Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Don't Underestimate Tb Strategy..."

...CVO Debbie Reynolds told members of the BCVA (British Cattle Veterinary Association) when she addressed their Congress recently, in Torquay .

Reported on the front page of the Veterinary Times 14th. November, (sorry - no link) Dr. Reynolds reiterated current policies ( Policy? define policy ??????????) and promised new ones would be announced soon.

"I know that this (bTB) is the area of greatest frustration to everybody in the room - and I include myself in that - because we do have a particularly difficult animal health problem that our profession is facing at the moment".

We would of course point out that the disease itself is a minor part of the 'problem', described by the good doctor. The politics surrounding the eradication of it from the wildlife reservoir in which it is now endemic, is her problem and one thus far we see no indication that she is willing to grasp.

The speech continued at length with the usual scattering of spin and fog. 'Strategic frameworks' were mentioned, as were 'partnerships' and the need to 'maintain public and animal health' not least beacuse bTb is a 'zoonotic disease'.

Peering into the far distance, through her (rose tinted?) spectacles, Dr. Reynolds outlined government intention to regionalise cattle areas, and introduce pre movement testing. This she said, 'to keep clean areas clean'. The fact that even Rear Admiral Bradshaw has admitted that this will miss 60 percent of target animals seems to have escaped his CVO, but it sounds good. And more importantly, it appears that government are actually doing 'something'.

It has been tried before as we have reported, both in Ireland and Cornwall in the SW of England, with absolutely no effect. Unless the wildlife reservoir is tackled, pre movement testing of cattle is of minimal value as disease control.

Dr. Reynolds also highlighted a strong commitment to the introduction of a new system of cattle compulsory purchase compensations, based on table valuation of animals. That'll sort it then.

Regarding the issue of bTb and wildlife, Dr. Reynolds appeared enthusiastic about the publication of the 4 area trial in Ireland, describing it as 'the most significant development last year'. It probably was, but it also follows a long line of 'trials' from Thornbury onwards, all of which turned in the same result. Sort out the infected badgers and cattle tb - just disappears.
And it obviously slipped her mind that her department (Defra) has constantly and on the grounds of 'sound science', defended the £100 million of taxpayer's money spent on the UK's latest effort - the as yet unfinished Krebs trials.

She continued, 'Since then, (the published results of the Irish 4 county trial which saw an up to 96 percent drop in cattle reactors where infected badgers were taken out) we have been working on the cost benefit analysis of a variety of options which recognise the badger as a maintenance host of bTB. We need to get the balance right between cattle and badger management'.

It may seem churlish to point out after that gem of wisdom, that as we've seen when that 'balance' tilts away from that management of disease in badgers, there will not be too many cattle left. And that costs the taxpayer a lot of money. Far more, we would estimate than government gains in copious donations from so-called 'animal welfare ' charities..

Dr. Reynolds concluded by telling her audience that the package containing all these points was with Ministers at present and that she hoped to make a detailed announcement later.

We await the announcement with interest, if not baited breath.

No comments: