The greed and indifference to animal welfare of the transnational agribusiness corporations has been strikingly revealed in Great Britain. The epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease, says The Independent, "is officially out of control—all because Whitehall's [the British government] priority has been agribusiness profits."
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Maff) has been forcing their mass slaughter policy on farmers. Hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep have already been killed and often left to rot before Maff gets around to burning them up in the fields. Maff has refused to vaccinate against the disease. The Guardian clearly states, "…science has moved on a lot since Maff compiled its contingency plans. New vaccines are cheaper and more effective, and tests have been developed to distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals."
Prime Minister Tony Blair, according to The Independent, belatedly visited Cumbria "to show he was listening to the plight of the farmers. But, confronted with their fury, he was shaken…" The editorial further states that "Maff is only really concerned with protecting the profits of agribusiness. It was the same story with BSE [Mad Cow Disease] , when human health was sacrificed to the same goal."
The editorial continues: "…if Mr. Blair had visited the Swedish countryside during last week's Stockholm summit, he might have got a clue. A salmonella epidemic that killed 200 people there in 1953 prompted a reappraisal of intensifying agriculture. Since 1972, the country has aimed to have 'the cleanest agriculture in the world.' Pesticide use has been cut by 70 per cent, pollution by fertilisers by 30 per cent, organic farming has boomed, family farms have survived—and agriculture has prospered."
To quote Caroline Lucas, a British Member of the European Parliament, in The Independent: "The sheer absurdity of this 'food swap' is shown by the fact that Britain…imported 240,000 tonnes of pork and 125,000 tonnes of lamb, while at the same time exporting 195,000 tonnes and 102,000 tonnes of pork and lamb respectively….It is the race for ever greater international trade and competitiveness that should go up in smoke, not our animals and the future for our farmers, tourism and the countryside."