Let's look at the implications of foot and mouth for Devon by examining the
picture as a whole, writes Lisa Robertson.

   Roger Eddy, President of the Royal College of Veterinary Science, has
stated the anti-bodied sheep should be left alone. This is a mild form of
the disease. Pirbright, the testing laboratory, agrees with him.
   We must question the information we are being given by the Ministry. We
are  being told anti-bodied sheep are diseased animals. I would take issue
with this. They have been infected, but are recovered.
   This suggests misinformation; they have had infection in the past but
they are not diseased. Facts! The anti-bodied sheep flocks from the Brecon
Beacons come to Torrington for rendering. Despite previous assurances,
no-one was asked.
   The Hefted flocks of Herdwicks on the hills in Cumbria will be tested in
the autumn. I do not have numbers for these so we have a situation where
these sheep, which Eddy thinks should be left alone, are being killed
through positive antibody.
   Antibodies protect the virus from spreading. Four thousand of these
animals have died so far. Another 1,500 are due for slaughter.
   More hundreds of thousands are facing the same fate. It is not usual to
murder en-masse animals that have recovered from a disease and now  carry an
immunity to it!
   These are the animals being brought to Devon. Not only does the science
not tie up, but the distress and misery caused to local inhabitants, the
fears over safety, drop in house prices, health risk, damage to rural
businesses and tourism is unquantifiable and we have just had restrictions
   Devon is still at risk and the effect on Wales affects us.
   The responsibility for millions of healthy animals dying, tourism on its
knees, rural businesses going under and immeasurable misery, lies not with
the disease but with obsessive political will. The political obsession is
the  menace and nothing else!

   The Heart of Devon campaign was formed to unite those caught in the FMD
crisis and form a bank of information and advice. Call the Heart of Devon
line on 01837 851571 or fax on 01837 851463.