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ARCHIVE of warmwell "Today" page ~ Feb - April 2002

April 15 2002 ~ "Perhaps our politicians are cottoning onto EU law where they know they will be immune from prosecution.

If Geoffrey Archer had been an MEP instead of an MP he would not be in prison today. No wonder our Politicians want to sell us into Europe." writes David, having read the misinformation, some would say downright lying, being given at hearings in Strasbourg and elsewhere.

April 14 ~ Cash for favours: Blair faces new questions

Sleaze allegations by Colin Brown Political Editor of the Independent 14 April 2002 Tony Blair was facing fresh questions about cash for favours last night over his visit last week to Prague to promote the sale of 24 multi-role JAS-39 Gripen jet fighters to the Czech government. The contract - the biggest in the history of the Czech Republic - is being sought by the British-Swedish consortium including BAe Systems which has donated thousands of pounds to Labour Party funds. Mr Blair took the extraordinary step of squeezing in the one-day trip to Prague between his return from his Texas summit with President George Bush and the Queen Mother's funeral on Tuesday. Downing Street said the trip was to discuss EU enlargement but it emerged later he also discussed the arms deal with the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman. The case has echoes of the Mittal affair...... Mr Collins also challenged Labour leaders to identify the backer who stood as guarantor for Labour's £5.5 million mortgage to move from Millbank Tower to a new headquarters in a listed building with panoramic views over St James's Park. .....

April 14 ~ GM Crops in Britain. From the The Independent.

"..the row, which has broken out within the Cabinet Committee on Biotechnology, chaired by Mr Cook, has exposed fresh divisions within the Government about the issue, only a year before it must decide whether to go ahead with full-scale planting.
Some ministers fear there could be civil unrest in some areas if they go ahead without public approval. They are also predicting protests from organic farmers and boycotts by shops in response to pressure from consumers.
"People who are 'pro' the technology don't want a debate,' said a senior ministerial source. "The environment department and Robin Cook, who is the chair of the cabinet committee, want the public to have a voice."......."The European Union has warned that genes will inevitably escape from GM crops, contaminating organic farms, creating superweeds, and driving wild plants to extinction. "..."

April 14 2002~ Dr David Barling, of the Centre for Food Policy at Thames Valley University, has studied the way government grants are awarded for science..."

Extract from Observer today under the headline: Sainsbury's pet GM project hits grants jackpot "MPs query 300 per cent rise for laboratory since Labour donor became a Minister
Lord Sainsbury, the billionaire Science Minister and the Labour Party's biggest donor, has overseen a massive 300 per cent increase in his department's funding for the Sainsbury Laboratory which he helped to found"
(warmell note: We have noticed David Barling's concerns about GM safety and scientific funding before. e.g.http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/health_consumer/library/pub/cv/cv994/cv994-02_en.html"Intensive agricultural production in Europe has accelerated biodiversity loss in the countryside over recent decades. The current commercial applications of GM crops seem to reflect a continuation of these trends, despite rhetoric that the applications of GM to agriculture would decrease chemical use and lead to greater sustainability."
In this article he says,)
'While vast sums are channelled into GM technology through institutes like the Sainsbury Laboratory, a much smaller amount is put into studying issues like food safety.'

April 13 2002 ~ A year ago.."This war against farm animals reflects the insanity of those who promote globalised, industrialised, food systems which create, promote and spread disease, but who simultaneously want a 'disease free national herd'.

This crisis in the UK should make us all think more seriously about globalisation of food and agriculture. We need to explore what is the most reliable way to produce safe food, protect human and animal health, build immunity and resilience in our farming. The crisis needs a systems response, not military operations." Dr Vandana Shiva, physicist and ecologist, in Guardian Unlimited, 4 April 2001
"..........The reappraisal which will follow once the epidemic is over should not just be about farming methods. Farm production and the marketing of produce must be seen in the context of the whole food chain from farm through marketing, processing, distribution and retail sales as well as taking into account the demands which consumers themselves impose on the process through their own purchasing habits. The FMD epidemic owes less to the way we farm than to the way we regulate imports and to the procurement and distribution systems which have been developed to service the needs of the major companies who dominate food processing and sales." John Lampitt, Chairman, Farmers' World network, in Landmark, March/April 2001 (see http://www.new-agri.co.uk/01-3/pov.html)

April 13 ~" A pox on't"

The government has denied the award of a £32m contract to supply the NHS with a smallpox vaccine is linked to donations to the Labour Party. The Department for Health (DoH) confirmed on Friday that it had bought a stockpile of the vaccine to protect half the UK population against a smallpox attack.....reports the BBC. Righto. (which half, we wonder... It's just that a Labour donor won the contract: The deal is with British company PowderJect Pharmaceuticals, whose owner Paul Drayson donated £50,000 to Labour in July 2001, according to the Electoral Commission website)
From the Telegraph today " LABOUR Party officials are bracing themselves for yet another possible controversy over party funding, after a raid by the Serious Fraud Office on a pharmaceutical company headed by one of their major donors. Isaac Kaye, chairman of Norton Healthcare, gave £100,000 to the Labour Party in 1999, and more than £10,000 over the previous two years. He also gave £10,000 towards Frank Dobson's campaign to secure the Labour Party nomination for the post of mayor of London.

April 13 ~ From Nick Green in Cumbria "So, another completely crass, incompetent, insensitive and blatantly incorrect comment from Lord Whitty ...

Whitty must be related to Morley! I remember when this silly little person told a staggered audience in Cumbria at the Rheged centre, that "MAFF/DEFRA had done a jolly good job in Cumbria."! Quite nauseous. Even this ill informed member of Parliament should be able to review the facts.
1. The stock of Guy Thomas Everard NEVER HAD FOOT and MOUTH! Hello, Mr Whitty do you UNDERSTAND?
2. In 200 cases defended by solicitor Alayne Addy, NOT ONE CONTRACTED FMD! Hello, Mr Whitty do you UNDERSTAND? Retract your ill; informed comments now Mr Whitty or join Mr Morley & resign!..."
NICK GREEN CUMBRIA

April 13 ~"The inquiry under way in Brussels and Strasbourg - at which British officials, veterinary officers and, crucially, Ministers have been called to give evidence - is slowly teasing out the truth. But it is getting next to no national exposure...

...and, quite clearly, the Government is getting off the hook." said yesterday's North Devon Journal. The lack of national exposure - in spite of the fact that many journalists were at the Inquiry taking copious notes and are, presumably, still able to detect right from wrong, reminds us of the following quotation: "There are victims, there are executioners, and there are bystanders... Unless we wrench free from being what we like to call 'objective', we are closer psychologically, whether we like to admit it or not, to the executioner than to the victim." (Historian Howard Zinn) However, "In contrast to the EU Inquiry, where we are having to rely on various press reports or translated minutes for information as to what has been said and by whom, the Cumbria Inquiry will be a public hearing. The main hearings at Kendal and Carlisle will be recorded on camera and audio equipment and it is intended that those recordings will be broadcast live by BBC Online.

April 12 ~ "For Tony Blair to think that he is only supporting a moral crusade and the demands of friendship without realising that he is also being used to further America's own commercial self-interest is simply to act the chump."

Astute article about the current warmongering in today's Independent by Adrian Hamilton. See Democracy Watch

April 11 ~ GM trials in Scotland. Charles Kennedy writes to those who contacted him, "In the past week I have received nearly 200 letters

and emails from across Scotland and the rest of the UK calling on me to exert whatever pressure I can to end to the field scale evaluations of genetically modified crops across the UK and in Scotland in particular." " I have every confidence Ross Finnie will continue to base his decisions in this area on the scientific advice and studies available to himand that he would not permit any damage to human health or the environment to result from these trials. In fact since the trials were begun he has been at pains to stress that this is his priority.
The evidence that the trials do represent a risk to human health or the environment is concentrated in three reports. Those reports are the English Nature Report Number 443; the European Environment Agency Issue Report Number 28; and the Federation of European Microbiological Societies' Report - Microbiology Ecology 38.
I have written to Ross Finnie asking him to consider the evidence in these reports to see if there is a sufficient case for a discontinuation of the trials and for his reasoning in reaching whatever his final decision is."

April 11 ~ THE BUNNYHUGGERS

A thought from Hilary... "Some of us are lunatics And some are just plain old And some are bigoted as hell And others are pure gold And some are female through and through And some have half a brain, But we've taken on the orthodox, the powerful and sane. You wouldn't think we'd stand a chance Confronted with such might. We do have one thing on our side:
They half suspect we're right."

April 11 ~"... there is still no scientific justification for the contiguous cull policy. This hitherto unheard of concept has been invented by computer modellers with no veterinary training, and no specialist knowledge of foot and mouth disease.

(article in the March edition of Country Illustrated).... There is no evidence that the policy made any difference to the outbreak except to cause anger and distrust among the farming community, and financial grief to the taxpayer.....
The truth is that while the government is spinning hard to blame farmers for the fall out from foot and mouth disease, the real culprit was the Government itself. In the absence of a Public Inquiry, we must applaud the action of Devon County Council in holding its own Inquiry under the chairmanship of Professor Ian Mercer CBE. Its conclusions are damning. As Professor Mercer states in his foreward,

April 11 ~ "Many of us have had our phones tapped for months now. Can you imagine? A paranoid government ordering normal English people to be monitored by our intelligence services.

They must be desperate, stupid or a mixture of both! So much for living in a democracy...." so writes Nick Green - and many of us know exactly what he is talking about.

April 11 ~ "Just noticed that LAWS (Labour Animal Welfare Society) want people to write articles (unpaid) for their website."

(See email from Elaine)"They also want researchers to trawl the internet for articles on animal welfare. I think everyone who has contributed to warmwell as proved themselves to be suitably qualified. However, I doubt if any of them would find their work appearing on the LAWS site." http://www.labouranimalwelfaresociety.org/articles/How%20you%20can%20help.htm Quotation from the LAWS site: ".... it's fair to say that this (i.e. LAWS) a unique and radical web site, never before has there been a site which brings together politicians and animal groups combined with members of the public....."
".....So if you like trawling the net and have round the clock access and also have ambition to get on then we want to here (sic) from you, like (sic) for the post of writers and journalist if we like your work we will place you on our team and of course will offer a Job reference for your CV...."

April 10 ~ Pat Gardiner writes, ( re: A vet writes, "...farmers should report the vets who signed the form A on contiguous premises (and not the later form-modified D) to the RCVS)

I reported a vet who faked a blood test in front of me. Three times - Police, Trading Standards and MAFF. Over a year ago. All documented. They did nothing. So I reported them to the Select Committee of the House of Commons. All documented and available for all to read in the library of the House of Lords. They did nothing. Except send in a DVM and an army officer to try to intimidate me. So I went to the Speaker of the House of Commons for protection. They did nothing except remove the DVM. It is all documented and my wife and myself will give evidence accordingly in any Court. What has Scudamore done? Left the vet to fake more documents and kill healthy animals they had not inspected in the Borders ( ask the Drs. Fish ) ...and promoted the DVM to a very senior position in Defra. Scudamore has to go. Right now. The State Veterinary Service is riddled with crooks. I'm ashamed for my country. We are ruled by crooks, many of them are members of the RCVS. Our population are eating unsafe food produced by crooks protected by the RCVS Regards Pat Gardiner." (and this view would be supported by many, many knowledgeable people - many of whom have been restricted by the OSA from speaking openly. This is a national scandal that will not lie down and die.)

April 10 ~ "Farmers MUST NOT give into these stupid Government regulations that I guess have come out of WTO."

"From a pragmatic point of view, Dairy Foods had to be sold to meet the Government's regulatory package. As time goes on, you have got to realise that the power tips into the hands of the buyers." David writes, "It makes my blood boil! NZ dairying is undergoing a period of recovery after 30 years of being dumped by Britain when it joined the EEC. The reason it is doing OK is because the farmers have spent a fortune developing the processing side of the business. What is going on in the world today? Why can't farmers have control of processing? The oil industry seems to be able to process oil doesn't it.
"UK farmers had processing taken away from them by "EU competition rules" and all we can do now is wait for the next letter telling us how much they have reduced the price "because they need to maintain a competitive ..............."I can only assume Governments have run out of ideas of how run a sustainable system of agriculture to feed their people and have now resorted to playing one country against another country to get food on the cheap"...."

