Eco-terrorists may be behind the rash of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks across the globe, Britain’s farmers leader warned today.
NFU preside Ben Gill told Australian farmers that opponents to intensive forms of agriculture could not be ruled out as the source of disease outbreaks.
Australia should maintain its tough quarantine measures because of the threat of eco-terrorists, he said.
‘‘There’s no doubt foot-and-mouth spread to the UK illegally and, unfortunately, we cannot rule out eco-terrorism,’’ said Mr Gill, in Canberra for a farmers’ conference.
‘‘The last thing you would want to do is ease your quarantine rules in Australia. If you can find a way to further tighten them, then do it.’’
The head of the US Farm Bureau, Bob Stallman, confirmed last week his organisation had begun talks with the FBI into possible eco-terrorist activity.
Stallman said there were activists encouraging the introduction of foot-and-mouth into the United States to protest against intensive agriculture.
A rash of foot-and-mouth outbreaks have been recorded across the globe over the past three years, most linked to the Asian strain of the disease.
Mr Gill said Australia would have to contend with increasingly militant green splinter groups which would stop at nothing to undermine existing agricultural practices.
‘‘The pressures of the green groups are intense in Europe, and what I understand, building here in Australia,’’ he said.
Australia immediately increased its quarantine restrictions when the foot-and-mouth outbreak erupted in Britain in February.
Tougher inspections at ports and airports, and bans on meat, livestock and used agricultural equipment were introduced.
Mr Gill said he would campaign to have Australia’s quarantine laws put in place in Europe.
‘‘I have to say I wish we had your standards in Europe,’’ he said.