This open letter is posted on the warmwell website:
Open letter to the most dangerous man in Britain.
10 Downing Street
London 3rd August
You and your ministers have been in charge of the Foot and Mouth crisis
Animals are being killed inhumanely and illegally
- Lambs are being killed with captive bolt when they are supposed to be
- Within sight of each other
- With incorrect calibre weapons
Farmers are having to receive counselling after having witnessing poor
slaughter techniques such as multiple shots at the same animal
- I have at least 20 reports myself of how animals have been killed
barbarically ie. Chased around fields with quad bikes, shot and left wounded
being found breathing hours afterwards
- Animals have been killed with spanners, hammers and even stamped on
Blame is wrongly being passed to farmers
- for biosecurity (Defra are the culprits)
- for illegal movements
- for being suspected of infecting their own animals
Farmers are not being advised of their rights and not being counselled
- 5 farmers have committed suicide
Farmers are being intimidated by Defra
- Defra have a document produced by Ann Waters (deputy director of FMD
operations) telling mobile killing squads how to intimidate farmers
- Farmers are having to receive counselling after having been party to the
abuse to their animals and themselves from Defra
People are having their pets killed with no compassion
- Kirsty Mcbride's goat was killed without her permission
- Caroline Hoffe's sheep were killed in her living room, with her 80 year
old father being threatened in the house beforehand
We form groups to propose logical, sensible and economic solutions - Your
ministers ignore our repeated letters and proposals.
I've spent the last 6 months researching the science, the politics, the EU
directives, the laws, the guidelines and then finally the options. All I now
realise is secondary to the rights of the people and the animals of this
country who have been treated contemptuously.
The blood of this country is now on your hands for ever. The last 4 months
have been the worst in my life and I hold you responsible for the way we are
being forced to submit to this lunacy. I will not accept that a crisis
allows you special dispensation, or the argument 'with the benefit of
hindsight' - you've still time to correct your actions. There is no excuse
for the physical and psychological abuse this Government has been performing
on people and animals during this time. I will never forget what you have
been allowing to happen.
cc. HRH Prince of Wales, National Foot and Mouth Group, Compassion in World
Our comment: Our only suggestion would respectfully be to change the
wording of |Jon's last sentence to read:
"I will never forget what you have CAUSED to happen."
Further to the new report commissioned by the BBC that found vaccination
would have been the considerably cheaper option compared to slaughter, you
can listen to the "Today" programme's in-depth interviews by clicking this
link (needs Realplayer):
But coincidentally (????) a team of epidemiologists have also published
their report that shows the opposite (!!!!!) - this from the BBC website:
Foot-and-mouth vaccine 'little help'
The slaughter policy was unpopular, but the study suggests it was right
By BBC News Online's environment correspondent Alex Kirby
A computer model of strategies for controlling the UK foot-and-mouth
outbreak suggests mass slaughter is the best way.
The model found that vaccinating animals in the worst-affected areas could
have helped only marginally.
At worst, it says, replacing slaughter with vaccination in buffer zones
would have let the outbreak spread out of control.
The model appears to vindicate the government's persistence in slaughtering
animals to end the outbreak.
The results of the modelling are reported in the Veterinary Record, the
journal of the British Veterinary Association.
The modelling assumed the control policies which were in operation from 20
March - a ban on all animal movements from 23 February, and a policy of
stamping out the disease by slaughter.
The outbreak was confirmed on 20 February, and the veterinary surgeons and
epidemiologists who wrote the report say: "The epidemic was already well
established and disseminated by the time it was diagnosed.
"Epidemiological data show that at least 29 farms were infected but
undiagnosed at the date of the initial confirmation."
They simulated a number of control strategies, starting with the known
number of infected farms on 10 April, and running for 200 days.
They write: "For the control policy which best approximated that actually
implemented from late March, the model predicted an epidemic of
approximately 1,800 to 1,900 farms.
"It estimated that the epidemic would be eradicated between July and October
2001, with a low probability of continuing beyond October.
"This policy included the slaughter-out of infected farms within 24 hours,
slaughter of about 1.3 of the surrounding farms per infected farm within a
further 48 hours, and minimal inter-farm movements of susceptible animals."
