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The Independent Online
Sir: All who have been victims in various ways of the BSE epidemic are entitled to know the range of circumstances which lead to the outbreak and how it got out of control. MAFF officials have for years behaved patronisingly by implying that they already knew all the facts and the relevant background.

Charles Arthur's article ("Top scientist urges inquiry into BSE saga", 13 September) draws attention to the open letter published in the New Statesman calling for a judicial inquiry into the BSE sagas. A Maff spokesman responded to Professor Colin Blakemore's much-publicised support for the letter with the threadbare mantra that it had acted on the best scientific advice at the time and that an inquiry would elicit nothing but easy hindsight. Some signatories know of plenty of important evidence, where clear foresights, by a range of suitably qualified people, were ignored, or lost in bureaucratic turmoil. It could too easily happen again if the same systems persist.

All of this would be brought into context with other issues by a judicial inquiry. Its report would, relatively quickly, contribute to a much more resilient Food Standards Agency.


Lasswade, Midlothian