In case you are wondering about todays title, it means "the act of working
miracles or magical tricks" - it seemed appropriate for the astonishing
claims made by Elliot Morley yesterday.
The proposed Animal Health Bill has created a storm of outrage here in
Devon. The regional newspaper, Western Morning News, devotes several pages
to reaction. Guy Thomas-Everard, whose 980 cattle were saved from a
"dangerous contact" cull on appeal, condemned the loss of right of appeal
under the new powers as "a threat to the rule of law". Anthony Gibson of
the NFU south west region said the ministers accusation that farmers spread
the disease by resisting the cull "is simply not true here in Devon. None
of the herds or flocks which were saved from the contiguous cull, either by
direct or by legal action, subsequently developed FMD".
Carol Trewin, farming editor, writes "Whatever happened to the Human Rights
Act?" and goes on to quote the solicitor Alayne Addy who assisted more than
200 successful appeals against the contiguous cull. None of the animals
concerned subsequently developed the disease. Alayne said " Under EU law
there is absolutely no right for the systematic killing of anything other
than animals that have the disease. What are the government going to do
with the new Act to square it with the EU animal health directive and the
human rights convention? No matter how much legislation they put through,
under the human rights laws individuals are entitled to a fair and
The "Voice of the Westcountry" main editorial column is headlined "Ministers
insult to struglling farmers" and lays into both the government and the
proposed new Bill with such language as "this is both an insult and an
outrage", "simply wrong", "turns natural justice on its head", "the utter
contempt with which this government treats the farming community" and so on
throughout a hard-hitting piece.
We have today E-mailed the BBC "World at One" programme as follows:
I was astonished to hear Elliot Morley interviewed on the "World at One"
yesterday regarding proposed new powers under the Animal Health Bill. These
new powers will enable compulsory contiguous or other extended culling, at
the discretion of the minister, with no need for evidence of infection, with
no independent appeals procedure for livestock owners, and with financial
penalties for those who resist or delay implementation.
He attempted to justify these new powers with the accusation, repeated
several times, that farmers who resisted the contiguous cull had increased
the spread of disease, delayed control of the epidemic and increased the
totals of animals slaughtered. He said that this was "a matter of fact" and
was "on record".
So I ask you now to seek the evidence to support this extraordinary claim.
I challenge Elliot Morley to name one farm that resisted the cull, then
subsequently developed the disease and spread it to neighbours, as evidenced
by laboratory tests. I very much doubt that he can do so.
In contrast, he could certainly list literally hundreds of contiguous farms
that either pre-dated the introduction of extended culling and remained
uninfected, or that later resisted the contiguous cull and that subsequently
proved healthy on blood testing.
His accusation is false and provides no justification whatsoever for the
extended powers that this Bill seeks to impose.
We have also written to our MP, John Burnett (Lib-Dem) as follows:
31st October 2001
Re: proposed new powers under the Animal Health Bill
We are deeply concerned at the proposals unveiled today that provide
sweeping new powers to the government. As we understand it, these will
7 The enforcement of compulsory contiguous or other extended culling by
means of magistrate's court warrant
7 The reduction in "compensation" by 25% for the delayed slaughter of
7 The compulsory testing of sheep for scrapie-resistance and the compulsory
slaughter of susceptible genotypes
7 The compulsory slaughter of the entire UK flock of some 40 million animals
in the event that BSE is discovered in sheep.
As smallholders who refused the contiguous cull of our own sheep flock back
in April, and through close links with many other concerned people, we have
direct experience and detailed knowledge of the contiguous culling policy.
We argue that this policy is scientifically flawed and that a huge weight of
evidence bears against it. In our own case, our flock subsequently tested
negative for disease, yet thousands of animals around us on other contiguous
premises were slaughtered to no purpose. At Iddesleigh, an Infected
Premises that tested positive for disease was slaughtered out on 9th March,
with no less than seventeen contiguous neighbours, before the extended
culling policy was introduced. The livestock on all seventeen farms
remained healthy and no disease has occurred amongst them to this day.
