Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service media officer Carson Creagh denied AQIS was succumbing to political pressure with its import ban and denied that the decision was not based on scientific motivation, a charge levelled by Quentin Wallace and John Messara , the CEOs of International Racehorse Transport and Arrowfield Stud.

"What could be political about it? It is not experimental science; we are applying a very strict precautionary principle, Creagh said. "There is nothing political, no politics involved, it is a matter of securing Australia's freedom from foot-and-mouth.

"If there is temporary inconvenience, so be it. The consequences of this disease are serious. We are not prepared to take chances. He defended the bans, after saying last week that horses posed no more threat than humans, particularly since they were in quarantine for a total of five weeks. He had also said it was unlikely FMD would survive a plane flight, and that horses were not directly the issue, but more their tack and gear.

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