Germany 'on brink of disease abyss' : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Germany 'on brink of disease abyss'

by Allan Hall in Berlin Germany "stands on the brink of a catastrophe", according to a senior minister today after sheep containing foot-and-mouth antibodies were found on a farm near Düsseldorf.

The five sheep with the antibodies in their blood - not the full-blown disease - were slaughtered, along with 1,495 others that had shared the same stalls as 82 animals from England.

Bärbel Höhn, agriculture minister for North-Rhine Westphalia, warned Germany's farmers they were standing at the edge of an abyss. The minister said: "If this breaks out our farmers will be ruined. It is nothing less than a disaster."

The infected sheep at a farm in Neuss, near Düsseldorf, were slaughtered throughout yesterday, bringing the number of German animals culled to almost 2,000, while 3,000 pigs in the state of Lower Saxony remain under watch.

The German cattle industry has ben decimated since BSE was found in herds, with losses in the billions and thousands of jobs at risk. The Farmers' Association, Germany's main agriculture union, says legal action against the UK is likely in the wake of BSE. A union source said of the foot-and-mouth threat: "There is deep anger and resentment at what is perceived as the arrogance of Great Britain. First it exported BSE to us, and now foot-and-mouth.

"Someone has to pay and ruined farmers are determined it will not be them. Legal action is a strong probability."

All German livestock markets are suspended for a week as ministers work through lists of sheep and pigs imported from the UK. All of them will probably be destroyed. Meanwhile, at Berlin's Tegel airport, all passenger flights arriving from the UK are being processed at three gates where increased security is deployed to scrutinise and search arriving passengers.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 28, 2001

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