More cold storage sought in BSE cull
try to disrupt BSE talks
Euro farm chief flees Irish
attacks UK for scrapping cattle cull deal
sufferer faces premature death with a sense of humour
EU fear of 'mad cow' summit
Numbers for cull
Guide to Europe's
Global Group bucks
beef crisis with £1.2m
Scottish National Party
BSE inquiry puts Hogg in
More cold storage sought in BSE cull
The Times: Britain: September 27 1996
BY VALERIE ELLIOTT
THE Government is urgently considered hiring freezer ships and more cold-storage warehouses to clear the 200,000-plus backlog in the battle against BSE.
Roger Freeman, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, admitted yesterday that the Government was failing to meet its targets for the cattle cull. Delays have been caused by the shortage of cold-storage space to house the unrendered cattle carcasses before incineration.
The Intervention Board has now drawn up a list of free refrigerated space throughout the country and is negotiating the possible lease of at least two refrigerated ships. Last night a Whitehall source sug gested that one ship might be docked in Belfast harbour and another at docks within easy reach of the South West of England.
Last night Mr Freeman declined to reveal the precise figure of the backlog, but it is "substantially higher" than the previous backlog of 180,000. Sir David Naish, NFU president, said the NFU had always been concerned that the Government was underestimating the backlog.
"The Government target for a UK throughput of 40,000 cattle a week by mid-October must be increased substantially and earlier by using every possible means of cold storage and direct incineration. Red tape and lengthy environmental assessments must not stand in the way of greater efficiency."
Protesting farmers try to disrupt
By David Brown, Agriculture Editor
Dailt Telegraph ... Wednesday 25 September 1996
Franz Fischler, the EU farm commissioner, was
rushed away by helicopter yesterday when 2,000 Irish farmers
brandishing cattle skulls stormed the
hotel where talks on emergency BSE aid were being held.
Even the promise of up to £800 million in extra help for Europe's
beef farmers failed to soothe the demonstrators, who were prevented by
police in riot gear from smashing their way into the hotel at Killarney,
The farmers demanded further compensation and vented their anger at what
is seen as Britain's mishandling of the crisis. "We
can't be expected to pay for British bungling," said Pat
Griffin, an Irish Farmers Association official.
Douglas Hogg, the Minister of Agriculture, who attended the meeting at
the end of the "informal" two-day gathering of EU farm ministers,
was unscathed in the disturbances.
Mr Fischler ruled out any moves to ease the EU ban on British beef exports
until London goes ahead with a cull of up to 147,000 cattle most at risk
of BSE, as agreed by EU leaders in Florence in June. "The only possibility
the commission has is to abide by the Florence agreement," he said.
"It is in the hands of the British government."
As ministers agreed a package of emergency measures, to be implemented
today, the Irish farmers rushed the building.
Chief Supt Fred Garvey, of Tralee police, said the farmers broke an agreement
to remain at the gates but that there had been no breach of security. The
gardai said later that Mr Fischler had left by helicopter "because
he was late for an appointment."
John Boilan, a farmer from Co Monaghan, said he had lost about £20,000
this year due to the beef crisis. "The problem in Ireland is worse
than anywhere else in Europe. We export more beef than anyone else. There
has to be a solution to deal with this, decisions have to be made. I think
everyone has been pussy-footing around too long."
The farm ministers pledged to spend more than £400 million of surplus
money from the EU's 1996 budget to make early beef premium payments to
farmers. These subsidies are usually paid in November, but the aim is to
pay them this year before Oct 15.
Euro farm chief flees Irish demo
The Times ... September 25 1996
Franz Fischler, European Agriculture Commissioner, had to leave
beef talks in Ireland by helicopter yesterday when Irish farmers blocked
roads around the hotel where EU ministers were meeting.
There was chaos when about 2,000 farmers broke through police barriers
and reached the doors of the Hotel Europe in Killarney, Co Kerry. Holding
cattle skulls, they lined up outside
before being peacefully dispersed by police.
Some 8,000 farmers in all joined the protest over the lack of compensation
for losses caused by the BSE crisis.
Fischler attacks UK for scrapping
cattle cull deal
By Caroline Southey in Killarney
Financial Times ... Tuesday September 24 1996
The British government was yesterday accused of blocking
European Union efforts to restore confidence in the beef market
by abandoning the terms of a deal struck
with its EU partners over BSE.
