INBOX - emails sent to the foot and mouth group or to warmwell.com
These letters do not necessarily reflect the view of warmwell.com. IF YOU send email it may be published; if you would prefer your message to be private, please do SAY SO AT THE TOP of the mail. Requests for anonymity will be respected.
April 28 ~ Were any lessons at all learned from the terrible FMD crisis of 2001? There will be a House of Commons debate tomorrow at which this question - and others - will be considered.
April 28 ~ Kofi Annan today appealed to all the parties in Iraq to refrain from violence, respect international humanitarian law and give the political transition a chance, saying it was time now for those who prefer "restraint and dialogue" to make their voices heard. UN News Centre
April 28 ~ The envoys call for authority to be given to the UN and pressure applied on America to curtail its military action Read the letter to Mr Blair from the 52 former ambassadors, high commissioners and governors See Iraq page
April 28 ~ U.S. Department of Homeland Security has awarded an $18 million grant (over £10 million pounds) to the University of California, Davis, and three partner institutions to establish a national centre for research into foot and mouth disease,avian influenza, Rift Valley fever and brucellosis. The centre will develop new methods for detecting, diagnosis and vaccination and will develop databases and models that will help assess potential disease threats to U.S. animal agriculture.
April 28 ~ Support for ID cards? "The most recent opinion poll shows a large majority in favour of a card but also indicated nearly 60% changing their minds if they would have to pay for the card – which they would. It also indicates over 50% having little faith in the Government’s ability to manage such a large data base." See today's page on responses to the ID card by various organisations, including the Liberal Democrats
April 28 ~ Following the granting of bail to prisoner "G" In the debate in the House of Lords yesterday, Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Hansard) moved Amendment No. 28A: the Government believe that there should be a mechanism to ensure that the law is applied correctly. Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government: "Whether, following comments by the Home Secretary on the release of an Algerian man suspected of having terrorist links, criticism by Ministers of the Crown of decisions of the courts in cases to which they are party is an attack on the rule of law....Would he look favourably on an amendment to Clause 1 of his Constitutional Reform Bill to make it clear that his duty and that of any successor will be not only to guarantee judicial independence but to secure and maintain the rule of law?" See also democracy page
April 27 ~"... nobody in their right mind would say yes to a "constitution" 300-odd pages long, written and cross-referenced in a manner beyond the comprehension of the average MP - let alone the average member of the public, who would need to take a few months off work and sign up for lessons in Euro-speak to get to the bottom of it." Gillian Swanson has written to Chris Patten
April 27 ~ The frustration and disappointment expressed by Jo White, Campaigns Manager at the ILPH makes for sad reading today.
April 27 ~ "...the legal precedent that an administration can define justice to suit its needs would be a crisis greater than terrorism" says the editor of the Palm Beach Post today. See democracy page
April 27 ~ "The other issue that Blair is being taxed upon even as I speak is whether he has a shred of evidence that his "close" relationship with the Americans is actually yielding any results at all. " Jon Snow in the Channel 4 update. Meanwhile, the news from Fallujah and from Najaf this evening is grim indeed.
April 27 ~ "Sir David King has described (global warming) as a greater threat to the world than international terrorism..." says the Washington Times today on the subject of Mr Blair's "Climate Group". See also George Monbiot on global warming.
April 26 ~ OIE "The mass killing of animals applied during the foot and mouth disease crisis in 2001 in Europe and during the recent avian influenza epidemic in South East Asia when more than 100 million birds either died or were destroyed has posed considerable ethical, technical, ecological and economic problems....Dr. Bernard Vallat said that this situation was no longer acceptable either to the international scientific community or to the public at large "
April 26 ~ ".. farmlands rendered useless, acute economic difficulties and chronic health problems" still happening today, 18 years after Chernobyl.
April 26 ~ From "The Best Kept Secret in Washington" "... Muslim nations will soon control virtually all of the world’s oil exports. Since neither capital nor labor can create energy, the next round of energy-shortage-induced stagflation will leave central bankers helpless and they will seek military solutions to their economic problems. It's the best-kept secret in Washington, Whitehall, Brussels, and Jerusalem, but it's just a matter of time until word hits the street…" See"peak oil" crisis.
April 26 ~ Tackling big problems such as climate change.. requires an understanding of small details. It cites how attempts to control the spread of Bovine tuberculosis by culling badgers backfired, causing a 27 per cent increase in the disease in cattle in culling areas, possibly because the cull had affected the intricacies of badger behaviour in a way not yet fully comprehended. See Independent
April 26 ~ We'll always have Parris . Here, he says, "..away with your false dichotomies, Mr Blair. When it comes to the really big question about Europe, it isn’t “yes” or “no”, it’s “yes”, “no” — or “whatever”. Britain will vote “no” and mean whatever. Thank you, Prime Minister for the wake-up call, but we had noticed that the European question was unresolved, and we intend to keep it that way."
April 26 ~ Alan Beat's book. Please note revised information about ordering the book.
April 25 ~ ".... neatly reversing the vicious circle in which modern society had previously trapped us.."
"A Start in Smallholding" by Alan Beat is unputdownable. In 22 highly readable, honest, often wry but always delightful chapters, he describes his determination to make the transition from townie to countryman - a feat which he, his wife Rosie and the family have achieved to the point where they are now an inspiration and source of education to many others. (See his website www.smallholders.org from which the book may be ordered) Extract from the book.
April 25 ~ The annual profits of HRH Prince Charles' Duchy Originals are likely to be above £1 million this year.See report in the ( Telegraph) "All the proceeds go to the Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation which, in turn, supports a range of charities. This year's profits will take the total given by Duchy Originals to charitable causes to more than £3.5 million."
For this very high profile support for sustainable, humane farming, and for his deep concern for the rural community, many of us have reason to be grateful to Prince Charles.
April 25 ~ One of the stories in Booker's Notebook concerns possible GMO's in bird food "... Last week, therefore, in accordance with an edict from Brussels, the Government put into force a new law, on a not-unimportant issue, which it seems the Government has no way of enforcing. Yet if a fisherman is found using a wood-and-rope ladder, instead of the slippery, all-plastic, unsafe version required by EC regulations, our officials have no hesitation in threatening him with a £5,000 fine."
April 24 ~ ID cards. The Earl of Selborne, chairman of the Royal Society's science in society committee said: "There has been a lack of public debate and there is a very real danger that we are sleepwalking into our technological future."..."most of the 1,000 people questioned by MORI expressed doubts the cards could be introduced without problems." BBC
April 24 ~ Peak Oil? "It's not that the oil will run out but that the ability to extract the oil economically will not be there...." is the understated view of Alan Booth, president of the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association in this BBC report from Thursday. For a riveting account of what the oil crash actually means in terms of food and water prices see Life After the Crash.com (in spite of the website's dramatic appearance the tone and content of the articles is impressive.)
April 24 ~ On the same subject, John Pearson has sent this email "I don’t wish to alarm your readers but it’s no use burying our heads in the sand."
April 24 ~ "I am grateful to Defra Minister Ben Bradshaw, who has been extremely constructive. The point is that for thousands of people living in the area this pit has been not just a physical scar, but also an emotional scar..." WMN on the future of Ashmoor Pit.
April 23 ~ "David Blunkett has said he will change the law ..." (See democracy page Mr Blunkett is furious that he lost his legal bid to stop the suspected Algerian terrorist "G" who suffers from polio and who has become mentally ill from his open-ended incarceration, being released on bail) He is just the man to do it. A line from Robert Bolt's "A Man for all Seasons" occurs:
Oh? And when the last law was down and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand upright in the wind that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety's sake.April 23 ~ "estimates of global oil reserves may be dangerously exaggerated....As the world's natural resources shrink and global warming changes the environment, competition for unimpeded access to them has intensified and will continue to do so. About four-fifths of the world's known oil reserves lie in politically unstable or contested regions..." Jane's.com "World oil crisis looms" - and as an emailer says, "Well it must be official if Jane's are worried!"
And as George Monbiot wrote in December, "the resource upon which our lives have been built is running out. We don't talk about it because we cannot imagine it. This is a civilisation in denial.."
April 23 ~ "In its own consultation document, the Government predicts we will spend £2 billion in the next 10 years not curing bovine TB." Owen Paterson was replying to Ben Bradshaw's "cheap swipe" of suggesting that taxpayers' money had been wasted by his tabling of 450 questions. See article in the Shropshire Star. The most astonishing thing is that Ben Bradshaw said the cost of answering r Paterson's questions was an estimated £60,750. Can anyone explain this?
April 23 ~ China has today confirmed two cases of SARS and isolated two patients with symptoms of the virus.
April 23 ~ "The Government must now act to dispel the impression that there has been a cover-up by opening itself up to a truly independent inquiry into foot and mouth" says Theresa May (WMN)
April 23 ~ .... the birthday of William Shakespeare. We could use a hero to fight the various dragons and vicious worms that threaten the country, the countryside and the liberties for which England has stood. In the absence of heroes, we'd better stiffen our sinews, summon up our blood and imitate the actions of the tiger ourselves.
Happy St George's Day.
April 23 ~ If you can get to the the auction mart pub, the Hired Lad, near Penrith on Friday May 14th 2004. make a note in your diary. The speaker at the open meeting on the future of farming is Owen Paterson, followed by a question and answer session. See front page (thanks to Elli Logan for this)
April 23 ~ "George Bush’s radical foreign policy is not going undiscussed. The bull may be crashing about the china shop, but Americans are meticulously plotting its path. This is democracy at work. Nothing is left to secrecy. Everyone talks. Public policy is for public debate. And it is debated in that most decorous of mediums, the book.
Back home, Britons characteristically wait in dutiful silence. Lord Butler of Brockwell is considering what they should be told of the war in which their soldiers are dying, when he is ready. I cannot imagine what his lordship will find that is not already stacked sky high in Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue." Simon Jenkins on the "groaning cliff of Iraq books" in America. (See Iraq page) "The combined blast of these books makes Britain’s Hutton inquiry look like a peashooter."
April 23 ~ Euro MPs have voted to mount a legal challenge to a controversial counter-terrorism deal with America yesterday, defying warnings that the move threatens chaos for transatlantic air travellers and airlines. See Independent yesterday.
April 23 ~ Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911", a documentary about the "the murky relationship" between former President George Bush (snr) and Osama bin Laden's family, has been selected by the Cannes Film Festival to premiere there in competition next month "The senior Bush kept his ties with the bin Laden family up until two months after Sept. 11," said Moore. "People are now realizing you can question your government while still caring about the soldiers," he says. Michael Moore website
April 22 ~ David Blunkett has lost his legal bid to stop the suspected Algerian terrorist "G" who suffers from polio and who has become mentally ill from his open-ended incarceration, being released on bail. The Special Immigration Appeal Commission upheld its ruling that "G" should be kept under house arrest instead. The Home Office has now announced that it is tabling amendments to the asylum legislation at present going through parliament to give the Crown statutory right of appeal. If successful it will be able to overrule SIAC in future.
Deputy Mayor of London and Green Party MP Jenny Jones told the rally outside Belmarsh prison at the beginning of April that it was a "complete injustice" that people should be held without trial in a country which prided itself on its democracy and justice system. See democracy page
April 22 ~ An emailer writes, "According to the Scotsman today, DEFRA and the Home Office will be forming a new agency to cope with the fall-out from a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attack..."the agency would offer advice on a range of attacks." So that's all right then. We are in safe hands. They will be telling us exactly what we can do..."
April 22 ~ "Safety" again. WMN has two articles today about the "ridiculous" red tape and overbearing safety rules which are strangling ferries of all sizes - including a canal ferry. Anthony Steen, Conservative MP for Totnes: "There seems to be an insistence on operators using so much safety equipment there's very little room left for the passengers." A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: "The rules have been put together by the MCA for reasons of public safety," refuting any suggestion that laws had been handed down by Brussels. ..."
(However, the MCA was fully aware when compiling its regulations for fishing vessels that "... The United Kingdom would also be in breach of a responsibility to implement Council Directive 93/103/EC, if the technical requirements were not applied by statute, including “regular checks” to ensure compliance with the Directive.")
April 22 ~ The EFRA Committee's decision to investigate bovine TB for the third time in five years: (see front page).
The Western Morning News quotes Anthony Gibson :"What we need is tough cattle-movement regulations, coupled with action to stop TB spreading in wildlife. We know that effective control of diseased badgers leads to a significant decrease in the spread of bovine TB in herds." - but.. "Shadow Agriculture, Minister Owen Paterson, said he welcomed the announcement, expecting "interesting evidence" to come from research in Ireland where badgers are culled in TB hot-spot areas. He stressed that the Government should be taking immediate action. "It would be nice to wait for a vaccine, but we are being told a vaccine is still ten years away. Ten years ago, we were being told the very same thing," he said..." WMN
April 22 ~ "At a time when trust in Government politicians is at an all-time low, why is the answer to create yet more bureaucrats, more regulations and more politicians?" asked Caroline Spelman, MP yesterday. See democracy page
April 22 ~ "an internal investigation had cleared officials of deliberately misleading the "lessons learned" inquiry, chaired by Dr Iain Anderson, when they blocked the submission of a report by government vet Jim Dring." WMN - and all devotees of Yes Prime Minister will understand the significance of the word "internal" in Mrs Beckett's written reply to Andrew George and the quotation marks around "in the clear" in the WMN article's headline. (Read the WMN article in full) Mr George, MP for St Ives, said that public confidence had been so damaged by the handling of Mr Dring's report that an independent investigation was now needed... "A large section of the farming community simply do not trust the Government on this. ...." See Dring case
April 22 ~ An emailer writes, "Live movements. That is what this is really all about. Continuing live movements through borders and overseas. Live movements that can and do carry disease with them. A lot of people are absolutely determined to continue such movements at all costs. Four days at sea and eight on a lorry is absolutely ridiculous. Unnecessary, cruel and dangerous. "
April 22 ~ Received this morning "I received an email from email@example.com, subject "unknown" with attachment. I haven't opened it because it looks suspicious. Did you send it?" The answer is NO. Warmwell does not send attachments. Please be aware of this menace. The warmwell computer is heavily (and daily) guarded against viruses and these messages are not coming from here.
April 22 ~ Received this morning: "I just wondered if you were aware of the UK Independence Party (www.ukip.org). I have been a member for the past few years. We have several local councillors and 3 MEPs - and are hoping to increase those numbers on June 10th. We have 18,000 members, and many more supporters - but the media ignore us (deliberately?). In Shropshire we have been out most week ends inviting people to sign the Referendum on the Constitution petition - and had at least 3,000 signatures in just half the County. People thank us for what we are doing."
April 22 ~ Wildlife Information Network is warning owners that horses travelling to and from the US are increasingly likely to come in contact with West Nile Virus. WNV can infect birds, horses and humans and is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. It can cause encephalitis or meningitis.
April 22 ~ "the Government has, inadvertently I think, introduced a perverse incentive in the way they are implementing the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. "Unless growers grub up their orchards by the end of the year then they will lose forever the ability to claim money for them as agricultural land..." Lib-Dem MP David Heath said that orchard owners were facing a "perverse incentive" from the Government that would offer them payments for managing their land - but only if they dug up their trees. WMN
April 21 ~ The bombs that went off during this morning's rush hour in Basra killed at least 68 with 200 or more wounded. Two vans carrying schoolchildren were destroyed, one carrying kindergarten age children, the other carrying middle-school girls. Dead children, burned beyond recognition, were taken to hospital morgues.
The BBC continues to refer to numbers of "insurgents killed" in its news reports from Iraq.
April 21 ~ Tony Blair has rejected a challenge from the Conservative leader, Michael Howard, to hold a live televised debate on the EU constitution. Guardian
April 21 ~ Archbishop Rowan Williams says that the "political health" of the country has suffered in the aftermath of the war and that owning up to mistakes might restore trust. See democracy page. Owning up to mistakes? While there may be talk of "lessons learned", legislation to preclude challenge and to increase central control is quietly introduced. Trust is now in very short supply indeed. The greatest danger of all is that we take refuge in cynicism and give up responsibility.
April 21 ~ The NFU in Scotland (see Scotsman about the dangers involved in tagging young calves) are questioning the sense of the new FSA rule about clipping before slaughter.
The "safety" required by the Food Standards Agency - who perhaps have not thought through the implications of removing mud and dung from the underside of a bull - is at the expense of farmers' safety - not to mention increased stress for the poor old cattle. One emailer writes, "... "Safety" has become a political football; its meaning obscured by the various bureaucrats who control our lives with exaggerated fears. If only they could all just shut up and go away..."
April 20 ~ Those who challenge the old mind sets may be easily dismissed by the lordly few who sit in scientific ivory towers. But just as Mark Purdey may be on the right lines about BSE, it is surely not impossible that Colonel Danny Goodwin Jones could be right about the relationship between the soil and bovine TB. He says "....copper and selenium interact very precisely. Without sufficient selenium, available copper becomes ‘locked up’ and therefore not available to the cow. ....selenium is extremely sensitive to sulphur......Cows producing 30 litres a day need a minimum copper intake of 163 mg to maintain themselves in peak physical condition. Selenium intake of just 2.5 mg is essential.” In this latest EFRA investigation (see front page) such ideas may at least be examined.
April 20 ~ 1 in 5 of the UK's adult population is affected by arthritis. 284 Members of Parliament signed EDM220 last year, which called on the government to make arthritis a health priority. It is 2004 now and the government has still not heeded this call. Dr Roger Berry MP has tabled a new EDM calling on the government to develop a UK-wide strategy for dealing with arthritis. It would be the work of a moment to fax your MP asking for the EDM to be supported or use the Arthritis Care org's email form. Very many thanks indeed to those who take the trouble to do this.
April 20 ~ "...The House and Members of Parliament are here to protect Britain's liberties, not sell them down the river. That is why we in Castle Point compiled a petition to force the spin-obsessed Government to listen to the people. Hundreds of Castle Point people of all political persuasions queued up in all weathers to sign it. Bob Spink's petition was laid before Parliament last night.
April 20 ~ "The Minister talks about public consultation, and we would all welcome that provided that what the public say is occasionally listened to and acted on..." said Andrew Selous during yesterday's debate on the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill. (See democracy page. Local people are no longer allowed to voice concerns locally about local planning proposals) But one begins to wonder how far even elected Members of Parliament are wasting their breath when they argue so cogently and well against further centralisation.
April 20 ~ "Wind technology is third-rate, inefficient, unreliable, intermittent, grotesquely imposing and achieves the very opposite of that which is intended. We are being failed by our politicians, who cannot see beyond the "green" chimera of a few whirling pale intruders traversing our countryside, killing our birds, deterring tourists and making the power companies very rich at our expense.
And all the while, power reserves run down, the best technical minds in the country give clear and unambiguous advice of the unpardonable folly of it all, and our leaders choose to take no notice." See latest article on the windfarms page by John Campbell QC -or read the article in full here.
April 20 ~ "The British will not vote for a government of bureaucrats, by bureaucrats, for bureaucrats." See democracy page and William Rees-Mogg's article today in the Times
April 20 ~ Channel 4 News BAFTA award - "a mark of international recognition for programme’s foreign coverage over the past year and was dedicated to Channel 4 News’ Gaby Rado and all the other journalists who lost their lives covering the conflict."
April 19 ~ ".... It is also believed that intervention in the motor speech area of his cortex now enables Mr Blair to describe Iraqis who respond negatively to having their houses blown up as "fanatics, extremists and terrorists". ..." Terry Jones in today's Guardian.
April 19 ~ "The BBC governors were attacked from the stage (of the Bafta awards) for failing to back Mr Dyke over the Hutton Report. Paul Abbott, who won the Dennis Potter Award for outstanding writing in television, said Mr Dyke was “one in a million”. The writer of State of Play, Shameless and Clocking Off said: “I still can’t believe that we as investors in the BBC allowed such a guv’nor to get ousted by a handful of the least qualified people in the industry.” The Times
April 19 ~ Words very gratefully received in an email from Chris this morning "...blow the cobwebs out of your system. Remember "we are born with the gift of laughter, being serious is something we learn"... :-))" Yes. It is time to restore and update the Light Relief page
April 19 ~ ".... nuts and bolts practical and deeply personal……..political Viagra for anyone tired of feeling hopeless, helpless and impotent in the face of our Big Money/Big Media controlled political system" is how “50 Ways to Love Your Country” the recently released political activist guide compiled by Moveon.org is described. It has reached the bestseller list on amazon.com
April 19 ~ Words very gratefully received in an email from Chris this morning "...blow the cobwebs out of your system. Remember "we are born with the gift of laughter, being serious is something we learn"... :-))" Yes. It is time to restore and update the Light Relief page
April 19 ~ ".... the cause of such necessary openness is not helped by off-the-record briefings to newspapers and a series of nods and winks to selected individuals." Charles Kennedy reported by ITV news on the EU constitution question.
April 18 ~ Blair wrote: “Too often in the past, change has been initiated in ignorance of the risks, and of what might be done to deal with them."...but the headline to this story in the Sunday Times is "Blair blames ministers for policy gaffes"...
April 18 ~ Booker's Notebook for Sunday 18th April. Devon villagers to fight them on the beaches, MEPs' rebellion threatens vote, The 10cm of God, The train to absurdity
April 17 ~ "The FMD virus causes less than 1% mortality, but the government's response causes 100% mortality. In the post 9/11 world, we are forced to develop an alternative to depopulation. We simply can not kill livestock faster than terrorists can infect them with FMD virus." A sane response to the threat from the FMD virus - explained in simple terms for us by Prof Joe Cummins. See also technical page
April 17 ~ "....they are condemned as "appeasers" by the Bush regime and its craven journalists when they complain that their husbands and wives and sons did not deserve to die.
...If Mr Sharon is "historic" and "courageous", then the murderers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be able to claim the same. Mr Bush legitimised "terrorism" this week - and everyone who loses a limb or a life can thank him for his yellow streak. And, I fear, they can thank Mr Blair for his cowardice too." Robert Fisk
April 17 ~ How "the best available scientific information" is now (sadly) viewed by many can be gauged from this email from Roger about sudden oak death.
April 17 ~ "The future for our farming lies in selling as much as possible of our production into markets where it keeps its identity and can earn a fair reward for its quality and provenance. The pub, restaurant and hotel market is absolutely crucial, and the simple fact is that we have made bigger inroads into that market in the two-and-a-half years that the Buy Local campaign has been running than we had in the previous ten." Anthony Gibson in the WMN editorial. Thanks for this - and other links - to Roger.
April 16 ~ "The Tenant Farmers Association is working with Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs spokesman Andrew George to gather evidence to show that the current voluntary Supermarket Code of Practice should be scrapped in favour of a statutory code backed by an industry regulator." See The Journal (On March 16, Andrew George and David Drew launched an early day motion calling for a legally binding code of practice and a supermarket watchdog. But remarked George Monbiot, in this article, ".. Tony Blair seems to be as frightened of the superstores as he is of the tabloid press.")
April 16 ~ Another windfarm protest tonight. A "grant" of £10,000 has been offered in rather vague terms if the application goes through- very reminiscent of the "windfalls" (or bribes) offered by supermarkets to local residents. Professor Peter Cobbold thinks the application could be the thin end of the wedge, "What makes us suspicious is that the proposed access road is too long for the five turbines being proposed." While alternative forms of energy are vital, the new windfarm business is very big business indeed. It has been described as one of the "great self-deceiving fantasies of our age". See windfarm page
April 16 ~ "The EU gave its blessing on Thursday to the 10 mostly ex-communist states due to enter the bloc to sell food products across the expanded region, removing fears they might be excluded from lucrative markets for failing to meet EU food safety standards" Reuters
April 16 ~ "Rural Focus is now firmly established as the leading newsletter for decision-makers in rural Britain..." says its editor, who offers a sample copy (first come first served) to interested readers of warmwell.
April 15 ~WMN keeps up the horse export pressure "...Mr Michael, and his colleague Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Margaret Beckett, have now promised to re-examine the case for an opt-out, in readiness for their crucial negotiations in Luxembourg on April 26 and 27, which represents the last time to secure legal protection for equines for the foreseeable future." See horse export page
April 15 ~ "So now we know that some opinions are more important than others to the Government. Can we expect the result of the next general election to be interpreted according to the “widespread interests” of the individual voters?" Robert Persey's letter about DEFRA's novel interpretation of the word "majority" is published in the Times today
April 15 ~ Sudden oak death -". the National Farmers' Union has taken up cases of nurserymen who could suffer as a result of restrictions on the movement of susceptible plants and foliage. It is backing a test case by one grower against Defra over the non-payment of compensation, which is provided for in law but has never been paid out before in the case of an outbreak of plant disease." Telegraph
April 14 ~ 3 million eggs from intensive systems eaten every day in the UK could contain residues of lasalocid, an antibiotic that is not even licensed for use in egg-laying birds. Tests on eggs by the government's Veterinary Medicines Directorate show residues were found in 12% of samples last year, up from 1% in 1999. Lasalocid is regarded by the government as a food additive; no "safe" limits have been fixed on residues. See Guardian
April 14 ~ "...Mr Blair should see Robert McNamara’s film, The Fog of War, during his stay in Washington. It demonstrates what happens when a leader’s wishful thinking loses all touch with reality in a distant war. Military history is full of chateau generals compounding their mistakes by taking intravenous optimism. They send ever more troops “over the top”, pleading no alternative and no surrender..." Simon Jenkins in the Times
April 14 ~ According to Channel 4 news, the word is that John Negroponte will replace Mr Bremer in Iraq. Mr Negroponte was the US Ambassador to the UN who said:
"The purpose of this resolution is to open the way to a peaceful solution of this issue. That is the intention and wish of my government. When the Baghdad regime claims that the United States is seeking to wage war on the Arab world, nothing could be further from the truth. What we seek, and what the council seeks by this resolution, is the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."See US Department of State in November 2002. How much credence may be given to Mr Negroponte can be gauged by the fact that - among other things - he is said to have given his support for the systematic forced disappearances used to destroy Honduran civilian opposition to the presence of Contra bases in their country.
April 14 ~ "It’s going to happen out of the view of the world, out of sight of the media, because most of the media in Falluja is embedded with the marines or turned away at the outskirts. Before we can pass the message on, two explosions scatter the crowd in the side street back into their houses. ..." Jo Wilding in Fallujah gives another perspective. See Iraq page
April 14 ~ "Lord Strathclyde, the Conservative leader in the Lords, said yesterday that they would fight any move to weaken the Lords’ powers" Times
April 13 ~ Jonathan Porrit has condemned the government's policies on sustainability, saying politicians were in a "state of delusion" over the threat facing the planet. See Guardian
April 13 ~".... farmers, are in a situation where they are semi-retired but are back working because they have had to lay the farm hand off and they haven't got time to trawl through the paperwork. I hope something does come out of the Haskins review and makes the whole thing simpler. Sometimes you are applying for ten different schemes. If you could make one application it would be so much better." Dr Angela Cott, who runs the Severn Vyrnwy Project aimed at helping farmers and rural businesses to access funding more easily, quoted in the Birmingham Post.
April 13 ~"..this is precisely what the Lords is there for: to prevent a government with a temporary majority from making massive and permanent changes to Britain’s constitution without a mandate from the people." Tony Blair is planning to use a new version of the Parliament Act to curb the power of the House of Lords. Telegraph comment on Democracy pages
April 13 ~ The arguments with which the US and UK governments justify their present policies are a cause for distress among those of us who are relatively new to reading further than the "subservience of the press" (Robert Fisk) and who have strong ties to America - but read the much respected Robert Fisk (Independent) for a clear-headed, first-hand knowledge of the Iraq situation. See also how some pro-war commentators have not only changed their tune but even pretended the tune was always the same. Iraq pages
April 13 ~ "The changes I am announcing are interim measures to modernise the schemes and ensure they comply with EU state aid regulations." (How fond politicians are of the word "I") said Deputy Scottish Rural Affairs Minister Allan Wilson when he announced last week the 100 year old bull hire and ram purchase schemes within the crofting counties would come to an end. Sandy Clark, the Highlands and Islands representative for the British Veterinary Association, says the move is a disaster for disease control in the area. He said: "It is going to put us back in the Dark Ages and goes against all the moves to promote livestock health in the Highlands and Islands." See Press and Journal
April 13 ~ Hilary Peters' latest ediary entry ( from Norfolk this month) says of the HISTORY OF FARMING EXHIBITION "A must for anyone who wants to understand how we got where we are. It goes from pre-history to steam. Voices from the past have the same arguments we are having today. In the mid-nineteenth century, John Hudson, a tenant farmer in Castle Acre, was saying “anything that intensifies production must be worthwhile” and Clare Sewell Read, another Norfolk farmer and an MP, was saying productivity should not be our only priority. (And I thought Ben Gill invented the word productivity.) The arguments are the same now. The difference is technology. The great eighteenth century landscapers were called the Lords of Creation. Now we really can control creation. The trouble is we don’t seem to be up to the job." Read the latest entry or the rest of the diary in full
April 12 ~ The first identity cards seen in Britain since the Second World War are to start replacing passports from March 2007. The Director of Liberty told the Home Affairs Select Committee ".. .....to create a single national compulsory identifier creates a shift in the relationship between the individual and the state, so that in fact you are required to identify yourself or to be called to account whether in practice and in an individual circumstance it is justified or not. .... Germany has an ID card but also an incredibly strong law of privacy. We go for the ID card without the strong law of privacy... " Read the uncorrected minutes of oral evidence in full
April 12 ~ The IPLH, in its briefing to Ministers, said ""The new European rules will not be good enough when you consider that there is no export trade at all from the UK now. In short, the rules will make a bad situation on the Continent a bit better. They must not be an excuse to make a good situation in Britain into a bad one." See full debate on horse exports
April 11 ~ "Mr Blair took charge of foot-and-mouth not so much because Nick Brown had lost control of the outbreak, but because he had lost control of the media strategy for handling it.." comment from icTeesside on the fact that " Prime Minister appears to revel in the idea that he, and only he, can sort out all the problems facing the country."
April 11 ~ Booker's Notebook includes the latest daft plan to apply Health and Safety rules to rock-climbing, distressing news that the UK continues to back policy to evict Bushmen - " in their best interest", says Baroness Symons - from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve - promised to them inperpetuity, the holidays taken by Mrs Beckett and Mr Bradshaw as British Agriculture sinks further into the mire and the crazy proliferation of traffic signs in villages - the costs of which are not being revealed by Councils who boast of their "transparency"
April 9 ~ "The clever use of language invites the mind to an interpretation beyond the words used." These are the words of Dr Brian Jones (Hutton Inquiry - he suggested that not a single defence intelligence expert backed Tony Blair's most contentious claims on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction) about the strangely opportune story of the "foiled terror gas attack" on London..(the dangerous-sounding material had not actually been obtained) (See Iraq/Terror) but how apposite is the sentence also to the hype surrounding the unusual form of scrapie...and much more.
April 10 ~ "DEFRA to retreat on carbon reduction by relaxing the ambitious carbon-reduction targets that will be imposed on UK industry under the European Union's emissions-trading scheme" says the Financial Times - but DEFRA missed the March 31 deadline by which they should have submitted their plans for cutting carbon dioxide emissions to the EU Commission. The FT does not mention this nor the fact that the UK is unlikely to escape a Commission infringement letter, which is basically a warning that legal action is pending.
April 9 - ~ "Based on our extensive experience throughout the world, Prionics and Roche recommend the Prionics(R)-Check WESTERN test, based on the Western Blot technique, to be used for the U.S. BSE surveillance program," See page
April 8 ~ Warmwell is intending to take a short break, attending to batteries that have become negatively charged. If you are in the same state, then, in addition to Moira's book, please do read Hilary Peters' March diary entries from Suffolk. Her practical approach includes talking things through with the food producers she visits : ".... the small mixed farm which was the norm in Suffolk fifty years ago is virtually extinct. The interesting question is where do we go from here. It isn’t all bad news..
....It’s hard to explain to an industrial farmer what is the connection between such far-flung subjects as animal welfare, good food, conservation, education. If you go to Pannington Hall Farm and see the Essex pigs, you will understand. It’s a different mind-set from “productivity”. It’s also extremely successful, but financial success is a by-product of getting all the other things right."
April 8 ~ Moira Linaker's book "Behind Chained Gates" (see below)
Roger writes, "Amazon take 4 - 5 weeks and charge a lot for the pleasure. I have got hold of the publisher Hayloft http://www.hayloft.org.uk/Books/Yows_Cows/Cows___Yows/Behind_Chained_Gates/behind_chained_gates.html - where you can order over the good old telephone - 017683 41568. They do not have credit card facilities, but include an invoice with the book which will be posted shortly. The lady I spoke to seemed absolutely charming and delighted. She said that Moira is "an inspiration to us all". Something that we all agree with I think. Lets hope that we can all keep the printers / publishers busy. (The photographs on Moira's website are beautiful.)"
April 8 ~ Rapid diagnosis test. Are others puzzled by the reference in the Scotsman story to rapid diagnosis? "The VLA and other EU laboratories with expertise in scrapie-like diseases have now applied rapid diagnostic methods. It appears that, although the case does not appear to resemble previously recognised cases of scrapie, it has some characteristics similar to experimental BSE in sheep." Were the rapid diagnosis tests used "validated"? Can someone explain why it is acceptable to use such tests in this case and not when testing for vFMD?
April 8 ~ Scrapie. More detail (from the Independent) : "The four-year-old animal was thought to have developed scrapie, a brain disorder that affects sheep and is believed to be harmless to humans. It died in January and its brain was tested by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) in Weybridge, Surrey, as part of a national programme to determine whether BSE has become endemic in sheep. Two of the three tests were negative for BSE but the third gave "some characteristics" that were similar to experimental BSE in sheep"
We note too the more cautious tone of today's Scotsman "...This disease has been tenuously connected with BSE in cattle and, by implication, with variant CJD in the human population."
April 7 ~ Moira Linaker's book "Behind Chained Gates" (see amazon.co.uk) is a splendid read. Where one might expect a dark and bleak account it is, instead, an extraordinarily joyful account of much loved animals - and how she fought tooth and nail to keep them safe. All the same, throughout the book there are wry and wise comments about the darkness and bleakness of the policies that made Cumbria resemble a frightening war zone in 2001. Fully aware that MAFF was thought to be using the crisis to reduce sheep numbers she used all the resources she could find to make a stand. One unforgettable moment is her dawning realisation of one SVS vet's total incompetence to take a simple blood test (covering himself and the unfortunate sheep with blood). The fury with which this diminutive warrior made him beat a very hasty retreat is both funny and satisfying.
Unashamedly delighted by the different personalities of her animals, Moira Linaker has qualities that make her more than a hobby smallholder and it was surely these that brought her to the special notice of the Prince of Wales when he arrived to give his personal support to the stricken county. Readers of this website should find, in this really very heart warming story, both justification and solace for their continuing anger at what happened.
April 7 ~ pictures of Moira and her flock can be seen here http://www.instinct-training.co.uk/eden-flock/news.htm on Julian Thurgood's website.
April 7 ~ Read again Scandalous scaremongering brings no cheer " what was it all about? The cynics amongst us might suggest it was simply scientists keeping themselves in jobs by persuading the Government to award lucrative research contracts. One of the main beneficiaries, Prof John Collinge of St Mary's, Paddington, keeps suggesting that he will soon clinch the evidence if the Government continue his project injecting massive amounts of BSE prions into the brains of mice..."
April 7 ~ "New" scrapie. As one emailer says, "Hmmmm"
On the day that The Scotsman runs an article warning that farmers may not be reporting scrapie and including the easily misread sentence: "scrapie is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy similar to BSE in cattle that has been linked with more than 130 cases of the fatal human variant CJD" and the day following the article in The Journal enthusiastically describing the NSP as a "new" scheme, the VLA has informed DEFRA, the Devolved Administrations and the Food Standards Agency that a type of scrapie not previously seen in the UK has been seen( in one four-year-old sheep in an unnamed area of the UK.) (See Fwi and the Scotsman)
The DEFRA press release today is extraordinarily reminsicent of the story in the Guardian for November 27, 2003 about possibly flawed testing suggesting a new strain of scrapie. There are many questions surrounding the NSP and its raison d'etre Even DEFRA is currently engaged on a project to address concerns about it.
April 7 ~ David Oakes, who will be remembered by many for his selfless energy and love of animals during 2001, asks that this notice be put on warmwell.
April 7 ~ WMN today notes that Ben Bradshaw "was under fire last night after jetting off for a foreign holiday as a major report into the "shambles" of the Government's £35 million bovine TB policy was published." Andrew George has said that the report highlighted the need for an interim policy to deal with bovine TB before the so-called Krebs trials finish and must not be used to delay research into a vaccine for cattle.
April 7 ~ GM cattle feed is still being imported into the UK today. At the moment the only way to guarantee milk is from animals not fed GMOs is to buy organic or buy from Marks and Spencer - the only supermarket to get rid of GM feed from their milk. Soil Association
April 7 ~ Fallen Stock - Owen Paterson asked what provisions had been made for the disposal of fallen sheep during the current lambing season, in the absence of the Fallen Stock Subscription Scheme and what advice (Margaret Beckett) gives to farmers who are banned from burying fallen stock on their land by the Animal By-Products Regulation 1774/2002/EC and who have no other means of disposal.
Mr. Bradshaw: "The Government are not obliged to provide a National scheme under the Animal By-Products Regulations, nor is one an essential pre-requisite to farmers being able to dispose of their livestock in a legitimate manner. Farmers are expected to make use of existing local outlets for the disposal of fallen stock i.e. knacker yards, hunt kennels and maggot farms, use on-farm incinerators or make arrangements directly with rendering or incineration plants. However, we have asked local authorities to look sympathetically at individual cases where farmers have made every effort to comply but have faced genuine difficulties in doing so."
Is "look sympathetically" code for trying to enforce this nonsense is going to lead to even more problems?
April 7 ~ We read with some amusement the answer to the PQ about a department's website costs - the basic website run by the Department for "Education and Skills", for example, cost £1,900,000 last year. Warmwell, updated every day, costs the taxpayer a little less than that. (ie nothing).
April 7 ~ ".... little of the billions of dollars of aid, meant to underpin the move to democracy, can be spent, let alone enjoyed by ordinary Iraqis. By routing all contracts through the Pentagon, America is spending six dollars to get one on the ground. Had this money gone direct to Iraqis, work would have been done and people might have appreciated it. Military failure in Iraq may be painful; political and economic failure is abject. " Read Simon Jenkins and see Iraq page
April 7 ~ "Things are getting very bad and they're going to get worse," a special forces officer said close to the airport yesterday. "But no one is saying that - either because they don't know or because they don't want you to know." Robert Fisk in Baghdad on the brink of anarchy. See Iraq page
April 7 ~ The United States has secretly flown Saddam Hussein out of Iraq and imprisoned him under high security at a vast American air base in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar. Independent (subscription)
April 7 ~ Whats yours is Mine..."Mining giant Rio Tinto will face tough questions at its AGM today, Wednesday 7th April on the company's plans to develop an ilmenite mine on the island of Madagascar, threatening a unique and precious ecosystem which is home to a number of endangered species. The company is due to make a decision on the plans in the coming year." says Friends of the Earth (Read George Monbiot on why battles over the environment are among the few that the world's dissident movements are winning.)
April 6 ~ Old scheme in lamb's clothing. The National Scrapie Plan was described confidently in the Journal today as "A new scheme to eradicate scrapie from sheep flocks......NSP type 2, 3, 4 and 5 rams and type 4 and 5 females - will be culled and replaced over a period of up to four years, with more resistant stock."
However, in spite of literally thousands and thousands of pounds spent on research, no one yet knows what makes sheep susceptible to scrapie. Research carried out in the UK last May by Fiona Houston et al was entitled Resistant sheep get BSE (i.e. in the laboratory after having their brains injected) :.."The susceptibility of ARR/ARR sheep to intracerebral injection with BSE indicates that these animals cannot be regarded as having absolute genetic resistance to TSE infection.." This EU legislation stems originally from the assumption that BSE came from scrapie sheep through animal feed that contained meat and bone meal. The NSP seems an unstoppable juggernaut - never mind the narrowing of the gene pool, the dawning realisation that far more questions remain than answers, and the wasted animal lives. The whole scheme appears to be based on very rocky science.
April 6 ~ "Europe is rejecting plans for huge wind turbines across the continent - as the British Government continues to ignore widespread concern about this controversial form of renewable energy..." WMN. See windfarms page
April 6 ~ "only environmentalism has the power to restrain global corporations" is the message of George Monbiot's article in today's Guardian "
April 6 ~ "The focus of the role of vets in large animal practices needs to move away from curing disease towards preventing it," says Dr Debby Reynolds, the new CVO, in this FWi article £21.5m to aid disease research (about funding for improved vet training). While common sense tells us that prevention is indeed better than cure, EU countries are not allowed - on the grounds of trade barriers - to vaccinate routinely against many of the worst animal diseases of all. When the EU expands in May there will be increased diffficulties with countries finding themselves no longer allowed to protect themselves and whose borders will be wide open to disease passing both in and out.
April 6 ~ In Indonesia, the military has quietly regained the power it enjoyed under Suharto, and members of its bloodthirsty special forces unit, known as Kopassus, are once again being trained in Australia. Pilger
April 5 ~ The Basra protestors have ended their occupation. Roger has a comment.
April 5 ~ "In 1997, Tony Blair could have reduced fears about immigration with a wide-eyed television broadcast. Now, an intervention by the prime minister would only increase the apprehensions." Roy Hattersley in the Guardian
April 5 ~ "Until today the police were permitted to take and keep DNA or fingerprint specimens without consent only after the suspect had been convicted of a recordable offence. From now on, the 2003 Criminal Justice Act allows it to be done whether the arrested person is subsequently charged and convicted or not." Guardian
April 5 ~ Efforts are resuming to cull hedgehogs in the Outer Hebrides - despite renewed anger from campaigners. BBC
April 5 ~ An emailer writes with this extract from the Washington Daily News "Rose Acre Farms and the state of North Carolina are continuing to communicate to resolve permit issues on a proposed 4-million-hen egg-laying operation to be built near the Hyde County community of Ponzer.... " That is 4 million hens treated as a production line. "Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is within a few miles of the proposed Rose Acre facility. Dense flocks of waterfowl and domestic birds such as chickens are the two main reservoirs that incubate avian influenza, say experts..." And still they are anxious to go ahead.
April 5 ~ This year's Reith Lectures are by Wole Soyinka on "The Climate of Fear" and begin on Wednesday at 8.00pm- Radio 4. A good, brave, intelligent man with a sense of humour.
April 5 ~ An emailer writes, " The Prime Minister is to take personal charge of the entire immigration and asylum system" See Scotsman today http://news.scotsman.com/paperboy.cfm?id=385052004 - oh thank goodness. What a relief. The Good Shepherd takes charge. Then we'll soon have the sort of results that we saw in FMD and the Iraq war..."
April 5 ~ Mr Blair ".. says there will be no referendum. Ergo, the constitution does not reflect the will of the British people, merely his will.... a Prime Minister who tries to rewrite the rules of the game to suit himself - as this one does - has forfeited his right to govern. " Read the article by George Trefgarne in the Telegraph. ( Warmwell's democracy page today)
April 4 ~ Peter Melchett's theory of why Bayer withdrew its application to grow gm maize here.
"...Unfortunately for Bayer, the British Government took them at their word, and said that their GM maize could only be grown using one weedkiller. Based on experience in North America, Bayer know that won't work in practice."
April 4 ~ An email about two very recent research projects into FMD vaccine. Given an interval of 14 days following vaccination - complete protection in sheep and no virus transmission in pigs.
April 4 ~ A previous FAWC report entitled "Foot and Mouth Disease 2001 and Animal Welfare: Lessons for the Future", the recommendations of which they hope will be noted, can be downloaded here.
April 4 ~ Michael Howard ( better late than never) wants a referendum on the EU Constitution : “When it comes to transferring power from Britain to Brussels, Tony Blair says ’trust me’. Well, Conservatives say ’trust the people’." http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=2732767
April 4 ~ "The Government welcomes comments on its draft response to the FAWC report (pdf file) from all interested parties."
After the involvement of ILPH in the horse export row it is noticeable that they have not been listed as consultees. One horse owner is alarmed at the government's response to a paragraph on page 20 of the consultation document, wondering on whose horses/ponies the "research" into distress wll be carried out.
April 4 ~ Sir Menzies Campbell: "The cat is out of the bag. The certainty with which Colin Powell lectured the Security Council of the United Nations was overwhelming. Now we have every reason to believe that the information upon which he was relying does not stand up," BBC See also BBC's page on what Mr Blair said about Iraq's weapons before and after the war. (Colin Powell has now admitted that the information about mobile laboratories for making biological weapons. "appears not to be... that solid". )
April 4 2004 ~ "Short's diary shows in the final run-up to war Blair persuaded her not to resign and repeatedly stated that Bush had promised it would be the UN, not the American-led occupying coalition, which would supervise the reconstruction of Iraq. This, she writes, was the clinching factor in her decision to stay in the Government - with devastating consequences for her own political reputation. " See Iraq page and the article today from the Observer about Bush and Blair's secret pact just after 9/11.
April 4 ~ "Mr Herron therefore revealed that the Government had printed just 139,000 "Your Say" leaflets to cover the (North East) region's 1.9 million voters. "Are we expected to read one, memorise it, then pass it on to 13 other people?" he asked...." Booker's Notebook "Hardly surprisingly, the latest polls show that the majority of voters in the North-East haven't the slightest idea what Prescott and his cronies are on about; but whatever it is, they are likely to be against it."
April 4 ~ Geoffrey Lean on the end of GM crops in Britain warmwell GM page
April 4 ~ US Secretary of State Colin Powell has admitted that evidence he submitted to the United Nations to justify war on Iraq may have been wrong. BBC
April 3 ~ The French authorities are devoting 248.34 million euros (163 million pounds), raised by tax or directly from the State budget, to support their fallen stock scheme. "The EU Commission has decided to make no objection to a tax being levied to finance the collection and processing of animals found dead on farms and the cost of collecting, processing and incinerating slaughter waste. " (Commission Press Room) Meanwhile, on the DEFRA website,there are "Q&A" about the UK fallen stock scheme and its continuing delay.
April 3 ~ Northumberland NFU chairman, Stoker Frater, pulls no punches in his dismissal of the latest Contingency Plan “...Defra vets show they didn’t know what they were doing during the last crisis, and even if real contingency plans are now put in place we will soon not have any vets to do it with. I honestly do not think we are any better prepared for foot-and-mouth than we were the day before the last outbreak..." See front page
April 3 ~ NFU Cymru President Peredur Hughes, reported in the North Wales Daily Post ".. "I'm also concerned there's still no reliable test that will distinguish between a vaccinated animal and one that has had the disease. It could restrict the marketing of vaccinated livestock and result in a two-tier meat pricing structure."
That farmers and the public are still subjected to such misinformation is distressing. "Reliable" discriminatory tests were available in 2001 The 3-ABC ELISA is an already well-validated test in cattle, while in Taiwan a peptide based NSP-ELISA was used to differentiate convalescent from vaccinated pigs. The continuing misinformation about so-called "carrier" animals (Never shown to infect others in the field) allows the ignorant to continue to cling to their desperately tragic anti-vaccination stance in 2001. This is a political problem not a veterinary one.
April 2 ~ We are reminded that the Number 10 website has a page for "Other views" and that readers might choose to write something like ..." I ask that the European Constitution be put to the British people in a Referendum." www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page4345.asp (new window)
April 2 ~ Moira Linaker writes "The press do seem to get some things a bit back to front at times. Still, once written, what can one do? The books are selling so I think I will stop reading what they all say from now on." See BBC article about "Behind Chained Gates" (A review of the book will appear on warmwell as soon as the copy now in the post from Moira - "the Rotweiller" (!) - has been received and read)
April 2 ~ Sounds familiar. "A Defra spokesman said investigations would continue to try to establish how the disease arrived at Landare, which had not traded cattle through markets for some months. An epidemiological task force of experts had been set up to review the scientific and biological data that had been collected, he said. But the spokesman added that while Defra was doing everything it could, there was the possibility the source might never be traced." WMN
April 2 ~ Bryn writes of the revised FMD Contingency Plan (pdf - slow file) , "DEFRA have been mulling over how they will activate the Emergency Vaccination plan for going on 3 years now and they still contend,
3.27 To ensure that emergency vaccination can be implemented without delay in any future outbreak, Defra is currently making arrangements, subject to public consultation, for the use of lay vaccinators to be permitted by orders made under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and the Medicines Act 1968.Bryn draws a bleak comparison to what he considers to be needless dithering over vaccination with the news today that Mr Blair is rushing through the ID card with the words ""It is perfectly obvious why we are having to do this because we want to protect our people against terrorism and we are protecting the Muslim population."...
April 2 ~ Warmwell's email problems with Hotmail appear to have been resolved. Apologies for the delay.
April 2 ~ "Mr Howard likened the (Dring) affair to the Government cover-ups over lax immigration controls which yesterday forced the resignation of Immigration Minister Beverley Hughes. "This is yet another example of a very familiar pattern with this Government," he said. "When something is put to them which is inconvenient first they deny it, then they try and cover it up and finally they have to admit it. We have just had it over Beverley Hughes and immigration. It is exactly the same thing." WMN See warmwell page on the Dring affair
April 2 ~ "Tony Blair keeps saying he wants to have a big conversation with the country but he is completely ignoring them over one of the biggest issues facing us today. The European Constitution will lead to a substantial transfer of power away from Britain to the EU. It is a very important decision and people are entitled to have their say in a referendum. Over the next months, we will campaign to increase the pressure on Tony Blair and force him to listen. The prime minister expects everyone to trust him, but he has got to learn to trust the people." Michael Ancram. See BBC
April 1 ~ Warmwell is having problems receiving email. Apologies. Please keep trying.
April 1 ~ Defra caught napping? The NAP is the National Allocation Plan which has to do with the trading of emissions. DEFRA has missed the deadline, saying that "The UK takes all EU responsibilities and deadlines seriously and is fully supportive of the EU ETS. We also have a duty to take full account of issues raised as a result of public consultation." Since the consultation closed on Friday 12th March 2004 at 5pm and DEFRA planned to finalise the draft national allocation plan during the remainder of March and then send it off yesterday, they are evidently taking their duty seriously and at some length.
April 1 ~ Swill. The NPA site quotes Robert Persey "The Prime Minister wanted to announce a ban on swill feeding to the House of Commons that afternoon but Nick Brown said there should be a consultation first. When the results of the consultation came through and showed only 32 percent of the respondents favoured a ban on swill feeding, what could he do? He was under pressure from his boss to find somebody to blame for foot and mouth so he had to ban swill feeding - so he made that statement to the House of Commons on April 26. Little did he know that he would get found out." See Robert Persey's email.
April 1 ~ GM (See front page) Were the Reading fodder results passed to Bayer - and can it really be possible that the UK government and its advisers were not aware of them or of results of work in Norway on the safety of the CaMV promoter used in Chardon LL transgenic insert? (Hansard) (A PQ can be effectively sidestepped by the excuse that work has not yet been published or peer-reviewed - - cf Ben Bradshaw was unable to comment on Irish bovine TB vaccine trials ) Has Bayer realised that there are real problems after all with mutating GM strains?
