Letter: Beef crisis: a despicable political ploy

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Government's policy in the beef crisis seems to have been misconceived from the start. Have we forgotten that only two months ago we were told that tens of thousands of people were at risk of an incurable, fatal disease through consuming beef products previously declared "safe" and that it would take about a year before we would have any reliable indication of the extent of that risk?

Should the worst case materialise, who could doubt that British beef would be shunned until the disease was eradicated? Should the outlook prove optimistic, pressures to ban it would disappear. The proper policy, therefore, is to accept a temporary ban, monitor the medical evidence, take sensible steps to accelerate the reduction of BSE without massive destruction of herds, provide help to tide the industry over this period, cease forcing beef down the throats of every visiting dignitary and stop railing against Europe (which is doing no less than Britain would do in the same circumstances) in the search for a quick fix to a misfortune we brought on ourselves.

JOHN EEKELAAR

Pembroke College

Oxford

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