A short message from Michaela:
Note Lord Whittys reported comments on Radio 5: "A European wide vaccination
program on Foot and Mouth Disease will now have to be seriously considered"
Richard has forwarded this item from the Ananova website:
Blackberries may have caused a foot-and-mouth scare in Leicestershire which
led to the slaughter of two herds of cattle.
Tissue tests on 18 animals from two smallholdings 12 miles apart have proved
negative for the disease.
Lesions had been found in the beasts' mouths. Now it is suggested the cows
damaged their mouths eating blackberries among a hawthorn hedge.
A neighbouring farmer says a vet told her the animals had been eating at a
hawthorn hedge containing blackberry bushes.
Local farmers must, however, wait a week for tests to confirm the
conclusion, reports The Times.
Since April 24, when Leicestershire had the last of its six confirmed cases,
there has not been a suspicious case in the county.
Animal movement has been banned around the farms currently affected and
Betty has forwarde this next item to us - it's for EU lovers everywhere!:
Letter from Strasbourg
10 September, 2001
It is not often that one stumbles on a revolution and even less often
one walks into it when nobody else has noticed. But such was the bizarre
experience when the European Parliament decamped to Strasbourg after the
summer holidays for another week of law-making and, once again, I had my
nose to the grindstone preparing voting briefs for my members.
The revolution itself will have devastating consequences: it is set
finally toend all vestiges of independent government in the UK - and
other EU member
states - as we know it. Yet, in the way of the EU, so complex and
technical were the details that it was not surprising that it was not
noticed, even (or
especially) by the majority of the members of the European Parliament who
were on the spot, supposedly looking after our interests.
And if the word 'revolution' and the claims made for it sound extreme,
consider where we stand at the moment. Since our joining the EU, a large
part of our law-making powers have been given to the EU and,
through various treaties, those powers have increased to the point that
some80 percent of our law is now made in Brussels. (Not surprisingly,
contemporary politicians want us to concentrate on health, education and
lawand order - these are amongst the few issues over which our government
retains any power).
But, while the EU has been largely content with making laws, it has been
content to leave the implementation and enforcement to member states.
as is well known, implementation has been patchy and there is often
or no enforcement. But all that is to change. The EU is now planning to
over both implementation and enforcement. Therein lies the 'revolution'.
The clues to this forthcoming revolution came in two proposals for new
legislation up before the parliament and a speech on EU governance by
Commission president Romano Prodi.
As regards the legislation, neither were subjects calculated to set the
worldon fire: one was a proposal for a regulation on civil aviation,
'aEuropean Aviation Safety Agency'; the other was a regulation on
The sinister thing about the aviation safety proposal was that it actually
had nothing at all to do with safety. EU member states already have their
own safety agencies, which cooperate freely though an inter-governmental
organisation known as the Joint Aviation Authority (JAA).
Thus, the true agenda was about replacing existing agencies with a single
EUinstitution, giving the EU Commission direct power over safety matters.
Andthis is no figment of a fevered, Eurosceptic imagination. In the very
text of the Commission proposal the mechanism it stated that this was to
achieved 'through the gradual integration of national systems'.
Turning to the proposal on competition, the ostensible aim of this
regulation was to improve the enforcement of the EU rules on
competition - in the
context of the single market where all sorts of market abuses continue to
exist. As it stands, enforcement of the competition rules is a Commission
monopoly which - because Commission resources are limited - means that
only a very few
cases are processed. The intention is that some of the powers should be
delegated to member states so that national competition authorities and
national courts can deal with cases of anti-competitive behaviour.
On the face of it, this looks like an admirable piece of
and that is how the proposal was sold to the European parliament. But, as
always, the devil was in the detail.
In carrying out their duties, the Commission wants national competition
authorities to form a 'network' which must work to Commission guidelines,
must apply Community law and must obey European Court of Justice
-all under the supervision of the Commission which reserves the right to
takeover any investigation or re-locate it to another member state. By
this means, the Commission will take over control of the civil servants
different member states.