March 31/April 1 ~ Beware pseudo green window-dressing over inappropriately sited windfarms. Country Life is launching a cross-party campaign and petition to oppose the Deputy Prime Minister's Planning Policy Statement 22, which encourages the development of land-based wind farms in Britain. You can sign the petition online by visiting www.countrylife.co.uk/windfarms
March 31 ~ It's a minor niggle compared to the overall picture, but if only the writer of the revised FMD Contingency plan knew the difference between "consist of " and "comprise" (comprise of does not exist in English) and had checked for other errors in the English "Modelling to including interspread.." and so on. (Did the writer even know to what "InterSpread"refers?)
March 31 ~ "the source might never be traced.." FWi - This time referring to the source of the Cornwall brucellosis outbreak. (All tests have finally been returned negative) DEFRA is apparently unable to do more than continue to investigate "including tracing imports of foreign livestock into Devon and Cornwall" Article 220.127.116.11. of OIE's Terrestrial Animal Health Code states that " animals introduced into a free country or zone shall only come from herds officially free from bovine brucellosis or from herds free from bovine brucellosis. This condition may be waived for animals which have not been vaccinated and which, prior to entry into the herd, were isolated and were subjected to the serological tests for bovine brucellosis with negative results on 2 occasions, with an interval of 30 days between each test. ...." If DEFRA's investigations lead to silence we can assume either that these checks were not carried out or that illegal imports of livestock are taking place. It will have occurred to many that illegal imports of live animals or semen, rather than "swill", might have been the source of FMD and could well account for the secrecy and misinformation that still pervades the issue.
March 31 ~ The amendment has been passed and David Byrne has now supported the principle of an opt-out to allow Britain to ban the export of equines. See horse export page.
March 31 ~ "The administration also did not hesitate to use fear of terrorism to launch a broadside attack on measures that have been in place for a generation to prevent a repetition of gross abuses of authority ... " Al Gore on the Politics of Fear has relevance for the UK
March 31 ~An email today: "I have just been reading reports that "U.S. forces have unloaded a large cargo of parts for constructing long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the southern ports of Iraq." According to The Tehran Times "a reliable source from the Iraqi Governing Council, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Mehr News Agency that U.S. forces, with the help of British forces stationed in southern Iraq, had made extensive efforts to conceal their actions."
It's probably nothing and I'm sceptical in view of the fact that this is the only report I've seen - and it must have occurred to thousands that the US would like to do this - but have also noted an article from the Associated Press that has appeared in countless newspapers today: "US to broaden hunt for WMD in Iraq"..."
March 31 ~ "Any sensible farmer welcomes responsible visitors who know when to shut gates, respect nesting birds and provide custom for farm shops. But the downside of the right to roam is the minority who see in it a licence to treat those who work in the countryside with contempt..." Muckspreader in Private Eye this week.
March 31 ~ Biometric passports See democracy page "Governments may claim that they are under an international obligation to create national databases of fingerprints and face scans but we will soon see nations with appalling human rights records generating massive databases, and then requiring our own fingerprints and face-scans as we travel.."
March 31 ~ Food Aid is not the answer. Its motive is to create a new market and has little to do with feeding the hungry. Self sufficiency through development work is the way forward. We are therefore disappointed by the apparent slant of the Guardian article Hungry Angola bans GM food aid To be fair, however, they do include this important comment by Charlie Kronick, of Greenpeace "There is a constant drip of pressure from the US government and biotech industry to make sure Africa is softened up for GM. Europe is closed to them and they need a market for it."
March 31 ~ The Government's plans to experiment with all-postal ballots in June's European Parliament elections were thrown out for a fifth time by the House of Lords yesterday. See democracy page Lord Filkin said, "It defeats me to understand how this House can believe this is a point of principle on which it should stand in the face of the Commons for potentially five times." Perhaps Lord Filkin isn't familiar with such points.
March 31 ~ Both Matthew Parris and Simon Jenkins on excellent form today. Matthew Parris reports from Basra "...The place is a stinking mess and the townsfolk are unemployed and desperate."
Simon Jenkins on the reality "that Mr Blunkett can do virtually nothing about immigration except spend money" says that ".. Ms Hughes broke the code that governs ministerial accountability for departmental decisions. This states emphatically that ministers carry the can for policy. This does not mean they have to resign if mistakes are made. That would lead to a daily reshuffle. It means only that when policy goes awry ministers do not blame officials."
March 31 ~ Bayer Cropscience has given up attempts to grow commercial GM maize in Britain. GM page
March 30 ~ Tim Russert reports on CNN that Condoleeza Rice will testify before the full 911 commission under oath, not in secret. And... the President and Vice President will testify before the full committee, in private. At the time of this writing, no web articles on this are available. Later...see Associated Press
March 30 ~"The fight against terrorism has to be balanced with due respect for civil liberties, the EU’s anti-terror tsar Gijs de Vries said today “We live in an open society in Europe, where people enjoy many liberties. It is important to preserve those liberties, to build on them, There can never be in any society a guarantee of 100 percent security.” Scotsman
March 30 ~ Doctors at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary are dealing with a suspected outbreak of the Sars virus. BBC (Since proved to be a false alarm)
March 30 ~ Reducing dependence on external support is essential for survival and dignity. The World Land Trust (just found on the internet) seems to be getting it right "Financial independence is a priority for all WLT projects, and is being carried out through a variety of means, including sustainable forestry, ecotourism and the sale of non-timber forest products. WLT believes that self-reliance is essential if conservation projects are going to be successful in the long term."
March 30 ~ Postal Voting (see democracy page) The move to extend the pilot scheme to 14 million voters is against the advice of the Electoral Commission and four separate votes by peers. Postal voting is susceptible to fraud. Integrity mechanisms for checking voters' identity against possible fraud are not robust enough.
(Could the reason for the Commons' insistence on postal voting in the North West be more closely connected with the setting up of a "North West Assembly" than is being admitted?)
March 30~ George Monbiot in today's Guardian warns that "If a nation like Britain - whose prime minister poses as a broker of peace and disarmament - has abandoned the non-proliferation treaty, is installing the capacity to build a new generation of nuclear weapons, has asserted the right to strike pre-emptively and is beginning, in short, to look like a large and well-armed rogue state, then what possible incentive do other nations have to abandon their weapons? ." Read in full
March 30 ~ In Parliament last nigh David Davis (Shadow home secretary) warned that care should be taken to protect civil liberties when all parties seemed to welcome David Blunkett's new "supergrass" system to make the UK "one of the most difficult environments in the world for organised crime".
March 30 ~ Elli Logan appeals for first hand information. Many will remember that Elli was at the forefront of protests, paticularly during the Northumberland inquiry
March 29/30 ~ Sir Peter Ustinov has died. Some of his quotations can be found in the Telegraph e.g. "People who reach the top of the tree are only those who haven't got the qualifications to detain them at the bottom."
March 29/30 ~ The Ustinov quotation above brings to mind the Minister for the Horse. Alun Michael's recent lecture at the 12th National Equine Forum on Thursday included telling the assembled company that the horse industry (sic) consisted "of activities based on the use, possession or ownership of horses, plus suppliers of horse-related goods and services for those core activities. The core ranges from professional through to leisure activities, and includes many semi-professional riders, and participants whose interest is split between commerce and leisure. Suppliers include farriery, feed, equine medicine, livery yards, racecourses, tack, and training..." Lord...when is Mr Michael going to stop spouting and start thinking about the nasty reality of horse exports
March 29/30 ~ Smithfield enlarges Bryn notes that the giant Smithfield - whose methods are as dubious as their product - have bought a15% shareholding in Campofrio, the largest meat processor in Spain, in addition to forming Smithfield Food Ltd
March 29 ~ ".. the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been "worse than a disappointment" according to this article in yesterday's Sunday Times "......."What's needed," says Johnston, "is root-and-branch reform of the FSA. Given its various pronouncements on GM and organics, the man at the top ought to consider his position very, very carefully."
March 29 ~ A West Country farmer says he would rather give up his dairy herd than evict a herdsman from his adjoining cottage when he retires - particularly since any new herdsman would be able to learn a lot from him. But the Council has turned down his application for another house on the farm... See WMN.
March 29 ~ "When did anyone in their right mind consider creating a regulation that's weaker than the standard most manufacturers work to at present?" See WMN report today on the latest Euro-meddling idiocy - this time proposals to make all food labelled "yoghurt" conform to a type of bitter-tasting live bacteria.
March 29 ~ "The introduction of ID cards would see law-abiding people forced to obey the arrogant cry of "Papers!" Meanwhile, more power will be transferred to centralised EU institutions, which would undermine further our right to govern ourselves." A letter in today's Times. See Democracy page
March 29 ~ "Ancient apple orchards face bonfire as blight of farm payouts bites" Guardian' The loss of one old orchard can mean the extinction of an apple variety, said Sue Clifford, of Common Ground. "You don't just lose trees. You lose the recipes, the songs, the work, the festivals, the landscape, and all the wisdom gathered over generations of how you grow them." ....the government said it was taking the issue up with the European commission. "We are aware of the concerns and are in discussion with the commission and with fruit growers," said a spokesman for Defra.'
March 29 ~ Virus alert. We are worried to hear that a virus purporting to come from our "libertysurf" email address is carrying a virus attachment. We NEVER use libertysurf to send email and it does not come from here. Please delete immediately anything received.
March 29 ~ An extraordinary night in France with 74% turnout at the polls. The electorate watched as, on television screens, region after region on the map of France showed red, sending a very strong message of discontent to the government. The Socialist, communist and Green parties had allied against the Right and the National Front - and routed them. In one household at least, Jean-Pierre Raffarin's (PM) words were greeted with howls of derision He said lessons had to be learnt by the government, but "reforms must be continued, very simply because they are necessary". One wonders therefore what lessons he thought could be learned from such an overwhelming rejection from the electorate if the "reforms" were to continue. But governments - as we know - like to talk about lessons learned when nothing appears to have been learned at all.
March 28 ~ After Robert Fisk's article in today's Independent on Sunday the Channel 4 update tells us of "scenes in Mosul - civilians jumping for joy around the burned out car in which a British man was killed - are more than distressing. The Briton was a security guard, one of thousands who've been drafted in to protect contractors and even soldiers themselves as Iraq lurches ever deeper into anarchy"
March 28 ~ Anthony Sampson in the Observer illustrates what has happened to the English establishment of 40 years ago. "Who runs Britain?" he asks. "The counterweights to government are weakening, while more power is passing to the centre. .... . The old guardians of institutions, with their self-serving rituals and resistance to self-regulation, are easy targets for any politician in need of a popular vote. But working out a more democratic alternative has been more difficult. Only a few people at the centre are taking these decisions, and it is not clear that they understand the full implications for a country without a written constitution. ..." See democracy page
March 28 ~ "Senior BBC staff are threatening to take some flagship programmes off the air rather than face criticisms from an internal inquiry (described as a 'kangaroo court') launched in the aftermath of Hutton. ..political editor Andrew Marr, Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, and Today's John Humphrys and Jim Naughtie have all raised concerns at the process that has been likened to 'the BBC's own Guantanamo'. .Many staff said the inquiry had simply furthered the BBC's reputation as 'caving in' to the Government..." Observer
March 28 ~ The Sunday Times today calls for a referendum on Europe. "Mr Blair will not concede such a vote, of course, because he knows he would lose it. An ICM poll today shows an opposition of 3-1 to the constitution." (Thanks to three emailers who all sent this link within one hour)
March 28 ~ Sunday Herald: "Disillusionment with a government has brought apathy, not opposition. Blair, for all his messianic speeches and warmongering, has put Britain to sullen sleep.... If the actual choice of government is between New Labour and old Tories, half of us are declining the indignity" But - even in Parliament - there are those who very much dislike what they are seeing at the head of the two main parties. The electorate needs their voice. As the Sunday Herald says, "there are now socialist parties across the United Kingdom and the Greens for those seeking something new."
(an emailer writes a relevant comment to this)
March 28 ~ "Alas, it is easier for the media to join in promoting health scares than to see through the woolly thinking that usually lies behind them." Booker's Notebook
March 28 ~ "despite almost unanimous opposition from residents and the local council, English Nature insists that it must proceed with the destruction of 60,000 more trees, to fulfil its obligations under the EC's Habitats directive..." Booker's Notebook
March 27 ~ SFP fairness. "Northumberland farmer Malcolm Corbett has challenged Secretary of State Margaret Beckett to rethink the plans which could prove damaging to many livestock producers. ........Under the initial proposals, England is split into two regions - upland areas and the rest of the country. However, because the new payment is based on the size of farms, rather than on what is produced, this penalises lower level livestock farms that tend to be very productive but smaller in size. To redress this problem, the NFU and others are now calling for England to be split into three regions: land above the moorland line, land lower down but still within the SDA and lowland England." See today's Journal
March 27 ~ " Even by our Dear Leader's own standards, this readiness to jettison principle to suck up to corporate power is shameless and shameful." These letters in the Guardian and Independent certainly reflect the disgust we are hearing everywhere at the hypocrisy and dangerous lack of principle shown by Mr Blair and his ilk. We are often told that " it is just the necessary cynical world of politics" and that "it was always this bad" ;perhaps the difference now is that ordinary people are very much better informed, do not like what they see and want to get involved.
March 27 ~ " the lawyers failed to include fiction in the text of the gagging order - and so Mr Sixsmith was free to write a novel drawing on his career at the heart of government..." See Telegraph today. "..Spin is the first of a two-book deal that Mr Sixsmith has struck with Macmillan..Mr Sixsmith creates a fictional chief press aide described as a master of dirty tricks who blackmails journalists and politicians to bring them into line. "
March 26/27 ~ The Food Ethics Council reports on ethical issues in food and agriculture. Of particular interest is their latest document "Agri-Food Research: Participation and the public good" (pdf file) "...Relatively few resources have been devoted to engaging the public in research and science policy upstream. Yet, at least in principle, the earlier that stakeholders and citizens become involved in science, the more likely it is that the outcomes will address their perceived needs and respect their values."
March 26/7 ~"Blair wants full steam ahead for the Euro constitution. He's sick of the arguments over majority voting. He's had enough of being accused of taking Britain into a dangerous new world without a referendum. Once the draft is out there he can convince people, he believes, that this is merely about the way the EU institutions function..." from Channel 4's news update.
March 26 ~ "Smithfield Foods Ltd. will provide retail and food service customers in the U.K. with a full line of fresh meats and further processed chilled and canned meat products developed for the U.K. market...Smithfield Foods Ltd. will gain a dedicated supply relationship from Smithfield's Polish subsidiary, Animex, and its French subsidiary, SBS, assuring Smithfield Food Ltd.'s customers of consistent quality" Smithfield Inc press release Smithfield's methods are nauseating in all sense of the word. See below We would be grateful to receive any links about Smithfield spotted in the press or elsewhere. "Food Standards" in the UK need to be protected - as does animal welfare.
March 26 ~ The Genetically Modified Organisms Bill has collapsed and Elliot Morley "did not bother to turn up" according to this press release "...this important Bill which would have ensured that regulations on liability could be debated and approved by the Houses of Parliament. .... All parties agree that the issues of liability must be resolved before GM plantings can proceed. The Government’s actions today are astonishing.” See also FWi report.
March 26 ~ "In just one day Tony Blair has invented a new permanent secretary to oversee government communications, hired yet another political special adviser in an already bloated Number 10 team - and the very press officer forced to apologise for calling Dr David Kelly a Walter Mitty character after his suicide is now the prime minister's only official spokesman," Matthew Taylor, the Liberal Democrats' chairman, said. Guardian see also the democracy page on warmwell.
March 26 ~ "Wales is prepared for any future outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease" says Carwyn Jones, adding that the contingency plan would be published on April 1. icwales.icnetwork.co.uk
March 26 ~ Coinciding with Mr Blair's much trumpeted visit to Libya is the news today that the supposed Libyan capability for WMD (which made its pledge of disarmament such a coup for the UK and the US) were at the very least exaggerated. Libya was "several years" away from making a bomb. See Iraq page
Mr Blair last night confirmed Colonel Gaddafi as "a full ally in his coalition against terrorism" Trade links and military co-operation will now be arranged.
March 26 ~ Lord Filkin - after the 4th defeat in the Lords - said that the Government still wanted the North West to be included in the postal vote"pilot" (See democracy page) He said, "... That is not for petty reasons. ...."
Of course the government wants postal voting in the North West . A North West regional assembly will only be established in the North West if people vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum.
March 26 ~"Whitehall prose, once a treasure house of classicism, has been hopelessly corrupted by Blairism. Its output is a diarrhoea of mission statements, motherhood objectives, risk assessments and jargon. Staff must go on courses to learn how to write the stuff. It adds no value to their work, but rather subtracts by its opacity. English thus needs its guardians..." Simon Jenkins in the Times
March 25 ~ "Smithfield uses its wealth to buy politicians, paralyse regulatory agencies and break health and environmental laws with impunity....Just as Smithfield used North Carolina to launch its takeover of US pork production in the 1980s, so Poland is now being used as Smithfield's platform for launching its bid for monopoly control of pork production in Europe. " (Ecologist Jan 2004) If any mention is made in the mainstream press of the entry into the UK market by pork from the giant Smithfield we should be most grateful to hear about it. See also below and warmwell front page for March 25
March 25 ~ "A breakdown of the relationship between the Government and local vets could affect the future handling of farm diseases, it has been warned. Nicky Paull, of Cornwall Veterinary Association" WMN today, in an article which points out that the brucellosis outbreak was thanks to the relationship between farmers, vets and the local Veterinary Laboratory Agency.
March 25 ~ At Prime Minster's Questions yesterday Peter Luff asked, "What is the government planning to do to help the Plain English campaign celebrate its 20th anniversary later this year and what will the Deputy Prime Minister do personally do to help wage its war on gobbledegook?" (John Prescott kept his cool, won some laughs and admitted that he would not be addressing the conference. But will the question encourage him to limit his use of the phrase "at the end of the day"? And is the government even aware of its Ministers' apparent difficulties with their native language?)
March 25 ~ We hear on Yesterday in Parliament that the House of Lords was yesterday accused of "impertinence" for wanting to refer Postal Voting issue to the Electoral Commission. We should be grateful to be guided to any media article deploring Labour's assumption that it may tinker around with the unwritten British Constitution with impunity.
March 25 ~ Another cyncial question on timing from an emailer: "I have heard reports that Blair has told his supporters to prepare for the possibility of an early election, in October. I bet he is worried that Bush will not be re-elected in November, which would have serious consequences to his own prospects of re-election. Why else would he want an election in October?"
March 25 ~ Who needs a long spoon? ...."Tony Blair makes an historic visit to Libya to mark the country's return to the international community" reports the BBC amd an emailer remarks, "A cynical question about timing: Is it just a coincidence, or a good time to divert attention away from another event? Blair's announcement of his visit to Libya tomorrow, just as Richard Clarke is testifying in Congress."
March 24 ~ An emailer writes, "What do you think of the blatant spin in this Guardian article ?:
"....The vociferous Eurosceptic wing of the media, led by Rupert Murdoch's empire, would support the peers for trying to "save Britain" from "a blueprint for tyranny" by giving the electorate the chance to vote against the treaty. Unless crossbenchers and some "Eurorealist" Lib Dem peers can be persuaded to vote against a divisive referendum, Labour MPs would then vote it down and insist on the elected Commons getting its way."(The Guardian article referred to is "EU Momentum puts Blair on the spot")
March 24 ~ "The sovereignty of Parliament and the EU constitution" will be debated at Westminster Hall today as a Private Members’ Debate - introduced by William Cash
March 24 ~ US pigmeat giant Smithfield is now established in Britain and plans to bring in cheap pork from Poland. In an article last November, Robert Kennedy JNr said on the subject of Smithfield in Poland: "People who live near the factory farms complain of nausea, asthma attacks and blackouts. Children at the school village began vomiting. Activists point to US studies which they claim show that factory farm workers and their neighbours contract lung disease, eye infections, nosebleeds and gastro intestinal illness. ..."
March 23 ~ "Dr Teinaz, who is also an adviser to the Islamic Cultural Centre, alerted the Food Standards Agency and called for an official investigation of how the meat was passed by the Meat Hygiene Service." FWi on the consignment of supposedly Halal mutton found in a lorry parked at Wood Green in London.
March 23 ~ Key ministers charged with tackling gangmasters did not meet until six weeks after the Morecambe Bay tragedy, it was revealed today. Guardian
March 23 ~ Supermarket threat ".. changes, buried in an obscure consultation document, would weaken tight rules against new superstores which were introduced ten years ago. They would force local authorities to consider approving out-of-town locations if no town centre alternative was available, and critics fear they could make it easier for stores to expand on existing out-of-town sites. .....massive expansion in out-of-town shopping in the 1980s and early 1990s is widely blamed for wreaking havoc on the viability of the region's town centres.... " WMN See also Inbox yesterday - and Dr Richard North on the phenomenon of the consultation document.
March 23 ~ The former top counter-terrorism aide at the White-House, Richard Clarke (Republican) was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. A viewer's comments: "Richard Clarke was very impressive, quiet and in full possession of the facts - he came across extremely well - and I should think the Bush administration really feels it has got a problem. It was quite clear that the Bush presidency had totally focussed on Iraq from day 1 - and was unable to understand that by invading Iraq - not only would this not address the terrorist threat - but make it worse.."
March 23 ~ EU rules, the European Working Time Directive, which come in this summer, restricting doctors' working hours to 58 hours a week, will cost the NHS the work of at least 3,700 junior doctors...the BMA was concerned that ministers had not put enough preparations in place to fend off a crisis. Independent
March 23 ~ The RSPCA is critical of many of the proposals that could, for example, allow one-week-old lambs to be shipped around Europe's roads on journeys of limitless duration. The Society wants a maximum journey limit of eight hours, but the proposals under discussion state that nine will be allowed, followed by a 12-hour rest on board - a pattern that can be repeated indefinitely until the animals reach their destination. We think this is unacceptable. This is a critical time to write to the Secretary of State Margaret Beckett to ensure the UK supports an eight-hour journey limit. Please click here to see how you can help.(new window) See Also Compassion in World Farming's microsite on live exports.
March 23 ~ "Accessibility is one of Defra's core values. We are committed to promoting and actively developing, internally and externally, a culture of openness, transparency and customer focus" Bryn wonders why - given its culture of openness, transparency and (the oddly phrased )"customer focus" - Defra is unwilling to make public information they hold on the FMD crisis.
March 23 ~ We learn from the Scotsman that "each of the 108 offices for MSPs in the new Holyrood building has been fitted with a top-of-the-range refrigerator for "their own personal use"..." How pleasing for taxpayers to know that when they drop in on their elected MSP there is the possibility of being offered a cornetto.
March 23 ~ Requests for a recent picture of the puppy have been received. Benji and Morgan yesterday.
March 22 ~ in the wake of the killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, an emailer notes "the hypocrisy of Jack Straw talking about "illegal killing" and Blair talking about "action against terrorism without international agreement" ..."
March 22 ~ "I spent time liaising with the DWP. Eventually they admitted to having made an administrative error and agreed that they would not pursue the matter. They apologised for the distress they had caused Mrs R and her family." A story in the WMN about the decency of someone at the Department of Works and Pensions restores our faith that there are human beings working in some government departments.
March 22 ~ " Farmers should be as efficient as possible, not as big as possible. Every expansion of Camelot was another family farm blitzed. A family working hard on up to 1000 arable acres and doing everything perfectly is the only way forward for the industry. When it gets bigger, management becomes too difficult. That is at the basis of Scotpigs being thrown out of the farm assurance schemes and for the string of public relations disasters which has followed the King from court to court." The Herald today
March 22 ~ On Wednesday the government will try to force through their unconstitutional measures on postal voting. It would appear that it is of vital importance for Mr Blair and co that the people of Yorkshire and Humberside, the North-East and the North-West decide in favour of "elected regional assemblies". See democracy page.
March 22 ~ Richard Clarke's revelations, too late for many of the papers, are covered by the Guardian. Richard Clarke, who retired as the White House counter-terrorism coordinator last year, accused the president of putting pressure on him to find evidence of Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks, despite being told repeatedly that there was no link. "I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism," said Mr Clarke. "Frankly, I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know."
March 22 ~ Strikes by scientists, hospital workers, performing arts professionals, teachers and even lawyers should have forewarned Mr Chirac's ruling UMP party government that people are really very disillusioned. The 60% turnout was also higher than expected. Chirac gets grim poll warning from left and far right Guardian
March 22 ~ Warmwell does not include coverage of the immensely complex and disquieting Israel/Palestine situation - but the murder of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in a pre-meditated Israeli missile attack in Gaza fills us with deep foreboding. Hamas has said that Ariel Sharon has "opened the gates of hell". Israeli officials have described the killing as a "life-saving mission" as - they say - Yassin was directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people.
March 22 ~ "Gordon Brown has sanctioned an assault on the countryside and the vitality of market town high streets by insisting that the ban on out-of-town shopping centres should be relaxed. The Chancellor has made his decision under pressure from major retailers such as Tesco, B&Q, Asda and Ikea...This latest example of Treasury interference in the planning system comes less than a week after a Treasury report proposed that 1.4 million homes should be built in England over the next 10 years. It will cause renewed alarm among conservationists and local planners. ..." Telegraph (Thank you for the link, Brent.)
March 21 ~ "The heart of the BASIS field laboratory is the Cepheid Smart Cycler....Livermore researchers have developed tests for foot-and-mouth disease.....Using these DNA signatures and PCR-based detection instruments, test results can be obtained in less than an hour..." from America's Lawrence Livemore National Laboratory booklet on Homeland Security.
March 21 ~ Norm, who lived in Australia during the 2001 foot and mouth crisis, writes an email: " I have learnt since that it was the most horrendous and disgusting exercise carried out against the farming community in the UK" and adds some thoughts about the bull from Oswestry that was discovered to be infected at Cheales.
March 21 ~' if just one Liberal Democrat had stood by their own policy "the executive would have been told Scotland must remain GM free"....' See Geoffrey Lean's article in the Independent on Sunday (GM page)
March 21 ~ Brucellosis in Cornwall. We read in yesterday's WMN that "Neighbouring farms to the Bude holding are not under restriction". This may, of course, have changed by today - but DEFRA 's competence is likely to be questionned by the people of the South West who suffered so much in 2001.
March 21 ~ Interesting that the two articles on Mr Blunkett's "voluntary" scheme to rush through a later compulsory ID card are so different in tone. The Sunday Times slants its language to suggest that the public would be in favour of carrying a card: "Most MPs, like the public, are in favour of ID cards and the bill would easily get passed in a climate of fear about terrorism." The Independent on Sunday's choice of language takes a more constitutional appraoch and warns of "citizens" being "forced to carry identity cards without a further act of Parliament being passed."
March 21 ~ "Alastair Campbell has admitted he personally intervened to get a knighthood for his friend, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. ...said he offered Ferguson the honour minutes after Manchester United won the European Cup in 1999. ..... why an unelected civil servant was able to dispense such a cherished award to a close friend and Labour benefactor." Australia Advertiser's Sunday Mail
March 20 ~ Beware a new type of computer virus (variants of Bagle), which can be sent via email without the user opening an attachment. See information
March 20 ~ " I refuse to accept that being opposed to terrorism must mean supporting state terrorism as practised by Blair and George W." A selection of letters from the Independent
March 20 ~ "The government makes a big thing of having a conversation with the rest of the country. It is time for it to have a quiet word with itself."
Guardian comment on its court victory. The government admitted it had been wrong to impose a blanket gagging order on the parliamentary ombudsman. Guardian
March 20 ~ "In Blair, the stealth bomber politician has won over the regular, church-going guy. " Guardian comment
March 20 ~ A US newspaper has apologised and will pay damages to MP George Galloway over wrongful allegations that he was paid millions of pounds by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein Guardian yesterday ".. Mr Galloway, who says he is the victim of a political smear campaign, is now demanding an inquiry into who had forged the documents."
March 20 ~ "Evidence of a global extinction crisis..Atmospheric nitrogen pollution is caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels and from intensive agriculture, especially from the volatilisation of animal waste.." New Scientist
March 18 ~ "The Foreign Affairs Select Committee has been holding an inquiry into the decision to go to war but is incensed by the Government's refusal to hand over vital documents. The committee will say this stands in stark contrast to the Hutton Inquiry which was supplied with all the evidence it asked for." ITN news
March 18 ~ Tony Blair has dropped plans to get rid the remaining hereditary peers before the next general election BBC
March 18 ~ email received today "....files contain Witness Statements made by Dring, Storey, Hind etc. Also, a form relating to the renewal of the licence, a verbal warning (given to Waugh's in connection with a lame pig) etc. If you read those files you will see that the 26 page report is untrue, with regard to 'documentation' and the fact that Dring's supervisor Andrew Hayward in Carlisle knew nothing of the problems at Burnside Farm. Also, internal memos and emails in files refer...we have the files..a press conference sometime next week...."
March 18 ~ An emailer writes "Just had a look at the Defra website - there is a press release dated 18 March relating to publication of James Dring statement. ....says that Defra and Anderson feel it would have been better for the minute (now being called minute - as opposed to memo) to have gone to the Inquiry - but that it wouldn't have made any difference. (well, they would say that)."
March 18 ~ "At the Hutton inquiry there was no oath, no powers to subpoena witnesses and no jury. Suicide has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The suicide of David Kelly does not seem to have been proved beyond reasonable doubt." WMN
March 18 ~ Dring's memo (now put up on the DEFRA website) is 11,564 words in length. An "aide-memoire"? There are still contradictions surrounding the Waugh case - notwithstanding DEFRA Ministers' irritation at the temerity of the public in questioning their actions. In shed 3 there were 369 pigs. Not one of them had FMD according to Dring and Kitching, we have been told. If 369 out of 527 are negative then 88% is not right. But the test results are missing from the Dring statement. Mr Dring appears to have been effectively silenced at the time of both the trial and the Anderson Inquiry. Many thousands of people suffered as a result of the government's handling of the FMD crisis. They deserve to be told the truth.
March 18 ~ Clare Short is to get a written warning from Labour over her claims that Britain bugged United Nations chief Kofi Annan.(BBC) No one denies this was happening. Smear campaigns against whistleblowers are another deeply worrying aspect of our political scene.
March 18 ~ "The government simply assumes that there is no GM problem, because that is what the GM industry tells them. No epidemiological studies have been conducted anywhere in the world to demonstrate that GM foods are safe to eat..." See GM page
March 17 ~ The Budget "Mr Brown agrees there must be more houses, how many and where, he's asked deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to 'look at it'. 4p on beer tax, penny on wine..usual stuff ...and a further big infusion (4.5% in real terms) for education. Oh and loads of civil servants to be sacked as Labour plays catch-up with the Tories. They thought of it several weeks ago. More at: http://www.channel4.com/news/2004/03/week_3/17_budget.html
March 17 ~ The front page of the Dring report - since last night, up on the DEFRA website - is missing. This is significant. Not merely because the front covering page says that the report was destined for the Anderson Inquiry but because DEFRA saw fit to remove that page, did not allow the statement to reach Lessons Learned and has rounded in ludicrous defensive attack on anyone who has been asking questions. It would appear that page 22 of the report is also missing. One wonders what happened to the spreadsheet of test results from Pirbright which, we understand, was originally attached to Dring's report.
March 17 ~ Nicholas Gardiner is reassured - by the Lord Chancellor....
BBC ".... Having reviewed the evidence that had not been presented to the Hutton Inquiry, Mr Gardiner said he was satisfied there was no need for further investigation. The Lord Chancellor believed there were no "exceptional reasons" why the inquest into the death of Dr Kelly should be re-convened and neither did he."He also said that he had received a large amount of correspondence from interested parties, but stressed that "no properly interested persons" had attempted to persuade him to reopen the case.
March 17 ~ At the special hearing yesterday, Jeremy Gompertz QC, the family's lawyer, was scathing about the MoD's breach of the duty of care "The family is disappointed that Lord Hutton did not consider more fully the extent to which the state of mind in which Dr Kelly took his own life was induced by the failings of the Ministry of Defence in the exercise of the duty of care owed to him as his employer."
March 17 ~"... Protecting the environment or tending to animal welfare is all very well, but if the threatened species happens to be human beings rather than the natterjack toad, what can you do?" Magnus Linklater in the Times"Back in Ambridge, David and Ruth are worried about whether they can afford to carry on farming at Brookfield, what with the new CAP reforms..."
March 16 ~ Steve Thoburn "became the first person to be charged and prosecuted under the Metrication Regulations for 'selling a pound of bananas.' What was exposed in the court case that followed and subsequent appeals highlighted the fact that laws made by Brussels now had supremacy over British law, but Steve was determined to fight to clear his name. The case was rejected by the European Court of Human Rights a few weeks ago, but Steve vowed to continue the fight declaring, "we may not beat the Government but we will win in the court of the people." His relentless battle became a symbol for upholding the British way of life."
March 16 ~ Did Jim Dring miss FMD at Burnside because of widespread PMWS/PDNS? We are told by an eminent veterinary authority that "PMWS/PDNS is so widespread that the veterinary input is more in terms of general advice about husbandry etc rather than certification" and that she "does not believe that there is any formal regular inspection requiring certification in England. It is not a notifiable disease." Interesting that we read in Mr Dring's statement "Certainly I saw no notifiable disease there before 22 February 2001, nor was it ever suggested to me that such was present."
March 16 ~ We hear that the inquest into the death of Dr Kelly will not be re-convened.
March 16 ~ Another parallel between FMD contingency planing and the war in Iraq is highlighted today by the Commons defence committee Report which criticised the system of relying on so-called "just-in-time" ordering - or urgent operational requirements (UORs) - for equipment needed for specific operations. "We believe that the risks of relying on UORs instead of holding adequate stocks are not sufficiently well analysed or understood in the MoD's risk assessment process."
March 16 ~ "Now, anyone can kill anyone else..there is so much crime, looting, rape.." from the interview by Tim Franks on the streets of Baghdad on the Today Programme which provides a balance to the welcome but rather contradictory views from today's poll of 2000 people across Iraq. Peter Hain says the charge in another opinion poll that 20% of the population considers that the government lied is "not a serious charge"....
March 16 ~ Drug-resistant TB threatens EU "Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis poses a serious threat to the European Union, says World Health Organization report.....We worry about multi-drug resistance because untreated it's a death sentence. says Dr Paul Nunn, Stop TB, WHO " BBC
March 16 ~"The wealth of supermarkets is built on monopoly, exploitation and restriction of choice" - another thought-provoking article by George Monbiot "... The near-elimination of the small businesses supplying and running the retail trade is in some ways as consequential as the withering of organised labour in heavy industry and the coal mines."
March 15 ~ "With growing unhappiness over Iraq already eating into Mr Bush's lead in the race for re-election, and Mr Blair facing a crisis of credibility over his justification for the war, the Spanish upset could augur a total change in the political landscape.." Independent
March 15 ~ A very readable article today about avian influenza. It echoes the warning given by the virologist Dr Ruth Watkins (in her response to the remarks by Mr Bradshaw and Mr Morley implying that mass slaughter had been a wiser option than vaccination) about a possible global epidemic and the utter madness in any epidemic of not making grateful use of modern virology and diagnostic advances.
March 15 ~ We are saddened to hear of the sudden death of the Metric Martyr, Steve Thoburn - a good, brave Englishman.
March 15 ~ Bryn is less than pleased to learn that "DEFRA still condones illegal slaughter/save rules - some farms were totally wiped out during the scientifically ill-founded Contiguous Cull policy, yet here we are three years downstream and Ben Bradshaw MP thinks it is perfectly plausible to slaughter "the majority" of pigs on one farm and let the remaining 200 live... because the owner's cattle (200 head) would act as 'sentinels'." Read in full
March 14 ~ An emailer tells us of "a fantastic live interview a few minutes ago on the ITV News freeserve channel, with Angela Rippon interviewing Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector. He will also be presenting his views to Parliament tomorrow. ... he accuses either the intelligence services of lying to Bush and Blair, or of Bush and Blair of lying to the public, and that the only way to learn which is true is to have a real investigation. He speaks with authority and eloquence." (There are several pages on warmwell describing Scott Ritter's view of operations in Iraq, including his denunciation of the infamous Operation Rockingham “The aim was to convince the public that Iraq was a far greater threat than it actually was.”)
March 14 ~ Owen Paterson, Shadow Minister for Agriculture will attend the Conservative Rural Action Group (CRAG) meeting at the Royal Celtic Hotel, Caernarfon, North Wales on general farming issues including Bovine TB and Foot and Mouth disease, on Monday 15th March. Meeting starts at 7pm.
March 14 ~ "Agreement at last"... Readers are likely to be both shocked and amused by this letter in the Independent yesterday
March 14 ~ Michael and Sandra write, "The FMD fiasco continues. Bradshaw's and Morley's statements regarding the slaughter is an insult to any one with any intelligence at all. The question is and has always been how much FMD was in this country in the first place. And the probable answer is very little. The whole episode was a disgrace for the politicians, the (Roy) Anderson killing team, the vets whom just carried out orders without making sure the animals had FMD ( and the list is just endless of the people who made a lot of money from an appalling, badly drafted govt policy.). The lies keep coming from these political weaklings who do not have the courage of their convictions. We all deserve the truth. Maybe one day we will get it."
March 14 ~ "Just what is the point of the Liberal Democrats if they welcome GM, are tough on crime and bow to Labour on asylum issues? " asks Scotland's Sunday Herald."...The alternative is clear: they could opt for constructive and principled opposition."
March 13 ~ In the WMN article about the withheld Dring report, Peter Jinman (RCVS) talks about hindsight being a wonderful thing - just as Mrs Beckett and others have done. Hindsight may well be a wonderful thing but the comment is irrelevant when - right from the very start of the crisis - eminent scientists and vaccination experts were speaking up to try to prevent the ensuing catastrophe. This website, updated daily for the past three years, catalogues the fact that advice went unheeded and that lessons still have not been learned.
March 13 ~ Moira Linaker's book, Behind Chained Gates, comes out on Thursday. She wrote it "..detailing the six solitary months she spent behind the locked gates of her small-holding in Warwick Bridge protecting her herd of healthy, rare breed Ryeland sheep from Government vets enforcing the three-kilometre cull" and "to rid herself of recurring nightmares and insomnia" See extract from the Cumberland News.
March 13 ~ Guardian "Plans have been put forward to reduce the Countryside Agency from an organisation with 630 staff and a budget of £110m to a small board of appointed members with a budget of less than £1m to give "independent" (The Guardian's quotation marks) advice to the government. ...... The reduction of the agency to a committee with tiny resources is what critics feared would happen in the reorganisation."
March 12 ~ "The great distrust of this government and its pronouncements is now evident, and I think this will only deepen, unless there is some willingness to accept accountability for mistakes" An emailer writes, cataloguing why so many of us are now at our wits' end...
March 12 ~ "....the admirable and indispensable Google - I keyed in the word "consultation" and added for good measure "EU and pressed the button. In a mere 0.24 seconds, according to the header on the results page, there were 1,790,000 entries, an indication of how far this new disease of "consultationitis" has spread." Richard North on the undemocratic nonsense of stakeholder consultations
March 12 ~ The item on warmwell about the claim by Mr Scudamore that "Each of the 2,026 FMD cases was subjected to a detailed clinical and epidemiological investigation. ..." has provoked this very angry letter from Cornwall.
March 12 ~ ".. MAFF and Defra were keen enough to cull enormous numbers of animals during the foot and mouth. What is holding them back from dealing with badgers in the same way?" asks Ken Tyrell BA., BSc(Vet), MRCVS.
Many of us will remember Mr Tyrell's succinct submission to the little known Shropshire Inquiry into FMD back in 2001. This, together with his letter about bovine TB, can be read here
March 12 ~ " Why has it taken so long for this information to be made public?" asks The Journal, about the Dring evidence. ( but see warmwell page on the sequence of events at the start of the crisis) "According to Defra - now in charge of farming in this country - it was withheld to prevent prejudicing the trial of Mr Waugh, whose pig farm was traced as the start of the outbreak. It also kept the Government at arms length from blame until the issue was consigned to history. Not that Defra mentioned that in its statement...."
March 12 ~ The Mirror today "Yesterday, Lib-Dem Andrew George said the "narrow but critical issue" of his evidence was enough to justify the public inquiry previously rejected by ministers..." Mr George, for one, would refute the Journal's assumption that the issue has been "consigned to history" The Conservatives too, in their renewed call for an inquiry last week, said ".. There is now an urgent need for an investigation into why such damning evidence was not disclosed earlier."
March 12 ~ "...while the UK has announced that it will spend £24m over three years to address illegal meat imports, Australia is spending £246m this year alone to counter threats from exotic pests and diseases such as foot and mouth." Western Mail
March 12 ~ ".. Within hours of yesterday's explosions, Basque nationalist leaders were distancing themselves and ETA from the attack" Scotsman
Inevitably, the horror of yesterday is being laid at the door of al-Qaeda. An audio tape purporting to be by Osama bin Laden warned that "all countries backing Washington were targets" and this is being quoted as well as a letter to a Al Quds , an Arab newspaper in London, which claimed al-Qaeda carried out the strikes.
March 12 ~ Sarah North, Greenpeace GM campaigner, said: "Who on earth is Tony Blair listening to? He's given the nod to GM maize based on trials that anybody with a passing knowledge of A-level science would be able to tell you were flawed." Guardian
March 9 ~ Warmwell cannot be updated for a few days. Apologies. (Long distance travelling - and wondering how the puppy, who ought to be renamed "Conan", will cope with it all. )
March 9 ~" It especially grates to hear ministers, led by Peter Hain, describing their opponents in the House of Lords as "undemocratic". The whole purpose of the Lords, after all, is to act as a revising chamber, prepared if necessary to check ill-drafted legislation. More to the point, though, whose fault is it that the House of Lords is "undemocratic"? Labour is the only major party which, despite its own manifesto promises, has insisted on a wholly appointed chamber." Telegraph
March 9 ~ Methods of killing whales are so inhumane the practice should be banned outright, a coalition of 140 anti-whaling groups says. Sir David Attenborough says in a foreword that Whalewatch's report shows "there is no humane way to kill a whale at sea". BBC
March 8 ~ "GM Nature report neither robust nor credible" the cross party Environment Audit Committee's press release. We have also been sent the EAC's complete Report. See GM page.
March 8 ~ "...Gordon Brown has been accused of "pulling the rug out" from under some of the Westcountry's best known attractions, after ending a multi-million-pound tax break just 18 months after it was launched. ... The move will cost the Eden Project alone more than £1 million . .." WMN
March 8 ~ "...Campbell sprawled back in the editor's chair, placing his feet on Alan Rusbridger's desk in a posture that seemed to radiate contempt. "Put my feet on his desk? That is a bit of a trait of mine, I got to tell you. Well I'm sorry about that. I think, I suppose, I'm very tribal, that's why I think ... I mean I do feel I'm Labour, I'm Burnley, I'm Campbell. I feel it all very deeply." ...."
Guardian interview with Mr Campbell
March 8 ~ "There must be now full disclosure of all records, videos and notes from the first day of Dring's visit and all subsequent developments in relation to confirmation of disease,"writes an emailer, encouraged that the Conservative Party are reopening calls for a public inquiry into the FMD crisis. Dates and facts about Bobby Waugh's farm being assumed to be the index case are chronicled here. We note that Margaret Beckett has chosen this time to take a break from DEFRA and from any unwelcome questions. (See below)
March 8 ~ Mrs Beckett will be busy saving the globe for the next six weeks and has asked not to be disturbed.
The Mail on Sunday reported: " .....Margaret Beckett has told officials she will not have time to handle anything in her in-tray for nearly two months ... Mrs Beckett will be away on a series of holidays and trips including 'Save the Globe' summits in New York, Australia and New Zealand."
March 8 ~ Professor Alistair Lawrence, of SAC's Sustainable Livestock Systems Group presented a paper on "Food, water and malnutrition: Perspectives on nutrient requirements for health and welfare in farm animals," at the Global Conference on Animal Welfare held in Paris, 25 February 2004. Over 450 participants from more than 70 countries attended the three day event which was organised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) www.oie.int Authors of the paper were A B Lawrence, B Tolkamp, C J Ashworth, C Dwyer, and G Simm of SAC and M S Cockram, of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh.
March 7 ~ Anyone who cares that Britain is about to start exporting horses, ponies and donkeys for slaughter and are not convinced by the pronouncements of DEFRA's "Minister for the Horse" should contact their MP as a matter of extreme urgency Contact your MP or (better still) Fax your MP by entering your postcode and following the simple directions.
March 7 ~ "Call for action to end confusion in defence against foot and mouth" reports the Sunday Times, describing simulation exercises in Scotland in terms that could have described the chaos and confusion of 2001.
March 7 ~ " The Government's case for GM crops is no more sound than its case for war on Iraq" writes Peter Melchett. See GM stories today
March 6 ~ BBC "...Defra was concerned publication of the comments could prejudice farmer Bobby Waugh's trial, a spokeswoman said. "This concern centred on putting material into the public domain before it had been dealt with in court," she said. She added that Defra had already commissioned a note on the origins of the outbreak to submit to the inquiry."
What is all this? The BBC seem to be accepting the rewriting of history. See comments below.
March 6 ~ Following the articles on Jim Dring, (now taken up by the BBC) Theresa May and the Conservative Party are calling for a public inquiry into FMD. See press release
March 6 ~ An emailer writes, " We simply do not know whether Waugh's farm was the origin of FMD, and there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to suggest that it was not (eg the reported presence of FMD-like symptoms in sheep from the Brecon Beacons that were being ruled as unfit to travel on the Farmers Ferry to France the previous autumn). In 1967 they tracked down the origin of the epidemic almost to the precise cow which first showed disease, yet in 2001 still no one has the slightest shred of hard evidence as to where it started. For obvious reasons, as you suggest, it suits various people to blame Waugh's dirty Cold Comfort Farm (everything about Waugh made him a perfect scapegoat-figure), but the inescapable fact is that nobody KNOWS and on that score alone it is right to be very wary of Dring's breastbeating."
March 6 ~ An emailer writes, "Reading the articles on the vet Jim Dring leaves a bit of a fishy taste. Another smokescreen, another scapegoat but nothing had changed. The virus got into animals and all the so called "evidence" is merely speculation. (Unless you have a very reliable eyewitness who saw the virus creeping in !!) In November we visited some friends near Scarborough. Getting up there through Wharfedale and Wensleydale brought the tragedy back to mind. It was as if you still could smell all the desperation and sorrow; it was like a big dark cloud over some of the most beautiful places."
March 6 ~ Kerry or Bush? Coke or Pepsi?
"The "anyone but Bush" movement objects to the Coke-Pepsi analogy, and Ralph Nader is the current source of their ire. In Britain, seven years ago, similar derision was heaped upon those who pointed out the similarities between Tony Blair and his heroine Margaret Thatcher ..."
Read the ever interesting John Pilger on Bush Or Kerry? Look Closely And The Danger Is The Same
March 6 ~ Matthew Parris " It is not within Tony Blair’s gift to change the world order, the UN Charter, international law, the leopard’s spots, the Ethiopian’s skin, or a great deal else." Times
March 5/6 ~ The Kelly inquest is to reconvene. Guardian "Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Gardiner has said the hearing will examine any relevant matters not covered or submitted in the Hutton inquiry. .."
March 6 ~ "Legal action against the Government over the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak moved closer after a ministry vet admitted failing to carry out a rigorous inspection of the farm where the outbreak began..." The Telegraph and Daily Mirror have now taken up the Dring case
March 6 ~ Was the SVS vet's confession that his negligence "led to the world’s worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease" deliberately suppressed? According to the Times today, a DEFRA spokesman " was unable to say if Mr Dring’s admission had been included in the departmental note" to the Lessons Learned Inquiry. Valerie Elliott comments "The admission has renewed demands for compensation from the Government and for a full public inquiry into the outbreak. ..
... Margaret Beckett, Rural Affairs Secretary, is now under pressure from the Conservative and Liberal-Democratic parties to make an emergency statement to the Commons."
March 6 ~"Nine organisations representing 8 million members, including the National Trust and the Women's Institute, wrote to Tony Blair yesterday demanding he postpone the introduction of GM crops. The letter was among an unprecedented number of hostile reactions to the news that Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, is to make a statement on Tuesday giving the go-ahead for the first commercial GM crop in Britain." Guardian
March 5 ~"... the Granita II rumour has just surfaced in the US. It says close allies of the prime minister have told British and American contacts that Tony and Gordon have agreed a handover one year after polling day." Guardian
March 5 ~ An emailer writes, "Have just listened to Blair's speech - in Sedgefield - defending his postion on Iraq, etc I found his evangelical zeal frightening - and now he wants to change the UN - and the way it operates - and international law. Perhaps he should consider whether the UK would be still be one of the permanment members of the security council if the UN alters its constitution. As for changing the mandate for mililtary action to allow for the removal of regimes which, in his view, are not democratic - the omnipotence of the man is terrifying. I can see why Dennis Healey feels its time for him to go. .."
March 5 ~ An emailer writes, "On World at One, there was a reassuring piece re the UN, and it standing firm in the face of Blair's "attack" i.e. to get it to change would be a long process and that it did not hinge on Blairs opinion.
I think I have got the following right: .. the questioning of Turnbull by a Labour MP at the PAC was fascinating - Turnbull was put on the spot, as he was questioned over whether Blair considered any other legal advice other than Goldsmith's - did he just listen to one legal opinion? Labour MP kept repeating this question and Turnbull seemed to say sheepishly yes. In interview on WAO, Lord Alexander said the question is "Did he deal with differing views on legality of going to war as he should have done, and how did he deal with these views?" Seems that he only considered Goldsmith. I think the Turnbull evidence is going to cause big waves..."
March 5 ~ The rest of warmwell will be updated later today. (Morgan's visit to cardiologist)
March 5 ~"there are many moral issues that can't be ducked. GM is not wanted. FMD vaccination is the only hope for the future. We must grow our own green produce and be able to feed ourselves despite what the grinning idiot (Tony B) and the other idiot (Prescott) says. We must be able to fish our own waters with small fishing vessels...not with foreign factory ships. We must recognise that when factory ships 'hoover' up small eels to turn into fertiliser - that we are depriving other fish of their food source... etc etc...Many of us turn to Warmwell for facts before looking elsewhere. .."
an encouraging email received today for which we are grateful.
March 5 ~ "Diana Organ (MP) is finally going." writes a nornally very polite and tolerant emailer. " When we all gave evidence in the Forest (of Dean) to the EU commission, she held the microphone so close to her mouth that she was shouting through the room - the audience were so incensed that several people got up and were actually personally rude to her when they gave their evidence - I have NEVER seen British people behave this way - they were so incensed at her rudeness and insensitivity (let alone at the strange interpretation she had of events so many of us had lived through...) - anyway, she left quite quickly and before there was an opportunity for discussion.."