April 10 ~ As the country lurches towards highly questionable military action, we have received this suggestion from Dr Lawson

Dear friends ..... "Would anyone like to be a co-signatory to this letter to the Guardian? If so, press reply, (warmwell note. To prevent any misunderstanding it might be adviseable to copy and paste the letter below into the body of your email) append your name, press send. Deadline 9pm Wednesday April 10th
Richard Lawson http://www.greenhealth.org.uk
~~~~~~
Draft Letter to Guardian
As we understand it, the position in a nutshell is that Bush and Blair want Sharon to ease up on his war on terrorists so that they can get on and wage their own war on terrorism by bombing Iraq so severely that Saddam Hussein runs away and hides like Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, and then Bush and Blair start on the next terrorist regime and so on until everyone suddenly comes to their senses and gives up on violence as a political tool and peace reigns on earth.
If this is a reasonable précis of the Bush/Blair plan to defend democracy, then we, the undersigned, think that at very least, Parliament should be allowed to debate its plausibility.
Signed
Dr Richard Lawson...."
N.B. You might care to log on to http://www.vote.co.uk where one may vote on the question: Is Tony Blair right to stand behind Bush on Iraq? the results of the poll are sent to the three main parties.

April 9 ~ Pat G's comment, "What a bunch of MORONS"

RSPCA WARNS OVER TAKING HOME 'STRAY' LAMBS
"Well-meaning members of the public are being urged not to take home or move apparently orphaned lambs in the wake of the foot and mouth crisis. The RSPCA is warning people that movement of animals requires an appropriate licence, and that moving them could easily risk spreading the disease."(news report)
Pat's Comment: Oh it is all the fault of the general public now is it? They will keep kidnapping lambs and spreading disease through the inner city council estates. Cue - cuddly lamb pictures and rattle collecting tin. What a bunch of morons. (see other concerns voiced about the RSPCA on this website)

April 9 ~ Between 1976 and 1992 a new strategy for land use control was devised (in the US). It is subtle, sinister, and successful.

"Under the UN's concept of land and resource management, the owner is not even considered as one who may have a right to determine how his land is to be used. It is a higher authority that represents the "community" to whom "proof" must be offered that a proposed use is justified. This process effectively separates the right of ownership from the right of use, an objective discussed in Recommendation D.5(c)(v) of the 1976 document. And who, exactly, is this "higher authority" to whom proof must be presented? The authority envisioned by the UN is not local elected officials, but rather local "stakeholder councils" dominated by NGO professionals. Most Americans are totally unaware of this relentless, 20-year campaign by the UN to gain control over land use around the world. Many people believe that the UN is a distant, benevolent do-good organization that is expensive, but which has no direct affect on America. Nothing could be further from the truth. ..." As landowners in Scotland are already finding - to general indifference - land ownership is not absolute. Read this frightenng article. It is describing the future - and it is a future that is accelerating towards us fast.

April 9 ~ So-called mad elk disease is in the news, causing consternation across Canada

(See BBC report) "A form of Mad Cow Disease, which effects (sic.BBC spelling) Elk and Deer is spreading westwards across North America and Canada.....Officials have reported cases in captive herds, which will now have to be culled. ..."
However, Will Hueston, an epidemiologist at the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota, said it's unclear whether the disease really is spreading or simply being discovered by more vigilant testing. This point appears to have escaped journalists, some of whom delight in telling it like it probably isn't.
The Washington Post reports: " If hunters stop their culling of deer and elk because of chronic wasting disease " we're going to have a major ecological problem on our hands," said the Wisconsin's chief wildlife veterinary official. But many people are now questionning this "disease" - as just two postings from the Timb Bomb 2000 forum show: "Though the subject matter here is wildlife; we may have to do what we were prepared to do last year - if our govt had reacted to H&M disease here the way the idiot british govt did over there. There was a time when I'd have trusted the govt authorities to act with intelligence and common sense to a problem such as this. NO MORE. Today, as far as I'm concerned - they almost always act out of a hidden agenda that is detrimental to "the people". If there is a mass slaughter of wildlife - it will not be to contain a disease. It will be to further hinder our ability to feed ourselves. And to further hinder our passing on to a younger generation the skills necessary to live in the wilds." and..:
"What I wanna know is.... this "disease" has never been seen before, in the hundreds of years that America has been settled. But suddenly, it appears out of the blue, and seems to be an epidemic in our antlered wildlife. WHERE did this disease come from? WHY is it only appearing now? WTF is going on...?"......"
Who can wonder at such deep cynicism when recent information tells us that the thinking in the US authorities now is to carry out a TEN KILOMETRE contiguous cull in the event of foot and mouth disease?

April 9 ~ "..a senior army officer involved in preparations for the Queen Mother's funeral yesterday praised the British public for its reaction following her death.

Colonel Hamon Massey, Commander Household Cavalry, said the conduct of people filing past the Queen Mother's coffin in Westminster Hall reinforced the relevance of the Royal Family to contemporary Britain.
He said: "We have been powerfully struck by the public reaction and by individuals that have filed through Westminster Hall.
"The British people in their quiet and understated way have underscored the contemporary relevance of the British Royal Family. This gives the lie to those that have been questioning their relevance in recent years." (report from The Scotsman this morning)

April 9 ~ ( From Peterborough in the Telegraph today) Respectful coverage

IF the BBC seemed a little careless in its initial handling of the Queen Mother's death, it is certainly making every attempt to rectify the error now.
Staff at the corporation's Bristol HQ yesterday received the following memo from management:
"As a mark of respect to the Queen Mother, it has now been decided to postpone the resurfacing of the car park by one day."

April 8 ~ Monsanto did not know what it was getting into when it tried to teach Percy Schmeiser a lesson.

A 71 year old champion has emerged in the battle against Monsanto. He lost his fight against the giant two years ago. Monsanto had informed him he was infringing on their patent for a herbicide-resistant strain of canola, called Roundup Ready, because they had found it growing in his fields. He had not paid the necessary fees to cultivate it. Mr. Schmeiser argued that the seed had blown into his field or had been dumped there by accident, "...the judgment said was it doesn't matter how Monsanto seeds get into your fields; it's their property. All the farmers' rights go out the window," Mr. Schmeiser said. The Globe and Mail article by Krista Foss says..." Farmers groups, environmentalists and United Nations policymakers all want to hear Mr. Schmeiser's tale. Some will pay his air fare and expenses to have him tell it in person (he doesn't charge speaking fees.)" "Monsanto couldn't have picked a worse person to get into a fight with," said Pat Mooney, the executive director of the Winnipeg-based technology watchdog group ETC, who has seen Mr. Schmeiser speak at international forums. "He's articulate and emotional, and he always creates a stir when he tells his story." ...."
Read more by visiting his web site (http://www.percyschmeiser.com) He has spoken all over the world and he has been awarded the Mahatma Gandhi award, presented to him in Delhi in 2000 for his work promoting non-violent improvement of humanity.

April 8 ~ Bonnie doesn't work that way and they soon relaxed at the sight of her minimal equipment, with no trailing leads in sight.

The light in this office was drab so with a little persuasion, Alex Donaldson agreed to be interviewed in his own office. Read Alan's account of Bonnie Durrance, the American filmmaker, at Pirbright IAH.

April 7 ~ "The French have a habit of adopting European rules when it suits them and ignoring them when it doesn't,"

said one exasperated (and unnamed) British diplomat quoted today in the Sunday Telegraph. "It used to be Britain which said 'can't and won't' when it didn't agree with the EU but now it's France that is becoming the outsider. France has to learn that it can no longer manipulate and ignore EU institutions for its own convenience."
Why? Why should not France decide what's best for her people? The Telegraph article appears to be castigating France for putting its national interests first. So what is the UK putting first as it rushes, like Uriah Heep in a blindfold, to obey EU directives that, one after another, destroy the rights of the British to decide for themselves what is best for them?

April 7 ~ Farm exodus a cultural tragedy

An American friend to warmwell.com, Gary in Kansas, has drawn our attention to this article in the North Platte Telegraph by George Lauby under the headline above. How relevant it is the the UK - and all the other countries across the planet whose agriculture is being quietly and sytematically destroyed to make way for mega-operators.
" People are steadily leaving our nation's farms. It's been going on for years. Those who leave don't want to become mega-farmers. The exodus is nothing new, but it just keeps going and going. ...
The life of the farmer has always been a quiet one. Most people have heard farmers complain about weather and prices, but fewer hear about the joys and benefits of farm life.....The loss is cultural. It's loss of the connection between people and nature; the farmer working beneath the sun and the heavens, of food raised on relatively small scales by attentive owners. It's loss of a crime-free, natural open place for kids to grow and parents to enjoy.
It's a loss of one of the best lifestyles humans ever evolved.
Quietly, the exodus continues. Farming is becoming an even more lonely business for those who remain." (see a larger extract of this excellent article)

April 6 ~ "NOT IN OUR NAME How dare George Bush preach peace to Israel when he's meeting Blair to plan war on Iraq ..

and the deaths of thousands more innocent people?" John Pilger's article can be read on democracy watch

April 5 ~ "A St. Bernard that was trained to protect against intruders was taken away by seven police officers in full body armour.

The dog bit a policeman who ignored warning signs, in a private house. He also ignored instructions by the owner to stand still and not go any further. The policeman carried on walking towards the dog and the dog bit him severely on the arm. The dog was later arrested under the Dangerous Dogs Act. What the dogs future is will rest with a court." This report was in yesterday's Mail. Has anyone got any further details?

April 5 ~ "The reason why there will be no public meeting in Cumbria is simply because the Socialist Group - driven by their Labour contingent - opposed the very idea of having ANY public meetings at all ANYWHERE. "

"(You might be aware that the Socialist Group - the second largest Group in the Parliament - opposed the idea of having a committee to examine the FMD crisis and even voted en bloc to stop it being set up. )"
(warmwell note: However see comment in email received this evening)
"The public meeting at Gretna was a compromise reached by the political groups out here but there were further elements in this compromise. One such element is the fact that there will be a large meeting in Cumbria on the morning of Saturday 20 April (foreseen to take place at the Castle Green Hotel). 50 people from Cumbria will be invited to this meeting by the political groups - the total being divided up among the groups on the basis of their numerical strength in the Parliament. ...."(See the whole letter to Nick Green from the EPP-ED Secretariat - and Nick's reply)

April 5 ~ ".. I once spent a fascinating day in the BBC News at Ten studio during the height of the Salmonella in eggs crisis, and got to observe the "news" process at first hand.

I asked the producer why the media kept "banging on" about eggs (the issue had been in the news non-stop for weeks) and she replied that the issue was "unresolved". That remains the case with FMD, and will continue to be until the truth comes out. Lacklustre though it is, the media will eventually do the business, especially if we (and especially you) keep "banging on". IT WILL NOT GO AWAY."
(Highly cheering email, just received.)

April 5 ~ A farmer writes today, " we injected half the herd yesterday and then ran out of vaccine. Would have been oh, so easy to have included an fmd shot!"

It would.

April 5 ~ TV PROGRAMME -- 'KILLING TIME' BBC 1 1035 pm Wednesday 9 May

"A television documentary based on the current problems of burying and burning on the Epynt will be screened on BBC 1 (Wales region) at 2235 (1035 pm) on 9 May. The documentary is directed and produced by Michael Bogdanov, well known for previous productions such as 'Light in the Valley' which was filmed in the Swansea Valley and 'Light on the Hill' which was filmed close to Trecastle and the Epynt. Mike has a home on the edge of the Epynt. Professor Plum features in the documentary." Diane Irwin, campaigning against the continuing misery of landfill sites, has sent us this information, adding that the http://www.epynt-disaster.co.uk site is still well worth a visit.

April 5 ~ "Suddenly, in the space of a moment I realised what it was that I loved about Britain- which is to say, all of it. Every last bit of it, good and bad - Marmite, village fetes, country lanes, people saying 'mustn't grumble' and I'm terribly sorry but', ....

....people apologizing to me when I conk them with a careless elbow, milk in bottles, beans on toast, haymaking in June, stinging nettles, seaside piers, Ordnance Survey maps, crumpets, hot-water bottles as a necessity, drizzly Sundays - every bit of it...."
Ron reminds us of the last paragraphs of Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island. He says, It takes people like Bill Bryson to show us what we really are, remember this sent in the early days of FMD :----

April 5 ~" I have been a reporter in too many places where public lies have disguised the culpability for great suffering, from Indochina to southern Africa, East Timor to Iraq, merely to turn the page or switch off the news-as-sermon, and accept that journalism has to be like this....."

John Pilger writes in the New Statesman of his deep concern about the press. " A compliant press is preparing the ground for an all-out attack on Iraq. It never mentions the victims: the young, the old and the vulnerable" - he writes "The promised attack on Iraq will test free journalism as never before. The prevailing media orthodoxy is that the attack is only a matter of time. "The arguments may already be over," says the Observer, "Bush and Blair have made it clear . . ." The beating of war drums is so familiar that the echo of the last round of media tom-toms is still heard, together with its self-serving "vindication" for having done the dirty work of great power, yet again."...."
The trusting British public, still largely unaware that the mainstream press is, to a large extent, indeed "compliant" will be unlikely to feel the deep unease that we feel about the way the government now behaves - or is made to behave - both at home and abroad. Until they see articles on the front page - on ALL the front pages - they feel no cause for alarm. Why should they? They believe - as until very recently we did ourselves - in the freedom of the press. Read John Pilger's article

April 4 2002 ~Speech of Mr Jim Scudamore - chief Veterinary

Nick Green has sent us the minutes of the March 26 meetings with Nick Brown and Jim Scudamore. Also the speech of David Byrne. He has added to them (here in red). "- The 1st case was detected in Essex while 20 cases already were in incubation. All the movements of animals would have being prohibited immediately throughout England. (What, you mean immediately as in 4 days later ?) One knows that the propagating centre of the disease was the Longtown market. - The illness was present, at least, 3 weeks before the first detection. (Yes MAFF missed it !)The diagnosis is very difficult to do at the sheep. Paradoxically, the disease of 2001 knew fewer hearths than in 1997 but we carried out a great deal of slaughter. (Don`t we know it !)

April 4 ~" Perhaps if [he] and the other vets who so facilitated the slaughter policy had encountered a little more 'rage' while they went about their death-dealing business, instead of just pitiful tears, then they might have had more cause to question the rightness of what they were doing."

From the account of Kirstin McBride's trial on WorldNetDaily (LINK MENDED apologies) Extract: Eleven million animals murdered, 80 percent of which were healthy," read another banner, while a third asked - in English and Gaelic - "Who breached Misty's peace?" Carrying a sign reading "From Suffolk, for Misty," Dot Boag, an anti-cull activist who had traveled nearly 500 miles to Dumfries, presented McBride with a bouquet of flowers. Rather than attend the trial itself, Boag remained outside with fellow activist Jean Dixon to hand leaflets to passersby detailing the track record of the government's slaughter policy.
