Britain accused of failing in its duty

European press comment
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The Independent Online

The Irish Times

The Irish Times

British agriculture amounts to about 1 per cent of GNP, compared with an estimated 10 per cent in this state. Its relative unimportance does not, however, excuse the ineffective approach that has been adopted towards disease prevention. Even now the British authorities still have not advised families against taking countryside holidays at Easter. The suspicion must eventually take root that the British Government's limited response ... has been influenced by its desire to hold a May general election. All of Europe's farm commerce could be effectively suspended. It is time for Britain to recognise its responsibilities to its neighbours. And if it refuses to do so, its neighbours have to express themselves in very blunt terms. (Republic of Ireland)

Frankfurter Allgemeine

Europe's consumers, who have become spoilt by abundance and cheap prices, are now wondering whether there is anything safe left to eat. The slaughter of whole herds and images of burning cadavers are reminiscent of the Middle Ages and seem curiously out of place in this age of "creature solidarity". It would be progress indeed if these symptoms were interpreted as what they are - the emergence of a latent crisis, which has deeper roots and goes back a long way. (Germany)

El Mundo

Fortunately, there has been little effect on the public health. In Great Britain, after detecting hundreds of thousands of mad cows over 15 years, the incidence of the human version of BSE has been limited to 0.64 cases per million inhabitants. In Spain we have not had a single confirmed case. Yet, the slapdash industrialisation of agriculture and the cattle farming in Great Britain will continue to alarm us: is that country the leper of Europe, as the Irish minister says? (Spain)

Lidove Noviny

Czech customs officers expect long queues at border crossings as every single tourist wishing to travel or return to the Czech Republic will be required to step out of their vehicle and walk across disinfected mats. The reports of the first case of the disease in mainland Europe have caused panic in the Czech Republic. In addition to banning all livestock imports, the veterinary authorities have ordered the disinfecting of all European Union visitors and the confiscation of all the food they carry. (Czech Republic)

Le Monde

The arrival of foot-and-mouth disease in France will give a fresh impetus to the debate on the need to go back to the practice of vaccinating animals, and on the extent to which slaughtering them is effective in preventing the spread of the virus. (France)

La Repubblica

What shouldn't have happened has happened. The virus has crossed the Channel and hit the Continent. In France certainly, on a cattle farm. In Italy, almost certainly among 392 sheep in Abruzzo. The strategy of containment adopted by the British and European governments has failed. The "flying cancer", as they called it in the 17th century, has begun its second wave. This is the real problem. The incubation period is 15 days. If all infected animals had been identified and slaughtered the epidemic should have started to decline given that the first cases were discovered on 20 February. Instead the opposite is happening. Animals are starting to fall ill after draconian quarantine measures have already been installed. (Antonio Polito, Italy)

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