They will be paid salaries by the member states, housed in government
buildings paid for by the member states, and will use facilities provided
by, and paid for by member state governments. They will work on
issues, but not for the member states which finance them. Instead, they
willbe part of the 'network' working for the Commission, implementing
Nevertheless, the two proposals - one on aviation, the other on
competition - would not necessary have signified anything as profound as
but for the third event, Prodi's speech. In it, the underlying thinking
the two legislative proposals was laid bare, demonstrating that neither
was a 'flash in the pan'.
In the first instance, what Prodi is planning is the greater use of
regulations as opposed to directives. It was, therefore, no coincidence
thatthe two proposals were in the form of regulations. The significance,
of course, is that directives must be transposed into the national laws
each member states before they take effect while the regulations take
effect the moment they are 'done' at Brussels.
While the transposition process at least requires input from the
and parliaments of the member states, the regulation process completely
sidelines both, as EU regulations do not require the assent of either.
Commission is taking over the reins of the legislative process, making
parliament even more redundant.
As to enforcement, this goes hand-in-hand with 'cooperation'. As with the
competition proposal, enforcement authorities in each of the member
are to be re-orientated so that they no longer work for their employing
nations but act as part of a 'network', directly under the control of the
Commission, to whom they become responsible.
And then there are the EU regulatory agencies. These are to become an
increasing feature of EU activity, with their operating statutes set out
inEU legislation. They will be responsible to Brussels; member states
have no direct control over their activities, they cannot overturn their
decisions and neither can they ignore their rulings. The plan is that the
bulk of regulatory affairs will be managed by these organisations.
Altogether, this is indeed 'the gradual integration of national systems'.
Needless to say, we will see no outward change: we will continue to see
British officials working in British offices, using the headed paper of
their respective ministries, but they will be working for Brussels. Our
government will be progressively turned into an impotent onlooker, its
only role being to pay the bills.
And this is the final irony and the cleverness of this 'revolution'. With
the 'network' system, the EU gets to increase its control over member
states without increasing its own budget or staff, maintaining the
theCommission is a tiny civil service with an establishment of less than
London borough, working on a shoestring, while the agencies, of course,
willbe self-funding, living off the fees charged from applying Community
The take-over is on its way - and nobody noticed.
Tom sent us this admonishment:
Hi Alan & Rosie,
I think you are wrong to be so sceptical on the story that dust ( and
virus) can travel in a dust storm from the Sahara. Back in 1968 I owned a
large American Chevrolet, my pride and joy which I washed and polished one
sunny afternoon. On coming out of the house a few hours later, it was
in a light brown coating of dust as a result of a rain shower. The papers
next day reported that the dust had come from the Sahara and there were
concerns at the time because the French were testing atomic weapons there
it was felt that radioactive particles could reach Britain by the same
Hmm, maybe the Arab fundamentalists sowed this one with nasties, I wonder
what Steve at Whatareweswallowing.com could make out of this story. Its a
more likely story than pigs beng fed food from Chinese restaurants, thats
Our reply: Sceptical? Us? How could you possibly suggest such a thing,
I also remember my newly-polished car being covered in "Sahara dust" many
years ago. So I don't doubt that the UK receives these dust clouds
occasionally. But transference of a virus that dies rapidly at less than 55%
humidity is another matter. I will try to keep an open mind on the subject.
From the Farmers Weekly website:
11 September 2001
Welfare fears from new move rules
By Alistair Driver
WELFARE problems loom for millions of cattle and sheep in foot-and-mouth
infected counties this autumn.
Many will be stuck on farms after the government announced new arrangements
for livestock movements.
Defra Secretary of State Margaret Beckett announced on Tuesday (11
September) that the counties would be divided into three foot-and-mouth
categories; high risk counties; at-risk counties; and foot-and-mouth-free
Movements of livestock in high-risk counties will be limited to the county
This will apply from 24 September for cattle and pigs and 1 October for
As a result, sheep and cattle from counties such as Northumberland and
Cumbria that would normally have been moved to other parts of the country
would be confined to their farms.
