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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Sheep banned from Royal Show
A mass cull was ordered to control the disease
Foot-and-mouth disease ended last year's Royal Show
Sheep are to be banned from this year's Royal Show because their inclusion may lead to "false alarms" about foot-and-mouth disease according to organisers.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE), which runs the event, has also banned goats and alpacas from the show which takes place in July.

But the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has said the ban would lead to fears that foot and mouth is still prevalent in Britain.

The union wants RASE to re-consider its decision after last year's show was cancelled at the height of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

The financial implications to the society of a false alarm would be unacceptable

David Storrar, RASE
NFU President Ben Gill said: "The Royal attracts many overseas visitors and provides a valuable shop window to the world for Britain's livestock and agriculture industry.

"I would urge RASE to re-consider its decision and allow sheep to return to the Royal.

"I think it is vitally important that this year's show portrays an industry that is back in business."

Symptoms confusing

RASE has denied that fears over a return of the disease has led to the decision.

Director David Storrar said: "The concern is that the symptoms of foot-and-mouth can easily be confused in sheep and are difficult to differentiate from many other things.

"Small lesions in the mouth of sheep can be caused by anything and we are concerned about false alarms, of which there have been many in this country in recent months.

"The financial implications to the society of a false alarm would be unacceptable."

Cattle, pigs, poultry and horses will still take part in this year's Royal Show.

David Storrar - Royal Agricultural Society
"It's concern over false alarms that's led us to the decision"
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