There are countless other examples to illustrate the folly of a blanket
extended culling policy. To make it compulsory is unscientific, immoral,
cruel to animals and their owners, and highly counter-productive in terms of
disease control by diverting resources away from the crucial task of culling
infected animals as quickly as possible.
We note Elliot Morley's allegation on BBC radio 4 "World at One" today that
farmers resisting the cull had increased the spread of disease and that this
had resulted in more slaughter overall. He stated that this was "fact" and
"on record". We know of no such instance, whereas in contrast, we can
provide details of literally hundreds of premises where the cull was
resisted and whose livestock have remained uninfected, such as those
examples given above. We ask you to challenge Mr Morley to name those farms
where he has evidence to support his allegations, and to likewise provide a
list of resisting farms that did not subsequently develop the disease, to
enable a fair comparison to be made.
We believe he has no such evidence and that his allegation is a false
justification for this Bill.
A consensus of expert veterinary advice is that contiguous farms should be
subject to a rapid site assessment, taking due account of geography, wind
direction, separation of stock at boundaries etc. Those farms at genuine
risk could then be closely monitored for disease, slaughtering if justifying
evidence is found. This is cheaper, faster and more effective at
controlling spread of disease by focussing resources where they are most
needed. Among many others, the internationally recognised authorities on
FMD, Alex Donaldson and Paul Kitching, recommend this approach.
Moving on to the issue of scrapie, and the suggestion that this condition
could be masking BSE in sheep, we refer you to research published in Nature
magazine in August 2000 by researchers at the Institute for Animal Health in
Berkshire. By analysing data describing the historical changes in scrapie
incidence, the group found no evidence for a peak in scrapie before, during
or after the BSE outbreak. They drew the inescapable conclusion that it is
"unlikely that a substantial epidemic of BSE has occurred in the sheep
Furthermore, it has been shown that resistance to scrapie makes no
difference to a sheep's susceptibility to artificially induced "BSE"
infection in the laboratory. Finally, even in the worst-case scenario of
BSE existing in some sheep, it would remain safe to eat lamb and hogget,
just as we still consume beef under thirty months of age.
Frankly, there is no scientific evidence yet to suggest that BSE may have
crossed the species barrier into sheep, and all that remains is speculation.
There will be no case to slaughter the entire UK flock in any conceivable
event, just as we did not slaughter the entire UK cattle herd. Any possible
culling can only be selective and targeted on those groups at risk.
The powers sought by this Bill have no basis in veterinary science and are
incompatible with both the Human Rights Act and with the relevant EU animal
health directives. We urge you to vigorously oppose this Bill in the House.
We have sent out numerous similar E-mails and letters, lobbying the media
and politicians to bring this Bill the disrepute that it deserves, and
encourage all of you to do the same. Feel free to use any of the material
contained in these messages to support your arguments.
This message is from Janet:
Well - I am flabbergasted - I never thought the amendments to the Animal
Health Bill would be THAT bad.
I have today contacted my MP and written to Roger Eddy of the Royal College
of Veterinary Surgeons expressing my professional horror and urging the RCVS
to make a statement. His e-mail address, if anyone wants to do the same is
Time for manning the barricades I think!
This from Richard:
It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before the pure evil of the MAFF
(now DEFRA) Animal Health Division teamed up with a politician of similarly
evil bent - Elliot Morley. The combination has produced this unspeakable
But how typical it is of the NFU to support it. They did exactly the same
in 1989 when the then MAFF implemented the Zoonoses Order for the first
time, shutting down egg producers "on suspicion". The only thing the NFU
ever got excited about was the compensation and it appears that the NFU
hierarchy will accept any abuse as long as there is a cheque attached.
It it this attitude, above all, which has soured public opinion against
farmers who judge them by the activities of their so-called leaders who seem
only interested in money.