NFU deputy president Tim Bennett said this will cause huge financial and
"That is why we will only support the new measures if the payments made
under the Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme are enhanced".
Mrs Beckett also announced arrangements for movement in at-risk areas.
Livestock can move to other at-risk counties; while livestock from
"virus-free" counties can move to other virus-free counties, and to at-risk
Although Devon is classified as an at-risk county there will be extra
restrictions on movement in Devon until blood testing is complete there.
Mrs Beckett said all movements would be subject to bio-security controls and
all livestock to be moved must be inspected by a vet in the 24 hours prior
Sheep in at-risk and high-risk counties will have to be blood-tested before
they can be moved.
Mrs Beckett said "Our overriding priority is to stamp out foot-and-mouth
"Autumn is usually the busiest time of year for the movement of livestock,
but we cannot risk the disease flaring up and emerging in new areas or
re-appearing in old ones.
"This is why we have concluded that it is only possible to re-start
commercial movement of stock if strict conditions are imposed to protect
against the spread of the disease".
Government chief scientist Professor David King, speaking at the same press
conference, ruled out vaccination as a policy to contain the disease.
11 September 2001
Scotland declared virus-free
By Shelley Wright, Scotland correspondent
SCOTLAND has been declared free of foot-and-mouth disease.
Final infected area restrictions were removed on Tuesday morning (11
The move, announced by rural development minister Ross Finnie, coincides
with the start of negotiations in Brussels to get the foot-and-mouth export
ban lifted for the whole of Scotland.
It is now 102 days since the last case of the disease north of the border.
Scotland's chief vet, Leslie Gardner, will present the proposal to lift the
export ban at a meeting of the EU Standing Veterinary Committee on Tuesday
Mr Finnie said the removal of the last infected area restriction, around
Annan in the Dumfries and Galloway region, was a significant step forward.
"Classing the whole of Scotland as disease-free also affords extra
protection against the possibility of the disease being brought north into
Scotland by breeding cattle, sheep or pigs," he said.
It means that any breeding stock moving to Scotland can now come only from
areas of England and Wales that also qualify as disease-free.
"Any such movement will be subject to stringent controls involving thorough
biosecurity of all vehicles and personnel, veterinary inspections before
transit takes place and movement only by designated routes," said Mr Finnie.
But he rejected the demands of NFU Scotland to introduce statutory
disinfectant centres on the main roads crossing the border.
Union president Jim Walker has insisted that Scotland is wide open to
reinfection from England unless more is done to ensure that vehicles that
have been on farms are cleaned and disinfected before they are allowed into
Mr Finnie, however, said that a veterinary risk analysis had shown that
there was no need for that.
Although the country has been declared disease-free, sheep in Dumfries and
Galloway and the Borders will not be allowed to move from these counties for
another fortnight, until results from the final round of blood tests confirm
that there is no residual infection in any sheep flocks.
From the News and Star (Cumbria):
September 11, 9.50am; Re-stocking begins
CUMBRIA reached a milestone today on the road to recovery from foot and
mouth with the news that the Lakeland Sheep and Wool centre near Cockermouth
can begin full re-stocking.
The popular tourist attraction is the first livestock operation in Cumbria
to successfully complete re-stocking with "test" or sentinel animals.
It can now begin getting back to normal by re-stocking its full flock, which
included a host of rare breeds.
The centre has been hit hard by the foot and mouth crisis, which wiped out
its star attraction when its performing sheep where culled in April.
"It has been a long slow process to get this stage," said Roy Campbell,
centre manager. "It has been a very hard summer. The sheep were the main
attractions at the shows and brought people in.
"We can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. We are now in a
position to move forward rather then just standing still."
The lifting of the top Form A restriction means that Mr Campbell can now
begin retraining new sheep for the popular show.
Defra gave the go-ahead for full re-stocking this week after fifteen texel
sheep had been at the centre for almost five weeks.