March 4 ~ "the Food Standards Agency has done no research to find out whether highly infectious diseases could enter the UK through "the highly lucrative trade in the illegal import of meat and bushmeat.....A coalition of animal welfare bodies, environmental health specialists and other groups says the government should hold an urgent inquiry into the threat." BBC report
March 4 ~ On the other hand, we read that the "Food Standards Agency (FSA) is evaluating the FoodExpert-ID test, used to ensure food safety and enhance traceability, developed by California-based Affymetrix Inc and France's biotech firm bioMérieux. Trials in other European countries are planned for later this year." Yahoo News
(Cepheid have announced that it has entered into a strategic commercial relationship with bioMérieux for bioMérieux to develop DNA testing products embodying its proprietary NASBA (Nucleic Acid Sequence-Based Amplification) technology to be run on systems employing Cepheid's Smart Cycler® and GeneXpert® platform technologies.Rapidmicrobiology.com )
March 4 ~ Open Access. Defra is currently consulting on whether regulations should be made under section 42 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to limit the effect of provisions about public places contained in a range of existing legislation. Consultation papers Closing date April 23
March 3 ~ Poor old Blunkett is very miffed that certain lawyers still refer to the "so-called" war on terror (Yesterday in Parliament) but how does he feel about John Kerry calling the U.S. war on terror as conceived and led by President George W. Bush "the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history."?
March 3 ~"Changes that threaten the independence of the Courts." In a speech at Cambridge University's Faculty of Law today, Lord Woolf, the most senior judge in England and Wales, said "Immigration and asylum involve basic human rights. What areas of government decision-making would be next to be removed from the scrutiny of the courts? What is the use of courts if you cannot access them?" See democracy page
March 3 ~ "It is all part of an increasingly obvious agenda to remove the crown from everything. The government thinks Downing Street is top of the pile and the world can follow suit. It is better that our courts, prosecution and prison service should remain distinct from the interference and arrogance of politicians." Alan Duncan, Conservative constitutional affairs spokesman quoted in the Guardian today
March 3 ~ "We are honoured to have met him." Christopher Booker adds his tribute to Fred Brown who died on February 20th
March 3 ~A regular emailer echoes what so many of us think.."I am throroughly ppppd off with the abuse of power by TB and the seemingly endless number of supporters he can line up. I see they are trying to stifle honest open debate amongst their own....What is just staggering is that they don't seem to have the faintest realisation that they are meant to be serving the people, and not themselves. A Labour MP must apparently not speak out/vote for what would be best for his constituents/the country for fear of endangering the party's chance of re-election. How utterly dishonest."
March 3 ~ Capital idea for green power ( Ken Livingstone says London should aim to install at least 7,000 solar devices on house roofs )
March 3 ~ "...for weeks, the American occupation authorities have been warning us about civil war, have even produced a letter said to have been written by an al-Qa'ida operative, advocating a Sunni-Shia conflict. Normally sane journalists have enthusiastically taken up this theme. Civil war. Somehow I don't believe it. ..."
"Mr Fisk saying what a good many of us are thinking... " writes an emailer. Read the article
March 3 ~ The trial of Genoa anti-globalisation protestors begins today. It will be remembered that police admitted to fabrication of evidence to justify some of the police behaviour at the protests in 2001. A 23 year old man was shot dead by police.
March 2 ~An emailer writes, " I agree with the Scotsman remarking on the Lib Dems focus on criticising the Conservatives, instead of focusing on the narrow remit of Butler. Why oh why are they not joining with the Conservatives to constitute a strong force, determined to get at the truth?"
March 2 ~ Article in today's Guardianby David Cameron "If Blair really is normal, he'll announce his retirement in July, kick back and have a chilled summer (and you will have read it here first).
If he doesn't, he's power-crazed, out of touch and should be booted out of office."
March 2 ~ CAP reform" ..the newly-formed South West Moorland Farming Alliance is promising "to not rest until this serious act of misjudgement is corrected" The alliance is made-up of farmers from across the region and senior industry figures from the National Sheep Association and the National Beef Association (NBA)...The problems have been caused by the way the Government has calculated the payment for moor farmers - classified as Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDAs). " WMN See also CAP page
March 2 ~ Wind Turbines "...Ann Metcalfe believes it is incomprehensible that a plan to build 26 wind turbines on the moors near her home will go ahead. She says she has the support of many in her community, the backing of three local councils, an independent environmental consultant - and even TV botanist David Bellamy.... refuses to be swayed by arguments from the developers: "They are entitled to their opinion but they are just doing it to make a living. We are doing it because it is our lives..." >WMN See BBC 2 at 7.30pm tonight.
March 2 ~ Anon writes, "I have been in the same room as Michael Shrimpton ... He was Pinochet's barrister. Also, he is currently suspended from the Bar Council ... My advice would be to keep a very open mind about anything he has to say ..."
Accordingly, we suggest a portion of salt to be added to the transcript of the radio programme posted yesterday.
March 2 ~ Texas are testing the rapid diagnosis test for FMD.(See home page) The conference in Houston to investigate ways to eradicate the disease entirely from the Americas gets underway tomorrow. It would be interesting to know whether DEFRA is represented there. The UK Contingency Plan contains no reference to the newest technology and the vaccination plans appear to be woefully inadequate. One can only wonder why.
March 1 ~ 4.00 pm The Conservative party have withdrawn from the Butler Inquiry BBC Tory leader Michael Howard says the way Lord Butler had chosen to interpret the inquiry's terms of reference were "unacceptably restrictive".
March 1 ~ We have been advised that the two judges who sat in the High Court when a judicial review was sought for a Public Inquiry into FMD and who ruled in favour of the Government have been promoted. The Right Honourable Lord Justice Scott Baker was appointed to the Court of Appeal on 1 October 2002. The Right Honourable Lord Justice Simon Brown, a Judge of the Court of Appeal, has been appointed Lords of Appeal in Ordinary with effect from 12 January 2004.
March 1 ~ the target for improving SSSIs ... "very tough" ...could only be met with the co-operation of a wide range of public and private bodies. WMN on DEFRA's poor performance in protecting sites of special scientific interest. Sites at risk include, in Cornwall, Dozmary Pool on Goss Moor and large parts of Bodmin Moor, and in Devon, large areas of Dartmoor and parts of Slapton Ley.
March 1 ~ "Should the same organic rules apply to undrained soil, deficient in copper and selenium as they do to farms in the rich lowlands?" One of the importat and challenging questions posed in the latest instalment of Hilary Peters' ediary of real food and ethical production..
March 1 ~ "the coverage in the UK may well remain nil, whilst maneuvering behind the scenes attempts to pre-empt Shrimpton's accusation of government-sanctioned murder of one of its own operatives."
An email received.
Michael Shrimpton is an English barrister who seems to think it is certain that Dr David Kelly was murdered.
March 1 ~" Mr Blair will not release the full written advice of the case for war on the ground that governments have never make such documents public." Scotsman today. An emailer writes, "This is untrue: it happened in 1971, when the government published its legal advice on the arms embargo to South Africa. It happened in 1968 over a controversial clause in a customs bill. "
March 1 ~ DEFRA claims that it does not know what the EU legal position is on GM labelling says Soil Association. See GM page
March 1 ~ "Senior doctors are warning that a new European law will make it more difficult and expensive to test for infections and diseases...BBC" An emailer sent us this link adding, "Apparently the bureaucrats have it in for all testing kits. See BBC article re kits for human testing (e.g. HIV, hepatitis and infections such as the superbug MRSA)"
March 1 ~ The avian influenza outbreak is costing Asia a minimum of 500million dollars and has taken the lives of 100 million birds so far. We read (Indolink) that there will be "significant costs involved in upgrading bio-security standards on farms and introducing better surveillance mechanisms"
As John Humphrys wrote last November in the Sunday Times
"Biosecurity" means that you build, in effect, a high wall around the unit to keep out dangerous bugs. It is helpful in treating the symptoms. It does not address the underlying cause of disease. It is the industrialisation of agriculture. There is another approach. It means treating animals as though they are more than units on a production line. "
Feb 2004 ~ Regular readers of this website will join us in our sadness at the death of Fred Brown OBE FRS. He, more than anyone else, alerted us to the insanity of the FMD policies and offered his help and expertise to the government. The government thought their "Science Committee" (Roy Anderson and co...still wielding enormous influence ) knew better. We remember Professor Brown's humour and his utter straightforwardness. He was a brilliant scientist and, most unusually alas, he had principles. His words to me in London after he had talked to the chair of the EFRA committee about vaccination and rapid diagnosis: "As time goes on scientists know more and more about less and less while the politicians know less and less about bugger all..."
Here he is explaining in his modest voice that vaccination works. As true in 2001 as it is now. "It's about economics not about disease control"
Feb 29 ~ A "devastating claim". The independent Sunday Herald : " The attorney general initially told Tony Blair that an invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a new resolution from the United Nations and only overturned his advice when Washington ordered Downing Street to find legal advice which would justify the war... " See Iraq/Hutton page Eminent Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy is going to say this in a television interview today.
Feb 29 ~ "100 million birds have already died or been slaughtered in the battle against avian influenza... Experts attending a FAO conference in Rome a month ago recommended that farms with healthy chickens vaccinate their livestock against all bird flu strains." http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=C70BA1C4-368A-423F-8D12A1E3C3A220DD
Feb 28 ~ An email from Cumbria "...contamination from underground seepage from foot and mouth burial pits. Defra deny this...( They would...wouldn't they!) So why are they ( the birds) dying in thousands.. like they have never done before?"
Feb 27 ~ An emailer writes, ".. I have been recently sent a copy of a CAP reform 'Questionnaire' style document produced by the Welsh Assembly Government. While quite clear and concise - for a government paper! - .... worth a quick scan of the headlines since it acts as something of a dictionary, explaining terms such as National envelopes, modulation etc. "
Feb 27 ~ An emailer writes,".. did you hear Lord Howell on World at One - responding to collapse of Gun case, Clare Short's UN disclosure and Attorney General's advice "We just have to take the Government on trust" - and this from the Conservative spokesman in the Lords - and "Clare Short is a loose canon - not worthy of note". With an opposition like this why bother with Parliament? Clare Short has definitely thrown some kerosene on the fire. Why is it none of this sticks? We go to war - but no one is allowed to see the legal advice or the brief it was based on - including the info on the WMD. (Katherine Gun has done more than blow the whistle - she has re-ignited the flames of Iraq.) we can bug UN HQ - and listen in to other sovereign member states there - and it doesn't really matter we can sweep away the British Constitution and no-one gives a damn..."
Feb 26 ~ "our basic law, handed down from one generation to the next...worked fine, until Mr Blair and his friends decided it needed "modernising", rather like a football team which tries to rewrite the rules of the game." Read the article today in the Telegraph (Democracy page)
Feb 26 ~ Yet "another wide public consultation exercise is required before the policy on commercial growing can be implemented. .."as the leak from Cabinet delays GM crops decision again. GM page
Feb 25 ~ Lord Whitty in March 2003: "My Lords, the Government will not be seeking a moratorium relating to the disposal of animal carcasses. The collection and disposal industries advise that there is already sufficient capacity within the existing infrastructure to deal with the estimated additional quantities of fallen stock arising from the ban on on-farm burial. ..."
Nearly 12 months on and DEFRA decides the implementation of a national collection scheme for fallen stock must be delayed until autumn 2004. See Fallen Stock page
Feb 25 ~ Jeff Metz, Cepheid installer of the SmartCycler writes "... Wait til our GeneXpert comes out later this year. Instrument uses the same technology as The SmartCycler for the amplification and detection of the target DNA but also does automatic DNA extraction, purification and mixing with the appropriate reagents. All within a cartridge that fits in the palm of your hand. You can find more about it on our website www.cepheid.com and maybe even at www.smartcycler.com Let me know if Tony Blair needs a demo, I'll see if I can fit him into my schedule .."
Feb 25 ~ At least a quarter of the English suckler herd are at risk in SDAs, warns the National Beef Association. England will lose almost all of the 175,0000-195,000 suckler cows running in its Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDAs) unless Defra can restore the support losses...."Environmentalists are already shivering at the thought because they know just how much mixed cattle and sheep grazing has encouraged indispensable habitat variation for important insects, birds and mammals." See CAP page
Feb 25 ~ "As a former member of the Biotechnology Commission set up by the government to advise on strategy for GM use in agriculture, I am dismayed by its apparently cavalier attitude to the licensing of GM herbicide-tolerant maize." Letter from Professor Ben Mepham to the Guardian (GM page) " It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the government's decision has far more to do with striking a political bargain with the US government than with a belief in the oft-cited "sound science". .."
Feb 25 ~ Sir: So Tony Blair has urged us to have our children vaccinated with the MMR jab. His intervention only tells me that I should not give my son the MMR vaccine. After Iraq, is there any reason to trust a single word that he has to say? CHRISTOPHER BALL Croydon, Surrey Independent
Feb 25 ~ National Fallen Stock Scheme will not now go ahead until autumn. "The original intention was to launch the scheme early this year in order to provide a service in time for the spring lambing season," said a joint announcement today by Defra, the devolved administrations and the Board of the National Fallen Stock Company Ltd. See FWI "..the Board felt it would be better to spend some time finding solutions that would be workable .."
Feb 24 ~ "The scientific establishment is rotten from top to bottom, riddled with conflicts far graver than Dr Wakefield's. Such is the state of science today that if, for example, there has been a genuine rise in the incidence of autism, and if that rise is linked to an environmental pollutant or the side-effects of a valuable drug, it's hard to see how we would ever find out..." Read George Monbiot in the Guardian today.
Feb 24 ~ Bremner, Bird and Fortune wonder if we are still angry... and suggest a "Hutton Revisited" website... And Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Iraq page) deplores the petering out of media resistance in the wake of the Hutton report. Will the people stand up for the truth?
Yes. There is to be a National/International day of protest onSaturday March 20th. See www.stopwar.org.uk
Feb 24 ~" In 25 years of trading with farmers, the hardest businessmen there are, nothing has destroyed my faith in human nature more than dealing with DEFRA..." Read Jonathan Guthrie in the Financial Times The article will not go down well at Page St, one imagines - but the way the Ministry and the government destroyed faith in human nature was not confined to its subsequent non-payment of debts. Although the disastrous loss of revenue for the firms who came to the aid of DEFRA is deplorable, far more to be deplored - indeed scarecely to be believed even now - was the brutal, ignorant and unsound handling of the disease itself. We understand that 60 farmers committed suicide. The number of human lives that were blighted has never been counted. In spite of Mrs Beckett's constant denials, many thousands of animals were terrorised and killed most cruelly. Three years on, are there any signs that lessons have really been learned? We would be interested to hear.
Feb 24 ~"I am extremely concerned about the loophole in the Directive which could allow for live export of live "low grade" horses, donkeys etc from the UK for slaughter in Europe. I understand that we can write to our MEPs urging them to make representations against this, with a view to the UK taking up its option to exempt itself from this trade.
I feel a return to this trade would represent a retrograde step. I am against all live exports, but in particular for horses. I feel it represents a "medieval" attitude to the meat trade, and is not worthy of a so called civilised society."
One of the letters to an MEP (see front page). It is to be hoped that many will write in similar vein.
Feb 24 ~ An emailer writes: "The biggest recruitment drive since the Second World War will expand the staff to about 3,000, and MI5's budget to £300 million reports the Times .. Everyone feel safer now? Bremner, Bird and Fortune are the only experts in whom I have faith any more. Watching them makes me feel reassurance and anxiety in about equal measure. Reassurance that they are using the best possible weapon to rekindle our fury, and anxiety that they will not succeed and that we complacent British will snooze through this one last chance to reassert democracy."
Feb 23 ~ "Charles Heads North to Boost Rural Life - The Prince of Wales was visiting the north of England today as part of his campaign to encourage the revival of rural communities." The Scotsman"....During the trip, Charles will visit the Yorkshire Organic Centre which provides technical support to more than 150 local farmers. Later in the day, Charles will visit the village of Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales National Park to see an affordable rural housing project."
Feb 22 ~ 'Mr Blair, speaking to the News Of The World in his first interview since the Hutton report, said he believes he is "stronger than ever". He described his job as "immensely enjoyable and fulfilling"...' BBC
Feb 22 ~ " Mice are not men. Data showing that humans and rodents differ significantly in their response to PCBs raise doubts about the accuracy of extrapolating from some animal models in toxicology." The usefulness of animal models is challenged in the article "The Danger of Extrapolation Humans and Rodents Differ in Response to PCBs" See http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2004/112-2/ss.html#anew Volume 112 of Environmental Health Perspectives
Feb 22 ~ Residents of Scotland’s most toxic village are threatening a council tax strike in protest at plans to build another landfill site on their doorstep. Sunday Times Scotland
Feb 22 ~ Robert Persey writes, "We are told that the EU is refusing to fund its share of the FMD bill. Could this be because the ABPO 1999, which governed swill feeding in the UK, contravened EU Directive 80/217/EEC?"
Feb 22 ~"We are very disturbed to see the use of “Positive Animal Health” in the title of the paper on animal health and ask that this be removed, as the plans are described as dealing with biosecurity which is almost antipathetic to the concept. · Health should be defined as a positive physical and mental state whereby the livestock is constitutionally robust and able to resist disease challenges. · The Government should recognise that there is a strong public interest in promoting the health and welfare of the whole national herd/flock. · Positive animal health should be made the foundation of the strategy and animal health plans, ie. strategy should be health–based, not risk-based..." From the Soil Association's response last October to DEFRA's consultation on their "Outline of an Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain"
Feb 22 ~ "Anyone who tells you, for example, that the US has absolutely no commercial interests in Iraq is a liar or a fool. Anyone who suggests, equally, that the government’s determination to introduce GM stems from a devotion to science should take the matter up with a university researcher working for a pittance. " See GM page
Feb 20 ~ Old friends may be interested to hear that the newest member of the warmwell support staff has arrived to assist Morgan. Hard at work
Feb 20 ~ An emailer writes, "King and Krebs appear to be joining forces with Mrs Beckett in advance of the announcement on GM crops which is to be made "shortly", according to leaked minutes. What a bleak triumvirate of spin - and what a tragedy for the British countryside and for democracy. Michael Meacher - and he should know - says the decision is because big companies like Monsanto want to corner the world food supply. It has nothing to do with feeding the world. King and Krebs have always been pro-GM. Remember how they made it easy for Roy Anderson, with his mad model, to "depopulate" British livestock in 2001 as a "cure" for foot and mouth? It is terrifying that a handful of destroyers in suits can wield such power over all that we hold dear. How can they be held to account?" See Independent
".. A government "spin" campaign to sell the benefits of GM is being prepared by cabinet ministers. Pro-GM Labour MPs and government scientists will be alerted in advance of the announcement on GM crops which is to be made "shortly", according to the minutes.See GM page
David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser, John Krebs, the chairman of the Food Standards Agency, and pro-GM MPs will be given advance warning. "The statement should be supported by briefing, prepared jointly by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Chief Scientific Adviser, and the Chairman, Food Standards Agency, based on solid science and illustrated with examples of practice overseas," the minutes say. "The ground should be prepared with key MPs with an interest in science or food security in developing countries."
Feb 20 ~ The I SIS org.uk site carries the press release: "Cows Ate GM Maize & Died" This describes an incident on a German farm in January "...the farmer involved, Gottfried Glöckner, a supporter of GM crops, now suspects that Syngenta’s GM maize Bt 176 is to be blamed. Bt 176 contains multiple complex traits, including insect resistance - conferred by a toxin from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis - and tolerance to the herbicide glufosinate. It was produced initially by the company Ciba-Giegy in 1994, and acquired subsequently by biotech giant Syngenta. .." ." Read in full
Feb 18 ~ Magnus Linklater's article in The Times is a timely reminder that the controversies surrounding the foot and mouth crisis of 2001 are not forgotten. It will not be time to "move on" until the mistakes of the past are acknowledged and policies changed. "Stakeholder consultation" of DEFRA's 150 page document is hardly helpful - merely allowing the Ministry to say, "but your opinion was asked!". As we have known for far too long now, FMD controls are political, and have to do with international trade and protectionism and not much to do with veterinary science.
Feb 17 ~ More on possible links between disease and diet...."A diet rich in antioxidants could help prevent Alzheimers disease" Telegraph
Feb 17 ~ An emailer alerts us to the Times article "Farmers demand gassing to curb bovine TB" by Valerie Elliott:
"..New laws will be required to allow emergency gassing because badgers have been a protected species since 1973..." The Times.
"More new laws to slaughter animals whether they are healthy or not so that no one can object? When Ben Gill says " By far the most effective and humane way of dealing with this problem is by gassing." his version of humanity reminds one surreally of the vet, David Fields, who did not carry out a full examination of the healthy sheep at Didi Phillips' farm in Cornwall in 2001 for fear of causing "distress and harm" to healthy pregnant sheep.Feb 17 ~ A letter in yesterday's Times "Sir, On Friday, February 6, government minister Alun Michael helped to “talk out” the Wild Mammals (Protection) (Amendment) Bill, introduced by Lembit Opik MP.
He slaughtered them instead. Now with TB we have yet more official reluctance to question received wisdom, or to consider possible causes - such as mineral deficiency in the hotspots. Remember the comment by Colonel Danny Goodwin-Jones in the Western Mail you linked to? "... once you put back the trace elements all the creatures that live in the soil recover and they keep it healthy"
Why will DEFRA not investigate this when they are perfectly aware that it could be vitally important?"
This Bill would have protected all wild mammals from all undue suffering in all circumstances and was backed by many pro and anti-hunting MPs from all parties.
We believe the opponents of the Bill should justify the apparent inconsistency between opposition to it and their support for animal welfare. When the Government’s recent Hunting Bill is compared with Mr Opik’s Wild Mammals Bill, it is clear to us that the latter improves wild mammal welfare, while the hunt ban would worsen it...." The letter was from Mark Fisher, MP (Lab), Peter Luff (Conservative), and Roger Williams (Liberal Democrat)
Feb 16 ~ "..another member of the Defence Intelligence Staff who said Blair could and should have known about the WMD - not only that but at the bottom are links to all the Dossiers - and the reports of several of the Select Cttee Inquiries Crispin Black - "Blair's claim is simply incredible". Guardian 12 Feb." (Read in full)
Feb 16 ~ An emailer writes ".. to correct the impression given by Uhlig in the Telegraph that the single farm payment(SFP) will be "linked entirely to land ownership". It isn't. I am a landowner and wish it were so.
The SFP will be given to the person actively farming at the point of review. (Big problem for those who weren't - 'farms in transition'as the jargon has it). Countries and regions within EU have been given considerable discretion as to how they implement the SFP. They can choose between an Individaul Historic Claim (IHC) based on the average of all payments they received in 2000, 2001, 2002 adjusted for FMD or any other 'anomalies' (Ha!) or a Regionally Averaged Payment (RAP) which spreads it all out -or some hybrid of the two. Wales has chosen IHC, England RAP.
In neither case is the entitlement to claim based on land ownership. The entitlement is the property of the individual to whom it is initially granted. Therefore a market in 'entitlement' is going to develop as sure as water runs downhill. (cf milk quota). This will be interesting but probably not beneficial.
I do apologise if all this is teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs but now that media has woken up to CAP reform I am alternatety appalled and amused by the guff that I read and hear.
If you want to talk to someone who is really clued up I suggest Prof Allan Buckwell of the CLA who not only understands as much of it as anyone can but has the ability to explain it in 'non euro babble'. Try www.cla.org.uk
Feb 16 ~ An emailer writes, "'He is clearly satisfied that the pro-vaccination camp was never given an opportunity to gloat.' The combination of Valerie Elliott and Ben Gill may have some readers reaching for the vomitorium - but the Times article today - in spite of its blatant anti-monarchy and pro-Meat Mafia stance - is worth reading for those who, irrespective of their feelings about the monarchy, have long been grateful to Prince Charles for the way he quietly supported farmers during the FMD crisis. The article shows that he tried to to inject sanity into the policy. That we can still read articles perpetuating the myths against vaccination are a national disgrace. Shame on the Times."
Feb 16 ~ On bovine TB, an emailer comments, "There are unexplained peculiarities in TB control in that, in Scotland, there has been no recurrence of TB once infected cattle have been slaughtered; recurrence in England is frequent. No spread between neighbours has been identified in Scotland or any spread of the disease by wildlife." from http://business.scotsman.com/agriculture.cfm?id=160652004 This would easily be explained by mineral deficiencies in the hot spots that do not exist in the Scottish farms. Is this too obvious an explanation for the Ministry? Was Kenneth Williams right..."the answer lies in the soil"?"
Feb 15 ~ "The results of a great deal of contemporary research bear resemblance to those foreshadowed by Mary Shelley: monsters of technology and its byproducts for which no one takes responsibility or is even expected to take responsibility," he wrote. "Whose responsibility is Love Canal? Chernobyl? Ozone depletion? The Valdez oil spill? Each of these tragedies was possible because of knowledge created for which no one was ultimately responsible."citizen times com Dr. David Orr in a speech to graduating students. (Thank you to Brent for this link).
It reminds us of the dithering of DEFRA over the deaths of the Chinese cocklers at Morcambe Bay last week.
Defra said it had had nothing to do with the incident because responsibility rested with the Sea Fisheries Committees (SFCs), which issue permits for cockling. Later, DEFRA had to admit that DEFRA itself has "responsibility" for this body. Apparently it had not realised this.... (that the BBC reported this with such politically correct tact is interesting. The lack of knowledge of its powers was not referred to by Margaret Beckett in her reply to Geraldine Smith MP last Monday
Feb 15 ~ "when Owen Paterson, the Tory fisheries spokesman, asked how much of the cod consumed in the UK is now landed by British registered vessels. The answer is 5 per cent. The remaining 95 per cent is caught by fishermen from Iceland, the Faroes, France, Spain and elsewhere. Fish-and-chips-lovers wishing to support British fishermen would do better to ask for haddock." Booker's Notebook
Feb 14 ~ Hong Kong is ready to implement a massive killing of the 2.7 million poultry because there is a remote chance that the H5N1 strain of bird flu could mutate into a form which could cause a pandemic. It is thought possible to avert human disease by mass killing - the cruelty of which appears not to worry those who advocate its use any more than do the inhumane rearing practices that cause the threat. If China has developed rapid diagnosis while the OIE and Europe continue with more cumbersome tests, the need for international cooperation in the fight against animal disease has surely never been greater.
Feb 14 ~ Dr Kelly's suicide. More unease expressed by medical opinion in the WMN
Feb 14 ~ Channel 4 political awards Roger writes, "As you can imagine. 99.999 % of the programme was about the War. It was great. Cutting remarks about Blair / Bush / the War were greeted by applause. When it was announced that Dr. Kelly had won an "award" there was a couple of seconds silence for the reasons to sink in. Then some respectful applause. A fellow weapons inspector then did a brief speech on who Dr. Kelly was, what he had achieved and where, and said that Dr. Kelly`s work had saved millions of lives..." http://www.channel4.com/news/2004/02/week_2/10_award.html
Feb 13 ~ Kieron Hayes Press Officer of the Forum of Private Businesses www.fpb.co.uk, writes, " the Defra / Late Payment issue made it on to both Radio 4's Today programme this morning and Five Live's breakfast show. If you would like to hear the interview it is available via the Radio 4 website. visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/ and click on the Today Programme link listed under "Editor's Choice." Garry Parker, FPB Public Affairs Adviser, took part in the interview. It took place at 6.15 am and if you want to you can fast-forward minute by minute to the right place."
Feb 12 ~Dr Richard Lawson writes : http://www.greenhealth.org.uk "Early Day Motion 300 asks the Government to complain to the UNSC about the sale of biological agents by the USA to the Iraqi Government. This event gets close to the heart of the hypocrisy of the US in the scandal of its dealings with Iraq. The text is on http://edm.ais.co.uk/weblink/html/motion.html/ref=300. Use www.faxyourmp.com to get your MP to sign up."
Feb 7 ~ The great minds of Margaret Beckett and George W Bush have both seen fit to draw comparisons between the so-called war on terror and Winston Churchill's leadership. It was a comfort to those of us who were outraged by this to read what Nicholas Soames, the shadow Secretary of State for Defence (and Sir Winston Churchill's grandson) had to say. See the Independent today (or read it from the Iraq/Hutton page)
Feb 7 ~ The Muckspreader article from the latest edition of Private Eye has been on warmwell for some time - but since now two different regular readers have alerted me to it by email, it is worth putting up again. Jan 26 - 30 ~ "Bradshaw's cost-benefit analysis is no more than the most cynical window dressing" "....the only mystery is why Mr Bradshaw should choose to throw away so much taxpayers' money on trying to pretend that he has any choice in the matter...........his officials believe that vaccination is so distrusted by the farming community that there might be wholesale resistance if it was introduced. They have therefore told Bradshaw that it would be wise to carry out this charade of a 'cost-benefit analysis' to demonstrate to farmers that it would be more sensible to vaccinate. The tragedy is that, with the exception of Ben Gill and the discredited NFU, the farmers already know this, so the whole exercise is totally unnecessary."
Feb 6 ~ Jenkins' law: a plush new HQ spells corporate doom Simon Jenkins in the Times. (He forgot to mention the RSPCA)
Feb 6 ~ "Here's a dilemma for you.... With all your honour and dignity what would you do? This test only has one question...." http://www.totalfrance.com/france/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1111 (Do bother to look- it is an apt comment on our times - 'God forgive us', said the emailer who sent the link.)
Feb 5 ~ "Bush likens war on terror to Churchill's fight against Nazis" Words fail..."He adds he sees Churchill's spirit in Britain's current leader, Tony Blair. Bush called Blair "a man of conscience and unshakeable determination" " We have been sent this link to Japan today where the comments following this story include:" "We will fight them on the peach trees, we will fight them with our flies, we will never change our gender!' "This was our finest flower" "An Iron Curtain has fallen across Europe and my administration has decide that Halliburton should build it"
Feb 4 ~ Ash Moor Pit "the new breakdown of costs so far is £8.5 million and is expected to top £10 million. That alone should give cause for an inquiry. Perhaps the EU should investigate." says Roger. WMN
Feb 4 ~ Sheep Tagging Trial - Defra gives contract to ADAS, to conduct a trial of electronic identification and electronic data transfer Defra website "The trial will assess how easy the equipment is to use and will look at training and support requirements for use of EID and EDT on farms, and in abattoirs and markets. It will also identify potential benefits of EID/EDT for the sheep industry. The trial will take place within three cluster areas, in the North East, South West and Midlands and will include a minimum of 50 lowland, upland and hill farms. 70,000 sheep..."
Feb 3 ~ As expected, news of Roy Anderson's appointment to the so-called Science Advisory Council increases despair at the state of things. Here is one email "Anderson is just another nail in the coffin."
Feb 3 ~ "It's humiliating that we are just being an echo of the U.S. again," former Cabinet minister Clare Short said. Reuters
Feb 3 ~ "What forced me to my feet, to interject on a subject outside my normal arena, was the lack of any passion or clarity of action coming from not just one, but the two government ministers present.." John Cresswell sends this article in the Observer by Robin Maynard
Feb 3 ~ "once you put back the trace elements all the creatures that live in the soil recover and they keep it healthy" An article in the Western Mail about Col Goodwin-Jones's theory on bovine TB "There's been 15 years of research into producing a vaccine and loads of money being spread around academia. They don't want a solution they can't patent." he says.
Feb 3 ~ Professor Roy Anderson has been appointed to a new body called the Science Advisory Council. According to the FWi ".. Lord Whitty said the new council was made up of people who could improve the quality and direction of DEFRA's science." Warmwell remembers Roy Anderson's contribution to FMD 2001 - as will many readers. Summary (Sir John Marsh, also appointed to the new body, is an advocate for GM crops.)
Feb 3 ~ "We read that DEFRA - or at least its "policy making function " may be moved to Ipswich. This is not quite what we had in mind when we said there was too much centralised government...." We have been sent this link to East Anglian Daily Times
Feb 3 ~ "It was the first time more than half of sales have gone to non-farmers. In the South East 65 per cent of agricultural land and buildings were bought by people who were not farmers." Telegraph
Feb 3 ~ More praise for the internet, Channel4 news, Newsnight and a few others - and for warmwell. "Your friend summed it up pretty well with his/her comments of admiration of Channel4. And so say all of us."
Feb 2~ Warmwell, a website set up to look at the FMD crisis, is asked why it spends so much time on issues such as Iraq and "homeland security". The only answer is that the deep anxiety felt during the horrific days of the so-called "animal disease control" in the UK during 2001 is still with us. The naive disbelief we felt at the carnage wrought by the government then has evolved into an awareness of just how easy it is for a population to be led into situations that it distrusts but feels powerless to stop "because it's the government". Not so powerless. The internet has helped ordinary people to be far more aware - and to have a voice.
Feb 2 ~ "as the Hutton inquiry showed, one advantage of an inquiry is that it can be used to shut down debate while it is taking place. These are fine calculations for Tony Blair who - now the issue of Dr Kelly's death has been ruled on - is back to facing precisely the same concerns over the war he faced before that tragedy." BBC link sent by Roger
Feb 2 ~ http://www.microsoft.com/security/antivirus/mydoom.asp to check for MyDoom virus
Feb 2 ~"He found in Blair a principled, even fanatical politician, with a mission to remake his nation. But at what cost?" The introduction to an article by Greg Palast in the Ecologist in March 2000 "... the Downing Street Policy Unit couldn't care less what the public wants. What they want to know is not what people want but how what Blair wants can be sold to them. ..'information' is more than the means for accelerating business; it is the product itself. This leads them, for example, to their fanatical and politically costly defence of Monsanto (and Lord Sainsbury, owner of the genetic modification accelerator patent)..."
Feb 2 ~ "Margaret Beckett looking down her horsey nose at Ian Hislop on Question Time, as he dared to suggest (to wild applause) that the report was a 'disgraceful establishment whitewash.' ... A Tory MP looking uncomfortable as Jeremy Paxman gave him a mauling."You now want an inquiry about why we went to war," thundered Paxo "when at the time you were more gung ho than the government, couldn't wait to start the bombing?" " http://www.asiansinmedia.org/news/article.php/television/284
Feb 1 ~ The great American journalist Martha Gellhorn once stood up at a press conference and said: "Listen, we're only real journalists when we're not doing as we're told. How else can we ever keep the record straight?"
Feb 1 ~ "Every day now, officially manipulated fear and paranoia are exported to our shores - air marshals, finger printing, a directive on how many people can queue for the toilet on a Qantas jet flying to Los Angeles .." John Pilger's speech given at UWA Extension Summer School Lecture Winthrop Hall, at the University of Western Australia on 12 January 2004. "The writer Arundhati Roy described the outpouring of anti-war anger last year as "the most spectacular display of public morality the world has ever seen." That was just a beginning and a cause for optimism. ..." Power, Propaganda and Conscience in the War On Terror
Jan 31 ~ " fallout from the report shows no sign of abating" Reuters "Protesters have burned a copy of the Hutton report outside Prime Minister Tony Blair's office and angry BBC staff have defended their ex-boss after he resigned as fallout from the report shows no sign of abating."
Jan 31 ~ Our attention has been drawn to the Guardian article from Tuesday. "Iraqi who gave MI6 45-minute claim says it was untrue" about the admission from the Iraqi National Accord in exile that it was raw intelligence from a single source, part of a large amount of information passed on by the INA to MI6 by an officer who didn't know what he was talking about.
As Dr David Kelly said of the 45 minute claim (on the telephone to Susan Watts) "..You know someone.They were pushing hard for information which could be released - that was one that popped up, and it was seized on and it was unfortunate that it was..." See Iraq page
Jan 31 ~ An emailer says - in reference to the Times article today " ... Dr Kay's conclusions raise critical questions about the credibility of intelligence services around the world, but particularly in the US. And they challenge the coherence and realism of Mr Bush's signature doctrine of pre-emption, which relies on intelligence. " but, writes an emailer, "I don't think these are relevant considerations, if the decision to go to war was based on other considerations (e.g. control of the oil supply) and had already been taken even before the intelligence services had reported."
Jan 31 ~ Margaret is irritated by the "ongoing fallacy" about vaccination for FMD.
Jan 31 ~ Newspaper editorials yesterday
~ " It is vitally important that the BBC's new leadership is free from political interference and can stand up to government when the pressure is applied ... HeraldJan 31 ~ "The first of the Westcountry's grey army of council tax rebels has appeared in court for refusing to pay his full bill..." WMN "He told Plymouth Magistrates Court he was campaigning "on behalf of all pensioners" by deliberately paying £4 a month less than the full amount of his bill in protest at soaring council tax levels. Growing numbers of the region's council tax protestors have received court summonses in recent weeks..."
~ "....Few in the military will be disappointed if Mr Hoon leaves his post - but the demonstrations of loyalty by Mr Dyke's staff were spontaneous and heartfelt. .." Scotsman
~ "The BBC does not belong to the politicians. It is a national institution. If it is simply left to this government to fiddle with it, as it has so many institutions ... we shall go from bad to worse." Telegraph
~ "that very ethos of public service broadcasting is now under threat by petty, here-today, gone-tomorrow politicians and, we suspect, by weak, appeasing BBC governors ... " Daily Mail
~"ministers would be unwise to assume that the public automatically takes its part. The sight of a corporation left wounded and leaderless is not one the voters would have wished as the outcome of this inquiry, and they could choose to blame ministers for bringing it about. This week's 'victory' over the BBC may yet come back to haunt the prime minister." Independent
Jan 31 ~ Was Hutton Right? 90 % of Channel4 voters say NO. The BBC has been inundated with messages of support.
Jan 31 ~ " I propose that the Criminal Cases Review Board should be invited to conduct an urgent review of Lord Hutton's past cases: to see if his over-deferential respect for Authority has resulted in other miscarriages of justice. I am appalled by Mark Byford's craven and unnecessary apologies and at the resignations from the BBC. What pressure is being applied to the BBC governors? We seem to be watching the No 10 spin machine turn the BBC into the mouthpiece of the Ministry of Information." writes Lawrence, echoing what is in many minds.
Jan 31 ~"Alastair Campbell walked on stage last night at almost exactly the time Andrew Gilligan resigned. Three BBC staff down, only 24,997 to go! .." Guardian
Jan 30 ~ Some farmers, - or at least the NPA - are calling for a cull of wild boar. See FWi. That vaccination in bait will be possible is important and it is to be hoped that DEFRA is aware of this before it rushes again to a widespread kill.
Jan 29 ~ From a longer email,".... Lord Hutton's judgement was pure "interpretation" (and "interpretation" and "presentation" are central to Blairism and Campbellism). Nearly every statement was preceded by a phrase such as "I am satisfied that ..." His opinion should carry no more weight than that of anyone else given that he has examined the "facts" that are now available to all of us to examine (all credit to him for that), and has now demonstrated his own bias by ignoring evidence critical of the government. ..."
Jan 29 ~ "The BBC managers are criticised for failing to question the truth of a report. Where is the criticism of the Prime Minister and the President of the US who failed to question faulty intelligence and encouraged it?
Even Hutton admits that "... the possibility cannot be completely ruled out that the desire of the Prime Minister to have a dossier which, whilst consistent with the available intelligence, was as strong as possible in relation to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's WMD, may have subconsciously influenced Mr Scarlett and the other members of the JIC to make the wording of the dossier somewhat stronger than it would have been if it had been contained in a normal JIC assessment." Words fail me this morning..." writes an emailer.
Jan 29 ~ "We feel the shivers this morning - not the "blizzard of blame" that some commentators ludicrously shower on the BBC nor the sleet and snow on the ground - but cold disillusionment. Are we now to be even more at the mercy of the powerful who, as in the worst regimes, speak in terms of high virtue and behave with lowest motives?" asks an emailer.
Jan 29 ~ Plans for a new primate research centre have been dropped by Cambridge University Independent See earlier posting on Jan 4th
Jan 28 ~ "The family are indebted to Lord Hutton for conducting a highly charged inquiry with compassion and dignity, even though his findings differ in part from their submissions to him." Guardian
Jan 27 ~ Roger wants "wise Hilary Peters" to know that he feels the same. "I'm afraid that until Man becomes humane to Man, animals do not stand a chance of being treated properly. Shouldn't let it get me down but it does. I cannot see any future in compassion and kindness. So sad." Roger's email will strike a chord with many of us.
Jan 27 ~ "Australia's chief medical officer John Horvath said the risk of a mutation allowing human-to-human infection remained low. It also appeared the virus was not particularly contagious from bird to humans at this stage" Australian website The Age.com on the emergency summit in Bangkok into avian influenza. (The photo shows a slaughterer wearing the inevitable face mask - but with bare hands)
Jan 27 ~ possible influenza pandemic and its implications for "global economies" The Times "Most experts agree that a new influenza pandemic is inevitable and possibly imminent," Dr Hitoshi Oshitani, a WHO official based in Vietnam, wrote recently. "The biggest one of all, in 1918 and 1919, caused an estimated 20 million to 40 million deaths. The implications for global economies are obvious."
Jan 27 ~ "There cannot be any more appropriate way to introduce our young folk into the world of Blairite Thatcherism than by getting them to start out in life with a debt hanging round their necks. ....Get them started as they're going to end up and let's squash all those old-fashioned ideas about "living within your means"...." Terry Jones on top-up fees Let's make infants pay for their schooling in the Independent.
Jan 26 ~ Of the bird flu scare, wise Hilary Peters (see her ediary) says, "are we all silenced (as I am) by the hideous parallel with Foot and Mouth? Intensive farming has thrown up another proof of its own unfitness to survive and all we worry about is the threat to human life. Cruelty does not feature at all as something that needs to be eradicated."
Jan 26 ~ "It is immoral to wipe out a species because it can transmit disease" is one of the views on the wild boar website (see front page) The widespread killing of chickens in Asia includes burying them alive. Literally millions of animals are being wiped out by the human fear of disease - but it doesn't seem to be stopping the spread of disease nor preventing the mutation of viruses.
Jan 26 ~ "Supermarkets don't sell cheap food, we just think they do - and they're ruining local economies" article in the Guardian " Time and again, studies find that - from apples to spare ribs - the small, local shop often offers better value. ..."
Jan 25 ~ The parallels between avian flu and FMD 2001 are well shown by the article in the Independent on Sunday The distressing and inhumane panicky slaughter, the ignorance and the dithering of the politicians, far more worried about the political fallout than of the real consequences of the disease. But in 2001 we didn't even have the excuse of a possible human epidemic to "justify" the measures taken.
Jan 24 ~ An emailer writes with this extract from today's Times ".....'After scorning the UN for not having supported the US-led invasion, Washington wants Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General, to salvage plans for a transfer of power to Iraqis and to send more experts to Iraq...' All this seems so inevitable doesn't it. Even people as politically naive as I foresaw all this when we were opposing the war and questionning the "wisdom" of the experts, the politicians and the pundits. Being proved right - as we were over FMD - gives little satisfaction, just deep disillusionment. However, questionning the experts seems to me to be the most healthy thing anyone can now do. ( at least Kofi Annan is an honourable man)."
Jan 23 ~ Another emailer is impressed by the Institute of Science in Society http://www.i-sis.org.uk "when I went to GM debate in City Hall yesterday, organised by Noel Lynch, Green Party member of London Assembly, and ISIS. ....scientists with integrity! Not sure they are aware re the suppression of info etc and all the tricks that went on in FMD, but the same pattern with GM. Puztai was fascinating. Just short 15 minute presentations by 7 speakers (Published speakers plus John Turner from Farm. Very good publication Science in Society. I got freeby, Issue 18, Spring 2003. Very interesting article "Royal Society under fire" . This is an edited version of the article "The Royal society: Best of British science or corporate rentboy?" Also other articles in Science in Society "Science Advisors abusing public trust" and "Science Advisors abusing Science" by Dr Mae-Wan Ho. The titles echo a familiar theme.."
Jan 23 ~ A reminder about FARM's "Analysis and critique of Broom Barn's Research Station research report: ‘Economic consequences for UK farmers of growing GM herbicide tolerant sugar beet.'
Jan 22 ~ Ian Geering writes, " I thought that you and your readers might wish to know that Brass at Cardiff Law school have asked me to place a selection of my photographs on their website and that they appear at: www.fmd.brass.cf.ac.uk Click on gallery."
(The BRASS Foot and Mouth Research Resource pages are quite excellent. Mary)
Jan 22 ~ "DEFRA has attempted to bring presssure to bear on the Trustees in Bankruptcy who control Jason's affairs. However the Trustees have now assigned the case to Jason and the case is free to be heard in the High Court..." Robert Persey has written to tell us of the progress of the Jason Podmore case.
Jan 22 ~ Bryn has a word to say about the word "incentivise" and Mr Bender's Progress
Jan 21 ~ Guardian today Hill farms teetering on the breadline "Carol Evans, of the Peak District Rural Deprivation Forum, said: "It is shameful that many of Britain's food producers are living on the breadline, earning far less than the minimum wage. A myth still persists that all farmers are rich and greedy - this report makes clear that nothing could be further from the truth."
Jan 21 ~ Sir Brian Bender incentivising..... There is outrage among farmers (as well as among those who care about the English language) over Defra permanent secretary Sir Brian Bender's remark "there are circumstances where it incentivises farmers to get the disease, such as we have seen recently during foot-and-mouth" See Western Mail (link mended - apologies) ".....I witnessed the anguish of many of my neighbouring farmers and their families and to suggest they were party to the deliberate spreading of the disease is a totally unwonted insult to them and to the integrity of the entire farming industry "
Jan 21 ~ An emailer writes of BBC Radio 4 "Taking a Stand"
" This was fascinating today, with Keane interviewing Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentgon papers re the reasons for the Vietnam war and how the grounds for conflict were manufactured. Ellsberg stated towards the end that Bush and Blair had lied outrageously to the people, and implied that he hoped that someone would feel duty bound to leak papers on a big scale as he had done in order to expose the crimes. He said there would be a mass of incriminating evidence in the UK. .No transcript is available unfortunately. The audio will only be available until the next programme in the series, presumably until next Tuesday."
Extract: Richard Nixon's reaction to a democratic election in Vietnam... "well Mr Vice-President, we are trying to let South Vietnam have the most honest election they can have" Nixon said "Honest! Yes that's right, honest! So long as you win...." and jabbed his elbow into Lansdale's arm - and we were all rather turned to stone at this point.. but he was speaking for all presidents, all heads of state..honest-as long as you win..."
Jan 20 ~ New email virus menace. " Infected emails include a file attachment ending .exe and the word "hi" in the subject line. The message contains the word "test" followed by the symbol =)." See Bagle/Beagle computer virus unleashed Ananova
Jan 20 ~ DEFRA's unpaid bills.
The Forum of Private Businesses (FPB) suggests that all interested parties look at their website: www.fpb.co.uk and follow the directions. It will be up to Defra to produce information why submitted invoices are unacceptable rather than the other way around as has been the practice . Paul Gregory of FPB can be reached on 0208 894 5732 but it is important to look at the website first of all.
Jan 19 ~"... Ben Bradshaw said the growing populations of deer were causing problems for the environment, and called for more stalkers to shoot deer and more people to eat venison...." WMN. An emailer comments, "hunting banned but culling approved is this a new title for Ben Bradshaw?? (Nature Conservation Minister)" You couldn't make it up, could you..."
Jan 18 ~ Smithfield again. The giant industrial intensive pig operation, written about very well in the Spectator in November, "controls a third of the pork market in the US (making it the largest pork producer in the world) and has now has set its sights on Europe. With the help of a low-interest loan from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Smithfield has bought up nine state abattoirs in Poland and is refitting former state farms. He says there is no doubt they want a big share of the European pig market."according to Farming Today this week
Contrast that with "In Varberg, Gun Rangnarrsson has taken the Swedish pig scene by storm - and she only started in pigs a few years ago. She shows Susie her barns full of families of pigs, nesting in straw and rarely needing medication - a low cost system which can match the production figures of many intensive houses."
Jan 18 ~ "GM crops will be given the go-ahead for a single season in Britain, in a move largely crafted to save the Prime Minister's face." Geoffery Lean in the Independent. See GM page
Jan 18 ~ A doom-laden email:" ....."Bird flu poses a greater risk to New Zealand than foot and mouth ever did, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The NZ article says that it is "possible H5N1 could mutate and be transmitted between humans."..... if it is migrating birds - what will our leaders do then? Shoot everything? Shock and awe the virus? ....."
Jan 17 ~ "....with the aim of communicating something of the experiences and the trauma endured by farming and rural communities in Cumbra, the Scottish borders, Northumbria, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Gloucestershire, Devon and other rural areas hit by the epidemic. Littoral Arts, the Watchtree Liaison Committee and Great Orton Parish Council, hope that the exhibition tour can start in Manchester in October next year and reach London by the time of the fifth anniversary of FMD - in February 2006." FWi
Jan 15 ~ "We will build new ships to carry man forward into the universe, to gain a new foothold on the moon, and prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own" said pre-election Mr Bush. Alice Slater, head of the Global Action Centre for the Environment, warned the new policy "will create a new arms race to the heavens." See Reuters
Jan 15 ~ Foot and Mouth is affecting a third of Uganda's cattle now. "The Uganda National Farmers Federation warned that the country's livestock could be wiped out if action was not taken." Late last year, farmers in Uganda called for an emergency 14 million US dollars loan from the Ministry of Finance to fight the spread of the FMD. They have only 50,000 (imported from Botswana) of the 200,000 doses needed. See http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2004-01/14/content_1275842.htm
Jan 14 ~ Not everyone in America takes BSE seriously. Hugh sends this cartoon from California
Jan 14 ~ "FIVE thousand patients a year die every year from infections picked up inside our hospitals," writes Bryn, "but that does not worry Noo Labour - they want a consultation about how your sceptic tank is doing! "http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/groundwater-protect/letter.htm
All very reminiscent of Simon Jenkins today ".. the money is entirely for more civil servants. "
Jan 13 ~ The email from Didi makes for sobering reading. The human victims of FMD will never be able to forget what happened - and, as in the Pedrick case and the Haste case publicised last week, the misery - to a lesser or greater extent - continues to this day.
Jan 13 ~ EU labelling "I am not too worried about an EU label in itself, but my fear is that we will see less and less of a national and regional identity as a result. More and more often nowadays people want to know where their food comes from - the future for our agriculture industry is to push our own produce and we have to be able to do that." Neil Parrish WMN
Jan 13 2004 ~ "The group emphasises that it is not against renewable energy, but believes wind turbines do not represent good use of resources." The fight against wind farms Western Morning News
Jan 13 ~ Jamie Oliver says the public need to be convinced that organic food is not elitist FWi
Jan 12/13 ~ "....The major question now is what can and should be done in the future to avoid this approach to controlling epizootic animal diseases which is unacceptable to the public? .."
The OIE book Foot and mouth disease: facing the new dilemmas is now fully available on line. "This authoritative new international manual brings together 42 contributions by eminent international authorities on the major questions of what can be done in the future to handle this highly contagious virus infection more effectively."
Jan 12 ~"... It is also feared that the ban on using the meat of downers may prompt farmers to sell them to unscrupulous dealers. "Now we are wide open to illegal operators," the source said. "We have worked for many years and tried to combat illegal operators, so we know what they are going to do." ......"The(US) agriculture department spent $6.6m on BSE and scrapie research last year. The cattle industry spent $50m on promotion"
The US is waking up to the power of the meat industry. See Guardian
And the power of our own meat industry in the UK to behave with criminal lack of scruples?
Jan 12 ~ Telegraph Defra 'saved £800m' by tracing false foot and mouth claims but, comments an emailer surprised at the Telegraph's credulity, "It didnt mention the fact that Maff caused most of the bill"
Jan 12 ~ "Anyone who has ever spoken to Michael will know that he is as honest as the day is long and it is truly disgusting the way he has been treated." An email about the Pedrick case
Jan 12 ~ An emailer writes, "Debby Reynolds, now the new CVO but then Veterinary Director for the FSA, tells us all about the Food Standards Agency in this pdf file - It is a document full of timeless gems about independent scientific advice, scrapie in sheep possibly "masking" BSE, the integrity of the Meat Hygiene Service(!), transparency, openness and accountability. How grateful we should be for the food police."