This Bill must be fought, and fought hard - the obvious starting point is to
look to the Countryside Alliance and its much-delayed Countryside march. WE
need to put a million people on the streets of London.
Last night another local farmer drew my attention to a half page advert by
DEFRA which appeared in Farmers Weekly 19th October, page 50. It is headed
"Transport of Livestock Carcases" and commences, "Tenders are invited for
the provision of the following services:
The transport off offspring cull (whole) carcases and the carcases/heads of
livestock suspected of being affected with a Transmissable Spongiform
Encephalopathy to Incineration contractors or specified laboratory, and
where appropriate, providing temporary refrigerated storage facilities."
Is this part of a DEFRA contingency plan or preparation for a plan for
A correspondence with Exeter solicitor Alayne Addy:
Some time ago you mentioned to me over the telephone that, of the 150 or so
cases on your "books" resisting the contiguous cull, only one had gone down
with FMD (and that one within 24 hours so it was already infected), and that
the serological testing was progressively clearing them without any
Can you please confirm that this remains the case and that all others have
since returned a clean bill of health?
I ask with the new Animal Health Bill in mind. Elliot Morley has stated as
fact that farmers resisting the cull had caused increased spread of disease
and more animals to be slaughtered overall. I know of no such case in this
area, and seek to challenge this in the House and on the media with as many
facts to the contrary as I can muster.
hello alan and rosie.
hope you are ok and that the following will be helpful for you.
I helped over 200 farmers throughout the UK and (apart from the one farmer
who noticed symptoms a few hours after he had rung me for a chat because he
was contiguous - he did not get round to lodging an appeal sadly) NONE of
their healthy livestock subsequently contracted FMD. that is a FACT. in
addition, ALL of 'my' healthy livestock subsequently blood-tested NEGATIVE
to antibodies in MAFF's tests.
It is also worth remembering that I and my farmers did not take up any
challenge in the courts - only after 8 weeks of successful appeals (by way
of written letters and negotiating) did MAFF themselves bring 4 court cases
against farmers in england and wales (3 were mine and 1 was Burges Salmon).
So quite what Elliott Morley was talking about yesterday I don't know.... he
had better re-visit his files before he make any further silly and erroneous
I strongly feel that this new animal health (death) bill is wrong and
flawed.... in terms of the contiguous cull it does not consider section 6
of the Human Rights Act (right to fair and independent hearings for all
citizens) and ignores the existing EU FMD Directives (no systematic culling
of anything other than FMD livestock). and hidden in the text is wholescale
culling of scrapie susceptible sheep and something about tagging... all very
Hope these comments are useful. Hope that you can stoke up the local MPs to
cause a fuss when the bill is debated in the coming months.
All the best. Alayne.
I've just read tonights newsletter and I
feel physically sick. From what I understand of it (and most of it seemed
all over the place) a minister can order
animals killed whether or not they are susceptible, whether or not they are
ill, whether or not they have had any contact. They then pay 75%
compensation and the owner has to pay to appeal to an
independant person (ha, ha, ha, where have we heard that before?) I'm at a
loss here. If a minister is then convinced enough that ANY animal is a
possible danger then they can order it killed and an owner can do nothing
unless he/she wants to get arrested. I thought it was every person's right
to defend themselves and their property. Obviously not if you own animals.
It'll be a very sad day if this becomes law. I must go now, I think I'm
going to be ill
from the Warmwell website:
VACCINATION FOR FOOT AND MOUTH
A Personal View by Dr James Irvine,
Cultybraggan Farm, Comrie, Stirlingshire.
The Scottish Farmer,
27 October 2001, pp. 18-19
SIR, - Some weeks ago (Sept. 29), The Scottish Farmer published in
juxtaposition on the same page the comments of Professor Fred Brown and
those of Professor David King.
