MP’s foot and mouth challenge

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MP Sir Alan Beith has challenged the Government to review policies on foot and mouth disease (FMD) following the publication of new research.

At least six million animals were slaughtered across the UK in 2001 to try to halt the spread of the disease and Sir Alan’s Berwick constituency, which reaches to the north of Morpeth, suffered greatly.

Now a research team from the Institute for Animal Health has identified a test for the disease, which can be carried out before an animal becomes infected.

Sir Alan has asked whether the Government will review its policy of the pre-emptive culling of cattle during FMD outbreaks.

He was told that the findings of the research will be assessed and that quick reporting of suspected cases by farmers and vets, selective culling and vaccination remain the best ways of stopping the disease.

Sir Alan said: “People in rural Northumberland will remember the terrible effect the mass culls had on our farmers and I welcome any progress that can be made to ensure we never have to go through a mass cull again.”