Where did this 3 km contiguous cull idea come from? See Alan Beat's article from sheepdrove and The Guardian June 6th

The government took "the best scientific advice"? We beg to differ....CLICK HERE... Prof Anderson made sure it was the ONLY advice..

The reason for the deaths of the 6-8 million British animals so far is almost entirely based on the wishes of greedy men to make money. That so many have blindly followed in the belief that the policy is right, is one of the most tragic aspects of a national tragedy.

MAFF/Defra and the EU argue....

against vaccination. Their two given reasons:

i) Animals vaccinated for foot and mouth carry antibodies similar to those in animals that are actually sick with the disease; in other words, you cannot tell whether an animal is sick or not.


the research of the last six years reveals that there is a simple test to determine which are which..

    Source: The Veterinary Quarterly, vol. 20, Supplement 2, May 1998

    Diagnostic potential of MAB-based elisas for antibodies to non-structural proteins of Foot-and-Mouth Disease virus to differentiate infection from vaccination.

    E. Brocchi, M.I. De Diego, A. Berlinzani, D. Gamba, and F. De Simone.


    This paper summarizes the development of monoclonal anti-bodies to non-structural proteins of FMDV to differentiate infection from vaccination. Of the tree non-structural proteins 2C, 3C and 3ABC evaluated in this study, the polypeptide 3ABC was the most immunogenic. Three ELISAs for the detection of anti-bodies to 3ABC were developed. Two assays rely on the competition of test sera against either a anti-3A Mab or against antisera to 3ABC raised in rabbits and guinea-pigs. The third, 3ABC Mat-ELISA, based on the direct binding of anti-bodies to the 3ABC trapped by a specific Mab, provided the best combination of specificity and sensitivity.

    The 3ABC Mat-ELISA was extensively validated for cattle, either in experimental and in field conditions, showing specificity of 99% in vaccinated and in naive cattle and the capacity to detect silent infections in FMD-vaccinated populations. The test showed similar specificity and sensitivity in experimentally vaccinated and infected sheep.

See also

"An ARS microbiologist with a lifetime of experience studying FMD, Brown worked with APHIS' Juan Lubroth to pinpoint a protein in the FMD virus that's present in the virus' early days of self-reproduction, but not in the final virus particle.

"We can grow the virus in tissue culture, and this particular protein stays behind in the culture cells when you extract the virus," explains Brown. "So you can make a vaccine from that virus, inject it into livestock, and the animals' immune systems won't make antibodies against that particular protein because it wasn't present in the vaccine. "But if an animal has been infected with FMD virus, that protein will have been present, and you will find antibodies against it in the blood. So, to differentiate between an animal that's been vaccinated and one that was actually infected with FMD virus, you could run tests to check for antibodies against that indicator protein."

ii) Some vaccinated animals remain contagious or can become sick again.

TRUE - but the numbers of these so-called "carriers" are minimal. If herds are quarantined these few so-called "carriers" can be quickly identified after 30 days. Without vaccination no one knows where the carriers are.

see the scientific background

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, at a press conference in March, urged the World Trade Organisation to modify the existing rules and allow Africa nations to export what he called "disease free" beef from African nations, saying, "The WTO must help us get rid of poverty in our countries by helping our countries enter the global markets." "I am a big producer of beef," commented the president in reference to his farm in southwestern Uganda. "I have a wholesome beef herd, clean and without fat nor Mad Cow disease, but you don't allow my beef into your market."


by Alan Beat
Edited version appeared in the Guardian on 6th June

It is now widely known that the Veterinary Record of 12th May carried a short article by Alex Donaldson, the director of Pirbright Laboratory at the Institute for Animal Health. In this article, Donaldson demonstrates that airborne transmission of the foot and mouth virus between livestock is limited to short distances of less than 100 metres; that the contiguous cull is unnecessary; and that monitoring of livestock considered to be at risk should replace slaughter on suspicion.

Reaction to this was muted at first, but gradually the significance dawned on those close to the killing. Anthony Gibson, regional director of the NFU in the south west, described it as "the most damning indictment yet of the governments controversial contiguous cull policy", and continued "the contiguous cull has been exposed for what it was; one of the most bloody, tragic and disgraceful misjudgements ever committed in the name of science" (Western Morning News, 16th May). Writing in the same newspaper on 24th May, farming editor Carol Trewin stated "New evidence has emerged in the last two weeks showing there is no scientific basis for . . . the contiguous cull, which has led to the unnecessary slaughter of thousands of healthy animals."

That phrase "new evidence" crops up repeatedly wherever Donaldsons article is referred to. His "revelations" carry considerable weight because of his position as head of the governments own research faculty, and his status as one of the worlds leading authorities on foot and mouth disease.

But the truth is that his latest article represents merely a slight updating of science that he had already published more than a year before. And since Donaldson himself sits on the governments scientific advisory committee, it is inconceivable that this science was not put before the assembled experts for consideration.