Jan 12 ~ "... the lack of progress on our contingency planning exercises..." A note from the CVO (now knighted) from July 2000 makes for exasperating reading.
Jan 10 ~ the US trade delegation trying to get Japan to lift its emergency beef import ban. ".. had a little-noticed handicap: The U.S. hasn't lifted a ban it placed on Japanese beef after the disease was first reported there more than two years ago. That prohibition has stayed put even though the Japanese have instituted the world's most extensive mad-cow testing program." http://www.truthabouttrade.org/article.asp?id=1214 (Thank you, Canada)
Jan 10 ~"... I smell dodgy science" Simon Jenkins on the way doom scenarios attract grants and conference tickets. He writes in the Times "Changes in biodiversity are a by-product of how people use land" and quotes a book by John Hemming about the Amazonian Indiansof the rainforest: "They are its best custodians. Unmolested they do not starve or crave change."
Jan 7 ~ "In a fascinating and disturbing study of the impact of FMD on the British economy, a study which should be required reading for every MP and which the Mother of Parliaments apparently succeeded in burying in its haste to avoid learning lessons from the tragedy, the total reduction in real value will exceed £3billion for tourism alone," leading businessman Sir John Banham told the Oxford Farming Conference yesterday. See WMN
Jan 7 ~" Mrs Mann, 69, claims that she came up against the might of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) while trying to stop the development of a windfarm on the Yorkshire Dales. During the course of 2002 she discovered a message on the association's website which read: "We know where you live". ..." WMN
Jan 7 ~ "The measures are aimed at shaking up legislation that dates back to the 1920s, giving ministers all the powers they need to tackle a wide range of incidents - ranging from foot-and-mouth to an attack on the internet...." BBC
Jan 7 ~ The creation of traffic wardens with powers to impose fines for driving offences prompted fears of an unaccountable "mini police force" yesterday. See yesterday's Times An emailer writes "Why is it that so few of the sheeple in the UK see what is happening to their liberty - so cherished for so long and now so casually given away? Those of us who saw ignorant and defensive officials "dressed in a little brief authority" during FMD and their nazi-like ruthlessness must view such cost-cutting decisions with real amd serious alarm. Like all such measures it hides under the guise of health or safety - but the result will be the same. Liberty will be a vague dream of a golden past."
Jan 6 ~ Wind farms? Not so good for the environment. See WMN
Jan 6 ~ GM Debate with excellent speakers on Jan 19th in London. See GM page
Jan 6 ~ The difficulties involved in BSE testing, the uncertainties, the lack of answers - and an article from the New York Times showing just how far the US is behind in testing. Prusiner is urging the FSA in Britain to do tests involving the killing of calves and the use of genetically modified mice. The moderator says "..although the work has not been done in mice, it has been done in cattle, which -- of course -- are a better model for a cattle disease than mice...." - See Pro-Med http://www.promedmail.org/pls/askus/f?p=2400:1001:11665334394616909313::NO::F2400_P1001_BACK_PAGE,F2400_P1001_PUB_MAIL_ID:1000,23937
Jan 6 ~ wheat substitutes poisoned British cattle? See email received today
Jan 4 ~ Apologies for any interruption to warmwell again. A return visit to hospital may result in another few days away from the computer. (Now delayed to Thursday)
Jan 4 ~ "... it is not too late for a change of heart, for government to recognise the true cost of unlimited flying and to set an example to the world by stemming it. Otherwise we cannot trust Labour's commitment to the environment further than the travel agent's door." Observer - Plans to expand air travel massively over the next 25 years mask a terrible cost in environmental pollution Juliette Jowit
Jan 4 ~ Legal action accuses Blair, Sainsbury, and Prescott of interference and errors in Cambridge monkey laboratory case. PRNewswire. (new window) "The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) and Animal Aid have launched a High Court challenge to the decision by First Secretary of State John Prescott to allow a massive primate research laboratory to be built in the Cambridgeshire green belt. The appeal descibes Prescott's decision as perverse, unreasonable and unfair. Moreover, his ruling dismisses the clear advice of his own Planning Inspector, and the evidence presented to a public inquiry staged at the end of last year. .."
Jan 3 ~ Congratulations to David Handley - voted this year's Farm Personality of the Year for the second time in four years. See the FWi article (new window) which says that David Handley "will not bid for the presidency of the NFU in 2004 - despite securing 70% of the vote and topping the annual poll. "I am not interested in sipping gin and tonic with supermarket chain MDs, I want to challenge them head on to give farmers a fair deal. ...I believe the NFU should be like the French unions; in there fighting for farmers and determined to win....There are now over 150 organisations that claim to represent farmers and the countryside and FFA has proved to be one of the most effective. "
Jan 3 ~ Sir John Krebs says openness and transparency ( those divine twins so often spoken of in their absence by the government) are essential.
An emailer writes to tell us that Sir John and the FSA feature in this highly questionable bit of spin from yesterday's FT (new window) about the BSE case in the US: "....The UK's experience of BSE has at least given it world-leading expertise in handling the disease. Sir John said effective surveillance and measures to restrict high-risk meat entering the food chain were essential. Openness and transparency were also crucial."
Jan 2 ~ Rare Breed Pigs - (pdf file of details) one-day pig-keeping courses by Tony and Mary-Rose York
See also the pig paradise website
Dec 31 ~ Mr Jim Scudamore gets honoured. Mr Alastair Campbell does not. What are we to make of the Honours List? The Telegraph (new window) reminds us that "....The last 92 of the hereditary peers, ministers have determined, are to go, without a hand's turn towards democratisation of the Lords. As things stand, the scope for prime ministerial patronage there remains as great as at any time in our history. Alongside this, our way of rewarding merit, as illustrated by the New Year list, shines with honour. "
Dec 31 ~A knighthood for Simon Jenkins. And for Menzies Campbell the Lib Dem arch-critic of Tony Blair's Iraq policy. The Guardian has details.
Godric Smith, the prime minister's official spokesman, who was recalled to give evidence before the Hutton inquiry, has been awarded a CBE. Matthew Taylor, the Liberal Democrat party chairman is reported in the Guardian as saying: "Unless the government knows something about the outcome of the Hutton inquiry that the rest of us don't, at best this looks like a misjudgment."
Dec 31 ~ Phoney forecasts on sheep, wool and lamb? Baa humbug. Fordyce Maxwell in the Scotsman delivers his own spoof forecast for 2004
"....March: Margaret Beckett, the head of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says in a speech that top of the government's priority list this year will be ... er, what do you call that lot who look after sheep and cattle and grow spiky stuff in fields?.."before declaring that (since she has done that already ) "..no matter how outrageous you think you're making a spoof forecast for the coming year, real life - stretching that definition in some cases, admittedly - will outdo you"
Dec 30 ~ ".. I've been following with great interest, two different stories developing in the news : the proposed use of air marshals on planes, and the new rules relating to the treatment of 'foreigners' by the NHS.
It will be very interesting if the pilots and the doctors stand up against the Government and refuse to carry out these regulations............. if they do, it will then be further proof of how totally wrong the RCVS was, and also the individual vets involved, to go along with the 3 km and the contiguous cull and not stand up at the time and say it was 100% against their ethics, let alone signing the so-called false forms!" writes a farmer from the West Country.
Dec 30 ~ DEFRA rebuttal of the RSPCA OIE paper on the welfare implications of the 2001 FMD policies ( See warmwell.com/03dec30compare.html ) in which the former CVO (and two others) admit to no single case of cruelty nor express any regret at the manner in which the policies were pursued. Instead they declare that
"The DEFRA managed both the disease control and welfare measures with diligence and flexibility...."Interesting however to see the third OIE paper by Crispin, Roger, H. O'Hare and Binns (all involved directly, three as temporary veterinary inspectors and one as a local veterinary inspector) in which they note that "Improper or inappropriate slaughter methods were reported regularly and some were recorded on film by members of the public and the media..... All the local inquiries covering Cumbria, Devon and Northumberland (7, 16, 26) have also provided evidence of gross breaches of animal welfare at slaughter."
Dec 30 ~ An emailer, reading with sympathy the message about the Farm Assurance Scheme below, writes, "Might be timely to mention the Corporate Watch exposé of the NFU again... http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/profiles/nfu/nfu.htm" (new window) Extract:
" At a forum organised by the Littoral Arts Project in 2001, however, Andrew Clark from the NFU stated, "In 1993 we had 96,000 full farming members, that figure is now down to 53,000 members". Figures from DEFRA show that in 2002, there were 163,800 full-time farmers in the UK. If Andrew Clark's figures are accurate, the NFU represents less than a third of full-time farmers.11 Whilst it is clear that over the last 10 years numbers have fallen as many farmers have left the industry, 'others have resigned in protest at what they regard as less than adequate representation.'12..."Dec 29 ~Western Morning News on the controversial European Common Fisheries Policy and the dilemma for West Country fishermen of either dumping good fish or landing them illegally to supplement meagre incomes. : "For Ben Bradshaw to be talking about tighter enforcement is a joke. Try saying to the guys down on the quay and they will explode. ...any increase will turn Newlyn into a police state"... "We will have skippers in court every week if they do this," he said. "It is just not practical - we need some common sense."
Dec 29 ~ problems arising from the Government's Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill.
"If not amended, this will greatly increase the powers of local authorities to acquire land while reducing the ability of property owners to object to compulsory purchase orders...." Country Land and Business Association president Mark Hudson reported in the Western Mail (new window)
Dec 28/29 ~ An emailer writes, "We have had TB troubles which have now been resolved with no loss of animals, struggled through two more annual inspections and only just discovered that the Farm Assurance Scheme is not as I thought - Supermarket driven - but NFU and its little red tractor logo means b*gger all. This used to be a voluntary scheme but now compulsory thanks to NFU. For every one of us trying to farm there must be at least 10 pen pushers chasing the sh*t out of us. Sorry about language but now I am 60 I can do and say what I like..."
Dec 28 ~ It appears that the US government is wary of the questions posed by small farmers about the BSE crisis. Two good questions from Kathleen Carlson of the New York Farm Bureau weren't answered in Friday''s press briefing from USDA (new window) - the excuse: "This call is specifically for reporters. .." even though other farm-related questions were answered.
Dec 27 ~ "beef blood, beef fat and other animal proteins are still fed to calves across the nation..." according to this editorial, highly critical of Ann Veneman, on the US (Wisconsin) site Capital Times "Veneman was put in charge of the Department of Agriculture by President Bush because he knew the longtime advocate for the genetic modification of food, factory farming and free trade policies that favor big agribusiness over family farmers and consumers could be counted on to choose the side of business interests over the public interest. "
It is a mad, mad world my masters
Dec 24 ~ "I think it's unwise to hand over our food sovereignty. Whatever else happens in the world, people will still need to be fed."
Wise words from FARM's Robin Maynard, apparently in response to Lord Haskins comment that Tesco's policy to aim for 10% organics is "particularly reckless" (FWi) Factory farmers - especially in the pig sector in which so much disease if rife - seem to get ever angrier these days when organic farmers suggest that people might prefer to buy food produced more naturally.
Dec 24 ~ An exasperated emailer sends this article from the Scotsman Scottish Executive sets out animal welfare plan She says, ".. the tired old phrases: " subject to widespread consultation", "draws on Scotland's internationally acknowledged science base" - while the insistent blaming of farmers for poor "bio-security" is always the refrain. Ludicrously, Ross Finnie says "Keeping animals in good health and good condition is important in its own right. .."(sic) If only corporate concern for animal welfare were about more than profits and "consumer confidence".
Dec 24 ~The article above says " The precise cause of the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic will probably never be known, but the probability is that it was the result of illegally imported contaminated meat..."
Contaminated meat? Contaminated meat industry more like. Corrupt dealing in semen and frightened live animals - easily hidden by those with a very heavy vested interest. One day, when all this disgrace is uncovered the public will see how they have unwittingly colluded in the miserable treatment of farm animals and how governments have been involved up to their necks." (She also suggests we give our full support to Compassion in World Farming - they never give up)
Dec 23 ~ Enron's political ties with the British and US governments was examined in yesterday's Guardian. Enron donated £36,000 to Labour, as well as huge amounts to the Republicans and Democrats in the US. Mr Lay, its then chief executive, is a friend of George Bush, who refers to him as "Kenny boy".
Dec 23 ~ With the Royal Society itself becoming increasingly dependent on corporate largesse, this timely article by George Monbiot Invasion of the entryists on the way certain covertly interlinked names and groups - including the Science Media Centre - ensure that we, the ignorant public, are kept thinking along the "right lines".
" How did a cultish political network become the public face of the scientific establishment? .. . the scientific establishment, always politically naive, appears unwittingly to have permitted its interests to be represented to the public by the members of a bizarre and cultish political network. "Dec 5 ~ Mike Meredith of pighealth.com writes, " Singalong with Swine at Xmas... http://www.pighealth.com/Products/pigmusic.htm (no pigs were harmed!)"
We think you might want to adjust the volume if you listen to....The Jingle Bellies ...dear, oh dear...
Dec 4 ~ An emailer writes with this extract from the DEFRA website (last modified 7 November 2003) Q&A on Foot and Mouth disease:"...Slaughter remains the basic control policy because widespread disease throughout the country would cause significant welfare problems".
" Vaccination stops the disease from becoming widespread. What on earth do they think "welfare" means? Better off dead? I despair."
Dec 4 ~ The RSPCA is criticised heavily today. Many watchers of this website, while feeling the greatest sympathy and admiration for the RSPCA officers on the ground and in particular the volunteer workers such as Diane Lewis, will be in agreement with the WMN letter: "RSPCA "failed" over foot and mouth"
Dec 4 ~ Yet more concern about the RSPCA. Jason Groves in today's Western Morning News "..."People think they are giving to animal welfare," .... "but that's not necessarily the case." and see also "Why I feel betrayed by the RSPCA" also in the WMN - and the RSPCA's reply to recent criticism
Dec 4 ~ "...the corporate-owned TV networks devoted less than 4 per cent of their news minutes to environmental stories. If they knew the truth, most Americans would share my fury that this president is allowing his corporate cronies to steal America from our children. .." Robert Kennedy Jnr in the Independent
Dec 4 ~" No compensation has been offered to UK farmers for the effects of the illegal French ban on imports of UK beef. Any bids for compensation must come from those affected and be pursued with the French authorities..." Helpful Ben Bradshaw. Hansard
Dec 3 ~ "Hazardous Waste" disaster looming http://www.letsrecycle.com/info/waste_management/news.jsp?story=2859 Peter Ainsworth's comment: "Hazardous waste will make the fridge issue pale into insignificance, with serious knock-on consequences for the building industry..."
Another EU Directive that has caught DEFRA on the hop. If new housing can't be built on brownfield sites because of this EU Directive - then where?
Dec 3 ~ Today's WMN article about what it calls the "U-Turn" on vaccination quotes the NFU's Ian Johnson on the subject of DEFRA's planned FMD simulation exercise "...One of the biggest problems it needs to explore is the culture of secrecy, which led to appalling communications last time and a situation where the centre was not listening to what people on the ground were saying."
Dec 3 ~"I'll be plain: structurise step-change input priority-wise for cognizable advances" For all those of us who so constantly tear our hair out at the mangling of the language (Mrs Beckett is one of the worst offenders) that we are prematurely bald - here is a wonderful article by Magnus Linklater in the Times. (new window) Print out and paste up under the noses of those who hide behind words.
Dec 2 ~ WMN link just received ".... Defra is expected to announce soon whether it goes for payment per hectare based on the average production in a region - which could work against farmers in areas with better quality land - or for "historic entitlement" payment based on the subsidies a farmer claimed in 2000 to 2002.
Anthony Gibson, regional director of the NFU, said "historic entitlement" would deflate land prices by linking payment to farmers who had historically tilled the land, allowing newcomers to enter the business."
Dec 2 ~ New FMD Contingency plan...an emailer comments, "a bit of sugar coating.. lots of misleading spin for the press.. to disguise... more of the same.." See also Bryn's comment in which he picks out the detail he considers "damnable" (contiguous premises etc)
Dec 2 ~ BSE figures - Bradshaw explains the unexplained.... Monday December 1, 2003 The Guardian
"The rise in BSE cases in cows born after the reinforced feed ban (Barb) of August 1996 is within the projected limits. Only now do animals born in 1996-98 reach their peak age for infectivity and most Barb cases found to date belong to the 1996-97 cohort. These first cohorts could still have been exposed to imported feed. An effective feed ban did not come into force in the rest of the EU until January 2001. This suggests the risk of further Barb cases will continue until around 2006, when we expect numbers to fall. Finally, the number of animals tested under the active surveillance programme introduced in 2001 has increased this year. Since this system is picking up the majority of the Barb cases, we would expect an increase in the Barb detection level. Numbers of passive cases (ie those identified on farm through veterinary surveillance) continue to decline by 40% a year. Ben Bradshaw MP Animal health minister"An emailer writes, "So that's sorted then."
Dec 2 ~ Emailed to Ben Bradshaw MP by Bryn "Defra has already carried out a total of over 50 Foot and Mouth Disease exercises and training events, mainly at regional level since the last outbreak." Can you tell me please where, when, and what were the lessons learned, and why did I miss the Press Releases?
Dec 1 ~ From FOE - The "Bite Back: WTO hands off our food" campaign has been gathering pace, calling on citizens around the world to add their signatures to the Citizen's Objection to the WTO to insist that they respect people's right to choose what they eat and allow them to protect their environment.. Nearly 10,000 signatures have been gathered so far - sign it online at http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/global trade/press for change/bite back/index.html.
Nov 30 ~ We are asked, "what, exactly, is Defra philosophy regarding wild boar... since they themselves consider them a vector for disease transmission.." http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/newsrel/1998/981021C.htm
Nov 30 ~ Roger writes, "I feel as if we are in a dream. People like Christopher Booker keep trying to shake us awake but we ignore them, turn over and let it all surround us again. Like Rip Van Winkle, we will eventually awaken and wonder how the World has changed. By then it will be all too late."
Nov 30 ~ An emailer writes to say that " the BBC is to use licence payers' money to pay up to £2 million in compensation to some of its best known presenters when a ban on them writing for newspapers comes into effect next month...hoping it would prevent people such as John Humphrys from rebellion. ( Sunday Telegraph) As always now it seems, money is thought to be able to buy anybody. And if it's our money, so much the better."
Nov 30 ~ "The Common Agricultural Policy is famously rotten, of course. But the EU's structural payments, research programmes and foreign aid budgets were also found to be riddled with what the auditors drily call "errors". In fact, when I totted up all the funds which could not be properly accounted for, I found that they came to nearly 92 per cent of the total budget..." Daniel Hannan in the Sunday Telegraph
Nov 29/30 ~"It was the worst-written Queen's Speech in history" Frank Johnson in the Telegraph. Worth a smile.
Nov 29 ~ A Big Conversation? Many must have shared our weariness on hearing of it. But Bryn can always be relied upon for an immediate response
- "So Blair wants to listen to the electorate does he! OK you arrogant plank. Why did a dispute over a poxy treehouse in Glossop qualify for a PUBLIC INQUIRY and the FMD 2001 disaster did not ?You are a coward and a dictator rolled into one, and this country deserves better. I hope you are sunk with your motley crew in the next General election !Captain Bryn Wayt "
Nov 29 ~ Warning. Scam phone calls, originating from outside the UK apparently, prompt you to dial 9 for news of a big win. Don't. The call can cost you dear. Hang up immediately.
Nov 28 ~ Still in the mode of Dr Strangelove....an email doing the rounds arrived in our inbox today. It did not disappoint...
Nov 28 ~ Bombing Anywhere On Earth In Less Than Two Hours "Force projecion world wide 24/7 is the goal of the US Air Force .... The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the US Air Force share a vision of a new transformational capability that aims to provide a means of delivering a substantial payload from within the continental United States (CONUS) to anywhere on Earth in less than two hours." Or as a waggish emailer in Dr Strangelove mode puts it "" USAF Martini Destruction - Anywhere, Anytime "
Nov 28 ~ Yesterday DEFRA tried to play down the quantities of hazardous materials and chemicals in the second pair of ghost ships. but US government data they contain more than 500 tonnes of asbestos and 333 tonnes of highly toxic chemicals - more than four times as much as the first two ships which arrived in Hartlepool two weeks ago. It seems that the US government snubbed Britain three times and then ignored its legal advice when it allowed the four boats to come to Britain. See Guardian
Nov 28 ~" Lord Steyn said in a speech to lawyers in London last night that judges "have the duty, in times of crisis, to guard against an unprincipled and exorbitant executive response...." Read in full
Nov 28 ~ Even the highly respectable and respected people at CIWF are now referred to as "activists" in the press. Read this depressing article in the Independent "..A legal attempt to end the factory farming of millions of broiler chickens has failed in the High Court. The move, by the group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), was thrown out by Mr Justice Newman, who ruled that there had to be a balance between the needs of animals and intensive farming's commercial interests..The failure of the case means that 800 million broiler chickens will continue to be raised every year in Britain in conditions which animal welfare activists consider unacceptable, and which are an embarrassment to the Government. "
Nov 27/28 ~"...Some flockmasters believe that selecting animals for scrapie resistance means losing other important traits, says SAC researcher Beatriz Villaneva. ...
Anglesey-based Texel breeder John Morris questions the whole approach to scrapie: "We don't know enough about the effects of selecting for resistance and may have already lost the best tups." FWi article Sheep - Too late with scrapie plan?
Nov 27/28 ~ "Pigs spread disease rapidly. If you keep pigs you must register with Defra. And if you start or stop keeping pigs, you must tell Defra." Defra are most unhappy, it seems, at the thought of anyone having the temerity to keep a pig without asking first. See http://www.aasv.org/news/story.php?id=844
Nov 27 ~ An emailer writes, "With blatant scare tactics, instead of saying nothing, ..the Food Standards Agency is not advising against the consumption of lamb or sheep meat...according to a report in the Guardian. Once again, the press have jumped upon the newsworthy idea of dangerous sheep meat because the "monitoring of thousands of animals has thrown up 26 more unexplained results since the nightmare possibility that BSE had leapt from cattle to sheep " The descriptions of the testing that "scientists" now want to do makes me feel ill. What is more, the whole issue throws into doubt the supposed rationale of the NSP." Link to Guardian story
Nov 27 ~ More sympathy for the Morrises but little comfort. See email
Nov 27 ~ Don't miss the announcement which begins..."The ISG under the chairmanship of Professor John Bourne, have announced that "in GB, the mycobacterium. Bovis ( bovine TB) is different politically from that in Ireland".
This new strain of m.bovis (No 27 of 26 ) is to be known as mycobacterium bovis politicus-defraii ......"
Nov 27 ~ "...The problem is, if we become fully globalised before energy resource constraints pinch hard...(and they will at some point) then we probably will have lost the ability ...to be independant.. And I suspect this is exactly what our globalising enthusiast political masters want.. " Brent on that politically useful word "sustainability" and the need for local strength of will.
Nov 26 ~ "Defra officials had subjected contractors to "threats and intimidation", he said. They had also gone through invoices with a fine toothcomb, in one case spending hours disputing a bill for just £1.88..." WMN on the DEFRA compensation scandal
Nov 26 ~ "Gajdusek injected chimps and monkeys with the ground brains of Fore tribeswomen, then repeated the experiment with brain tissue from an American CJD victim. He won a Nobel Prize when the results of his experiments proved that both Kuru and CJD were transmissible..." http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/Greger52103.cfm
Politics, profit and academic status-seeking have created a monstrous hide around many scientists. To react with horror brands one as sentimental. The letter from Wendy Higgins and Mark Purdey's research are a welcome relief.
Nov 26 ~"....... The demonizing of the Rural Community has been going on for years, there's no one to defend them, so I think they will have to do it themselves in what ever way they can." Part of a message from an emailer who sees a pattern....
Nov 26 ~ OPs - Prof Malcolm Harper who has researched the scientific background to sick, Gulf War veterans - and developed treatment protocols - will address the Autumn meeting of the Mid-Wales and Marches Group of OPUS (Organophosphates Users' Support) at Knighton Community Centre, Powys on Friday Nov 28
Nov 26 ~ The Ragwort Control Bill, bringing new powers to control the weed, receives Royal Assent http://www.fwi.co.uk/article.asp?con=13094&sec=19&hier=19
Nov 25 ~ WMN "Noel Edmonds explains why he wants to fight the spread of wind turbines across the fields and moors of the Westcountry" and "Supporters of renewable energy are being bamboozled into believing wind turbines are the right solution " WMN
Nov 25 ~ Bryn is deeply unimpressed by the DEFRA report and by Franz Fischler's apparent lack of knowledge.
Nov 25 ~ See press release FARM is holding a public meeting on Dec 6th which will look at the general issue of the increasing take-over of our food-chain globally and nationally by agribusiness...
... as well as specific concerns about: farm-gate prices, the power of the supermarkets, the reforms of the CAP, what GM crops would mean for UK farmers, the erosion of our national food security, the Government's lack of any long-term vision for farming Public Meeting: Town Hall, Market Place, Chipping Norton, Oxon. Saturday, 6th December Starts: 6.00pm For further information contact: Helen Angell 020 7352 7928
Nov 24 ~ Richard Lawson has sent this comment on the Big Mac. José Bové would approve.
Nov 24 ~ We have been sent this link to icwales. "Last week Euro-MPs overwhelmingly rejected the double tagging and electronic identification proposals put forward by Food Safety Commissioner David Byrne..... The Parliament rejected the proposals 516 votes to six." Members of the FUW got a bit carried away it seems. But also in icwales, we read: " major conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health at Cardiff today will highlight a multi-million-pound trade that presents a growing risk to public health and could jeopardise the clean green image of Welsh lamb. "
Nov 23 ~ Ring Rot "...either an unidentified rambler on a non-existent footpath had discarded an illegally imported and hypothetically diseased potato sandwich onto the farm; or diseased potatoes had been illegally imported by a minority ethnic group and found their way into compost that had not been properly sterilised, at premises his inspector had visited and licensed only a month earlier, before being fed to potatoes on the UK index farm. ..." Alan Beat fears the worst for his spuds
Nov 22 ~" If we don't speak up now, and stand up to them, then the future will be genetically mutilated, and coming generations will have to pay the price." Tom Griffiths-Jones has sent warmwell the short article he wrote, published in the Cumberland News on friday The Politics of Genetic Mutilation
Nov 20 ~ Factory farming, (George Bush and others) letters in the Independent include: Shocking lesson from Poland on dangers of factory farming ...... We don't need to genetically engineer pigs when we have hundreds of years of experience breeding them. Their waste would not pollute with "a cocktail of up to 400 dangerous substances including heavy metals, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and dozens of disease-causing viruses and microbes" if they were humanely reared and fed a natural diet. ....... What is happening in Poland is nightmarish, but as consumers we have to recognise that factory farming on any scale happens because so many people are prepared to buy cheap meat in sanitising plastic, without caring how it was produced. We should care." Yvette Kahane in Melksham, Wiltshire
Nov 20 ~ Comment from an emailer's friend in Texas " Are you all surviving the Bush visit? At least he will LEAVE you all....we don't have that luxury."
Nov 20 ~ "an approach not worthy of 21st century science" In great sympathy with the Morrises, an emailer writes, " The TB question is a minefield on its own, and the slaughter on a big scale, characterise.. an approach not worthy of 21st century science"
Nov 19 ~ An Archers-listening emailer writes, "Don't want to sound as though my only info comes from the Archers - but the prog today really went to town - saying that as no one is seeing any pyres or terrible images of animals being killed no-one realises how awful it is - David Archer in total breakdown mode. and saying the numbers are worse than FMD. Where can we find the numbers concerned. Also should we be lobbying for vaccination - or just better testing - doesn't this sound awfully familiar?" (See also latest from the Morris TB "reactors" situation)
Nov 19 ~ We have been sent a chain letter email. We disapprove of all chain letters. However, readers may wish to make up their own minds about this one.
Nov 18 ~ "They can catch a fisherman, prosecute him, fine him £20,000 with £1340 costs, but can they catch anybody smuggling illegal meat and go through the courts - not a chance ! They say illegal meat laced with FMDv could close down the country again if FMD hit - but it's not a priority it seems..." Bryn is furious. He sends this link http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2003/031117b.htm
Nov 18 ~ Owen Paterson, until recently PPS to Iain Duncan Smith, has been appointed the new Shadow Minister for Agriculture, working under Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture, John Whittingdale. We remember Mr Paterson's involvement in the FMD crisis and the questions he raised in Parliament with gratitude and are very pleased to see this appointment. (information)
Nov 18 ~ Yesterday a delegation presented the WMN's petition opposing the possible resumption of live exports to No 10 Downing Street. Western Morning News (nearly 70 thousand WMN readers resonded)
Nov 17 ~ Joyce spotted this in today's Telegraph letters: "Re: Records in error Date: 15 November 2003
Sir - It seems that the Government's tracking scheme for 25 million cattle is a bit of a shambles, with around half a million records in error (News, Nov 13). These animals live uneventful lives, with their ID cards stapled to their ears. What are the chances for David Blunkett's version, covering 60 million people?
From: Andrew Hawker, Birmingham"
( A cartoon in this week's Farmers' Guardian has the same idea and is, by itself, worth the price of the paper.)
Nov 17 ~ Western Morning News ".. ministers have now been forced to accept that farmers were entitled to the payments. They will now be paid in full, along with interest backdated to last summer. The payments total more than £5.5 million.. payments only apply to those cattle killed in abattoirs as part of the welfare scheme, not to those slaughtered on farms as a direct result of efforts to control the disease."
Nov 16 ~ "They misled the guys going out there. You can't just do something wrong and hope you find a good reason for it later. That's why we have all the UN guidelines in the first place." we have been sent this link to the Independent on Sunday story about how some of Mr Bush's "invited families" will challenge him. "....the President has not attended the funerals of any of the American troops killed. Nor has he visited any of the thousands of injured troops who have returned to the US."
Nov 15 ~"I went to Mark Purdey's lecture at Penrith today. Absolutely brilliant, for one man to have travelled so far and amassed so much research and data is amazing. How the scientific community can choose to ignore him is beyond belief. Though I suppose the madness of the FMD Horror should leave us to expect anything.
I think we should suspect anything that the agricultural scientific community tells us. Scrapie testing in particular worries me, I cannot see any justification for it and the castration/slaughter policy really frightens me.
Well done Mark.
Nov 15 ~ The Daily Mirror takes up the story of UK's own ghost ships in Scandal: Britain sends Toxic Waste to India and - to show the double standards - quotes Mrs Beckett saying of the American ships "The proposed shipment of these vessels to Hartlepool for dismantling cannot be completed consistent with international rules" (sic)
Nov 15 ~We have been sent this link to the Scotsman: Ghost ships..Greenpeace says "The Government and Environment Agency are behaving like complete hypocrites - taking urgent action to stop foreign ships being broken in the UK while simultaneously allowing the Ministry of Defence to export contaminated ships to countries with much lower environmental standards." "Britain should look after its own toxic ships or clean them up and export them as uncontaminated scrap. It's completely unacceptable that Royal Naval ships end up being broken by barefoot children with lump hammers in the Third World rather than dismantled using state of the art technology."
Nov 15 ~ "..bucket tame sheep are easy to handle, no chasing them around the field." A glimpse into the life some sheep are - for the moment - still able to lead in the UK - in this email sent to warmwell from Ron.
Nov 15 ~ " Do you approve of George Bush's state visit to Britain next week? " is a poll question asked on the Independent Forum page Yes 725 votes (10%) No 6380 votes (90%) 7105 people have voted so far
Nov 13 ~ An emailer who knows about such things writes, "...of course there is a perfectly good homoeopathic remedy for TB in cattle. It's Tub Bov. " (Incidentally, the Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre was formally established in 1987, but Christopher Day, the principal, has been renowned for his work in the field for 30 years. You can visit their website here.)
Nov 13 ~ "...Profits for milk processing giant Dairy Crest have risen 12 per cent in the last six months to £34.5 million. ....Bodmin dairy farmer Michael Braunton said: "These profits show why we are protesting."..." WMN
Nov 13 ~ An emailer writes, "You haven't mentioned the sorry tale (understatement) of the toxic ghost ships- yet it seems to mirror FMD, the Iraq fiasco , GM and everything else on this website. Local understanding recognises utter madness - but that is overruled by the powerful idiots in their ivory towers. Did you see what the good Hartlepool councillor said, reported in today's Telegraph? "I have a duty as our councillor to respond to people who don't want Seaton to get the reputation as a dumping ground for toxic waste. There might be 200 jobs but there is only one environment." Haskins wants decentralisation and I only hope he can get DEFRA bureaucracy and destructive muddle sorted out." (Telegraph reference here)
Nov 12/13 ~ From FWi "If Defra dithers, things will be imposed on it and its recipients," report author Lord Chris Haskins told delegates at the Crops annual conference in Cambridgeshire on Wednesday (12 November). "It will fall flat on its face when it tries to cope with CAP reform if it does not respond." Branding Defra's current structure as a "dog's dinner of the highest order", he said other government departments would want to see rapid reform in order for it to cope with the implementation of CAP reform."
Nov 12 ~ DEFRA avoiding payments for legitimate invoices and orders - there is now a site where people affected by DEFRA's late payments can post information at www.fpb.co.uk.
Nov 12 ~ "a frequent response of Defra is to allege fraud (see Nigel Griffiths's answer to the PQ), All the people I have spoken to who have been subjected to this, are innocent." We hear fromPaul Gregory, the Campaign Advisor to the Forum of Private Business that the All-Party Small Business Group have already had a meeting in the Commons. They are running a public meeting at Taunton Town Hall on 25th November, at which any farmer/contractor can come and speak. James Meyrick is organising the slots, which will be about 5 minutes per person - his number is 01565 634467, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 12 ~ An emailer writes about Smithfield, the multi-national pig producer with the unsavoury smell " The Spectator article elaborates and clarifies how they managed to suck $100,000.oo out of the ERDB. So where is the Head office in London? Who allowed this to happen?"
Nov 12 ~ Six milk blockades - dairy farmers reject the new offer from processors Dairy Crest and vow to continue their campaign " ...People are so angry now that they are willing to come out in the cold and rain, determined that this will stop before the banks move in on us and our livelihoods are ruined" Milk protests rage on - and where can we read about this except in the independent WMN?
Nov 12 ~ From WMN article on farmers' cynicism about the Haskins recommendations for reduced bureaucracy "I'll believe it when I see it."... "We had to go though every animal on the farm to check tags and passports, and all that information had to be checked against the database in Cumbria. It was completely out of the blue and I had to drop everything. "That isn't rare and I must admit to being cynical about the chances of anything changing."
Nov 12 ~ We are grateful (as so often) to Mona for drawing our attention to the fact that last week the UK was one of 12 European countries to sign up to the new Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Animals During International Transport (details here) The document will be found reassuring or not depending on one's attitude towards those who enforce it.
Nov 12 ~ Delegates at the Crops Conference near Cambridge on Wednesday (12 November) will be the first in the country to quiz Lord Haskins on his review - a limited number of seats are still avalable and can be booked online.
Nov 12 ~ Farming Life website"... the Government has decided to make ex-gratia payments equivalent to the Slaughter Premium entitlement, plus interest, on all adult cattle killed in abattoirs under the LWDS. This decision does not affect the position on animals killed on farms during the FMD outbreak, where Slaughter Premium is not payable."
Nov 11 ~ An emailer writes, "Sadly a whole local, organic dairy herd was slaughtered this summer because of TB. Friends of mine, they were devastated. I wonder how acurate their tests were."
Nov 11 ~ Ministers have done "little or nothing" to stop the slaughter of dolphins and whales off the Westcountry coast, despite more than a decade of warnings Western Morning News Nov 11 ~ An emailer writes, " I am appalled to read in connection with GM that the Foods Standards Agency is trying to break a five-year Europe-wide moratorium on new GM foods defying Ministers, who have promised to consider the results of the Government's own consultation of the public this summer before taking action I hope that a lot of people will read Geoffrey Lean's article (here) - and remember too the surprise that John Krebs' appointment to the FSA caused in the first place. He has been everywhere hasn't he - particularly in those dire early days of FMD when the Anderson modelling team was so hastily and catastrophically assembled."
(Yes. We remember the relevant part of the "Not the Foot and Mouth crisis" book by Private Eye "on March 6 Anderson's old friend and Oxford colleague Sir John Krebs, chief executive of the government's Food Standards Agency, set up a meeting for the Anderson team to present their findings to a select invited audience, .... Krebs organised a further meeting for the Anderson team, this time with senior officials from MAFF, including the chief vet Jim Scudamore. Also present, very significantly, was the man who in January had been appointed the government's new Chief Scientist, Professor David King" )
Nov 10 ~ Absolute Power, starring Stephen Fry and John Bird as spin doctors Charles Prentiss and Martin McCabe, BBC2 , 9.30pm
Nov 10 ~ From the Farmers Guardian - by Stephen Yates- "So why the hell does the price ex farm milk is sold for depend on what it is used for? "..."Dave Handley..is the only guy there with the bottle to try to get what we deserve and a couple of cold wet nights of support is the least we dairymen owe him.".... "you are a milk producer think up your excuse for not joining us and not doing your bit to help yourself to a better future. Then give me a ring on 07815 082986 and I will tell you what a pathetic excuse it is."
Nov 10 ~ "Gross dereliction of duty" - Margaret Beckett has not held a single meeting to discuss the crisis gripping the dairy industry, either with farmers or with representatives of the supermarkets and food processing companies. . See Western Morning News
Nov 10 ~ Important website. According to tonight's (10 Nov) Real Story to be broadcast on BBC1, every month 200 dogs go missing and are presumed stolen in the South East alone. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of CLA members, including Tim Bristow who set up doglost.co.uk with his partner Jane Hayes, vets, dog wardens and pet shops can now sign up to a fax network that sends out alerts when a dog is reported missing.
Nov 10 ~ Waste controls - "The NFU has been working closely with the government" (See letsrecycle website)...controls next summer to enforce EU legislation are likely to mean the end of many common waste disposal practices on the 180,000 farms in England and Wales. 90% of farmers are currently disposing of waste using methods they have always used - but which are now going to be forbidden. There is nothing in place to help and the new regulations are likely to cost farmers about £50 million according to the "Agricultural Waste Stakeholders' Forum".
(Nov 11- DEFRA has now published a leaflet summarising new waste management controls for agriculture due in 2004 ... http://www.environment-centre.net/cgi-bin/croner/jsp/Editorial.do?cache=true&contentId=98683 )
Nov 10 ~ "the suggestion is to appoint a strong independent chair-man and for the forum to champion countryside causes. The Treasury is backing the Haskins agenda because it thinks that there is too much overlap in the work of existing rural agencies. " The Times on the demise of English Nature
Nov 10 ~ We see from the DEFRA website that the November meeting of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) will be open to the public. It will take place on 19th November 2003 at One Great George Street, Westminster London. SW1P 3AA. it " will contribute to an increased public understanding of the science behind the issue of cattle TB by enabling interested groups and individuals to observe the ISG in session." However, this notice also tells the public that they should have applied before the end of October. One wonders how many people saw the page.
Nov 10 ~ Tom Griffith Jones writes, "As far as the Morrises are concerned, if no order has been laid before Parliament, then I do not believe that there are any powers created by the AHA2002 which could be used to kill these cows. ...In the various debates in the Lords, almost all of which I attended, it was always Larry Whitty's earnest contention that the bill was only to provide control in the event of another outbreak of FMD. He insisted that further approval from Parliament would be needed for the provisions to apply to any other disease.... "
Nov 10 ~ An email received declares, " ..if there are too many sheep in the country you get rid of them by inventing an unstoppable disease with an "unusable" vaccine and kill off animals in their millions. If there are too many dairy cows and a stroppy dairy industry you use an unsound test and "compulsorily" slaughter. If you have a population that seems determined to hang on to its monarchy as a check and balance to a corrupt government you invent a scandal of such idiocy that people feel compelled to believe it...this is Britain now."
Nov 9 ~ An emailer writes, "We just live in a ... world , run by faceless wonders. I cannot believe that I have been reading this site on a daily basis since its inception..."
Similarly, we cannot believe we have felt impelled to write this website since the early days of 2001..
Nov 9 ~ "This TB issue needs thrashing out fully. Same story emerging over and over again in Wales. Reactor cows that do not prove to be diseased on post-mortem..." a typical email about Nicola Morris' dilemma over her two reactor cows. She simply wants a second live test since her vet does not think that the cows have TB. This insistence on slaughter before testing shows the same mindset that we saw in the FMD crisis.
Nov 9 ~ growing concerns over the constitution in Britain. Treasury sources describe the draft text as "hideous" and "awful", backing up Gordon Brown's public criticisms last week. A poll of MPs to be published this week has found that most of those surveyed want a referendum before the new constitution is adopted. We have been sent this link to the Sunday Times
Nov 8 ~ Widespread concern about horse exports leads to questionning of all live export. See two letters in WMN Now is the time for a concerted effort to end the living hell of overlong journeys. See also Compassion in World Farming See also below.
Nov 8 ~ On the question of the Morris' reactor cows and the attitude of the "officials", an emailer writes, "The stupid thing is that if you act like a thoughtful human being you can get away with almost anything. When you act like faceless Kafkaesque bureaucrats everyone distrusts you from the git-go. Strange."
Nov 8 ~ From the Western Morning News "..A test case against the government, being brought by farmer Jason Podmore, of Manchester, was due to have been heard in the High Court in London last week, but was adjourned to the New Year. It alleges that the actions of the Government spread, rather than contained, the disease."
Nov 8 ~ The government are accusing of "fraud" firms near bankruptcy because of DEFRA's non payment over FMD work. See WMN.
Nov 7 ~ Lord Haskins will be chairing the Crops Conference near Cambridge on Wednesday (12 November) and has agreed to share with delegates his views on the future of rural government. A limited number of places at the conference are still available. To book your place and view the full programme and reports from the Scottish Crops Conference, held in Perth on Tuesday (4 November), go to www.fwi.co.uk/cropsconference. Alternatively call Michelle on 01372 275599 or Marion on 020 8652 4081
Nov 6 ~ An emailer writes, " DEFRA has come under fire from the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) for the kind of casual incompetence that we are now used to from them. According to BMRA there have been times during the development of the End of Life Vehicles Directive "when papers have been held up due to a lack of legal advisors in DEFRA, without which the drafts could not be released. Agreed positions have been varied or reversed with no or little explanation. There appears to be limited or poor dialogue between DEFRA and Environment Agency officials" Could no one teach this department the rudiments of management skills?.."
Nov 6 ~ "Defra has extended the deadline for owners to obtain for passports for their horses to 30 June 2004, following concerns from PIOs (Passport Issuing Organisations) and horse owners alike that the government had not left enough time between the publication of the final legislation and the deadline for applications." See Horse and Hound
Nov 5 ~ Georgina Downs has sent this press release about her campaign against the use of pesticides in intensive farming " the cost to the economy and society as a whole from the use of pesticides could be running into billions. ...She has hit back at the NFU who earlier stated that there was no justification for introducing no-spray zones and says "It will be interesting to see if the NFU still say that after seeing the evidence in my submission." ... Ms. Downs invites the NFU to accompany her on her travels to see the reality for themselves. "These chemicals are poisons and as long as we the public are subsidising agriculture we should have some say in what it does. This is not a matter of "social acceptability" or " public perception" it is quite simply a matter of public health."
Nov 5 ~ The Rural Affairs Forum for England conference takes place on 8 November at Reasenheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire and the day will feature intensive workshops with the aim of delivering workable ideas and solutions for consideration and action at a national level. ..could see delegates asking far more questions than usual. Attendance at the conference is free, but to attend, email email@example.com for a booking form.
Nov 4 ~ There is much in the news at present about government moves to rationalise compensation payments. Alan Beat www.smallholders.org comments "...If compensation payments are genuinely to be linked to market values, this element of bribery will be removed and with it all prospect of farmer support for any future mass slaughter policy. Without farmer support, no such policy could ever be implemented in practice, whatever the Animal Death Bill may claim. Vaccination will therefore be the only realistic option for a widespread epidemic. The government knows this perfectly well. Their move to limit compensation allows them to ensure that vaccination is used in future epidemics without making any announcement of policy reversal or any admission of their own catastrophic failures. It also removes the bargaining power of the NFU at a stroke, to neatly score two political birds with one stone. The reaction of the dinosaur farming unions will be interesting!"
Nov 4 ~ "I think it warrants a discussion that goes beyond the narrowest scientific issues," said Carol Tucker Foreman, the director of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America. An emailer alerts us to the article in the New York Times: In Initial Finding, F.D.A. Calls Cloned Animals Safe as Food
Nov 4 ~ "The pork checkoff has forced family farmers to pay into a program that supports corporate concentration, industrialization and the factory farm system of livestock production, which drives family farmers out of business," See webstar.agrinews.com
"A system that will soon be here then," comments an emailer.
Nov 2 ~ "There has been enough wringing of hands; let us hear from the Minister specific, persuasive proposals to deal with the matters... if he does not introduce such proposals, there will be no British dairy industry." John Hayes MP see press release
Oct 25 ~"... It is the bureaucracy and lack of vital funding for things like bovine tuberculosis testing that make the physical hardships pale in comparison" Robert Uhlig in the Telegraph writes about large animal vet, Iain Richards in Cumbria "Any liberalisation of prescription veterinary medicines would be disastrous," he said. "We would have to put up our fees and call-out charges."
Oct 25 ~ FWi Foot-and-mouth left bitter legacy ".... panel members spoke of "bitterness, frustration, mistrust and anxiety" during and after the epidemic and of feeling let down by the governments response. This feeling was exacerbated by government "spin" which denied the reality of Cumbria's nightmare and left people feeling betrayed...."
Oct 25 ~ Mr. Boris Johnson (Henley): " In delivering sustainable rural development, what steps are the Government taking to encourage supermarkets to stock locally produced meat and other products, so that consumers can not just assist the British livestock sector but have the security of knowing where the meat came from and how it was reared?" Alun Michael's answer implied that farmers should organise this themselves.
Oct 25 ~ WMN reports on the progress of Ash Moor Pit's restoration. Local people are to be updated at a meeting next friday. "Councillor John Rawlinson, who represents Torrington Rural, said: "This upsetting episode has taken its toll on local people and I am delighted the end is in sight. I hope as many as possible come to the meeting to find out the latest information." The meeting starts at 7pm on October 31 at Baxter Hall in Petrockstowe"
Oct 24 ~ West Nile Virus - did it originate in a laboratory at Plum Island? We have been sent this link to an article about the Plum Island whistleblower
Oct 23 ~ Dairy Crest says it is now paying an average of 19.2p per litre to farmer suppliers. Anthony Gibson : "This is a step in the right direction, but it's still well below where the price for milk should be. It's a pity farmers have had to take direct action to extract from Dairy Crest what was there in the market." David Handley said, "We must have 2p to get us well past the 20p per litre mark, which will at least allow some of us to break even. In fact, for most of us to be in profit at all, we need 22p per litre." WMN report on the milk protests.
I hope as many as possible come to the meeting to find out the latest information." The meeting starts at 7pm on October 31 at Baxter Hall in Petrockstowe"
Oct 24 ~ West Nile Virus - did it originate in a laboratory at Plum Island? We have been sent this link to an article about the Plum Island whistleblower
Oct 23 ~ Dairy Crest says it is now paying an average of 19.2p per litre to farmer suppliers. Anthony Gibson : "This is a step in the right direction, but it's still well below where the price for milk should be. It's a pity farmers have had to take direct action to extract from Dairy Crest what was there in the market." David Handley said, "We must have 2p to get us well past the 20p per litre mark, which will at least allow some of us to break even. In fact, for most of us to be in profit at all, we need 22p per litre." WMN report on the milk protests.
Oct 23 ~" Scientists in Britain have finished the final analysis of human chromosome "6" which contains genes linked to the body's immune response against bacteria and viruses. It is the largest of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes completed so far, with 2,190 genes, and forms nearly six percent of the entire human genome, or book of life. " We have been sent this link to the Reuters report.
Oct 21 ~ Ben Bradshaw has cancelled the top-level summit on toxic sheep dip chemicals because there was "little new to say". Michael Meacher ordered the meeting in February. It was to have brought together scientists, health experts, representatives from the chemical industry and farmers with ministers and DEFRA officials Paul Tyler: "Ben Bradshaw seems to have been taken hostage by his civil servants and appears not to have the guts to stand up to them. It is more than disappointing - people will greet this with dismay."
See the report in today's Western Morning News
Oct 20 ~" It's almost like there is an agenda out there to remove farming from the South West and that's very short-sighted. If you look at the way the region is perceived by Europe you would probably find we are looked at in terms of tourism. But would it be worth coming here if there was no agriculture, no animals in the fields, no farmers working the land?" We have been sent this link to the Western Morning News article, 'Don't Strip our Farm Assets'
Oct 20 ~ An angry supporter of the dairy farmers writes, " Kevin Hawkins, corporate affairs director at Safeway, says (Guardian) "milk consumption is dropping. When you have too much supply and too little demand, you have a problem." Can anyone explain why it is then that the UK is importing milk products such as German yoghurt then? And how it can possibly be right that the farmer gets 18p for a pint that costs up to 43p in the supermarket? I feel guilty every time I have to buy milk..."
Oct 19 ~ "What are the US military scientists up to?" asks an emailer who sends this article about the University of Texas Medical Branch's BSL-4 plans for influenza "gene reassortment" experiments. "The US military is attempting to resurrect the influenza virus that killed up to 40 million people in 1918....If Taubenberger worked in a Chinese, Russian or Iranian laboratory, his work might well be seen as the 'smoking gun' of an offensive bio-warfare program..."
Oct 19 ~"...crates are designed to maximise productivity, and ultimately drive down the cost of meat. . Campaigners, who say their use leads to severe stress and abnormal behaviour in pigs, are calling for them to be outlawed. Pressure groups argue the conditions show that Tesco's claims that its pork products come from animals enjoying a high standard of welfare are a 'deception'." An emailer has forwarded this article from The Observer.
Oct 18 ~ Compromise over sheep ID plan FWi " Instead of double tagging, farmers will only have to apply a single ear tag bearing a unique identification code. A second means of ID will also be required, though this may take the form of a tattoo, an ear tag or an electronic identifier. The new text also does away with the need to record each individual animal on a movement document, replacing it with a batch system."
Oct 17 ~ Please do write to Mrs Margaret Beckett about live horse export. Suggested content of letter from the International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH ) Extract: "I hope that the letters you are receiving demonstrate the strength of public opinion and will encourage you to present to the European Parliament and the Member States arguments that would allow the UK to continue to prohibit the export of all equines for slaughter."
Oct 17 ~Devon county council is standing by its claim that Ash Moor burial site - never used and cause of untold misery in the area, should be given to the people of Devon. It refuses to buy the site from DEFRA which it bought when land prices were at a peak.Torridge and West Devon MP John Burnett backs the call.A meeting to update local residents on the latest developments is due to be held in Petrockstowe at the end of the month and is expected to be attended by both Devon County Council and DEFRA. See North Devon Journal today. See also Devon Voices from the Devon Inquiry led by professor Ian Mercer
Oct 17 ~" The Government's mishandling of the foot and mouth crisis could cost Britain up to £1.1 billion in lost European compensation payments...