By 3 August the total number of cases across the UK had reached 1,925.
The modelling showed that delays in the slaughter of animals on infected
farms beyond 24 hours after diagnosis slightly increased the size of the
But failure to slaughter pre-emptively on an "adequate" number of at-risk
farms substantially increased its expected size.
With vaccination, the modellers considered two possibilities. One was the
vaccination of three of the most seriously affected areas, in Cumbria, Devon
Using vaccination here with the control policy that was in force would have
reduced the predicted size of the epidemic by fewer than 100 farms, they
The other possibility tested was the use of "buffer zone" vaccination in a
series of bands across the country, designed to create a barrier between
affected and disease-free areas.
It allowed the disease to spread out of control, predicting by October an
epidemic three times larger than the existing one, with more than 6,000
farms affected, and "with no prospect of immediate eradication".
The authors conclude: "The analyses support historical field experience in
reinforcing the crucial value of the slaughter of all susceptible animals on
affected farms as rapidly as possible after diagnosis, and especially the
benefits of pre-emptive slaughter of high-risk farms before signs of disease
One of the report's authors is Professor John Wilesmith, of the London
School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
He told BBC News Online: "It's still possible that vaccination might be of
value in certain circumstances.
"The Dutch used it successfully, but theirs was a totally different
"They were able to identify where it was needed, go to the fridge and start
"We were up against it from the very beginning, because of the early
movements of sheep which spread the virus across the country."
The BBC's environment correspondent Tim Hirsch "The findings are likely to
Our comment: That last comment sounds like a slight understatement to us.
For instance, here is the initial reaction from a veterinary scientist
working in epidemiology:
From the warmwell website:
It's a very extensive and complex article - but the only ( I think)
vaccination strategy modelled was one of buffer zones/bands that subdivided
GB into 6 zones. ie a sort of multiple firewall type strategy. The authors
claim this represented the only vaccination strategy that could have been
mounted at the time (end March) given available resources.
I'm not surprised that the InterSpread model predicted a very large epidemic
if this - buffer zone/band vaccination - was the *sole* control measure
undertaken - after all the epidemic(s) could run wild within each of the
zones where infection had already got a grip until it reached the vaccinated
firewall buffer. For example, the whole of Northern England was one zone.
This modelling study does NOT say that vaccination per se would not and
could not have been effective - instead it says that this particular buffer
zone/band style of vaccination - which it is claimed is all that could have
been done at the time for resource reasons would not have been effective.
They did not for example model blanket vaccination using high load vaccine
within and around emerging hotspots combined with slaughter of definitive
IPs, or any of many other possible vaccination strategies that could have
been considered had resources not been the constraint they claim they were.
Were these assumed constraints real?
The InterSpread model - although FAR superior to the Ferguson, Anderson,
Donnelly model - also used early field data - up to April 10 in this study -
which is known to have been 'dodgy'.
It's important to consider exactly what this paper does and does not examine
in its correct, now historical, context.
No doubt -sadly - there will be many who cite this paper to claim that it
says that vaccination doesn't work in controlling FMD.
The Morris/EpiCentre team at Massey Uni, NZ has an excellent and deserved
reputation for VETERINARY epidemiological modelling and use of computers in
ANIMAL disease control. We should not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The InterSpread model - part of the EpiMan information system for emergency
disease control - has a long history and is has a good reputation.
InterSpread models species separately, model actual locations of farms, and
accommodates the effects of chance when forecasting patterns of disease. It
is a FAR more sophisticated and well validated system than that hacked
together by Anderson et al.
Models of this sort are actually very helpful in exploring likely patterns
of disease and disease spread in POPULATIONS of animals - as opposed to lab
experiments that typically only explore development of disease in individual
or very small numbers of animals in a lab setting. They often reveal
insights that cannot be gained any other way - the human brain just doesn't
handle 'calculating/forecasting' how a disease behaves at the population
level very well - and often what appears to be 'common sense' turns out not
to be when explored with computer simulation models. Epidemiology is a
branch of medicine that 'looks at' the 'natural history' of disease at the
population level - rather than at the individual level.
