Letters, The Journal, Newcastle.
Could I endorse J C Whaley's excellent letter (Journal 20 Nov) demanding an open inquiry into the cause and conduct of the handling of the recent outbreak of FMD.
It adds insult to injury when those responsible (The Government) seek even greater draconian powers by rushing through Parliament a so called Animal Health Bill, now better known as 'The Animal Death Bill', before a proper public inquiry has been held. It is reminiscent of Hitler's Enabling Act in 1933 after the Reichstag fire which gave him power to overrule the constitution and we all know where that lead.
Ben Gill of The NFU is now belatedly coming round to the view that the use of vaccine should now be considered. However, it is a red herring for the NFU to say the Government has not properly funded research into finding such a treatment. A vaccine has been available from the very start of the outbreak, advice and expertise in its use was readily offered by the World's leading FMD experts, which the government chose to ignore.
Never again must this insane mass slaughter policy be used to control what is a minor disease that can easily be contained by vaccine as recently proven in Holland.
John S. Pearson
The Editor Newcastle Journal Thomson House Newcastle upon Tyne
I wholeheartedly agree with the content of JC Whaley's letter in The Journal on 20th November.
Regarding mass culling being DEFRA's preferred method of trying to eradicate future epidemics of animal disease and rushing a special Bill through Parliament allowing government officers to legally enter premises and slaughter animals suspected of carrying disease, I should like to point out that this also includes domestic animals, such as horses, dogs and cats.
For example, your dogs have been exercised in a field where cattle are grazing and several days later the cattle develop FMD, the dogs become dangerous contacts. Armed with this new Bill the Veterinary Inspector has the right to slaughter your dogs if, in his opinion, they pose the slightest risk of spreading infection. A horse and rider hack along a lane where infected cattle have walked. The horse is then a dangerous contact and will be shot.
The Veterinary Inspector will have the legal right to enter your home, and destroy your animals. If you resist you will be arrested and face prosecution. The Law will no longer be on your side. Animal owners will have no right of appeal.
I watched on TV a harrowing account of the heartbreaking effects of foot and mouth disease on three North-East farming families.
The disaster and misery inflicted in total on some 4,000 farming families and the gruesome deaths of more of more than three million animals is out of all proportion to the to the dangers of the disease, which is just a virulent, but not fatal, influenza in animals and has no affect on human health.
With no recent outbreaks, farmers were hoping the disease had run its course, but Defra announces that the Inkerman burial site at Tow law will not be closed, in case of further outbreaks next year.
It also states that mass culling is the preferred option for future outbreaks and is rushing special bills through Parliament, under the guise of Animal Health Care, to enable its officers to enter farms at any time to slaughter animals suspected of carrying disease, giving the farmer no right of appeal.
Rural Affairs Margaret Beckett says she hopes the small family farm will survive the foot and mouth outbreak.
With these powers the Government can ensure that family farming will not survive into the 21st Century.
Rosemary Scott pointed out last week the futility of the slaughter policy to control foot and mouth, that many reputable scientists would prefer a single vaccination which does not entail future culling.
Government scientists seem to regard the slaughter policy as the sacred cow of British farming policy.
Farmers and their families, their vets, and friends in ancillary industries, along with other rural industries like tourism, who have witnessed their livelihoods vanishing in the smoke of funeral pyres, their life's work consumed in the ashes and their future in ruins, must not allow this industry to be burdened with this monstrous slaughter policy.
We demand an open inquiry into the cause and conduct of the recent outbreak and for our farming leaders to take notice of the views of farmers that the slaughter policy is unacceptable.
J C Whaley