As you pointed out, Prof Brown is the world's leading authority on
foot-and-mouth disease, with vast experience of how the disease behaves
throughout the world and how it has been controlled in differing
He has made major contributions to the development of "new" foot-and-mouth
vaccines and diagnostic tests to distinguish between vaccinated and infected
He has collaborated with eminent virologists in the study of the structure
of the foot-and-mouth virus and its sub-strains with spectacular success.
That is indeed why he is acknowledged as the world's leading expert on the
disease. What he is quoted as saying in The SF article makes clear sense. It
is what he said as principal guest speaker at the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Conference on foot-and-mouth disease, at the University of Glasgow, on
September 7 this year.
By contrast, Professor King, while having the status of the Government Chief
Scientific Adviser, has no training in biology let alone virology, being an
eminent physical chemist.
It would be hard to think of an academic scientific discipline more remote
from the study of a highly infectious virus affecting the nation's farm
livestock. Yet he could be expected to have sufficient critical acumen to
assess basic scientific facts and not to be manipulated by political
pressures or misinformation such as to distort these basic facts.
Bearing in mind that the UK foot-and-mouth epidemic is the worst the world
has ever seen, Prof King's arguments against vaccination and justifying that
culling had been the only way to bring the recent foot-and-mouth outbreaks
under control and would remain so in the future are as follows:
- Since vaccinated animals can still carry the disease and harbour it for
some considerable time, vaccination would be ineffective.
Does Prof King not understand even the fundamentals of any vaccination
programme, be it for measles, smallpox, poliomyelitis etc?
You do not have to vaccinate every potential host for the virus, but a
sufficient percentage to ensure that the virus does not have an adequate
number of hosts left in which to replicate. That is why the Chief Medical
Officer is so keen that the uptake of the triple vaccine for children does
not fall below a certain percentage of the population.
It does not matter as far as epidemiological control is concerned whether
children incubating the virus may remain infectious. If sufficient numbers
of the total children at risk are vaccinated, the virus will die out of the
population because in a relatively short time there will be nowhere for it
to go. Likewise with foot-and-mouth disease in sheep and cattle.
- He states "that nation-wide mass vaccination does not necessarily stop the
disease spreading from generation to generation." He argues that since
mothers can pass antibodies to their offspring through their early milk,
this gives temporary protection, but at the same time, interferes with the
young animal's immune response.
So what? If sufficient numbers of farm livestock have been vaccinated,
sooner, rather than later, there will be no infection for the young animals
to pick up. How else does Prof King reckon that the devastating epidemics of
viral infections in man have been controlled by vaccination? By worrying
about whether an infant will have its immune response to the virus in
question modified by antibodies from its mother? It sounds much more like a
disingenuous justification for advising against vaccinating. Where has
intellectual scientific honesty gone?
- He argued that mass vaccination was unacceptable because, in the absence
of a recognised test to distinguish between antibodies caused by infection
and antibodies caused by vaccination, it would have been impossible to tell
the true extent of viral presence in the country's livestock.
He is quoted as saying: "If we had embarked upon such a programme, we would
not have been able to free up large areas of the Scottish, English and Welsh
countryside." What Prof King did not acknowledge was that the science of
distinguishing antibodies produced by infection as opposed to those produced
by vaccination has been available for a substantial number of years.
He also did not acknowledge that offers from abroad and indeed from within
the UK to help were refused by the Government authorities. The Government
agencies, although they were informed some years before the UK epidemic (and
must have themselves been aware) that
the UK was a sitting duck for foot-and-mouth disease, apparently did nothing
and refused all help to get such diagnostic tests (or indeed the "new"
vaccines) validated for use in this country or indeed the EC.
The scientific basis for such diagnostic tests is sound. To do nothing in
the face of such knowledge for so long in the presence of an obvious risk of
catastrophe is inexcusable. How can the Government establishment at
Pirbright, England, justify its status as a world centre for the study of
foot-and-mouth disease? The "new" science (which in reality is several years
old) would have predictably led to providing us with a diagnostic kit that
could be applied on farm to check for evidence of infection or vaccination,
with clear distinction between the two.
