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Programme highlights Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Vaccination decision expected in days
Prof King
Prof David King, chief scientific adviser, attempts to persuade farmers to back vaccination

At a snail's pace, and with many a nervous backward glance, the government is edging towards a policy of vaccination in the fight against foot and mouth.

Eight weeks after the first confirmed case, ministers still say it is a decision that can't be rushed.


Simply vaccinating dairy cattle will do nothing to stop the spread of the disease

Tim Yeo, Conservative Agriculture spokesman

The policy under consideration is not the one recommend by many European vets - emergency vaccination in a ring around affected areas, followed by the slaughter of vaccinated animals.

Instead - it would see limited vaccination of cattle which are about to be put out to pasture, to protect them from the disease.

The Chief Scientist, Professor David King, repeated this morning that for the policy to be effective, there would have to be substantial support among farmers Government sources are talking about 80 per cent support. And yet ministers acknowledge that farmers are deeply divided.

Ben Gill: NFU is split on vaccination
As Nick Utting, the NFU's Cumbria representative, told the programme, farmers still need to see proof that vaccination would be effective in bringing an end to the outbreak:

The figures on the present culling policy are depressing - 568,000 animals are awaiting slaughter.


Without evidence, it is going to be an experiment. Why should we enter an experiment?

Nick Utting, NFU's Cumbria representative

The numbers killed are increasing each week, but at the current rate - the backlog will not be cleared until July 31st, and that's without a single further case being found.

No wonder other solutions are being sought. The Government's focus on the need to get the approval of farmers is understandable. In a way, it helps to answer the charge - from the Tories and others - that ministers have been dithering over vaccination: their defence is that it takes time and effort to win the acceptance of the farming community.

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Nick Utting, NFU's Cumbria representative
Is the Government's 60% acceptance rate for vaccination achievable?
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