Jim Cosker, Cockermouth NFU group secretary said: "This is obviously good
news but the virus is still far from beaten.
"We need to try and get back to some form of normality."
Meanwhile, foot-and-mouth restrictions were today being lifted on more than
1,400 farms in north Cumbria.
Form D restrictions were lifted around the Carlisle area, Great Orton, and
north of Dalston and Thursby.
The move is part of Defra's "roll back" programme and means farmers in the
new restriction-free areas are able to carry out "normal" farming activities
without applying for a licence. Movement restrictions still apply.
An announcement is expected today on further autumn movement restrictions.
No cases of foot and mouth have been reported in the county since Sunday.
Our comment: By a strange coincidence, today one of our own neighbours has
re-stocked with "sentinel" animals. This farm adjoins our smallholding
along a road frontage and was killed out as contiguous to Churchtown Farm,
the infected premises. The dairy herd was housed at the time within 100
metres of Churchtown's herd, and there had also been some direct contact
between the two sheep flocks through some escapees. So if Churchtown had
FMD, this neighbour was certainly at risk - a "dangerous contact". They
agreed to accept the cull for this reason.
At the time, the farmer declared he would wait until Churchtown had
restocked first, as he couldn't face the possibility of a second cull. But
time has changed his view and we heard on the grapevine recently that he had
bought a new dairy herd from East Devon. We made an opportunity to speak
with him a fortnight ago, and he confirmed that the new herd was arriving in
early September. We outlined the potential risk to contiguous farms,
including ourselves, and asked for a day or two's notice so that we could
move our sheep away from the road boundary, which he agreed to do - or so we
We then rang Stella Beavan at DEFRA Exeter to express our concerns at the
restocking risks to ourselves and to detail all our objections to the policy
on such matters. She was sympathetic, would write to Page Street (London)
and agreed to send a vet to make an assessment of our smallholding with a
view to agreeing a minimum-risk strategy - or so we thought.
The grapevine told us that restocking would take place today, but no phone
call came from our neighbour, no phone call came from DEFRA, and no vet came
to visit. We rang DEFRA repeatedly over the last few days but had no return
call. Finally, after yet another call from us, Stella Beavan rang back late
last night, apologetic but she'd had no reply from Page Street so was still
bound to apply "the policy". The best she could offer was a belated vet
visit to offer advice, but with no guarantees that contiguous culling would
not be applied in the event of re-infection.
Today we rounded up our sheep flock, sorted a few things out, and moved them
to the furthest fields from the road boundary. After lunch, the cattle
wagons rolled up and began to unload. The fact that our neighbour did not
ring to advise us, having agreed to do so, says a great deal in our view.
The fact that DEFRA officially refuses to even consider management of the
potential risk to neighbouring farms is typical of the government approach
throughout this epidemic.
Personally, we are sick of being treated with contempt, we are sick of
people who fail to honour their word, we are sick of having one-sided
policies forced upon us, in fact we are sick of the whole bloody thing.
In the end, it seems we may have to fight the battle all over again - and we
From the Yorkshire Post:
Robert Benson Agricultural Correspondent
Vaccination 'the only way to stop virus'
THE Prime Minister and EU authorities were under increasing pressure last
night to introduce immediate "ring barrier" and targeted breed vaccination
to combat continuing outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK.
The call came in a signed "declaration" from leading northern vets, a food
scientist and a Yorkshire Euro-MP who say Mr Blair's policy of eradication
by slaughter has failed to control the disease.
They have banded together in the hope of organising a non-partisan "people's
campaign" in favour of the vaccination approach. The move came as blood
samples were still being tested from cattle on two farms in Leicestershire
suspected of having the disease. If confirmed they will be the first cases
in the county for over four months.
Ministers were urged to make a statement on the continuing foot-and-mouth
crisis by Baroness Byford, the shadow front bench agriculture spokesman in
The vaccination declaration was signed by the leader of the Tory MPs in the
European Parliament, Edward McMillan-Scott, and a senior fellow in
veterinary pathology at the University of Liverpool, Dr Susan Haywood. They
are supported by Swaledale vet Paul Roger and Skipton-based food science
professor Dr Verner Wheelock.
