Dear Alan and Rosie,

Although it is elegant, I don't agree with the analogy which Bonnie draws between FMD with the terrorist attacks of 11th September.

It seems to me that FMD is part of the attack being made on independence and freedom by the global scale business interests which have bought and bankrolled the American Presidency, the New Labour Government here and the undemocratic excesses of the EU. The terrorist attacks are an extreme reaction against it.

There has been reaction against the handling of the FMD outbreak here. We have protested in writing, mustered at farm gates and marched through the streets of Exeter and London, for example. Several farmers have killed themselves but none have simultaneously attacked the centres of operations and symbols of the organisations that have driven them to suicide. I remember, however, after the FMD Forum at Bristol, hearing someone who was the picture of the respectable English Countryman, describe the illegal outrages which he had witnessed and experienced; and then say quietly that while he did not condone the killing of 5,000 people, he could understand what might bring someone to crash a plane into the World Trade Centre. I have since heard similar sentiments expressed by several other local farmers. It is not only in the Arab and Muslim communities that 'Old Bin Liner' is admired: and it is quite extraordinary to find English countrypeople to whom the dictates of fundamentalist Islamic religion would be anathema should have been moved to admiration of one of its most extreme proponents.

The official story of the start of our FMD outbreak was that infected meat imported into the country was fed to pigs in inadequately treated swill. The import of the infected meat could only have been allowed by criminal neglect; negligence on the part of our government in not taking measures to prevent an obvious danger of which it had been repeatedly forewarned. Despite the officially acknowledged danger and all the experiences of the last seven months, the legal and illegal import of potentially infected material continues virtually unchecked. The other unofficial theories about the origin of the outbreak are that it was an accidental escape from a laboratory arising from a lack of care, perhaps a deliberate lack of care; or that it was a deliberate act of biological warfare, perhaps designed to further the interests of a global food producing company. At best, the origin was in consciously repeated negligence; something that happened 'accidentally on purpose' [in the language of Hollingbourne County Primary School]. At worst it was started deliberately. In either case the beneficiaries were global scale companies [such as food producing and trading companies, transport and oil companies - and perhaps the Pharmaceutical Companies that manufacture vaccines].

As the understanding of what has happened here grows, it become more and more clear that the measures adopted for control and eradication of FMD were incompetently administered and guaranteed to inflict the severest economic damage on the independent livestock farms. These are being driven out of business and bankrupted in increasing numbers. The average annual income from a 500 acre lowland farm here in the UK, has fallen from £80,000 to £2,500. What has happened to the 200 acres and smaller Devon livestock farms has been worse.

The beneficiaries of this process are the global scale multinational companies of the kind that has been alleged to have started the outbreak: the companies that exert control over world governments, the World Bank, World Trade Agreements, etc. [Note: 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. It was fairly easy to understand the process of National aggrandisement. This Corporate aggrandisement is somewhat more subtle.]

Through the outbreak of FMD here and its treatment and consequences, we have experienced and are continuing to experience in particularly blatant reality, the kind of treatment suffered at the hands of these global scale interests by small independent farmers and rural communities throughout the world.

The terrorist strike at the headquarters of these interests [the World Trade Centre] and their enforcers [the Pentagon] was a reaction from people who have been pushed further than us. To those that carried out the attacks, the victims would not have been 'innocent victims' any more than are the residents of the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan to the US and UK airforces that are now bombing them. Our media accept without second thought that the occupants of the 'training camps' are legitimate targets and can be killed on our behalf: and that, unfortunately, there will be some killing of 'innocent civilians' ['collateral damage'] too. Perhaps we should try to see more clearly what is being done in our names and whether it is truly for the best.

Whatever we conclude, I suggest that the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre is not the same kind of disease as FMD and the analogy is misleading.