23 October 2001
Gill writes to Beckett on sheep fiasco

By FWi staff

FARMERS leader Ben Gill has written to Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett to express concern at the fiasco over BSE in sheep.

Mr Gill said he feared the botched experiments and subsequent headlines had inflicted needless damage on an already weak sheep industry.

Other on-going experiments on recently collected sheep brains confirm there is no evidence of BSE in the national sheep flock, he added.

But the controversy over the flawed research has obscured this and could have hit public confidence in sheep.

Action to eradicate scrapie from the national flock must be speeded up and the testing of sheep for BSE-type disease redoubled, said Mr Gill

The way the government revealed the botched experiments had led to a controversy which had been bad for the sheep industry, he added.

“Every effort must be made to ensure that we have an orderly presentation of any results into the public domain in future.

“My priority – and that of every sheep farmer – is to ensure that public confidence in UK lamb and mutton is maintained.”

An open meeting should be held at which full reports are given on the work being undertaken on the question of BSE in sheep, said Mr Gill.

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