Sheriff Kenneth Ross, like Brazenall, was amazed by the crowd that filed into the courtroom and settled into every seat, remarking that in all his years on the bench he had never seen as much interest in the proceedings in the Sheriff Court in Dumfries. ..."

April 3 ~ TRUMPET

Hilary writes, " The daffodils are everywhere. You cannot keep them out. They rise through orange poisoned fields To trumpet unexpected yields, Unstoppable, to shout: The world of agro-chemicals The world of greed and doubt The world that tortures animals, Manipulates, Accumulates, Ignores the plaintive snout, This world is dying. Feel its pain And wither in its drought. But when the planet's free of you, the daffodils still sprout."

April 2 ~Not content with measures to destroy traditional agriculture in Britain, the UK government is set to destroy the livelihoods of 20,000 Indian farmers in Andhra Pradesh....

"Vision 2020 means huge farms, pesticides, mass mechanisation and GM crops, but offers nothing... but a loss of homes and livelihoods to most of the people. We have reached a fork in the road for farming and the UK government is about to send the people of Andhra Pradesh down the wrong track." PV Satheesh of the Deccan Development Society an NGO based in Andhra Pradesh which works with poor and marginalised farmers.
A group of Indian farmers who will be going to the offices of the UK Department for International Development (Dfid) on Thursday 4th April to demand a meeting with Clare Short. ( For more details contact Kathryn on 01865 791 391 or 07796 430141) See George Monbiot's article in today's Guardian .

April 2 ~ From farmtalking.org comes this new article by Jane Barribal about euthanasia and how humane guidelines were ruthlessly swept aside.

Extract: "...My greatest concern, is that as so many vets have become what they would term as 'experienced' in administering intra-cardiac injections. Having 'practiced' the method on so many animals last year, familiarity has bred contempt and they will not care at all about any suffering they may have or will cause, as a result, even if it is only for a few minutes or even seconds. This cruel method will be their first choice in the future, whatever the circumstances. " (visit farmtalking.org) .

April 1 ~ An April Fool? Probably not....

Ananova reports today "The Forestry Commission is brightening up its forests because it thinks people are scared by dark woods.
It's likely to mean the appearance of cleared paths, neatly manicured glens and strategically placed water features.
Psychologists have told the commission that folklore, fairytales and films like the Blair Witch Project were causing tourists to steer clear of woods....." Well, well. "Psychologists" can be very useful people it seems. Here comes Disneyworld Britain.

April 1 ~ A Rainbow over Orcop Hill

Sue writes, " This afternoon, Easter Sunday, a large group of friends , new and old, gathered at Chris Stockdale's farm on Orcop Hill in Herefordshire. We joined together at the site where, exactly a year ago his stock was culled, burned and buried, to commemorate them, and in the spirit of Easter, to look forward to the future.
While vats of BD 500 were stirred (vigorously!) and watched from an adjoining field by the few animals of Chris' that survived the cull (they were away from the farm at the time), Helen, Chris and friends sang the moving "Orcop Hill" ("I coloured a rainbow over Orcop Hill")
Chris followed with a short address about the cull and read a short reading from Waldo Emerson.
David Donaldson, a farmer who was contiguous but resisted the cull, read his moving poem "Easter Sunday and the Plague is here" (to follow).
Then we all sang Jean Dixon's "Where have all the Young Lambs gone?"
Chris then read Mary's pertinent "Fairy Story". Familiar to some of us, new to many others, and acknowledged as Truthful by all.
Richard Shaw brought the service to a close with his interpretation of the Christian message of Easter as one of renewal and hope after a time of suffering.
By this time we were all a little chilled by the typical Easter weather!! So it was with some gusto that we all then took the opportunity to spread BD 500 over Chris' fields and plant trees on the burial site, and warm ourselves up!
My dull words do no justice to how moving this afternoon was. Meeting old friends from the foot and mouth group is always spiritually renewing, but this afternoon was made even more so by the forging of new friendships."
Those of us who were not there are very grateful indeed for these - anything but dull - words.

Mar 30 ~ The Moy Park/Tesco/RSPCA scandal

We heard this morning, "The RSPCA has been contacted by a farming journalist enquiring what action is going to be taken against those persons who have abused the credibility of the 'Freedom Food' standard. The RSPCA is still thinking about it " Our correspondent adds ironically, "I am sure the following are not relevant.
The RSPCA wants this Labour Government to ban fox hunting.
I understand that the Investors Chronicle identified Tesco as a major donor to the Labour Party."
Leonie Smith of Tesco stated in a recent letter on this issue "Moy Park chickens are currently undergoing approval and Tesco will not buy free range chickens from them until they reach Freedom Food standards" However, the press office of Moy Park has recently confirmed to the press that they are currently selling Free Range chickens to Tesco. The Corporate Social Responsibility Manager of Tesco has been asked to comment on this apparent contradiction. " (see some of the letters in the case)

Mar 29 ~ ".......the bleak future of the nation's rural landscape, perhaps their hometowns or villages, and to shudder. It is a sad picture, as small family farmers have kept this country's remote areas green and their rivers running since ancient times. "

A news report today in the Japanese press makes us realise that this nightmare - of which so few of us are yet aware - is being experienced across the globe from India to Japan to Brazil. The UK's farmers' plight is not unique and is caused by exactly the same greed, irresponsibility and power frenzy as elsewhere in the world. NGOs are colluding in order to keep what little power they have (see RSPCA Malfunction). The press and the run of the mill politicians seem unwilling to think the unthinkable. But we are. And the future is indeed bleak.

Mar 29 ~ "Am I the only person to have noticed the parallels between Tony Blair, supreme commander of the war against the British countryside, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, currently cleansing his own outback?"

wrote Jonathan Miller back in August last year. "Both are sending out gangs of thugs to intimidate farmers, set things on fire, put up roadblocks and deploy armed police to keep the peasantry in line, although as far as I know Mugabe's thugs do not normally slaughter the animals. Mugabe's 18-year-old thugs are called "war veterans", while Blair's are named DEFRA" The Animal Health bill would have given full rein to those thugs. If you would like to add your thanks to those who have written messages to Lord Moran and his supporters, please email warmwell. The papers are still peddling the line that the Lords were only making a gesture about hunting......

Mar 29 ~ 'Blind eye' on illegal meat wrote the Farmers Weekly in a report Mike Stones on March 8th

"BAGGAGE handlers at Heathrow airport have been ordered to ignore suitcases stuffed with illegal meat, claims the boss of an air freight handling company. "Some handling companies have warned staff to turn a blind eye to suspect suitcases, even if they are dripping blood and reeking of rotting meat," Clive Lawrance, managing director of freight handling company Ciel Logistics told farmers weekly. Some handling companies can be reluctant to alert the authorities to smuggled meat because they fear the airlines might terminate their handling contracts, he said. Mr Lawrance further suspects some staff are paid hush money by smuggling gangs to ignore illegal meat. "Professional traffickers are responsible for most of illegal meat smuggled through Heathrow. "I have little proof, but I would be amazed if some bags which should be reported are not nodded through for back-handers." He also remembers being asked to deal with impounded bags containing smuggled meat that disappeared from a secure area. "How can bags can go missing from a secure area unless someone with security clearance took them?" he asked...."
The rest of the report is reports denials from Defra and the TGWU. Customs and Excise said " it was not its responsibility to search for illegal meat."
Whether FMD did enter the country this way is not really the issue - but the story serves to highlight the gulf between what really happens and the official version of "safety measures".

Mar 28 ~ Ministers accused of soft line on illegal logging - see yesterday's horrific story of slavery in the Amazon

(From the Independent today) The Government has been accused of hypocrisy over its commitment to stop illegal logging after refusing to stop tons of Brazilian mahogany coming into Britain, despite international protests that it may have been unlawfully felled. Ministers allowed a shipment from the Amazon worth £600,000 into the country earlier this month, despite warnings that up to 70 per cent of mahogany from Brazil may be cut down illegally or comes from Indian or public land.
Tony Blair made a speech last year saying Britain would, "purchase timber only from legal and sustainable sources".

Mar 28 2002~ "Monsanto is delighted" : "hundreds of thousands of poor farmers likely to be forced off the land" - another glimpse into the global future

India, the world's largest grower of cotton, has opened the doors to genetically modified varieties after a four-year rearguard battle by academics and powerful farmers' groups who fear its introduction will lead to hundreds of thousands of poor farmers being forced off the land. New Delhi's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee on Tuesday approved the release of Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) cotton into the environment with certain conditions. Bt seeds are genetically modified to contain a common bacterium that protects the cotton from bollworm - the most common pest that attacks cotton crops. Monsanto, the world's leading GM company and GM cotton seed producer, which has pressed New Delhi for years to accept the crop, was said to be delighted. ....
The world supply of GM cotton seeds is in effect in the control of just four companies that own the patents.
...activists say the introduction of GM cotton will lead back to the economic colonisation of India by outsiders. Freedom from cotton colonisation was a central argument for independence more than 50 years ago, and handwoven cotton cloth was Mahatma Gandhi's resistance movement's symbol of opposition to British rule. See http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/03/27/1017206116212.html

Mar 28 ~ Would anyone like to post a message of gratitude to Lord Moran and his supporters?

Any emails sent here to thank their Lordships will be posted on warmwell - and then a copy sent by post to the House of Lords.

Mar 28 ~ "Is this man fit to run a bath, never mind a Ministry ?"

Writing about the comparison Nick Brown made between the foot and mouth policy and the Gulf War, Captain Bryn Wayt writes," The Gulf War was less of an problem, sorry "exercise", than the 2002 FMD crisis. The logistics of a war takes second place to handling a curable disease amongst animals. I have now heard almost everything ludicrous connected with DEFRA, but I shall not hold my breath....."

Mar 27 ~ Next time you buy Brazilian beef........

A detailed account in the New York Times today about the plight of thousands of poverty stricken Brazilian workers who are tricked to beef ranches in the Amazon rain forests where they work as literal slaves - makes for harrowing reading. "The reasons range from ranchers in cahoots with corrupt local authorities to ineffective land reform policies and high unemployment. Perhaps most important, though, is the growing pressure to exploit and develop the Amazon's vast agricultural frontier, in part to supply foreign markets with two prized goods: timber and beef."
Slave numbers are growing. It is perhaps a glimpse into a future where huge livestock companies, constrained by neither animal welfare nor human rights considerations, will be employing those who have nowhere else to turn and who will find they "owe their soul to the Company Store". This is a variation of what the farmers of India fear. The GM aid packages to be forced on them by the UK and others will result in huge "profitable" , semi automated farms where the hitherto independent small farmers will either work for a pittance or be forced away into the cities.

Mar 27 ~ Nick Green says "We are confident that Prof. Thomas will deliver the goods for Cumbria"

He writes: "PROFESSOR THOMAS - CHAIRMAN, CUMBRIAN FMD ENQUIRY
I attended the Cumbrian Rural Task Force Committee meeting on Monday. It was at this meeting that I had the privilege of meeting Prof. Thomas, CHAIRMAN, CUMBRIAN FMD ENQUIRY. There were few at this meeting who would not have been impressed with Prof. Thomas credentials or his ability to conduct a valid Cumbrian Enquiry. He told me he visits the warmwell site regularly. When I asked him about comments made by the DEFRA Chief Scientific adviser, Dr Shannon, Prof. Thomas said he had known Dr Shannon for 40 years, that he was a straight talker and that his comment on the government's curious collection of individuals comprising their FMD advisory committee was very interesting and deserved attention. We are confident that Prof. Thomas will deliver the goods for Cumbria. "

Mar 27 ~ The official transcript of the Carlisle Lessons Learned Meeting is published

Mar 26 ~ The Weeping Willow Memorial - planted today

On a beautifully warm and sunny afternoon in Cumbria today, Anne Hopper of Radio Cumbria, ably assisted by the Lady Mayor, planted a weeping willow tree in the grounds in front of Heatherington's auction mart at Rosehill, Carlisle as a symbol of spring and new life for the future of everyone who suffered through the 2001 FMD outbreak. ..... Much emphasis was given to the fact that the willow was deciduous and would signal rebirth every spring. A prayer was also said in remembrance of the animals lost.
The event was later shown on Border TV news alongside Nick Brown being interviewed at the EU Inquiry. (Report from Elaine)

Mar 26 ~ Environment Agency congratulates itself today: Kingsteignton in despair

" The disposal of some six million animal carcasses, 120,000 tonnes of pyre ash and 1.3 million litres (undiluted) of disinfectant had a range of potential impacts on air, soil and water. The knock-on effects included disruption of work on flood defences, sewage sludge disposal and environmental protection. On current evidence the actual effects were short-term and localised: No failures of national air quality standards were recorded around pyres and no significant human health effects have been reported. " We read today from very self-congratulatory report from the Environment Agency. And from a real person we can read this week: " I have submitted documentation to the FMD Lessons Learned Enquiry, asking for all the 8,055 tonnes of carcasses to be removed and incinerated. Recently this year I was reliably informed that they are still not sealed into the cell. The carcasses are still left in the working cell, spewing out prions & organo phosphates with their Grade 1 Toxic Waste. Foot & Mouth Plague still continues in our Village."

Mar 26 ~'.. they did not fight for a Britain where to hold truths and values which have been thought good and worthy for a thousand years would be to run the risk of being called "fascist" ..'

A timely reminder from George MacDonald Fraser's auto-biographical work "Quartered Safe Out Here" about his war service with the Border Regiment in Burma, 1945. Fraser concludes with this, about his platoon and section mates. "[They saw]
.... the destruction of much that they had fought for and held dear...things like county names, and shillings and pence, and the King James Version, and yards and feet and inches - ...[these things] matter to a nation. They did not fight for a Britain which would be dishonestly railroaded into Europe against the people's will; they did not fight for a Britain where successive governments, by their weakness and folly, would encourage crime and violence on an unprecedented scale...they did not fight for a Britain where to hold truths and values which have been thought good and worthy for a thousand years would be to run the risk of being called "fascist" - that, really, is the greatest and most pitiful irony of all."
(Thanks are due to Alan O'Reilly for this quotation)

Mar 26 ~ "it's all a sick joke"

Jacquita, who has been a staunch campaigner for common sense throughout the who dreadful affair of foot and mouth says, " what happens next to the Animal Health (Amendments) Bill, after it's been to the Lords today? What is the next stage? I am very, very frightened.
