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Barricade outside Mossburn The following two letters in support of Juanita Wilson and Mossburn Animal Centre, from John Dowson and Alistair McConnachie, were published in The Herald (Glasgow) 9th May 2001 in reply to its claim that there was no alternative to destruction of the animals at Mossburn.
Pictured is part of the barricade outside Mossburn (From The Times, 10 May)


I am writing from Mossburn Animal Centre in Dumfries and Galloway in response to your editorial, Culling is the only policy (May 7). Until May 1999, I was the leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council and I had the direct experience of overseeing emergencies in this community.

Can I correct your newspaper's misunderstanding of the situation? Mossburn Animal Centre is not within three kilometres of an infected farm. All infected farms in this area were killed out over six weeks ago. Mossburn was left alone. Foot-and-mouth disease has an incubation period of two weeks.

There can now be no danger to any surrounding farms or animals from Mossburn both because the incubation period has passed and because everything within three kilometres is already dead.

Mossburn's animals are healthy and well -- the only threat to them is from Maff officials, the police, the army, the local council, and the government. All of these agencies have the resources and the skill to protect these animals. I have challenged the council leader to intervene and to use the three-kilometre zone as a protection area for these animals. This means that the council can ensure the health of all animals in this zone for the next six months. If they cannot achieve this then they should resign and recognise that life in this community is not safe in their hands.

There is, and always has been, an alternative to culling. The only reason that vaccination has not been implemented is because the NFU wanted to protect their products in a European market-place.

They have failed in this regard as no other country will want to import British meat for a long time. In order to protect a failed market they have destroyed the whole rural economy, not just tourism but almost every rural business has had an adverse impact. They have also destroyed 2.5 million animals - the vast majority of these animals did not need to die. The NFU say they care about their animals - in truth they care about their market-place much more.

The culling of healthy animals should stop immediately. It can provide no useful purpose. If Britain has not got the technical expertise to protect and save these animals then it should be thoroughly ashamed of its performance. Many other countries live and trade with foot-and-mouth in their midst. Your editorial does little to help the debate and merely gives encouragement to those thoughtless politicians and officials who will say in a few months time that "They were only following orders". Your newspaper would do well to send a reporter to Mossburn to establish the real facts here in the frontline.

I can guarantee your reporter would be impressed with the dedication and commitment shown by those who have turned up here. These protesters need encouragement and support from your readers, not condemnation from the editor.

John Dowson


Of course there is an alternative to the mass slaughter policy (editorial, May 7).

There are many ways to get from A to B, and just because you end up at B eventually does not mean you went the quickest way, or the straightest way, or the most logical, humane, economic, or scientific way.

If the mass slaughter policy ends up eradicating the disease, for the time being, then it will be a Pyrrhic victory, which has been gained at too great a cost.

It will have been gained only after the most horrendous abuses of animal welfare, a paralysed countryside, a run-down local economy, the abuse of people's right to their own private property and freedom of movement, and the creation of the most frightening environmental and health problems.

Juanita Wilson, at Mossburn Animal Centre, is making a principled stand against this cruel and abusive policy, and she should be supported by everyone who knows there is, and always has been, an alternative, everyone who values animal welfare and basic human rights, and everyone who never again wants to see the countryside subjected to this trauma.

Alistair McConnachie

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