In other but related fields of scientific endeavour, there is plenty of
evidence that this could indeed be achieved. Bureaucracy got in the way so
that such important scientific advances could not be used until such time
that trials in the EC had been done. The golden opportunity of doing the
trials during the epidemic was missed with all help refused.
Such trials should have been done before the outbreak as part of a
contingency strategy, which clearly was non-existent in spite of the obvious
risk. Bureaucratic rules emanating from what appears to be an incompetent EC
Veterinary Committee prevailed, while it waited to be asked.
Apparently, it does not intend considering what to do about the UK epidemic
and its spread to elsewhere in the EC until later this year. Everyone must
now be aware that the EC is very good at making endless directives, but is
useless at business management in terms of making realistic decisions within
a practical time frame.
The ongoing 20-day standstill in relation to the movement of livestock would
have been unnecessary, etc, with immense economic and welfare savings. For
example, livestock could be checked for the appropriate antibodies before
they moved off the farm. A vaccination programme could readily be monitored
for compliance etc.
Yet Prof King is quoted as saying that the same recipe of culling will apply
should a further foot-and-mouth disease outbreak occur.
In arguing against vaccination, Prof King apparently made no reference the
fact that we are as vulnerable as ever to a fresh attack of foot-and-mouth
disease because illegal meat imports are still not controlled. An article on
this subject was appropriately printed on the same page of The Scottish
Farmer (but I did wonder at the picture of Prince Charles, his entourage,
reporters and spectators being within easy touching distance of presumably
unvaccinated sheep in a pen outside on a muddy, wet day in Cumbria).
Perhaps Prof King's philosophy on the risk of a new outbreak is either
"being unthinkable" or "let's keep our fingers crossed." Neither will do, as
foot-and-mouth is still an ever-present global disease.
With the current massive bureaucracy, we will certainly know much more about
the movements of livestock within the UK, but that will do nothing to
prevent a fresh attack entering the country, the consequences of which would
still be very serious.
The idea of mass vaccinating 10 million animals is apparently mind-boggling
to Prof King. I wonder if he knows how many sheep and cattle are routinely
vaccinated for other disease every year as part of established and effective
disease prevention regimes?
How does he equate his concern to the fact that the independent company,
Acambis, with a division in Cambridge, England, has recently been given an
initial contract from the USA for 40 million smallpox vaccine doses (and
that includes making a new vaccine for starters).
The international company United Biomedical, has already made the "new"
vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease and clinical trials are under way in a
number of countries, but neither Prof King or Pirbright want to know. Is
this science or petty politics that we are dealing with?
Does Prof King not realise that vaccination for foot-and-mouth disease in
Europe was commonplace until 1992, so that the UK at that time was at least
partially protected from the spread of foot-and-mouth disease from abroad.
Is he not aware that the Argentine has undertaken a massive vaccination
You cannot fight a viral epidemic while playing silly political games or
acquiescing to bureaucratic constipation. To add insult to injury, Prof King
is reported in The SF article to have been concerned that if the UK had
vaccinated, we would not be able to export to New Zealand and Australia who
are foot-and-mouth disease free. Since when did we export large quantities
of beef or lamb to these countries (or in recent years to any country?).
It was the same argument that led to the EC abandoning its foot-and-mouth
disease vaccination programme and becoming foot-and-mouth disease free. What
a mistake that was.
Prof King is also quoted in The SF article as casting serious doubts on the
supposed worth of ring or buffer zone vaccination. On the basis that
experience had shown that incubating cases could arise up to six miles from
the source, he seemed to think this too large an area to handle by local
vaccination. Surely the tactic of ring vaccination is to start well out from
possible incubating cases (possibly 25 miles) and work towards the source.
He is quoted as saying that the only instance where he had favoured local
vaccination was in April when much of Cumbria's 200,000 head cattle
population was still in over-wintering sheds.