Silly question: £1.1 billion - what does that work out per head for 11 million animals slaughtered?! not of course forgetting the rest of the money involved..... Or even per head of the UK population?"
Suze (sorry it's my friday morning head)
Oct 16 ~" the GM debate. Despite the fact that everybody from the Daily Mail to Greenpeace (via three supermarket chains) doesn't want to know, saying no to GM at Government level means saying no to Uncle Sam and the biotech giants. Result? Government kicks it all into touch and mounts a huge farm trial consultation process. Result? That exercise has now published its findings: but where do we go from here? I will be asking a minister that just before we go on air tonight. View our film from the lunchtime programme here: http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/10/week_3/16_gm.html" Channel 4 news update email
Oct 16 ~ "The evidence published today would not justify a decision to authorise the commercial growing of GM crops" says David Lidington in this press release.
Oct 15 ~"Experienced vet, John Gallagher told me that just one infected badger could bring down half a herd all on its own. Having followed Defra's advice on bio security, I did not expect them to be ours. I do not call Defra's payouts 'compensation'. And it is no exchange for seeing good young cows loaded up to be shot, completely unnecessarily. .....Over the last 3 years we have shot over 120 bull calves which we couldn't sell. Most of the reactor cattle have been in calf - some very heavily so two lives were lost." Pat writes about the problems her farm has experienced with bovine TB and feels very badly let down.
Oct 15 ~ First 300 key vitamins and minerals axed, now 5 000 supplements banned by what seems as insane EU Directive. See http://www.i-sis.org.uk/vitamins2.php
Oct 15 ~ "Questions of legality are still being raised - thank the lord. While both Lord Alexander of Weedon QC and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams can question the government on Iraq and while the Western Morning News can still make the legality of the contiguous cull such a continuing contentious issue perhaps we are allowed some glimmer of hope after all..." writes an emailer. (See WMN report)
Oct 14 ~ The Prince of Wales is to become Patron of the Farm Crisis Network for the next five years. Farm Crisis Network chairman Revd Dr Gordon Gatward said, "The Prince of Wales has shown great sensitivity towards the problems experienced within the rural communities and is well known for his deep understanding of countryside matters and of course for his own practical involvement with farming. His kind agreement to lend his support to the work of the charity will be a massive boost to our work and will be a great encouragement to all our volunteers."
Oct 13 ~ An emailer writes," In a development of the stranded sheep story that makes me quite literally groan with frustration and grief is the ludicrous suggestion from the Australian Wool Producers organisation that it has "conducted an independent risk assessment" of the 50,000 sheep and found that the sheep have foot and mouth disease. This, they think, will give them carte blanche to kill all of them and end the situation. Is there any depth to the loathsomeness of man?"
Oct 13 ~ "In a fair deal for horse riders, the Conservative Party will remove the need for compulsory horse passports, which will impose another level of bureaucracy on riding schools and riders." In a press release from the Tories, James Gray, MP Shadow Minister for the Countryside, invites riding schools and riders to write to him " to air their views on the industry (sic) to help the Conservative Party draft a fair deal for horse riders"
Oct 13 ~"It seems that senior officials at Defra are ready to emasculate the Haskins report" Times today "The Haskins plan would create upheaval for the 14,000 staff at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is only two years old, and would also lead to the demise of the Countryside Agency, the Forestry Commission and English Nature. Some responsibilities would go to the landscape agency and the rest would be handed to regional development agencies. The aim is for civil servants dealing in policy matters to be separated from those in charge of implementation..."
Oct 13 ~ Hilary continues her diary of real food, animal welfare and care for the country. She is now in Devon and Cornwall. Extract "...Because most people have no direct connection with the land, they are easily fooled by advertisers. At farmers' markets, I find some outrageously false claims in amongst a lot of totally genuine farmers who offer exactly what the public are looking for.... Eg. farmhouse cheese is booming. I find new and interesting local cheeses wherever I go and, wherever I go, people want more..." Read diary
Oct 12 ~ "After the Defra/Maff fiasco slaughtering 12m or so completely healthy cows, sheep and goats, perhaps this will make it easier for them to kill our horses, should they take it upon themselves to do so. Others would say the introduction of passports for horses is a minor inconvenience that affects hardly anyone, other than toffs like me who keep them...Defra would like you to believe that horse passports are at the insistence of the European Union. Do not believe this. The excruciating detail of this particular administrative embrouillement was dreamt up right here at home " Jonathan Miller in the Sunday Times. "Mean Fields"
Oct 12 ~ As he pedals closer to London, Jonny Barton is in no doubt what ministers should do. "The government should resist the propaganda from US state officials and US multinationals which say this technology will feed the starving," he said. "It is purely for the purpose of making money. It is greed."
Oct 11 ~ Robin Maynard, on the subject of the "predictable" rant from Cropgen about the insurance story, says, "FARM is not 'an anti-GM farmers' organisation' - there may be applications of Biotech. such as Marker Assisted Selection that bring benefits to farmers and the public without the risks and controversy. However, we can see no benefits for farmers from the current generation of transgenic crops proposed for commercialisation."
Oct 10 ~ Email protest on live transportation. CIWF Netherlands has this online petition to Franz Fischler. We have signed. Does anyone know of an English version?
Oct 10 ~ "Trading Standards officials, with legal powers to stop lorries that are overloaded or unroadworthy from leaving, should have been at the market." An article about the behaviour of pony dealers in the ever vigilent Western Morning News
Oct 10 ~ "Margaret Beckett was last night accused of ignoring the plight of thousands of horses, ponies and donkeys after she refused to say whether she would block new European rules that could allow the live export trade to resume. ...Mr Lidington asked her to guarantee that the Government would seek to amend the new EU legislation on the welfare of livestock during travel so that Britain's ban on the live export trade could continue. But in her answer Mrs Beckett ducked the question" WMN
Oct 10 ~ "Mr Duncan Smith's stage pauses and orchestrated applause made an honest man sound false. Yesterday I felt I was watching him drowning. " "The Times echoes what I thought too. Such a pity - but after all we have seen, our ears are now finely tuned and it simply won't do. Theresa May is a liability too." writes an emailer.
Oct 8 ~ Angry milk farmers have warned they could cut off the country's milk supply if dairy processors do not improve their payments. See Western Morning News "We need 22p per litre so that we can live and re-invest in our businesses," he said. "At the moment we're making a loss. If you go into your local supermarket you'll find they are selling bottled water at 35p per pint. Just look at what we're getting for a litre of our milk."
Oct 8 ~ Pat writes about the "blips" encountered during the FMD simulation in Scotland (See The Scotsman) "The airline refusing to accept the samples was to have been expected. That State Veterinary Service went out of its way to fabricate evidence blaming international carriers, sea and airports, for importing both CSF and FMD. The NFU then organised pickets of Britain's sea and airports to stop largely imaginary illegal imports (really an attempt to interfere with legitimate trade.) This, at a time when the sea and airports togther with the carriers were at full stretch trying to stop terrorism. These fabrications were bitterly resented in the shipping and air industries and, quite rightly, the State Veterinary Service have been placed under HMC&E control in air and seaports. No respectable internatiional carrier wants anything to do with Britain's corrupt and irresponsible State Veterinary Service. In the end, the government is going to have to stand them down and recruit a new organisation."
Oct 8 ~ Also on the subject of the FMD war games in Scotland, Frances, who suffered as did so many in 2001, is in no mood for optimism "..The classic, for me, at least, is that they identified the whereabouts of cattle using the cattle identification system. This is riddled with so many errors it is laughable. Some of our cows are on it that are no longer on this earth (one has been away for about 3 years !) This is the level of competence being dealt with and doled out by Seerad. It is totally unreassuring and chilling in its implications. You will be pleased to hear though, as in 2001, Seerad's killing machine is in good working order and that slaughter and subsequent burning/burial was carried out to their satisfaction."
Oct 7 ~ And so the wheel keeps grinding.. "Government is expected to issue a farm waste consultation paper next month." From the NPA site ".....Defra's interpretation is that where manure is used on the same farm for improving the land, then it isn't waste. But when there is some left over after reaching 'beneficial limits', then it is. But what if you transfer the leftover material - the 'waste' - to another farm for use by someone else to improve their land up to beneficial limits? In such a case, the manure might be waste, but there again it might not. It would hinge on whether you were disposing of waste (bad thing) or the other chap was recovering waste (good thing). The likely outcome is that each case will be judged on its own merits, which signals more paperwork...."
Oct 7 ~ No-one will insure GM crops - a press release from FARM
Oct 7 ~ An emailer writes, "Ben Gill, referred to in this Independent article as the "voice of farmers" is going to step down as President of the NFU. "Sir Ben was rarely off TV screens when Britain's national cattle herd was being slaughtered ....He was a key player in many of the decisions taken, not least because, throughout his tenure, he has had ready access to the Government and, in particular, to Tony Blair." Some reading between the lines possible here. What a price was paid in other people's tears by this dry and genial Yorkshireman . I still want to know who told him to rubbish vaccination...but his performance as the "voice of farmers" (who were gagged) earned him a knighthood, as we all knew it would."
Oct 7 ~ Joyce writes, "Gerald Miles is driving his tractor from Pembrokeshire to London to protest about GM. Please give him your support" BBC link
Oct 7 ~"Baroness Amos is the new leader in the Lords. ..Anyone feel happier now?" writes a seriously worried emailer. "Has anyone noted in her any trace at all of humour or humility? ( At least Clare Short has a modicum of both.) And the whole point of the House of Lords is that it should be a check on the juggernaut of the government, a role it has fulfiilled with admirable humour and serious, well-expressed knowledge. These are grey days."
Oct 6 ~ Don't miss Lina's refreshing letter about Dutch insoucience about the loonier tagging rules.
Oct 5 ~ "a long-awaited report into the crisis failed to probe controversial issues or assign blame" ChannelnewsAsia.com reports that a proposal to open a new inquiry into the devastating SARS outbreak has gathered wide support from Hong Kong residents".... the report had "surprised no one... I feel the committee was a waste of time and money because how can a government-appointed body be expected to criticise the government...."
"It all sounds a bit familiar..." comments the sender of the link."Does anyone still believe that the various inquiries into FMD; Anderson Inquiry, the Northumberland Inquiry and so on were not "got at" to a greater or lesser extent? The only one to make any sense was the Devon Inquiry. I wonder if Lord Hutton will live up to expectations? He seems a blessedly honest, clever and unflappable man. We can but hope..."
Oct 4 ~" Voters believe anti-hunting Labour MPs are motivated by class war rather than animal welfare, according to an ICM poll published yesterday. 44 per cent of those questioned believe that inverted snobbery was behind Labour seeking an outright ban on hunting with hounds." Telegraph "While we dislike the idea of foxes being pulled apart by hounds we know the alternatives are not going to make life into one sweet song for foxes. There are so many issues to be raised about using animals cruelly to make big profits. If MPs cared two hunting hoots about animal welfare, long haul animal export would be banned for a start."
Oct 2 ~ St Ives MP Andrew George says (Western Morning News) "processors and supermarkets are "milking our farmers for all their worth". He said: "They have a stranglehold over the industry. Many, especially smaller dairy farmers, are hanging on by their fingernails. Farmers are suffering the twin commercial pressures of the dominance of a few large supermarket and food processor conglomerates and the belief amongst a majority urban and suburban consumer base that a cheap food policy can be pursued at any cost. Well, the cost is the very future of our countryside and our rural communities."
Sept 30 2003 ~ We have been sent this link to Missing millions in the wake of foot and mouth (Telegraph). Farmers are out of pocket and patience, writes Richard Tyler.
"Missing millions in the wake of foot and mouth (Filed: 29/09/2003) Farmers are out of pocket and patience, writes Richard Tyler ".... Kevin Feakins, a farmer from Herefordshire, agreed a verbal contract for £37,000 of services in February 2001. Mr Feakins said he went to see a Defra official in Worcester that summer and asked what he should do.
"He said send your bill in, we will send them to London and they will get paid. That was August 2001 and we haven't heard a dicky-bird since," said Mr Feakins, who has now instructed Bristol lawyer Burges Salmon to sue the Government to recover the monies...."
Sept 30 ~ In an 1,800-word speech at the Labour Party conference, Margaret Beckett has made no mention of the crisis threatening to force hundreds of dairy farmers out of business. Western Morning News NFU regional director Anthony Gibson says,"We shan't be involved in picketing ourselves, but our members might well be demonstrating. The FFA is very good at picketing and I understand there are more plans in place if the situation reaches the buffers." Western Morning News
Sept 30 ~ The latest news on the consignment of the 50,000 sheep stranded at sea, can be read in this Reuters article today. The callous lunacy of live transportation has never been so sadly illustrated.
Sept 30 ~ Anon writes, "Creepy old DEFRA has followed up the June Census (which I failed to return) with something called "Survey of Labour on Agricultural and Horticultural Holdings 1 OCTOBER 2003".
It has eight questions. The first seven are about labour on the farm - bizarrely, it seems to want to know all about members of the family working on the farm - unless the farm is organised as a limited company - when family become anonymous "regular workers"... Why?? It also asks about "regular workers", "casual workers" and "contract workers" (which it seems to envisage as gangmaster labour) - but doesn't seem to want to know about the specialist agricultural contractors used by most farms to do things like silaging, baling, etc. The eighth question is about the farm's facilities for "Storage of slurry, solid manure and dirty water"! Funny thing to include in a "Survey of Labour on Agricultural and Horticultural Holdings".
I don't trust their motives - and I won't be participating in the survey."
Sept 29 ~ Roger agrees with Didi, below. "Didi is, of course, correct. She should know, poor thing. The RCVS is a disgrace. " the way they were used "? Come on ! Most didn't care less. They were being paid. Handsomely. The more they killed, the more they got. "Only doing my job missus". Bloody hell. Sorry. didn't think I'd rant on this again. But every time I hear of Didi and all the others......well you know."
Sept 29 ~ Didi Phillips in Cornwall takes exception to a previous message. She writes I have just read this extract from an email in Warmwell's Inbox : - but has no one considered the deep underlying distaste felt by the veterinary profession for the way they were used (in all senses of the word) in 2001?" asks an emailer. Who ever wrote this obviously does not live in an area which was affected by FMD in 2001, neither have they ever spoken to a farming vet who lives in an FMD area. I do, and was one of the farmers who put in a formal complaint to the RCVS against the vet who slaughtered my healthy animals. In his defence, David Fields wrote to the RCVS and said that as the ewes were heavily in-lamb, it would have been cruel to have handled them to see if they had FMD, so instead he shot them all, even though some of them were actually giving birth at the time. He then went on to slaughter 38 baby lambs aged from a few hours old to four days old. Not one had FMD or had been exposed to FMD. He also shot my five pet cows who were all aged over 15 years old." Read in full.
Sept 29 ~ Referring to an item on the Iraq page, an emailer writes, "The UK is now the second biggest arms supplier in the world." At the time of the Falklands war, there was talk that the real reason related to arms sales and the need for testing under war conditions. True again?
"Blair's Wars" - don't forget his war against healthy animals in 2001. There is no evidence, apparently, of who took the decision for the contiguous cull, but we all know of the COBR meetings and where the buck stops."
Sept 29 ~"It is not just the fear that a whole range of endemic diseases may go unchecked. We are in a global theatre and know there will be new diseases imported" Roger Eddy on the disappearance of farm animal vets. Reported in the Times " The shift to small animal practice is blamed on pet insurance and popular television programmes - but has no one considered the deep underlying distaste felt by the veterinary profession for the way they were used (in all senses of the word) in 2001?" asks an emailer.
Sept 28 ~ Chris writes, "I thought France and Germany already produced NON GM Biofuel from Oilseed rape/ sugar beet and the UK from recycled vegetable oil. Why should we need GM for something that can be produced from conventional crops?" and sends this link to the Independent on Sunday :GM crops could be new 'green' fuel by Geoffrey Lean.
Extract: "Pete Riley of Friends of the Earth said: "Having failed to persuade the British people and UK supermarkets that it has got a product worth buying, the industry is shifting its attention to growing crops for fuel. But there is absolutely no difference at all in the risks that will be posed to the environment.''
Sept 27 ~ The pdf files on warmwell's technical pages can sometimes be very slow or even impossible to download. Please email if you are having persistent difficulty.
Sept 27 ~ Significant climate change in decades or even just years? Read this alarming article. Robert Dickson, hydrographer studying water movements at the Centre of Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in Lowestoft, Suffolk, believe that abrupt climate change is already happening.
Sept 27 ~ We are reminded that the CLA wants to consult its members before responding to the Government on CAP reform. Details of the consultation They ask you to respond by October 6th.
Sept 26 ~ An emailer writes: "Interesting to see this point made by Dingemans, reported in today's Guardian in article "Laying the blame": http://www.guardian.co.uk/hutton/story/0,13822,1050113,00.html "Mr Dingemans also referred to the relatively narrow terms of the Hutton inquiry, limited to the circumstances leading up to Dr Kelly's death. He suggested wider issues the inquiry had thrown up should be investigated by "other institutions". "
Sept 26 ~ The Belfast boy with CJD, Jonathan Simms, is showing some signs of rallying after his family won legal battles at the High Courts in London and Belfast last December to allow infusions of the blood-thinning compound Pentosan Polysulphate (PPS) to be administered - into his brain. The Independent has the story. See also http://www.priondata.org/data/A_pentosan_availability.html
Sept 25 ~ - the good news.... Amina Lawal will not be stoned to death. "Nigeria Appeals Court Throws Out Case of Woman Sentenced to Death by Stoning for Adultery....Wrapped in a light orange veil, her eyes downcast, Lawal cradled her nearly 2-year-old daughter as the court announced its decision. Police and lawyers hustled her away afterward." ABC news
Sept 25 ~ An emailer writes,"Dr Kelly - Are the rights (and protection) of a whistleblower relevant here? Has this ever been mentioned? I thought that whistleblowers are generally regarded as providing valuable checks on bad practices. Does signing the official secrets act negate their value or their protection? Would a Nazi objecting to Hitler be considered to have acted wrongly? Where does protection of a whistleblower end? "
Sept 24 ~ Mr Norman Leslie, the vet from Cleveland, is walking the Furness Way to raise money for the RCVS Trust and Send a Cow as part of the "Tour de Vets" event. If you can sponsor Mr Leslie as a mark of our appreciation for all he has done, please click here
Sept 24 ~ Guardian "The European commission yesterday announced long-awaited proposals to reform some of the most criticised aspects of the its subsidy-laden common agricultural policy. .... Oxfam said the plans fell far short of what was needed, kept some of the worst subsidies in place and did little for the world's poor...... "It is high time that the EU makes the root and branch reform of the CAP that's needed."
Sept 24 ~" The debate also found that the more people were informed about GM technology, the more sceptical they became. .."
The report can be accessed here (pdf file)
Extract: "103. By far the commonest theme in "uncommitted" letters is the desire for more reliable information about GM from some trusted independent source. There is also a degree of support for some kind of mechanism to remove GM research, development and profits from the hands of multi-national companies." (GM page)
Sept 24 ~ We have been sent this link: http://www.itv.com/news/851112.htmlquoting Dr Julia Wrathall, deputy head of the RSPCA's farm animals section: "Our undercover officers have witnessed blatant disregard for transport laws and the welfare of the animals. With 10 million livestock moved by road every week in the EU, the potential for suffering is immense. What is the point of moving livestock, often across several countries, just to slaughter them at the end of the journey? The animals and the consumer both lose out - it's senseless."
"A new RSPCA report detailing the cruelty and called Standing Room Only, is being presented to farm animal welfare minister Elliot Morley MP.... The European Commission has said current laws and poor enforcement are failing animals. But proposals for change, due since 1998 and expected last month, have been postponed yet again."
Sept 23 ~ An emailer who watched the Pilger programme last night says, "Someone should ask for the evidence which led to some of the security alerts, e.g. at Heathrow. As has been said by Menzies Cambell (but not in these words) with regard to the "need" to be able to go to war, using such threats as a distraction or justification for current policies (crying wolf) can have disastrous consequences when in future the threat is real.
It might be found that not only is Blair guilty of war crimes (as suggested in Pilger's report), but also of failing to protect (even impeding the protection of) the UK against future threats.
Might one also ask for verification that Campbell's diaries really were written on the date of alleged entries, and not added later, especially regarding the entry on Blair's voice of moderation? It would only be fair, given that Gilligan's notes were subjected to such scrutiny."
Sept 23 ~ In an attempt to ensure this is not the last GM-free harvest, consumers, farmers and environmentalists are joining together in a parade through the centre of London on October 13th 2003 organised by Friends of the Earth, the Five Year Freeze, Genetic Engineering Network and GM-free Cymru.
You can sign up for this peaceful and good humoured event on the Friends of the Earth site. Information about the parade (pdf file) See also this news release from FARM
(The message above was on the GM page yesterday - but evidently missed by those who have today sent this information. See also Hilary's latest entry in her real food diary "...We hear a lot about the third world needing the first world. The poor need the money, the expertise, the technology of the rich. Perhaps they do, but even more the town needs the understanding, the instinctive creativity, the sanity of the country." )
Sept 22 ~ Georgina Downs' campaign to get the government to tighten up the regulation of pesticides was covered in the Observer. She says that the deadline for the first Consultation on Greater Access to Information about Crop-spraying has been extended to the 30th September. The second Consultation on the Introduction of No-spray zones remains the 31st October. "Please make sure you have your say and make a submission, as all responses from members of the public will be crucial." Georgina Downs' flyer and press release
Sept 21 ~ It seems as though, for Mr Blunkett, failing to win the support of parliament makes no difference. See democracy page today on the progress of the ID card.
Sept 20 ~Frances, who lost her animals in a so-called "firebreak cull" after false certification, writes, "On www.rcvs.org.uk site today I read with disbelief that a Kent vet had actually been struck off the vets register for falsely certifying that horses were fit to be exported by stating that he had received satisfactory blood test results from a Weybridge Vet. lab. when he had not. How does this equate with signing a certificate saying that animals had FMD disease when they had not?...Why were the vets who signed false certificates during the FMD epidemic not struck off ?" (Read letter in full)
Sept 20 ~ On the same subject, Pat writes, "We leave discipline to the RCVS even on export certification, which is a much more serious and dangerous offence. This won't be unacceptable to our trading partners. These vets could, by their fraud, spread disease all round the world. You can't leave a Victorian gentleman's club, meeting behind closed doors and slapping wrists, to deal with matters like this.
The RCVS have to be made subject to the full rigour of the criminal law."
Sept 20 ~ Michael and Sandra write in near despair:" BSE IN SHEEP !! The agenda from Europe has been to destroy British farming. FMD got rid of 10 million animals. Iif they can put the spin on this there is a potential to kill all our sheep. ... a very sick joke.
...During FMD many in Cumbria just gave up and took the money. The ones who fought the tyranny lost out. The scrapie, GM debate is a prime example of the arrogance of the scientist and the politician. When will they ever learn? "
Sept 20 ~ " .....You couldn't make it up.." writes Bryn, quoting one of DEFRA's latest offerings on its website about something it calls the "Horse industry":
"The research will also suggest issues to be addressed in the development of a long term strategy for the horse.
I'm sure those who own, use and breed horses don't need Noo Labour to tell them what the long term strategy for the horse is !
Alun Michael, Rural Affairs Minister and Minister for the Horse, today announced the commissioning of the first ever joint research project into the Horse Industry in Great Britain."
Another emailer, aghast at this note from Bryn, says, "Bit like Ben Bradshaw's Forestry Industry..... maybe New Labour only feel comfortable with things that are labelled "industry".
Horse Industry indeed. That makes me feel slightly odd as I traipse around Dartmoor sitting on the back of an extremely fat & dirty black & white gypsy vanner.."
Sept 19 ~ A culture of bullying and intimidation... The Today programme reported this morning on why some scientists question whether the commercial and political interests tied to biotechnology can tolerate scientific dissent.(Listen again)
Dr Andrew Stirling, of Sussex University and a member of the Government's GM science review panel, was warned by a leading member of the scientific establishment his career would be ruined unless he stopped questioning the safety of GM technology. There was an attempt to get Stirling removed from a research project by approaching its funders. The Observer reported on August 24 how another leading independent academic "resigned from the science review after fearing his funding might be withdrawn. Professor Carlo Leifert, of the University of Newcastle, also felt it was improper that an employee of GM giant Monsanto had been allowed to draft a key chapter on the safety of GM foods for the science review."
We are relieved to hear that the Environment Audit Committee will be examining both the design and operation of GM trials and the implications for future commercialisation of GM crops in the UK (See also GM page).
Sept 19 ~ The Western Morning News on the Government plans to charge composting schemes "Nicky Scott, co-ordinator of the Devon Composting Network, said the charges were "ridiculous" and could lead to the collapse of many of the county's community schemes, which are run on a shoestring by volunteers."
Sept 19 ~ An emailer comments: "The world is getting more and more dangerous - and I am not talking about the emperor's new clothes threat of "terrorism" (one syllable in Bush's voice)..."
Sept 18 ~ Mona asks, "I wonder if anyone can throw light on the rumour that the RSPCA will be removing market inspectors as part of their cost saving manoeuvres. If correct this would seem to be against their reasons for existence."
Can anyone help here?
Sept 18 ~ "So supermarkets are encouraging near slavery - and DEFRA is doing nothing?" asks an emailer, forwarding this article by Robert Uhlig in today's Telegraph about the EFRA all party committee report into gangmasters in Britain. Extract:"...When the MPs asked supermarkets for their policies on gangmaster labour, only three replied. Of these, only one was committed to taking action against suppliers who did not comply with its required employment practices.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was criticised for its "extremely disappointing" comment to the committee that although it was aware of the problem, it "does not have a sufficiently comprehensive view of the situation"...." A comment from DEFRA that might be construed as an understatement
Sept 17 ~ Delaine writes, " Re your postings of Gen. Wesley Clark seeking the Democratic nomination for President - are you aware of Dennis Kucinich's campaign for nomination? www.kucinich.us
Among the things he is putting forward is 'Save our family farms'. He sounds such a nice man, that I thought of emailing them to ask that if he is not elected, could they send him across the pond and we will have him as our Prime Minister!"
Sept 17 ~ "The Bill combines vicious class prejudice with wilful and sentimental ignorance about country life and will make life much worse for foxes." An emailer quotes this extract from the Western Morning News about the total ban on hunting. She says, "Yes. This is the aspect that kindly people who hate hunting seem always to forget. Never mind the distorted view of hunting being only for toffs, never mind the blatant hatred of perceived privilege, never even mind the total disregard for freedom, the criminalisation of otherwise law-abiding people and the loss to thousands of others of their livelihoods. Can the anti hunters not see that the poor old fox will have things worse? I LOATHE hunting - but I dislike the use of poisons and traps that will indiscriminately hurt wildlife and dogs even more. The ban on hunting is not going to turn foxes into loved pets...and isn't the ban illogical. If New Labour wants to stop animal cruelty, one of the first ports of call should be the ports that carry on live exports."
Sept 16 ~ "the US together with the British police and prosecutors ruined my life and they have not even apologised..." A story from Ananova sent to us with the comment "This story too reminds me of the foot and mouth crisis. Many in the UK felt their lives were ruined by faceless ones in 2001. They too have never received an apology. Let's hope this young man can retrieve something from this fiasco of "terrorism" charges. "
Sept 15 ~ Fair trade campaigners have blamed the European Union and the USA for the collapse of World Trade Organisation talks in Cancun.
"...Former WTO ambassador for the Dominican Republic, Federico Cuello told a NGO meeting in London in early September that "countries are penalised for speaking their minds [within the WTO] or building alliances with like-minded countries. Countries are not free to promote their national interests. Their issues are ignored unless presented as group proposals." It has been proved that group proposals, unless coming from the rich countries, will also be ignored." From Green Left Weekly - the extreme language of which no longer sounds quite so far-fetched.
Sept 14 ~ An emailer who, like so many of us, finds depressing similarities between the horrors of FMD 2001 and recent news writes:
"It becomes less surprising that there is no written or even oral evidence about who actually authorised the contiguous cull. Blair succeeded in suppressing a full public inquiry on FMD 2001, but his readiness to rely undemocratically on his own "judgement", even against best scientific advice, is now becoming evident to all. In Blair's short speech with Bush before the war, I remember being struck by how many times he said "I think" or "I believe" (as he kept glancing at Bush for approval) - I counted 22 times in probably no more than 4 or 5 minutes."Sept 14 ~ Booker's Notebook in the Sunday Telegraph tells a tale of DEFRA obstruction and greed. They "propose that, in return for the privilege of being exempted from licensing, communal composting schemes must pay a "notification fee" and other charges..... without a drastic change of mind (the consultation ends this week), it looks as though almost all our community composting schemes will be forced to stop."
"What was it that Edward Heath told us in 1971 about how joining the Common Market would in no way change our British way of life?"
Sept 13 ~An interesting email today (extract) about the FMD outbreak in Argentina: "... Trade wars are terrible things...Still, the Argentinians will cope with it all. Whether we could if it happened here is a moot point. We seem to lurch from one livestock epidemic to another. Those assurances of us having the best welfare, the safest, most hygienically produced food ring a little hollow. They are, of course, made by people who have some government or quango job, which depends on them saying it. Neither the rest of the world nor consumers in this country believe a word of it."
Sept 13 ~ An emailer writes, " I've just been reading some of the information on warmwell. It really does seem as if the FSA is determined to find a TSE/BSE in sheep. What is really at the heart of this ? It makes me wonder if there is some corporate group demanding the marketing of GM sheep.
It is all so disingenuous and makes my heart sink. The provisions of the TSE regulations and AHAct 2002 (click here for pages about the Animal Health Act) would enable officials to force entry to any premises and no-one would be able to do anything to stop them. They could even obtain access in the absence of the owner. This provision is one of the most dangerous and that judge back in December last year found it did not violate rights under the Human Rights Act because it was relating to risks to human health. It's all very worrying."
Reading this on Monday (Sept 15), another emailer wrote, "I suggested this on SG in May/June 2001 after meeting someone whose husband was working on a factory near Edinburgh which was being built to make drugs from the milk of GM sheep...... I have no idea if this project is up and running or if it failed...." ( It failed. PPL Therapeutics, whose "nuclear transfer" technology once promised flocks of genetically modified sheep producing life-saving drugs in their milk, is to be wound up. .. Monday's Independent)
Sept 13 ~ Worry about TB: "...The number of farms in Wales under restrictions for TB is horrendous. Again, it seems like some sort of devious way of paralysing farming. The farms are under restrictions for reactor animals, but when the results eventually come back the animal is found not to have had TB, but merely a reaction. A couple of farmers have told me this and I expect lots of folk have already told you of this. Where will it all end?" ( In Britain an animal is killed every 22 minutes because of TB)
Sept 13 ~ The FMD crisis opened the eyes of many of us. Now, so much of the news has the unpleasant smell of political opportunism, sheer incompetence and cover-up that everything seems connected. We were particularly struck by this email (extract) which sums up what is happening to those of us who are now awake. " I just feel we have all been through an extraordinary experience, and it, together with what normal life throws at us, has just turned us upside down - reasonably quiet individuals who now frantically e mail MPs, turn up at the H of C, never take anything at face value now..."
Sept 12 ~ The last item on the Today programme was a blessedly intelligent and unsolemn discussion with David Mellor and Simon Jenkins about the role of the media in holding politicians to account. Listen Again.
Sept 12 ~ The New Labour party's commitment to the countryside? ....we read in the Western Morning News "... Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett - who might have been expected to take an interest - was abroad; Chancellor Gordon Brown - who monitors every spending decision in Government - was nowhere to be seen; even Yvette Cooper - the junior minister who was due to be first on the platform - was too busy to turn up...."
Sept 12 ~ The Korean who quietly drove a knife into his heart at Cancun had tried without success to get people to listen to the plight of the small farmers everywhere. The Guardian reports on what he did and wrote before his death. See News page. Lee rejected the WTO mantra that the world's peasant farmers could trade their way out of trouble. This is what he wrote
Sept 11 ~".. 'Any fair-minded person would accept that the Government has a good record on the countryside." The words are those of New Labour Rural Affairs Minister Ben Bradshaw.The words are staggering in their ignorance; appalling in their arrogance." The Western Morning News is on the case.
Sept 11 ~Joyce writes, "I fully appreciate the danger to the environment of cypermethrin, (see link to lengthy discussion about cypermethrin on UKOnline) either used legally or dumped, but how and why does that suddenly translate into a human health hazard in relation to lamb itself? Is it because lamb sales are uderway? It seems that the arable-use cypermethrin does not have a 'bonding' agent [as in the sheep dip type] so it washes off.... therefore it is of little use in protecting the sheep from parasites as it won't be present on the animal for long"
Sept 11 ~ A regular emailer: " The episode tonight about "the leak" makes me sick. I was angry with Andrew Marr, because all he seemed to bother about was establishing that Blair was probably in the clear over this. Not a mention of the rottenness of a system that encourages leaks, and that has taught the electorate to view leaks as the norm. Yours disillusioned (again!)"
Sept 11 ~ David Oakes, a passionate campaigner for the protection of animals, writes, "...am I missing something here? It takes the death of a scientist to open a can of worms. And yet the lives of those farmers and their families, and the millions of animals taken from this world and the millions of pounds wasted of tax payers money.... When are the people of this country going to wake up, and say enough is enough?"
Sept 10 ~"Agriculture doesn't have to reinvent the wheel. Better yet, livestock operations can downsize to farm size. Get lean and green..." An interesting link to this article by Janet Kauffman who has restored wetlands on her farm in Michigan. She coordinates the Water Monitoring Project for Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan. Polluting and unnatural large livestock confinement operations of the Midwest are being questioned, and "downsizing" alternatives advocated,
Sept 10 ~ Restoration work at last begins on Ash Moor pit (Devon) this week. Western Morning News: "....Farmer Layland Branfield, who also became an icon of the human suffering of the crisis, said the filling in of Ash Moor would never draw a line under foot and mouth. "No one can ever forget what happened. What I would like to see now are systems put into place to deal with any repeat of the outbreak..."
Sept 9 ~ "animal welfare, food safety and even human health will all be threatened if the number of farm vets continues to decrease. "
Farming Today This Week: Saturday 6th September Fewer farms and tighter margins have led to less demand for farm vets....a survey of vets by the British Cattle Veterinary Association...says that in some parts of the country farmers no longer have a local vet, as more and more practices find it isn't economically viable to cover farms. Graduates are choosing more lucrative work with pets where hours are shorter and pay is higher...." (Listen Again)
Sept 9 ~ FARM demands, "Save Our Farms, Maggie!" As 1000s go out of farming. Public Meeting: Monday, 15th September 2003 Town Hall, Bedford Square, Tavistock, Devon. Starts: 7.30pm (press release)
Sept 9 ~ "there would appear to be a certain amount of back-covering here." We have been sent the Western Morning News article BURIAL BLUNDER "Westcountry farmers who suffered hardship and heartache when foot and mouth struck are facing more anguish after the Government ordered a probe of burial sites containing potentially polluting equipment..."
Sept 7 ~ On the subject of Iraq, Suze writes, " They were wrong. Just last week, the Administration informed members of Congress to expect, next year, a bill for $60 to $70 billion for the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, a number many times higher than any given in the past...
"So..... where did all the money go from the oil for food (??) program to provide aid despite the sanctions that was frozen before the war and, I seem to remember, taken over by the Bush government? and what about the money made from oil that is being produced now? And in Afghanistan, how much of that bill went into building the oil pipeline and backup road systems, control/storage points, etc. across the country??"
Sept 6 ~ Michael writes, "It is amazing how the truth keeps leaking out . The report from the two professors at Cardiff on FMD, for all of those involved it tells the truth. Amazing how Carwyn Jones the agriculture minister in Wales , rubbishes it, and runs out the same old lies. How many of these officials keep saying the same old thing!
On scrapie, why is it that in Iceland where they have scrapie and they eat sheeps brains, only one person has had CJD? This is an island and would give a good indication of any link, of which there is none. On this score why is Mark Purdey ignored? If he is correct some very eminent scientists are going to look very foolish. If we start to play with the genetics of our sheep as now , we are looking for major problems in the future and we will lose the characteristics of our unique sheep. The same applies to GM crops. Just look at the mess Canada is in. We must not allow these crops in the UK, even if the EU tells us we must have them." (Warmwell's updated GM page)
Sept 6 ~ "...'Killing deer may be the only way to curb the disease' What - like killing healthy breeding stock was the way to curb FMD? I am sick of the Woolhouse/Anderson/King approach to animal disease," writes an emailer . "Remember what Mark Purdey thought was behind all this?
"Since all of the evidence points to the fact that TSEs are caused by a clear cut combination of genetic and toxic environmental factors, why do the authorities worldwide continue to handle these diseases as if they stem from highly infectious origins? "... Who is spinning out the propaganda myths that beef, lamb, venison, game and organic food (grown from animal manure) are contaminated with prions; and are therefore unfit for human consumption ? .... We must remain aware that these corporations have invested billions of bucks in researching and developing their GM arable protein crops and the complementary package of pesticides to go with them."Let's see if anyone will lift a finger to save the entire Wisconsin deer herd. And if they can do this - wipe out an entire herd by keeping people scared - will anything save our own livestock?"
Sept 6 ~ "..a problem that largely exists in the FSA's own mind, makes parents' lives that little bit harder, and increases an unhealthy obsession with food." We have been sent this link: Thinking outside the lunchbox
Sept 5 ~ An emailer writes, "Diana Lewis is carrying on without the RSPCA. The Western Morning News today says that "thanks to a huge response from the public and WMN readers she is back on the road in a donated van and with a new mobile phone. .. A voluntary committee has now been set up under the name DIANA, which stands for Distressed Injured And Needy Animals." I find this wholly admirable -whereas the poor old RSPCA seems to have lost its way rather. Its bureaucracy, obsession with money, lack of care for its front line staff and its remote carpeted offices are more reminiscent of a certain government department than a charity..."
Sept 5 ~ We have been sent a link to today's Independent that tells us that " RSPCA workers voted yesterday to take industrial action in protest against plans to cut more than 200 jobs. But the employees narrowly rejected a strike call in the ballot of members of the trade union Amicus. Talks are expected to be held in an attempt to avert action, including a possible ban on overtime. About 260 administrative and management staff face redundancy as part of the charity's plans to save £7.6m. It also plans to cut the number of regional centres from 10 to five and transfer handling of phone calls to a private firm."
Sept 5 ~ Resumption of Live Exports Incites Protest at Dover this Saturday Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) is organising a protest in Dover this Saturday, 6th September, at the Eastern Docks between 12:00 and 17:00. The first shipment of live lambs since January was made from Dover this week. Sept 4 ~ We have been sent without comment this link from the RCVS website :
"The RCVS has the following comments to make on the article published in The Sunday Telegraph on 31 August 2003 entitled "Crackdown on vets who cause suffering".We suspect however that there may be some comments forthcoming about this.
Dealing with complaints Although the RCVS cannot comment on general claims made in a newspaper article, it would refute absolutely the implication that it is tolerant of inadequate standards within the veterinary profession..."
Sept 3 ~ An email from Jacquita tells of an American friend doing a " tabletop exercise for FMD at University"... "a full scale all day exercise and I hope the roles we play, incase of/in the face of a real outbreak, can avert all that happened to you folks in the UK." After some input from Quita, the friend wrote back: "... very thorough and well planned, as opposed to what happened in UK..."
Sept 3 ~ An emailer writes, "you might find the piece in today's Telegraph worth posting (letters page - bit at the bottom - London spy I think the section's called) - apparently Campbell had no security clearance for a lot of the stuff he was handling - espec JIC report. (Nothing like the security clearance Kelly had) Campbell certainly wasn't positively vetted - a major security blunder. - and something that should be made more of. Possible Parliamentary Question? I think so."
Yes. We find it interesting - and here is the link.
Sept 2 ~The parallels between the Kelly case and FMD continue to strike people. An emailer writes, "....I think the evidence given by the daughter asking for more consideration and compassion in dealing with people is in order. In all our dealing with DEFRA is it not the one thing that binds us together? Whether it is the handling of FMD, SVC, staff, payments et al, do we not find that DEFRA civil servants have forgotten basic human dignity and compassion? That is the central lesson of this affair ; when you start to manipulate other people without regard for the consequences you will not have to look far before you find a tragedy...."
Sept 2 ~ "Talk off the record to almost any environmental health officer and they will tell you that the FSA is all sizzle and no steak."
We have been sent this article from today's Guardian that pulls no punches about the work of the Food Standards Agency and the supposed war on food scandals. "While environmental health officers feel beleaguered, how much pressure is being placed on the meat hygiene inspectors? They are supposed to monitor the activities of on-site vets based at slaughterhouses. But the Denby inquiry revealed that most of the vets are either inexperienced or foreign-trained with too little knowledge of British food laws. ....... So the war on food scams seems high on hype and short on firepower, but perhaps it accurately reflects the public mood......... we could also do more to protect ourselves. If food is inordinately cheap, there may be a good reason why."
Sept 1 ~ We neglect the study of animal sources of infection at our peril. An emailer writes, " In news section of Yahoo (link to Reuters) it reports the Soil Association saying that "Antibiotics are still being used to force pigs to grow unnaturally quickly, despite a ban and amid fears about the impact on human health,"
That the pig "industry" is in a parlous plight is beyond question. Nature appears quick to exact revenge for the industrialisation of warm blooded sentient beings - in this case by such emerging diseases and killers of the industry as PMWS, PDNS, CSF... Infertility among pigs is increasing rapidly. Nipah Virus, new E. coli strains, SARS, new strains of influenza virus, foot-and-mouth disease and Salmonella bareilly are all on the increase. It isn't bunny huggiing sentimentality to demand a fair contract between animal and consumer. It is cool common sense...."
(We note that newspapers around the world - even Al Jazeera - are publishing this Reuters story of the British flouting of the growth hormone ban.) See also http://humanitarian.net/biodefense/fazdc/veterinary_non_inclusion.html
Aug 30 ~ Mary Marshall writes (in answer to the question below) " I do not know any details about this FMD simulation exercise, but it is a welcome announcement. These exercises are a requirement of the EU FMD Directive, and should provide useful information on the effectiveness of the contingency plan and any necessary revisions. "
".....3. A revised and updated FMD Contingency Plan which takes into account individual electronic animal ID and the use of rapid portable virus diagnostic tests which can and should be linked to an updated GIS database, thus increasing the chances of prompt identification of an index case and allowing for real-time management and enabling useful post-epidemic epidemiological data analysis.See also Mary's letter dated 28 August, FMD legal issues - some comments and suggestions:
4. Simulation exercises to test/evaluate the practicality of the contingency plans which involve stakeholders and lawyers so that the practical and legal aspects can be considered. Is there a published timetable for such exercises?..."
Aug 30 ~ Frances writes with a link from the Scotsman, "Protest fears stop live exports from Berwick ...THERE will be no second shipment of live sheep from Berwick-on-Tweed to the continent. The first shipment of livestock from the small port for half a century took place last week, when the Caroline sailed with 2,000 store lambs for Rotterdam." and adds, "Why is Defra not trying to re-open, build new (state-subsidised) abbatoirs ? Why is everything they do clobbering farmers?"
Aug 29 ~ We are asked, "Does anyone know anything more about this FMD exercise in Scotland reported in the Scotsman today? What "lessons" are they hoping will have been learned? "
"..Scottish Executive is to stage a two-day simulation exercise of a foot-and-mouth outbreak on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, involving the rural development department's Pentland House headquarters in Edinburgh and its Perth area office, as well as local authorities, police, environmental agencies, farmers and the media. The exercise will test improved FMD contingency arrangements and, the Executive hopes, show how well lessons were learned during the 2001 FMD epidemic."
Aug 29 ~ Footnote to the Janet Hughes story. She writes, "DEFRA have still not acknowledged the payment ( or taken it out of the SOS trust account as of Tuesday, though they may have done by now). They have also not let the bailiffs know that the case is finished. The bailiffs are therefore refusing to relinquish formal control of my goods. It is quite ludicrous. The solicitor does not know what to make of it all. The other thing is the response in Wales to the report from Cardiff Law School. BBC Radio Wales did pieces on it yesterday and asked me to go along to give my comments on it, and I felt proud to be asked. It was live and I was so glad to be able to get the point across that the AHAct 2002 gives DEFRA the legal powers that they did not have in 2001. The interviewer said that DEFRA would say they were just tidying up things. I said No they changed the law to legitimise their illegal actions of 2001. I also said about the false evidence in the CVO's witness statement in 2001 and that there was no live FMD on the Brecon Beacons. You have such a short space in time to get the points across but I hope someone heard the important bits, and not the phrases that these pro-government officials keep trotting out. The NFU Cymru and FUW officials are still maintaining the propaganda of the government. Will they ever take notice of the widespread information that there were in fact so few actual cases of FMD ? and so many millions of animals culled needlessly? "
Aug 28 ~ Re Janet Hughes, we read in Private Eye "For Janet a two-year nightmare is finally at an end. Of course the Defra officials were well aware that their pre-emptive cull policy was illegal (tests showed that, as elsewhere, not one of the tens of thousands of sheep killed on the Brecon Beacons was infected). But in 2002 they took the precaution of rushing through an Animal Health Act which now gives them powers to kill any animal they want, without having to give a reason. As a final joyous twist, under the new Act it will even in future be a criminal offence for people like Mrs Hughes to dare to challenge their actions. "
Aug 27 ~ RSPCA bosses insist that the role of a volunteer of 11 years service who saved drowning lambs from death in liquid mud at the height of the foot and mouth crisis no longer fits in with the long-term strategy of the charity . The story can be read on the news page. The chair of the North Devon RSPCA branch is reported as saying:
"... we have to make sure that whatever goes on within the North Devon branch is agreed, formalised and lawful. Diana Lewis has decided that she does not want to do the routine branch work or have her time and safety managed in the way we have planned."For a charity which has lost heavily on its stock market gambles and that depends for its millions on the good faith placed in it by the public, this surely bodes ill. Strangely supine during the FMD horrors, the RSPCA has already lost much ground with its supporters of old who feel deep suspicion of the way money, bureaucracy and political correctness are now driving an organisation that built its reputation by its hands-on compassion for animals.
Aug 26 ~ Daniel Barenboim and his Palestinian friend, the writer Edward Said, has put together an orchestra of brilliant young players from both sides of the Israeli and Palestinian divide: playing together. And you can hear Barenboim talking about that concert on Saturday's programme - go to the website and the Listen Again section. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/ram/today3_proms_20030823.ram He says - very movingly - that he was particularly anxious to include the Eroica - because the Funeral March is not the last movement.
Aug 25 ~ "The most pernicious consequence of the 2002 Act is that it gives the illusion of being able to control FMD...."
Alan Beat (http://www.smallholders.org) tells us that the autumn 2003 edition of "Public Law" has just published an updated version of "The Power to Panic: The Animal Health Act 2002" including an analysis of the "Grunty" case being won largely on account of Donaldson's 2001 work on the limitations of aerosol spread (the paper that was concealed from the court in previous cases). Last December Warmwell discussed another paper Are we heading for another Foot and Mouth outbreak? by the same authors, professors Bob Lee and David Campbell at Cardiff university: ".. There was widespread illegality as MAFF in its panic could not respect the relevant criminal, public and private laws. In particular, it was impossible to ensure that all the animals were killed humanely.
Very large numbers were criminally killed in ways so horribly cruel that they should occasion lasting national shame. ..."
Aug 24 ~ A correspondent writes, "How's this for Newspeak from the Defra website ?
"New measures to enable commons to be self-regulated by statutory commons associations, with powers to require all commoners to abide by decisions made by the majority. New powers of last resort for the Secretary of State, National Assembly for Wales and nature conservation bodies in relation to common land that is not being managed sustainably. ..."There was a time - from the Magna Carta onwards actually - when law in the UK was seen as something in its own right - not something to be tinkered with by the government of the day for its own reasons. Whenever this particular government department talks about "a new opportunity", "to the benefit of" and " more effective management " and so on, my heart sinks into my boots. Please, someone tell me I am being far too cynical in thinking that DEFRA wants total control over our 550,000 hectares of common land at last."
Copies of the consultation paper are available on the Defra website: www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/issues/common/legislation/index.htm Replies by November 14
Aug 24 ~ GM. We read in the Independent on Sunday that "In response to intense pressure as the Hutton Inquiry continues to lay bare the inner workings of the Blair government, the Prime Minister is changing his tactics. His new plan, sources say, is to secure a limited and heavily regulated introduction of some GM crops - rather than the previously expected blanket approval - in the hope of expanding them later. But there is concern in Whitehall that even this may be unachievable.
Ministers and officials have been shocked by the extent of public opposition revealed by the Government's "public debate" on GM over the last few months. Originally denounced by critics as a sham, it has in fact stimulated over 600 public meetings around Britain, and led to 36,000 people registering their views on the debate website." See GM page
Aug 21 ~ Is SARS on the rampage again? According to the Washington Post, of the 11 people who have died in a nursing home in British Colombia, "clinically, it doesn't look like SARS. Epidemiologically, it doesn't look like SARS, but we have a few test results that indicate SARS."
Aug 21 ~ We see that Farmers Weekly Interactive now has an article about the suspected case of CSF outbreak referred to below: " A Form A restriction was served on a pig farm in Barnard Castle, Co Durham, yesterday (18th Aug), after a suspected case of classical swine fever was found in the herd. A DEFRA spokesman said the restriction was issued as a precautionary measure. Blood samples have been sent for analysis and preliminary results are expected to be announced tomorrow."
Aug 21 ~ Noticed on the farmtalking farm forum: "Has anyone else noticed a posting on the National Pig Site and on Farmers Weekly that has been quickly withdrawn? The info was a case of Classical Swine Fever (notifiable disease) and location, Barnard Castle, Form "A" served on premises. .... Wish Lord Hutton and his legal beagle would get their hands on FMD, SVS etc...."
Aug 21 ~ "any person having in their possession or under their charge an animal affected or suspected of having..(a notifiable disease).. must, with all practicable speed, notify that fact to a police constable." But, says the DEFRA website "In practice, notification should be made direct to a DEFRA Divisional Veterinary Manager"
An emailed comment says simply: "My answer to this is " (expletive deleted) "..I will report it to a police constable in accordance with the law. ....who would trust a Defra Divisional Veterinary Officer? Most of them have a record of criminal activities as long as my arm."
Aug 20 ~ Bryn writes:"I was interested to see the ProMed item on Libya's FMD. We have much to learn from those Mediterranean countries. The FAO meeting 17/18 Feb 2000 had the FMD Plan in place and it did not include the damnable slaughter policy this idiot country took as cure! http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/FAOINFO/AGRICULT/AGA/AGAH/EUFMD/reports/excom64/app02.htm
How any politico or Welsh NFU official can hold a straight face and say, "vaccination is a problem because we don't know if people will eat the meat" is laughable ... we all ate the stuff prior 1991."
Aug 19 ~http:///www.verymadcow.co.uk has been brought to our attention. Extract: "Despite a European wide survey that could find no connection between beef eating and CJD the Queniborough enquiry only asked about meat consumption. This enquiry found nothing unique to Queniborough....Dr David R Brown BSE Inquiry Statement 638 (20)"I do not agree with the current theory that variant –CJD is the result of contamination of meat with BSE. The similarities between BSE and v-CJD suggest a common cause". Three of the Queniborough victims died within less than three months of each other. This suggests a short incubation period, there not being time for individual differences to appear. ..."