The attack by Mr Franz Fischler, European commissioner for agriculture,
came as farm ministers met in Killarney in the Irish Republic to thrash
out a package to rescue the beef sector from the effects of falling consumption
and prices. The ministers are expected to finalise the package today, including
the use of Ecu500m ($635m) funds from this year's farm budget.
Mr Fischler said BSE or mad cow disease
was the "biggest crisis the EU had ever had".
Britain's decision to ditch plans to cull 125,000 cattle was a "clear
break" with the agreement reached in Florence in June for
dealing with BSE, and every step away from the accord was "a step
away from restoring confidence".
The key to ending the impasse was "all in the hands of the British",
Mr Douglas Hogg, the British farm minister, said he hoped "there are
steps we can all agree on which allow us to move forward on lifting the
ban, for example, for certified herds".
Mr Jozias van Aartsen, the Dutch farm minister, stressed the ministers
wanted to do everything to avoid the BSE affair
dominating next week's summit of EU heads of government in Dublin.
The summit has been called by the Irish presidency in an effort to breath
new life into the intergovernmental conference on the future of the union.
The rescue package for the beef market is expected to include paying farmers
Ecu500m out of an expected surplus of Ecu1.2bn from this year's budget.
The money would normally have been returned to member states if unspent
by October 15.
Mr Fischler said that urgent agreement was also necessary on measures to
remove surplus beef from the market, including raising the ceiling for
buying surplus stocks from 400,000 to 720,000 tonnes.
sufferer faces premature death with a sense of humour
by Dominic Kennedy, Social Affairs Correspondent
The Times ... September 24 1996
Donald Spear and his wife Juliette who said that they are "just
getting on with the situation in hand"
Photograph: MICHAEL POWELL
When Donald Spear first invited The Times into his home to talk about living
with the human equivalent of "mad cow"
disease, he filled the room with wisecracks, laughter and adventure stories
about his life as a motorcycle courier. A year later, his wife Juliette
does most of the talking as she cheerfully describes his existence. He
cannot walk and has almost lost the power of speech.
Mr Spear, 33, did not think that he would live to learn the outcome of
the High Court battle on behalf of himself and 18 others who contracted
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from contaminated
human growth hormone. Sixteen of those prescribed the hormone as youngsters
so that they would reach normal height are already dead. In the summer,
a judge ruled that the Department of Health was to blame for cases after
July 1977, because by then there were warning signals that the treatment,
given to 1,900 children between 1959 and 1985, was risky.
Mr Spear grew to 5ft 5in instead of 4ft 8in. Whether his family receives
compensation will depend on when treatment was deemed to have started.
He began receiving injections in 1977 but was referred to specialists before
the key date. The case returns to the High Court at the end of the month
and a final hearing is expected next year.
Mr Spear's positive and mocking attitude towards premature death has astonished
experienced doctors. He asked a friend to tattoo his arm "Immortal
so far". If somebody solemnly wished him good luck, he would chuckle:
"I'll need it".
CJD robs a victim of his powers one
by one. A year ago Mr Spear would insist on making coffee for a visitor,
willing his hands to stop trembling. He continued walking, sometimes helped
by a stick, until he fell in the kitchen in February on his way to the
refrigerator to get an ice-cream. He broke his leg, spent eight weeks in
bed, and has been immobile since.
Nurses, doctors and therapists begin to arrive at the small flat in Hemel
Hempstead, Hertfordshire, that Mr Spear shared with his girlfriend for
five years before they married in 1995, knowing he had a terminal illness.
He is visited by Harash Narang, the scientist who believes he has found
a way to diagnose CJD before death,
although most experts believe it can be confirmed only by examining the
remains of the brain.
The specialists have suffered their share of good-natured teasing from
Mr Spear, who made jokes about being visited by so many women, but the
couple's gratitude for their physical and emotional support is immeasurable.
The front room is filled with his surgical bed, a hoist, a special armchair,
fans and the rest of the paraphernalia needed to fulfil his desire to stay
at home instead of retreating to hospital.
Mrs Spear, 36, who gave up her job in sales to care for her husband, says
that in her husband's case CJD has
involved a pattern of stabilisation followed by another deterioration.
"It is like levels," she says, her hand making downward steps
in the air. "If someone had said this to me a couple of years ago
I would have been horrified, but you just get on with the situation in
EU fear of 'mad
The Times ... September 24 1996
Brussels: European ministers yesterday brushed
off British hopes of the EU beef ban being lifted without a
full-scale slaughter programme, as fears grew on the Continent that John
Major could hijack next week's Dublin summit, turning it into another "mad
cow" disease showdown (Charles Bremner writes).
Douglas Hogg, the Agriculture Minister, met dismay
from EU colleagues in Ireland over what they see as Britain's
breach of its undertaking to start culling 147,000 cattle.
The Times ... September 23 1996
The owner of an abattoir in Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham, has removed
the number plate P6 BSE from his new £50,000 Mercedes after protests
from farmers. Michael Broad said that it was a family joke which had backfired.
FT guide to Europe's beef business
By Caroline Southey
Financial Times ... Monday September 23 1996
Has the European Union's beef market collapsed
as a result of the scare over mad cow
disease? Nearly, but not quite. What has collapsed is consumer confidence.
Shoppers are turning their noses up at all things beef, preferring to eat
pork, chicken, fish or lamb. In the last six months, average beef consumption
in the EU has fallen by 11 per cent.
In Germany it has fallen by 30 per cent.
The collapse in sales has driven prices down by between 13 per cent and
21 per cent compared with last year. A beef mountain of surplus stocks
is expected to reach nearly 1m tonnes this year.
Why? People are scared. Panic set in late last March when a junior minister
in the UK government announced in parliament that there was a possible
link between bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE), more commonly known as mad cow
disease, and a rare but fatal human brain disease, Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease
(CJD). There is no conclusive proof
the two are linked, but alarm bells sounded when British scientists identified
a new strain of CJD. As of June this
year, 11 people in Britain had died from it. The assumption is that BSE
was the most likely cause.
What has been done about it? A great deal. A worldwide ban has been slapped
on British beef and beef products; the British government has slaughtered
more than 500,000 cattle as part of its scheme to remove all cattle over
30 months of age from the food chain (older cattle are more at risk than
younger ones); mammalian protein, considered to be the cause of the problem,
was banned from all animal feed in March (it was banned from cattle feed
in 1988); and tough controls have been put on all slaughterhouses and processing
Isn't that enough? No. Britain's EU partners want it to kill about 125,000
cows considered to be most at risk from the disease. The British government
says it won't. Its main line of defence is that, according to most prognoses,
the disease will die out by 2001 anyway, and that to eliminate BSE overnight
it would have to slaughter half the country's dairy herds and 15 per cent
of its beef herds. Britain also says the ban on mammalian protein has led
to an 80 per cent drop in the number of BSE cases since the disease peaked
in the winter of 1992-1993.
Isn't the EU being a bit unreasonable? Perhaps. But the EU tends to take
a tough line when it comes to animal diseases. Germany, Spain and Italy
have had to slaughter millions of animals when evidence of diseases such
as foot and mouth has emerged. Its policy of mass slaughter is justified
on the grounds that the EU is a single market and animals, with their diseases,
can travel quickly across borders.
Are there any other useful precedents on the BSE front? Not many. Britain
has had more cases than any other country in Europe - 163,000 at the last
count. In Ireland and France entire herds are slaughtered when cases of
BSE are found. Switzerland has just announced it will kill 230,000 cattle,
or one in eight of its herd, to eradicate the disease within three years.
With 223 cases of BSE, Switzerland has had the second highest number after
How much of all this is driven by science and how much by politics? That
depends entirely which side of the fence you are on. For the British there
is more than a sneaking suspicion that the EU's demands are punitive. But
in continental Europe there is a widespread view that the British government
has chosen to use the BSE affair to placate the anti-European lobby in
the ruling Conservative party. EU countries are sore because their markets
are in a bit of a mess. The biggest problem facing both sides is the lack
of conclusive scientific evidence on the issue.
So is British beef safe to eat? That
depends on your definition of "safe". Britain's Ministry of Agriculture
says that "in any common usage of the word, beef is safe". Britain's
prime minister, John Major, has ostentatiously served beef to visiting
heads of state, including Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl. But large
numbers of people remain unimpressed. Even a ban on British
beef has not prevented consumers in continental Europe turning their backs
on the stuff.
Have any useful lessons been learnt? Yes. There seems to be general agreement
that making carnivores out of ruminants is a bad
idea. The official theory is that BSE was caused by cattle being
fed meat and bone meal made from sheep infected by the disease scrapie.