"They would have been vulnerable to infection when let out into fields. It
was felt at the time to be worth all the consequences of declaring Cumbria a
vaccinated area however, despite lengthy discussion, farmers remained
unconvinced. In the event, a large number of cattle became infected before
they were let out," he admitted.
The trouble with this is that the basic scientific information that was made
available through MAFF to farmers, including the NFU and NFUS, was seriously
flawed. No wonder the farmers were sceptical in the light of such
misinformation, some of which he continues to perpetrate as described
One thing I do agree with the government's chief adviser is that there is no
room for complacency. Unfortunately, he and his advisory body appear to have
it in mega-tonnes. If ever there was a need for a full public enquiry this
However, before such an august body can report, there should be an urgent
shake-up of the present scientific structure. For a biological problem let's
have biologists and some input from the medical field with their vast
experience of handling viral epidemics throughout the world, rather than
esoteric physical chemists, epidemiological statistical wizards and
Government vets who are brought up to apply endless regulations but not to
Perhaps the massive tragedy of September 11 with the threat of biological
terrorism (which has been abundantly forewarned) will be the stimulus for
More from Warmwell:
THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP
PRESS RELEASE: 1 November 2001
NEW LEGISLATION PRE-EMPTS ALL FMD INQUIRIES
Without waiting for the evidence or findings of any of the 3 Inquiries into
FMD the Government has announced new legislation to reduce even further the
appeals against the culling of healthy animals.
Calling on the Government to justify this move, the National Foot and Mouth
Group are asking the Government to produce evidence to substantiate its
claim that farmers appealing against the contiguous cull caused the disease
The experience of the Group in the Forest of Dean was that none of the 34
Contiguous culls proved positive when blood tested. Not one of the 34 farms
had any animals that had been exposed to Foot & Mouth or contracted the
disease. (18 farms were culled out before the Group's protests stopped the
cull - all were negative when tested after slaughter - Elliot Morley
eventally agreed to blood test the rest - they too were all negative.)
In the Brecon Beacons over 17,000 animals were culled, but subsequent
testing showed only a handful of positives where antibodies were present,
showing the disease had not spread throughout the flocks and to other sheep.
In the intended cull of animals as dangerous contacts from Welshpool Market,
where local farmers refused to let their animals be killed, not one later
If the Government is to proceed now with further draconian powers to direct
the slaughter of many healthy animals it should back up its call with hard
evidence that appeals did actually adversely affect control of the disease.
Without such evidence there can be no justification or need.
What is certain is that culling teams were far more likely to spread the
disease either by releasing much infected material during culling, or in the
transportation of slaughtered animals, or via vehicles or operatives. The
bio-security of culling teams has been exposed as negligent and
irresponsible - and a far more likely cause of the disease spreading,
particularly along culling routes.
The Group has subsequently discovered that of the 2030 'confirmed cases'
many of these were not tested either for antibodies or live virus. An even
smaller percentage of the contiguous culls, 3km culls or slaughter on
suspicion cases were actually subject to laboratory testing. Therefore it is
not known by government scientists, or anybody else, exactly how many actual
cases of FMD there have been.
Given the unreliability of clinicial diagnosis, particularly in sheep,
clinical diagnosis alone cannot be accepted. Dr Paul Kitching, former head
of the Animal Health Institute at Pirbright, has repeatedly said that
clinincal diagnosis in sheep is totally unacceptable. For 'government
scientists' to form their view on the basis of such incomplete data and
information is therefore untenable and unsupportable.
It is not the powers to slaughter that need to be improved - but the ability
to accurately diagnose disease which needs improving; with modern, up to
date techniques - such as PCR (polymerase chairn reaction tests) and an
ability to provide sufficient facilities for testing.