Aug 18 ~ Alice Thomson in the Telegraph the other day, "...my main gripe against The Archers is that it fails to address the desperate situation of farmers hit by the Common Agricultural Policy, the beef ban, swine fever, foot and mouth, a weak euro, rising house prices for workers, falling food prices and supermarket cartels...."
Aug 18 ~ "Recently a district judge held in a House of Lords bankruptcy case that the trustee had no interest in the claim and that the bankrupt herself was entitled to pursue action in her own name. This is very good news for insolvent farmers who up until now have not been allowed to sue the Government."
...Anthony Gibson....if the case succeeded it would entitle hundreds of farmers in a similar situation to take action in their own names and claim damages worth millions of pounds.
"If the case was successful we would go for it a hundred per cent," he said. "However, at the moment it seems a long shot and I would not want to raise hopes."
Link to Aura Sabadus' article: Legal Battle for foot and mouth payouts in the Western Morning News
Aug 18 ~ If only this could be done for FMD! We note from the Hutton website:"by 21 August virtually all the relevant documents will have been produced as evidence and thus we can place the evidence onto the website without adversely affecting the rest of the Inquiry. Later witnesses will be asked questions about documents that have already been referred to. ..." The calm efficiency of all this is so encouraging. It puts Anderson's post FMD Lessons Learned and all to shame.
Aug 18 ~Val writes, "Have found Hutton absolutely fascinating - the availability of the transcripts online and the documents is how these things hould be done! Allows one to read the accurate 'what was said' as opposed to 'what the media says they said'! I always prefer the source. But what amazes me most is the naivety of the 'bosses' trying to enforce a policy of 'you shall not even speak to journalists without permission from us in charge (and the subjects cleared before hand) - in this time of internet and mobile phone technology - those who write down these policies don't appear to have any idea of how these things actually work. Crazy really because the no 10 press office boys certainly do - and plant stories whenever they want...."
Aug 17 ~ Anon writes: "This extract from the Sunday Telegraph's leader today about the Hutton inquiry could so well be applied to the foot and mouth crisis of 2001. It is not surprising that so many of us just refuse to forget. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2003/08/17/dl1701.xml " cock-up rather than conspiracy. But fecklessness and cowardly self-preservation are serious misdemeanours in public life ... even when they do not stray into outright malice." As for "outright malice" on the part of MAFF later DEFRA in pursuing their illegal killings in the face of aghast opposition, many of us have enough evidence of that to last and sour a lifetime."
Aug 17 ~ Part of an email from Germany "....after spending nearly a week commenting on the draft of the German FMD directive I am knackered. They produced such a lot of rubbish, that even the veterinary profession is opposing the latest proposals. (Good for them!) This government has learnt ****nothing****. I am still amazed that this directive deals with all aspects of how to treat, healthmark, transport and store even the last gram of minced meat - but when it comes to animal welfare issues and vaccination they don't go into details. I have been reading the DEFRA document on rare breeds and found the german authorities haven't even start to think about it. .."
Aug 16 ~ PatB writes, "On GM's.. a friend has uncovered a big potential loop hole. Imported wild bird seed. Not screened, Not checked and has the potential to put GM seeds all over the British Isles via people's back gardens! Happy Days."
Aug 15 ~ Bruce Horn, Farmers For Action arable representative gives below a few facts and figures on the FFA website. Bruce can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
"In 1996-7 milling wheat was£140.00 a ton and an average loaf of bread cost 30p. In 2002-3 milling wheat is £75 a ton with a loaf of bread costing 90p plus, this is 500- 600% mark up. Who has this profit? It is certainly not the grain producer. Now the press reports that bread is likely to go up 6-8p which equals a rise of £72 -£96 per ton of wheat, but the price forecast for milling wheat is only to be increased by £10-£15 a ton. How can the millers justify this? Farmers invest money time and effort over the whole year to produce the harvest, whereas the middle- men turn over a vast profit in a matter of days. Any price rise they have in cost of production is passed on to the consumer, but farmers have had to swallow all their rising costs."
Aug 7 ~ "Whilst European Union member nations are supposed to have implemented the EU Directive of 1991 specifying minimum standards that animal owners, hauliers and transport officials must provide for live animals, these are frequently ignored." The disgraceful trade goes on. The Western Morning News "...Compassion in World Farming is calling on the British Government to fight to keep a clause preventing UK ponies, horses and donkeys being exported live for meat when EU regulations governing animals transported live across the Europe are overhauled this year. It says that unless the draft regulation from the European Commission, released this month, is modified, it will pave the way for unscrupulous dealers to start up a trade in UK horse meat which has effectively been banned since the 1920s, a scenario long-feared by equine welfare charities."
Aug 4 ~With farming back under our control, we would be free to tailor a policy to suit our own needs. "Why should the collapse of agriculture matter any more than, say, the closure of the Lancashire mills or the Clyde shipyards? One answer is that our farmers, although few in number, look after a large percentage of Britain's land surface area. Another is that we all eat. Above all, though, there is a sense in which our land defines our identity. What images come into your mind if you are asked to think of England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland? When we think of "our country", we often mean the word in both its senses.
There is a real dilemma here, especially for conservative-minded people. On the one hand, we want a viable countryside. On the other, we must recognise that, in a free market, farms in parts of Britain would be unviable. What, then, is the solution? Most obviously, we should withdraw from the system that has brought us to this pass, the Common Agricultural Policy..." Telegraph
Aug 3 ~ ".. if 6,500 horses are dying of "ragwort-like" liver damage each year, it is time to look for other possible toxins. Pesticides added to grain to control weevils and mites are certainly one possibility..." and "...I have just driven over Shap Fell, and the verges of the M6 are like a sea of yellow flowers, whereas on the open fell grazed constantly by sheep there is not a single specimen of ragwort to be seen." From two illuminating letters from today's Telegraph
Aug 2 ~ "...I am reminded that DEFRA's famous pre-emptive cull took out at least seven million sheep and even Europe questioned whether that was legal or not as did the Anderson inquiry.
What about professors Collinge and Anderson, who, if I understand correctly, both urged that if it could be proved that sheep could catch BSE then it would follow that the entire national sheep flock must be destroyed. But they did not find BSE in sheep. What is it they used to say? "With friends like these?" I was not going to mention that other experiment but I will. That was the one where scientists injected BSE infected material into, I'm not sure if it was ten sheep's brains, and two of them were found later to show signs of BSE. Well I ask you: what the blazes did they expect to find? Chicken Pox? My message to those who would do away with us is: "In spite of all your efforts, we intend to soldier on, and if there is worse to come don't be surprised if we bite back." Westmorland Gazette Jeff Swift's "Over the Gate" page
Aug 1 ~ We read with deep disquiet that the EU is planning to allow horses to be exported from the UK for slaughter. Horses and ponies from the New Forest and Dartmoor will be exported to the continent where they will be slaughtered for meat. Peter Stevenson, CIWF Political and Legal Director said, "Horses are poor travellers and suffer immensely if they are sent on long journeys to continental abattoirs. The British Government must act quickly to insist that Brussels reinstates the derogation which allows Britain to ban the export of these animals for slaughter, and which is in danger of being removed by the EU." See CIWF news release
Aug 1 ~ TheRagwort Control Bill successfully completed its Report Stage and Third Reading in the House of Commons on Friday 11 July and will now proceed to the House of Lords, led by Baroness Masham, where it is expected to receive full support. Horse and Hound report that around 6,500 horses died from ragwort poisoning last year, a massive jump of 6,000 compared to the 500 reported deaths in 2001. See British Horse Society Ragwort Campaign
July 28 ~Sir John Houghton, former head of the Met Office, writing in today's Guardian says that global warming is real and here now, killing people through heatwaves and storms. He says: "If political leaders have one duty above all others, it is to protect the security of their peoples. "Yet our long-term security is threatened by a problem at least as dangerous as chemical, nuclear or biological weapons, or indeed international terrorism: human-induced climate change. "The parallels between global climate change and global terrorism are becoming increasingly obvious", yet no action is taken by either leader.
July 23 ~ An emailer writes: "With all the appalling news, (has it finished since 2001?), I thought you may be interested in the fantastic work carried out by Border Collie Rescue during FMD. BCR, of course, do great work all the time, but this story is quite pertinent to us! By the way, please don`t forget that MAFF brutally killed many working collies here in the very dark early days. One such dog was, directly after the gather, shot through the head by a MAFF slaughter man and straight in front of his owner! That man never farmed again."
July 21 ~ A farmer who suffered during FMD writes, "We were granted a Judicial Review for Discrimination under the Human Rights Act, but during the months which followed we were subjected to a constant barrage of threats and intimidation from Page Street, the Chief Veterinary Officer, Fred Landeg, and senior vets from our local Animal Health Department in Truro. Like Dr Kelly, not everyone is strong enough to withstand the intimidation, manipulation and threats which politicians and their civil servants choose to protect themselves with complete disregard of innocent people's lives."
July 21 ~ an emailer writes: " The RSPCA is closing its local call centres to save 200 jobs. The Independent has the story at http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/story.jsp?story=426207
It seems that RSPCA foot soldiers are furious at the way the RSPCA raises £80m a year but has lost £16m on the stock market in the past three years. Remember that Head Office in Horsham costing sixteen million pounds that raised our hackles during FMD? £4.5 million was spent on political campaigns during the past year and the £3million home for abandoned animals near Durham city can't now be built because they "can't afford it". Do we still support the RSPCA? Can you believe that they'd gamble on the stock market with donated money to the tune of 16 MILLION pounds in losses - and then sack the very people who give the RSPCA its human face? And four and a half Million pounds in political campaigning ? I feel sickened when I remember how not one single prosecution was brought by the RSPCA during FMD 2001 and how, in spite of protests from their decent on-the-ground officers, the managers played it safe around Elliott Morley and made no outcry about the cruelty involved in so much of the killing."
July 21 ~"too many breeders are falling over backwards to co-operate" Ron writes:"I understand that a provision of the National Scrapie Scheme as it affects Rare Breeds is that in the event of a Ram failing the test, semen can be taken and stored.... Any tendency to Scrapie will be carried in the semen. So if the intention is to eliminate Scrapie, surely there is no point in preserving semen of Rams that have failed THE TEST. So is it that the Science relating to Scrapie is so dubious that the Scientists are hedging their bets? I'd rather keep the Ram."
July 20 ~ An emailer writes, " I don't often weep over the death of someone I do not know , but today on hearing that David Kelly had been driven to suicide I wept. Reading his obituary you hear of a dedicated scientist with a sense of humour and great integrity. He had dealt with the duplicity of the Iraq government during his time as weapons inspector without problems, and was looking forward to returning to Baghdad. What did he see within his own government that made him decide that "This was really not the kind of world he wanted to live in.", and take a knife to his own wrist?
I am greatly saddened. We can only hope that the whole dirty business of "sexed-up" dossiers, and other New Labour lies, are at last exposed by the death of this good man."
July 19/20 ~ Quoting from the Telegraph story As with Diana, Dr Kelly's fate gives all of us pause By Tom Utley, Bryn echoes what several others have said " "Under this Government, power has been used to bully individuals and to deflect people's minds from the truth." A couple of dodgy dossiers, Campbell's spin and one dead Doctor. Look what 'they' did to farmers during FMD 2001, sixty suicides; no "narrow" Independent Judicial Inquiry for them !
July 19/20 ~ "Thought for the day: We will all be better off when the power of understanding replaces the understanding of power." Jeff Swift's deceptively homely agricultural column in the Westmorland Gazette is this week entitled: "Bureaucrats need taste of own medicine"
"...I am indebted to an old friend for pointing me in the direction as to why the top people at DEFRA are always so eager to welcome whatever comes out of Brussels whether it benefits our farmers or not. Do you suppose that the reason could be that the politicians in question crave power and because the power now rests in Brussels, these people are eager to latch onto whatever comes out of Brussels, in order to give them the opportunity of power over us mortals?
The thought wasn't mine for, as you know only too well, I only ask the questions..."
July 18 ~ We have been sent this extract from the Western Morning news report by Aura Sabadus: "Six months after the WMN highlighted the plight of thousands of animals being skinned alive in Asia where their pelts are used to produce toys sold in Europe, ministers have announced they are looking to stamp out the sickening trade. But the promise comes with a condition - animal campaigners have been given six months to provide sufficient evidence. That means pressure groups must find toy samples on sale in the UK so that the Government can test them at its own expense."
July 16 ~ Anne writes, "Briefly, heard on radio this morning that EU measures being approved today to improve conditions and shorten journey times before a break (re live animal transport). Measures don't go far enough according to CIWF (and me!). Can you believe it the NFU are opposing the measures? They say that we should concentrate on enforcing the existing measures. If one consider that the existing measures before they are abused are completely inadequate, and result in enormous suffering, then the NFU's case looks extremely shaky. Several weeks ago I heard the scottish NFU similarly criticising the proposals." See press release from CIWF, kindly forwarded by Roger
July 15 ~ "Silence will be taken as compliance and will be used by the Government to justify commercialising GM even though polls show that the majority of the public is firmly against this." says Friends of the Earth
"Take part in the debate Have your say by filling in a short questionnaire on the web at www.gmnation.org.uk before 18 July. When filling out the questionnaire, make sure you use your chance to make personal comments. See our (i.e. FOE's) briefing GM Nation? The Public Debate (PDF format - 120K) for ideas about issues to raise."
July 14 ~ Anne sends us this list of supermarket contact numbers, which were originally provided by CIWF in one of its campaign leaflets. I have rung some of the Customer Service Numbers below to register my continuing concerns about GM products. I found them very helpful and willing to pass on my comments. In most of the calls I got through very quickly.
July 14 ~ FMD and WMD: there are some strange parallels .... Val writes, "What strikes me about today's stories (especially the 'more than one source') is hw exactly this mirrors what happened to us during FMD..."
July 10 ~ Michael writes, "....£300million a year will be saved by scrapping the OTMS. BSE cases have fallen from the 1992 peak of 37,000 to fewer than 1,000 last year and 309 so far this year. So is the government (through the "independent" FSA) scrapping the OTMS scheme in a cynical move to save money - or has some evidence emerged about the causes of vCJD that it would be just too embarrassing for them and for SEAC and all the other scientific cronies to admit? ..."
July 2003 ~ Anne has just listened to Ben Bradshaw on the Today programme on Saturday. She writes, "Just heard Ben Bradshaw - what an eye-opener, and the assumption that news has to be passed by Downing Street is quite staggering. Does Bradshaw actually realise what he said? I feel that some of these politicians are in a different world which they have created, completely at odds with the way normal people behave. They seem to have been completely seduced by power, and the end justifies the means. Truth and honesty seem not to be central to their agenda. Rather, it is the skill in dodging questions, deflecting blame, deriding/smearing/intimidating rival opinions that seem to be at the forefront. John Humphrys did a very good job, but what these individuals need is cross questioning by lawyers - where are you Michael Mansfield? (I understand he offered his services free, on the Today programme recently!) The JIC is made up of No 10 appointees, as I understand it, and can therefore in no way be objective. Furthermore, as the hearings are not going to be open, how can one have faith in the Committee's findings?"
Jul 1 ~ Susan writes, " Re Sunday Herald article: "If the public is unhappy with me they can sack me, but to whom is the BBC accountable?" When Woolas asks to whom is the BBC accountable, to whom does he propose making it accountable? No don't answer that one...."
2) July 1 ~ "As to the latest Campbell fiasco - my daughter was telling me about it - I said I had read the transcript - she said 'you need to watch the interview' - and she is right - the body language is very telling indeed...."Read Val's email
June 30 ~ "The Government are about to ban 270 mineral and vitamin supplements in order to make a compliant population 100% reliant on the National Health Service." We have been sent this external link to the Times article -
June 28 ~ Roger writes, "Don`t know if you saw it last night,but an extaordinary interview took place on Channel 4 news. Campbell just arrived and sat down with Jon Snow and ranted on about the BBC. Jon was totally unprepared but did jolly well. Even banging on the table. Extraordinary stuff. Campbell has indeed lost it. Could this be the beginning of the end ? Here is the BBC report of that exchange.."
June 28 ~ As Mo Mowlem says today in the Independent, "We are in a mess both at home and abroad". And on the Today programme we probably all heard the new man at DEFRA, the light-voiced Ben Bradshaw, castigating John Humphrys and the BBC for not checking with the Number Ten Press Office before the Andrew Gilligan revelation. So it is official. This Government now really believes it has a right to filter all news. It even made one warm towards Bernard Ingham. His words about Alastair Campbell left one in no doubt that he thinks him close to deranged, while he referred to Bradshaw as a "toady". Sir Bernard's bluff plain speaking was a reminder that even under Thatcher, things were not quite as surreal and so frightening as they are now.
June 28 ~ Re Richard Martin Award for exceptional service in the cause of animal welfare. Another email simply says, " it all beggars belief actually - but I am past caring I'm afraid. I am loving this fight between Downing St and the Beeb - hopefully at last A Campbell has bitten off more than he can chew - it would be nice to think so!!" and another remarks, "I suppose it's a quid pro quo for the hunting thing..."
June 27/28 ~ The news that the RSPCA itself has thought fit to make Eliot Morley the recipient of the Richard Martin Award for exceptional service in the cause of animal welfare has caused outrage to some warmwell readers. "I contacted the RSPCA, HQ on 0870 3335 999, and was advised to write in to Director (Mrs J. Ballard), RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, West Sussex. RH13 9RS" and "I can only splutter! How on earth can this be true?"
Many of us will remember that Jackie Ballard, the ex Lib Dem MP for Taunton, supported the courageous fight by Guy Thomas Everard against MAFF This email from Jackie Ballard was received at the warmwell site on May 9th 2001
........................I have spoken to the Thomas -Everards and now knowing all the facts I support their case. It seems that MAFF have now backed down, thank goodness.
........................Does anyone belong to the RSPCA and have copies of the Annual Accounts, or have details of any major funding projects - has there been any recent funding from a government department (directly or indirectly) for the RSPCA, or even from DEFRA?
June 26 ~ The Richard Martin Award for exceptional service in the cause of animal welfare appears to have been awarded to Eliot Morley by the RSPCA...Bryn has a comment. "This letter is to protest in the strongest possible manner at this extraordinary choice of winner....These seriously wounded cattle, maddened with pain, ran into barbed wire fences and on to roads to escape that torture and it is known several were left bleeding for more than 12 hours before finally being despatched - yet Mr Morley states categorically that there was no cruelty ......"
June 26 ~ email today, "This massive dose we are all having of Campbell spin soup, plus all the other dubious politicians, is quite awful. I really think they do not have the ability to see/understand that people value honesty, when it really comes to it, and I do believe there will be very significant repercusssions due to lack of trust in the establishment. ..."
June 26 ~"... it will now be, in part, up to this committee of MPs to decide who is telling the truth. If they back Mr Campbell then much of the wider criticism over the government's handling of the conflict will evaporate. The government's critics will find it hugely difficult to press ahead with their case. If, however, this committee suggests they do not believe Mr Campbell's account of events the consequences will be incalculable." See the articles from the BBC today
June 26 ~ "About 130 cases of the form of CJD linked to BSE have been identified since monitoring started - less than one-hundredth of 1% of those exposed. For a normal scientific theory such a result would raise searching questions about its validity. But not, it seems, for BSE. The march of bureaucracy continues remorselessly - Brussels' preposterous Animal By-Products Regulation being the latest example - allegedly to protect us from a risk which may well not exist; and the interested parties seem determined to force on, rather than consider the possibility that they might be wrong..."
Extract from an article by Patrick Fletcher of The Western Mail "The march of bureaucracy continues " forwarded to us in which he expresses amazement at DEFRA's refusal to continue to fund the Kings College work (see BSE/vCJD page).
June 26 ~ The environment is now "too clean" Children's immune responses don't get boosted. Contemporary homefurnishing harbour the house dust mite, a very common cause of allergy...but children who live on farms had a third less allergy than other rural children. See the news link about allergies sent today
June 21 ~ "Give my father a break, says prince " is a headline in today's Times. "Prince William, in an interview to mark his 21st birthday today, called on his father's critics to give the Prince of Wales a break. Taking up the cause of his father, William said Charles had been given a hard time and deserved better. "He does so many amazing things," said the supportive son. "I only wish people would see that more because he's had a very hard time and yet he's stuck it out and he's still very positive. And he's very happy and protective towards Harry and me as well." We agree entirely. The Prince of Wales speaks out - not for power or votes - but because he cares about England. The mnarchy provides a vital bulwark against political ambition. Of course it isn't perfect. What is?
June 20 ~ Hugh writes, " It would seem that the author of the Database on Foot & Mouth at DEFRA has not had their attention drawn to Defra's house magazine LANDSCAPE a recent copy has a long article on DEFRA'S commitment to openess in all their activities. No wonder staff get confused - and the public. The public has a right to know the whole truth - not an edited edition. "
June 19 ~ More reaction to the EU proposed legislation on animal transport "Closed herds of cattle and closed flocks of sheep don't involve the transport of animals from distant places - and don't import diseases like bovine TB and so on. Whenever you bring stock onto your farm, you bring in new disease problems. .... it is unquestionably better and safer to avoid bringing in new animals.
.... in October, the new EU directive concerning scrapie .... twisted and used by DEFRA to enable the mass slaughter of our native breeds of sheep and the further eradication of traditional family farms. ..."(Read Lawrence's letter in full)
June 16 ~" I wonder how many cows it would take to produce this amount of methane? "
The news from the Sunday Herald that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has published Scotland's first pollution register, covering 36 chemical emissions from 108 sites, showing that last year (2002) "...26.7 million tonnes of pollutants were put into the air, 31,212 tonnes were discharged into water and 11,846 tonnes to sewers - while smaller amounts of potentially deadly metals are also contaminating the environment" has surprised Sepa and alarmed environmental groups - and draws this comment from Joyce.
June 15 ~ "Some may remember this poster...............helped to win a war - now we sit back and let them take what we didn't want to give ! What a nonsense the new rules make of common sense. " Bryn Wayt reminds us of a saner time before the private turning of waste into something useful was subject to scrutiny from the thought police.
June 14 ~ Ben Gill has got his reward - "For not making waves! Services to agriculture huh!" writes a disgusted emailer Another emailer says "
Well that's it for me. I now want to see the honours system completely scrapped. The man ran off to Australia during the FMD epidemic. If that's leadership... The system has become a complete joke. If this goes on a knighthood won't even secure a restaurant table. I just don't have the heart to continue today."
From the Independent : "KNIGHTS BACHELOR Gill, Arthur Benjamin Norman, CBE, Presdt, National Farmers' Union. For serv Agriculture, Conservation and the commty."
See akso "Knight Commander (KCB) Bender, Brian Geoffrey, CB, Permanent sec, Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Broadbent, Richard John, chm, HM Customs and Excise."
June 13 ~ "Opposition to vaccination is the ruling passion of the National Farmers' Union and Maff (the NFU's political wing). If their dogma is overturned both will be humiliated and Maff may die of shame and be replaced by a Ministry for Rural Affairs. Sticking to slaughter until the last cow dies in the last ditch suits their interests..." The Observer, Sunday April 8, 2001
June 13 ~ An emailer writes laconically: "Has the NFU really changed (as Peter Rudman seems to be maintaining)? It has given a very lukewarm reception to the new EU law. Did you hear Ben Gill interviewed at the end of Farming Today? Reducing the duration of an epidemic is, to him, more important than reducing the number of animals slaughtered.
June 13 ~ A correspondent from America writes about EU agreement to putting vaccination first: " It will be sort of like trying to convince our own meat industry that this is a good thing. They're already trying to have instituted a seven-year ban on Canadian beef from the one case of BSE they found.
Nah, we're not protectionist.
On the whole, this is great news. I hope we follow suit quickly. There'll be a bottle of (French, probably!) champagne to follow our action should it be taken."
June 12 ~ "... Leishmaniasis is transmitted by the female Sandfly. It is endemic in many parts of the World, the dog acting as the main reservoir. It can be passed from dog to human (so is classed as a zoonose) People with suppressed immune systems are at risk..." Coleen is not happy about the Pet Passport Scheme
June 11 ~" To email@example.com placing YES in the subject line. Have YOUR say about YOUR rights and YOUR Country NOW whilst you can before those rights are taken away from you. " Sue's email
June 10 ~ "The demise of civilisation has been predicted since it began, but the odds of keeping Planet Earth alive and well are getting worse amid a break-neck pace of scientific advances, according to Martin Rees, Britain`s honorary astronomer royal...Rees calls for better regulation and inspection of sensitive data and experiments.." We have been sent this news cutting from Reuters
June 4 ~ " I am sure I am not alone in feeling a terrible sense of deja vu over all this......A very rattled Ben Bradshaw on Channel Four News...... " see message
June 4 ~ This email sums up how many of warmwell readers are feeling over the WMD writhings from our leaders ".... couldn't watch PM's question time. I lasted 2 minutes and then had to turn off the TV before I did it some damage! But we shouldn't be surprised, he lied all through FMD and he's still lying now. Aarrrhhhh.... !! And no we won't get a proper inquiry..."
May 28 ~ "Now we are forbidden to bury any casualty lambs - we can't even bury a chicken at the end of its life, it was all too much for her. This kind of thing kills smallholding..." extract from a sad email from Norfolk
May 28 ~ "One in five poultry companies that abandoned the use of antibiotics to make chickens grow faster are now using them again" cutting from the Guardian
May 27 ~ "The last thing a centralised government wants is self sufficiency." Sue writes about Michael Meacher's concern at the FSA refusal to carry out proper reseach into organic production
May 27 ~"Please tell ten friends to tell ten today!" says Jane. The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota to getting free food donated every day to abused and neglected animals. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "feed an animal in need" for free. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising.
May 17 ~"... how the government/EU double might work. Unpalatable policies, desired for whatever reason by the UK government are floated into place without public scrutiny through the EU bureaucracy. They can then be presented as 'fait accompli' and blamed on the EU." Lawrence comments on the articles on Peter Siddons' site (external link)
May 16 ~ Avian influenza. Slaughter misery endured by pet owners "...house was forcibly entered and raided by policemen and Ministry of Agriculture officials, who proceeded to confiscate their 3 pet chickens that had been hidden in the bathroom."
May 15 ~ "In the end all that matters is that this helps explain why, every May, vast tracts of English countryside are covered with bilious yellow, from a crop which farmers wouldn't dream of growing unless we all handed over £500 per hectare to Brussels in the first place, just for the joy of looking at it...."Muckspreader in Private Eye
May 15 ~ The real case for an independent pound has nothing to do with ultra-nationalism or hostility to Europe, wrote Samuel Brittan in the FT in March
May 14 ~ Compassion inWorld Farming have, it seems, a new website entitled Animal Sentience (external link) devoted to the subject of animal sentience - conscious thought, feelings and awareness
May 13 ~ "Clare Short has nevertheless spoken a lot of sense both about the legality of the war and about the undemocratic ways of this administration. What a pity she didn't say it all on March 18..". more
May 12 ~" large scale indoor farming creates disease and killing on a massive scale. Avian Flu..... just look at the numbers being killed. Nature will hit back some day and kill of the arrogant human beings.." an email from Michael
May 9 ~ Joyce speaks for many:
(See article on front page today) Re: " DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is planning to recommend a move to Ministers which will mean fresh or frozen meat can no longer be thrown in the bin but must be incinerated to prevent the spread of disease. " ......and yet this same Defra are all for travelling between farms and around the country with lorry loads of dead and diseased animal bodies!May 9 ~ "A misguided email campaign that has blasted its electronic way around the world in an attempt to prevent the archaic punishment of this young Muslim. .." On May 6 we reported~ "If you can spare a few moments it might spare Amina's life. It will only take you a few seconds to sign Amnesty's online petition. Go to the web page http://www.amnistiaporsafiya.org/"
Words fail me!
But see http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/05/week_2/08_nigeria.html - "...Amnesty has had to post a counter-message which pops up explaining that the 3rd of June is the date set for Amina Lawal's appeal hearing, not her stoning. Nobody believes the site is malicious - merely the work of a misguided but well-meaning individual who mistranslated the information into English... "
May 6 ~ " I am currently trying to get access to the files of the company ( via a friend of a friend ) involved in this transaction in order to get the hard evidence on the order date for these railway sleepers, which was in 2000 sometime..." Mark Purdey on the continuing mystery of the order for pyre fuel before FMD was "discovered" in February 2001
May 6 ~ Hilary sends this poem. It may clarify for some the vague feelings of angst we are feeling.
May 2 ~ We hear from David Delaney of Leominster: " I have just been told by the DEFRA help-line, 08457 335577, that the new anti-burial rules will not be enforced until the end of May. Apparently they have just issued a press release about it. I actually asked what to do about a dead fox as it had been eating lambs and probably died of scrapie, or even BSE, as DEFRA believed BSE was transmitted to sheep. The reply was to bury it!"
May 2 ~ An email from Jane Barribal of farmtalking.org. Jane is "amused" by the WHO spokesman who said of Prof. Anderson, " this is a top-class professional and any figure he commits himself to is likely to be as close as possible to accurate."
May 1 ~" and there were the rest of us, silly billies that we are, thinking that the origin of the FMD crisis and the exact nature of BSE were still far from being fully understood.." an email today
April 28 ~ Jan in Cumbria writes: ".... Thank you for making the GM thing an issue worthy to be highlighted. World President Blair needs reminded that you can't bomb people into accepting GM. Only God can have a vague idea what the Pandora's box will unveil when you open it....But then again he thinks he is God................God help us.." (See GM page)
April 15 ~ Vets and prescription only medicines(BVA website) BVA President Peter Jinman said that he was "deeply disappointed at the failure of the Commission to understand how veterinary practice worked" and that the profession would "fight to protect the welfare of the animals under its care...."
It may be interesting to note - as an example of what the Competition Commission perhaps had in mind - that a vet in the UK charges £26.00 for a box of "Fortekor 20" heart pills (Benazepril hydrochloride) while his french counterpart charges 26 euros for the identical product.
April 12 ~ The statue photos...did others notice how few Iraqis were in those shots? Here is the link to an article sent to us that makes for worrying reading.... "wide angle shot in which you can see the whole of Fardus Square (conveniently located just opposite the Palestine Hotel where the international media are based), and the presence of at most around 200 people - most of them US troops (note the tanks and armored vehicles) and assembled journalists. The BBC website had the honesty to say that "dozens" of Iraqis were involved, but this grain of truth was swamped by the overwhelming impression of mass joy. The radio and TV were even worse..."
April 11 ~ The "liberation" of Iraq and Jack Straw's complacent words about being proved right....the benefits of democracy being hailed as Iraq's hospitals are looted and innocent Baghdad citizens summarily killed if they stray into the wrong place ... Clare Short's defeated tone of voice belying her defiant words.....and in our own House of Commons, Paul Marsden howled down and his words almost drowned by shouts of "Shame" and George Galloway made a paraiah....emailers feel as sad as we do and share our deep unease.
April 9 ~ Roger points us to this external link at BBC Scotland "Conservation workers involved in a cull of hedgehogs in the Western Isles have failed to find any on the first night of the operation...."
April 9 ~ Correction on West Wing story. Another emailer writes, "Your emailer was wrong - it was BSE not FMD. I wouldn't be surprised if they sent a sample to the UK, or to Switzerland. See http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/cwd/cwdposition.html."
April 8 ~ TV's The West Wing' were troubled by a suspected FMD outbreak.... they were sending the sample to the UK to be analysed in order to confirm the diagnosis - an emailer tells us today
Hmm. Evidently the writers of the US show are not yet up to speed on Rapid Diagnosis tests (including the USDA/Tetracore test approved for use by the US Congress and already enthusiastically deployed by the Bush administration. See articles in the US press on the use of these tests in California.
April 8 ~ Hedgehogs "In justifying its killing policy, SNH has consistently quoted from a scientific paper by respected scientist, Dr Patrick Doncaster, and refused to accept that it has little relevance to the situation in the Uists. SNH claim it proves that about half of the relocated hedgehogs will survive. The author, Dr Doncaster, has now confirmed to UHR that his paper is of little relevance to the Uists and that the survival rate is more likely to be around 80%." See press release from Advocates for Animals, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, Hessilhead Animal Rescue Centre, International Animal Rescue, the Mammals Society and St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital.
April 4 ~ In response to this plea from Coleen, we have written a letter about the imminent killing of the hedgehog population of Scottish Islands of Uists and Benbecula. Many more letters are requested.
March 28 ~ Roger writes, "....They will win the war eventually, but they will never win the peace."
March 27 ~ Coleen writes, "I cannot help but feel anger when I hear Tony Blair say that a full inquiry will take place to determine how these friendly fire deaths occurred." March 26 ~ "A waste disposal edict from those supporting the chucking around of depleted uranium and filling the air with burning oil?" How could any farmer compete with this environmental damage?" writes Joyce succinctly.
March 24 ~ How can Americans fail to see that this will only increase hatred towards them? "Sometimes I wish I were dumb and deaf and unaware of what is happening in the world. I am disgusted at how the Americans react to their men being caught by the Iraqis. What did they think? That they were super-human? That something as trivial as losing men to the enemy could not happen to them? ..... they thought they would enter Iraq like a Sunday morning jog and would only meet with friendly faces and people waiting for their saviours waving bunches of flowers?.... " email about Iraq
March 22 ~ Quote: "Any failure to have the system fully in place as of 1st May rests very much with the farming organisations"
Lord Whitty: "That prevents the type of seepage about which we are concerned that occurs when there is a substantial quantity of animal burial." (see the extract from the debate)
Joyce's comment: "Well they should know! How many farmers are going to have those numbers of animals all die at once, unless due to the government's own edicts?"
March 21 ~"... my attemps to obtain an admittance of guilt & accountability from some or all of the Government Ministers and Civil Servants who quite simply turned a crisis into a wholesale disaster due primarily to political priorities & incompetence." See this message from Nick Green
March 21 ~ No more Gilwerns! Joyce urges us to write emails to prevent the further "hunting" of cows and calves in Spain.
March 20 ~ At last, with the internet uniting people across the globe and providing an alternative to political propaganda, we can speak out and say that we will no longer condone the killing of innocents to support the ambitions of the powerful. You might like to add your name and message to MoveOn's Window Lights for Peace - and send the URL to your friends.
March 20 ~ Joyce invites us to light a virtual candle for peace. Well over 7 million had done so when I did. It may not help - but it is a gesture. Go to http://www.webshots.com/sp/peace_candle/
March 19 ~ "..there is no wisdom in initiating a continuous theme of destruction in the name of protection. Any step in the direction of destruction will have destructive repercussions and will only help to create waves of destruction in time. This is a universal Law of Nature - action and reaction - 'as you sow, so shall you reap'. ...." Tom Griffith-Jones has written about Iraq from the same viewpoint with which he coped with the tragedy of foot and mouth.
March 17 ~ Many of us have been noticing parallels between what is happening now and the UK situation in 2001. Here is Hilary on the subject of fear: On the eve of war, farming may seem irrelevant, but I see a familiar trend in our fields paralleled in the global situation. We live in fear. Anonymous forces with motives we don't understand can take over our lives and destroy us. There seems to be nothing we can do or say to alter this situation....
March 15 ~ Bryn has been reading the Appendix 1 of the report of the Public accounts committee. "Seems to me confusion still exists as to how many vets were employed in the SVS in the vital year 2001..."
March 9 ~ Roger writes with some good news for the ruddy duck....
March 7 ~ Foxes killed for non-existent rabies, ruddy ducks annihalated, hedgehogs..... an email sending a report from the Sunday Herald.
Feb 28 ~ Moira writes about "a Sheep Meeting this week (A Sheep Specialist From Edinburgh Veterinary College) Emerging Diseases In British Sheep Flocks I thought that I would share some of the meeting with you all........".
Feb 28 ~ Pam writes: "A story in the Western Morning News about the butchering of dogs and cats for their meat in Asia. The picture is heartbreaking, 2 dogs squashed into a tiny cage with fear written all over their faces, reminiscent of the horrors of FMD. David Neale from Looe has made regular trips to China trying to help the animals. He says the only way to help them is a total ban and is asking people to write a polite letter to His Excellency Mr Zha Peixin, Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Embassy of the people's Republic of China in the UK, 49-51 Portland Place, London. W1N 4JL.. For more information call David Neale on 01503 269231 The article has left me with the same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach , the same anger I felt over the FMD and the barbaric culls."
Feb 26 ~ The RSPCA fail to save starving horse on Upminster Common.
Feb 25 ~ email: "A small stud farm, close to one of the large continuous FMD pyres for contiguous cattle over 30 months, had constant smoke and ashes over its fields. A foal was born with joint-ill, vet said its immune system was compromised in utero. £800 was spent treating this foal. It has been difficult to rear, and died recently at almost 2years of age. A claim was put in to MAFF/DEFRA for the £800 - they managed to lose the paper work. Has anyone else had problems with foals?"
Feb 23 ~ Janet Hughes writes to thank those who have supported her during this horrible time.
Feb 20 ~ Jill is so angry about the hypocrisy of the NFU over vaccines, she says she just "had to put fingers to keyboard"
Feb 18 ~ A welcome letter from Gill about the Peace March, Richard Perle and Janet Hughes. " it looks as if Iraq is only the start if "we" are to be made "safe". It seems that Robert Fisk is right...."
Feb 8 ~ Astrid has sent us this interesting article by Cliff Morrison: "As the present regime becomes steadily more control-freakish and disdainful of civil liberties, democratic principles, and even of parliament itself, the need for a sturdily independent second chamber is now more acute than ever. ......Elective Democracy in Ancient Greece. This system developed in the city-state of Athens in the fifth century BC, through reform of the previous oligarchic system. The reforms were brought about by the Athenian statesman Pericles, to develop the powers and responsibilities of the popular courts and assembly at the expense of the "Areopagus" -- the Assembly elected from the oligarch class..."
Jan 20 ~ Elli too is angry at the blatant misreporting about "farmers" on the BBC, local newspapers and even radio farming programmes
Jan 17 ~ Some thoughts from Coleen about food and supermarkets
Jan 17 ~ Val L has sent this account of Dot's funeral
Jan 10 ~ " ...her big heart and her fighting spirit" As Dot's friends prepare for the funeral on the 13th, Elli Logan sends this message
Jan 6 ~ Coleen heard the infamous King interview on the Today programme on Dec 18th " How do they think we feel when we listen to their version of how 'Labour' saved the Countryside? Then to have to listen to them say 'that nothing has altered'. That basically we would go down the same road again - because there are NO alternatives. How many people have swallowed and believe this version of accounts? How many people actually remember that we DO have alternatives? We always did..."
Jan 4 ~ Nick Green in Cumbria - like the rest of us - is not yet ready to accept the way New Labour has rewritten the history of the Foot and Mouth crisis. Extract: "Sorry Mrs Beckett, for you to say there were no animal welfare problems during FMD 2001 has to be one of the most ignorant, self denying lies I think I have ever heard. I SAW atrocities committed by MAFF employees, so did many others. Do not lie to us..."
Jan 4 ~ Roger's thoughts about the Fairtrade pilot project
Dec 27 ~ Coleen has been inspired by the determination of an ex-Air Hostess who has a donkey sanctuary in the Middle East
Dec 23 ~ "Blame is well and truly at your government's door Mr Adam, it then goes right down the hall, up the stairs, and into every room and space you have and then overflows into the street. Honourable people know who to blame alright; as the EU proved..." Read Bryn's message to poor Gordon Adam, New Labour MEP.
Dec 22 ~ Like many of us, Roger feels angry amazement at the destruction of the Fishing Industry. He watched Mr Morley on television today.....
Dec 10 ~ Dec 10 ~ "The totalitarian mindset about the origins of prion diseases betrays an agenda." How many of the EU laws, followed willingly by the UK, have as their apparent rationale, the fear of vCJD? Mark Purdey has written this exasperated letter to the Daily Mail
Dec 10 ~ Mad as a Hatter On the same subject of the possible part played by minerals and metals in TSE diseases, Bill Snape writes : " Don't know if anyone has already mentioned this but the typical values of both lead and mercury are increased about tenfold following the spreading of sewage sludge. BSE is no doubt a combination of factors and lead and mercury may play some part. Victorian hatters used mercuric nitrate paste to prevent mold on felt hats. Breathing in the fumes caused encephalopathy due to mercury poisoning, hence the expression "As Mad as a Hatter"..."
Bill adds "The typical values are as follows, Soil content of Lead, Pb, 10 ppm (parts per million), higher in limestone soils and humus. Pb after spreading of sewage sludge 100 to 120 ppm. Soil content of Mercury, Hg, 0.03 to 0.8 ppm. The lower values will be near the surface as Hg is leached and also volatilized. Hg after spreading of sewage sludge 4 to 5 ppm."
Dec 9 ~ Diane writes with an alarming list of casualties from FMD not recorded elsewhere.
Dec 9 ~ Margaret writes, re the absurd Animal By-Products and Waste bill: "Warmwell says, Farmyard manure is referred to delicately as digestion residue. Thus, 'No person shall ... allow any livestock, other than wild birds [WHAT ABOUT WILD MAMMALS I WONDER) to have access to any land onto which, within the period of two months immediately preceding the access, he or any other person has applied or otherwise deposited any (1) compost; or (2) digestion residue.
As I read this, my goats may go onto their field, but may not cr*p! If they make the mistake of doing so, they must wait two months before they can go on the field again. Surely they don't really expect us to obey this regulation?"
They probably are so full of it themselves that they have forgotten how "digestion residue" comes about....
Dec 9 ~ Nick has put together a long list of the lying and corruption that seems so rife both in the FMD fiasco and in modern political life.
Dec 5 ~ Why do some of us continue? Frances has written another poem. It is rather good. "... Is it too much to ask that they leave us in peace, Will the constant harrassment eventually cease?"
Dec 4 ~ We sometimes need to be reminded of the 3 dimensional reality of people in Moslem countries. Gill sends this email - a million miles away from the Bush/Blair ranting.
Dec 2 ~ Delaine writes: " I read a lot, and very often write down and keep small items which appeal to me. I though you might like this one taken from 'The Soul of Nature' by Joseph Bruchac:
'The stewardship of human beings is not as owners, but as partners with many other beings, such as the animals. The animals are recognised not only as spiritual beings but, in some ways, as beings wiser than humans. Unlike humans they do not forget the right way to behave.'
Nov 29 ~ Warmwell's need to close down - a word of explanation. It will actually be a horrible wrench and I hate letting the powers of darkness rampage without comment. But I cannot go on because, after literally thousands of hours of work, it is STILL taking up too many hours of the day. I have put off getting a proper paid job because of the site and my absorption in it and my savings are now depleted. I have already received kind messages of which this is an example.
Nov 26 ~ An email from Roger considering the question that haunts us all: How could it have happened? "..once ordinary caring people had all forgotten how to make a decision and how to think for themselves. So, they ran around in circles ummming and arrrring before they had to ring Page Street for directions on what to do. And of course,those in Page St. had been cloned also. But the buck stopped there, so, the clone in charge read somewhere that you had to KILL. ....."
Nov 15 ~ Roger's rant is well worth reading. What on earth is there left to eat?
Nov` 12 ~ Elaine Commander writes:"I am more concerned that people involved in politics see animal welfare as a ticket to self "advancement". They seem to think that fluffy animals gain the public vote. I'm afraid the reality is that most people couldn't really care what happens to any animal - sometimes not even if it's their own. They're a commodity to be bought, sold, neglected, dumped, ignored, left, abused, tortured or killed. I've experienced gross hypocrisy and prejudice from so-called animal lovers because I dared to be concerned about the welfare of their animals. Animal rights and animal welfare are tarred with the same feathers in the public's eyes and both are spat on.
I've devoted the last 4 years of my life to saving animals and have now finally drawn the curtain. I can only hope that nature, one day, wreaks its final judgement on man's abuse of this planet and its creatures because man really doesn't give a sh*t!"
We sympathise with Elaine for having reached this view. She's been tireless in her research and campaigning and has made a huge difference - and we salute and thank her for all that she has done. We too feel often that we want Nature to wreak a final judgement on us all. Maybe we won't have long to wait. Giaia is about to turn us away, we feel - and about time too....but then we read Hilary on the subject of Oaklands and see just a tiny glimmer of hope.
Nov 11 ~ Nick is full of admiration for the tenacity of the Western Morning News
Nov 11 ~ Roger is not impressed with DEFRA's Contingency Plan. "Chop down Defra's decision tree. Decide on a policy now.," he says.
Oct 28 ~ Nick Green was very unhappy eventually to receive a reply to his letters of Sept 26 and Oct 16 from Cumbria County Council. He asks that it be published here, together with his reply..
Oct 28 ~ From Lawrence
"Reading your item [Oct 28] about new BVA president Peter Jinman and his concern about "how to persuade consumers to buy meat and milk from vaccinates", I remembered hearing with half an ear, an item on BBC R4 "Farming Today This Week" on Saturday morning. A spokesman for the British poultry industry was exhorting the public to buy British lion stamped eggs - because, among other things, the hens have all been vaccinated against Salmonella! Funny how Peter Jinman, the NFU and Nestle purport to be so apprehensive about consumers buying meat and milk from vaccinates [despite knowing that almost every lamb, cow and bullock has been vaccinated against something or other] - while being a vaccinate is seen as a selling point for consumers of poultry and eggs!
Perhaps Jinman, NFU and Nestle have another agenda." Oct 24 ~ Jill reacts to the news on Oct 23 ( front page of warmwell) that DEFRA finally accepted, prior to the full Judicial Review of the issues, that the service of the Form A on the farmer's premises had been 'in error'
Oct 16 ~ " the South East certainly did get FMD and are still suffering the consequences of it. Our saving grace was the fact that the contiguous cull had not been dreamt up at this stage ....We were all threatened and had information kept from us at the bloodtesting stage. " Sue is grateful to Hilary for pointing out that FMD hit East Anglia
Oct 8 ~ An open letter from Moira Linaker to the government and to ther press. The frustration of the ordinary farmers is clear on every line.
Oct 6 ~ Sam the sheepdog is very much better. He is an old boy but no longer on the critical list. Thanks again for all the kind enquiries.
Oct 4 ~ Val writes about A levels ".. slightly off topic BUT very tied up with the current education crisis......"
Oct 4 ~ June writes to remind us of the heroine of the Forest of Dean. It would be so good if we could raise the money for an inscribed bench to be placed in loving memory of Di Jeynes and of what she stood for. Please respond if you possibly can.
Oct 3 ~ Nick Green writes about Herdwicks and hope as well as his continuing anger. He also recommends http://www.herdwickwool.com/, saying, "The Herdwicks still survive despite the best efforts of the incompetent MAFF/DEFRA. I observed a large pile of recently killed Herdwicks in the Spring of 2001. It was probably the saddest thing I have ever seen. They were healthy animals! Surprise surprise! Many had aborted their lambs..."
Oct 3 ~ Thanks again for all the kind inquiries about the sheep dog. Sam has pancreatitis. He is eating chicken (free range) and rice in order to take the strain off the pancreas and seems a bit better. His tail has wagged, albeit feebly, a couple of times today.
Oct 1 ~ Chris Stockdale - one of the unluckiest and also bravest of farmers in the FMD crisis, writes, "....the anti-vaccination lobby are not about to go away or relinquish their position of authority and the ability to write the History. To them this (i.e. the EU report today) is just another regrettable and tiresome but necessary episode in the ongoing retention of the FMD-free without vaccination policy in which 'Britain has led the world' ...hurrah. .." and advises us to keep the champagne on ice for a bit.
Oct 1 ~ "My sheep are not blood doners for Defra" writes a Cumbrian farmer with a splendidly robust attitude towards the National Scrapie Plan.
Oct 1 ~ Sam continues to make tentative steps towards recovery.
Sept 30 ~ Sam continues to make cautious progress and has eaten some chicken and rice with no ill effects.
Sept 29 ~ Quick update on Sam and a thank you to those many people who have written messages of concern.
Sept 27/29 ~ The website may not be updated while I come to terms with this particular upheaval...a bulletin on Sam the sheepdog, for his friends
Sept 27 ~ Val Lusmore's statistician's eye view of Sunday's March
Sept 27 ~" This report is a whitewash. It is a watered down, inaccurate and incomplete report on the real story of Cumbria FMD 2001! It is a disgrace! Cumbria has been let down badly. The question is why?"Nick Green's letter to Cumbria County Council
Sept 25 ~ Lawrence writes about the march, about the Civil Servants and about the media
Sept 25 ~ "the legacy of distrust from DEFRA's incompetent and disgraceful handling of FMD, the huge gulf between urban and rural incomes that has grown over the past 20 years, and the consequent domination of the rural property market, the Government's dismissal of the hunting community is inflammatory to more than just the hunters...."Anne has written to the Times
Sept 24 ~ Bryn has a few words to say to Alun Michael....
Sept 24 ~ Jill marched. She has this to say about Alun Michael and the CA.
Sept 19 ~ Private Eye will have had this and they seem to be the only publication willing or able to tell the truth. (brief exchange between Pat R and warmwell)
Sept 18 ~ "..please spare our livelihoods by funding and developing a market for slaughtered carcases. Then I will come down to Dover and stand in front of the lorries. We are fed up with the anti farmer propaganda and unnecessary spin to kill off our industry.... " David writes on live exports
Sept 10 ~" If we country folk don't stick together now and make ourselves heard then we deserve to lose what little we might still have." Please read this message from Lynne Thompson
Sept 2 ~" Is Mr Campbell tying to distract us by admitting to something he did not do, so we miss something else? The fact that there were stinking corpses, funeral pyres and distressed farmers, seem to have passed him by. " A Cumbrian Farmer is bemused by the fuss about that yellow coat.
Aug 31 ~ No more Holsworthy pyres.."The Holsworthy pyre burnt for several weeks, less than a mile from the town of Holsworthy, covering the town in smoke, smell and ash. The nearest buildings were an old people's home and the cottage Hospital. .." See extract from the Bude & Stratton, a weekly paper which covers the Holsworthy area in Devon, sent by Didi.
Aug 26 ~" I found this on the BBC Web site and I am not impressed with the view it is putting over. I do not know who the BBC employ to answer very complicated questions about the CAP or what qualifications they have but I feel this is a very biased opinion based on just one Government's (UK) policy..." David writes
Aug 21 ~ Soft loveable rural England, free of hatred, innocent and decent. England dies as we watch...but the English survive. The salt of the earth, the very, very best. God help their persecutors! Pat writes
Aug 19 ~ Nick is concerned about the change of emphasis apparently to be made in the Cumbria Inquiry
Aug 18 ~ " the whole thing fills me with dread re the implications if, say, there is an outbreak of equine disease...and a (as yet unheard of) slaughter policy was introduced...." Heather is concerned about the imminent horse passports for all equines.
Aug 13 ~ "The producers of the two channel 4 broadcasts -one last Saturday the other next Saturday the 17 August at 7.50 pm - are absolutely correct in their complaint that the timing of the two programs is without doubt deliberately designed to down play the major issues raised." writes Peter from UKIP
Aug 7 ~ Brent feels that some people have very strange priorities. The UK government wipes out British livestock by the millions and then worries about a decline in flying insects.
Aug 4 ~ Nick in incensed at the cowardice shown by Tony Blair in Cumbria as he hurries away from protestors and the pretence that the protestors were all pro-hunters..
Aug 2 ~"I see President Blair is to give a massive boost to the Wigton tourist industry by honouring Cumbria with his presence for a long weekend. I hope, should he venture outdoors, that he is suitably clad in Rockwool as an insulation against any REAL people, unvetted, wronged, angry, aggrieved ..." writes Frances
July 28 ~".... have they now decided that secrecy is the best option? I foresaw that cats would be one of the first targets when the Animal Health Bill was first proposed, and wrote several letters to our local papers re this, thinking that people would be more inclined to get involved if their pets were threatened. Drew absolutely no response. " Sue has written to the FMD Forum
July 27 ~ A very angry Nick asks, "WHO ordered the 3km cull?"
July 27 ~ " The ruddy duck is notoriously difficult to shoot, as it tends to dive rather than fly when alarmed." A government report argues that rights of access to land -particularly 40 key sites- would be vital to a successful cull " It is unlikely that voluntary access will be granted for all such sites, and powers of compulsory access for them might need to be considered to ensure success within a reasonable time ' it says." ........Roger is rightly alarmed
July 26 ~ Sue writes," In last nights debate in the House of Lords regarding the Animal Health Bill, Lord Carter quite openly threatened the House. He said:- " I urge the House to think carefully about the procedure that we are adopting. I know that some noble Lords do not like the Bill and that, with some, the Bill is extremely unpopular. If the House, in which the Government are in a minority, uses the procedure endlessly to hold up Bills, we would be playing with fire, with the powers of the House and, indeed, with the future of the House of Lords."
Is there no end to how low this Government are prepared to stoop?" (see full debate)
(Has any warmwell reader forgotten the kind of "farmer" Lord Carter was revealed to be?)
July 24 ~ "I am amazed at what is happening regarding the SI 843. In all three countries of the UK they have tried to hide the existence of the SI - they know it is ultra-vires to the parent laws. Nothing this Government does fails to amaze me anymore." Sue writes
July 24 ~" I have studied the Heddon On the Wall court case in depth. Much of this analysis has been provided by friend and agricultural journalist Mr Bruce Jobson. Bruce is in the process of finishing writing his book "Waughtergate" writes Nick
July 22 ~ ...a sympathy card from neighbours..had been placed on the windscreen of an army landrover parked outside the farm which was being 'taken out' by slaughtermen. As the army left the scene the envelope blew away from the windscreen wipers...or had been deliberately thrown aside... writes Jan who sent the card to its rightful destination - and reproduces it here.
July 20 ~ "What people need to wake up to is that their hard earned UK tax #'s are being spent at an alarming rate on funding the CAP (with Germany) to subsidise at least a dozen other inefficient EU countries." read David on the subject of the CAP
July 19 ~ "This mysterious but powerful woman who made us discard otherwise sound vegetables transformed herself into a more sinister figure last year - 'The consumer'. In her new guise she single handedly prevented fm vaccination by announcing that she wouldn't eat vaccinated meat, though I happen to know she enjoys a corned beef sandwich..." writes Julia
July 18 ~ The "dynamite" is that it might- just possibly - occur to some bright journalist what this evidence from Roger Breeze means. It means that by February last year the USDA had already laboratory tested and found "amazing" a farm on-site test (easy to do) which was a pre-clinical test. It showed up any of the 7 strains of FMD in animals before any symptoms are there. It takes 60 mins maximum on the farm and then you know whether the animals are infected or not. Absolutely accurately..(message to Lina in Holland)
July 18 ~ ".... if the colour does not fit your decor, or the sound of a cow mooing is definitely not music to your ears, then you will be able to have the animal/s in question destroyed. Sometimes I wonder how so many of us find the strength and the will to keep ploughing on...."Coleen is fed up!
July 18 ~ "Models require accurate farm data & far better knowledge of local modes of disease transmission Is it too much of a leap to say that they are basically saying pre-emptive slaughter policy did not stack up in this epidemic and diagnosis was crap? - shame they can't come straight out with it " full email
July 18 ~ We hear from someone who watched the Carlton programme last night, "The Carlton programme was good I hope, although they must have found the scientific arguments in favour of vaccination too much - but the images of dead animals and the casual way in which lambs were slaughtered spoke more eloquently of the policy than any of the speakers. "
July 18 ~ a farming emailer writes anonymously: " My general feeling with Ben Gill is that he is very heavily influenced by the East coast triangle -- East Anglian grain producers, Humberside/Yorkshire pig producers (that consume a lot of the East Anglian barley) and the Cambridge Science Park Transgenic/pharmacy programme, a lot of which entails work on pigs for organ donation, the latter of course being close to T.B.'s Monsantoesque plans and hopes of the U.K. cashing in on the next 'big thing'. I may be attributing overmuch weight to his 'better vaccine' statements -- after all he may just have been saying anything to avoid a torrent of opprobrium from appalled Continentals; but he is too wily a dog not to turn every thing to his advantage."
July 9 ~ Coleen writes, "the general public - who will read the article in the press and start thinking, and spreading that ALL dogs are the 'cause' of campylobacter. Do they not call this sort of thing 'Chinese Whispers?"
July 8 ~ Bryn has written to Gordon Adam in his own inimitable style - but there is such good sense and irrefutable factual information here!
July 5 ~ "MAFF knew full well that there was a problem with the genetic evolution of the Type O virus... in fact they commissioned IAH, to provide a report of what was happening... writes our friend Gary in Kansas
June 29 ~" When they wanted to cull the llamas and even the elephants at the Burgers' Zoo during the fmd crisis over 10 thousand people were standing ready to go there and stand in front of the gates willing to fight them off, and I will tell you that many many more would have followed." Lina fears for all animals as well as pigs if Aujeszky's disease hots Holland.
June 28 ~ Roger feels great empathy with Coleen and her wearying arguments with those who prefer to think our struggle ill-judged - but he has a secret weapon!
June 28 ~ Roger has been reading the Sun...."Those that keep chickens/cockerels and animals that moo, baa or oink had better watch out then."
June 28 ~ "She ended by telling me that I 'thought' too much, and that none of us can sort out the problems of the World. I told her that the problems of the World could wait, until we had uncovered the mess on our own doorsteps regarding foot and mouth" Coleen has been arguing with those who consider themselves powerless!
June 25 ~ Frances is not too impressed by news of one sniffer dog at all those ports of entry....
June 21 ~ Suze writes, Something that really bothers my sense of order - How can an abattoir NOT KNOW which farm a specific animal came from that they are in the process of slaughtering?
June 21 ~ " a public inquiry should be called to answer why this Government ignored advice, and cost thousands of people misery and heartache - and eight billion pounds. How more incompetent do you have to get for heavens sake? asks Coleen
June 20 ~ Val's tribute to the lovely Di Jeynes whose funeral was on Monday. "Diana, we salute you - and will miss you."
June 18 ~ Quita is greatly saddened by the spin put by the Western Morning News on the Environment Agency's report
June 12 ~ I wonder if our special relationship with the United States of America extends to the transfer of information about scrapie ? asks Bryn - looking at £ 94,000 worth of research project.
June 11 ~" If only we could get a debate on GM that isn't polarised and where each side isn't contemptuous and furious with the other ( hunting is the same). It is so difficult being a non scientist - and knowing full well that one cannot trust the majority of today's men in white."
June 11 ~ "I see that experienced vet Roger Windsor has resigned from the RCVS disciplinary Committee. That is indeed a sad loss for the vet profession..." writes Frances.
June 5 ~ Bryn is Not Amused by all the money being poured into the attempt to find BSE in sheep....
June 1 ~ Sue has received some information from DEFRA about horse passports "Why do the phrases "disease control" , "veterinary surveillance" and "tracing horses in the event of an outbreak of an equine disease" feel me with such fear?"
May 30 ~ Ditty from Frances.....
May 28 ~ On warmwell yesterday we carried an analogy suggested by a senior lawyer to explain the illegality of the contiguous cull. Bryn Wayt goes further and continues that same analogy......with his exposé of the Page Street Harriers....
May 26 ~ "Not only has Blair achieved, by wielding a big stick, the support of his government, he also has the support of MAFF/DEFRA, The NFU, The RCVS, The BVA, The RSPCA and many others. .." Nick Green's latest article on the liars in the government and beyond.
May 26 ~ "The mart hasn`t seen that sort of numbers for 25 years! This was the farmers responding to the promise that if they backed the mart company, the new facility would be built. " a highly cheering piece of news from Cockermouth.
May 25 ~ "Since livestock producers are now a very tiny minority of the population - even in rural areas - it appears that they are no longer seen by our politicians as a vote that needs to be 'cultivated' or pandered to," writes Andrew in this 'devil's advocate' point of view.
May 19 ~ Nick Green has found this poem on being English "Just Don't Say You're English"
May 13 ~ About TB...from Frances ... TB smiles like the crocodile....
May 12 ~ " I knew Morley was threatening to use it in the case of an emergency, but BSE and Scrapie are not "emergencies". BSE in cattle is well documented and measures are in place to control it. BSE in sheep has not been found - despite another 60 million pound grant being given to "find it". ..."writes Joan to Alan
May 11 ~"the Government would like Bobby Waugh to be the fall guy for this in order to protect the ridiculous laws; rules and regulations the EU are imposing on us." David writes about EU regulations many are unaware of...
May 10 ~ " that the Royal College must put forward a science-based view as a matter of urgency..." a welcome email today
May 8 _~ Reading the USA vets appraisal of the SOS really sickens me as we lost our sheep. We asked for blood tests, and wanted the results first. But the vet asked Page Street and it was rejected. Some bastard called Hinton condemned the sheep and a gutless vet killed them . Michael writes
May 7 ~ Our Dutch friend writes about the killing of Pim Fortuyn yesterday
May 6 ~"..... the Roll of Honour in Carlisle cathedral, did all these Cumbrians give their lives for their kin to be treated by MAFF in such an appalling manner? Is this the society they sought to protect? Some freedom, when one cannot even have a full public enquiry...." Hugh writes from Cumbria
May 6 ~ Gary from Kansas has had a look at the SI843 which became effective on April 19. He doesn't like what he sees. Not familiar with the concept of a statutory instrument, he thinks that this is a bill. No such luck.
May 5 ~ "Prejudice is no nicer when applied to a hard working section of the community than when applies to race or colour. It is simply inexcusable to apply it to victims of your own government's errors when they are distressed beyond belief," writes a farmer who prefers, for increasingly obvious reasons in this country, to remain anonymous.
May 4 ~ There's another reason the term "guy" is particularly approprite for journalists referred to in "Downing St. transparancy". Sarah quotes some highly apposite lines from T.S.Eliot
April 28 ~ Coleen is incensed by the Morley/RSPCA hypocrisy. "Half starved, tied up all day is simply not enough for them to get hot under the collar about. This Society can afford to be choosy about what it does and does not become involved in. 'Selective Welfare'! " and adds this story about a dog that was not helped by the rspca
April 26 ~"We are what we eat, it is often said, but of course that's only part of the story. We are what what we eat eats too " This comment and link to a useful article comes from Susan
April 26 ~ Coleen has spotted the power behind some of Tony Blair's Crystal balls.
April 26 ~ ".... And inside the grand notions of freedom and liberty which come from this country and can still come from this country, there is the simple stubbornness and fair-mindedness of the individual English man or woman. Not to be "put on", not to be "pushed around"...Nick quotes from a son of Cumbria, Melvyn Bragg
April 25 ~"The truth of the FMD fiasco in Cumbria will be told and soon! This is Cumbria`s story, a true story. Not the one that Prime Minister Blair and DEFRA wish you to hear......I am delighted to be able to tell you that The Cumbria Foot & Mouth Disease Inquiry have advised me this afternoon that I have been invited to give verbal evidence at their Inquiry"...more from Nick Green
April 24 ~ "When the average 500 acre farm is making an income of £2,500 pa, a licencing fee of £693.25 seems a bit steep.....I fancy I hear some faint honks from the expiring geese which were once expected to lay golden eggs. ." The Soil Association comes in for some well-deserved criticism here from Lawrence Does anyone else think that the SA is behaving with extraordinary meanness?
April 22 ~ "Report today received - that a great number of valuers, slaughtermen, farmers & families & other rural people affected by the massacre in Cumbria are undergoing various forms of counselling..." Nick writes about the aftermath of FMD
April 22 ~ Nick adds, "in addition to your report from North Devon concerning the lack of animals in fields, I can confirm that only one third of infected premises in Cumbria have restocked to date! Information from local journalist who received same from DEFRA."
April 22 ~ Roger answers Lynda:"Yes I can confirm that what she saw was the site of the " Big Burn ". Did she note how far from the Town it is? Let alone the local Hospital. A mile ? And, yes, there are not many animals at all around there. However, the A 388 seems better stocked than further East, what I call Mid, North Devon. Great Torrington was the place I think that, having just experienced their own massive cull in that area, they were then forced to take the supposedly "infected " sheep and lambs from Brecon for rendering..... "
April 22 ~ "Most ordinary people have every sympathy when things are explained to them, and they ask why they have never been told..." says Lynda
April 21 ~ Jane writes, "When will they realize they did not 'win' the Winslade case, it was never infected and we know it? They only managed to persuade the judge to allow slaughter in preference to the humane alternative available, namely monitoring the animals. There are many similar cases, including Shepherd's in Scotland.."
April 19 ~" I have no doubt that there are those who believe the truth can be hidden, a gloss put on the tragedy and eventually those who have a grievance will forget about it and give up the fight. Others hold the Inquiries in high regard, have made submissions and continue to do so, in the firm belief that when the truth, as they see it, is known, all will be welI. I fear they are all deluded." writes Jane
April 19 ~ Sue writesthat there are no sheep visible any more through Snowdonia and the Horseshoe pass
April 18 ~"I know I have had enough. I am so sick of being pushed around, dictated to by a load of bumptious Government officials who dont have a clue what they are doing. I am not going to be pushed around by them anymore. Yes, it's fighting talk...." another email (from Southern England) that reflects accurately the despair felt by so many
April 18 ~ Ron has sent us this Carpe Diem message - none of us, man or woman, should be too busy to read it.
April 16 ~ Correspondence ...of mice and men..... between Mary C and Richard C...FMD probably opened my eyes to what is really evil with elements in this country the power of propaganda and the parallels with Nazi Germany are striking. ....I have mixed feelings if foxhunting is banned .....how it should be - not banning and legislating and controlling ...
April 15 ~ David writes.."I really think that the EU have found out it is cheaper to import from third world countries and they are trying to make our life unbearable by vast amounts of red take and booby traps. Check out this latest program to make life "easy":
April 14 ~ Richard Mawdsley writes
April 13 ~ Sue writes for many when she finds herself unable to speak at the pronouncements of the SSPCA about the conditions on the pig farm (Scotpigs) at Ormiston.
April 13 ~ Nick Green is angry and writes, "Speak up Mr (Lord) Whitty"
April 12 ~ Quita writes for many when she says, 'We'll gather lilacs in the spring again' was one of my mother's favourite songs when she was alive; I think of it now with a deep yearning; not a nostalgic yearning, but a yearning for standards of decency and compassion, and a government which cares for animal welfare. ..... How can we wake up people in this country? How can we persuade people to love and protect our beloved countryside, and the people and animals who live in it, before it is too late?
April 11 ~ Sue has seen Mr Elliot Morley's letter and remarks drily "So, the fightback has started..."
April 11 ~ from Coleen..." Whilst I do agree with Joyce in what she writes about the legal process letting the RSPCA down. We should also remember that for the Police and then the Courts to actually say 'no' case to answer - you have actively to try and bring a case to court. I cannot seem to recall the RSPCA pursuing any case to that extent." and adds...
April 11 ~ Joyce points out that a recent SSPCA case shows the difficulties that SSPCA/RSPCA have to face. This gives balance to our frustration and is worth consideration, we feel.
April 11 ~ an astute comment about supermarkets from David to the FMD forum and others
April 11 ~ Our attention is drawn to a "..a unique and radical web site, never before has there been a site which brings together politicians and animal groups combined with members of the public....." by Elaine
April 10 ~ More on the abominable tagging rules and regulations, from Sue B
April 10 ~ A message posted to the FMD forum about land grabbing, food and safety scares and the imposition of regulations for control.
April 10 ~ An emailer appeals for opinions about the future of farming
April 9 ~ Farewell to a great lady. The funeral of the Queen Mother today will be in the thoughts of many. Here is the Queen's tribute to those who mourn the passing of her mother.
April 8 ~ I've just created another BVA. The Bent Vets Association, which is dedicated to putting some of the strutting criminals that infest government veterinary practice in the UK behind bars - where they belong. Pat writes
April 7 ~ Jean Dixon very kindly sent a copy of the children's poetry Life Extinguished to this website.
April 7 ~ "... new owner's first reaction to acquisition of a farm is to get a bull-dozer out and demolish all the buildings...they don't want to be charged taxes on old buildings. Hence, you can go to some counties now and not see any buildings for miles. It's such a shame...even schools closing ... We have our share of problems, here, too.... " Gary writes from Kansas, Texas
April 7 ~ Sandra writes, "Hoorah this morning for Mariella Frostrup on Frost on Sunday who highlighted the Sunday Telegraph story about the EU refusing to fund the farmers compensation. ... she emphasised the nature of the illegalities of the govt's culling operations last year and commented that this should be made more public rather than being tucked away."
April 7 ~ "Downing Street asked privately whether such a stretch of time was a good idea, and whether the Palace could be sure that the public would, in fact, converge in droves on Westminster Hall to pay their respects." The opinion column in today's Sunday Telegraph about the state of the monarchy
April 6 ~ ".. one must remember that it wasn't the impact of the disease itself that we saw, but the impact of the policy chosen to deal with the disease, and that distinction is important." Quita's review of the film "In the Shadow"
April 6 ~ " Well, we know who didn't kill Billy the bull but do you know who killed Larry the lamb?" Nick tells the tale of a huntsman caught up in horror at Great Orton
April 5 ~ "He was amazed and said that there had been nothing about it in the local press nor tv. He had asked his staff, some of whom live up that way,and they knew nothing either. All being nicely hushed up?" A note from Roger who has been travelling near Kingsteignton and made a detour to Knowstone.
April 5 ~ Coleen writes: http://www.pacat.org/page1.html
I thought the above might be of interest. It is a site about live animals being exported to the Far East from Australia. Although some distressing pictures it does show what we are also saying here regarding the transportation of live animals. They are also calling for a ban on live animal transportation.
April 5 ~ It is like being forced to pay for the bullets they shoot you with....David makes some comparisons between dairy farming here and elsewhere in the EU.
April 5 ~ Adrianne agrees with Tim (below) - but adds "...We are always being sent rubbish from DEFRA banning this and that, but the EU certainly forbid the practices which were used in 1967....(more)
April 4 ~ A farmer who was next to an outbreak in 1967 - and survived - praises the good sense of the Northumberland Committee's recommendations 35 years ago.
April 4 ~ ".... they waste the taxpayer's money in such frivolous and completely unnecessary operations." writes Jane from farmtalking in this typical story of nonsensical regulation
April 4 ~ David Donaldson's poem, read at Orcop Farm on Easter Sunday
April 3 ~ Hilary has written a simple poem that says it all
April 3 ~ This extract from the Washington Politics and Policy desk points out the practice of governments taking private land and is chilling indeed. Brent writes: "we are privatizing almost everything that was formerly public... So do private interests get to use eminent domain?? via a "proxy" of government?"
April 3 ~ "There is absolutely NOTHING to prevent a recurrence of last year's fiasco. Governnment still puts killing before vaccination despite the opinions of world wide experts, ignored in favour of advice from both self-seeking and grant-seeking chemists and mathematicians. Even worse, too many vets and so-called officials supposedly working for the 'ordinary, average, working farmers' are way behind the latest methods of disease/epidemic control. " wrote Joyce to the Letters Page of the Scotsman in answer to Fordyce Maxwell. They have printed a small extract.
April 2 ~ Pat R writes to comment on the Ananova story yesterday about the forests being "Improved and made more user-friendly"
April 2 ~ Lina in Holland tells us that British lamb has disappeared from the shops, as has Dutch meat. It is all fromthe almost bankrupted Argentina.
April 1 ~" I believe it is the duty of the British once again, to "save ourselves by our exertions and Europe by our example" writes Eric, and includes a speech for a mock debate that pulls no punches. Extract; "we have the incredible situation of French vessels fishing cod all the year round off the South-West of England while British fishermen exhaust their quotas in a month.."
April 1 ~ Coleen has been back to the city - and did not like what she found. "..do not expect the people in the cities to suddenly all jump up and start shouting to save the 'British Countryside and farmers - because it is not going to happen. They have more then enough to contend with as it is. If you doubt what I write go and pay a visit and see how people live and what they have to contend with. It makes me glad I can escape back here - even after everything that happened..."
April 1 ~ For Bryn, considering the subject matter, this letter about the AHB and Nick Brown's answers in Brussels is almost restrained - "...This is from a government who has taken "the best scientific advice available"..... Who from? Mickey Mouse?"
Mar 31 ~ What a home page March 31st......the future of UK ! Joyce writes
Mar 31 ~ Received from America today.."And speaking of response -- Have only 24 people bothered to send thank yous? None of the people I expected have posted. Isn't it customary in England to drop notes and emails to MPs and peers when they've done the right thing??? I was expecting all kinds of notes from activists but they're not there. Just curious."
Mar 30 ~"... the City of Lichfield two chestnut trees, one very old, have been destroyed to make room for more shop 'development'....the council [who pays their expenses?] ignored local protests. Are these the same people who bawl and yell about farmers damaging wildlife habitats?" writes Joyce
Mar 30 ~ "The book will be far from a depressing read even though it is so horrific in its subject matter. What shines through every line is the courage and love of the people who fought. " Mary has been reading Jaquita's book Fields of Fire
Mar 29 ~"People all over the Country put themselves out to make it possible for these animals to live and DEFRA made it impossible".... Part of a deeply distressing letter written today by Sue
Mar 29 ~ "Minsters to tour Rural England". "......I guess we had better find out their itinerary and give them a reception they will never forget! I think the Countryside Alliance is stirring as well. The Government must be held to account for its abysmal record and the way it has presided over the demise of agriculture.uk." writes David
Mar 28 ~ The live export debate. Ley's contribution
Mar 28 ~ Nick has found reference to the European Directive to compensate farmers for losses incurred by vaccination - in the Sunday Telegraph of last August
Mar 28 ~ A message from Lord Willoughby
Mar 28 ~ why can't the farmers vote for the way they wish FMD to be dealt with? Forget the NFU - just one person, one vote Janet writes - and also adds her voice to the ranks of those who want to say "Thank You!" to the Lords
Mar 27 ~ Nick Green writes of Nick Brown: " His comments concerning vaccination defy belief!.... It is well known that in at least one case of "Human FMD" this was subsequently diagnosed as a Sexually Transmitted Disease.."
Mar 21 ~ "So the heat is on then! The temperature is rising and vitriolic attacks are occurring..." another angry letter from Cumbria
Mar 21 ~ Jane Barribal's report of the Rural Future's weekend "....It may be that the answers the panel gave were not always what the questioners wanted to hear but at least the questions posed and answers given will surely stimulate further discussion and consideration on both sides. We all have a lot to learn, especially from each other! "
Mar 21 ~ Nick writes, "Mr Blair, do you remember back in late 2000? You know, when an abattoir in Sinderford, Herefordshire had FMD "covered" up? Oh and do you remember when the MAFF Official's wife called a journalist to report that FMD had been covered up in another abattoir in North Yorkshire? Yes you know and so do others. ..."
Mar 21 ~ "Maggie is right (she knows 'cause she cocked it up), we should pull out of the CAP and save £15.7bn a year). The CAP would then come crashing down is less than a year and we could then competete on a level playing field." David writes to the FMD forum.
Mar 20 ~ Animal Health Bill. The gallant and extraordinary Mrs Jean Dixon will be making a stand for what she and we believe in so strongly outside the Houses of Parliament on March 26. Please read her note.
Mar 20 ~ "..are Britain's taxpayers subsidising the world now?" Jon comments on the news report about Mrs Beckett in South Africa
Mar 20 ~ Joyce adds "Sorry but I couldn't resist editing Jon's note!
Mar 17 ~ "The eleven million plus animals whose slaughter you authorised are all long gone.......but the people whose lives you destroyed are still here........Words cannot express to you the misery and trauma, which the handling of the outbreak in Canworthy Water has caused my family." letters from Didi
Mar 15 ~" Enron, supposedly a big power company(but more like a hedge fund), sought to capitalize on the Green agenda like Kyoto(CO2 trading etc)..and were well thought of by some "green" organizations.." part of a very important email from Brent
Mar 15 ~ "We even heard them boasting about the number of kills they had made, most of them behaved like a mob of university students, which I suspect some of them were. Some of them had obviously come out of retirement and looked as old as me. Having put up with the sight of them for some weeks, I finally tackled two of them and asked them why they were not in favour of vaccination. 'Doesn't work' was the prompt reply,..." Extract from email from Ron
Mar 14 ~ Important proviso about the Peta quotation. There is no connection here with the views of our many vegetarian friends
Mar 14 ~ Comment from Lawrence: "Joyce writes, in her e-mail posted on 13th March: "PETA, Animal Rights, and Vegan basic dogma is "There are NO good animal-human interactions. All domestic animals must be extinct as soon as possible." and that: "I defy anyone reading the above points and the masses of surrounding information to deny that there is a 'no longer hidden' agenda here"
I remember hearing a rumour that the Rt Hon Tony Blair is vegetarian. Does anyone know if this is true?"
Mar 13 ~ Joyce writes sombrely this evening "We are still asleep and being ruled by evil."
Mar 13 ~ "We were very moved by the support from passers by, many people stopping to tell us their own stories, one elderly lady in tears told me about the slaughter of her sons cattle.
Another lady came to give support (she was in the middle of lambing), she had lost her origional flock to the cull.
She handed out leaflets for about an hour then went back to her sheep." Dot writes about Kirstin's trial
Mar 13 ~ "This "new" disease got labelled OMAGOD but I can't remember exactly what it stands for. ( Ovine Mouth and Gum Obscure Disease) Locally we said that when MAFF saw FMD type symptoms the said "Oh my God, they have got FMD!" and when the results came back they said "Oh my God, we have made a mistake!" - again and again and again!!! ..." David's comment about the negative cases in Gloucestershire
Mar 13 ~ Please, everyone, e-mail your dissent to DEFRA. The consultation document process closes this Friday - 15th March writes Janet
Mar 13 ~ "...tonight "they" have decreed that " in any future outbreak animal movements will be stopped immediately".... I'm sure that I'm not getting paranoid - I can hardly spell it - but this incredible statement cannot have any other significance - it is so obvious..." Roy feels that he has caught on to the Government's strategy. His theory seems all too likely.
Mar 12 ~ Thank the Lord for Ron. Here is his comment on the Great Muck question - to which Adrianne replies, "Yes thank goodness for Ron, as the news re Foot and Mouth and everything coming out gets ever more depressing. Yes Ron, I do know why Hatters were mad, it was caused by the fumes from the chemicals they used to make the hats. Do you think DEFRA are suffering from some sort of pollution?"
Mar 12 ~ " I heard yesterday that according to Dick Sibley the Govt were 'within an hour of agreeing to vaccination'. - An hour - can you believe it - we were so close - I found it absolutely shocking that he has stood in the way of this to such effect " Janet's email
Mar 12 ~" in the end only 2 charges were made against Kirstin - the offensive weapon charge was dropped. She was found guilty on the other two, but granted an Absolute Discharge which means she will have no blemish on her record. A lot of question marks were raised about the legality of the actions of the elderly vet who killed Misty, and of the police officers attending, so this story will still run. " message from Ally
Mar 11 ~ Adrian has been incensed listening to Mr Morley: "... I cannot comment specifically, but if regulations had been followed on the farm, we may never have had the outbreak in the first place. (Can anyone get the Hansard link he mentions to work? )
Mar 11 ~ Alan H writes: "It seems that so far as the EU is concerned we are "foot and mouth" free but so far as the British farmers are concerned, we've still got it!! Surely DEFRA can't have their cake and eat it ----or can they?? When are we going to say "enough is enough"? At the end of this month it will have been 6 months since the last confirmed case----why do we then need to have any restrictions at all? "
Mar 8 ~ Joyce writes:"......to think of these poor sheep with strangers, in a stinking hell hole of death like this is just too much......I'm sure you feel the same, I just needed to put this into words as my imagination can't cope.." We do feel the same, Joyce. We read this today: "If you have men who will exclude any of God`s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man." St. Francis of Assisi (1181 - 1226)
Mar 8 ~ " Is any one of the three inquiries likely to discover the truth? I doubt it." writes David.
Mar 7 ~ Nick, who has more reason than many to be outspoken, writes again about the Great Orton killing
Mar 7 ~ CIWF wants no further shipments of live farm animals to leave from the Belfast port. Joyce D'Silva, Director of Compassion in World Farming, said "This is catastrophic. We had hoped that the farming industry would see sense and not try and restart this inhumane trade. ...."
Mar 7 ~ Janet to Ron: "....do not give up the idea. They will give you enormous pleasure and you will give them a wonderful home..... I took the mail to the post in the next town today and came back a different way to the usual main road route. I passed only two groups of sheep where previously all the fields would have been full.... "
Mar 6 ~ Coleen has also been looking back with nostalgia.."How true Ron's words are!" she says.
Mar 5 ~ Like the breath of fresh air and sanity he is, here is Ron on the subject of so-called "food-scares"
Mar 4 ~ "For the first time in 12 months I actually said 'Nice one MAFF,' " writes Lynda
Mar 3 ~ Fiona Dalgleish writes: "Scottish Power have submitted an application for a wind generation station on the hills by our home. Some 100'000 acres of countryside - heather, moorland and 10,000's tonnes of non-renewable peat stand to be destroyed. Not to mention the impact on the wildlife. The deadline for objections is the 8th of March, would anyone in your groups be interested in objecting?" and sends this urgent letter, requesting the help of anyone who could spare a moment to write before March 8th (See also on this web pageFeb 17 entry: "wind power")
March 1 ~ Banana Republic. Nick Green writes about the police report that came to light only because of the public spirited action of a concerned policeman
March 1 ~ Robert Persey (High Court case) says..... it has been the tradition in this Country that the Courts protect the the rights of minorities."
March 1 ~"Ron is so right!" Janet adds to Ron's words
Feb 28 ~ Ron says, how many thousands, tens of thousands, hundred of thousands or even millions of sheep were cruelly slaughtered, because a few of them were daft enough to be careless in what they ate? Remember, many of them were starving any way. You could almost think they were victims of a very cruel plot, or an unbelievable level of incompetence by a lot of people. .....
Feb 27 ~"It is blatantly obvious to me that someone, probably locally and in a position of authority, wishes the public to see the facts. I spoke to a senior Police officer last year who was disgusted with MAFF incompetence and procedures..." Nick Green on the track of a missing police report in Cumbria
Feb 26 ~"We don't actually need a Public Inquiry. We need a few dedicated policeman on the case - and a very large prison to lock up the culprits. The RCVS and RSPCA are in serious trouble, as are a large number of senior farming organisation officials. There has been a massive theft of British taxpayer and EU funds...." Pat writes
Feb 25 ~ Mrs Taylor of Cumbria writes an open letter to Mr Blair " with a feeling of hurt and anger in what you are turning this Country into." (Alexander comments: "Things are going to get infinitely worse before people awake. At this point, perhaps they'll be trying to kill whole populations with... anthrax... or more likely, MUCH MUCH worse. Now, where's my pepsi-coke-aspartame E101-flavoured Lemsip non-drip convenient complacent teabag lifestyle got to?")
Feb 23 ~ "Mr Morley, you lied and Nick told you so! Where's the apology? " asks Elaine
Feb 23 ~ Nick and Bryn both write about the difference between a witch hunt and holding people to account
Feb 22 ~ Nick Green comments on the decision to hold an Inquiry in Cumbria
Feb 21 ~ Judith replies to Mary
Feb 21 ~ The letter about DEFRA's illogical measures for livestock markets..and the letter about wooden trailers and WWoof being told it must pay volunteers
Feb 20 ~ Mary looks back a year. And decides to cultivate her garden.
Feb 20 ~ Joyce has returned from the US pretty sure that there is a global move afoot to get rid of the small farmers and to separate the masses from the animals. Here is her reaction to meat production in Hawaii.
Feb 19 ~ Poor Didi has had a questionnaire from ADAS.
Feb 19 ~" Regarding who is footing the bill for the FMD epidemic, none of us seems to know how our country's finances work these days due to our involvement with the EU. I think it has become far more like a Federal State of Europe than anyone would like to admit. " David's letter to Gary on the FMD forum.
Feb 18 ~ Didi has got her reply from Tony Blair - and Bryn has comforted her...
Feb 18 ~ Lawrence's email about the slaughterman who had to kill 250 pedigree Limousins. He said it was 'criminal' and 'the people were so upset'.
Feb 17 ~ I am VERY, VERY ANGRY. My life has been wrecked this last year, my professional future removed, my savings vanishing. No Public Inquiry? We MUST have one; there have been too many lies, too much covering-up. Pat Innocent's story
Feb 17 ~ Didi Phillips has had a letter from Paul Tyler MP, Lib Dem North Cornwall,Shadow leader of the House
Feb 17 ~ Roger has a theory about the wind power (see also Booker's Notebook today)
Feb 16 ~ In response to claims that farmers have contaminated water supplies in Galway, our friend Gary from Kansas makes this forthright comment about chemicals and universities...
Feb 15 ~ Didi's letter to Anthony Gibson....How she can write in such a way to make us laugh when the contents are so bleak shows the real stuff of which she is made!
Feb 15 ~ Ron says that he has "noticed that there has been a lot of chatter in the last few days about antibiotics and etc " and has some characteristic thoughts about chemicals everyone thought were safe....
Feb 12 ~ We would have been a little surprised had there not been an outburst from Bryn about the Okehampton transcript; he has not disappointed us....
Feb 11 ~ Tyson Foods again....Here is a letter from Kansas.
Feb 10 ~ David has sent some words of wisdom that have made us smile and we can think of quite a few people who would benefit by writing them out one hundred times.
Feb 9 ~ Pat is concerned at what may be being covered up..."Obviously MAFF/Defra are hiding up something pretty important and are getting high level protection. We live in a banana republic....."
Feb 9 ~ We have been sent an article about Monsanto that confirms all our worst suspicions. " Biotechnology's Brave New World"
This note followed a few hours later:
PPS One of the main points I notice in the article is their relatively recent realisation of the value of 'spin' - concentrating on the message that they are benevolently working to feed the world [rather than sell their dangerous products and take control of the World food supply]. I wonder how the recent comments from the Royal Society about the possible dangers of GMs and reports about the problems with cross pollination in Canada managed to slip through?
Monsanto's aggressive promotion of its biotechnology products, from recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), to Roundup Ready soybeans and other crops, to its insect-resistant varieties of cotton, is seen by many observers as a continuation of its many decades of ethically questionable practices. Corporations have personalities, and Monsanto is one of the most malicious, explains author Peter Sills. From Monsanto's herbicides to Santophen disinfectant to BGH, they seem to go out of their way to hurt their workers and hurt kids.
Feb 9 ~ A letter from farmer Phil Owens "I attended one of Dr. Iain Anderson's small Inquiry sessions and later a large open meeting. What I heard being presented by the Union that is supposed to stand up for the farming communities filled me with horror."
Feb 6 ~ Jane at farmtalking says, "It seems many farmers are unaware that if they pay DEFRA £10 they can receive their FMD file! " She adds, "it may take some time but if you are tenacious it arrives eventually - 2 of the farmers I'm in touch with have got it successfully"
Some of them provide interesting information," she says. Farmers who lost animals during the outbreak will need to send a cheque for £10 accompanying a polite letter giving their full name, address, holding number and details of date animals were culled etc. The report should give details of any testing and the actions taken.
Feb 6 ~ Robert, one of the claimants in the forthcoming JR seeking a Public Inquiry, writes, " We know that Government does not want a proper Inquiry, it just wants a `Quickie Job' with a bit of whitewash and then bury the whole issue. The Prime Minister has appointed his Special Adviser, Dr. Iain Anderson to look into FMD and to report back to him. Although Dr. Anderson is a very nice man, he has not been given the tools to do the job and the Inquiry is certainly not independent. .."
Feb 6 ~ Bryn says " Without wishing to undermine the fine and valiant efforts of Dot, Jean, and David in any fashion under the auspices of the RSPCA at that meeting, may I offer these responses marked in RED within their report ?"
Feb 5 ~ While he recognises the importance of "building bridges", Lawrence nevertheless writes.."This is the same RSPCA that at that same time was failing to notice, or collect evidence of any cruelty during the FMD killings - even when it was widely witnessed as at Knowstone or even recorded on video - that sent me information sheets justifying the slaughter and misinforming about the efficacy of vaccination. "
Feb 3 ~ David has been faxing his MP about the OTMS scheme." My MP asked the question about farmers losses due to beef animals that were not allowed to be sold for beef because they went over 30 months of age during FMD movement restrictions when they could not be moved to a slaughter house. Farmers lost a lot of money as a result. Here is the question and the pathetic answer from Morley.... "
Feb 3 ~ Feb 3 ~ Following their meeting with the RSPCA last week, David, Dot and Jean have these points to make
Feb 2 ~ An interesting snip from a 1998 newspaper shines light on the news today that the CDC has deserted Zambian farmers (see Newspaper page)
Feb 2 ~ " A young vet was bullied by Page Street into stating for certain that the stock were not infected or killing them. He was very unsure and was sobbing in the farm kitchen. " Roy's latest letter to the Lessons Learned Inquiry.
Feb 1 ~ Friends of the Earth (Jan 26 2002) wants key issues of trade and supermarket power addressed, or thousands of farmers will be forced out of business with disastrous effects for the countryside and the rural economy.- David writes in eloquent support of what FOE say in their press release
Jan 31 ~ Janet writes: "The Curry Report is not as bad as I had thought it would be but is indeed "airy fairy". ...... very "pie - in -the -sky" about farmers co-operatives. .....what is needed if one is going to concentrate on quality, not quantity, is to persuade the great British public that quality (at a higher price) is what they need."
Jan 31 ~ Janet Hughes may have lost her case but her moral victory is undeniable. Read Sue's email to the Forum" The way home meant driving through the Brecon Beacons, which I must say seemed quite appropriate. What a beautiful area, what a shame such needless savagery was allowed to take place on it."
Jan 31 ~ David writes about subsidies, the EU and UK ability to do anything about either.
Jan 31 ~ The excellent website http://www.sovereignty.org has sent us this update of recent files
Jan 30 ~ Lawrence asks today " Who exactly was it that drew the board members of the South West Regional Development Agency....? ...... I notice that included is: "Colin Skellett ....... has been Chief Executive of Wessex Water since 1989, and Chairman as well since its takeover by Azurix Corp, a US based global water business in 1997..." (Enron's Azurix business bought Wessex Water, which supplies water to around 1.5m households and businesses in the west of England.)
Jan 29 ~ "The Government is paying lip service to the needs of farming. When they say "sustainable" they do not mean that farmers' businesses will sustain - what they really mean is that they want to sustain the life of the Government by getting imported food into the shops at less than the cost of production. It saves on welfare benefits because people can live cheaper," wrote David today to the FMD forum.
Jan 29 ~ Muckspreader has been writing about the Okehampton inquiry, described elsewhere by a vet as "toothless" When the meeting was over, Anderson was to be driven back to Gloucester in a coach furnished like a railway carriage, with seats facing over a table. Several farmers were then astonished to see the senior Defra official and the supposedly independent inquiry chairman sitting down opposite each other, preparing to engage in cosy chat during the two hour journey...."
Jan 29 ~ Pat sends a round up of other news stories "The cold winds blowing through British farming are not helping anyone"
Jan 28 ~ Ley says, "Mm, so the government's suddenly all for sustainable farming, protecting the environment and so on now is it?
Funny then how it was mostly the welfare and environmentally friendly farms that were targeted in the FMD cull, as a result of which traditional upland farming in parts of Britain is all but a thing of the past."
Jan 28 ~ Nick sends us a list of questions he would like answered after a copy of a memo was passed to him. It was sent by Mr Roy Hathaway to Mr Elliot Morley MP & Mr Ray Anderson, DEFRA Area manager for Cumbria in November and it made it quite clear that the firebreak cull was illegal and the 3kn cull was "voluntary".
Jan 28 ~ From Lawrence with his ability to see the whole picture, comes another important letter, beginning with agreement with Julia about the NFU " ...We would be deluding ourselves to believe that Enron is an isolated example. In argriculture, I recall that MAFF was said to rely on panels of 'advisors' consisting almost exclusively from appointees of large scale agribusiness. I am sure that the decision to eradicate the warble fly from the UK herd was influenced by the firms which knew that this apparently laudable blow for animals welfare would result in their selling gallons [sorry, litres] of organophosphates insecticide to the hapsless farmers. " Jan 27 ~ Roy Anderson now favours vaccination ...but still insists that vaccinating flocks and herds once the virus had taken hold would have prolonged the epidemic. See this report from Biomed News.
Jan 27 ~ Roy is a little annoyed by the Independent on Sunday
Jan 27 ~ Julia, who "served on a Labour party committee drawing up rural policy ready for when they won an election" finds herself feeling very angry about the NFU.
Jan 27 ~ In connection with our concern at the pronouncements of Dr Nettleton below, an interesting letter in the Scottish Farmer from the Chairman of the Royal Society Inquiry in Scotland says: "Dr Nettleton is aware of the importance of avoiding personal comment in public on matters of debate for the committee, as are all the members of the committee. This incident illustrates the need for vigilance in legitimate discussions of complex scientific matters." We feel grateful for this highly professional stance of Professor Cunningham. In spite of the Press' hunger for sound bites - shouldn't it be the stance taken by any member of any inquiry?
Jan 27 ~ Pat sends us his own news review links, including Jonanthan Miller's Mean Fields for today.
Jan 27 ~ Part of Bookers Notebook this week looks at the madness regulating sales of animal medicines
Jan 26 ~ Now they turn on humans.... Janet writes: Like many people. I was rather shocked at the way the Government "spin machine" turned its fury onto poor Mrs Rose Addis ...
Jan 26 ~ Letter in this week's Farmers Guardian " On 21st December Dr Peter Nettleton of the Moredun Institute misquoted the cost of the Cepheid SmartCycler apparatus for the swift diagnosis of virus. The true cost is £20,000 - ten times less than the price he is quoted as saying each costs. Frankly, Dr Nettleton has made some astonishingly misleading statements about vaccination in several newspapers recently which have done a great deal of damage.... "
Jan 25 ~ Two letters from the Cumberland News " ISN'T IT ironic that our farmers could be asked to give evidence at a European enquiry into foot and mouth? Our Government constantly refuses a national public enquiry, yet Brussels is anxious to learn all they can from devastation suffered by so many here in the UK. "
Jan 25 ~ "I'm absolutely convinced there is a future for British farming. It will be a long time coming right, but I believe it will come right in the end." Here is an extract from the BBC story of the Page family that appeared yesterday. They are scathing about the handling of FMD and of the regulations that have made life so difficult ("like moving nuclear waste") and yet their sense of optimism is engaging.
Jan 24 ~ A copy of the notes for the meeting at the Royal Society Inquiry at which NFMG was invited to speak.
Extract:" ....All the issues surrounding the exemption from Disease Free Status for 12 months post vaccination must be re-appraised and re-assessed. Critical in this is the involvement of third countries and the need to move towards eradication on a global scale. ......... We submit that vaccination must now constitute the primary means of FMD control. We respectfully ask the Royal Society to ..... recommend to Government that future policies are founded on a deliverable, implementable and achievable programme of vaccination to control and eradicate Foot & Mouth Disease."
Jan 24 ~ If there were a Warmwell Prize for erudition, knowledge of biodiversity and sustainable agriculture, breadth of vision, realism, politics, toughness, courage and compassion all rolled into one - it would be awarded to Reith Lecturer ("we are so wrong to be smug about the new global economy") Vandana Shiva. On a day that we are told that violence in Scottish schools has increased by 50 % we readon this timely article: "The children in affluent America are also experiencing a closing of their lives, and are turning to mindless violence as in the case of shooting at St. Columbines. ....IPR laws are denying farmers the basic freedom of saving and exchanging seed. They are, in effect, enclosing the genetic commons, creating new scarcities in a biologically rich world, transforming fundamental freedoms into criminal acts punishable with fines and jail sentences. " Here is Vandana Shiva's article published yesterday
Jan 23 ~ part of an email from Pat G "......As NFU members will know, Ben Gill is due to be re-elected unopposed shortly. Well he was opposed by a very determined lady East Anglian Council Member, who wanted to stand against him and made quite a fuss about the undemocratic way the Union operates that prevented a challenge. There was a long news report....now missing. Since, the NFU has issued a Press Release entitled LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THE FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE OUTBREAK OF 2001 beginning: "The National Farmers' Union is the democratic organisation representing farmers and growers in England and Wales." "
Jan 23 ~ Alan Beat has written this commentary on Lord Whitty's speech in the Second Reading debate...the chilling future is then laid out: The Bill alters the circumstance in which an animal can be culled from one in which exposure is the issue to one in which prevention is the key. Let no-one doubt what this means. Next time, firebreak culling of healthy animals will be a central plank of control policy, and we fear worse than contiguous culling.
Jan 22 ~ Sent to us from their Whitehall office at the same time as their latest news release about the Lessons Learned Inquiry visit to Wales today: "It's always fascinating to see the reactions to the various FMD related: events as they unfold on Warmwell. ..... Please rest assured that the material on Warmwell is certainly being used as a source of information for the Inquiry, and it often steers us in directions we are finding very useful."
Jan 22 ~ Northumberland Inquiry "Clearly members of the public were not allowed to either comment or ask questions. I was therefore delighted to read in Saturday's Journal that one lady had the guts to stand up and question the panel. Congratulations Mrs. Logan, on your attempt to draw public attention to the fact that many of the Government's actions taken during the epidemic were not only barbaric, but frequently illegal. " 2 letters in today's Journal in Newcastle.
Jan 21 ~ For those who cannot understand the disappearance of Smartgroups, a Status report here is less than helpful - but at least shows the fault is not with your own machine.
Jan 21 ~ An email from Pat ~BSE... DEFRA KNOW THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF MATERNAL TRANSMISSION I know this from a girl working on BSE and Scrapie in DEFRA - they will not come out and say because it retracts on something they have already claimed.... Ferguson Krebs Smith and that lot whose jobs depend on keeping it going - at Government funding time they invent something else to draw the public's attention to it. ............... With regard to monitoring E.Mails - ( I clearly talk too much) A minerals rep called here who claims to have nephew in Special Branch who says that if we all knew what was going on we would be horrified...
Jan 20 ~ Elli explains. Re.. Northumberland Inquiry Extract:...... the chair seemed to be on automatic pilot. ....this inquiry is condemned by the balance of its content, packed and side-stepping the key points. . . . . where did the virus come from? I know that when a witness is grieving, as some clearly were, no one is going to interrupt their mourning. . . . . . so no analysis is going to take place. What we had was personal narratives, rather like a horror film emerging ; what we didn't feel was any urgent curiosity as to asking why.
Jan 20 ~ It is iinteresting to put this email, received today, alongside the breaking news of tons of infected meat. The story that whistleblowers of cruelty on a pig farm were themselves fined and the indubitable evidence of cruelty suppressed was removed from the paper's archives quickly. But perhaps, thinks our correspondent, the real scandal of that story lies elsewhere.
Jan 20 ~ The Soil Association has been coming in for what may be rather well orchestrated criticism lately. Monsanto is backed by millions while the Soil Association depends largely on people's good sense. Patrick Holden wants to get across the message that "as a society we pay too little for our food. If consumers want the organic movement to survive they must understand it is worth paying more for quality." We note this extract from the Canadian Agrifood Trade Service about the opportunities for selling organic produce to Britain. It makes for sombre reading.
Jan 19 ~ Lawrence's exasperated letter to the BBC about the edition of Farming Today in which not one of the panel questioned the idea of farm licensing. "...? Surely children would need to be licensed for welfare purposes? Many parents have no training or experience in looking after children... "
Jan 18 ~ Frances writes: Why are the figures so exact? Always a round figure, never 245 or 76, and nearly always 19 "affected premises" involved. If this were an Eastern bloc country (don't know whether they are still called that ), we would be shocked by what has and apparently is going on, wouldn't we ? This is really scary. I am afraid. I am really very afraid for my sheep.
Jan 18 ~ Dr Sutmoller's notes on vaccination
Jan 17~ Mike from www.pighealth.com writes about he considers to be the underlying cause of our recent ills
Jan 17 ~ A Press Release from Elliot Morley re the National Scrapie Plan. Comment from Elaine: "When will the "invitation" to register be turned into a compulsory regulation, I wonder?"
Jan 17 ~ A farmer writesspelling out some of the many government driven causes for British farmers' ruin " I fear that many family run farming businesses like ours, will be lost, with a great detriment to the countryside in general. Unfortunately, the government seem blind to this fact, and would rather see UK farming go to the wall, importing all our food instead."
Jan 16 ~ Lord Whitty's justification for the Animal Health Bill's powers of unopposed slaughter (in his introduction to the Second Reading in the Lords) drew heavily on arguments about the supposed reasons for the spread of the virus in the Thirsk area. "The main reason .... was resistance to the contiguous cull" he said. So also said Elliot Morley on November 6th. But the arguments about Thirsk have been flawed as we can see here. To use as justification for the powers in this bill the unsubstantiated arguments of certain vets in the Northallerton Control Centre seems highly unwise and misleading. It has been shown that resistance to the contiguous cull made no difference to the spread of the disease in Devon or in the Forest of Dean or in Wales - but these alarming new powers, which deny farmers the right make such just objections, will be used throughout the UK if the bill is passed as it stands.
Jan 14 ~ Some emailed exchanges between Dr Rowland Kao (see Nature article) an epidemiologist at Oxford, and Mary about the possiblity of BSE in sheep,,"You will be all too aware that Prof Ferguson's modelling has cast a deep gloom over farmers and livestock owners..." Dr Kao and his team published their paper in late November. There were no front page headlines.
Jan 14 ~ Jon Dobson of the FMD Forum has sent us this exchange between himself and Dr Neil Ferguson. Dr Ferguson comments: " ... it is a little depressing that it is not possible to have a public debate about risk without extreme cases being constantly highlighted."
Jan 14 ~ Muckspreader in Private Eye is wondering why on "September 30, DEFRA was reporting the total number of animals killed as 3,905,000; yet, just before announcing that Britain was now FMD-free, it was giving the figure as 4,063,000 (this has since risen to 4,073,000).. Why it should have been necessary to kill another 158,000 animals during a period when officially the disease had been eradicated is just another of those mysteries which continue to mount up around one of the greatest government cock-ups on record. "
Jan 14 ~ " I found so many genuine farmers, rugged border country people, to whom the nurture of their flocks and the remoteness of the Forest was in their blood; but some, only a few, had no respect for their animals and cost the rest their lifestyle and their animals lives. I dont want to see them come back..." Flis, who loves the Forest of Dean, writes about fear and hope.
