Slow Response to Foot-and-Mouth in Japan Creates Controversy

Slow Response to Foot-and-Mouth in Japan Creates Controversy

Spread of the disease now blamed on lack of action by local, national officials.

In what is being called the largest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease since the 2001 epidemic in the United Kingdom, the finger-pointing has begun. According to a report today by the Xinhua news service, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is still awaiting an official request from the Japanese government for advice and support, even though its experts have been ready to deploy for some time.

The disease reared it's ugly head in the world-renowned breeding region in Miyazaki Prefecture on the eastern coast of the island of Kyushu in southern Japan. That region is now on lockdown following what is being called a "ferociously infectious outbreak" of FMD.

According to Xinhua, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama admitted that local officials could have identified and prevented the epidemic far earlier had they not overlooked the highly contagious infection during an on-site inspection on a farm in Miyazaki Prefecture in March.

Miyazaki Prefecture is known for breeding stock solely to produce Wagyu beef, which is known globally for its tenderness and fatty, marbled texture. The disease outbreak is devastating to the region. Hatoyama has pledged more than $1 billion to help compensate local farmers, but the actual price of the outbreak may be far higher in long-term market losses.

Six prized stud bulls were evacuated from the region to ensure breeding could continue once the disease is eradicated. However, one of the six was euthanized over the weekend after testing positive for the disease, raising worries of greater losses ahead.

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