From Farmers for Action:
Firstly thank you everyone who attended yesterday, it was a great success,
police estimate figures at around the 1000 mark, extraordinary in view that
it was organised in just a week. To those of you who did'nt you missed a
great day out and we hope you will be able to join us next time.
BBC did us proud, with coverage nationally on 1 pm, and 6pm news, and on all
news reports on BBC Wales with interviews etc., Also good reports from
Central TV and South West.
If you wish to purchase photographs from yesterday, FFA member Mark R.
Heath, who is professional photographer, took 166 frames and they can be
viewed and purchase on his web site at www.markrheath.co.uk They are
excellent and well worth a look.
Remember, there will be more action to come - please join FFA, membership
form on www.farmersforaction.fsnet.co.uk to keep up to date and remember "it
is very easy to be brave from a safe distance" very apt for our critics!
Best wishes & thank you
David Handley & Farmers For Action
A message from Jacquita:
When you have time, please visit www.pbase.com/footandmouth, where Caroline
has made a start on pictures for the book 'Fields of Fire'. Perhaps you'd
be kind enough to post this in your nightly newsletter as well? All
suggestions for photos, or comments in the comment book, will be most warmly
A thought from Richard North:
It is an interesting, if worrying sign of the times that, while 600 people
turned up to demonstrate on FMD, there were 3,000 former MAFF workers on
strike, demonstrating for higher salaries to match their new DEFRA
colleagues. I know money talks but this is really sad.
# # #
More now on blood testing - yes, we still haven't tied up all the loose
ends! Alan's message and Pirbright's reply follow:
Thank you for your detailed answers to the other questions. There is one
that I would ask you to look at again, namely:
"Another point - the 95/5 testing protocol of course risks not detecting
some epidemiological groups with a prevalence of seropositive animals in
excess of 5% and a good chance of failing to detect flocks with a
prevalance of less than 5% seropositive animals - so they are still likely
to be leaving seropositive animals alive - and many of these could be
If seroposiitive and carrier animals pose an unacceptable risk as DEFRA
claims why is this acceptable?"
I'll try to explain what this question is driving at. The 95/5 testing
protocol refers to the wide-scale blood sampling that is now proceeding in
the 10 km zones around infected premises to "prove" that they are FMD free.
Only a sample of sheep are being tested in 10% of flocks, the sampling being
designed with a 95% chance of detecting more than 5% of antibody positive
sheep in the flock (I think). Now by definition, there is the statistical
probability that some antibody positive sheep will be missed, even in the
sampled flocks, never mind those not tested. Yet this is OK according to
DEFRA and FMD free status can be restored.
This does not stand comparison with what is happening in the Brecon Beacons
at the moment. If it's OK to leave some antibody positive sheep alive
throughout the 10 km zones, why not elsewhere?
Can I invite you to comment on this?
As far as the sampling is concerned, first, thanks! That's interesting. I
knew nothing about it. The system may be based on the notion that, if a
flock has been infected at all, it will normally have spread to MORE than 5%
of the animals in that flock. It works out like this: If, for the sake of
argument, we take the situation where the prevalence of infection in animals
is exactly 5%, then the sample will, from what you say, be large enough to
have a 95% degree of confidence of detecting the infection in that flock. To
achieve that level of confidence (I reckon!) you need to test 59 sheep. With
the first sheep you test there is a 19/20ths chance you'll be unlucky and
pick a negative. The second similarly. But the chance of them BOTH being
negative is 19/20 times 19/20. If you test 59 sheep, then the chance of
every single one being negative works out at just under 0.05 (19/20 x 19/20
x 19/20 ....... 59 times over); i.e. just under 5%. So your level of
confidence of getting at least one positive in that sample of 59 is
marginally better than 95%. 58 sheep isn't quite enough! You have to test 59
to get above the magic 95% confidence level.
Now! If, as I guess is normal, the proportion of infected individuals in the
flock is actually more than 5%, then the confidence level will go up when
you apply the same sampling regime. The point to note is that your
confidence will go up very sharply as the prevalence of infection goes up.
Suppose, for example, the actual percentage of infected sheep is 10%, not
5%, the confidence level will go up from 95% to no less than 99.8%. The
reason is that 9/10 x 9/10 x 9/10 ..... 59 times over is only about 0.002.
That means a confidence level of 99.8%. If you are a DEFRA vet then THAT
level of confidence is... - well! You'd be confident, wouldn't you? A
quicker and dirtier way of thinking about the arithmetic is to consider
that, at a 10% prevalence, you are being unlucky twice over if you fail to
pick a single positive: i.e you are unlucky once (0.05 chance) and a seond
time (another 0.05 chance), making the accumulator odds (like betting on the
horses) = 0.05 x 0.05, which is 0.0025. That calculation is only
approximate, but it suggests a confidence level of 99.75%, which is similar
to the correct figure close to 99.8%.
DEFRA by now will have quite a lot of experience of infected flocks, and
they will know what the likely prevalence is. The only case I happen to know
about was the first batch of Brecon sera where the prevalence was, I
believe, around the 12 or 13% mark. If we say 12.5%, and if that is regarded
as typical (for the sake of argument!!!), then according to the above logic
DEFRA's ability to detect antibodies in any flock that has been exposed to
FMDV is 99.96%. In other words, DEFRA would not expect the sampling regime
to fail more than once in every 2,500 or so flocks.
These are thumbnail, off-the-cuff calculations by a non-epidemiologist, and
I have a nasty hunch that they will only stir things up in Powys worse than
things are stirred up already. In practice, the calculations are doubtless
much more complex. One should take account of the spread of prevalence
levels in different flocks and the uncertainty inherent in making
assumptions about this key parameter. And what about deficiencies in the
test? Are DEFRA allowing for a small proportion of false positives (in which
case the estimate of 59 sheep for the required sample is too low), or are
they using a higher cut-off level in the test to eliminate all possibility
of false positives? The latter could be done, but I have absolutely no idea
what their actual methodology is. You can rest assured, however, that DEFRA
have the best possible expertise available to them in designing their
sampling regime to be secure, yet cost-effective. Of all the things I might
be suspicious of DEFRA about in relation to FMDV control, taking risks is
not one of them.
# # #
From the BBC Wales website:
A teacher from mid Wales has lost her High Court challenge over the policy
of culling livestock in the Brecon Beacons during to the foot-and-mouth
Janet Hughes, who has recently bought a small holding at Churchstoke, had
objected to the way testing and culling have been carried out.
Last month a government policy change resulted in the culling of 6,000
hefted flocks on the hills.
Ms Hughes was seeking a judicial review over the decision, by the Welsh
Assembly and the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(Defra), claiming both have acted unlawfully.
She believes sheep which have foot-and-mouth antibodies - but do not carry
the virus - should not be culled.
Her lawyer, Mr Guy Adams told the court: "There was no infection in those
6,000 sheep at all."
But Defra claimed that the policy was a success and the judge agreed,
rejecting Miss Hughes's claim the change was unlawful.
The policy is based on scientific advice and those that are most affected
agree it is the right thing to do
Mr Justice Stanley Burnton said: "No one could help but be appalled by the
large number of animals killed and the impact on the livelihoods of the
"The disease is a highly virulent strain of the virus that spreads very
quickly and it may be the inevitable consequences was the death of very many
animals and damage to a number of industries and livelihoods."
Despite the judge's decision Ms Hughes remains defiant. Outside the court
she said: "I am not giving up.
"I grew up on a small holding. I can see the destructive changes that can
happen if they continue with this.
"We live in an area of culling in February and March it was mass
Originally the assembly decided not to carry out a contiguous cull on the
hillsides because the sheep were hefted.
But it reversed the decision in an effort to combat the spread of the
disease in the Beacons area, where there have been 18 cases of
Testing is continuing but latest test results on flocks in the area have
proved negative raising hopes that the pattern of testing and culling is
coming to an end.
Defra's QC, Chris Vajda, claimed the slaughter of nearly 18,000 sheep
potentially saved the Beacons sheep population of 150,000.
"The policy is based on scientific advice and those that are most affected
agree it is the right thing to do."
The judge ordered Ms Hughes to pay costs of the Welsh Assembly and Defra
which have been estimated at around #25,000.
From the Farmers Weekly website:
22 August 2001
Devon to hold virus public inquiry
By John Burns, south-west of England correspondent
DEVON County Council has announced the programme for its own public inquiry
into the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the county.
Evidence is invited from "the various agencies and special interest groups
involved in responding to the outbreak".
Public hearings will take place 8 and 12 October. Members of the public are
invited to submit their evidence in writing not later than 28 September.
They can do this either via the council's website or special submission
forms available from the council. District councils will also be involved.
The Government has come under heavy criticism for deciding to hold three
independent inquiries rather than a single public inquiry.
The Devon inquiry's reports will be organised in a way which allows
presentation of its evidence to the three government inquiries.
The information and conclusions will be used to help formulate and execute a
Devon Foot and Mouth Recovery Plan.
It will also be used as evidence to back up bids for Government funding for
that recovery plan.
There have been 173 confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth in Devon.
THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP
PRESS STATEMENT: 22 August 2001
UK FARMERS DISADVANTAGED BY NFU STANCE ON VACCINATION
Recent public statements from Ben Gill, President of the NFU, indicate that
the Union is still unaware of many of the facts regarding vaccination. Nor
does the Union appear to realise how much FMD vaccinated meat is already
being imported and consumed in the UK.
