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Government Responds to FMD Review

04 February 2009

UK - The UK Government has accepted all 26 of the main recommendations made by Sir Iain Anderson on the response to the 2007 outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced today.

Mr Benn has published the Government’s response to Sir Iain’s review, which found that ‘in analysing how the 2007 outbreak was handled, with its innumerable, interwoven decisions and actions, we found much to applaud, along with some deficiencies. On balance, the positive easily outweighs the negative.”

Sir Iain’s 26 recommendations focussed on eight main lessons:

  • Maintain vigilance;
  • Be prepared;
  • React with speed and certainty;
  • Explain policies, plans and practices;
  • Respect local knowledge;
  • Risk assessment and cost benefit analysis;
  • Data and information management systems;
  • Base decisions on best available science.

Publishing the Government’s response to Sir Iain’s review, Mr Benn said:

“I am grateful to Sir Iain for his review and for his recognition of how Government and the livestock industry tackled the outbreak together. However, even though most aspects were handled well, I acknowledge that there are always lessons to learn and ways we can do better.

“Our response to Sir Iain’s review contains a range of actions, commitments and decisions, some of which have already been implemented and some of which are still in progress.

“Since 2007, we have dealt with other exotic diseases, and have applied what we have learned through dealing with Foot and Mouth Disease. As a result we are now better prepared. I am committed to continuing to work with the industry to ensure that we are as prepared as possible for future events.”

The UK National Farmers Union President Peter Kendall said: "The response by Government to Sir Iain Anderson's recommendations are positive in the main, but we need to make sure that the fine words in the response turn in to real action to ensure that we genuinely learn the lessons from the 2007 experience."

Despite acceptance of the recommendations, the NFU remains concerned about the Government's long term commitment to Research and Development, in particular at the Institute of Animal Health (IAH), and also their commitment to funding improvements to livestock database systems.

In addition to accepting the recommendations in the main body of the report, the Government’s response comments on Sir Iain’s personal recommendation to reposition the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), based at Pirbright, as a new national Institute of Infectious Diseases. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) says it will continue to fund the Institute for Animal Health so that it can provide world class research facilities that strengthen both livestock industries and our food security. DIUS expects the BBSRC to submit a business case soon for the redevelopment of the Pirbright site.

View the Government’s full response to Sir Iain’s review by clicking here.

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