Some of the major points made - in brief
Warmwell's front page reports about the EU Temporary Committee's
draft report on FMDOctober 1-2 2002
Oct 2 ~ "Dreadful mess and suffering"
The long-awaited Draft report of the EU Temporary Committee on FMD should have been reported fully on the front pages of all serious British newspapers and a copy given to all members of Parliament.
Ken Tyrell, the veteran veterinary surgeon involved at a senior level in both the 1967 and 2001 crises, whose clear and humane criticisms of the UK policy were published on this website, comments, "..the EU has pronounced so forcibly about the dreadful mess and suffering that MAFF and subsequently DEFRA made in their shambles (using the word in the old meaning of lots of blood) ...."
The detail of the report speaks volumes. In vain did leading proponents of the mass slaughter policy; Roy Anderson, David King, Lord Whitty (who, according to Sean Poulter yesterday "visited the Committee Chairman") and Margaret Beckett, try to carry out a damage limitation exercise, attempting to smooth over the cruelty and the flawed science. The Committee merely heard them out with polite incredulity. They - unlike these politicians and "scientists", had taken the trouble to listen to those involved, listened and been moved to tears by them.
In spite of the diplomatic language of the report, what clearly emerges is that the policy adopted by the UK was both cruel and ineffective and must never be allowed to happen again and that there are unanswered questions about why Britain did not vaccinate ( and why farmers were so mis-led ) and did behave in the way it did.
The most diplomatic section of all is on the legality of the 3km contiguous cull - its pronouncement that the legality is something that must be "decided by the courts" could hardly be clearer.
The draft document supports the simple common-sense view that warmwell has taken all along; where we have tests and vaccines that work it is madness not to use them. The fact that they were not used, that a mass slaughter policy, brutal to animals and humans alike was used instead, is a dark indictment of our society's ethics. So few of us shouted out against it. So few really knew or cared what was going on. The disproportionate influence of the interested, ambitious and powerful drivers of the policy has still not been properly investigated - but at least the draft report is here and can be read in full.
Oct 2 ~ EU draft document on UK opposition to vaccination
(see document) "some farmers' opposition to vaccinations was evidently due to the mistaken belief that EU law prohibited the payment of compensation for the possible loss of value of vaccinated animals....Relatively small special-interest groups (parts of the meat-producing farming sector and the food trade) seem to have had an undue influence over decisions affecting the wellbeing of whole regions in the management of the FMD outbreak in the UK in 2001. This is all the more worrying because fears in the food trade that consumers would not accept products from vaccinated livestock were unsubstantiated."
Oct 2 ~" only the courts can definitively determine whether the 3 km cull was legal"
(EU draft report) "The 3 km cull which was ordered in Cumbria and in Dumfries and Galloway, which entailed culling sheep, pigs and goats within a 3 km radius of an infected farm, may not have had a basis in domestic law, irrespective of the question of the practicability and proportionality of this measure. However, only the courts can definitively determine whether the 3 km cull was legal. It is not apparent that this is either explicitly permitted or explicitly prohibited at European level."
Oct 2 ~ should also have regard for changes in people's way of life and in attitudes towards the environment and animal welfare
"....measures to tackle FMD should not only -- as on previous occasions -- be regarded as an operation to police the epidemic with the aim of safeguarding livestock holdings or particular commercial interests but should also have regard for changes in people's way of life and in attitudes towards the environment and animal welfare and increased mobility, combined with a cost-benefit analysis of any given control strategy.."
Oct 2 ~ "The practice adhered to in compensating farmers in the event of an FMD outbreak is unjust."
It is not clear why only farmers whose animals have been culled should receive compensation, while none is paid to farmers who have been unable to market animals or animal products properly because of the ban on transport...." (paragraph 72)
Oct 2 ~ Vaccination - the EU Draft Document
"The Commission is called upon, on the basis of the experience of 2001, to draw up a cost-benefit analysis of prophylactic vaccination, which was successfully employed by a number of Member States before 1992. This study should include an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages in the field of international trade, public opinion and marketing possibilities within the EU" (paragraph 113)
"The way in which Uruguay tackled FMD in 2001 demonstrates the considerable positive aspects of emergency vaccination without subsequent slaughter "
"many of the experts stressed that, under certain conditions, emergency vaccination is a better way of controlling FMD than the 'stamping out' method. ...
Mass culling of livestock and the subsequent destruction of meat can be ethically justified only by special socioeconomic grounds. Decisions must be taken in a transparent manner.."
The vaccines currently available make it possible -- at least on a herd by herd basis -- to distinguish between infected and vaccinated animals....... many experts consider the risk of transmission of FMD by carrier animals to be extremely slight....The international recognition of serological tests to demonstrate the presence of antibodies to 3ABC or other non-structural proteins -- at least on a herd by herd basis -- for the purposes of regaining 'FMD-free' status more rapidly after emergency vaccination is a vital element in decision-making on vaccination in the event of an outbreak of FMD....before 'FMD-free' status can (now) be regained to 6 months in the event of emergency vaccination without subsequent culling...
emergency vaccination with the aim of allowing animals to live for normal further use should no longer be regarded only as a last resort for controlling FMD but must be considered as a first-choice option from the outset when an outbreak occurs, except in the case of the actual farms which unequivocally have to be regarded as infected. ...