I have to say (also) that I don't think it's ever right to export live animals for slaughter. It also makes a mockery about all our legislation in this country if the animals are then taken abroad and killed. Same with buying in meat from other countries - it's all a sick joke...." The scandal of the lack of independent research, quashed by those wanting all the lucrative funding for themselves leads to such sick jokes. The BMJ's publishing of Dr Venters' research into BSE/vCJD this week shows that there are alternative views that do not always retire hurt for want of funding. The government scientists' "official" line is not the only one that should be seriously probed. We applaud the BMJ and wonder where else are there signs of the healthy breeze of common sense to blow away the miasma that is leading us down so many dangerous paths. (See also the CJD/BSE page) Mar 26 ~ Rural deliveries cost too much writes Laura Peek in today's Times "Isolated rural communities depend on urban and business deliveries to subsidise their mail service. However, experts say that the system is too expensive.... The difficulties have worsened since the newly established regulator, Postcomm, went ahead last year with six trial licences to private firms such as Business Post and Hays. Within months, Consignia was in trouble as the companies skimmed off the cream of its service, concentrating on profitable areas such as city-to-city routes and ignoring complex rural deliveries. ...... A Post Office spokeswoman said: It is not cost effective at the moment for us. For every 27p we take on a stamp across the board, it costs us an average of 28p to make a delivery. We do make money on urban services, city-to-city direct routes, but the rural network costs much more to deliver. ......" So another public "service" that will be abandoned because it doesn't make enough fat profits?
Elsewhere, the Times says, "On a black Monday for the Government, 15,000 postal jobs were cut, up to 750 naval workers lost their jobs while thousands were more switched to private companies, and there was mounting disarray over the rail network. Labour MPs sat glumly in the Commons as Patricia Hewitt, the Industry Secretary, described the redundancies at the Post Office as unavoidable ......"

Mar 26 ~ Food Standards Agency says - no need to wash fruit and vegetables

The BBC says "Health advice on peeling and washing is to be altered Environment campaigners have criticised plans to modify government health advice on preparing fresh fruit and vegetables. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is advising consumers that there is now no need to wash and peel such fresh food to get rid of traces of pesticides before eating. It does say it might be commonsense to do so for hygiene reasons. But Friends of the Earth has attacked such advice as irresponsible. The campaigning group says official figures show that, for example, about three quarters of apples and pears on sale in the UK have shown detectable residue of various pesticides. "

Mar 24 ~ Genes will inevitably escape from genetically modified crops, contaminating organic farms, creating superweeds, and driving wild plants to extinction,

The article in the Independent on Sunday leaves no room for doubt. The campaigners are right. The government are so very wrong that one can only wonder at what has motivated them to allow such trials. Organic farmers will find it hard to sell their produce once it has been infiltrated by GM genes. "The Government and GM industry seem to have picked three of the most contaminating crops to test in the UK. After this report, there should be no question of ministers considering, even for a moment, allowing them to be grown commercially," Peter Melchett says.

Mar 24 ~ Vaccination when it suits the politicians

News today is "that thieves have stolen disks holding the names of thousands of children whose parents have refused the MMR vaccine and who have opted for single jabs instead have been stolen from a clinic in Liverpool. The records cover patients from all over the north of England, including the prime minister's Sedgefield constituency. " To us, the most worrying thing in the Sunday Times report is, not whether Leo had the triple vaccine or not - (who cares?) - but the following paragraph: Where is the evidence that the "spate of measles" is a direct result of the very recent concerns against the triple vaccines. Are we really to be told that "scientists are predicting further outbreaks" without any other information? Which scientists? Are they predicting further outbreaks as a direct result of parents exercising choice? This kind of reporting in one of the most respected newspapers of Britain seems to us a sad reflection of out time. And have we, as a population, so dismantled our ability to examine language and sift fact from opinion, clear reporting from propaganda that we deserve to be so hoodwinked by spin?

Mar 23 ~ Received today: "I am trying to collect E-mail addresses for PALS People Against Landfill Sites,

if any of you could forward me any ones contact E-mail addresses I would be much obliged..." Can anyone help?

Mar 23 ~ The planting ceremony of the Weeping Willow memorial will take place on Tuesday 26th March at 2.30pm at the address below

Tree planting will be one of the ways that people will register their sadness and concern. This ceremony next Tuesday is likely to be well attended and a genuine chance for quiet grief to be expressed. As Jane writes, "Moira Linaker has worked extremely hard to get things underway and the first tree to be planted is a weeping willow and appropriately, it will be in Cumbria, the county most devastated by FMD last year.
The tree has been kindly donated by Hetherington & Heatherington the Auctioneers at Rosehill, Carlisle, Cumbria.
It will be situated on their land, surrounded by wild orchids and planted by Anne Hopper of Radio Cumbria, the broadcaster who became known as the voice of Cumbria announcing the affected farms daily on the radio last year."

Read more on on Jane's website -
http://www.farmtalking.org/tree.htm

.

Mar 23 ~ A new film called "The Experiment" (18) (Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel)

In this film, scientists in white coats interview volunteers interested in taking part in a filmed experiment. The successful applicants are spilt into two groups, guards and inmates, and put in a make-believe prison for the next 14 days. The "guards" quickly lose their sense of moral responsibility. It is a commentary on how both the white-coated scientists and the "officials" can assume themselves to be above ordinary considerations of humanity. It rings most horribly true when we think of some of the well-documented behaviour of officials of MAFF/DEFRA and the so-called "scientific" authority which, they felt, gave them carte blanche for brutality and arrogance.

Mar 22 ~ "Vision 2020 means huge farms, pesticides, mass mechanisation and GM crops, but offers nothing but a loss of homes and livelihoods to most of the people,"

Satheesh told New Scientist. "We have reached a fork in the road for farming and the UK government is about to send the people of Andhra Pradesh down the wrong track." See the report from the New Scientist.

Mar 22 ~"..failed to properly assess the risks involved in maintaining the status and when the disease struck, not only ignored the recommendations of the 1967/8 Northumberland Report, but up to date scientific and medical knowledge, equipment and offers of assistance were also refused.

The statistics alone bear witness to the complete failure of Government to provide adequate testing facilities and properly trained veterinary surgeons for accurate diagnosis. As a result we know that over 10,000 farms lost their livestock, among which only 1,327 were diagnosed on laboratory tests as positively infected. " Jane Barribal has commented on her sadness that the Cumberland News saw fit to publish attacks on those who have selflessly tried to help Cumbria

Mar 22 ~ The biotech industry plans to add Terminator genes to every one of its GM seeds in the near future.

Since the dawn of history, farmers have saved and exchanged seed, a practice that is vital to the survival of 1.4 billion subsistence farmers in the world today.15 With the seed industry rapidly consolidating in recent years and falling under the control of corporate giants like Monsanto and Dupont, farmers will be left with little choice but to accept Terminator seeds. ....Terminator tech is part of a broader package known as Traitor technology, which allows genetic traits to be turned "on or off" through the application of an inducer chemical.19 This proprietary chemical will be available only from the agrochemical-biotech company that provides the seed, and can come conveniently mixed with a pesticide or herbicide from the same company. Using Traitor, for example, Monsanto could sell seeds for plants that die unless given constant doses of its Roundup herbicide. What, then, will happen to farming and food security? In his recent book, The ETC Century, author Pat Mooney warns that "In a world in which a handful of transnational enterprises dominate agricultural biotechnology, in a world where the Terminator is the platform technology upon which all new biotech breeding is undertaken, it is not difficult to believe that corporations or governments would use the technology to impose their will." ( HREF="democwatch.html">See Democracy Watch today )

Mar 22 ~ Weeping Willow memorial

Jane at farmtalking writes, "You have probably seen the details concerning the plans to plant trees in memory of those animals and people who suffered during the FMD epidemic. Moira Linaker has work extremely hard to get things underway and the first tree to be planted is a weeping willow and appropriately, it will be in Cumbria, the county most devastated by FMD last year.
The tree has been kindly donated by Hetherington & Heatherington the Auctioneers at Rosehill, Carlisle, Cumbria.
It will be situated on their land, surrounded by wild orchids and planted by Anne Hopper of Radio Cumbria, the broadcaster who became known as the voice of Cumbria announcing the affected farms daily on the radio last year. The planting ceremony will take place on Tuesday 26th March at 2.30pm and evryone is welcome to attend.
Donations for RABI and the Addington Fund appreciated. If you would like to see the plaque that will be placed by the memorial tree - http://www.farmtalking.org/tree.htm

Mar 22 ~" I write after having read the article published entitled 'Cumbria's story' in your issue dated 21st March.

There are many farmers who have met Nick Green, co-founder of the Heart of Cumbria group, and have also, through meetings arranged by Heart of Cumbria and other groups, met Dr Richard North and Dr Ruth Watkins. These farmers will stand testament to the unfailing commitment given by Nick Green to selflessly provide as much information to the farming community as possible. These farmers respect Dr Richard North with his unique and learned understanding of the EU laws that affect the way the FMD epidemic was handled in this country. These farmers will know of Dr Ruth Watkins, and her tireless energy in attending meeetings throughout Cumbria to help bring an understanding of the real science behind FMD. These farmers will also bear witness to the contrast of the lack of information given by the Government and some organisations to bring information about FMD to the farming community.
One part of the article referred to Ruth Watkins having Doctor before her name, but were you also aware that she has BSc HonsMBBS MSC MRCP MRCPath after her name as well? Ruth is extremely knowledgeable about FMD, more so than many other figureheads of the debate, such as the NFU and DEFRA. Perhaps the NFU would finally like to give us their scientific credentials to qualify the rubbish they have contributed to the debate about vaccination in FMD." Read Jon's full letter to the Cumberland News.

Mar 22 ~ " The ease with which Sir William (Stewart) made the conceptual jump from the crisis of British farming to the spectre of biological warfare highlights how our sense of vulnerability helps transform problems into potential terrorist risks.

An excellent article in today's Scotsman, full of common sense. "UK politicians were quick to agree with Sir William. A report published by the Select Committee on Defence stated that the "recent foot-and-mouth epidemic has demonstrated " that "controlling the spread of some viruses is very difficult", which "may suggest that the threat of biological attack is more serious". According to one US commentator, "unleashing the foot-and-mouth virus" could be as "simple as walking around on a US hog farm in boots worn on an infected British farm". Since 11 September, speculating about risk is represented as sound risk management. The aftermath of 11 September has given legitimacy to the principle of precaution, with risk increasingly seen as something you suffer from, rather than something you manage. Of course, taking sensible precautions makes a lot of sense. But continually imagining the worst possible outcome is not an effective way to deal with problems. Allowing speculation to dominate how we think about risks may even distract us from tackling the everyday problems and hazards that confront society.
We don't need any more Hollywood-style brainstorming. We need a grown-up discussion about our post-11 September world, based on a reasoned evaluation of all the available evidence rather than on irrational fears for the future. "
Professor Frank Furedi is a sociologist at the University of Kent in Canterbury. His book, The Culture of Fear, is published by Continuum Books, price £14.99.

Mar 21 ~ Oh is THAT what they're doing?

This went up on the Defra site today.
"Working for the Essentials of Life." http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/prospectus/defrawork.pdf Haven't read it all yet. Food and Farming... Chapter 2" writes Sue.

Mar 21 ~ "Evidence has been passed to me that some MAFF/Defra offices connived in arrangements, which enabled certain unscrupulous contractors to make large profits

from supplying materials at inflated prices for funeral pyres. The suspicion is that these officials also benefited financially. ..... why civil servants should have behaved in this strange, and to others nonsensical, way. .... I have occasionally had dealings with civil servants. It has been my experience that many like to set up little fiefdoms, where they try to be in control of an area of operation, and will not listen to advice from anybody else. Whether they really believe that they know it all, I don't know. This has happened in MAFF with this epidemic, and it certainly happened with BSE. ......... changing the name only will not change the culture. It has a deserved reputation as the most user-unfriendly of all government departments. In my own dealings with its staff, I have found a number of them who seem to delight in creating difficulties, rather than in finding ways in which to do what is needed. It is long overdue for that to change." (somewhere - comes up with the necessary £750,000 needed to take our demand for a public enquiry to the House of Lords. Surely such a request, if it succeeded, would be worth that much in copy to the various newspapers who have kept the subject of the FMD shambles alive all these months?
Margaret S"

Mar 21 ~ Unfortunately the publication below is not what it seems

Only the forward was written by Jon Snow. There is an odd attempt to discredit Richard North, Christopher Booker and Ruth Watkins and Nick Green and there is a whole page advert by the Snowie company who made so much money from the crisis. The publication was advertised as being an article by Jon Snow - very misleading. It is a chronological hotch potch of articles from the News & Star and the Cumberland News from 19 February 2001 to 28 February 2002. There is no reference in this publication to the FMD Scientist's meeting in Penrith in September 2001, nothing on Liz Lowther, the culls in Shap, nothing on the Judicial Review.

Mar 21 ~ Cumbria's Story: Chronicle of a Crisis

"Today Cumbria is still seared upon my soul. Air crashes, road accidents, riots, the odd murder, nothing in 25 years of reporting domestic news had ever prepared me for the scale of human trauma I experienced that mad March weekend last year. It was unutterably brutal." Read Jon Snow's specially written article on Foot & Mouth On sale from Thursday
http://www.news-and-star.co.uk/cumbriastory.htm
The independent inquiry for Cumbria will hear evidence in Kendal from May 7-10 and in Carlisle from the 28-31. It will also spend another two to three days in local communities, according to the News and Star. "In addition, evidence will be able to be submitted to the inquiry both in writing and electronically. The inquiry itself will focus on the following areas: the outbreak and control issues; advice, communication and local/central relations; organisation capacity issues; impacts on the wider Cumbrian economy; aftermath, recovery and regeneration and recent policy developments and future strategies. Any findings and conclusions will be reported back to the county council meeting on July 25. Mr Toft said Cumbria deserved a thorough public inquiry. "I firmly believe the Cumbrian foot and mouth inquiry is of national and European significance," he said."

Mar 21 ~ 274 out of 1756 (2030-274 = 1756) identified from blood tests AFTER they were killed?

That's about 15%. A cynic (and there is an increasing number among ordinary, kindly people who have never been cynical in the past) might say that it sounds too much like trying to match to the models after the event. Some are indeed beginning seriously to think the unthinkable. To believe the almost unbelievable.

Mar 21 ~ More utter madness... Julian Bray, editor of Lloyd's List, has decreed that a ship will in future be referred to as "it" rather than "she".

By whom?
Political correctness, that enemy of common sense, is destroying the culture of Britain - and its language - just as surely as political madness is destroying trust and hope in the country. In the Emperor's New Clothes scenario of the foot and mouth policy is it really only the regular visitors to this website who can see what is happening? Any living animal was definitely "it" during the past shameful months, any agonised farmer who resisted "deserved everything they got".
