14 March 2001
MP to query foot-and-mouth policy

By Donald MacPhail

A CONTROVERSIAL MP has asked the Chancellor to consider whether it would be economic to allow foot-and-mouth disease to become endemic.

Labour MP Paul Flynn has submitted a question to Gordon Brown asking what the annual cost to the UK economy would be if foot-and-mouth became endemic.

The Newport West representative also wants to know how much the outbreak, which now totals 215 cases, has cost the country.

Mr Flynn said the Government had to look beyond the effect on the predicted profitability of farming and at the effect on the country as a whole.

The MP, who was previously branded “insensitive” over comments on farming suicides, says alternatives to slaughtering must be considered.

“We are told that we must go that way, but other countries have a meat industry despite endemic foot-and-mouth.”

“I would like to see intelligent debate on the issue, where alternatives are put on the table.”

Mr Flynn said exports, which are worth around 400 million a year, should not figure in the equation, as they would be severely damaged by the outbreak

And even if foot-and-mouth was eradicated in Britain, Mr Flynn warned that it could be reintroduced by malicious individuals or organisations.

“We are vulnerable to people using the disease as a terrorist weapon or through sheer bloody-mindedness. Its a very fragile situation.”

Mr Flynn warned there would be an unprecedented compensation bill if claims from all the groups affected by the outbreak were met.

Last year, Mr Flynn accused the farming lobby of peddling a myth that more farmers have taken their lives as a result of the general crisis in agriculture.

Mr Flynns questions are due to be answered on 20 March.

Insensitive MP in farm suicide claim, FWi, 04 February, 2000
Farm suicides are a myth, says MP, FWi, 22 March, 2000
Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage