Government criticised over FMD

14 August 2002

The report into the foot and mouth outbreak, which occurred across the UK in the spring of last year, was finally published at the end of July. In the 200 page report the author, Dr Iain Anderson, is critical of a number of bodies and individuals including several departments of the national government of Tony Blair, the National Farmers Union and farmers and animal dealers themselves. His report paints a picture of a government that was simultaneously struck by complacency and panic, that failed to act quickly and decisively, and which had not learned from previous outbreaks. By the time the last case was reported by September 30, 2001 the disease had claimed the lives of almost 7 million animals and cost the taxpayer and private business more than £8 billion (US$11.2 billion). Anderson described the epidemic, which caused raw material prices to increase rapidly throughout the world, as an emergency, which became a crisis. And in some parts of the country the crisis became a disaster. The report outlined nine broad lessons to be learned and 81 recommendations on how a future outbreak should be tackled with a national strategy. Burning animals on mass pyres should not be used as a means of disposing of carcasses, it said although routine vaccination to prevent livestock contracting the disease was also not recommended. Other key suggestions included were the electronic tagging of all livestock to track their movements and the ban on catering waste being used in animal feed swill should be continued.

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