Farm backlash over BSE plan; Colossal sheep cull `will never be needed'.Byline: ANDREW FORGRAVE
UP TO 25 million sheep, two-thirds of the UK flock,might be destroyed if BSE See Bombay Stock Exchange.
See Boston Stock Exchange (BSE). spreads from cattle.
Draft contingency plans published by rural ministry Defra this week revealed its nightmare scenario, prompting a backlash from farmers.
They claim the plans are based on a situation that will never happen.
Under Defra's emergency blueprint, the entire year's crop of lambs, some older sheep held for mutton mutton, flesh of mature sheep prepared as food (as opposed to the flesh of young sheep, which is known as lamb). Mutton is deep red with firm, white fat. In Middle Eastern countries it is a staple meat, but in the West, with the exception of Great Britain, Australia, and many breeding ewes would have to be culled.
It said there would be severe shortages of lamb until farmers could breed flocks resistant to BSE and similar diseases.
But angry sheep farmers believe the plans are alarmist a·larm·ist
A person who needlessly alarms or attempts to alarm others, as by inventing or spreading false or exaggerated rumors of impending danger or catastrophe. and could deter consumers from buying lamb.
BSE has never been found as occurring naturally in sheep -although some have been artificially infected in the laboratory.
Farmers Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan said: ``Consumers must be aware that BSE has never been shown to jump the species barrier into sheep.
``It's disappointing that government is discussing a situation which is totally hypothetical.''
However, scientists believe there is a possibility BSE has been masked by scrapie scrapie: see prion. , a similar disease which has never been known to have infected humans.
More than 63,000 dead sheep have been tested for BSE and scientists are trying to explain 78 unconfirmed test results that do not match known profiles of either BSE or scrapie. These checks could take years.
Wa tchdogs are in the process of drawing up lists of foods containing sheep meat as well as products containing wool,hair and leather. Compensation packages are being considered for farmers who would be forced to cull cull
the act of culling. Called also cast. livestock or keep livestock for which there was no market.
Even if small-scale culling was ordered, the effects on consumer confidence would be catastrophic on Britain's pounds 850m-a-year sheepindustry.
Wales countryside minister Carwyn Jones stressed the risk of sheep contracting BSE was ``very low''.
``However,it is better to err on the side of caution,''he said.
``I must make it clear there is no information to suggest an outbreak of BSE in sheep is likely,but any responsible government would be expected to have a contingency plan in place.''