Here is a disease - not normally fatal to animals, not affecting human beings and yet we had scenes of carnage - described in the submissions of vets on the ground - that defy belief.
This contiguous culling was based on what science exactly? Why will no one demand an answer to this? Foot and Mouth is an economic disease and the Imperial modelling answer, embraced by a government that wanted an end to the problem before June 9th, was "kill everything in rings so that there is nothing left alive to catch the disease". The reality, the suffering and the agony of the hasty, bungled killing can be read here The same thinking is behind the disgraceful "Animal Health Bill" - which will become law unless the professional bodies involved and the associations that should be defending the interests of the rural community have the courage to say NO.

Mar 21 ~ Continuing gentrification of the "countryside"

Why should anyone be surprised at the report in today's Independent "The effects of foot and mouth ... did not extend to a downturn in the property market. In fact we saw a steady growth in property prices."

Mar 20 ~ Vet Slams Pig Farm Standards, says Sky News

The current vet on a farm owned by a senior Government whip has openly criticised animal welfare standards there. Andrew Norton told Sky News he wanted to speak out publicly but was unable to do so because of client confidentiality.
New evidence has also emerged that a vet who had a criminal record for animal cruelty was allowed to keep working at Lord Carter's farm up until 1997.
Graham Wheeler had been suspended from practising for six months and had been involved in a cover up of an RSPCA investigation."
Warmwell comment: Vetsconvicted for cruelty and cover-ups are suspended for six months?

Mar 20 ~ European Inquiry into FMD :

I very much welcome any input ..." See letter but NB email address is not yet functional.

Mar 20 ~ Lady Thatcher said that the EU is "fundamentally unreformable". Others say "It is unthinkable that Britain should leave the European Union"

Should you wish to vote on whether you agree with one or the other, your vote will be sent to all the main poilitical parties. At present the vote is 72:28. URL is http://www.vote.com/vResults/index.phtml?cat=

Mar 20 ~ Channel 4 tonight 23:00 It's a Cow's Life

The story of one young cow's life for 18 months - from birth, through life in different homes and surviving foot and mouth, to her inevitable death and route towards the dinner table. Her journey provides an insight into the depth of the crisis that has hit the British agricultural industry.

Mar 20 ~ Kansas Livestock Commissioner appears before the House Agriculture Committee to answer questions about how his department handled information about a suspected case of foot-and-mouth disease

in cattle last week. The commissioner talked to legislators Monday in Topeka. George Teagarden told the House Agriculture Committee that his agency - the Animal Health Department - lacked an adequate plan for dealing with such rumors. "In hindsight, it's pretty easy to sit back and see things you should do," he said. "I had no idea that it started a disaster across the United States at that time." http://www.ljworld.com/section/stateregional/story/86754 They have an inquiry because of one false alarm, while we.....

Mar 19 ~ Read more about the GM protestor, sent to prison

for 21 days for contempt of court when he refused give evidence against a fellow objector to GM crops. The case against the other man has now been dropped. Read more

Mar 19 ~ Another view on live export

"... Missed the ferry on the way back - don't ask - and ended up travelling on freight ship, a bit of an eye-opener in itself as it was 20 times smarter than the general-travelling-public kind. We pulled up next to a trailer of pigs bound for Scotland. The trailer itself was spacious, airy and spotless and the pigs looked as happy as if they had been in muck. All I can say is that if it came down to a choice I would rather have travelled with them than on one of the coaches that leaves Glasgow bound for Letterkenny every weekend of the year. At least you wouldnt get force fed Clootie Dumpling and be obliged to do your very own impression of a pub singer for 8 hours! Seriously I think it shows we shouldnt use too broad a brush with regard to our disapproval of live transportation, although Egypt certainly does seem a trip too far to me."
There is a world of difference between a short trip between Ireland and Scotland and the sort of journeys abhorred by the CIWF in their demonstrations next weekend - but any voice of caution, warning against too extreme a view, seems sensible to us. Hunting seems obscene to many - until they remember that banning hunting will not ban other forms of even crueller death to foxes young and old, strong and weak. Legislation does not tend to make the world a nicer place.

Mar 19 ~ A Scottish GM crop protester - an organic farmer - was sent to prison for 21 days yesterday for refusing to name the people who helped him to damage a field of GM oilseed rape.

See the report in today's Telegraph "He told the court yesterday: "I have thought a lot about it and I have to do what I think is right. I am on oath and I take that seriously but I have difficulty in criminalising people. I wish no disrespect to the court. I can assure you that I do not offer myself for martyrdom. "The stance I have taken is in defence of the future of independent farming in the Highlands and the health of our children and our environment. I feel that it is right where democracy has failed us." Sheriff Fraser told him he was guilty of a "blatant and direct contempt of court"...."
Well, many readers of this website will no doubt think that the jackboot is rather on the other foot and that the Court is in blatant and direct contempt of humanity.
Last night, Dot posted this: "In an interesting programe on radio 4 tonight about Mexican Maize and unexpected spread of GM maize, a comment was made by a scientist about a test crop being grown in San Diego California. This is GM maize with spermicidal material which can kill human sperm. I wonder which lucky third world country this crop is intended for?. Worth a listen." http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/audiovideo/programmes/crossing_continents/n ewsid_1871000/1871216

Mar 18 ~ The test case, over the 14 day deadline for contesting valuations, brought by J and PM Dockeray has been lost.

Mr Justice Collins, sitting in London, said 14 days was "proportionate" under the European Convention on Human Rights "While it is true that many who wished to appeal failed to get their notices in time - 765 out of 1,385 disputed appeals-that does not mean the time limit was disproportionate." On March 31 last year, foot-and-mouth disease was diagnosed on the Dockeray farms and their entire dairy herd, valued just before slaughter at £397,335 killed by order of DEFRA. The £397,335 valuation sum was paid in June 2001, but the brothers were unhappy, believing their stock was worth more. They say that some pedigree animals had been undervalued. Malcolm Dockeray says that in view of all the stress and pressure, he did not look at his valuation form until Maundy Thursday - April 12 2001- and missed the 14-day deadline. He said he had been too busy disinfecting his farm and been "in no mental state" to go through the valuation. He had lost his "entire economic asset" of 467 animals. Immediately after the culling, the brothers worked a 66-hour week disinfecting their land and disposing of carcases. They were subject to restrictions on movement. It would appear that 700 farmers now face losing thousands of pounds in compensation.

Mar 18 ~ "Why Blair finds honesty a risky business"

Kirsty Milne in today's Scotsman writes, " The mini-measles outbreak in Fife was described by doctors as an "inevitable consequence" of children missing out on the MMR vaccination. But it was also the result of a trade-off in the minds of parents, as they weighed an unconfirmed link with autism against the known risk of catching mumps or measles. The honey shortage comes after the Food Standards Agency, set up after the BSE inquiry to provide independent safety advice, found traces of an antibiotic in honey imported from China. Even though adults would have to eat eight jars a day to endanger their health - by which time they would be throwing up without any help from antibiotics - shops and supermarkets rushed to take blended honey off the shelves. Risk is big business, and not just for insurers. ...."
Risk certainly is big business and big politics. The EU has realised for some time now that few people will dare to criticise "Health and Safety" measures if those measures are given the right spin. Food scares and pharmaceutical companies, BSE and big business, food control and people control. Many are beginning to add two and two now....

Mar 18 ~ Latest scrapie info from the British Goat Society

website www.allgoats.com (News pages). Christine Ball (GoatsUK). Latest on Scrapie (from Ruth Goodwin 16/02/02) Despite the fact that there is NO evidence of BSE in sheep or goats, looking for it and taking precautions is still big business. Utter, utter madness.

Mar 18 ~" My herdsman reckons tractor drivers have an easy life sitting on their backsides for 10 hrs a day.

He has to do most of his work on his feet and both he and I are often working for 12 hrs a day. My contractor says the 7 hrs a day rule will put him out of business and if he goes, I go. At harvest, silage making and planting times we do not work "hours", we work until the job is done.
This is another stupid dictat from un-elected eurocrats which will make us uncompetitive against countries that we import from because the price is cheaper," writes David
Meanwhile in a throw away line from the Scotsman article quoted above we read, "...ministers are constrained by a legal framework beyond their control. European Union rules make it extremely difficult to ban a new technology because of scientific uncertainty or public fears, as the National Assembly for Wales discovered when it wanted to stop genetically modified crop trials."

Mar 18 ~ " It is estimated that in excess of 1,000 people attended the Rural Futures Conference at the Bladnoch Distillery in the Machars organised by the Heart of Galloway this weekend.

(16th & 17th March). " writes Jane, "The event was a huge success and I was delighted to be there and invited to take part.
The Heart of Galloway Group, formed barely nine months ago, holds regular meetings and is making a tremendous difference in the area. This weekend's event 'showcasing' and encouraging a huge variety of rural enterprise in an area so devastated by the FMD epidemic, was outstanding. It was very disappointing that the Minister of Rural Affairs, Ross Finnie, failed to attend and so demonstrate his support..."(read more from Jane Barribal of farmtalking.org on a special report with photos on http://www.farmtalking.org/rural_futures.html)

Mar 18 ~".. there was an awful mess of gore leaking out of the vehicle all over the road. An RSPCA officer was at the scene and discovered to his horror that some of the 'slaughtered' animals were still alive,

and that the slaughterman's bolt hadn't been effective enough to kill them. " Nick Green looks back at one single entry from a Cumbrian diary for last year...and issues a warning
Coleen adds: "When I rang the RSPCA back to ask why they had not returned my email and answered my questions they told me that they could find NO written evidence from the RSPCA Inspector who would have been present regarding this incident, and NO evidence that this in fact did happen. Either written or verbal. I find this odd, if the fact is they were present then why was it not written up as evidence? Or was this just more lies even at this early stage?"

Mar 17 ~ Farmers fear a supermarket price war

British organic dairy farmers say they are being driven out of business by supermarket cuts to the price of milk. A new code of conduct between farmers and supermarkets comes into effect on Sunday which demands reasonable terms for farmers. However, the code does not cover milk, meat or bread processing and Tesco is cutting the cost of organic milk by as much as 2.5p a litre. BBC report

Mar 17 ~ A dairy farmer writes: "..our highly lucrative market has been overrun with cheap imports and it is harming our domestic industry.

If we were American farmers, Bush would implement a levy on imports, which are allowed under WTO rules for up to 2 years I think.
So why doesn't the UK Government bring in levies on imports?
It cannot because it does not have the Sovereignty to do so!
Such a decision would have to be an EU decision and 13 out of the 14 countries are laughing because they can supply our market at the expense of the British producers - and they are being subsidised to do it with British and German money....There is no way I can absorb the loss and it looks like many more of us will have to throw in the towel very soon. (See particularly among Labour supporters. (Sunday Times today Labour MPs begin to sharpen knives for Blair by David Cracknell, Political Editor ) Asked whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with the prime minister, Blair's rating fell from 69% to 49% in four weeks.
Blair's attempt to regain the initiative last week in a speech aimed at redefining his philosophy did not have the desired effect. The prime minister's statement that new Labour was now in its "third phase" left many questions unanswered about how the government will deliver its pledges.
George Galloway, the maverick left-wing Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin and, like Dalyell, an opponent of military action against Iraq, said last week that there was talk in the Westminster tearooms of replacing Blair. "It's been one damn thing after another," he said of the government's setbacks. "Ecclestone, Byers, the dome, trades union rights, Mittal.".... "
Conspicuous by its absence from this remark, and a measure of the apathy in which this disaster for the country is held by Labour, is the handling of the foot and mouth crisis.

Mar 16 ~ Ten youth hostels in some of Britain's most outstanding areas of natural beauty are to close because of losses incurred during last year's foot-and-mouth crisis.

(report)The 72-year-old Youth Hostel Association (YHA), which has described the epidemic as its "worst disaster since the war", said two months ago it could not afford the £5m deficit racked up last year. The closures announced yesterday affect hostels as far afield as the North Downs and the Yorkshire Dales and include a 17th-century Yorkshire rectory, the sale of which will help other refurbishments.The oldest to be lost is a 56-bedroom, converted Victorian house in Buxton, Derbyshire, which has been receiving visitors for 62 years. "It is a desperately sad blow to us all - staff, community, members and supporters," a spokesman said.
We wish that they could have been bailed out - a very much better use of public funds than the fees paid to Ms Collins in Leicester Square - a piece of kitsch that, even now, we can hardly believe happened.

Mar 16 ~ "Your correspondent, Joyce, from the Scottish Islands is quite right"

"The situation she describes illustrates what is happening throughout our rural community - and worldwide. Our Society/Government is squeezing home production of food out of existence, with a raft of rules about employment, hygiene, welfare, land use etc.
Worldwide, this displacement of food production at home relies on our being able to trick and coerce those poorer and more defenceless than us to provide food for us more cheaply - as a result of the lower wages, lack of controls about conditions of employment , lack of care for the environment, hygiene, welfare etc. etc. Economists like Sean Rickard explain that the changes are right and inevitable and reflect economic forces. But the economic climate is, at least, heavily influenced by the sets of rules and controls that are being applied by our government." See Lawrence's submission to Lessons Learned.

Mar 16 ~ "I was brought up to trust the police, and I thought if you can't trust the police -- when I have children I will have to tell them when you see a policeman, run away "

From "A Victory for Common Sense Report and pictures by Astrid Goddard Read the Sovereignty website for more on this and other FMD related articles. Extract: " Asked when she had the idea to commit suicide, Kirstin said that it was when she thought, "How can I live in a world like this. I was brought up to trust the police, and I thought if you can't trust the police -- when I have children I will have to tell them when you see a policeman, run away."
Kirstin's stepfather, George Walls, and her mother Elizabeth Walls were also questioned. Elizabeth spoke of how distressing it was when the policeman grabbed Kirstin when she was hysterical in the kitchen, as it was their private grief, and she had wanted to hold and cuddle Kirstin, her "own flesh and blood".
In summing up, John Martin, Procurator Fiscal depute, told the Sheriff: "There is no doubt that the background to this is very disturbing .......
Mr Brazenall, for the defence, added to the summing up: "There are my Lord, some startling differences between the evidence for the Crown and the evidence for the defence."

Mar 16 ~ "There are some parallels aren't there between Zimbabwe and England's once green and pleasant land.

Never ever thought I'd be saying such a thing......"If people are not interested - that's the end of this whole country." "They deserve what they have," he said. See email
( Another comparison...We note that The Bishop of Hereford has accused the Government of behaving like the Taliban over its plans to build a wind farm in unspoilt countryside

Mar 16 ~ The Treason and Felony bill

