A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, September 14, 2007

Foot in Mouth Disease?

The current foot and mouth outbreak in Surrey is a tragedy. The virus almost certainly got into the farming community because of an error in a government laboratory. Accidents happen. Of course they do. But inept covering up? That's a different matter.

When the first set of infections was discovered, and it was eventually tracked down to a leaking waste pipe as the most likely cause of it all, the National Farmers Union was calling for class action suits against the perpetrators. Now with this latest outbreak, not a dicky bird from them. Why? Have they been leant on by somebody?

Hilary Benn is the minister in charge of Defra. Yesterday he was on BBC Breakfast sounding most surprised that this latest infection had happened. "The puzzling thing is it's more than 30 days since the last confirmed outbreak. The incubation period for foot and mouth is 2 to 14 days," he said. Well, well.

The inference here is that the Pirbright Perpetrators were definitely not to blame this time. But wait. Later in the day we are told that scientists are informing the BBC that the virus can live up to a month in the soil and up to 50 days in water! Apparently lorries and vans were in and out of the Pirbright plant, all the while this virus was on the loose. This scientific evidence suggests a possibility of a continuation from the initial infection.

When the professor in charge of the laboratory eventually came out to the awaiting press, he burbled about having "robust bio-security measures in place". Well, I never take anybody telling us about "robust" anything at face value. It's normally used in major cock-up incidents! Now we are told that the professor's team and that from Meriel, the American bio-tech company on the same site, were arguing over who should foot a £50,000 bill for rectifying faults in the drainage system.

Bit of a stink, don't you think?

Farmers all over the country are being put into a very nervous position. Hilary Benn sounds as if nothing really dramatic has happened. If I was a farmer, I'd be wanting the covering-up culprits rounded up and told they will be held responsible. BIG TIME!!


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