Friday, May 05, 2006

Hold the Front Page

The headline and front page of this weeks' Veterinary Times highlights the submission by Paul Caruana who was part of Defra's Wildlife Unit, and who entered a personal submission to the EFRA commmittee, describing the Krebs' RBCT as "having too many flaws to be taken seriously".

In our posts below, we forecast the demise of this highly competent unit. Mr. Caruana's statement is also listed.

"Defra Employee Blasts ISG over Culling trials."
A submission to the EFRA committee by a Defra employee has slammed the Independent Scientific Group's (ISG) badger culling trials.

Veterinarians and bovine tb experts, Dr. John Gallagher and John Daykin called the information contained in Paul Caruana's submission "dynamite".

Dr. Gallagher told the Veterinary Times "This submission shows how the ISG badly mismanaged this trial and refused to listen to those with practical knowledge who could have done the job properly, if allowed".

Defra's badger culling consultation has attracted more than 41,000 responses: the biggest interest to date in a public consultation. most of the responses are thought to have been promoted by public campaigns orchestrated by the RSPCA and the Badger Trust.

Dr. Gallagher said that these groups had used (the first year results ) the ISG's badger culling trial to back up their arguments. "Assertions based on the findings of the recently completed culling trials have been used as 'hard factual evidence' by welfare groups who've been saying that culling (badgers) does not resolve the TB problem in cattle"

Paul Caruana, field manager at the Defra wildlife unit, Polwhele, Cornwall was unapologetic when offering his submission to the EFRA committee. ........ He outlined that the Krebs trial had too many anomalies and weaknesses in its strategy for it to be successful. "It took us four years to steer away from trapping setts that had been interfered with by animal rights activists, to being able to trap badgers anywhere in order to eliminate them. That was only one of a raft of operational problems we faced and had to endure".

Mr. Caruana said he did not believe scientists had all the answers, and added "most certainly, Krebs doesn't". According to him, the trial had far too many flaws to be trusted to produce meaningful evidence. ......... The whole basis of the trial was to remove badgers off the ground and this, said Mr. Carauna was "farcical " due to restrictions that were placed on staff.

Professor John Bourne, chairman of the ISG has repeatedly stated that the trials represent 'robust science', but Mr. Caruana disagreed with this assessment of events. His condemnation of the trial is unequivocal. "How much weight do we give the latest ISG report detailing 'robust' findings to the minister? If it were down to my staff and myself - very little".

John Daykin who is based in East sussex, said "The evidence in Paul's statement is a shocking indictment of the implementation of badger culling in the experimental triplets. It provides clear evidence that the ISG refused to change course despite repeated entreaties from from operatives carrying out the work at the sharp end. It is vital, that such significant information is looked at in depth by Parliament, before any pronouncements are made on the badger culling consultation."

Dr. Gallagher said that all other badger culling trials conducted in Britian and Ireland had been carried out to a proper standard. He concluded "It is only the ISG's trials that have produced these totally spurious findings, and it is these that the RSPCA and Badger Trust have used".

This front page article also carries a comment:

Where are we now?
"New evidence questioning the efficiency of the ISG's culling trials .... brings many questions to the surface about the ongoing bTb debate.
Do the criticisms that have been levelled at the trials mean that the ISG has in effect, misled ministers and therefore Parliament?
And does this new evidence mean that that the results of the RBCTs are totally discredited?



Anonymous said...

This is opinion, not evidence

Matthew said...

When someone actually trapping badgers, tells EFRA that actually they didn't catch many at all, in fact it took them 4 years to do anything substansive, then any so called 'science' built on such a flimsy foundation but which is couched as 'robust badger removal' is open to question.
Paul Caruana was there as a representative of Defra. It is his experience of the 8 year trial which formed the basis of his submission. That was not his opinion, it was direct observation.

Anonymous said...

You state that: "most of the responses are thought to have been promoted by public campaigns orchestrated by the RSPCA and the Badger Trust."

The NFU also 'orchestrated responses'- I have a copy of one of their e-mails urging participation in the consultation.

Anonymous said...

Farmer at heart of badger battle says Hands off Brock (27 Apr)
A farmer whose cattle were the first in Britain to be linked to the theory that bovine tuberculosis comes from badgers has rubbished the connection – and declared his land a "no-kill zone".

A government announcement – and a green light for the biggest cull of Britain's half-million badgers – is expected shortly, but Gloucestershire farmer Len Ballinger is vowing to keep the killers off his land.

"I'm standing up for Brock - they've been before and wiped out every badger, yet the disease has continued. Brock's a soft target and he's clearly no more than a bystander in this growing problem of bovine TB."

