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Sunday, 26 May, 2002, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
Virus vaccination advice was 'ignored'
Slaughtered animals, Holland
The initial slaughter in Holland was halted amid protests
Wales MEP Eurig Wyn has criticised the UK government for failing to seriously consider wholesale vaccination of livestock during last year's foot-and-mouth crisis.

Mr Wyn was speaking after the European Union Inquiry Team's fact-finding mission to Holland, where officials used vaccinations to protect cattle and sheep from the disease.
animal burial
Many farmers thought that culling was necessary

The Euro MP, who coordinated the inquiry team and also sits on the EU Rural Development Committee, said the "conflicting information" issued by the UK government over vaccinations had not helped the farming industry.

Hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle were culled and burned or buried in an effort to stem the spread of foot-and-mouth in the UK.

In Wales, there were 118 confirmed cases, the majority in Powys, with tourism and farming businesses losing hundreds of millions of pounds in trade.

Mr Wyn believes evidence from Holland shows the widescale disaster could have been avoided in the early days of the outbreak.

The Dutch decision to use vaccination did not stop them from getting back their FMD free status.

Eurig Wyn MEP, EU Rural Development Committee

The Dutch government came under strong pressure from the public to halt a mass cull and officials reacted accordingly with a vaccination programme.

Holland's 12 provincial councils provided better help and assistance to farmers than was the case in Wales, explained Mr Wyn.

"We have met many groups from the Netherlands who appealed to us to seriously consider a vaccination policy if ever a similar crisis was to occur in the future," he said.

"Officials at the Dutch Central Institute for Animal Disease Control told us that the relevant vaccines could have been made available within five days of the outbreak.

Farmer takes lambs for slaughter
Some farmers lost their entire livelihood
"This contradicts the information given by the Government's scientific advisor Professor Roy Anderson in a hearing in Brussels at the beginning of last week. He claimed it would take at least 16 days for sufficient vaccination to be available."

Mr Wyn added: "The (vaccination) argument was, of course, based on keeping an FMD free status, but the Dutch decision to use vaccination did not stop them from getting back their FMD free status. Indeed they gained that status back before we did in the UK.

"One has to ask whether our market in reality was more adversely hit by pictures of burning pyres of dead animals being beamed by the media all over the world?"

'On its knees'

It was estimated earlier this earlier that Welsh tourism had lost more than 200m of income after visitor restrictions were imposed.

But Mr Wyn added such a situation could have been avoided: "I was informed here in the Netherlands that the tourist industry was saved through its policy of vaccination.

"Vaccination allowed tourists and visitors to move freely around the country when our own Welsh tourist industry was on its knees."

The Powys-based UK Rural Business Campaign demanded compensation for losing thousands of tourism and other enterprises.



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20 Apr 02 | Wales
03 Dec 01 | Wales
10 May 01 | Science/Nature
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