22 June 2001
Welsh investigate virus for sale claim
By Robert Davies, Wales Correspondent
INVESTIGATIONS are underway in Pembrokeshire into allegations that farmers are being offered material to infect livestock with foot-and-mouth disease.
Police and council officers are following up reports that someone who worked on the disposal of infected animals will introduce the disease for 2000.
The aim would be to claim compensation that is higher than the current market value of the livestock.
Glyn Davies, chairman of the Welsh Assemblys agriculture committee, learned of the full-scale investigation during a visit to Pembrokeshire on Thursday (21 June).
“There have been all sorts of rumours like this for some time, but I learned that this one is being taken very seriously,” says Mr Davies.
“An outbreak in a clean area like Pembrokeshire would decimate the rural economy, said Mr Davies, who farms in mid-Wales.
I would urge anyone who is approached to tell the police, the council, or me immediately.
“Anyone who would deliberately infect healthy livestock is a reptile that should be consigned back to the sewer he or her crawled from as soon as possible.”
Earlier this month Kent farmers were approached by a mystery telephone caller offering to infect their farms for 4,000.
Meanwhile, Mr Daviess committee is to examine reports that government advisors saw no reason to insist on genetically modified trials being conducted in the Principality.
The Welsh Assembly has voted in favour of keeping Wales GM-crop free, but cannot enforce this.
This revelation came from Dr David Gibbons, an RSPB scientist who sits on the steering group advising ministers on GM trials
He says the old Department of the Environment was told that excluding Wales would not undermine research provided similar sites were found elsewhere.
Despite this three sites were designated. The owners of two later withdrew, while a third at Sealand in Flintshire now carries a crop of GM maize.
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