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Bob Fox & sheep

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Nemesis 12 Apr 01 - 04:53 AM
GUEST 12 Apr 01 - 05:10 AM
Nemesis 14 Apr 01 - 01:19 PM
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Subject: Bob Fox & lambs!
From: Nemesis
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 04:53 AM

No! This isn't the rumour.....

Last night had a wonderful evening at the Willows Arundel, Sussex with Bob Fox playing and then ended up by some convuluted coincidence drinking beer to wee small hours at the house of "Mary" who "had a little lamb". (she's also buried in the churchyard near here) Mary that is, not the lamb.

What vaguely surreals have you had?

Cheers


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Subject: RE: Bob Fox & sheep
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 05:10 AM

Mary's Little Lambs

As foot and mouth disease raced across England and into Europe, shock waves spread well ahead and deep scars remained behind. The United Kingdom sagged under the weight of withering tourism, huge agricultural losses, and wholesale disruptions in the movement of people. Prime Minister Tony Blair called out the army and even postponed national elections. Air passengers arriving in Atlanta disinfected their shoes while cattlemen from Kentucky to Kansas wondered whether the plague would strike here too. So far we've lucked out, but foot and mouth nevertheless left its hoofprint on this side of the Atlantic. I suspect a lot of people were chilled at the thought of so many farm animals mooing and bleating their way to slaughter. How many of us blanched at the picture of a huge pile of dead sheep, rotting in twisted repose in a giant trench in northern England? Here were Mary's little lambs, fleece as soiled as dirty snow, killed by the thousands and dumped by the bulldozer full in an effort to stem the disease's relentless advance. No manner of genteel language could hide what was happening: state-mandated murder on a scale that could justify the word holocaust.

Cattle and sheep are bred, born, and raised to die--fodder for billions of hungry human mouths. With vegan diets yet to catch on big-time, a cow's fate is sealed one way or the other. So what was it that tugged at our hearts? Was it the faces of so many innocent animals, or the mind's-eye images of how they were killed, with a bullet to the head? Was it the fact that most of the cattle, sheep, and goats seemed healthy but were axed prophylactically to prevent even greater disaster? Or was it the thought that the disease was preventable? All it takes is vaccination, the same thing we do to ward off measles and mumps in our kids. Maybe it was the revelation that foot and mouth isn't fatal--most animals recover, their immune system triumphing in the end. Yes, the virus retards growth, but so what?

There is another face to foot and mouth disease. Emotion aside, in modern agriculture slow growth equals big losses--'so what' isn't an option. Lower production means more time to market, which translates into higher input costs. With vast herds and lots of livelihoods at stake, a few pounds here and there add up fast. The fact of the matter is, "it's an economic issue not an animal health issue," says pathologist Corrie Brown of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

Brown has worked on foot and mouth disease for years, including a stint at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's infectious disease containment facility on Plum Island, in Long Island Sound. Brown thinks foot and mouth justifies extreme action, and hard facts back her up. "It's more contagious than any other disease known to exist. It's more contagious than any human disease," she says. "As animals incubate the disease, they're wicked viral factories," exhaling millions of picornavirus particles per liter of air. To make matters worse, contagion travels easily on the wind; it once wafted 12 miles across the English Channel.

Although vaccination sounds like a humane preventative, even that solution isn't simple. The foot and mouth virus comes in seven different strains, or serotypes, which differ in distribution around the globe. The one going through Europe now is actually from Asia. That means seven different vaccines, each protecting against only one serotype. Even worse, bulk immunization with all seven at one time doesn't work well.

It all adds up to a royal pain in the neck, and a big drain on producers' pocketbooks. Veterinarians haven't seen foot and mouth here in 50 years, so Brown thinks the best strategy is education, vigilance, and an action plan of control measures ready to go at the first sign of disease.

Still, despite what my brain tells me about foot and mouth, my stomach feels queasy. Killing all those animals en masse just doesn't seem right. If thousands of dead sheep don't bother you, try following a truck carrying chickens to the slaughterhouse: animals crammed into filthy cages so short they can't stand up; feathers flying in the cold winter air. Are they just chickens, or are they birds that deserve better treatment even in the last hours of life? Maybe we need to rethink how we use animals for food. Are we a compassionate species, or are we not?


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Subject: RE: Bob Fox & sheep
From: Nemesis
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 01:19 PM

Yes, that would a surreal moment if it weren't so awful...

Anyone else?


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