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A warning sign hangs on the gate of a U.K. farm following its closure due to the outbreak of the highly-contagious cattle disease, foot and mouth. - 


Doug Krizner: In Britain, farmers are threatening to sue anyone found responsible for the current outbreak of foot and mouth disease. An official report has just identified an American vaccine manufacturer, Merial, as one possible source of the virus. From London, Stephen Beard reports.

Stephen Beard: The government report says that there's a strong possibility the outbreak was caused by a major lapse in bio security at an animal research center.

The center lies four miles away from the affected farms.

Merial, a subsidiary of Merck, has been researching foot and mouth vaccines at the center. It holds thousands of liters of the exact strain of the virus involved in the outbreak.

Merial insists it is not to blame, but Peter Kendal, head of the farmers union, says he will take to court any person or company found to be responsible.

Peter Kendal: My members are already very loudly saying; we've lost money, we've got animals, extra feed costs. And there will be many, many costs that are being incurred by farmers because of no fault of their own.

A ban on all British meat exports is costing more than $20 million a week. And with a hundred auction markets and 300 slaughterhouses shutdown, the whole livestock industry's losses are mounting.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.