Inept handling of foot and mouth

25 November 2002

The EU have condemned the UK government's handling of the foot and mouth crisis as inept, traumatising for farmers and in contravention of animal welfare laws. The final version of the report received unanimous approval and castigated ministers and officials for red tape and bureaucratic delays which added to the anguish of the farmers. Vice president of the cross-party committee, Caroline Lucas said: 'The government's obsession with protecting its agricultural export markets at all cost brought financial ruin to much of rural England. ' Our inquiry has found that this was a massive dereliction of duty and that vaccination should be the first response.' This is bad news for Tony Blair who refused to set up an independent public inquiry and for Labour's MEP's who tried to prevent the investigation from being carried out. The report will be used as the basis of a new EU directive on foot and mouth: 'It has become clear from the 2001 epidemic that mass culling on the scale seen in the UK and the Netherlands will not be publicly acceptable again and that alternative strategies are, therefore, essential.' The report suggests that the true scale of the infection was exaggerated or obscured to justify the contiguous cull policy. 'Since only a very small number of cases were actually tested, and that relatively few cases were confirmed as having the disease, it is crucial that the epidemiological data be published and subject to independent critical analysis.' It says that there were unpardonable delays in decision making, violations of animal welfare legislation during culls, with breaches of environmental legislation in the arrangements for mass burial pits and funeral pyres for slaughtered animals. Source: The Daily Telegraph

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