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Suggestions for a new way forward

 Added by  Sally
 25 Jul 2011, 1:19 PM

The new group, Rethink Bovine TB, has concluded the following in the second edition of its discussion paper, "Bovine TB, Time for a Rethink', (to download and comment visit www.rethinkbtb.org)
We are suffering under a policy that has demonstrably failed, at massive cost to farmers, to the taxpayer, and to animal welfare. At best it will take several more decades of cattle testing and slaughter to achieve ‘official TB free” status.
No sound reason exists for the ‘test and cull’ policy.
A better way must be found.
When, as is the case with Bovine TB, no overriding public or animal welfare interest exists farmers are best left to take responsibility for their own animals and business decisions.
Given the lack of real practical human health risk, we propose that option 3 above should be adopted.
Farms would be free to choose to vaccinate cattle and/or various degrees of compulsory vaccination could be introduced.
Milk would continue to be pasteurized.
Inspection at abattoirs would continue.
Farms would be free to continue routine testing and acquire herd TB free status or to choose vaccinated status, in response to market demand or farm preference.
Any animal showing actual symptoms of Bovine TB would be tested and either slaughtered, or in appropriate cases could be isolated and treated.
Farmers would have the freedom to choose (within guidelines) the most suitable means for Bovine TB control in their circumstances. This is how most animal health problems are successfully managed.
In addition to the savings to taxpayers, the saving to farmers in stress, anxiety and loss of production would be beyond calculation.
The Herald (www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/genes-identified-in-battle-against-bovine-tb.23419146?dm_i=1NFN,26VNB,906LDO,7XE39,1) has published an article 'Genes identified in battle against bovine TB'.
SCOTS scientists have identified genetic traits in cattle that could enable farmers to breed livestock with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis (TB).
Research, led by the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, compared the genetic code of TB-infected animals with that of disease-free cattle, and found a number of "genetic signatures" associated with TB resistance in the healthy ones.
The study builds on previous research, which showed some cattle might be more resistant to bovine TB as a result of their genetic make-up. Scientists at the centre say the latest finding sheds further light on whether it might be possible to improve TB control through selective breeding.
Professor Liz Glass, lead researcher for the study, said: "If we can choose animals with better genotypes for TB resistance, then we can apply this information in new breeding programmes alongside other control strategies.
"It is hoped that can help us to more effectively control TB in cattle."
See also: http://www.agweb.com/article/breeding_for_resistance_to_bovine_tuberculosis_NAA_University_News_Release/

Email 24/7/11 from disgruntled farmer, PPL, who has had problems with the testing procedures on his farm has said;
'A major part of the problem is the constraining EU rules governing exports and seeking bTB status for the country. We should seek disease free status for the farm with Pre movement testing allied to four yearly herd cycles. Most farms never export. Many beef farms are suckled and/or fully closed. Most dairy farms never will export or show or distribute stock other than to the food chain. The overall policy and governmental interpretation of the policy is using a shot gun when a snipers rifle is needed. My policy would be to subsidise wildlife exclusion costs rather than eradication, stop contigous and short period testing, stop unnecessary compulsory slaughter, stop compensation and put the onus on the breeder to preserve or recover bTB status- or to sell himself the reactors for meat. Keep the vets out if it.'

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