is available at http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200102/cmbills/077/20 02077.pdf and is due for debate on June 2nd, postponed from this week. Its long list of proposals include the removing the necessity for MPs to take oaths of allegiance and stripping the Queen of every remaining constitutional power, cancelling the life-long Oath she swore at her coronation. Here is one British bill that would appear to be correctly named.

Mar 16 ~"This is a mere microcosym of what is happening to rural areas all over UK"

writes Joyce, "I am against live export for slaughter..... ie. to a country other than part of the UK. Once over the channel, or for that matter over the Irish Sea, there is no telling where the animals will end up.....that is what I am vehemently AGAINST!
Animals are shipped from here to the east of Scotland for over-wintering [and back again], once on a lorry I would prefer their journey to be short, but I don't see that it matters whether they are on the sea or on the road at that point, ditto with store animals.
The other thing I think ought to be totally uneconomic is sending animals from the islands to Dingwall for slaughter at an 'approved' abattoir, and shipping their carcases back here in chilled wagons to be sold in the local butchers.
A lamb sold at say £20 on a good day comes back as a £70 lump of meat.......the £50 has left the island!
This is a mere microcosym of what is happening to rural areas all over UK"

Mar 15 ~" the farming community and with them others who live in the countryside have emerged from the epidemic with a feeling of complete distrust. The idea that the handling of the crisis was done despite and against them is widespread.

The feeling of distrust for the Government and DEFRA has persisted and spread beyond the parts of the countryside actually affected by the disease. It seems to us in Honest Food that as a matter of first urgency the trust has to be rebuilt. A country cannot have a large chunk of its population feeling that they are not being told the truth and that their welfare and livelihood are being ignored and discounted.... " Extract from he organisation Honest Food's submission to the Lessons Learned Inquiry.

Mar 15 ~ "The message from this case is that the court has supported the Anderson Inquiry for holding its inquiry in public.

The public must know what really happened and be reassured that it will not happen again. "All indications are that the public's concern for the countryside remains strong and widespread and so the Government must listen and act to answer concerns, and restore confidence. The recovery of the rural economy depends upon it....." President of the Country Land and Business Association, Sir Edward Greenwell, today.

Mar 15 ~" We used to have a thriving carcase trade from the Uists, before this crazy EU over-regulated hygiene and required vets to be meat inspectors which put up costs"

writes Joyce. "...Don't remember poisoning anyone with unfit meat in those days. Can you really believe that the southern mediterranean countries all comply?
Even the hanging in a chill rules are OTT when applied to cold places like this......how can you have the same 'chill rules' for Greece and the north of Scotland in winter.
The meat inspectors employed by the council were far more experienced than the bloody vets.
I too hate the live export for slaughter.... live export should only be allowed for breeding animals." (see also Irish Beef)
David adds, "I used to use two or three local slaughter houses but they have all gone. Worse, there is a Tesco on one of the sites! Now all the local slaughter houses have been hounded out of business we are only left with a few big'uns that can handle the huge quantities required by supermarkets. Where the hell is the local butcher supposed to get his meat from? He will have to go to the same place as the supermarket and pay over the odds for anything the supermarket does not want.
Accepting the situation (because we have no alternative), the animals have to travel to the few remaining slaughter houses. So how are they going to get there if they cannot be exported from the Islands around our coasts?"

Mar 15 ~ Who benefits? Who makes money from all the testing?

Testing for scrapie, for BSE, for bovine TB - today, news from New Zealand that all the pigs will be screened for the brucella suis bacteria after one man was taken and later released from hospital. Now fish farms are to be checked for BSE-like diseases (Guardian) The FSA "believe tests should be devised in an effort to close further possible avenues for infecting humans with incurable conditions through their food. ...." and meanwhile a credulous population feel less and less confident about certain foods and the farmers are hedged about with more and more regulation.
Who benefits from all this research and advice for mass testing? The answer has been recurring in several papers on this website lately.

Mar 15 ~ What is so inherently patronising about this initiative is that it assumes that we can only be made to engage with a concept via the conduit of celebrity.

..... The website, meanwhile, is full of fatuous phrases such as: "Your countryside is always open, whatever the weather... whether you're seeking a solitary walk or a full-blown family outing, there's always something to see and do in your countryside, all year round." Yet there was no need for Tessa Jowell and Margaret Beckett to waste money on this project. The way to lure us back to the countryside is far more prosaic. Here's the eight-point Street-Porter manifesto. And unlike Anthea Turner, I have actually walked over 1,000 miles of it. (Today's Independent)

Mar 15 ~" Humans get vaccinated and rightly so - why is it so difficult to encompass a vaccination policy to protect from FMD ?

Other countries do it, and have done it for decades. We import vaccinated meat from these countries (Argentina). The balance of the value of exports (£350 million/year) against the £20 billion wasted on trying slaughter the 10% of the UK's farm animals is simply a dumb and hideously stupid policy. Prevention is ALWAYS better than cure. Vaccination is a prevention technique - the entire EU import vaccinated meat, what in God's name is stopping them adopting the same regime ? " extract from Captain Bryn Wayt's submission to the Lessons Learned Inquiry

Mar 14 ~ Heart of Galloway Rural Futures

Conference - Market - Family Day out
"Exploring and promoting connections between communities and the land"
Saturday - 16th March 2002 at Bladnoch Distillery10.00 am - Opening- Please see Priority page

Mar 14 ~ What has the BBC come to? Toilets, that's what

Boris Johnson writes in today's Telegraph: "THERE are many irritating things about the BBC. But the thing that really gets my goat at the moment is the way in which Michael Buerk winds up the BBC's 10 o'clock news. He gives a sort of roguish wink at the camera, shuffles his notes, and declares, "Okay!", in the manner of a golf club chairman successfully concluding the annual general meeting. Okay? I say to myself, seething on the sofa. What does he mean, okay? Robert Mugabe has just stolen the election in Zimbabwe; the nation's pensions have been defrauded by the Government; violent crime has risen by 38 per cent in the Thames Valley area - and all Buerk can say, in his folksy way, is "okay!" There is certainly nothing okay about the BBC.....there is the insulting presumption that an Asian teenager should want "dumbed-down" programming of a kind that might be resisted by a peer. Anyone who studies the comparative academic attainments of some Asian teenagers, and some members of the House of Lords, can see that this is not a useful generalisation. Is Mr Davies saying that Asian teenagers are the target audience for the bilge that Dyke has been putting on our screens? ."

Mar 14 ~ . "I can confirm that taxpayers' money was used to pay Miss Collins on Sunday,"

says a spokesman for Biss Lancaster, the PR company handling the event. "Someone as big as her wouldn't do it for free. "She is a celebrity and was rightfully paid. I am not at liberty to reveal how much." Peterborough

Mar 13 ~ ".....southern, white, middle-class, middle-aged and well- educated....."

The BBC chairman Gavyn Davies said last night (see democracy watch) , "Still the criticism for dumbing down will not go away. ...they tend to be southern, white, middle-class, middle-aged and well- educated...... the type of people who consume a disproportionate amount of the BBC's services - people who get more out of the licence fee than they put into it."
Sir John Mortimer, the author who has warned the BBC against dumbing down, said the remarks made him despair of the organisation. He said: "......What is sad is if you think of the BBC chairmen of the past, people of huge stature, and now you have a man saying that kind of thing."
Our alarm at this extraordinary display of hatred for culture and intellectual rigour - the mark of tyranny everywhere - reinforces our accelerating worry about the way the media, and the BBC in particular, is being influenced. Greg Dyke has "an estimated personal wealth of £15m" - a standard example of the vast wealth of major British media players. BBC chairman, Gavyn Davies, is estimated to be worth £150 million. Where is the BBC's self-proclaimed provision of "independent and impartial news [as] a fundamental part of a free society and the democratic process"? It does not exist. As Chomsky said, "... what conflicts with the requirements of power and privilege does not exist."

Mar 13 ~ "Farmers, and the British public generally, are sick and tired of seeing their interests sacrificed on the altar of a European political agenda.

The French refusal to admit British beef renders all the pious words about closer EU cooperation so much sanctimonious clap-trap, and unless the Commission moves swiftly to enforce the law they will raise the question of why anyone should bother to obey it." says Peter Ainsworth today

Mar 13 ~ "Perhaps the logical way forward would be to make the UK an 'animal free zone' and then we would not have to worry about FMD or any other disease..."

writes the prescient Mr Persey in his evidence to Lessons Learned. " I am now an ex-pig farmer with FMD being the last straw forcing me to make my three excellent stockmen redundant. They have now left the industry which is in rapid decline. " ....When movement restrictions were imposed .... we soon had pigs standing on top of each other and also eating their fellow pigs.....
" When FMD arrived HMG forced registered swill feeders to close their businesses without compensation. These facilities which were environmentally friendly by recycling waste food under highly regulated conditions were apparently blamed for the introduction of FMD. Swill feeding will now go underground ..... In the Dec 1997 census there were 805,000 breeding sows in the UK, by Dec 2002 it is anticipated that the breeding herd will be below 300,000. This massive reduction means that there will be vast amounts of pigmeat entering the UK opening up the opportunities for a lot more disease ... ( See also the email today about Peta's alleged pronouncements...All domestic animals must be extinct as soon as possible.)

Mar 13 ~ "This week I replied to Mr Morley's consultation paper. "

today. My comment was on the lines that it would be unethical for any vet to suggest that was a valid reason for slaughter of healthy animals and that any criticism of Zimbabwe was a bit rich if the same tactics were going to be operated over here. ...... However I was horrified this morning to see a report on the Farmers Weekly website with my very interpretation headlined as the Government's new contingency plan. Please, everyone, e-mail your dissent to DEFRA. The consultation document process closes this Friday - 15th March The link to the consultation document process (new window)

Mar 13 ~ " I think I've caught on to the Government's strategy"

writes Roy. Their idea with these "so-called " inquiries is to get early feedback of their "discoveries" and issue press statements explaining their change in policy in case of another outbreak. Thus anticipating the criticism and being able to say eventually that it is all old hat and these decisions have ALREADY BEEN MADE "LONG AGO". For example, tonight "they" have decreed that " in any future outbreak animal movements will be stopped immediately " in order to stop the spread of the disease". The extent to which this "brilliant" observation really applies to the "knowing" people like ourselves is almost painful. The intention is clear i.e. to place the comment on record for the general public (who don't have a corporal amongst them)." ....
I believe that their plan is to publish statements in anticipation of the "bullet points" that emerge from the "so-called inquiries" so they can demonstrate that they have already learned the lessons before the lessons are published.
See also Nick's information about the "false alarm" and the Journal article about the leaked documents about FMD payments. There is some very dirty work afoot in the continuing to whitewash government by smearing farmers...

Mar 13 ~ A demonstration unlikely to be much publicised in the British press is the mass lobby of police officers at Parliament today.

Thousands of policemen from all over England and Wales will be converging on the QE2 Centre, opposite the Houses of Parliament, from 11.30 am onwards, to express their anger over planned changes to their pay and working conditions and concern about the future of the police service outlined in the Police Reform Bill. They have been banned from wearing uniform and the Commissioner for the Metropolis has also banned banners and posters. Such democratic expressions of strong feeling tend not to get into the papers. Lady Apsley's meticulously planned and strongly supported demonstration of "The Death of the Truth" was ignored by most of the media.

Mar 13 ~ The EU commission has given Britain three months in which to prepare detailed plans for improvements.

The Guardian today reports that pig farmers "flouted a ban on using waste restaurant food as swill to feed their animals for weeks after the government ended the practice ... "This non-compliance in conjunction with the generally poor standards found in the swill processing premises visited could have had implications for the effectiveness of disease controls in Britain." But swill, even when legal, accounted for only 5% of all catering waste. Most restaurants and canteens sent their waste food to landfill sites, where "in many cases it is disposed of in a similar manner to ordinary household waste". But local authorities supervising caterers did not check on how they disposed of their waste food. The commission has given Britain three months in which to prepare detailed plans for improvements. It said communication between the Department of the Environment and Customs and Excise over possible health risks from illegal food was neither clear nor consistent, and cooperation appeared to depend mostly on personal initiative."
More needless coercion looks likely. The theories that Classical Swine Fever came from a ham sandwich and foot and mouth came from pig swill seem to be still quoted as sufficient justification to impose blanket regulations on ordinary people. Will the criminal smuggling of pigs by large companies never be properly investigated?

Mar 12 ~ "It is also unclear how much benefit this legislation will be to the environment.

Since the legislation was signed in 1991, scientific knowledge of nitrates has moved on, but the Government is still insisting on the strictest interpretation of the rules. This has a potential cost of millions of pounds. "Similar problems have arisen from EU regulations on refrigerators and could well result from rules governing the disposal of cars and electrical equipment. This nitrate initiative is another example of an ill-judged and hasty adoption of European rules, without due consideration of the consequences for the people who must abide by them." Peter Ainsworth, commenting on the reports that farmers will have to store and transport millions of tonnes of manure across England because of the Government's implementation of a European Union directive on fertilizer.....

Mar 12 ~ Lord Moran, speaking on wind power in the House of Lords :" Wind power produces only trivial amounts of power

-a minute fraction of what is produced by a conventional power station. When the wind drops, it produces none at all; and, left alone, it would be quite uneconomic. The developers are in it for the subsidy; and the Government are providing massive subsidy. The non-fossil fuel obligation guarantees premium price sales for 15 years. We are phasing out subsidies to hard-pressed farmers, yet here we are planning to give a substantial subsidy to Enron, the chiefs of which company are now facing gaol in the United States. Surely Enron Europe is in receivership. I do not honestly know what we are doing. We are paying them to do untold damage to the Welsh countryside. Is that remotely sensible? "
Scottish Power too are planning to grab subsidies in a beautiful part of Scotland. Some 100'000 acres of countryside - heather, moorland and 10,000's tonnes of non-renewable peat stand to be destroyed. Not to mention the impact on the wildlife.
We echo Lord Moran; we " do not honestly know what we are doing."

Mar 12 ~"Has anyone ever considered the possibility that this was the source of recent outbreaks?"

... Some farmers, usually major companies, farm livestock both in the UK and overseas. Quite legal and perfectly proper Sometimes their activities abroad are in areas where animal disease is endemic. Naturally there would be a regular traffic of scientists, managers, company vets, consultants, not to say samples, semen etc.
