Amid an almost military-style operation to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in England the EU has banned all exports of live animals from most of the UK. The discovery was made on a farm in Surrey, south of London. It sparked an emergency plan in place since 2001 when a foot-and-mouth epidemic devastating the farming industry. The affected cattle have been culled and a 3-kilometre exclusion zone has been created around the farm. Movement of all pigs, sheep and cattle throughout the country has also been banned. A special team of officials and experts met urgently to deal with the outbreak.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown cut short a holiday in southern England to become directly invovled: “I can assure people, in farming communities and in the rural communities, in every part of the country, that we are doing everything in our power to look at the scientific evidence and to get to the bottom of what has happened and then to eradicate this disease,” he said.
The government was heavily criticised for responding too slowly to the 2001 crisis. The coming days will reveal whether it has done enough to prevent similar consequences this time.