Farmers' relief as Scots meat production given go-ahead

UK - MEAT production will begin again in Scotland today - while England remains in a state of total foot-and-mouth lockdown.
calendar icon 8 August 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
A cow is lifted into a lorry after being slaughtered at a farm in Normandy, near Guildford, Surrey.

Richard Lochhead, the Scottish environment secretary, announced last night that farmers north of the Border could start sending their animals for slaughter, lifting the total ban on animal movement imposed after the virus was discovered in Surrey at the end of last week.

The news came as an official report into the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease suggested that human error or even the deliberate release of viral material, possibly in an act of sabotage, could have caused the outbreak.

An interim report by the Health and Safety Executive said there is a "strong probability" the strain originated from a laboratory, where a government facility and a private firm are both based, close to the first reported case.

Its findings were inconclusive, but also found there was a "real possibility" that the disease was spread by human movement.

Last night, Hilary Benn, the UK Environment Secretary, admitted the government had to look at the possibility the outbreak was the result of sabotage. Asked if deliberate human contamination was the cause, he said after the publication of the report: "The truth is, we don't know. We're all very, very anxious."

Mr Benn also announced that the possibility the strain had been released by human movement will be investigated further as "a matter of urgency", and said he had asked for another report as soon as possible.

And Professor Hugh Pennington, the microbiology expert, said sabotage, alongside human error, had to be on the table as a possible cause of the outbreak.

Source: Scotsman

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