NFU (though it seems that even the latter may now be coming round, belatedly, to the idea of vaccination). In addition, you mention "the farming community" as one of your sources of information and opinion - but this is a term too vague to have any meaning whatsoever. You clearly need to widen your input, and the simplest way to do this is to visit daily, and compare what is being posted there with what DEFRA and your government and EU colleagues are telling you to believe, before coming to any conclusions.

I trust that you are fair-minded enough, given the current destruction being visited upon Northumberland, to give full consideration to what a growing number of your constituents are saying. When the public enquiry comes, as it surely will, you will not be able to plead ignorance.

Yours sincerely,

Gillian Swanson.