Green party

Statement in Foot and Mouth Debate

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By Caroline Lucas MEP

Today at 12 noon in London there was a strong protest outside the HQ of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food against the senseless culling of millions of healthy animals.

And many people around the country, including some local authorities, observed a one-minute silence at 12 noon today, in solidarity with the London protest.

And their message to the UK Government is clear: To help prevent the slaughter of millions of healthy animals, and to save farmers and the tourist industry from economic ruin, the Government must urgently start a 'Vaccinate Now' firebreak campaign.

And in the longer term, the government must take heed of the demand from Germany's new Green agricultural minister Renate Kunast that there be complete reform of Europe's farming so that it is less dependent on international trade, and more self-reliant. It is a nonsense that we simultaneously export and import precisely the same product to and from the same country.

It is clear that it is not small farmers' livelihoods, animal welfare or the tourist industry that the UK Government has as its priority for protection, but simply our meat exports.

Yet even this dismal economic justification for culling on such a scale does not stand up. According to the National Farmers' Union, the UK earns just £633 million per year from meat and dairy exports. Compare this with the estimate of the cost of the Foot and Mouth epidemic of £9 billion, mostly losses in tourism, but also to farming. In effect that means that it will take more than 14 years of exports to match the cost of the mayhem and damage done in a few weeks of the present 'cull to eradicate' approach to Foot and Mouth.

We are therefore urging the Commission to revise the EU strategy on defending by all means the FMD-free status and to recognise that the culling and destruction of healthy animals is proving both inhumane and ineffective.

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