EP temporary committee on foot-and-mouth: working document, questionnaire to UK government

April 8, 2002

Brussels, 5 April 2002

Working document - introduction. Temporary committee on foot-and-mouth disease, 21 March 2002. Rapporteur: Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler. Full text

The foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) situation in the EU in 2001 was, in terms of the number of animals destroyed under a stamping-out policy, probably the most serious which has ever occurred. In the United Kingdom alone, where there were 2030 confirmed outbreaks, more than 4 million animals (including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and wild animals) were destroyed in the process of combating the disease. The unprecedented scale of the slaughtering of what were probably for the most part healthy animals, and the dramatic method of carcass disposal involving burning the bodies of animals on pyres, was met in part with strong public criticism.

The strategy pursued by the EU and by the Member States concerned, and the implementation of this strategy in combating FMD, were debated at numerous events and in the media. The European Parliament (EP) addressed the crisis in two resolutions (of 5 April and 6 September 2001).

The decision to set up a temporary committee on foot-and-mouth disease was adopted by the EP in its resolution of 16 January 2002. This resolution defines the powers and tasks of the committee as follows:

(a) to assess EU policy and the control of meat imports from third countries in the context of the epidemic;

(b) to analyse the management of the foot-and-mouth epidemic and the implementation of Community law in this regard to date, and to invite representatives of the Commission and of governments, as well as officials responsible, to attend hearings of the committee;

(c) to analyse the total impact on Community funds of the foot-and-mouth epidemic so far;

(d) on this basis to make proposals to look into vaccination policy in particular and for political and legislative initiatives with regard to the prevention and fighting of diseases in the agricultural sector in general;

In analysing and assessing the way in which FMD has been handled in the EU to date, the committee will therefore not confine itself to issues of how the authorities involved managed the monitoring, combating and eradication of the disease at EU and national level in 2001.

Rather, it will also look at the indirect economic damage caused to non-agricultural sectors (e.g. the feed industry, the meat processing industry and tourism), as well as at the role of the agricultural sector, consumers and the trade and animal protection aspects and the socio-economic repercussions for society in general. On the basis of the experience of the 2001 crisis, the committee will discuss the strategy for preventing and combating animal diseases and the consequences at EU level for health and environmental policy (e.g. disposal of animal carcases, protection of waters), agricultural policy (e.g. keeping and rearing of animals), trade policy (OIE and WTO aspects) and budgetary aspects and the issue of import controls. Where appropriate, the committee will make recommendations with regard to future EU strategy and/or for improving existing measures to combat diseases in the agricultural sector in general.

To that end, the committee will be holding public hearings with representatives and officials of the Commission, the Member States and the regions, as well as relevant associations and.scientific experts. It also places importance on involving representatives of civil society as far as possible. The committee will meet in public and will be seeking to ensure maximum transparency, including through its special Web site.

In order to have a very clear picture of the situation, delegations from the committee will be visiting the areas worst affected in 2001. The committee will also take into consideration studies and reports produced or commissioned by the Commission and in the Member States into the 2001 crisis, as well as opinions, reports and studies by associations....

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Questionnaire to representatives and former representatives of the UK Government for the meeting of the temporary committee on foot-and-mouth disease on 26 March and 8 April 2002. Full text

1. How did the foot and mouth epidemic start? Did the MAFF/DEFRA carry out forensic epidemiology on infected flocks/herds to determine disease onsets of early and continuing notifications?

2. Can the UK Government definitely indicate when the epidemic started?

3. What is the nature of the UK animal disease surveillance system, was it effective and adequately resourced?

4. What is the UK administrative structure for the management of an outbreak of a foot and mouth epidemic? Was this structure appropriate to deal with the crisis? Were there adequate personnel and logistic resources to deal with an epidemic of this scale, and were there adequate provisions for mobilising the additional personnel and logistics required? What improvements should be envisaged?

5. Did the legal framework (EU/EC directives) and the UK Government's contingency plan take account of the possibility of the detection of an uncontained epidemic, and make/facilitate appropriate responses?

6. Did the EC/EU legal framework, viz directive 85/511, and the groundwater directive, in any way handicap or limit options for the slaughter of animals and the disposal of their carcasses?

7. Was there a delay between the imposition of an EU ban on the export of live animals, meat and meat products from the UK and the prohibition of movement of live animals in the UK, and if so, - what impact did that have on the spread of the disease?

8. Was the UK contingency plan for foot and mouth, submitted to the European Commission by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1993, published before the start of the epidemic?

9. Why did MAFF not use Epiman, a data management and prediction system drawn up by New Zealand scientists for controlling a major foot and mouth epidemic?

10. Why, in March 2001 did the UK Government hand over control of the epidemic to Professor Roy Anderson of Imperial College, an epidemiologist who apparently had no expertise in the management or control of foot and mouth?

11. Why did the UK Government introduce its 24/48 hrs 'contiguous cull' policy, under which millions of uninfected animals were destroyed?

12. What was the scientific basis of the 'Anderson' epidemic model and was it appropriate that it should have been used for the control of this epidemic?

13. Was the 'contiguous cull' legal either under EU or UK law and, if not, were the compensation payments lawful?

14. Why, when the epidemic met all the criteria for an emergency vaccination programme laid out in EC directive 90/423, did the UK Government not adopt such a programme?

15. Why did the UK Government not carry out a limited vaccination programme to protect cattle in Cumbria and Devon, when permission from Brussels had been received? Did the National Farmers' Union oppose to this?

16. Were farmers accurately informed over both the science and the law on vaccination and the compensation provisions applicable to the use of vaccines?

17. Were there any changes in policy on the criteria for classifying outbreaks during the course of the epidemic and, if so, what were the effects of those changes on the reporting of outbreak numbers?

18. Were welfare and biosecurity codes respected by UK government officials and contractors/employees working for or on behalf of the government? What official actions were taken to monitor compliance and, if there were any breaches, what actions were taken?

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Executive Summary of the UK Government Memorandum adressing issues raised in the Framework. Document of the Lessons Learned Inquiry - text (cannot be transcribed)

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