As the foot and mouth crisis deepens and the British government considers vaccination to help contain the disease, the biggest Protestant organization in The Netherlands has declared that vaccination is at least an option.

The Uniting Protestant Churches in The Netherlands (Samen op Weg-kerken), has given tacit backing to the Dutch government decision to adopt vaccination. The European Union, of which The Netherlands is a member, reluctantly gave permission on March 26 for limited vaccinations here. They began the same day.

The Netherlands is one of a handful of European countries to be affected by the foot and mouth crisis. Both in the United Kingdom and in continental Europe, vaccination is a divisive issue. Foot and mouth has seven different strains with many sub-groups, and to be effective the correct vaccine is required for each strain. Also, countries which use vaccination lose their disease-free status on international markets. Volkskrant, a daily newspaper, pointed out that vaccination could in fact be a source of infection—of the 34 outbreaks of foot and mouth in Europe between 1977 and 1987, 13 were due to causes such as viruses escaping from laboratories making vaccines.

In 1991 for economic reasons the EU banned vaccinations against foot-and-mouth. This decision brought an extra 40 million guilders (US$16.1 million) in annual income to Dutch farmers through exports to the United States, Japan and Korea, according to Volkskrant. These countries buy only meat from non-vaccinated animals. Vaccination is estimated to cost 24 million guilders (US$9.7 million) a year.

When foot and mouth was confirmed in England early in February, The Netherlands imposed some of the strictest restrictions and animal slaughter policies ...

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