Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

FMD - Defra 'Not to Blame'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

FMD - Defra 'Not to Blame'

Article excerpt

DEFRA was not responsible for the release of foot-and-mouth disease from an animal health laboratory which led to last year's outbreak of the disease, officials said yesterday.

While the department was the regulator of the site at Pirbright - the source of the disease - Defra officials said responsibility for biosecurity lay with managers of the labs.

Livestock on eight farms in the Surrey area were infected with foot-and-mouth in August and September last year, probably due to live FMD virus being used to develop a vaccine at Pirbright leaking from faulty pipework.

Yesterday, MPs on the Innovation, Science, University and Skills sub-committee were told that Defra's role as regulator did not extend to managing risk.

Dr Nick Coulson, head of international animal health at Defra, said: "We accept that the regulatory system can be approved, we don't accept the regulatory system was responsible for the release from Pirbright."

He told the committee that biosecurity at Pirbright was the responsibility of the site's managers, and Defra was not to blame for the events that led to the outbreak. …

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