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INQUIRIES INTO THE FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE OUTBREAK AND THE FUTURE OF FARMING

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Three independent inquiries into the lessons to be learned from the foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001 and the...
Three independent inquiries into the lessons to be learned from the foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001 and the future of farming and the countryside have been announced by the government.

The independent inquiries which will report to the prime minister and the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, Margaret Beckett are:

* Inquiry into the lessons to be learned from the foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001 and the way the government should handle any future major animal disease outbreak, to be chaired by Iain Anderson

* Scientific review by the Royal Society of questions relating to the transmission, prevention and control of epidemic outbreaks of infectious disease in livestock, committee to be chaired by Brian Follett

* Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, as pledged by the government, to be chaired by Don Curry

The inquiry into the lessons to be learned from the foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001 will be headed by Dr Anderson working with the cabinet office civil contingencies secretariat.

Dr Anderson will offer recommendations to the prime minister, the secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs and the devolved administrations within six months of his starting a full programme of work.

While foot and mouth disease is still present, the number one priority for farming and rural communities and the country as a whole, must be to eradicate it. While Dr Anderson may undertake preliminary work as soon as he wishes, the inquiry will not formally begin until it is clear that it will not distract from the eradication of foot and mouth disease.

The Royal Society will lead a scientific review of the complex issues arising from serious animal disease outbreaks. It has agreed to provide its recommendations by summer 2002. The review will be carried out by a committee chaired by Brian Follett and include veterinary scientists, virologists and epidemiologists, together with representatives of farming and consumer groups.

The policy commission will advise on how to create a sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food sector within a thriving rural economy which advances environmental, health, and animal welfare goals. It will have a key role in informing the government's approach to policies affecting rural areas in future. It has been asked to report by the end of this year. The commission will cover England only.

The commission will decide its own working methods, working in an open and inclusive manner involving a wide range of stakeholders, supported by a Secretariat in the cabinet office.

Full details on the membership of the commission will be announced soon.

For more information on the terms of reference for the inquiries, click here.

To read the full text of the press notice, click here.

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