Papers give MAFF another roasting

6 April 2001

Papers give MAFF another roasting

By Isabel Davies

THE Ministry of Agriculture has come in for another roasting from Britains newspapers for the way it has responded to the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The Daily Telegraph claims that the epidemic doubled as ministers dithered over whether to step up the slaughter.

Ministers ignored advice from independent epidemiologists that the initial policy was allowing the disease to spiral out of control, claims the paper.

The ministry waited until chief scientist Professor David King warned that drastic action was necessary to reduce delays, it says.

The Daily Mail also accuses MAFF of failing to act on warnings issued after the 1967 outbreak that the Army should be called in immediately.

The report into the 1967 outbreak noted that the arrival of the Army had led to a rapid improvement in the control and organisation of all facilities.

“In a national emergency of this nature, the earlier the military can be called in then the better,” it said.

But a MAFF spokesman said calling in the Army “gung-ho” would have been wrong. “We wanted to consider carefully the best use for them,” he added.

Meanwhile, the battle to dispose of the huge number of animals being slaughtered in the West Country is tackled by The Guardian.

MAFF is getting so desperate that it is considering finding a site on which to construct a giant clay-lined burial pit for 30,000 animals, it says.

The plan has been put forward by the National Farmers Union, which is worried about the number of carcasses still lying around in fields and on farms.

Turning to other disposal methods, the Daily Express suggests smoke coming from the burning carcasses of slaughtered animals could spread CJD.

It claims to have seen a government report that concludes people living close to a burning pyre run a risk of breathing in BSE prions.

The government says the risk is “low”, but accepts there will be some exposure to BSE particles.

Some other papers focus on estimates from tourism chiefs that the final bill for lost bookings because of foot-and-mouth could reach 5 billion by September.

The Independentreports that the entire cabinet is to spend the Easter holiday in the UK as a show of solidarity with the tourist industry.

The Times claims that the interest rate cut to 5.5% on Thursday (5 April) was a move by the Bank of England to shore up confidence in the economy.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks

Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage

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