Jan 13 ~ Lawrence is deeply concerned - as we are - at the apparently now acceptable notion of farm licencing.
Jan 13 ~ Jon wrote to Pirbright asking about current FMD testing. This is Dr David Paton's reply.
Jan 13 ~ Bryn brings to his impassioned plea to the Lords about the AHB his full battery of emotive adjectives and exclamation marks. His knowledge of the bill is, however, cool and extensive.
Jan 12 ~ "Just because it was government policy to commit criminal acts on an unprecedented scale, the RCVS has ruled that it would be quite improper to punish vets merely for flouting their professional code of conduct in collaborating with the Maffia." Private Eye's Muckspreader
Jan 11 ~ " If the taxpayers money actually arrived at the correct destination it wouldn't be so bad. It needs to get to the farmers to enable them to continue to sell food at below the cost of production, not end up in the pockets of bureaucrats." If anyone - particularly in local or national government - does not yet quite understand why even the most kindly and tolerant of family farmers are near breaking point, please read this recent email from David. He apologises for the language - but it is really wholly understandable.
Jan 11~ Janet feels that Prof. Ferguson has not answered a very important point. (Link repaired. Apologies)
Jan 10 ~ CJD, BSE and cannibalism. An important letter from David.
Jan 10 ~ At a time when the destructive power of theories has been loosed again by Imperial College, Bryn has a characteristic theory about theories.
Jan 9 ~ After all the years and thousands of badgers' lives taken needlessly, the powers that be are no nearer proving badgers give cattle TB, than proving two parallel lines meet in eternity. If wildlife rescue groups are not allowed to release back into the wild until the badgers have been TB tested, why can't DEFRA just trap, test, tag and release?
Jan 9 ~ Richard has the insider's view of the Nisha fiasco
Jan 9 ~ It looks as though the RCVS has no intention of censuring David Black. See Didi's letter but make sure you are sitting down.
Jan 9 ~ Tessa bravely suggests that FMD has not been a catastrophe at all - for many....
Jan 9 ~ And her views are responded to by David here
Jan 7 ~ WWoofers.... It would be distressing for this useful organisation to become a casualty of our government's unrelenting attack on the family farm. There are still lots of Organic farms who would welcome interested helpers
Jan7 ~A reminder that the vCJD/BSE link is still unresolved.
Jan 6 ~ Useful crash course in relevant economics has just arrived in the Inbox!
".....Instead of international trade being based on reciprocal mutually beneficial arrangements where nations supply each others' genuine needs and wants, the whole thing becomes a cut-throat competition to grab market share in order to stay solvent in a debt based economy.
- Big corporations demand unrestricted access to every nation's market (so-called "free" trade).
- The European Union "single market", the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organisation are the best examples of the drive to open up all national markets........ "
Forwarded from Alastair McConnachie (section on third-world debt interesting in connection with globalisers' alternative plans)
Jan 6 ~ " We have the best market in the EU and everyone else is after it. We farmers get the lowest prices in the EU because we don't get the subsidies due to the 71%+ claw back of funds drawn down by the UK. Therefore, UK taxes are going to support agriculture in other countries that supply our market." David explains
Jan 5 ~ Didi feels she will never fully recover from the events of last April.
Jan 5 ~ Delaine has read Plague, Pestilence and the Pursuit of Power..."The increased use of the term 'New World Order' is no coincidence," she says.
Jan 5 ~ Tessa tells us that there is now a shortage of lambs in Powys.
Jan 4 ~ A glance back to April 30th shows us just how little has changed. Rather a worrying thought for a brave new year.
Jan 3 ~ Mike has sent these wise reminders for 2002
Jan 3 ~ Adrianne says, When are the law abiding people of this country going to rise up against the oppression we are all suffering now? Any ideas, anyone?
Jan 3 ~ I endorse the plea - do not leave control of foxes to farmers!! Please!! As a farmer myself I am not good at killing things - I just about manage to poison the rats! See David's email.
Jan 3 ~ Gill sends this message about land being taken from private owners in the US using the dubious excuse of "conservation". Since the UK follows the lead of the US we can expect the government to be following suit - or does its current righteousness about the "environment" and its plans for the "countryside" suggest it already has this kind of thing in mind?
Jan 2 ~ The Brussels Conference page has had new papers added, including Intervet's announcement of a marker test developed with Pirbright, a paper entitled "putting animals first", and "Points to consider in the prevention ,control and eradication of FMD" by Dr Sutmoller and Dr Barteling.
Jan 2 ~ This message was posted on a newsgroup today and sent to us too from a trusted source. Extract: "The State Veterinary Service were almost certainly instrumental in spreading Swine Fever beyond the initial group of sites. In order to keep the secret that CSF was appearing only at sites where other pig diseases were already well established, they abandoned the most elementary biosecurity. There was also blatant animal cruelty caused by their deceptions.....Worse, much worse, is to follow. Page Street - pack your bags. RCVS get ready to lose the "Royal" "
Jan 1 ~ Sam is concerned about the Countryside Agency and its comment that a "welcome consequence" (sic) of the foot and mouth crisis is " that the countryside has never been higher on the political agenda and it is recognised that decisions need to be taken regarding its future"....
Dec 30 ~ The email from Lord Willoughby, a source of hope in the House of Lords. Please do write to him to show how you feel about the Animal Health amendment Bill - which gets its Second Reading in the Lords on Monday 14th January.
Dec 30 ~ Bryn's comments about the failure of the RCVS to uphold its own standards.
Dec 28 ~ A very similar case, equally distressing as that below, in which the RCVS Preliminary Investigation Committee has decided that vets are not to blame, is described in this letter from Frances..."I am not a vet, but I do know that airborne transmission of Pan Asian "O" type Foot and Mouth virus which is concerned in this epidemic is so unlikely as to be considered a minimal risk at worst. If I know this, and this research has been carried out in our very own world-renowned lab at Pirbright, should we not expect that government vets and scientific advisers are also up to speed on the latest information available? "
Dec 28 ~ " I fear many farmers like him who have been treated in this manner will never trust a vet again." Read this letter from Quita containing a RCVS written response to a complaint, and join those of us whose blood is rapidly reaching boiling point.
Dec 26 ~ Sam looks at an article in the Times and finds he can't take sides.
Dec 24 ~ We have received this interesting background information on the recent articles in The Dundee Courier and The Scottish Farmer in which Dr Peter Nettleton has seen fit to dismiss FMD vaccination.
Dec 22 ~ Lawrence is seriously unamused by the "entirely unhelpful" answers and "impenetrable logic" issuing forth from the South West Regional Development Agency (FMD) when he has asked for an explanation for his apparent ineligibility for assistance from the Emergency FMD Fund. Here is his exasperated letter.
Dec 21 ~ From Jane at http://www.farmtalking.com comes this news about the new category "Test on Suspicion" . It seems to have occurred to DEFRA that you don;t, after all, need to massacre the whole herd when there is a possibility of one or two animals being infected. They'll still kill the unfortunate suspected ones but have now, at least, created the possibility (ten months on) of at least waiting for results. Like Jane, we're grateful for small mercies - and grateful to her for bringing this to our attention.
Dec 20 ~ The Parliamentary Sketch writer and journalist Matthew Parris, whose work we have always liked for its wit and honesty, has written this final round-up of his sketches, now that he has decided to hand over to someone else. It has nothing to do with farming or foot and mouth - but everything to do with the current state of British politics. We shall miss him. Extract: The speech was vapid. Seldom have so many clichis of sound, vision and song been dragooned together in so dismal a cause. Beside me, and before the closing hymn (yes, hymn), Alastair Campbell sneezed. I tried to say "Bless you". The words stuck in my throat.
Dec 20 ~ John sends this short note which will be of interest to those of us who wish to support the Metric Martyrs
Dec 19 ~ Dot says she is "spitting feathers"...I imagine that the constituents of Diana Organ MP for the Forest of Dean may well be spitting along with her when they read this.
Dec 18 ~ Mary M has some excellent news about camelids. It's nice to think that llamas and alpacas at least will now be treated with some measure of sanity. Her message.
Dec 17 ~ Report of the Edinburgh March by Jane Barribal of farmtalking
Dec 16 ~"I thought you might be interested to hear about the change in licensing which DEFRA has implemented...."writes Sandra. Read what she says and have another little chew of the carpet.
Dec 16 ~ Countryside and Right of Way Act: this letter from Sue M shows that opponents of this legislation include owners of small gardens, wild flower meadows, farm yards and buildings etc that have been unaccountably designated as "Open Country". "After discussion, we realised that they had included at least one part of each holding, whether it complied with Open Country or not, causing fears of nationalisation - which had not previously occurred to me. " Very significant to those of us who, in principle, are in favour of improved public access to genuinely "Open Country" is the fact that the meeting referred to in Sue's letter was chaired by Geoff Boswell, who is a well-known walker and author of several best-selling books about walking in the South Pennines. Far from being one of the 'opposition' , he is concerned about the effect on the countryside and that fact that some farmers who have previously been generous with the use of their land, and have helped to keep footpaths and bridleways open, are now becoming antagonistic to any sort of access.
Dec 15 ~ A new report by Helen Szamuely of the Meeting in the House of Commons on Nov 29th
Dec 15 ~ An important quotation sent to Alan by Michaela : "We need another and a wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilisation surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the sense we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth"
Dec 15 ~ Matthew Parris has decided to give up writing the Parliamentary Sketch in the Times:" Isn't the job getting harder, now there are few great Commons characters any more?
Pantomime works because staple characters - even plots - are already familiar. There used to be no shortage in the Commons of Widow Twankeys, Cinderellas, Ugly Sisters, fairy godmothers, evil gnomes, dunderheads, dashing princes and hopeful toads. More recently they've all gone grey; and as Parliament drifts away from kitchen-table cognisance, the parliamentary sketch is in danger of becoming a series of theatre reviews of a play nobody has seen and few ever want to. You could do an entertaining sketch of the European Parliament, or the Ukrainian parliament, if many readers cared about either.
But I'm not pessimistic. Sooner or later Puss (alias Tony Blair) will get too big for his boots and the backbench elves and fairies will grow restive."
Dec 14 ~ BECKETT WARNS OF VIRUS JAB DANGERS? Bryn has had enough of the embarrassing rubbish in Mrs Becket's Brussels speech and has sent this furious response to the dimmest, grimmest, sinister Minister. "Let's get rude," he says in exasperation. (Warning: this letter is outspoken )
Dec 13 ~ Magnus Linklater's article on Prof Ebringer and the scandal of government science funding.
Dec 13 ~ A farmer writes today "Despite the implied threat in the note (i.e.from DEFRA) that "there is a legal obligation, under the Agricultural Statistics Act, 1979, to complete the form", I most certainly will not complete it. " He is not likely to be the only one!
Dec 12 ~ How many of us are aware that goats now come under mad DEFRA rules? A brain sample from an adult female is now required to get full "scrapie unsuspect" status. Unfortunately this also requires the goat's head to be cut off.... With permission, we quote this exchange from a goat website.
Dec 12 ~ Tessa reminds us of the dangers of having drugs sold over the counter.
Dec 12 ~ "Of course, everything foundered on the wretched rock of Planning Permission. The (it must be admitted, absolutely charming) DEFRA officials were sympathetic but couldn't offer any concrete advice or help. ....therefore, the money is going to French and German farmers...Adrianne has been to a meeting.
Dec 12 ~ Bryn has written an open letter to Rolf Harris:"The GILWERN atrocity was an epic example - a rifleman caught on a home video camera taking pot-shots at sheep in a field and failing to kill cleanly on more than one occasion. I have the FULL report if you would like to see it. There were over 2,000 cases of cruelty reported to the RSPCA and not one has ended up in court. "
Dec 11 ~ Ron's Christmas letter is thankfully not the anodyne nonsense of the norm. "You may find all the above distressing. Unless you have sat day after day dealing with the distressing stories that came to the Internet Support Group that I have been an active part of, you would not understand the horror."
Dec 11 ~ No farm based business has received anything from the SW Recovery Fund. Lawrence is tearing his hair out at the inab ility of officials to make any sense....
Dec 11 ~ But the night's biggest upset, thanks not least to readers of the Sunday Telegraph, came in the award for 'European Campaigners of the Year'. Winners by a landslide were two Sunderland market traders, Steve Thoburn and Neil Herron, on behalf of Britain's 'Metric Martyrs'. Much of interest to read in Sunday's Booker Notebook. NB Next week he will be writing about Misty
Dec 11 ~ Even newer Muckspreader has some news about Lord Haskins, the new boss of Express Dairies and Peter Packer none of which will gladden the heart.."Packer showed conspicuously little interest in farming as it lurched from one disaster to the next. But he has now made up for this by producing a learned paper on the industry's future."
Dec 10 ~ I have worked in the livestock industry for nearly 20 years and I have a small-holding. This foot and mouth fiasco has been the final straw for my last employer who decided to go out of pigs. Movement licence applications have been turned down time and again for pigs other than direct-to-slaughter and he has been left with the situation of being unable to sell all the stock before the deadline to qualify for the out-goers scheme payments. As a result, I suspect healthy stock will have to be shot. email today.
Dec 8 ~ An email from Germany, following fast on the heels of the appeal from Holland for us all to sign the guestbook "petition" to be handed in at the Brussels conference, suggests that a Europe wide revulsion at EU slaughter policies is, at last, on the march. Future generations will look back on this era with sheer disbelief at EU attempts to hoodwink the populations of Europe into adopting policies that are as nonsensical as they are greedy and cruel.
Dec 7 ~ "If MAFF (now DEFRA) had taken the advice of the world's leading Foot and Mouth Disease scientists instead of the advice of a Surface Materials chemist, ............ the government made the classic mistake of believing their own lies (regarding the number of cases), they followed the EU procedure for dealing with a Foot & Mouth OUTBREAK when in fact they were dealing with an EPIDEMIC, which can only be controlled by vaccination. It is only thanks to a report in the Journal (1st Dec.) that I read about the inquiry. Where was it previously advertised? On a telegraph pole in the middle of Kielder Forest?" John has written two letters about the appointment of Prof. Dower to head the Northumberland Inquiry. And Lynn has written as well.
Dec 5 ~ Mastermind contender E Morley in the black chair....we are sent the transcript by Bryn
Dec 4 ~ The original Anchor cow advert (New Zealand butter) with the dancing cows used an ENGLISH cow from Jersey Manor Farm at Somerton in Oxon. Lynda and David agree that "you can't beat a British farmer when it comes to animal welfare and stockmanship...What a pity it is all going down the pan because we are not receiving the same funding as other EU countries. It is even more upsetting when you think we have the best market in the EU + the worst prices. "
Dec 4 ~ Lawrence on scrapie and NSP "The justification offered by Elliot Morley for the draconian measures relating to scrapie in the Animal Health Bill has been the lack of take-up by sheep keepers of the voluntary National Scrapie Plan. The first stage of this was launched only to breeders of purbred pedigree flocks registered with a recognised breed society - in July 2001!!! One can't help feeling that the attention of even these sheep keepers was elsewhere."
Dec 2 ~ Northumberland's laudable desire to hold an Inquiry into FMD is being baulked by the reluctance of those affected to speak out. Is the the result of the use of the Official Secrets Act? Is it that people - understandably - have lost faith in any "official" call for their involvement? We can only beg people in Northumbria to thik again and submit something to the Inquiry even if it is only a temporary note.
Dec 1 ~ It's not uncommon for letters printed here to be angry. This one from Roy is incandescent with fury. Constituents of Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, may be interested.
Dec 1 ~ We were 24 hours away from losing all our sheep and the pits were dug ready! Pat writes about Radio 4 this morning.
Dec 1 ~ "Where is common sense? How can any of us have any confidence whatever in the "system of government scientific advice" or Professor David King who currently heads it - or the government which sponsors it and relies on it? " concludes a letter from Lawrence to the Today Programme about scrapie, the bill and compensation
Nov 30 ~ A letter from Lawrence Alderson, Director of Rare Breeds International
Nov 30 ~ An open letter from Alan Richardson B.Vet Med., Ph.D., M.R.C.V.S Extract: As I understand it, the bill gives the Minister the powers to kill any animal, anywhere, anytime and for any reason he thinks fit. Yet he need never consult a veterinary surgeon at any stage. If this is so, it will represent the final victory of civil service mandarins in a long war to dispense with the profession completely.
Nov 30 ~ Bryn points out the economic cost of NOT vaccinating "we have given the world a FREE lesson of how not to control FMDv, by the barbaric exhibitions of mass slaughter, and funeral pyres that went on burning for months. "
Nov 29 ~ Brief initial report of the Meeting at the House of Commons and briefing notes
Nov 26 ~ The Spectator this week echoes our own concern about the dwindling power of Parliament and the Cabinet." The real foreign secretary is not really bemused, bewildered Jack Straw; it is the new foreign affairs adviser David Manning. Nobody thinks that the driving force behind Tony Blair's education reforms is the timid Cabinet minister Estelle Morris. It has been Andrew Adonis in the policy unit..."
Nov 26 ~ Alan Beat has been looking closely at already existing powers of extended slaughter. He comments: The wording of para. 6 leaves no room for any doubt, and more to the point, no room for any grounds for appeal. The contiguous cull should be applied "rigorously everywhere" and let's not forget that in Devon alone more than 200 farms that refused the cull this time around remain disease free! Next time they will all be automatically killed. That is just one aspect of the evil we are facing in this Bill and which we need to keep clearly focussed in our minds.
Nov 25 ~ Lawrence has noticed a disquieting aspect of the Animal Health amendment bill.
Nov 24 ~ This letter from Jo comments on the Hansard extract concerning Mrs BECKETT's replies about the Anderson INQUIRY.
Nov 23 ~ The UK Rural Business Campaign today announces five meetings to be held over the next two weeks across the country rallying support for businesses seeking compensation from the Government as a result of its handling of Foot and Mouth.
Nov 22 ~ Three excellent letters in the Newcastle Journal.
Nov 21~ Adrianne says, In reading Alan Beat's excellent summary of the You and Yours Broadcast, he asks does anyone know anything of Elliot Morley's background?
Nov 19 ~ Warmwell.com has received a very cheering message about a newly convened group of " like-minds, who wish to see a humane way of dealing with Foot and Mouth Disease epidemics, while working towards total eradication through the application of modern science."The list of founder members is very encouraging. A phone number and email address for inquiries attached.
Nov 18 ~"Does anyone remember the case of a man who was convicted of cruelty for putting a diamond stud in his cat's ear? He wanted him to be easily recognisable. Now, the government mania for identifying all farm animals without exception has now decreed that sheep must have TWO studs..." Another reminder that we inhabit a world without logic, without common sense and without justice.
Nov 17 ~ Ron muses about Children in Need. He has a talent for telling us things we thought we knew in a way to make us see them in a fresh light.
Nov 16 ~ A letter in today's Cumberland News, forwarded by Elaine, is written with brains and humour - the perfect antidote to Mr Morley, and a damning answer to his extraordinary and ludicrous claim that "78% of the spread of foot and mouth was local" ..In a crisis devoid of meaningful information, control of spread or general quality leadership from the ministry the figure of 78 per cent seemed very exact.
Nov 16 ~ This letter, in the Western Morning News was not written with either of those amiable qualities. indeed, it is crying out for comment - which it gets.
Nov 15 ~ Nick Green has a much of interest to say here about the lying and misinformation surrounding the notion of a "voluntary firebreak" in Cumbria
Nov 14 ~ Last night's Meeting of the Forest of Dean Action group was very well attended and very successful. Janet has sent this brief report which has been sent out as a press release. Our own reports follow, beginning with the spech by Barbara Jordan, the solicitor who held the audience spellbound with horror at the terms of the new bill
Nov 12 ~ Part of an email from Christopher Booker. "... a whole shadowy new system of government which is totally undemocratic, totally unaccountable, blind, heartless, ego-driven, everything in short that the 'Monster' is in myths and fairy tales."
Nov 11 ~ Some thoughts for Remembrance Day - 3 e - mails that impressed us and saddened us.
Nov 10 ~ Part of an email from Dr James Irvine "Margaret Beckett and all her greenery seems not to know that agriculture and a thriving livestock industry is fundamental to a good rural environment and not secondary to imposed environemntal policies based on other interests. " (See his excellent letter in the Scottish Farmer, comparing the qualifications of Prof Fred Brown and Prof David King and refuting the latter's arguments against vaccination)
Nov 10 ~ Here again is Alan's excellent letter to Mr Curry. Anyone who can get it to their MP to read would be doing a great service to farming and to civil liberty
Nov 9 ~ A joint statement from the British Horse Society and British Equine Veterinary Association attempts to allay fears. It fails. Horse and equine owners may wish to query this joint statement
Nov 8 ~ The Forest of Dean Action Group, who saved so many animals from senseless killing in April and May, have sent this important announcement about a PUBLIC MEETING to fight the animal health amendment bill
Nov 7 ~ Lawrence is concerned that Sandra Barwick - along with many others - has noit read the small print of the Animal Health Amendment bill. It most certainly can refer to pets and animals other than farm stock.
Nov 7 ~ Brent sends this note about the "bungling" of politicians
Nov 6 ~ A brief note about the electronic tagging of farmers etc.
Nov 6 ~ The men from Defra seem to be as deaf as its initials suggest. The only language they seem to understand is the language of death.... See Magnus Linklater's article from The Times today: Blinded by the funeral pyres
Nov 6 ~ Compensation claims for farmers and businesses hit by the policies of the government during foot and mouth. See detailsURGENT the first meeting is THURSDAY (8th). Spread the word and phone the number if you think you are involved, is our advice http://www.classlaw.co.uk/fmcga/index.html.
Nov 6 ~ Defra's claim that there have been no new cases since September 30th is interestingly questioned by this email, received today. "... the flock had recently recovered from the disease. They said signs of lesions were still present in their mouths." When is an outbreak not an outbreak? When it can be said that the animals were killed because of antibodies, of course. See email Elliot Morley is warning the country that FMD may come back. Our guess would be that after the animal health amendment bill is made law, these "antibody" cases may suddenly revert to becoming foot and mouth outbreaks - but this time there will be no stopping the contiguous culls.
Nov 5 ~ " Amory Lovin's (another Oxbridge physicist I think) "natural capitalism" boils down to scarce natural resources and too many people.. That's why the big folks are cornering the critical resources of energy, arable land,potable water, and energy..
Our betters tell us that "nation states" are obsolete.. So we seem to be turning the earth into a company town...". See Brent's email about the bigger picture.
Nov 4 ~ A list of updated facts about the 2001 FMD epidemic just received from Phil.
Nov 4 ~ "Father Christmas cannot use his usual transport this 25 December because he will not be able to obtain a movement licence from DEFRA." Elaine informs us.".. Sorry - culled by DEFRA. Suppose he'll have a A notice slapped on his log cabin if he dares to step out the door without disinfecting his sleigh. "
Nov 4 ~ part of an email from Bonnie, the American filmaker who interviewed many farmers and others affected by the crisis: . " I read the piece about the cruel bill and dropped everything to write my letter of outrage. I try not to cross the line between impartial observer...but the truth is, I'm not at all impartial. Nor is my film. I believe we are all caught up in a moral emergency (worldwide, I think) and must respond however we can. So... Where I am with the film is: scrambling to find funds to edit the 34 hours I have, so that I can come back and do the next level of interviewing and also give some little presentations of what I have so far to interested groups. I am dying to do this, for morale purposes of all involved. "
Nov 3 ~ Just received.." I, as an artist and also a sheep farmer for the last 20 years, am currently working on an installation piece which will, I hope, be exhibited in a major London Gallery which should attract huge media attention and thereby win the support of the general public who have forgotten the issue now that the business has been swept under the carpet by Blair's party. What I need to help me in this project is some video footage of the scenes which took place in the countryside:- the burning funeral pyres, the bulldozers and machines raping the landscape, the distraught families deprived of their flocks and herds and, ultimately for some, their livelihood. If you can help me to acquire such material please E-mail me. Thank you, David Harris "
Nov 2 ~ Three letters in the Newcastle Journal which deplore the "Tony Blair can kill your cat" bill (Thank you for describing it that way, Andrew )
Nov 1 ~ Janet has written an open letter to any DEFRA vets who might chance to visit the website
Nov 1 ~ A press release today from the National Foot and Mouth group. Extract:If the Government is to proceed now with further draconian powers to direct the slaughter of many healthy animals it should back up its call with hard evidence that appeals did actually adversely affect control of the disease. Without such evidence there can be no justification or need.
Nov 1 ~ "To quote Dr. Ruth Watkins, expert virologist: Speaking at a public meeting in Penrith on July 27 2001: "It is interesting that FMD is in the same family of viruses as polio. Like most viruses, it's at its most infectious BEFORE any physical symptoms show. So the disease has been passed on long before anyone has thought of getting blood tests done. By the time the results of the tests come back, the animal has started producing antibodies and is recovering from what is, from the animal's point of view, quite a mild disease. If it is allowed to recover, the animal will be immune. We can safely eat the meat and the animal doesn't even need vaccination." "But what are we doing? We are killing immune animals! Lunacy!" Read Astrid's excellent article at sovereignty.org.uk about the killing of sheep on October 15th
Oct 31 ~ Some reactions today to the unbelievable legislation about to be rushed through parliament to ensure that all future slaughter of animals can be quick, legal and unopposed
Oct 31~ Quita has been chatting to a taxi driver...
Oct 30 ~"... I urge everyone to read John Pilger's excellent analysis of the fraudulent "war against terrorism" and then to look again at the foot and mouth disease fiasco here - and wonder again what truly lies behind what is being inflicted on us. " writes Lawrence
Oct 29 ~ Tow Law...the scandal rumbles on. "The site has been the focus of demonstrations, protests and health scares and the only certainty for the future is that local people are not going to let the matter rest."
Oct 29 ~ A letter in the Telegraph today "SIR - I am amazed at the ignorance of the agriculture industry displayed by Margaret Beckett ...."
Oct 27 ~ The forgotten plight of Widdrington is described in the Newcastle Journal. Where there has always been a resilient cheerfulness and willingness to accept adversity, a trait learned the hard way during the tough days of the coalmines, there is now also a deep distrust of authority. Long may this excellent paper retain its independence.
Oct 26 ~ The thought of breeding programmes to produce politically-correct sheep defies the imagination. There is no one currently in government who has the first idea about eugenics - or who gives a sh*t. They should not be allowed anywhere near sheep. Ley too, like the rest of us, is beginning to think in terms of manning the barricades
Oct 25 ~ Flis writes,"2001 is a bad year, unforgettable in its horror...." and we would entirely agree.
Oct 23 ~ Friends of the Earth press release....UK farmers trying to produce food that meets high environmental and welfare standards face being squeezed out by cheaper, lower quality produce from abroad. Only large intensive farms would be able to compete. If farmers are to have a future in the UK they must also be protected from the worst practices of supermarkets, identified by the Competition Commission last year.
Oct 22 ~ latest information about Saturday's March
Oct 21~ Magnus Linklater in the Scotsman on Sunday..."A recent opinion poll suggested that this might already be happening. It showed that more than 80% of voters in Britain no longer believed ministerial announcements. They thought that news was often manipulated, and that this government was less than straightforward in the way it handled media announcements"
Oct 21 ~ A letter from Adrianne about BSE and chemicals "What is is abour politicians that they are quite happy to slaughter and compulsorily purchase animals but cannot face up to the mess that has been made and give poor old Mark Purdey some funding? " that echoes Alan Beat's anxiety and outrage. Oct 20 ~ Lovely cheese and wool from Middle Campscott - Lawrence and Karen have just won a major award for their ewes cheese
Oct 20 ~ Please do support the sale of these cards by Dales artist Rosemary Lodge. She has given this art work to us without charge since, like all her friends, she is incensed by what has been happening in Britain's rural communities.
Oct 19 ~ "It is impossible to describe the mental torture caused by the threat of the plague. Each case is a bereavement, a human tragedy, and one for which the policymakers carry a responsibility. The fear of losing our lifes work, the difficulty of farming under the burden of new restrictions administered by incompetent officials, and the feeling that the politicians were following the wrong advice, added up to a nightmare" Emma Tennant, writing in the Spectator
Oct 19 ~ "Heard from practising Vet in Staffordshire that a colleague inspecting sheep for licence to move to Wales found blisters in mouths and on feet in several. Contacted the Ministry immediately to be told not to worry and let them go. They have now gone. Can anyone throw any light on this?" writes Pat, and also tells us about a proposed #200,000,000 DEFRA laboratory
Oct 19 ~ The disinformation and misinformation and simple lack of information about the Kirkbride case is summed up here by Astrid..
while DEFRA's helpline response has provoked this outburst from a farmer in Cornwall..." Excuse me, but why kill all my animals and leave me to rot on a Form A?"
Oct 19 ~ Sue has been watching BBC Breakfast News....John Krebs wheeled on to do his Corporal Jones "dont panic" act...
Oct 19 ~"...everyone we asked, and I mean EVERYONE - Hoteliers, caterers, shopkeepers as well as farmers- in the area was convinced that the govt has a hidden agenda in its'handling' of FMD." writes Judith , just back from a holiday in the Lakes
Oct 18 ~ Lawrence writes an open letter to Anthony Gibson of the NFU...I am grateful to you for having dared to speak out against the 'party line': but even as you were being quoted in the Western Morning News, saying that that vaccination should have been considered early on in the outbreak of foot and mouth, the NFU Journal [October 2001 Issue 108] was featuring an outrageous travesty of the facts in a special feature by Martin Stanhope
Oct 18 ~ a brief message from France urges action on the streets. Why are we being so dreadfully and desperately "English"?
Oct 17 ~ This letter, published in full in the Newcastle Journal today, speaks of "the malignant influence of the EU....responsible for changing the recommendations of the Northumberland Report because of various directives."
Oct 17 ~ Monsanto moves in on India.India is likely to allow by March the commercial production of a genetically modified (GM) crop for the first time, a top government official said. "Things are moving very fast," Manju Sharma, secretary in the federal department of biotechnology in New Delhi, told Reuters by phone late on Monday.
Oct 17 ~ Farmers across the country are preparing to take the Government to court if their call for a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis is refused, it was revealed today.Press Association
Oct 15 ~ We have already seen enough good herds and flocks wiped from our hillsides. We have seen too many perfectly good lambs wasted through bungling bureaucracy. This is my attempt to stop this obscene waste and get the fine produce of the Dales onto people's plates and into the pockets of our publicans and hoteliers. Julia's article about the Rhythm of the Dales and her scheme for selling light lamb
Oct 15 ~".. no Government training scheme will be able to turn out a work force sufficiently dogged and gritty to live and work in these hills. - For along with our native hefted flocks of which they are rapidly disposing, they are effectively getting rid of the Dalesmen that have their very hearts and lives hefted to these hills.." Julia writes passionately about her Dales.
Oct 15 ~ " Labour has hoped to weaken public sympathy for the farmers' plight. Instead, by calling for an end to subsidies when the new report makes it clear that they are the farmers' last remaining lifeline, by failing to put forward any constructive proposals for reforming the Common Agricultural Policy which keeps farmers dependent on these handouts, and by refusing to hold a public inquiry into foot-and-mouth, it has proved how out of touch it is with the mood of countryfolk and how bereft it is of ideas for a rural recovery. " Yorkshire Post comment column
Oct 14 ~ If anyone missed the interview given by the doughty Liz Lowther this morning here is both it and Adrian's transcript
Oct 14 ~ This article by Robbie Robinson from The Valley"..Paul resisted the police and the Maff men who were stunned by his reaction. They were used to quiet, resilient, shocked farmers, not an ex-paratrooper familiar with modern warfare. The authorities backed off. They realised their error. It was not the first: they had already killed his neighbours flocks - by mistake. "
Oct 13 ~ Lawrence has sent a most thoughtful and sane view about the beneficiaries of the FMD fiasco to Alan and Rosie and also to warmwell.com as well "... it isn't necessary to believe that there is anything 'personal' or a deliberate intent to achieve world domination by these competing interests. It can be seen as a sort of impersonal process; of corporate evolution. Control of world food production and distribution is a particularly effective asset in this struggle. "
Oct 13 ~".. consumers are totally unaware of the experimentation and that environmentalists, organic farmers, church groups and other interested bodies are excluded from any debate on the issues surrounding genetic engineering." Read this alarming letter from Adrian, who asks, one wonders what else could be illegally imported without any unit left to do the monitoring? Is anyone still trying to find out how FMD got into the UK?
Oct 12 ~ Dot went along to hear Prof King at UEA. Her comments are here and Richard's are added. Our comments are there too.
Oct 11 ~ Quita watched Week in Week out last night.
Oct 10 ~ Bryn, as we rather predicted he would, has a comment to make about the Gilwern miscarriage of justice. We print the following news story therefore.
Oct 10 ~ These articles, mainly from British Dairying, are as relevant now as they were when they were published. Adrian has sent them and they are well worth printing out and reading carefully.
Oct 10 ~ I say that curse should be strengthened and invoked upon those who, over the last eight months, have destroyed and continue to blight not only the livelihoods, but the whole way of life of this region; flocks and herds carried off and destroyed, other businesses bankrupted or brought to the edge of ruin, good people reduced to ill health, despair and even suicide. a letter sent to the Cumberland News
Oct 9 ~ The trigger happy slaughterman at Gilwern gets away with it and Quita writes I cannot understand how no one is held responsible. I have spoken to MAFF/DEFRA officials about this before and they have assured me that the vet is held responsible for the way the slaughtering is done. So, who was the vet at Gilwern??
Oct 8 ~ Julian writes about " the rubbish that the morons from defra are putting on their statistics pages"
Oct 7 ~ A month after her letter to Dr Adam, Gill receives a reply. Richard North comments. See Open letters page.
Oct 7 ~ From the Sunday Telegraph, Booker's Notebook : It is one thing for our government to hand over direction of the crisis to scientists who have no real expertise in animal diseases. But when their policies predictably fail, and they try to pre-empt criticism with such fanciful claims, it is another for the media to be so uncritical in allowing them to peddle what amounts to no more than propaganda. Christopher Booker sends warmwell the article.
Oct 6 ~ Re the Imperial College News Release, Sue says, "So what possible use could an across the board contiguous cull be if most transmission occurred through animal, personnel or vehicular movements; these movements would surely have been indiscriminate in their direction and distance."
Oct 6 ~ Another look at the Muckspreader article from Private Eye Sept 25. Look out for the long article "Not the Foot and Mouth crisis" on Oct 26, also in Private Eye
Oct 6 ~ Lynda gets 100% support for the petition
Oct 6 ~ Was it bioterrorism? We take a calm look at the possibility.
Oct 6 ~ David is so angry that he uses ten exclamation marks..."When is the NFU going to start representing the interests of livestock farmers! How do you expect farmers to support the NFU when it works against us!"
Oct 6 ~ Val's email: "...someone in DEFRA drew a nice line on a map between the counties and decreed that movements were no longer allowed - nothing to do with new disease risk. The local vets in Worcester were prepared to issue a licence but were overruled by Page Street (headquarters of Exotic Diseases Dept). It took hours of time, letters to 2 MP's and a leaked internal letter in order to get this licence!"... "we not have time to pursue these nonsenses on a regular basis.."
Oct 5 ~ I have just received my first order from Pomeroy thanks to Warmwell, and the meat looks lovely - we'll taste it tonight! writes Anne, and suggests two more brave farmhouse food suppliers we might support.
Oct 5 ~ puzzlement from the hills.
Oct 5 ~ an email asking and answering questions about many of the most worrying asects of this outbreak
Oct 5 ~ The article by Viscountess Lowther from the heart of Cumbria pages
Oct 4 ~ the report from Brighton's Fabian Society Meeting "The Future of Farming"
Oct 3 ~".. I contacted Defra at Worcester who put me through to Exeter who said I should ring Worcester! Eventually some complicated forms arrived...." David recounts the saga of the £19.00
Oct 3 ~ We somehow missed the story in the Observer on Sunday about plans to infect chimanzees with BSE. A society that does this sort of thing in the name of science reveals its lack of humanity. Ghandi was right. A nation can be judged by the way it treats its animals.
Oct 2 ~ Adrian has another DEFRA story that leaves us chewing the carpet: "I gave them a ring to ask if there was any danger of getting the results back. They replied with a verbal "They were negative" and claimed to be printing out a letter as we spoke! When I asked about movement licences, I was told they must be moved within 14 days of the results coming back so I asked them if that meant 'now'? They agreed. Had I not phoned them for another month or so the 'now' would have been even further down the line."
Our answer includes links to two inquiries who are inviting submissions.
Oct 2 ~ Anne writes with almost visible steam issuing forth about the Food Standards Agency (our friend, Mr Krebs again) survey "BUYING British is not a priority for most consumers when it comes to purchasing food" witters the survey which, they say, was based on the answers of 1000 people. If the way the questions were slanted is anything like that of the later survey, this is hardly surprising.
Oct 1 ~ Some correspondence here about the British Veterinary Cattle Association and its chairman's views about the current situation.
Oct 1 ~ Hilary sends this picture of the foot and mouth scapegoat memorial in Greenwich, London. Her dogs seem to have made friends with the new statue already.
Sept 30 ~ Elaine has found the website of the Labour Animal Welfare Society. We are sure that the people concerned are sincere and delightful - but they do not seem to have heard of FMD or the New Labour Party's short way with millions of warm blooded healthy animals suspected of harbouring disease. Elaine suggests that some of us might like to have a word on their forum?
Sep 30 ~ "Screw it up and throw it away" - a partial summary of the FMD crisis can be printed out and handed out. Also a list of questions to which people should be demanding answers
Sep 29 ~ Another email pointing out the propaganda that has been such a frightening aspect of this catastrophe-without-outcry "It's the old Goebbels trick, repeat something often enough and everyone believes it."
Sept 27 ~ Warmwell has transcribed the item on Countryfile (Sept 9) about the Argentinian vaccination programme. Extract:" If you approach with that system (slaughter) and you see that in two weeks the disease is continuing growing, forget it! Stop killing animals! Do vaccination!" Dr Bernardo Cané, Chief Vet of Argentina
Sept 26 ~ We have been shown an article by Lucy Pinney in last Saturday's Times. As so often in the last seven months, strong men weep.
Sept 25 ~ Lawrence's letter about bio-terrorism, Tyson Inc and the feeling of being in a pantomime audience.."Look Behind you!"
Sept 24~ More from Lawrence of the madness that is farming aid in Devon."Jo Budden asked Business Link to confirm their refusal by letter - so that she could take the matter up with MP etc. They refused! ..."
Sept 24 ~ Revelations about Defra were made by the Evening Chronicle in Northumberland today
Sept 22 ~ An email from Lawrence in Devon quotes the NFU bulletin for September 21 about high levels of antibodies found in a sheep flock in Tiverton. They had fought off FMD. They could not fight off the FMD policy. No results yet from blood tests on the cattle kept alive on the farm nor probang tests on the dead sheep.
Sept 21 ~ The misreporting in the press continues as journalists accept government figures and statements without question. Here, Di points out that report in Ananova that: ".. Gloucestershire was the sixth worst affected area in the country with 76 confirmed cases. Thousands of the animals which contracted the disease came from the Forest of Dean, an area with a 150-year-old tradition of allowing sheep to roam freely." fails to mention that the thousands of sheep killed were never tested for FMD.
Sept 21 ~ Trying to move animals - an email from John... " I think I would have to pay a visit to the Defra office and tear somebody's heart from their chest cavity if it was me"
Sept 20 ~ Heather forwards to us news of a contiguous cull in Northumberland which is deeply saddening. ".... I look on it as a form of ethnic cleansing; they are trying to wipe us out."
Sept 20 ~ warmwell's latest letter to the Prime Minister, delivered by hand (and paw-print unfortunately) yesterday
Sept 20 ~ The further destruction of small farms (following the "advice" to farmers to use compensation money to get out of farming reported today) is well illustrated in this message from Lawrence. He was hopping with frustration when he wrote it. We were too when we read it.
Sept 19 ~ Janet has noticed this comment from Richard Sibley - President of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, a speaker today at Stoneleigh.: Current Foot and Mouth controls will work if we all stick to the rules and remain vigilant. Our enthusiasm and efforts to eradicate this virus from our precious animals must not weaken, when we are so near to completing the task. Janet has a comment to make about this
Sept 17 ~ An important extract from Alan Beat's newsletter ( for all the others see "Alan Beat" on left menu) Once again, we are left asking the same questions - why are David King, Jim Scudamore and other UK scientists telling deliberate lies? Why are they so determined to eliminate sheep that cannot pose any threat of re-infection? Why do they continue to refute the proven and documented efficiency of vaccination? Why did they refuse to trial the "Smart Cycler" device for rapid FMD diagnosis when Fred Brown offered it on 9th March? And so on . .
Sept 17 ~ a kind message from Lady Apsley saying What you are achieving is amazing - especially the continued promotion for the Foot & Mouth Truth Campaign details, along with the Petition and Information Sheet. Please everyone, keep them flowing around the country, we are in five figures already and the response has been incredible. I am hopeful we will reach our goal - HOWEVER - I only have two months in which to do it - so please, I need your collective help - NOW! Print and circulate the petition from this page (new window)
Sept 17 ~ Anne sends her reactions to the stories in the Guardian and Independent about Blair's U-turn on vaccination and also Antony Howard's review of the Ashdown Diaries...." Blair emerges from these pages not as a ruthless operator but as a sentimental softie, the kind of person who invariably likes to agree with whomever he is talking to and who consequently runs the risk of resembling the 17th Earl of Derby (of whom it was immortally remarked that 'like the feather-pillow, he bears the marks of the last person to have sat upon him') " and this is followed by an extract from Christopher's email in which he comments on the "U-Turn".."Firstly, it wasn't the NFU which was the chief villain back in March and April, it was our friend Anderson. He was pulling the strings for his own dark reasons"
Sept 17 ~ Christopher Booker has sent warmwell his latest piece from the Sunday Telegraph since we failed dismally to track it down. It concerns in particular the madness of the OTMS and the cost in terms of animal suffering and taxpayers' money of the present movement restrictions. He also offered this gem about our favourite Lancashire professor and the genial Dr Barteling: " Fred Brown and I talk about cricket (he once bowled out Len Hutton third ball with his leg spinners, if that means anything to you, (it does) but it means I hold him in even more reverence). I have a particular soft spot for Simon Barteling, because there is nothing so good as a good, honest Dutchman, and I shall never forget his contribution to the press conference in April. For me it was the eyeopener of the whole story. " See also the latest "Muckspreader"
Sept 16 ~ " these biosecurity measures now imposed are not reasonable or actually possible for any length of time. I really hope that the NFU, or groups of farmers or the RSPCA for example could threaten legal action." writes Anne, also at the Bristol conference.
Sept 16 ~ Mary from warmwell writes about her impressions of the vets forum in Bristol...
Sept 15 ~ Every participant at the Bristol vets' forum found material from Compassion in world farming, including the handwritten note from Joanna Lumley.
Sept 14 ~ "I find it quite beyond reason that someone somewhere can alter the classification of an area just by drawing lines on a piece of paper" writes Val. We have added the Defra map of counties by "risk" to the top of the letter she wrote in answer to a query about why on earth POWYS should have gone into a red zone.The other side of Rhayader towards Newtown were given the white flag only two weeks ago, now they have been told they are back in the red zone, although there have been no foot and mouth cases that way.
Sept 12 ~ Two days late, we post up this important "Letter from Strasbourg". Is Richard North the only person there who can see what's going on? "....member states will have no direct control over their activities, they cannot overturn their decisions and neither can they ignore their rulings."
Sept 12 ~ From September 9th ...Quita sent this excellent 'Quick summary of "Countryfile" programme on vaccination in Argentina and Holland'.".My overriding impression was that all the Argentinian people thought that we were absolutely mad, irresponsible idiots, following the policy that we are following! "
Sept 12 ~ On Sept 7 Gillian wrote this thoughtful and hard-hitting letter to Dr Gordon Adams, MEP for the North East of England...."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. "
Sept 6 ~ The following briefing note from the national foot and mouth group (NFMG) is a factual account of vaccination under EU rules...e.g. Under EU legislation there is a ban on all animal movement within and from the vaccination zone until 30 days has elapsed since the completion of the vaccination campaign. This needs to be compared with current movement restrictions which have been imposed for many months.
Sept 6 ~ Nick says that a vet from New Zealand, disgusted at the government's handling of the disease, said, "...we have to sign the Official Secrets Act! However when I get home I WILL TELL ALL! They can`t touch me there!"
Sept 6 ~ Steve from Cumbria endorses Elaine's thoughts about the latest hotspot." It is simply not believable that the recent hotspots stem from any "natural" movement of the virus, nor can "accidental" spreading be taken seriously. Massive "jumps" in distance or in time point to deliberate actions "
Sept 6 ~ Read Professor King's actual words as he tells James Naughtie that the outbreak in "Northumbria" is caused by"old disease" in sheep and that animals have been incubating the disease since the first "Key" premises were discovered. He says that vaccination woudln't work. "Much the better way of dealing with ... er.. an outbreak of the kind in Northumbria is exactly what we're doing. Once the disease has become rampant in an area such as Northumbria, vaccination wouldn't stop it..."
Sept 6 ~ Pat feels that the paranoia evident on Radio 4 today about BSE is misplaced. Prof Lacey who has the temerity to distance himself from the link between BSE and beef was not invited onto the programme. Also, she writes wearily, Farmers are being blamed for the refusal to vaccinate.
Sept 6 ~ Brent sends this article from Canada - This is one of the best articles i've seen to articulate the big biz and gov "thinking"on global markets and subsidies.
Sept 6 ~ Elaine has noticed an odd thing about the Northumberland outbreaks ".....was DEFRA either bloodtesting or attempting to lift D notices in these areas?...
Sept 6 ~ Back from her support for Hilary and Jean, Dot describes the scene outside Downing Street.
Sept 5 ~ A transcript of the very interesting Farming Today on vaccination with Jon Dobson (now spokesman for NFMG), Will Cockbain (NFU volte-face in Cumbria), and Lord Whitty (on whose upper lip one could sense the fim of moisture) "This isn't good enough Minister..."
Sept 5 ~ This letter from the Dutch vet Peter Poll PhD. DVM. , forwarded by Jane from farmtalking.com is quietly damning of the UK policy."We are dealing with the equivalent of a huge oil-tanker, and to stop it in its tracks and make a U-turn, a lot of force is necessary. Don?t underestimate all the inflated egos, that will need a lot of convincing before they admit that they were wrong! "
Sept 5 ~ Frances, a lady from Cumbria, has written this lament for the killing fields. Sept 3 ~ We hear from Lawrence Alderson about the reception of his paper in Budapest
Sept 3 ~ Bryn has a bit of a rant at defra about imports of vaccinated meat. "The government and DEFRA are playing silly buggers, for they have withheld the FULL truth that in FACT we imported 68,608 tonnes of vaccinated meat from Brazil in the period, June 2000 till May 2001"
Sept 3 ~ Di makes us smile with this account of her zealous hiding under hedges in order to carry out her surveillance - with partner in tow..."so I casually got out of the car and strolled to the wagon behind me where I did my best Mata Hari bit asking the driver what he was carrying. ..."
Sept 3 ~ "This country needs to make up its mind whether it wants animal welfare or cheap food - you can't have both!" David wonders whether, in view of the new Volume Incentive Scheme, he should restock with even more cows....
Sept 3 ~ Brent sends this Canadian article about the gentrification of the countryside......"that telling phrase Rural Affairs conveys the impression, as is intended, that the principal function of the countryside has now become to provide an environment for urban dwellers, who in Britain, as in all industrial democracies, now constitute the overwhelming majority of the population. "
Sept 3 ~ As Christopher Booker says, it is rather annoying that the virus won't obey rules.
Sept 3 ~ Lynda sends this extract from Commercial Motor 30 Aug - 5 Sept. which just shows the depths of lunacy regarding the maze of disinfectant rules and obstructive regulations
Sept 2 ~ Silent Spring...a piece of very powerful writing by Nick Green
Sept 2 ~ A ditty for Downing Street? John has sent us this song for vaccination. Pictures are by Hilary but a dim shadow of their glory in the interests of webspace ( we are running out)
Sept 1 ~ Dr Richard North has sent us a copy of the article in today's Daily Mail, "How Labour killed the Countryside"
Sept 1 ~ Val C has seen a cheering letter that backs her own view ...I think that the trouble is that the requirements for subsidy in each of the member states is so very different that it is not feasible to have a 'common' agricultural policy at all.
Sept 1 ~ Thanks to Gary in the U.S. this important piece in the Telegraph on Thursday, somehow missed, can now be seen. It concerns the extraordinary hostility of DEFRA towards any journalist trying to report on the culling. ' It was now a matter of course, she said, for reporters not to be told about press conferences until the eleventh hour, for requests for interviews with ministers to be ignored, and inquiries for information to be treated in a "deeply unpleasant" manner' .......'."They said my details would be passed on to the trading standards officers [responsible for monitoring breaches of the Blue Box bio-security zone] for further investigation. All the time, a Defra official was sitting there, giggling." '
Sept 1 ~ Andrew has sent this fascinating material by Abigail Woods which not only raises the vital question of why, at the supposed nadir of its influence, farming has been elevated to prime determinant of policy but also draws some very powerful conclusions from a look at British Argentina relations in recent years. " I strongly suspect the cessation of vaccine contingency planning and the holding of vaccine stocks was somewhat related to the end of the Argentine meat trade with Britain."
Sept 1 ~ Yesterday's Cumberland News had some very interesting and informative letters published.."I checked with my own branch office and find that membership really is only 37 per cent of all those farmers and smallholders who are recognised by Defra as being occupiers of agricultural holdings and have ministry holding numbers.....One wonders where the threshold is set to ensure Nick Utting's 70 per cent representation. "...."The enormity of the crisis is no defence - the Government's ineptitude has contributed to the size of the outbreak....The incompetence has extended to well-documented massive cruelty in the way animals have been brutally slaughtered. The total of animals killed is hugely in excess of the numbers who needed to be killed. "
//FONT> received August 3rd
Aug 3 ~ Message from TONY
Aug 1 ~ A press release from the Cambridgeshire veterinary website pighealth.comWhy aren't we using strategic vaccination in Yorkshire?
Sept 5 ~ Jan writes: "...the Kelly/Hutton/Blair affair seems like a total rerun of 2001 and FMD - EXCEPT - that this time we are all united and aware of the situation from the outset.
....as yet no-one seems prepared to point the finger at Blair. The journos too are backing off - they have made the info available - but cannot make the case. ...... Each day I wait for someone to take up the call - just as I waited with FMD. After those years of bitter experience I don't think we can afford to wait. I think it will be up to us. ...."
"The way you train the high-flying administrators, the mandarins, can be summed up in one sentence. It is to train people to be at ease with their consciences when they take decisions about things they do not understand.... What is a 'recommendation'? Ah, it's a thing that's written in their final report, where they prenegotiated away whatever wouldn't be acceptable." Alan Dickinson on British government's disregard of science.
"Politics is a means of preventing people from taking part in what properly concerns them" Paul Valery (1871-1945) Sept 15 ~ Chris Stockdale writes: "I am a farmer (still, just) who both lost stock (IP) and kept some alive in 2001 (bloody-minded persistence). I have subsequently made FMD Contingency plans the focus of a Dissertation as part of an MSc at the Royal Agricultural College and represent an Organic sector body to DEFRA's Stakeholder meetings in London.