Ten weeks on, and a fickle media is redesigning its coverage of the foot and mouth crisis. Suddenly the farmers, prime objects of the media barons' sympathy when the dreadful disease first surfaced, are becoming the villains of the piece. And the supermarkets, already the target for their poison pens, face renewed venom as City-based commentators, who've never been nearer to the buttercups than the traffic lights at the bottom of the M1, wax lyrical with Beatrix Potter visions of rural England. "Monsters of transnational commerce" thundered one pompous columnist this week as the walls of NFU headquarters were again bombarded with calls for a return to an agriculture arena inhabited by rosy cheeked peasants in embroidered smocks. Those were the days, when they sold gills of milk and eggs adorned with traditional straw and farmyard muck to their rural neighbours. Trouble is, a glance at the agri-history books shows us the dream was never a reality. For, as the pleas gain momentum, it's appropriate to note that in the 1850s deaths from bovine TB contracted from milk numbered 2,000 per year, compared with none today. And agricultural historians can reel off a string of other statistics which suggest that safety and choice were not exactly at the top of the food agenda. True, an official inquiry into the production chain is promised once the current crisis ends. But our legislators must not allow emotional calls for a return to the so-called "golden age" to force them into a quick fix reconstruction programme for Britain's farming and the hapless Min of Ag, Fish and Food in particular. The dreamy Haywain visions must be put to one side. The changes need careful, skilled consideration, taking into account the realities of the agrifood scene. And given the patient unification work which has been undertaken recently, splitting responsibility for the food chain and culling the minister ­ as the rumours suggest ­ could be disastrous for grocery. Clive Beddall, Editor {{OPINION }}