Sunday, October 03, 2004

New tb Strategy - Defra's Missing Link

The editors of this site are most grateful to our man in NZ for the following link:

John has described to us the 'New strategy' that NZ is following with regard to attaining OIE tb free status, and this web link povides their aims, and how they plan to go about it.

The majority of proposals are mirrored in the GB 'New strategy' document, so rather than clocking up 'airmiles' going to have a look, perhaps Defra top brass could have saved a bit of taxpayers' money and downloaded the NZ version. When we say 'majority' of proposals, we mean the bits of strategy applicable to cattle of course. And on some of these we are ahead of NZ, for example cattle identification and tracing. But a glaring ommission from the GB 'strategy' is what the Kiwi's refer to as 'Vector control', and what Defra barely mention. Defra's missing link.

The title page states:
'Our mission to eradicate Tb from New Zealand.'
Good - they have an aim.
At the GB Tb strategy meetings in the spring, farmers and vets said much the same, but we have a minister who is alleged to have told a leading cattle vet that "he didn't intend to be in the hot seat when that decision had to made".

NZ has a target time scale ranging from 2 - 5 years in which it aims to bring the bulk of the country into the designated OIE tb free trading status - 0.2% of cattle tested.
This is acheived by intradermal skin testing, with blood tests as back up.
(see Gamma Interferon on this site - NZ has no m.avium (avian tb) and no skin tb so the gamma interferon test is much more specific to m.bovis)
In answers to PQ's (archived) our Ben SAID that he would like tb free trading staus, and that he saw no advantage in NOT having it, but that under present 'strategies' we would not achieve it. Our level in GB is 4.33 percent of the herds registered on VetNet, higher if BCMS registered holdings are used. Under current strategies which are specific to cattle, while ignoring wildlife vectors, Ben forecast a 20 percent annual increase in cattle slaughterings. That was an underestimate, he actually achieved 25 percent 2000 - 2004.

The words 'Vector Control' appear in every section of the NZ document.
It's technology, monitoring and a list of its targets. Possums are the main wildlife reservoir, but from them the spill is into wild and farmed deer, which although not particularly infectious in themselves could provide carcass transmission to other species if tb is allowed to flourish. Wild and free range pigs are other species particularly at risk, as are feral ferrets. In NZ, all are subject to 'vector control' measures, including a a new rule 'prohibiting the release into the wild' of any of these species.
Ben's answers to PQ's on our 'wildlife vectors', concerning release and translocation is that he has no idea where wildlife 'sanctuaries' are, they are unlicensed (and will remain so?) and there are no restrictions on the translocation of wildlife from them, or from anywhere else.
Some badgers are translocated under a 'code of practise, neither drawn up nor approved by Defra', he said.
(see Translocation, Translocation archived on this site)

And that's it. Half a story isn't it?

Ben said that he could see 'no trading advantages' in our (disgraceful) level of bTb. Well the Russians have - and they're the first to use them against us. (see From Russia with Love).

This 'non-strategy' is walking the UK livestock industry blindfolded into oblivion.

1 comment:

Ruth Burrow said...

Richard & I toured New Zealand during September 2001, for a month, and made sure we spoke to dairy farmers, to see 'how the other - half' are faring . ( I have relatives there, who are dairy farmers). You just could not miss, when travelling through an area, when action was in place to eradicate possums in that specific TB problem area. Dead possums lay everywhere, on the roads, giving a TRUE perspective of just how many there were.( How many badgers are there in the UK, do we know the answer? Perhaps DEFRA could enlighten us) Areas in which the poison was dropped, are illustrated by ribbons attached to trees alongside the roads. Before we landed in NZ, you knew, from the declaration forms you had to sign, that they protected their agriculture. We had to go through a seperate 'investigation' channel, ( their equivalent of DEFRA) on arrival at Auckland, having declared ourselves as farmers on the pre-entry forms on the aeroplane.
If only our own Ministry and its decision makers would take a leaf of of NZ's book on TB strategy re wildife, then everyone, including badgers, would benefit.
I, for one, have no wish to exterminate every badger in the UK. They are an accepted part of our wilflife, but the point has been reached, when the status of our export opportunities, be it beef or dairy, is now being threatened.