As members of the OIE, Member States should, in cooperation with the Commission, seek to ensure that OIE rules constantly keep pace with scientific progress in the development of vaccines and test procedures and that OIE procedures permit rapid decision-making.
The Commission and Member States are called upon to actively strive to bring the waiting period for regaining FMD-free status after application of a strategy of vaccination without subsequent slaughter of the vaccinated animals into line with the period used when a vaccination-to-kill policy is applied, in other words 3 months in both cases.
Oct 2 ~ Contingency Planning
"Member States should review their contingency plans in the light of experience of the FMD crisis in 2001 -- particularly with reference to the staff available for deployment, equipment and laboratory capacity -- and should test them regularly. ...should be based on risk analysis and provide for various scenarios so that even major outbreaks can be kept under control. ..... should be so designed that emergency vaccinations can be carried out as a control measure of first choice from the beginning of an outbreak. .... should establish compatible, networked electronic animal epidemic information systems containing and linking all information which is of relevance for the purposes of effective management of livestock epidemics, into which relevant information from the operatives on the ground (especially vets) can be input in real time in the event of an outbreak. ....should provide an integrated crisis management system and short lines of communication to the bodies involved and,.... assign decision-making powers to local or regional level.
95. The establishment of continuous contact, upstream and downstream, between all the organisations concerned (public authorities, farmers, members of the public) should play a leading part in the drafting of contingency plans and should receive particular attention in the Commission's evaluations thereof."
Oct 2 ~ Research and Development
"The Commission should immediately designate a Community reference laboratory for vesicular virus diseases, which should maintain contact with the officially designated national laboratories, assist them and be in a position to make optimal methods of diagnosis of vesicular virus diseases of animals available, perform experiments and field trials relevant to FMD and provide information and further-training programmes.
The Commission and Member States should provide more funding and coordination for research into livestock diseases which figure in the OIE's A list and occur or are likely to occur in the EU, with the aim of facilitating systematic vaccination. In the case of FMD, the priorities should be as follows:
- to improve vaccines with the aim of developing a vaccine which needs to be administered only once and which covers as many serotypes as possible, builds up protection very quickly and blocks transmission of the virus in order to exclude carrier status,
- to improve tests with the aim of reliably distinguishing between vaccinated animals and animals which are both vaccinated and infected and detecting FMD earlier than hitherto after an infection,
- mathematical models which will improve prediction of the impact of the various control strategies, including vaccination."
Oct 2 ~ protection of animals during transport.
(Is this the paragraph from the EU Draft Report that Mrs Beckett would like people to think was her own?) " Member States are called upon to transpose properly Directive 91/628/EEC (as amended by Directive 95/29/EC) on the protection of animals during transport. The Commission should submit a legislative proposal to set a limit of 8 hours or 500 km on journeys by cattle, horses, goats, sheep and pigs not intended for specific breeding and/or sporting purposes." (para 117)
Oct 2 ~ The EU Draft document in full
can be printed out in a new window and read properly here. Alternatively, the pdf file is available at http://www.europarl.eu.int/meetdocs/committees/fiap/20020930/475785en.pdf The points, other than those above, that we find to be of particular interest, can be viewed here.
Oct 1/2 ~ "Britain's handling of the foot and mouth crisis was branded cruel, incompetent and confused ......apparent attempts by the government to stifle the EU committee findings have failed..." .
Interestingly, it is the DailyMail report that is chosen for the EPP-Ed (European Parliament) group news page.
Sean Poulter's forthright article : "Britain's handling of the foot and mouth crisis was branded cruel, incompetent and confused yesterday. The report of an EU investigation into last year's alert reveals the lack of a valid contingency plan, crippling bureaucracy and animal suffering on a massive scale. ...Farmers were bullied into allowing their livestock to be killed, the report says, while many of the animals suffered at the hands of poorly-trained slaughtermen.
It suggests that apparent attempts by the government to stifle the EU committee findings have failed. Agriculture Minister Lord Whitty visited the committee chairman, German Social Democrat MEP Wolfgang Kreissl-Doerfler, before the inquiry to put his Government's case. But the report pulls no punches over official involvement....One of the most damning findings is that the strategy of a mass cull probably did not work. The crisis could have been eased with vaccinations, the report says, but the Government bowed to pressure..."
Oct 2 ~"you have to understand the nature of people, the fact that they have their livelihoods, their animals which they care for, and that you cannot under any civilised society go around killing large numbers of animals to form a firebreak ..."The senior vet, Roger Windsor, at the Lessons Learned meeting at Lockerbie
. One of our very few disappointments with the EU report was its acceptance that things were somehow done better in Scotland. One has only to re-read the transcript of the public meeting in Lockerbie to see how very far from the truth that is.
Incidentally, it is ironic to read Dr Anderson's words of reassurance at that meeting..." .. your question on access to papers, I have been assured that any papers that are pertinent to the scope of our work in foot and mouth disease terms will be available to us and I can report to you that so far all requests that we have made in that regard have been fully met..."
So why did Dr Anderson not have access to records of the discussions which led to the bizarre policy of the 3 kilometre cull? And why have commentators not demanded to know why? The EU Temporary Committee's draft report on FMD is very useful - but there are still so many unanswered questions of national importance.
Some of the major points made - in brief