The group is hoping to develop a "network of support" for vaccination across
the country and the EU as a whole and warns that the policy of eradication
by slaughter has proved insufficient to control the disease.
If foot and mouth persists, they warn, the outbreaks could rise with the
onset of cooler weather, with no end in sight.
They are also calling for a reconsideration of generalised vaccination
against the disease to "prevent the culling of the majority of the nation's
livestock, altering the face of our countryside forever".
Mr McMillan-Scott said: "We are trying to highlight the issue and get people
engaged in the process of making it clear to the authorities in this country
that they support this approach.
"People should protest individually by writing to Mr Blair. We hope that
this might stimulate him to take action."
The group saysthe current outbreak of foot and mouth differs from the
1967-68 UK outbreak in that the expected "tail off" has not occurred. It has
defied the chief scientist's prediction that the disease would be
successfully dealt with by early June.
Mr McMillan-Scott added: "The only way to curtail the spread of the disease
is to ring-vaccinate several miles outside each FMD epicentre and to cull or
use additional suppressive vaccination within the circle.
"It is probably necessary in addition to use barrier vaccination to close
off a region such as the North East and across the Scottish border. Such
vaccinated populations should present an effective buffer to neutralise the
virus and prevent further spread."
The group also calls for prophylactic vaccination for rare and threatened
pedigree stock still at risk from the disease in order to maintain a viable
nucleus from which to breed and repopulate.
Mr McMillan-Scott said: "Foot-and-mouth disease is endemic in the wildlife
in large areas of the world. Outbreaks such as the present one in the UK are
increasingly likely, either unintentionally or from deliberate acts of
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Rural Stress Information Network at
Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, Baroness Byford said Tony Blair and the Government
had been silent for too long about the disastrous impact of the outbreak in
"Parliament has been in recess since July 20 and is not due back until the
middle of October. Where is the Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett? What
about a statement from her?"
From The Guardian last Saturday:
Argentina and Netherlands use jabs to control disease
Special report: foot and mouth disease
Saturday September 8, 2001
Argentina contracted foot and mouth about the same time as Britain in
February. By April, its agriculture minister, Marcello Regunaga, decided to
introduce a wholesale vaccination policy. Vets are in the process of
injecting cattle and sheep on 200,000 farms in a twice-yearly exercise which
will cost $1 (69p) an animal.
Farmers there believe it is the only way to regain the export trade, which
halted with the outbreak. The government thinks the disease will be under
control by next month.
Mr Regunaga tells BBC1's Countryfile programme tomorrow that he finds
Britain's policy of mass-slaughter incomprehensible. "I would say that only
rich countries could spend the money you are to follow this strategy," he
says. "You need to have a lot of money - too much money - to spend on a
strategy of killing millions of animals, hurting the production capacity of
The Netherlands has used limited vaccination to halt the spread of the
disease - although vaccinated animals have subsequently been slaughtered.
"If it is possible to export vaccinated meat from Argentina then it is
possible for the Netherlands too," Simeon Schrenk, chairman of the Dutch
union, tells Countryfile. "The world is full of foot and mouth disease."
Adme Osterhaus, a Dutch virologist and a European Union adviser, says that
while there should be a cull at every foot and mouth outbreak, a second
outer "ring" of vaccination would act as a buffer zone to prevent the
disease spreading. "We know the vaccine will only be effective after a
number of days so your first culling strategy will always be very
Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, the Netherlands' minister of agriculture, would like
EU rules changed so that member countries will not lose export markets if
they vaccinate livestock.
"The general image of agriculture that you slaughter hundreds of thousands
of animals - we have of course seen these bonfires in Britain - have left an
indelible impression on the Dutch mind. The fact that the National Farmers'
Union continues to believe you should have no vaccination and the fact that
you have not mastered the situation is something that is queried as a wise
policy in my country."
from Alan & Rosie