Foot-And-Mouth Pyres Could Spread BSE And vCJD, Says Green Doctor

April 11, 2001 Reuters

This press release is transmitted on behalf of the Green Party

The Green Party today warned that pyres burning cattle and pigs could spread a new wave of BSE to farm animals, and of new variant Creutzfelt-Jacob disease to humans.

Dr Richard Lawson, a West Country GP and the Green Party's foot-and-mouth campaign coordinator, has discovered major flaws in a MAFF paper on the subject [1].

Dr Lawson, who has re-analysed data supplied to MAFF, explained: "The paper used data from incinerators and extrapolated to pyres.

This was wrong.

It also neglected to examine the risks to key groups such as nearby residents and people working on the pyres." He added: "Between one and 14 million lethal doses of prions (the agent that causes BSE and vCJD) could be released into the areas close to the pyres if MAFF continues with its kill-and-burn policy." The Green Party has published a comprehensive set of recommendations concerning the threat from pyres and the need to replace the kill-and-burn policy with vaccination, including: Immediate tests on samples of pyre smoke, soil and vegetation by independent scientists.

Simultaneous analysis for the presence of viable foot-and-mouth disease picorna virus in the smoke.

Cessation of burning because of risks from the carcinogens and prions in the smoke.

The alternative, burial, is also environmentally dangerous since it will contaminate the ground and surface waters with high BOD and disinfectant, but it is the lesser of the two evils.

Especially stringent precautions applied in those areas where there is high manganese level in the soil.

Due to the environmental effects of the disposal problem, the slaughter policy should be abandoned and vaccination used instead.

Note: [1]. "Assessment of Risk due to BSE infectivity from Burning Cattle", prepared on 28 February 2001 for MAFF by CNV Consulting.

UNS Contact: Further information, including technical briefing, from Dr Richard Lawson on 01934 835140, or Spencer Fitz-Gibbon at Green Party press office on 0161 225 4863,

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