One possible outcome is that farmers will be encouraged to abandon intensive
farming techniques, where larger numbers of cattle are fed processed food,
and adopt much more traditional methods, in which cattle are raised primarily
Is there an end in sight to this sorry affair? Nobody knows. The way things
are going, the EU will have introduced its single currency at the start
of 1999 before British beef makes it back on to continental supermarket
Global Group bucks beef crisis with
By Emma-Lou Montgomery
Daily Telegraph ... Thursday 26 September 1996
Confidence in beef is coming back,
Ken Manley, chairman of Global Group, the food trading, port services and
mechanical handling concern, claimed yesterday.
Unveiling a 36pc rise in group turnover to £73m, which boosted profits
in the first half by 42pc to £1.2m pre-tax, Mr Manley said demand
for beef products at recently-acquired Mawbeef showed evidence of a return
to last year's levels. The news sent the shares up 2 to 20p, as Mr Manley
described how Global had bucked the trend and escaped from the downward
spiral of plunging beef sales and declining profits,
which resulted in a number of casualties.
In what he described as "a year dominated by the worst crisis ever
experienced in the meat industry," sales at the group soared, as confidence
in British beef disintegrated and consumers switched to imported beef and
"We are primarily meat importers so the ban on beef exports and collapse
in domestic demand did affect us. Demand for some beef-related products
fell to very low levels," Mr Manley said.
But, he added: "Demand for non-beef products rose as menu substitution
took place, boosting demand for pork, poultry and lamb to an unprecedented
degree, resulting in an excellent 34pc growth in sales, a result which
ran significantly contrary to the trend in the industry."
In line with the predicted upturn, the group is lifting the interim dividend,
payable to shareholders on November 29, to 0.21p from 0.2p last time.
Meanwhile, Brake Bros, the catering trade supplier, in which Mr Manley
is a non-executive director and major shareholder, also turned in a 7pc
rise in profits in the first-half to £12.4m pre-tax, on the back
of a 38pc rise in group turnover to £296m, sending the shares up
5 to 749p.
Looking forward, chairman William Brake said: "While the British catering
market is highly competitive, we continue to believe we can perform well
and a strong balance sheet will enable us to take advantage of growth opportunities
as they arise."
The interim dividend, payable to shareholders on December 31, is lifted
from 2.7p to 2.0p.
Scottish National Party Conference
By Auslan Cramb, Scotland Correspondent
Daily Telegraph ... Thursday 26 September 1996
The conference called for a cross-party approach to the European
Union in an effort to have the beef ban lifted
in Scotland. Dr Allan Macartney MEP said he had been told by
Franz Fischler, the EU Agriculture Commissioner, that Scottish herds, which
have a much lower incidence of BSE, could be treated separately from the
rest of Britain.
He appealed for a display of unity from the Scottish parties, and asked
Michael Forsyth, the Scottish Secretary, to accept an all-party delegation
as a logical way out of the current impasse. He claimed that many beef
farmers in the north of Scotland were "hanging on by their fingertips"
and losing 25 per cent on every animal
they sold. He said that about 6,000 animals would have to be culled in
Scotland to meet EU conditions.
He added: "The tragedy is that we have had six months of inaction
from the Government, and we must now take all possible steps to get Scottish
beef back into its vital export markets at the earliest possible opportunity."
Rob Gibson, the SNP's agriculture spokesman, said the problem for the Scottish
beef industry lay in London, not in Brussels. "The regional approach
is one that the SNP has been arguing for six months. Because of the low
incidence of BSE in Scotland, an eradication slaughter policy could be
completed in Scotland now, given the relatively small number of animals
involved. But what is very clear is that there is no way back into Europe
unless and until such a cull takes place."
BSE inquiry puts Hogg in dilemma
The Times ... September 26 1996
The European Parliament yesterday called Douglas Hogg, the Agriculture
Minister, before a Brussels inquiry to explain Britain's handling of the
The hearing is on October 8, the first day of the Tory conference, where
he is due to open a debate. If Mr Hogg decides to testify he will face
hostile questions from MEPs, most of
whom believe that Britain has grossly mishandled
the BSE affair.
The request is the first made to any minister of a national government
since the parliament was given powers under the Maastricht treaty to convene
committees of inquiry. An official of the parliamentary commission said:
"There is no legal power to force somebody to come. But it is then
a public affair that a British minister has refused to collaborate with
a committee of inquiry."
Mr Hogg may ask to appear before the inquiry on another date or offer to
send a junior minister in his place.