Animal Aid

FOOT AND MOUTH - Hard times

Posted 1 June 2001

A lambAndew Tyler, Director of Animal Aid, delivers a hard hitting summary of the cruelty, chaos and hypocrisy in the foot and mouth crisis.

Many of my animal rights friends are in a state of deep anguish over foot and mouth.

There's the vicious incompetence with which the cull has been carried out - the worst of which the public hasn't been allowed to witness. There's the phoney sense of purpose of a government whose every move is dictated by perceived political gain, while it pretends to be guided only by science.

Then there's the farming industry, which brought this catastrophe upon itself, but whose list of villains includes foreign meat, Brussels bureaucrats, supermarkets, bogus asylum seekers, Middle East terrorists and animal rights 'fanatics'. True to form, farmers have thought only and greedily of themselves. With every other breath they demand more taxpayers' money, while simultaneously spitting contempt for those who are forced to feather their nests – not least the despised 'townie'.

Tourism can go to hell. And so can the animals. Through a mostly docile media, they seek to con the public into believing that, day-in-day-out, theirs isn't a killing but a nurturing business. They want the world to know how heartbroken they are to see their animals being shot in the mud, with one Cumbrian farmer telling David Frost on his Sunday TV show: 'They didn't ask to come into the world and they didn't ask to be slaughtered'. They say if you're going to lie, lie big. Then again, the industry is clearly in a state of denial – of pathological dimensions.

There has been some good media coverage. Of the nationals, The Observer has looked to ask some hard questions. But too often newspapers and other media have been putty in farmers' hands. To the despair of many in our movement, a number have asked tauntingly: Where are the animal rights fanatics now that they're needed? Among the offenders are The Guardian and The New Statesman.

What the writers are really saying is: Why should we have to witness all this killing and animal suffering? We don't want to be reminded that animals die so that we can eat meat. Why don't the animal rights fanatics do something to stop the cruelty and stop me feeling guilty? To which we say, animal farming can never be a smiley cottage industry – and why don't you do something yourselves? Stop being complicit in a brutal, oppressive, polluting agribusiness. Go veggie.

As it happens, Animal Aid – in common with other animal rights groups and individuals – has been doing plenty. We've sent out a ceaseless flow of press statements and Letters to Editors around the country. We've staged demos in numerous towns and cities and have sought to take part in radio debates and TV programmes on the FMD theme. We have often been rebuffed because, we must assume, our straightforward message is unpalatable to important sections of the media.

The good news is that the general public has been forced to witness a small part of the suffering that is usually concealed behind the farm and slaughterhouse gates. People now see what they have been conditioned to accept as normal. A great many have pledged to switch to a humane diet. We celebrate that fact. And we're here to help and encourage.

Meanwhile, see our questions and answers section, in which we address all the key questions in this fast-evolving affair. Why not order and distribute more copies? Please also distribute our foot and mouth flyer and sticker. The message on both is simple:

The Problem – Foot and Mouth. The Solution – Go Veggie!

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