In March 23rd 2001 I was appointed the Green
Party's Foot and Mouth Disease Campaign Co-ordinator, and was very
active in advocating vaccination instead of the barbaric, crude,
and unscientific slaughter policy pursued by the then Misistry of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In August 2001 I realised that
the Government was going to pursue its policy irrespective of any
rational arguments relating to science, humanity - or even economics
- and I am ashamed to say that I gave up at that point - emotionally
exhausted and burnt out. For a long time I was unable to even look
at an article or paper relating to the topic. Later I complained
to the Parliamentary Ombudsman relating to letters and questions
unanswered by MAFF officials; the reply was
inadequate, but I could not pursue it.
In the end the pro-vaccination lobby's stance was vindicated, as
official policy is now to use ring vaccination when the next Foot
and Mouth Disease outbreak occurs. I am not sanguine. It is to be
expected that the authorities will foul up the vaccination programme,
declare that it is not working, and start the slaughter all over
In the campaign, I was writing to the papers, writing about the
health effects of disposal, writing to my
MP, and to Tony Blair, phoning Government Departments,
and have had stories on TV, on radio, and in the newspapers.
The main success was in breaking the story about
the risk of spreading BSE/vCJD (letter) (mad cow disease)
through the burial and burning of carcasses.
I have written poems about the FMD fiasco, and, when it became
clear that MAFF/DeFRA was impervious to reason, even some jokes..
Unfortunately, I had no response whatsoever from
Tony Blair or Nick Brown to my letters, despite requests made through
my MP, on the questions I have raised; this led to a complaint to
the Parliamentary Ombudsman, but even so, they failed to address
the questions put to them.
This is an affront to democracy, and the Labour
Party should be held to account for the failure of their Government.
Here is the essence of the argument:
FOOT & MOUTH DISEASE FACT SHEET
- Foot & Mouth Disease is a viral illness,
usually mild in mature sheep and moderately unpleasant for some
cattle. It depresses the profitability of the animal for a while
- The horrific problems of FMD arise not
from the disease, but from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food (MAFF)’s 19th century approach to disease control by
mass slaughter of healthy animals ringing an outbreak.
- The modern alternative – ring vaccination
– is effective and cheap (it costs £1 to vaccinate a cow, £1400
to kill and dispose of it).
- MAFF has consistently misled the media
and the public about vaccination.
- MAFF makes much of the fact that a vaccinated
herd will have some carriers of the virus. In fact, cheap modern
tests can distinguish between carriers and non-carriers.
- Ironically, MAFF’s strategy causes much
more disease spread than vaccinated carriers and ramblers. Burning
spreads the virus in the smoke, and the road journey to rendering
plants and burial sites scatters infected materials into clean
- The disposal of millions of carcasses gives
rise to intolerable air and water pollution.
- Pyre smoke contains dioxins and PAHs (Cancer
causing agents),SO2, particulates (asthma and heart disease).
Worse, MAFF have seriously underestimated the risk of spreading
BSE and vCJD from the fires.
- MAFF’s policy is ineffective, traumatic,
polluting, expensive, immoral, cruel and wrong. The Green Party,
along with many other organisations calls for.
VACCINATION WITH NO MASS SLAUGHTER
Maff's arguments are specious and fallacious
The argument about meat exports is empty. The value
is trivial compared to the total cost of the slaughter operation.
And many experts hold that vaccination could have brought back our
exports more quickly. Why should a handful of exporting farmers
hold the country to ransom?
It is up to each and every one of us to resist the
shame that MAFF has brought on our country. You can help by: