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The following letter by Alistair McConnachie appeared in The Scottish Farmer of 31 March 2001, under the heading "Abuse of Authority".

The mass slaughter policy for alleged Foot and Mouth cases must be opposed on logical, scientific, humanitarian, moral and economic grounds.

Here are some important facts about this disease which we must lay on the table:

1- We do not know for sure how this disease spreads.

2- We do not even know if it is highly contagious. Evidence from the history of FMD indicates that it doesn't even necessarily spread to animals in the same farm.

3- Afflicted animals almost always recover and become immune to that strain of the infection.

4- FMD is a relatively minor ailment which is curable through the application of simple, basic husbandry techniques. For example, Henry Hamilton wrote a pamphlet in 1967 recounting how, as herd manager on the Duke of Westminster's estate in the 1922-1924 outbreak, he successfully nursed the herd through the outbreak. Those animals afflicted were simply isolated, kept as clean as possible, and treated with both Stockholm tar and salt. In other words, they were cured by the application of basic animal husbandry techniques. (See Charles Clover, "Old cowmen's cure saved duke's pedigree herd", The Daily Telegraph 21-3-01, p. 6.)

5- Death occurs in a maximum 5 percent of cases, and then only in those animals with weak constitutions; for example, the very young and the very old.

6- The meat is fit to eat.

7- FMD is presumed to be a viral infection but no photograph exists anywhere of the FMD virus.

8- ELISA, the blood test used to confirm the presence of the supposed FMD virus, does not detect the virus but merely delivers the positive reading by detecting proteins and antibodies in the blood which are presumed to be there as a result of the presence of the virus but which can be there for other harmless reasons.

9- ELISA is therefore highly liable to produce a false FMD positive response.

10- False positive FMD diagnosis is also likely to be heightened by an almost complete ignorance among farmers, vets, and MAFF officials as to what the disease, or its symptoms even look like. Cattle, sheep and pigs are constantly afflicted with foot irritations. How many of these, in the present hysterical atmosphere, are being wrongly diagnosed as FMD? How many vets and MAFF officials will pronounce a positive confirmation "just to be on the safe side"?

11- There is evidence that proper protocols for "confirming" the presence of FMD are not being followed. There is evidence from at least one farm, that FMD is being "diagnosed" in a completely unscientific manner. For example, 200 Belgian Blue Cross cattle and 1350 Beulah speckled sheep were slaughtered on Wynn Gittens, Ucheldre Farm, near Welshpool, as the result of one unconfirmed visual diagnosis, of one cow, by one MAFF official not even by a vet. Not even a blood test was taken, which, as above, wouldn't necessarily prove anything anyway. How many supposed "confirmed new cases" are really accurate?

12- There is clear physical evidence that the proper protocols for slaughtering animals are not being followed, thereby leaving MAFF and vets open to possible prosecution.

The only entities out of control are our own ignorance of the facts and those official bodies conducting the mass slaughter. We must break the consensus for mass slaughter if we are to save our farming, rural and tourist industries, and we must promote the logical, scientific, humanitarian, moral and economic alternative, namely: The alternative to killing healthy animals is not to kill healthy animals, and the alternative to killing those animals alleged to have the illness is to help them recover.

Vets must understand that they are abusing their professional positions by being complicit with an economic agenda rather than a humanitarian animal health policy. They are also betraying their professional motivation which is, presumably, to heal sick animals. They must clearly understand that their reputations, and their businesses, are on the line. Conscientious vets need to speak out now against mass slaughter.

Authority is being abused. Farmers should collect video evidence with the intention of bringing prosecutions at a later date against the people who are destroying their animals, their livelihood and their life's work.

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