To push through this legislation now makes a total mockery of the 3
inquiries into FMD. The remit of the Royal Society Inquiry, in particular,
which is dealing with the accuracy, speed and facilities for diagnosis,
would have heard major evidence on the whole issue of diagnosis in the
current outbreak and it is its findings which should direct future
This ill conceived, unjustified and unwarranted legislation only serves to
demonstrate that the 3 Inquiries are meaningless and a waste of people's
time and effort. It is clear the Government does not intend to attach any
weight to their deliberations or outcomes.
Janet Bayley: 01285 644319 / 01285 656812
Peter Woods Vets for Vaccination: 01452 523534 / 01452 520056
Roy Miller: 01743 884353 (Welshpool Market Cull)
Europe is master
Letter in Telegraph
Date: 31 October 2001 Christopher Booker, Litton, Som
SIR - Having just published a detailed analysis of the foot and mouth
catastrophe ("Not the Foot and Mouth Report"), I read with particular
interest your summary of the preliminary findings of the inquiry set up by
Devon County Council (report, Oct 29).
Certainly, Professor Mercer has identified most of the key errors that made
the Government's handling of this crisis, in his own word, so "lamentable".
But it is important to recognise how many of his admirable recommendations
for changes in policy are subject to the agreement of the European
Commission, which has exercised ultimate control over foot and mouth policy
since the 1980s. These include everything from the rules on importing food
and disposal of carcasses to the use of vaccination, on which it seems, in
light of the UK disaster, the Commission is already moving towards a change
Professor Mercer calls for a "national contingency plan" to ensure that such
mistakes are never repeated. He should know that precisely such a detailed
contingency plan already exists. It was approved by the European Commission
in 1993, but has been kept firmly out of public view ever since. Can the
Government explain why we are not allowed to see this document?
posted Nov 1
From the Telegraph:
Government plans tough powers for any fresh animal epidemic
By Sandra Barwick
DRACONIAN powers to slaughter animals against the wishes of owners in future
outbreaks of disease, and to kill scrapie-susceptible sheep even if BSE is
never found in the national flock, are being taken by the Government.
Legislation, which is expected to become law in the New Year, would prevent
farmers, owners of animal refuges and pets mounting legal challenges to
contiguous culls as happened this year.
It will also enable the Government to force owners of sheep which are not
resistant to scrapie, a disease harmless to humans, to slaughter or castrate
them because a voluntary scheme to breed out the disease would be too slow.
Elliot Morley, the animal health minister, said the powers were necessary
because legal challenges to the contiguous cull policy had handicapped the
fight against foot and mouth.
The Government had fought more than 100 court cases of owners opposed to
slaughter, and "that in many cases allowed the disease to spread" he said.
He had been told that in around 20 of those cases animals had proved to be
infected, he said.
"We make no apology for taking these powers." But Peter Ainsworth, the
Shadow Secretary for Environment, said the proposed powers would "set alarm
bells ringing across the countryside".
The results of the Devon Inquiry showed "only too clearly that Defra
[Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] ministers and
officials cannot be trusted to take rational or informed decisions during an
epidemic," he said.
"There is no evidence that the disease was made worse by the refusal of
farmers to comply with official demands for slaughter. It was the
Government, not farmers, who allowed the disease to get out of control."
The Bill will provide powers to kill "any animals the Minister thinks should
be slaughtered with a view to preventing the spread of foot-and-mouth
disease', even if they are healthy and have had no contact with affected
Our comment: This report contains the only reference that we have seen so
far to the actual figures on which Morley has based his allegations - and
his Bill. There is a very clear imperative for the full details to be
brought into the public domain NOW to inform any debate around this issue.
But on the basis of the bald "facts" above, if 20 out of 100 resisting
premises subsequently developed the disease, that is one thing (and we will
take some convincing of this, after the other evidence presented in tonights
message); but the issue at stake here is, did they then go on to spread
infection beyond to other previously healthy farms? Because that is the
charge that Morley has made, and that is what he must now prove.
We must all pursue this point with every means at our disposal, and through
every channel possible. "Open government" would be nice . . . . but in the
meantime, we have to fight for what is ours by right.
from Alan & Rosie