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You recently posted comment on the Dr Peter Nettleton (Moredun Research Institute) Dundee Courier article.

In an article in the Scottish Farmer on dec 21, again it is stated that "he (Dr Nettleton) dismissed control by vaccination at the present time, adding that if such a policy had been implemented we would still be in the middle of the epidemic".

Reference to the annual report of the Moredun Research Institute for the year 2000 Foot and Mouth Disease does not get a mention. Accordingly, the Moredun Research Institute (MRI) has no current projects on FMD, nor did they have in recent years. As far as I am aware the MRI provides no clinical veterinary service relating to FMD. It would seem that the contribution to the study of FMD in recent years by the MRI is nil. The MRI has done no work on new vaccines for FMD, none on new tests to detect FMD virus, nor has it done any work on the developement of improved diagnostic tests to distinguish between vaccinated and infected livestock. As far as I am aware it has done little or nothing to warn the Scottish Executive or the farming community of the imment danger of FMD getting into Europe and into the UK in particular. After all, to be fair, the MRI is a research institute - they cannot be expected to busy themselves with imminent national catastrophies? They are apparently not paid to do that, or are they? Or should they be? They are after all substantially government funded. But they will give advice if interviewed by a journalist - and how!

FMD was and remains the most threatening viral disease of livestock as far as the UK is concerned, as can be assessed by studying the world maps for the incidence of FMD in each successive year leading up to 2001 and warnings from the EU. This information and the effective use of vaccination in many countries is also readily available on the OIE website (www.oie.com), and what happens when vaccination is stopped.

Dr Nettleton's work experience and interest includes
1971-74: Veterinary Laboratory in Swaziland
1975-79: Foot-and-mouth disease virus vaccine production and research, Pirbright
1979- : Ruminant virus diagnosis and research principally on pestiviruses and parapoxviruses, Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh

Apparently therefore his last major involvement with Foot-and-Mouth Disease was some 22 yearrs ago. Nevertheless he now pontificates that vaccination for FMD in the UK should be "dismissed". It would appear that no other organisation in the UK other than Pirbright (with its classification as a "World Centre") has done any significant research on FMD or the risk of it entering the country and what effect that would have. Regrettably the status accorded to Pirbright, instead of increasing its efforts, has apparently lead to complacency and apathy on account of its monopoly of the subject.

The Moredun Research Institute website (www.mri.sari.ac.uk), when searched for Foot-and-Mouth Disease, cruelly refers the inquirer to the MAFF,NFU, NFUS, Quality Meat Scotland, Sheep Veterinary Society, British Cattle Veterinary Association and Pig Health websites and to no one else. The MRI makes no statement for or against vaccination, or tries to explain what the problems might be with or without vaccination. It makes no effort to inform the public. Yet, when asked in mid Decmber 2001, a member of is staff pontificates " that if such a policy (vaccination) had been implemented we would still be in the middle of the epidemic". Is politics the motivation rather than science? Ironically, as evidenced by the recent Brussels Conference, Continental Europe now appears to be taking a rational look at the use of vaccination, with the UK still playing cover-up politics for its major contribution to the worst FMD disaster in history.

It would be important for someone to respond to the article in the Scottish Farmer and hopefully also in the Dundee Courier, as a large number of the general public in central Scotland and virtually all the farmers in Scotland (and many in Cumbria) will have read Dr Peter Nettleton's wild-cat statement which contradicts the international experience of those who have worked extensively, productively and effectively on the control of FMD.

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