The previous work was accepted for publication in "Epidemiology and Infection" on 19th December 1999 and appeared the following year in volume 124, pages 577-590. The paper carries the title "An integrated model to predict the atmospheric spread of foot-and-mouth virus" and has four co-authors  two Danish meteorologists plus two Pirbright foot and mouth specialists including Donaldson, who is designated the "author for correspondence".

The authors describe in detail the development of computer modelling software that combines meteorological input with foot-and-mouth disease data to predict the direction and distance that airborne virus may travel. This model was "validated" against the historical records from two previous disease outbreaks to show that it "predicted" the known spread of virus. Finally, the model was used to predict the risk of infection spreading from livestock on one farm to another, using existing data drawn from a wide range of published research.

The authors conclude "transmission from infected cattle or sheep could not be shown to occur over distances of more than about 3 km". This clearly indicates that both the extended cull and firewall policies introduced to Cumbria and the Scottish borders with a 3 km limit was based on this very prediction, and is confirmation that the scientific advisory committee were familiar with, and were utilising, the information contained in this earlier paper.

However, this 3 km distance was clearly shown as a "worst case" scenario, applicable only to cattle, and only when 1000 infected cattle or sheep were positioned upwind. The corresponding distance for risk of infection in sheep was 500 metres. During a high-profile epidemic, such huge numbers of infected stock cannot pass undetected and a more realistic limit would lie between 10 and 100 infected animals on any one farm.

At this more practical upper limit of 100 infected animals, the maximum distance over which cattle were predicted to be at risk was 700 metres, while for sheep this reduced to less than 100 metres. For a more typical farm situation of 10 infected animals, where the signs of disease were promptly seen, the distance of risk reduced further to less than 100 metres for both cattle and sheep.

These were the distances predicted by the best available veterinary science to the scientific advisory committee. Again, it is inconceivable that Donaldson did not spell out the practical, on-farm implications of his work. Yet the committee recommended a draconian policy of 3 km or contiguous culls, in direct contradiction of this knowledge. Why?

The prime minister stated repeatedly that there was no alternative to this policy. The minister for agriculture stated repeatedly in the House of Commons that government policy "was based on the latest scientific and veterinary advice" (3rd May). Yet they must both have been well informed about Donaldsons work.

The NFU leadership were equally involved at the highest levels of discussion and it is hard to imagine how they could possibly have remained unaware of this veterinary science. I obtained a copy of the paper by simply corresponding with Pirbright and seeking information about airborne spread of virus, as an interested member of the public, whereas the NFU have had direct access to the top Pirbright scientists throughout this epidemic.

The unpalatable truth is that the best veterinary scientific advice was deliberately ignored by those responsible for formulating government policy. Instead, they favoured the computer modelling of university-based epidemiologists who proposed the spread of disease by making assumptions about a hypothetical "standard" livestock species, and about the statistical chance of spread to neighbouring animals, which had no factual basis in veterinary science at all.

Look again at this extract from a statement made to the House of Commons by Nick Brown on 9th April:

" The two key interventions in tackling the disease are first, to cull all animals susceptible to the disease on infected farm holdings within 24 hours; and secondly, to cull susceptible animals in neighbouring farms that share a boundary  the so-called contiguous cull - within 48 hours. We appreciate that the latter is very difficult for farmers to accept, but it is vital . . . that all potentially infected animals are culled. I urge farmers, in the strongest terms, to co-operate with us in seeing that through. Expert advice is that those premises will have been exposed to infection and need to be dealt with quickly."

In fact, the expert veterinary advice was that the risk of infection on neighbouring farms was minimal, and that careful risk assessment combined with monitoring and testing of livestock on those farms was the recommended approach. The minister knew this perfectly well when he made that statement plus many others in similar vein throughout the course of the epidemic. He is still saying the same things even now.

Paul Kitching, formerly head of exotic diseases at Pirbright, left for a new position abroad after publicly expressing his disquiet at the draconian slaughter policies. Alex Donaldson then published his article in the Veterinary Record, updating his previous work with new data relevant to the current strain of the virus that now shows the risk of airborne spread to be even less than previously stated.

Bearing in mind that Donaldson works for a government institution, this article is as far as he can go in terms of criticising his own employer. It is indeed a damning indictment of the contiguous cull policy and removes any possible support for the 3 km blanket cull. His disdain for the "biomathematical modellers" is clear and he accuses them of making false assumptions that inevitably led to the wrong answers.

No one can be in any doubt, any longer, of the real science behind airborne spread of foot and mouth virus. Nor can there be any doubt that this science was placed before the top-level meetings involving the prime minister, the minister for agriculture, the chief scientific officer and the various other advisers responsible for formulating policy, since Donaldson was included in these discussions. It is also impossible to believe that the NFU hierarchy were unaware of these facts, since they too were involved at the highest levels of consultation throughout, and had ready access to these scientists.

This has been a deceit of the highest order, perpetrated by those at the highest levels of office. The only remaining question is  why?