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UK Foot and Mouth Epidemic of 2001: A Research Resource
The UK Policy of Stamping Out
The UK Government adopted stamping out measures to deal with the 2001 FMD outbreak. Campbell and Lee point out that if the policy of control by stamping out is to be effective, it is absolutely crucial that such an outbreak is immediately identified. This is to ensure that animal movements can be controlled, the source of disease isolated, and infected and at-risk animals disposed of “immediately.”
The UK stamping out policy entailed the execution of several severe measures, including restrictions in movement, partial denial of access to the countryside and closure of footpaths, which had some negative impact on the tourism sector. Perhaps the most unpopular way in which the Government sought to stamp out the disease during its peak was through the contiguous culling process, which resulted in the catastrophic loss of animals and unsavoury environmental consequences.Concerns remain over environmental implications of foot and mouth animals' disposal. Edie weekly summaries. (April 20, 2001).
The contiguous culling process arose alongside the introduction of the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR). Campbell and Lee in Carnage by Computer: The Blackboard Economics of the 2001 Foot and Mouth Epidemic remark that “COBR’s cross departmental powers allowed it to organise a cull on such a gigantic scale.”
of the contiguous cull
jury is out as to whether, at the time of the outbreak, the Government
had the powers to carry out the contiguous culling. For instance, Lord
Willoughby de Broke of the House of Lords stated that the contiguous culling
was “…not sanctioned by law and that the legal basis which
the Minister cites as justifying the contiguous cull does nothing of the
kind.” 25 Jun 2002: Col. 1275.
As the Government
embarked on the contiguous culling process, the Green Party issued a press
release stating that "There is no legal basis for enforcing a
contiguous cull against the wishes of the farmer concerned ".
and mouth disease culling is illegal says barrister – Green Party
Despite wide-scale criticism of the contiguous culling, many (including Prof. Anderson’s Lessons Learned inquiry) claimed that this culling method actually saved animal lives in the long run. The Chief Scientific Officer also informed the Select Committee of the House of Commons that it was the application of the policy that brought the situation under control. The Select Committee, after hearing of evidence on the policy, went on to state that “The contiguous cull was a response to a desperate situation, not a pre-meditated response to a known, assessed risk.” See: Key issues raised by our evidence in Impact of foot and mouth disease. (House of Commons papers. Session 2001/02; HC 323)
The contiguous cull may well have saved lives, as argued by Anderson, but it will continue to remain an emotive issue to those who have to live with the indelible memory of the social, economic and environmental consequences that ensued through the mass slaughter of animals.
For more reports on the merits and demerits of the contiguous culling, click on:
of FMD epidemics: past works & future priorities by Ferguson,
Donelly and Anderson
slaughter extends to the Brecon Beacons