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FOOT AND MOUTH - Animal Aid marches on NFU headquarters to demand apology for the foot and mouth catastrophe
Posted 8 May 2001
Why farmers must apologise:
From the very beginning of the foot and mouth (FMD) outbreak, many farmers been looking to cast the blame for the crisis on anyone but the animal 'production' industry itself, while making increasingly extreme demands for financial compensation, courtesy of the British and European taxpayer.
Whatever the specific causes of the 2001 FMD epidemic, it has been fuelled by modern systems of animal production, transportation, bartering and slaughter. That infectious disease flourishes within this environment is no accident. Salmonella, E coli, bovine TB, campylobacter, BSE, swine fever, foot and mouth... these recent outbreaks signal that industrialised farming is in a state of permanent crisis.
The first victims of these oppressive systems are the hundreds of millions of animals raised for slaughter every year in the UK. But the wider environment and the cultural and business life of Britain also pay a continuing heavy price.
Instead of shouldering responsibility for the ills it has caused, a number of farmers have sought to heap blame for FMD on such diverse targets as supermarkets, Brussels bureaucrats, Middle East terrorists, the Blair government, ramblers, foreign meat imports, 'bogus' asylum seekers and animal rights 'fanatics'.
Because the responsibility lies with many of the animal farmers themselves, Animal Aid, the UK's largest animal rights organisation, is today (Tuesday May 8, at 12 noon) marching to the National Farmers' Union headquarters (164 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2) to demand that the NFU makes a public apology on their behalf.
The NFU must apologise for:
- the suffering imposed upon the animal victims of the FMD cull
- the environmental damage and pollution linked to the use of thousands of litres of disinfectant and the burning and burying of huge numbers of animals
- the curtailment of people's freedom to enjoy the countryside
- the fortune paid out by taxpayers in compensation
- the heavy price paid by the tourist industry
- the tarnishing of Britain's standing and reputation in the world
At the NFU headquarters, the Animal Aid protesters - dressed in farmers' garb - will be displaying wads of cash representing the hand-outs farmers have received from taxpayers. And they will be carrying a banner and placards bearing the messages set out below.
A letter demanding an apology will be presented to the NFU, together with a copy of Animal Aid's 8-page Question & Answer guide to Foot and Mouth disease. This covers issues such as the compensation and subsidies paid to farmers; evidence relating to allegations of subsidy scams and illegal animal movements during the present crisis; background to the vaccination question; and Animal Aid's views on the FMD slaughter policy and how it has been carried out.
Following the NFU demo, Animal Aid's new shock video, Choose Life - Go Veggie, will be taken to the streets in central London so that the public - distressed by scenes of animals being ruthlessly killed and trashed under the FMD emergency measures - can see examples of the everyday animal suffering and chaos that are usually concealed behind the closed doors of farms and slaughterhouses. The film's soundtrack is by global music star, Moby. (Contact 01732 364 546 for details of where the film will be shown.)
Farmers have been seen weeping in public for the animal victims of the cull. But, says Animal Aid, the tears are not for the killed animals - farming is a killing business day-in-day-out. The farmers' tears are for the damage and disruption caused to their own businesses, notwithstanding the hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation they are receiving from British taxpayers.
Animal Aid's message is that foot and mouth is a logical consequence of a system of industrial farming that is massively cruel, oppressive and environmentally polluting. Producing meat for 60 million Britons can never be a smiley cottage industry.
In having the opportunity to witness the kind of brutal and incompetent treatment of farmed animals that is usually concealed from them, the public now see what they have been conditioned to accept as normal. They see what they are party to.
A great many people have, as a consequence, pledged to change to a humane diet. We celebrate that fact. To everybody else we say: please reject eating the dead bodies and secretions of animals and adopt a plant-based diet. It is the only civilised and sustainable way forward. That's the message Animal Aid - and thousands of other animal rights campaigners - have been carrying to the public by way of letters to newspapers, media statements, high street and supermarket leafleting, displays in libraries, community centres and health food shops around the country. The public is responding like never before.
The public is invited to call Animal Aid's Veggie Hotline for a colourful free recipe and information pack.
Veggie Hotline number: 01732 354 032. Or see our website.
Messages being carried to the NFU during the May 8, noon demo.
(Main banner message)
We've seen the light.
For the animal suffering
For sponging off taxpayers
For decimating tourism
For polluting the environment
For closing down the countryside
For blaming everyone else instead of taking responsibility
For pretending that killing animals isn't our living
Notes to Editors
- For more information contact Yvonne Taylor or Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
- We have an ISDN line for Broadcast-quality interviews.