06 May, 2009

Rabbit Virus Stories Don't Add Up.

Here's one (admittedly not too earth-shattering) revelation for conspiracy theorists.  The article is a discussion of rabbit calici virus, (aka RCV) and the person being interviewed lets slip just one little nugget of information that hints at a fib being told a few decades back.

Also - and this in not conspiracy theory but statement of fact - if you have an organisation where the officers have a title that takes a mental double-take to grasp, then that organisation is way too unwieldy any more.  The interviewee is a "Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation Natural Resource Management biosecurity unit research officer."  And no - I'm not kidding, although I wish I was.  This is similar to my experience of working in techie jobs:  Once the manager comes into the work area and urges you to save cable ties by cutting them off so they can be re-used, that career is royally stuffed.  Nothing you can do but head for Seek.com...

Anyhow - back to that article and the fib.  It's a simple few words at the end of one sentence.  Here you go:
"We know calicivirus is more genetically diverse in Europe whereas we only brought in one strain and let it go," he said. 
Did we now?  See, as far as I was aware, the official line on how RCV jumped from an island to the mainland has always been "oops - we don't know how the virus got released there!" - the then Department Of Studying How To Get Rid Of Rabbits was actually the CSIRO, and they never claimed to have been the ones who "let it go."

The article above states the official line on the release:
It was first introduced in Australia in 1995 when it was accidentally released from the Wardang Island Research Station in South Australia.
The bold emphasis above is mine.  So it's just a little bit of an inaccuracy - but at the very least it shows that the "Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation Natural Resource Management biosecurity unit research officer" has a wrong history they're working from, and at the worst, shows that an intentional lie was told in the 90's to cover a clandestine release of RCV onto the mainland.

Some more articles, all of which say it was not "let go" but escaped.  That was the official line at the time, remember:
http://www1.american.edu/TED/RABBIT.HTM
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15020341.600-farmers-clamour-for-killer-virus-to-be-let-loose.html
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14820000.300-killer-rabbit-virus-on-the-loose.html
http://www.science.org.au/nova/001/001key.htm

Note that RCV is similar to RHD, that RHD can destroy vegetation by contact with infected animals but RCV was chosen because it apparently did not affect plants, and yet that one of the claimed ways RCV "escaped" was via contact with infected vegetation.

Never mind now who's wrong.  Never mind that one very dodgy choice (introducing rabbits for sport and amusement) went horribly wrong and has ruined a lot of the country.  And never mind that this first dodgy choice has been replaced by a smaller, harder to control, and more difficult to predict organism.  Mind instead that stories don't add up, nor add up in the intervening time, that when there is an inconsistency like this, it means that at least one of these things must be untrue.

Worry about keeping the bastards honest.  Make sure the stories add up at the time, and that they don't change over time.  The government should be our tool for better changes, not an instrument to hold power over us by deceit or force.


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