Re the justification for the contiguous and 3 km culls,I thought you might be interested in this from the Foot and Mouth Diaries Archive on the BCVA website, written by Richard Sibley, President at the time, and a regular member of the Stakeholder Meetings. This seems to echo Jim Scudamore, who apparently stated that the sheep flocks in Cumbria were so heavily infected that the farmers should "voluntarily" give them up for mass slaughter at Great Orton."The level of infection in the sheep is such that areas of Cumbria bordering the Solway Firth, and the southern parts of Dumfries and Galloway are heavily infected. The 3km protection zones around infected premises almost merge, and for this reason, the decision has been made to remove and destroy all sheep and pigs within these areas....We support this decision. Unpopular and draconian as it may seem, the strategy has logic" (See BCVA foot and Mouth Diaries March 18 2001)This can be linked in with a Report from SEERAD 10 December 2001, detailing the slaughter policy (main body of Report in separate email):16. "The disease was highly contagious and spread rapidly. However evidence of local spread from sheep into cattle and into neighbouring flocks and epidemiological work by the SVS suggested that animal to animal spread was more likely than airborne spread in this outbreak."17. "It was therefore agreed on advice of the CVO, that to reduce the risk of disease spread outside of those areas of D and G already infected, removal of all sheep within 3 km of an Infected Premises should be undertaken, recognising the risk that all such sheep might have been exposed to infection. A three km cordon is the designated protection zone under EU legislation taking account of aerosol spread. On 15 March the Minister for Environment and Rural Development, Ross Finnie, accepted this advice and announced that sheep flocks that may be harbouring the disease would be identified and destroyed, whether or not clinical signs of the disease were yet evident. In practice this meant all sheep flocks within 3 kms of Infected Premises."It is intriguing that in Para 16 it is acknowledged that animal to animal spread was more likely that airborne spread, and yet, the Scottish Executive seems quite content to use the aerosol spread argument to justify the contiguous and 3 km cull. My view is that you cannot have it both ways. I feel that the logic used by the SE was hardly scientific and therefore should be subjected to the closest scrutiny by veterinary experts in FMD control.Furthermore, what was the justification for the intensification of the cull mentioned below on 24 March?20. "On 24 March the Scottish Executive announced the intensification of the cull to include all susceptible species in farms adjacent/contiguous to premises at which FMD had been confirmed on or after 16 March, again prioritising farms on boundaries of disease clusters to prevent outward spread."This in the event meant that some farms well within the 3 km radius were being slaughtered out 10 weeks after the IP had been diagnosed. Bear in mind that for Wigtownshire, only 2 of the 15 IPs returned positive tests in the first place, and that these results (displaying the very low level of infection in reality, compared to what was being claimed) would be known by the higher echelons of the SE, as well as the DVM in charge of the slaughter policy for the area. Yet, they still pursued the "scorched earth policy". What was the scientific basis for that? The evidence from the acknowledged FMD veterinary experts would indicate there was no scientific justification whatsoever.The strong support given by Sibley for the slaughter policy in the Stakeholder Meetings cannot be underestimated, not least because of his role as President of the BCVA. Some idea of his depth of feeling about the anti slaughter/pro vaccination lobby can be gauged from the following further entries in the BCVA Diaries:"The criticisms coming from some welfare groups and some of the public are crass. The slaughter of healthy animals goes on every day, and it is what meat production is all about...".(18th March 2001)
Vaccination has been an issue all week. The growing calls for some form of vaccination strategy have been coming from all directions, including some vets and scientists. The recent paper (by Prof Brownlie) that we commissioned gave a good insight into the pros and cons of vaccination, but the messages were not getting through..... Now we have the Soil Association, Prince Charles, and all sorts of “we know best” individuals pontificating on the virtues of vaccination and alternative control strategies. (1st April 2001)
He also gives some indication of the reasoning behind his anti vaccination stance, referring to Prof. Brownlie's paper:
It is proving very difficult to get people to understand that a wide-scale vaccination programme will almost certainly lead to a longer eradication, and indeed may lead to the eventual acceptance of endemic FMD infection in this country.
They could vaccinate stock at risk, but that means that they could no longer trade with the rest of Britain, let alone the world
In essence, vaccination is best used only as a last resort, and as a firebreak to prevent uncontrolled spread.
Vaccinated stock are a liability in the long term, and would most probably be slaughtered to remove the confusion created by their seroconversion.
It is not yet feasible to differentiate between a vaccinated animal and one that has been infected. (18 March 2001)
Sibley then goes on to give some insight into some of the politics in the Stakeholder Meetings, and what his future policy will be for the coming week:
"Our function as an Association is to look after the interests of our members. Those interests could simply be served by providing knowledge and information, and preparing members to face a changing world. However, many groups are now having influence on the decisions being made by Government, many of which are against our own interests. We cannot sit back and let this persuasion by media, and control by popularity, work against our own interests, which depend upon the long-term survival of an efficient, and productive cattle industry."
"Push forward with our vaccination policy, which is to only allow vaccination of cattle in contiguous herds while they await slaughter. Any vaccination should only be carried out on animals that are to be slaughtered, and the vaccine must only be used to buy time and slow virus spread where keeping up with slaughter targets is proving impossible. Any “vaccination and live” policy will be vigorously resisted."
I think a close examination of the make-up and the functioning of the Science Group/Stakeholder Meetings is called for. It is certainly something a Public Inquiry would look at. Prof Anderson, in his appearance before the EFRA Select Committee on 7 November, 2001, throws some light on how the Science Group was put together. He claims they had looked at the best people in Europe and the USA. The very close links with the FSA are also intriguing.
"…In the last week of February, I had a phone call from Sir John Krebs at the Food Standards Agency, who said, "Are you looking at this privately?" and I said, yes, we had; he said, "Would it be helpful to organise a meeting to ensure that you had prompt access to the data?" and we discussed membership of that committee, who were the best people, not only in Britain but more broadly, in Europe and the United States. That committee was organised by Sir John Krebs. Subsequent to that, we did some more work, very quickly, because it was quite clear the epidemic was not under control , and at a subsequent meeting of the FSA, which John Krebs organised, he invited David King. At that meeting, David King formally took a detailed interest in the problem and constituted the Science Group, and then for the following month we were asked questions almost daily, particularly at one stage, about, if you did this what impact would it have."
Whatever claims are made about the Committees/Groups providing the "best scientific advice", the end result on the ground spoke for itself. I finish with Sibley's graphic description of the turmoil which seemed to be a feature of much of the FMD eradication campaign - the Diary entry for 18 March 2001.
The events of last weekend, when the control of this situation moved from the Ministry of Agriculture to Downing Street, continued into the week. The virtual meltdown in control and implementation occurred on Wednesday when it became evident that even the most simple policy decisions were subject to misinterpretation by the regional offices, and instructions were inadequate. Policy, strategy and delivery were at best confused, and at worst shambolic. The Intervention Board could not cope with the welfare schemes, and longer distance licences were becoming a farce. Lorries were whizzing all over the place to get disinfected and the supervisors often failed to turn up. Farmers were being put through mental torture by being unsure if they were to be slaughtered out, and vets were becoming tired and frustrated.
The final straw was when TVIs returning to base were told that they were to be taken off slaughter supervision. We received phone calls from dissatisfied TVIs to say that this was unacceptable, and indeed was contradictory to what was reported in last week’s diary. It also raised other issues such as the poor line of communications that TVIs have into the local management, and the poor representation they have nationally. One major centre, which accommodates over 150 TVIs, apparently has only two washbasins and no car washing facilities. This is nothing short of shambolic.