The study only explores one (in my opinion daft) vaccination strategy. The
results risk being interpreted as saying 'vaccination doesn't work' - but
that is NOT what the paper says - it says that one (absurd) strategy for
vaccination probably would not have worked. In fact the vaccination strategy
modelled is so absurd that even the 'man in the street' could have figured
out that it would be ineffective.
It's also true to say that the field data - from the early weeks of the
epidemic - used to parameterise this model - and others - is known to be of
somewhat dubious quality, but it's not clear (to me anyway) how much impact
this would have on the results of the modelling studies.
(Updated comments since Andrew's first quick look at the article)
This study (funded by DEFRA) only modelled one strategy for vaccination - a
strategy that I've never ever seen mentioned elsewhere as a possibility - no
doubt because it's patently daft. It divided UK into 6 large zones by bands
of vaccination ('firewalls') and the zones are often HUGE.
For example, the whole of Northern England was one zone. Only cattle - not
sheep or pigs - would be vaccinated in the modelled strategy (so the
'firewall' would of course be permeable!) and no slaughter - even of
infected animals - would take place anywhere - just this permeable band
vaccination of cattle alone.
One doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to realise that such a vaccination
strategy would be almost entirely useless in preventing the spread of the
The 'justification' for only modelling this absurd use of vaccination is the
claim that this is/was the only form of vaccination campaign that could have
been mounted at the time under consideration - around the end of March - due
to resource (vaccine and manpower) constraints. In my opinion this is
I hate to say it but it does appear that this paper (The Veterinary Record)
has two goals -
a) to retrospectively justify the (unjustifiable) contiguous cull policy and
b) to " trash" vaccination.
I had thought that the major authors had more integrity than that - but
perhaps not. Of course there's no way DEFRA - who funded the study - would
have allowed publication of any results that did not support their policies.
I cannot imagine that the absurd vaccination strategy for which results are
presented was the only vaccination strategy modelled - but perhaps DEFRA
blocked publication of any other results?
We telephoned Anne Young today in Penrith, Cumbria because our daily
messages had strated to bounce back undelivered. It turned out that she'd
been "hit" by a computer virus and had shut down her system for a few days
to sort things out - but that's another story. It was heartening to learn
that the blood tests taken from her alpacas and sheep had all come back
negative! But as the conversation developed, we realised what an
extraordinary tale this was, and asked if we could share it with you all.
No-one needs reminding how badly Cumbria, and especially Penrith, has been
hit by FMD, and Anne's holding has been encircled by Infected Premises.
Most of her pedigree merino sheep were housed along with the alpacas, but 10
merino ram lambs were stuck outside on grazing that she rents from a
neighbour. This field containing the lambs ended up surrounded on three
sides by diseased animals on adjacent land, cattle on one side and sheep on
the other two, all separated only by dry-stone walls as the physical
boundary. There were no unstocked barrier strips of land, just the
thickness of the walls preventing nose-to-nose contact. We asked if these
neighbouring animals were definitely diseased and she was certain that they
had shown clear clinical signs of active disease.
As if that were not enough to contend with, there was also a succession of
funeral pyres burning on nearby premises, eleven in total, the nearest
perhaps 500 yards away, the furthest about 2 miles distant. The pollution
from these was so bad that her ram lambs developed black fleeces, even
though they are white sheep! Yet they blood tested negative and remain
healthy, alongside all the housed stock.
A remarkable story, so what protective measures did she take? Homeopathic
Borax she chose not to use, on the grounds that it may reduce the symptoms
of FMD in an infected animal, whereas she wanted to see any signs of disease
should it occur. Instead she used "Virkon S", an approved disinfectant
against FMD that is also widely used as a water steriliser (making water
safe to drink). She figured that this should be safe to spray directly onto
the sheep and their feed, but drank the dilute solution HERSELF for seven
days first to check that she felt no ill-effects! After that, she sprayed
the outside rams with solution twice every day while they were at the feed
trough, and applied more spray to door and window curtains of the housing
for the main flock, misted the air, and used plenty of it around the
We asked how she had resisted the contiguous cull (in fact it was a 3 km
cull in Cumbria). She had armed herself with plenty of scientific and legal
backgound knowledge, and firmly rebuffed every approach with the response
that the cull was illegal unless it could be shown that her animals had been
exposed to the virus, quoting from Donaldson on airborne spread that her
rams could not have caught the disease from the small numbers of infected
cattle exhaling virus in the next field etc. etc. In her opinion,
surviving the cull was all about attitude, being informed and determined,
taking control of situations and conversations. It has obviously worked and
the survival of her livestock in such adverse circumstances is an
inspiration to us all.