Has anyone ever considered the possibility that this was the source of recent outbreaks? Has anyone checked whether the early farms had overseas connections and where those connections were.
It is difficult to investigate or comment, because MAFF deliberately withheld most of the information. Most of the records and forensic will have been deliberately destroyed. (Pat's email)

Mar 12 ~ "Who is pulling the strings at the BBC?"

asks a correspondent this morning. The email refers to the BBC report: Pet owner guilty of cull attack This story from the BBC fails to report the most important point, picked up by the other newspapers: "Vet George Rafferty had not produced any formal notice under the Animal Health Act 1983, giving notice of intention to kill the animal"
Is this not cause for real concern? Kirstin suffered for a year, finally being made to suffer the indignity of a court appearance. Is this not sufficient grounds for an action on her own part?

Mar 12 ~ "the farming industry is being presented with proposals for regulation for which there is no scientific justification".

At least 10,000 farmers will be forced to transport millions of tons of manure across many miles of urban and rural England because of the Government's implementation of an European Union directive on fertiliser. In a letter to The Telegraph, Sir Edward Greenwell (CLA) and Ben Gill, president of the NFU, warn today that overzealous implementation of the directive will force excessive extra costs - estimated to be up to £100 million - on farmers and growers. They also say "the farming industry is being presented with proposals for regulation for which there is no scientific justification". The prospect of manure mountains is predicted to become even worse in four years' time, when the directive will cut the amount of nitrogen that farmers can spread on their land from 210 kilograms per hectare to 170 kilograms.
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the EU directive was already a "done deal" after the European Court ruled in 2000 that Britain had to apply the directive to the environment as well as drinking water. See Telegraph today

Mar 11 ~ COURT TOLD OF DEFRA'S CULTURE OF "BULLYING BEHAVIOUR"

On this day when many will be thinking about the British Judicial System, we have been sent the newspaper report by The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald ( 15 Dec 2001 ) of Nick Green's original court case. The report of Nick Green's lost appeal appeared today in the Cumbria News and Star

Mar 11 ~ Planned Europe-wide ban on vitamin therapies

"Europe is once again standing at the crossroads. On 12th March the European Parliament decides whether the people of Europe will continue to have unrestricted access to side-effect free natural therapies or whether the pharmaceutical lobby will succeed in reducing the European Parliament to the role of the pharmaceutical cartel's Strasbourg puppet show...."
There are now just hours left to cast your vote in the biggest referendum of all time. (over 489 million so far...)

Mar 11 ~ Britain can't sell its beef even after ban is ended reports today's Times

"Eight weeks after the European Union lifted its export ban on British meat products imposed during the foot-and-mouth outbreak, Brussels regulations have meant that not one beef consignment has left the country. Meat companies are so frustrated with the tough rules covering British beef exports that they have decided to withdraw from the market. Ministers are lobbying David Byrne, the EU Food Safety Commissioner, to relax the controls. The collapse in the trade is particularly embarrassing for the Government. Two years ago Tony Blair appointed beef envoys in embassies throughout the world to win new orders for British beef."
The article lists the extraordinary regulations for abattoirs. They must comply with strict rules in order to be eligible for the so-called Date Based Export Scheme.
Pat Gardiner's Comment: "Why is it that I seem to be the only one unsurprised by this? In Britain, we seem to live in a dream world - unable to see ourselves as others do. Of course there is no market for British beef - or lamb - or pork....or our lies."

Mar 10 ~ A plea for information from David "I can find no further details of this exhibition mentioned in your pages as follows:-

"The Prince of Wales has donated a watercolour of Balmoral to an art exhibition to raise money for farmers whose livelihood has been affected by the foot-and-mouth epidemic."
Can anyone shed any light on this or any future exhibitions devoted to the devastation resulting from the foot and mouth outbreak? Any information about art exhibitions with a foot and mouth theme would be most gratefully received by this website. See also The Aftermath - a poster for photographic exhibition from Friday, March 15, to Tuesday, April 19

Mar 10 ~ People think there is nothing to do but walking, but there are a lot of attractions

Ananova reports today that Alun Michael has said - talking about the country as if it is already one large NuLab theme park - "People think there is nothing to do but walking, but there are a lot of attractions" These "attractions" appear to have been illustrated - in Leicester Square - by "a range of country skills ...including falconry, fly fishing and welly-throwing."
Ms Collins said parts of the British countryside were "absolutely ravishing." "I'm here to support the British countryside and I wish that people would go to it more," she added."
So just when one felt things couldn't get any worse, we find that the English landscape has been reduced to a tourist attraction in need of marketing by UKOK, Cool Britannia and "Your Countryside You're Welcome."

Mar 10 ~Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, glows with pride at his industry's progress

....But let's just hold the enthusiasm for a minute. This is an industry that the public sees nothing of and knows virtually nothing about: you can see cows, sheep and pigs in fields but the British consumer never sees the chickens behind shed doors..... In the control room of the Oxfordshire farm, the monitors hum, showing the exact temperature, air ventilation, amount of water drunk, amount of feed eaten. It is a soulless machine for growing chickens. In each of the eight identical sheds, 200 feet long and 80 feet wide, the 26,000 birds cover the floor like a living feathered carpet. Most sit, some stand, staring, with an average space each of nine inches by nine inches. There are no windows, and the birds never see the sky or natural light. Small lights dangle from the roof keeping light at a sufficiently low level so that the birds aren't too active, burning up energy. Full darkness sends the birds to sleep, preventing them from eating and putting on weight, and so is kept to the minimum of one hour a night. They have a 23-hour day. Throughout their six weeks of life, the birds get no change of litter. Acrid ammonia rises from the excrement and urine on the floor. The birds never breathe fresh air, but fans slowly ventilate the room, automatically monitored to keep the temperature at the optimum for fast growth. .." This is a stomach turning article - but will it change the minds of the chicken eating public in our barbarian society?
We are reminded again of the wise words of St Francis of Assissi:
"If you have men who will exclude any of God`s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man."

Mar 10 ~ "My companions on the safari included a woman in her twenties, who confessed that recently, while travelling in England, she had seen some strange pink animals in a field.

She had no idea what they were, as such beasts don't live in Kensington High Street. They were apparently pigs, which she had never seen before. However, her identification of warthogs, leopards and baboons was impeccable.
Much work is still needed in urban Britain to make people understand the countryside."
Read Robin Page in the Telegraph

Mar 10 ~"Genuine farmers' markets will be accredited under the Certification of Farmers' Markets scheme to distinguish them from rogue traders. "

we read in the Yorkshire Post under the headline Scheme targets farmers' markets cheats " A SCHEME to crack down on market traders passing off poor-quality goods as home- grown at Britain's increasing number of farmers' markets was launched yesterday. ...Part-funded by the DEFRA, the certification scheme aims to safeguard the high standards of British farmers and their produce and assure consumers that local farmers, growers, bakers and brewers trading at these markets are selling high-quality goods. "
There are cynical people about who see phrases such as "aims to safeguard", "assure consumers" and "accreditation" and say... " Isn't that Newspeak for "regulation" - and isn't "regulation" just another way of saying "keep under surveillance, tie up in red tape, impose rules until they give up in despair?"
Those doubters should remember that it is Lord Whitty himself who says.."The new certification scheme will help ensure the principles underpinning farmers' markets are adhered to, and so help preserve their integrity."
With words like "principles" and "integrity", with Lord Whitty and DEFRA involved, who could begin to question the motives of such a scheme?

Mar 10 ~ " What I am asking is, is the landscape of the Peak District or the Lakes worth preserving? And are we prepared to accept that the taxpayer should contribute?

If so we have to abolish the wasteful CAP and find a more acceptable and inexpensive way of encouraging sustainable agriculture. A way that gives the public the countryside they deserve for their money, and hopefully dismisses too the popular misconception of farmers as whining subsidy junkies in gold plated Range Rovers." .... concludes an article by Andrew Byron looking critically at Sean Rickard's pronouncement that "There is a band of small full time farmers producing 15% of the [countries'] output. These are under pressure and do not have the economies of scale. There is nothing that can or should be done to save them. "

Mar 9 ~ " We were there when the lad got shot. Just foolin' about. They'd done a thousand sheep."

" It's a sight to see. Thousands of animals being killed, healthy ones 'n' all. I've seen poor ewes lambing on the back of the wagon. Poor little thing gets up, shakes itself like they do; vet walks up to it, injects. Dead. Just like that. We were there when the lad got shot. Just foolin' about. They'd done a thousand sheep. It went off behind his ear. The vet passed out: sat on the floor, went red, white, all colours and he was sick. It's bound to get to the lads. 30,000 sheep shot in the head. It's bound to leave its mark."
Slaughterman's words quoted by In the Shadow - an exhibition exploring the human cost of foot and mouth. Many of the small farmers featured in this exhibition, faced with the need to restock and rebuild their lives, are now questioning the way in which they have been encouraged to produce cheap food for a global market.

Mar 9 ~ MEPs can take crisis to heart

reports the Westmorland Gazette. "NORTH West MEP and Penrith farmer Lord Inglewood has given 60 copies of the book Foot and Mouth, Heart and Soul to members of the European Parliament's inquiry into the epidemic.
Caz Graham's book contains first-hand accounts of the impact of the crisis in Cumbria, written by farmers, schoolchildren, hoteliers and others."
Lord Inglewood, whose own farm was hit by the disease, said: "I hope my EU colleagues will read them and understand the personal experiences of this harrowing disease that affected the whole of Cumbria."

Mar 8 ~ Foot and Mouth Lessons Learned Meeting Carlisle

Tickets are still available for next Tuesday's public meeting which is being held as part of one of the Government's three inquiries into the foot and mouth crisis.
The meeting takes place at the Shepherd's Inn on the Rosehill Estate, Carlisle at 7pm.
It will be the only public meeting staged in Cumbria by the "lessons learned" inquiry, which is headed by Dr Iain Anderson. Entry is by ticket only and places are limited to 250.
Members of the public who want to attend should contact Samantha Dooley at COI Conference Services, Rm 115, Hercules Road, London SE1 7DU. Phone: 020 7261 8400/8385, fax: 020 7261 8588 or e-mail conferences12 yea

Mar 8 ~ "...farmers told me that when the slaughter had been completed on their farms the birds were silent. "

Ian Geering, 54, a photography student and former vet is aiming to raise awareness of the severe impact of the foot and mouth crisis on the countryside. "A number of farmers told me that when the slaughter had been completed on their farms the birds were silent. I wanted to capture in image form that silence, that absence. When I was in Cumbria, I was told that in the autumn you could travel from Penrith to Carlisle and not see a single farm animal. It is that devastation that I wanted to show in the images in order to raise awareness of the plight of the rural community. 'Foot and Mouth: The Aftermath' will be held at the University of Westminster's headquarters at 309 Regent Street, London W1 (nearest tube Oxford Circus) from Friday, March 15, to Tuesday, April 19. Opening times are 9am to 9pm weekdays and 10am to 4pm weekends. Admission to the exhibition is free. (full details on priority)

Mar 8 ~ "Welfare" is a word whose meaning has been used to justify the cruellest actions towards animals -

and now towards an old lady who - choosing not to conform to what her London Council feels is "right", finds she has no rights at all. Democracy Watch today carries the story from the Guardian about the admirably independent and well-respected 60 year old who chose to live in her car. Her car was taken away yesterday when the council and the police arrived, claiming "growing concern over the welfare of Miss Naysmith". But the spokeswoman admitted the flat was not yet ready and "she would have to move into a B&B to begin with".
This is Britain. Conform. Big Brother is a reality.

Mar 7 ~ Having expressed sorrow for the two men and their families in the captive-bolt slaughter case, Joyce speaks perhaps for many when she writes,: "...I wonder if the public will notice

that the bolt-gun does not kill.....it appears that the injured man was even able to speak....at this same stage of operations sheep were being burned and buried alive."

Mar 7 ~ Quita writes: "..And still the evidence keeps leaking out! The news that Cumbrian firearms police officers had to go in to finish off half-alive animals - and the horrendous revelation during the Preston court case that slaughtermen were killing 600 sheep AN HOUR!!

And still no one held responsible - who on earth made the decision to pay slaughtermen piece rate, for a start?"
600 sheep in an hour is 10 a minute. Hardly surprising then that the scene was a grotesque bloodbath and that many who tried to reap the rich rewards of slaughtering - even they - couldn't stand the stress of it. See the Guardian story today.

Mar 7 ~ Latest news on committee stage of the Animal Health Bill in the House of Lords is that it will be on March 26 and 28. The latter is Maundy Thursday

and is, therefore, the last day the Lords are sitting before the recess....
What is now needed is spread of information and maximum publicity. Letters to the press from vets or lawyers would be very helpful.

Mar 5 ~ A proposal by the National Criminal Intelligence Service to store all UK Internet traffic for seven years in a single data warehouse won the Big Brother Award for Most Appalling Project

on Monday night. ...Noting that this year's awards, represented by a boot stamping on a decapitated head, were slightly smaller than in previous years, Thomas said: "Yes, we've gone from the jack boot of tyranny to more of a Chris Smith New Labour rambling look." ( See warmwell's democracy watch today)

Mar 4 ~ Countrycide....Death of a Way of Life?

starts on 4 March at 2320 GMT on BBC Two, and continues at the same time on 5 March, 11 March and 12 March. " I don't think the town people realise what the countryside would look like if it wasn't farmed properly. " John Moyse

Mar 4 ~ headline in "The Independent": FARMERS SUPPORTED BY BLAIR

Frances writes: "However, turns out not to be British farmers, of course, you knew that, but those in the "third world". Not to decry those farmers but, for Heaven's sake TB, what about US here in the UK, you must remember us, you honour us with a visit now & then. Just to see if we are still here, and if we are, to concoct new ways to make our lives miserable and screw us into the ground. Such 24 carat hypocrisy deserves recognition."

Mar 3 ~ Bryn writes: "The world has never reported a case of real BSE in sheep, yet the EU in its God given wisdom is to treble the number of sheep it tests

for this hidden, never found, invisible, unproven BSE in sheep. Maybe their chances of finding the remaining Dead Sea Scrolls would be higher?"
Scrapie Tests in Sheep Stepped Up
The European Union is to treble the number of sheep for scrapie because of fears that the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy might be hiding BSE. Now the EU will testing 560,000 sheep a year concentrating on animals over the age of 18 months. The new testing programme will start on 1 April. Speaking to the Agriculture Council Commissioner David Byrne responsible for health and consumer safety said: "I accept that the risk of transmission of BSE to sheep remains theoretical rather than proven. Nonetheless, we must be pro-active in putting in place a strong protective framework throughout the EU." Warmwell notes wearily the familiar clichés: "we must be pro-active" , "strong protective framework" as is protecting anything other than trade and their own power base has ever been a priority. It is sickening.

Mar 2 ~ "I think it appropriate to thank Lady Apsley for all her work in getting the petition together and handed in to Westminster in such a splendid manner. We feel proud to have been associated with it.

What a pity that the spin doctors were ready for her and managed to block any publicity by using the hunting with hounds bill to take the media's mind off the FMD." writes Margaret, echoing the sentiments of many.

Mar 2 ~ "Consider men such as Stephen Byers as the Pictures of Dorian Blair. He keeps them around him, pygmy politicians, soaking up for him the stains of compromise, dishonesty, calculation, visionlessness, gracelessness and sheer mean-spirit,

while he stands free and apart, the spirit of new Labour towering above its mere henchmen: pure and unblemished and somehow above mere politics.
Throw your punches at Byers; vote for Tony. Spit at Stephen, and when you have spat enough, Tony - Tony, mark you, in his own time, not the newspapers in theirs - will kill him in a Cabinet reshuffle. And then you will have all the more cause to thank Tony.
The press talk of Mr Byers's "reprieve". Reprieve? More like condemnation. The Transport Secretary is to be kept in the stocks for our gruesome entertainment, until the winter is over and spring, and Tony Blair, purges the stain. But, oh my friends, we fools are getting wise to this.
When, later this year, the Prime Minister faces Stephen Byers to sack him, he should recall Wilde's book. Dorian "drew the screen aside and saw himself, face to face. The portrait had altered."
How fervently Tony would have preferred the face of Peter Mandelson in place of that of Stephen Byers, you can guess from the frenzy of dissimulation which came yesterday from Downing Street." Matthew Parris in today's Times (Read more on the democracy watch page)

Mar 1 ~ The fact that this government is prepared to tolerate the Jo Moores of this world gives some indication of their worries.

Mr Blair tells us it is a time for looking forward not backward, but I believe that no-one can look forward confidently who hasn't looked backward critically. (See Dan Thorpe's letter in today's News and Star. Many thanks to Elaine for this and others.)

Mar 1 ~"... the more serious the error, the more bizarre will be attempts to justify the unjustifiable.

.... it was inevitable that, when its initial slaughter policy showed signs of catastrophic failure, it would resort to further slaughter. That its actions were destroying the very fabric of the rural economy was of little importance compared with its overpowering need to prove itself right. While a rapid, early vaccination programme could have ended the misery within thirty days of the first reported outbreak, not ony could MAFF's corporate brain not cope with such a drastic shift in policy, but a change of tack would have amounted to an admission of error. This was not an option. Thus, the killing intensified and the 'cure' became worse than the disease." (From The Death of British Agriculture by Richard North)

Feb 28 ~ "He clings to his seat at the Cabinet, as if blessed by the Almighty with a prehensile bottom."

Boris Johnson today on Byers. See democracy watch

Feb 28 ~ "Item, New Years Day was it, 2100 sheep slaughtered because a vet thought a couple of them showed signs of FMD

later result NEGATIVE.
Item, Kirkby Stephen, 2 sheep slaughtered suspicion of FMD, general panic, result NEGATIVE.
Item, North Yorkshire, 2 sheep show lesions, slaughtered, absolute panic, result to date, NEGATIVE.
Just imagine what would have happened over the years since 1967/8, if vets had examined every sheep in the land for lesions, I sure they would have found thousands of suspect cases of FMD.
Did I read that Defra said the Vet responsible for the latest panic had a lot of experience of FMD? BLIMEY..."(full email)

Feb 28 ~ 6000 'restocked' sheep killed so far ...according to this article in the New Scientist yesterday

Preliminary tests on British two sheep with apparent symptoms of foot and mouth disease have come back negative, but the UK faces an anxious 96-hour wait for confirmation. A new outbreak of the virus would be devastating for British farmers....... Initial tests on swabs from the lesions, using an antibody-based assay for the virus, are negative. ..... The swabs have now been used to infect bovine thyroid cells in culture, to allow any virus present to replicate. Medium from those cells will then be used to infect a second culture. If, after 96 hours, none of the cells show signs of infection, the sheep will be declared free of FMD.
Leftover or new import?
It is unlikely that any virus can persist three months in the environment once animals are gone, says Bostock. It can persist without causing symptoms in "carrier" animals, although it is not clear whether such animals transmit the infection. (But see ) Re-stocked livestock are being tested for antibodies to FMD that will reveal any history of exposure to the virus. So far 6000 have been slaughtered, even though they may no longer be infected....

Feb 27 ~ LESSONS LEARNED FOOT AND MOUTH INQUIRY VISITING NORTH WEST - 12-13 MARCH 2002

The independent inquiry looking at the lessons to be learned from the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001 will visit Cumbria and Lancashire on 12-13 March 2002. The Chairman of the Inquiry, Dr Iain Anderson, will visit key local sites and host meetings to listen to people's views and impressions of what could be done in the future to ease the impact of an animal disease outbreak. " ...the healthy, hefted sheep and lambs, sharing the common grazing land with a neighbour's flock, were separated from them and slaughtered. Some were killed in their neighbour's sheep pens and others on the croft. ..... The following day the de-tox ritual started. ........ Bearing in mind that none of the animals in Sutherland were infected it seems bizarre that all the feed troughs, pens and farm tools were either burnt, destroyed or taken away.
Other items that 'disappeared' included rare and much treasured, hand-made, willow creels and some ancient cartwheels that Mona had planned to arrange near the house; she has the feeling that if they could have got into the house, the furniture would have disappeared too.
In utter despair they gazed on the empty hills and fields, feeling they had lost everything. The animals thay were so proud of, who were also their friends, the tools, equipment and artifacts they valued so highly and all for no good reason that they could understand.
Most readers of this story will consider it sad and illogical and imagine this is the end, but far from it. Much more pain was to come and astonishingly, it would be inflicted on them by the local people and press. ...." Read the Shepherds' story on
farmtalking.org

Feb 27 ~ "Defra rules at the time said that only directly contiguous properties should be culled, not necessarily neighbouring properties as well..."

"The article was printed in its entirety with a strange quote from a DEFRA spokesman who defended the decision to cull our animals but leave eleven other contiguous properties un-culled: "Defra rules at the time said that only directly contiguous properties should be culled, not necessarily neighbouring properties as well."
???? Could someone please translate that for me?
Didi has sent us the article printed this morning in the Western Morning News

Feb 27 ~ "it is the fundamental right of people to know precisely what went on surrounding this most depressing rural crisis.......Sadly, this very simple "human right" has now moved out of the countryside and into a courtroom for a judicial review..."

"I'm sure most can see the sense of holding separate and quick inquiries. Such resolutions can, for example, set a course of confidence in markets and perhaps give a blueprint of how to handle the next outbreak. But it is the fundamental right of people to know precisely what went on surrounding this most depressing rural crisis - the before, after and during - that is important. The lessons to be learned should be precisely that - learned. Similarly, it can only be correct if government is held to account. Sadly, this very simple "human right" has now moved out of the countryside and into a courtroom for a judicial review. .... " The article in icWales is well worth reading. See also the strength of the case from a legal perspective.

Feb 27 ~".... And Defra are saying they have plenty of staff available in the event of an outbreak; strange if you ask me...."

Ron has written this morning

Feb 26 ~ From the UKBA site this evening.."My contacts in the local DEFRA F & M office

are saying that DEFRA vets are expecting sporadic outbreaks at lambing time. They presently have considerably more staff employed than they need for the current workload so that they are geared up if these outbreaks appear. Expect 3km culls to happen very quickly"

Feb 26 ~ Imported food entails pollution and traffic congestion. In a few years there will be a shortage of oil and the whole oil-based system will eventually collapse.

...a German study of strawberry yoghurt found that a truckload of 150 gram yoghurts would travel 1,005 kilometres. 'The strawberries came from Poland, yoghurt from north Germany, corn and wheat flour from the Netherlands, jam from West Germany and sugar beet from East Germany. The aluminium for use on the cover came 300 km. Only the milk and glass jar were local to Stuttgart, where theoretically the yoghurt "came from".' ... Typical ingredients in a family meal may have travelled thousands of miles before reaching the plate. ... Ironically, organic produce can, in this respect, be just as environmentally damaging as the conventional equivalent, given that as much as 70% of the organic market is imported. Needless to say, the carbon dioxide emissions associated with so many 'food miles' contribute to the accumulation of gases that is supposed to be causing global climate change. In turn, climate change is likely to affect the world's capacity to produce food...If the vogue for farm shops and farmers markets catches on, consumers could force supermarkets to source more food regionally, with proper labelling and promotion. If not, it may be good-bye to the British farmer, much as Southern England is saying good-bye to the frog."
This is part of an important article by Clive Aslet which appeared in the Financial Times on Feb 23

Feb 26 ~ Bye Bye Byers? Any More ly ing?

Sir Richard Mottram, the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Transport has contradicted the Transport Secretary's two central claims: that he took no part in the discussions about Mr Sixsmith, and that a voluntary resignation had already happened. This very senior civil servant, rightly fed up with being placed, by incompetence and lying, in the centre of a childish and shameful parade of claims and counter-claims, has probably dished Mr Byers' hope of clinging stubbornly to office in spite of everything spin could do. After all, Tony Blair changed the law of the land without reference to the people let alone the Civil Service. In Downing Street there is no longer a Sir Humphrey. Jonathan Powell and press secretary Alastair Campbell now have formal executive power over mainstream civil servants. Mr Blair has said that Mr Byers retains his "full confidence". This will not stop him from tossing him overboard, we suspect.
Another Junior Minister, ( more lying) who has consistently covered-up cruel misinformation and spin, might perhaps consider a more dignified departure from the dirty and discredited sinking ship. But it seems there comes a point when politicians of whatever party seem genuinely to believe in their right to do whatever they like to stay in power - to feel that other people do not matter - just as the "little people" at the Vienna fairground were looked at with contempt by Orson Wells' character in the Third Man. Such a mistake leads to all the horrors the world has ever seen. The ever increasing view among the power-hungry that animals too have no capacity for suffering leads to the horrors we saw and deplored in the past months. And on it goes.

Feb 26 ~ Compassion in World Farming is calling for a live export ban by unveiling the results of a nation-wide survey today.

78% of the British public polled wanted live exports banned. "The government defends its position on not banning this trade by referring to the illegality of stopping trade in goods within the EU," said Mr Stevenson. "This is a ludicrous position - animals have been formally recognised as sentient beings by the EU, they are not goods." Advocates for Animals campaigns officer Ross Minett, added: "It is high time this government took heed of the strong public opinion on this issue." In a further move the Labour MP for Dover, Kent, Gywn Prosser has submitted an Early Day Motion to the House of Commons attacking live exports. Since it was submitted the motion has gained the support of 118 MPs.

Feb 25 ~ The members of 'The Death of The Truth' funeral procession will request that Mr Cash present the Parliamentary Petition to Her Majesty's government, on behalf of the citizens of the United Kingdom,

demanding a Full Public Inquiry into the Foot & Mouth Disaster.
Lady Apsley launched the campaign, with the help of Mr Cash in September 2001 and with the support of The NFU, The CLA, The Countryside Alliance and The BASC, she quickly reached the enormous number of names collected. See full press release

Feb 24 ~ A procession and service in memory of the animals killed as a result of the Foot and Mouth slaughter policies takes place today at Downing Street.

The animals remembered with affection and sadness will include much loved family pets, rare breeding stock, many cared for farm animals and their young and all the millions of others. This is a quiet and sombre small gathering but none the less important for that. Those concerned will assemble at Whitehall Place for a procession to Downing Street. A petition will be presented and a short service of remembrance will be conducted.

Feb 24 ~ Ultimately, Monsanto's own words did them in," said Brendan DeMelle, an analyst for the Environmental Working Group, an anti-chemical advocacy group.

An Alabama jury yesterday found that Monsanto Co. engaged in "outrageous" behavior by releasing tons of PCBs into the city of Anniston and covering up its actions for decades. Documents found that gave the lie to their righteous indignation at the charges feature warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" "We can't afford to lose one dollar of business," A committee the company formed to address controversies about PCBs had only two formal objectives: "Permit continued sales and profits" and "protect image of . . . the corporation."
The Washington Post yesterday Monsanto Held Liable For PCB Dumping .... PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, have been banned in the United States since 1979.Today, PCBs are known as global pollutants and possible carcinogens....people now have unprecedented PCB levels in their blood.Those people destroyed this community. They poisoned us, they profited from us, and now it's time for them to pay. ( It may be remembered that Monsanto has been influential in fighting the organic movement in this country. The NFU is a large shareholder. There is also the Monsanto and the Coverup of rBGH story:
the hormone, which can harm cows, was approved by the (US) government as a veterinary drug without adequate testing of how it affected the children and adults who drink rBGH milk.
One wonders if this could have any connection with the appearance of the 'new' E. coli 0157 that causes so much havoc these days...)

Feb 23 ~ CASE FILE A farmer from Kirkby Stephen: When sheep were taken as a dangerous contact from a neighbouring farm, MAFF used dirty wagons to transport them.

Those wagons had had contact with other farms on the way there and Mr L believes that was the source of infection for the infected premises which subsequently resulted in his livestock being slaughtered on the basis that they were dangerous contacts. (one of the 100 plus complaints sent to the Ombudsman by David Maclean MP)

Feb 23 ~"....he had been ordered to abandon the front line at the height of the battle to control the disease to find a good spot for Tony Blair to be photographed...

The brigadier, who is now retired from the Army, said that he could go on for hours about the lessons to be learnt and that he was looking forward to contributing to an official inquiry into the outbreak. After disclosing recently that Downing Street had interfered with his handling of the operation to eradicate the disease, he said that he had no interest in seeking revenge on the people whose mistakes had hampered efforts to bring it under control. "Some people might want revenge," he said outside the Palace. "I'm not interested in that. There's no need to start pointing fingers at anyone in particular. This disease got out of control because of lots of small mistakes, not one big one." On Monday the brigadier said that he had been ordered to abandon the front line at the height of the battle to control the disease to find a good spot for Tony Blair to be photographed..." Missed from our reading of the Times article about Brigadier Birtwhistle on Thursday.

There has been throughout this outbreak, we feel, a cynical and disgraceful campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting vaccination and those who advocate it, widespread secrecy, intimidation and the unaccountable use of the Official Secrets Act, and a continuing deliberate refusal to make use of people and equipment that could have controlled the disease months ago with minimal slaughter and distress. The motives behind such actions must be seriously and publicly questioned.
"The fate of agriculture is intimately bound up with the fate of democracy itself....no civilisation has ever survived the loss of its agricultural base" Dr Richard North The Death of British Agriculture
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