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Foot and mouth disease and Sir Albert Howard

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Image: Linda Wettengel

That foot and mouth disease is back in Britain is tragic news for farmers. We don't pretend to have answers, but we think Sir Albert Howard may be on to something when he says that treating the disease the government way by slaughtering the animals is completely useless.

Howard deliberately brought his animals into direct contact with diseased cattle, pasturing them together or separating them by a low hedge over which they could rub noses. After 26 years of experiments at agricultural stations in India he wrote -

This experience convinced me that foot and mouth disease is a consequence of malnutrition pure and simple and that the remedies that have been devised in countries like Great Britain to deal with the trouble, namely, the slaughter of the affected animals, is both superficial and also inadmissible. Such attempts to control an outbreak should cease. Cases of foot and mouth disease should be used to tune up practice and to see to it that the animals are fed on the fresh produce of fertile soil. The trouble will then pass and not spread to the surrounding areas providing the animals there are also in good fettle.

Howard has been called the "father or organic gardening" Science Timeline - scroll down). In his Agricultural Testament he describes in detail how to create "land with good heart".

We think this kind of farming and its products are increasingly popular with the public, but it's time-consuming. It's also increasingly costly due to market distortions and population pressures on open land produced by the European Union.

Of course, there's an easy solution to the EU which can be summed up in two words, good bye.