Well done Anne, we salute your success!
We were curious to check on two different references here in the UK to the
effect that Holland slaughtered because ordered to do so by the EU - hence
this message exchange:
Please see the following extracts:
(from NFU website):
"Early on in the current series of epidemics the EU gave permission to our
Government to use vaccine as a protective measure in cattle, in parts of
Cumbria and areas of Devon. Around the same time approval was granted for
strategic suppressive use around the outbreaks in Holland. The latter
approval required subsequent slaughter of vaccinates, the former did not."
(from The Times newspaper):
"Some ministers believe, however, that if vaccination is necessary later in
the autumn, once Parliament has returned, emergency powers could be used to
compel companies to put the vaccinated animals into the human food chain.
One senior government source said: "If the critical point is later in the
autumn it may be possible to bring in a new law." The Dutch originally
planned to "vaccinate to live", but consumer resistance forced a change in
My question is, did the EU require vaccinated animals to be slaughtered in
the Dutch outbreak? Or was that the result of consumer pressure, as stated
We suspect it was really the political desire to return to export trade
within 3 months instead of 12.
Do let us know you opinion
What was the real reason of the slaughter of vaccinated livestock in
One thing must be very clear. There was no consumer pressure to have the
vaccinated stock slaughtered. Throughout the Dutch people there was only
disgust and rejection of the unchristian, unethical, immoral, uncivilised brutal
At first livestock was culled on infected premises. That caused vast social
protests in it self.
When things started to get out of hand the famous "triangle" was created in
the middle of Holland. All susceptible animals were to be vaccinated. There was
no hope for sheep, goats and pigs. They had to go. But the cattle was to be
saved. It was open for discussion with LTO Nederland, the Dutch NFU.
At first there was only the logistical problem that export from the
vaccinated area would be impossible for a year. And suddenly there was word from Brussels.
Only vaccinate to slaughter for all livestock was permitted. France did a good
job. Look at the Irish, and the UK was doing well. Not killing the animals could
jeopardise the whole EU-export to far away markets. The US market was closed and
especially the Danes were screaming their heads off they could not get rid of
their precious bacon.
Everything is back to normal now. If the Netherlands were to
persist the vaccinate to live policy all EU boundaries would be closed to
all Dutch agricultural products. We could fill our swimming pools with milk, start
building houses using cheese and eat about 12 million pigs. It was blackmail. Our
government had a choice between not culling -the decent thing to do- and
national bankruptcy. That is why the animals had to go down. Nobody wanted that, the people did not, the Minister himself did not, LTO Nederland did not, farmers
did not. The EU imposed it upon us not our own government. Mr Byrne came over
from Brussels personally to see if the Dutch were as good at killing animals as
the French, the Irish and the British. We are.
There is no pride in this
confession. Telling us that the non-vaccination-policy was not abandoned and protest
would not help. I wish Mr.Byrne a long life. He can be sorry for his decisions for
a very long time.
This is the European Union for you. May it be damned. Democracy? That 's a
Piet van Geest.(Betty's Partner).
Our comment: We are left wondering what the reaction of the Dutch people
would have been to slaughter on the scale of the UK outbreak . . . . . .
Note that neither David Byrne nor the SVC (Standing Veterinary Committee)
are democratically elected, they are all appointees unaccountable to the
electorate of any sovereign state.
Also forwarded from Betty came this message:
Subject: FMD vaccination
Date: 4-8-2001 19:00:46
Mr. Ben Gill
164, Shaftesbury Avenue
Dear Mr. Gill
Having participated in programs of the Veterinary Departments to control
FMD in Kenya, Egypt, Peru, the Gambia and The Netherlands, I take the
freedom to ask your attention for two observations from my own experience:
- Vaccination at the onset of an outbreak effectively halts further
dissemination of infection.
