19 March 1998
MAFF documents back Laceys BSE claims
By FWi staff
MORE than 49,000 cattle at risk of developing BSE cannot be traced, according to internal Ministry of Agriculture documents obtained by the Guardian newspaper. A further 45,000 suspect cattle are proving hard to track down after being sold from the farms on which they were born.
According to todays Guardian (19 March), the MAFF documents lend credibility to claims made by Richard Lacey, professor of microbiology at Leeds University. Prof Lacey alleges that farmers are burying BSE-suspect cattle in “mass graves” instead of reporting them to the authorities for incineration.
Lacey claims that farmers would rather forego compensation totalling £800 per BSE-cow than risk losing BSE-free status. The Certified Herd Scheme, which was this week approved to allow beef exports from Northern Ireland, requires beef herds to be BSE-free for at least eight years.
According to the MAFF documents, the missing cattle are part of the total of 140,000 which Britain promised the European Union it would kill under the Florence Agreement of 1996.
So far, only 63,000 cattle with suspected BSE have been killed under the selective cull. A further 12,000 are understood to be awaiting slaughter and another 152,000 cattle have already died or been killed for other reasons.
MLC says Laceys evidence is ‘unscientific’, FWi, yesterday (18 March) – Click here