At a public meeting last week in Carlisle Mr Gill was still under the
impression that all vaccinated animals had to be slaughtered. In fact the EU
Decisions sought and obtained by the UK Government to vaccinate cattle in
Devon and Cumbria, and later in Somerset, Cornwall and Dorset, 30 March and
24 April, respectively, were for protective vaccination, not suppressive
vaccination, which meant that it was not necessary to slaughter such
animals, under EU legislation.
As regards Mr Gill's comments, at the same meeting, that under EU
regulations it did not say that vaccinated animals could live, the NF&MG
have searched through the legislation and can find no reference to this.
What the EU decision of 30 March does say is how vaccinated animals and milk
products are to be prepared to enter the food chain. See Annex V and VI of
the Decision - 2001/257/EC - 30 March 2001.
Mr Gill's reliance on a letter from a friend in Argentina for the definitive
proof that FMD can be transmitted between vaccinated animals and their
progeny is also worrying. The view of many leading world scientists in FMD
is that this is not the case.
Turning to Mr Gill's assertion that FMD vaccinated meat and meat products
would have to be labelled - it is the opinion of the Food Standards Agency
and the National Consumer Council that this is not the case. FMD vaccinated
meat and milk products imported into the EU andUK are not labelled so why
should home produced meat and products be disadvantaged and treated
differently. It has always appeared extremely odd that the NFU has sought to
have more onerous restrictions placed on the domestic market as opposed to
the import market.
One of the most worrying aspects regarding FMD vaccinated imports is that
despite lengthy research and communication, mostly with DEFRA, the NF&MG
have still not been able to ascertain the amount of FMD vaccinated meat and
meat products entering the UK from countries where FMD is endemic or
vaccination takes place. Ultimately DEFRA referred us to the OIE website.
The assumption we have been forced to make is that it is not known by DEFRA,
or Customs and Excise, or anyone, how much vaccinated meat is actually being
imported into the UK.
One of the key difficulties is that once the meat and meat products enter
the EU, which they can do through many Border Inspection Posts across the
EU, there are no further controls as they pass from Country to Country.
Therefore it is extremely difficult to determine where the country of origin
actually was, the only reference is the country of despatch. Source DEFRA.
The NF&MG is of the opinion that if the NFU had sought parity with the
import market, regarding FMD vaccinated meat, this would have meant that a
vaccination policy could have been much more easily implemented. As it is,
the opposition of the NFU to sensibly and seriously consider vaccination as
a valid means of controlling and eradicating the disease, and to not accept
the advice of the FSA and NCC re labelling, has inflicted monumental damage
on the agricultural industry. It has also led to massive and
disproportionate losses to tourism and the wider rural economy. Before any
further damage is inflicted on the rural community, or on the nation, by the
current adherence to slaughter and cull, we urge the NFU to realistically
consider both the EU legislation and the provisions of the OIE regarding
THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP
Co-ordinating Office: 3 The Common, Siddington, Cirencester, Glos GL7 6EY
Tel: 01285 644319 or 01285 656812
From The Times:
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 22 2001
Zimbabwe land grab unleashes foot-and-mouth
FROM JAN RAATH IN HARARE
THE Zimbabwe Government announced a halt to beef exports yesterday after an
outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that is almost certainly the result of
lawlessness in cattle areas.
Ngoni Masoka, permanent secretary in the Agriculture Ministry, said that 800
infected cattle had been found late last week in a cattle-feed lot for the
state-owned Cold Storage Company, which is responsible for all beef exports.
Shipments bound for Europe and South Africa were halted immediately, he
said. About 4,500 tonnes of the European Union preferential quota of 9,100
tonnes has already been delivered.
Movement of cattle around the Bulawayo area has been stopped while
veterinary officials try to trace the source of the infection.
Sources in the beef industry said there was little doubt that the outbreak
emanated from the south, where thousands of miles of EU-funded fencing
separate a "green zone" of foot-and-mouth-free ranching areas from a large
"red zone" of vaccinated cattle and from game parks, where the disease is
endemic in wild buffalo.
Since February last year, when ruling Zanu (PF) party squatters began to
invade white-owned farms, the quarantine fence has been breached in hundreds
of places. Squatters continue to drive cattle into game parks, where they
mingle with buffalo, and into the green zone.
"The Government has been warned repeatedly that this would happen," said a
senior industry official who asked not to be named. "I am surprised it took
A group of EU veterinarians who visited this year gave warnings that the
uncontrolled movement of cattle probably would result in the export quota
being withdrawn. "But nothing changed," the source said.
Zimbabwe's shortage of hard currency makes its earnings of about #35 million
from 12,000 tonnes of beef exports more crucial than ever. However, the
source said: "With the feeling about foot-and-mouth in Europe now, and
especially following the veterinarians' warning, I don't think the
suspension will be lifted this year."
Our comment: EU funded fencing? So that we can import beef separated by a
FENCE from FMD infected buffalo? Is this the same level of "biosecurity"
that has been applied here in the UK? Somebody pinch us, we must be
dreaming . . . . . .
from Alan & Rosie