- After vaccination of not-yet infected, and probably infected animals
(latent infection), no new outbreak has been observed that could be
attributed to infections through the so called "carrier status" of animals
of vaccinated herds.
I hope that this field information might contribute to convince you that
FMD vaccination is the intervention of choice to re-start control of FMD.
Also in the U.K.
To conclude, I may ask your interest for the contents of the letter, you
received from J Verner Wheelock, Roger Tempest, Simon Foster and Peter
Harveyl, dated 18 July 2001.
I thank you for the attention to this matter.
Laurens F. Mol D.V.M
Consultant Tropical Animal Health Management
Grote Molenstraat 8
5271VW St. Michielsgestel
------ Einde van doorgestuurd bericht -----
And yet a third contribution forwarded from Betty:
As it happened Bryn Price the farmer
who owns the tack gimmers which I still have came up yesterday to
his sheep .Later over a pot of tea he poured his heart out, he lives
next door to Ruth Watkins and recounted her views on the virus. Trouble
is that English is the second language for people out there and it always
takes a while for my ear to attune to the accent. He told me of a
meeting of farmers at the Royal Showground at Builth where many farmers
talked of 5 weeks ago the booking of hotels in Brecon and the stock
of timber and straw. Also of an unknown helicopter which flies over
infected areas a few days before the infection is found. I know that we
have heard it all before and I personally do not take on board most of
rumours which I hear. Any in fact. The farmers in S Wales are agitating
for vaccination and asking the FUW and the NFU why they are not
to them.---Bryn was nearly in tears as he told me that they were already
setting uppens for bloodtesting on his part of the beacons. Although he
has ewes and gimmers out on tack he has beef and 400 ewes on his farm..
The remainingBeacons and the Preselli hills are said to be infected and
are targeted for Blood test and cull. Then where? Common land ranges
on the hills and mountains consecutively from the north saide of the A40
to the sea on the north coast of Wales--
This now from Diana:
I've just received my "Ark" (RBST mag), and thought I'd pick out some points
from the various articles.
Firstly, in one article, it is claimed that Brussels make the decisions, so,
in effect, campaigning about vaccination to our government is fairly
pointless. The writer claims that Brussels ordered the slaughter of the
vaccinated stock in Holland. The writer does say that the RBST has
"consistently demanded a more open debate about the pros and cons of
vaccination", but so far to no avail.
Secondly, an article about the 1967 outbreak states that dairy farmers in
Cheshire claimed the disease was following the vets. Visits from Ministry
officials were followed a few days later by foot and mouth itself. These
vets took every precaution regarding their clothing and vehicles, but they
could not avoid the virus in their nostrils. (My comment: just how many vets
have you seen in this outbreak who have voluntarily worn a mask?)
(our answer - none)
Thirdly, the same article mentions that vaccination programs for poultry
once faced the same objections now voiced for cattle and sheep, but are now
indispensable and universal.
The RBST have sent us all an in-depth questionaire asking for our views on
all aspects of FMD and how it has been handled. It's set me thinking about
the vaccination question again, and it seems to me that all this argument
about whether to vaccinate seems to consider it as only one of several
options. But in reality there are no alternatives - that is, the only
alternative is not an alternative at all, but compulsory death. It's bad
enough killing an animal which is suffering from an easily cured and short
lived illness. It's much worse killing a healthy animal on the grounds that
it may catch the illness in the future. But, it's downright criminal to kill
a healthy animal when we have the means to prevent it catching the disease
in the first place. All the political arguments are insignificant when the
only alternative to vaccination is death. Try asking the sheep what their
choice would be!
Sorry to go on, but it does seem that people talk about the pros and cons of
vaccination as if it is just one of several methods of dealing with FMD. I'm
sure there are problems with vaccination - political, economic and just
plain practical - but, if the alternative is the death of your livestock,
it's got to be worth a go.
All for now - Diana.
We responded to the Farmers for Action request and received this reply:
Many thanks for your response. Yes, we have read your daily diary.
We are arranging a meeting next week in a central location to get all the
spokespeople of the various FMD groups together and thrash out what direct
action to take. Will keep you posted.
All for tonight
from Alan & Rosie