Sunday, July 25, 2004

Keep Focused

The latest beneficiary in the 'beneficial crisis' created by MAFF / DEFRA's non-handling of bovine tb (see archive  on this site) is Prof. John Woolliams, who is co - ordinating research carried out by the Roslin Institute, Scottish Agricultural college and VLA (Veterinary Laboratories Agency). Commissioned by another quango, the Milk Development Council ( MDC) through data supplied by National Milk Records means that every dairy farmer in the UK is funding research into the 'Genetic Susceptibility of Dairy Cattle to Bovine tb'.

NMR describe this as ' vital research'. Well they would wouldn't they?
I'm just the cash cow, but if my grandmother has cross eyes, my grandfather had diabetes and my aunt suffers ingrowing toe nails and a heart 'problem', then sure as God made little green apples, these genetic traits will be passed down to me, (hopefully missing a lethal combination of all 4) and to my offspring.

Of course there is a genetic susceptibilty. There is to any disease. And yes, it may take a smaller dose to provoke that skin reaction.  But keep focused readers - this godamn bug, mycobacterium bovis, should NOT be spread like raspberry jam all over our grassland, for either 'genetically susceptible' cattle or any other cattle to come into contact with,  should it?

A few years ago, a co contributor was thought to be BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) but when herds who had vaccinated for several years had reactors,  that theory was abandoned. And at varying intervals the great and the good have offered many cure alls for bovine tb.  Most with little substance beyond 'hope'.

Farmers were advised to keep  'closed' herds', i.e one which is home bred with no bought in cattle.
But no, that doesn't work.  Members of the old Badger panel found that over half the breakdowns they were asked to investigate were in 'closed herds', and m.bovis didn't fly in from the man in the moon to infect home bred cows.

Then there was the 'organic' option, but badgers can't read and will trundle over organic grassland, disposing of  their lethal cargo just as easily as on conventional pasture.   (Parliamentary Answers - Badgers leave urine strips 3 feet long, indiscriminately trailed across what is quaintly referred to as 'badger forages' - cattle grassland - and carrying 300,000 units of m.bovis in just 1ml. So a single pee can leave 30ml, and that's a whole lot of bugs )

And dare I mention 'selenium'? The answer to all things for some, it will cure BSE, prevent FMD and certainly prevent bovine tb!
Except that it won't. But flag up the suggestion and sure enough, a cash strapped bovinetb parasite will pick it up, and do a 'trial' for his / her university.

A couple of enterprising farmer's wives think they may have tracked reactions to a skin test to 'hormone changes' within the animal concerned. Newly calved, newly dried off or newly weaned. Stress maybe plays a part too in flagging up exposure to m.bovis. It doesn't matter.

I repeat, stay focused. This bug should not be there. It has no business to be there, and any co contributer to a positive Reactive skin test in cattle, whether it's genetic, stress or hormone change would have no effect whatsoever if it was NOT there. 

But that would mean a lot of  'scientists' out of a job...................... 

As a post script, we  would say that the scientists who have done so much to further our understanding of bovinetb also deserve a mention.
Prof. Harris on optimum size of population groups, and much more on badgers and m.bovis.
Prof. Tim Roper who filmed badgers eating happily in cattle troughs sited much higher than DEFRA's biosecurity recommendations, and inside farm buildings as a mix of several 'groups'. Badger Mac Donalds?
Dr. Clifton-Hadley, who was involved with previous 'trials'. Thornbury in particular. And last but not least, Dr. King. Yup, the lovely Elaine has done sterling work on the risk to cattle from m.bovis suspended in - badger pee. And also the effect of our climate on its survival therein!

Taxpayers have funded all this.
Badgers, cattle and anything else in contact with m.bovis have gained - not a thing, except another 'trial' or another research project.


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