Len grazed beef cattle on land adjoining Alderley Farm near Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire when, back in 1971, Ministry of Agriculture vets investigating positive TB readings in his cattle discovered a dead badger. Subsequent tests detected TB and spawned the theory that cattle might catch the disease from badgers.

But 35 years later and with £43m spent on an extensive badger-culling trail, no scientific evidence has successfully proved the link. Indeed, the government's own scientists have now indicated that the way to address the disease is to reapply the strict TB testing and movement controls in cattle which were disrupted by the recent BSE and foot and mouth epidemics. Nevertheless, to assuage hardline anti-badger factions in the National Farmers Union and the Countryside Alliance, which represents anti-badger, shooting interests, the cull is likely to be sanctioned.

Len is adamant that badgers are being scapegoated: "My own suspicion even in 1971 was that intensification was to blame. My cattle grazed on land next to a highly intensive dairy unit, where the cows were kept indoors permanently and the slurry was pumped out onto surrounding fields. I was convinced my own cattle had caught the TB via that route - and in all likelihood, so had the badger - they love rooting through cattle manure for beetles and worms."

Mr Ballinger joins a growing list of farmers refusing to participate in the cull. In Devon, dairy farmers David and Patsy Mallet, who have a herd of 80 milkers on 200 acres of Dartmoor, say the move will wreak untold damage on consumer relations: "This isn’t a case of sentimentality over fluffy badgers," says David, "Something is deeply wrong with our agriculture if we are resorting to wiping out whole species. If farmers allow this, there will be a massive public backlash – basically, consumers will think ‘stuff you’!"

Badger expert Martin Hancox, who sat on the government's Badgers and Bovine TB panel, says any cull would be pointless: "Tuberculosis in cattle is caught from other cattle," he says, pointing to the fact that the disease is now appearing in areas of the UK, such as Cumbria, which had been TB-free for 10 years – and sometimes even longer. "The badgers were there all the time, so are they supposed to have sat around for a decade and then one day decided to infect cows?" he says.

"Since the chaos inflicted on the industry by BSE and then Foot and Mouth, TB controls and movement restrictions on cattle, which controlled the disease so well in the past - with no killing of badgers - have become a farce. Badgers don’t travel up the M5, but cattle do."

The answer is staring everybody in the face, but the fixation with badgers is blinding them to it."

Matthew said...

Anonymous @ 4.49
The quote to which you refer was not 'ours' but from the Veterinary Times article.

Anonymous @ 5.34 (and on other comment threads)
Matt 5 is answering you tonight.
We told the Krebs team to go and play somewhere else at the start of this 'trial'. But even though we had no bought in cattle, sick badgers infected the herd, so we would have welcomed them as we were in allegedly in a 'Reactive ' zone. I say 'allegedly' because they did not arrive for nearly 3 years. Some farms never saw them at all. You won't find that in John Bourne's reports, but such was the reality of this 'trial' - in our humble experience.

Matt 1. in West Cornwall in under restriction again. No bought in cattle since 1999, and on either annual or 6 monthly testing. It got him in the end, and the culprit was found dessicated and very dead in a barn last autumn. Four suckler cows are dead now.

This site has constantly refuted the 'wipe out badgers' mantra. It is not acceptable, not necessary and will not happen. There is absolutely no need for it - at all. How many times do we need to say it?

PCR trialled in Glos identified about 30% - 40% of latrines and/or setts (from memory) which had bTb in them. Meaning that nearly 70% of the social groups could be left completely alone, taking out only those positively identified with bTb.. That has to be the way forward, but don't expect any quasi-scientist working within the magic circle of the RBCT etc. to back it. As we said, do turkeys vote for Christmas?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps PCR may sometime be developed into a useful tool but one of the lead researchers on the project Dr Orin Courtenay from the University of Warwick's department of Biological Sciences said:

"We do not advocate culling badgers to control bovine TB, particularly in light of the scientific results emerging from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. However if the government takes the decision to continue to cull badgers, then we would prefer that culling is targeted at diseased and infectious animals- indeed cattle, badgers or other wildlife hosts-, rather than see a policy of untargeted culling which by nature includes removal of healthy and uninfected animals. With some further scientific evaluation, a "sett test" based on state-of-the-art molecular technology could provide a tool towards achieving this aim."

Note that they "do not advocate culling badgers"

Cattle based easures may not provide 100% solution, but it sure looks like worth trying. Isn't it logical to try methods that look likely to produce the biggest result first, and then go on to others (eg killing wildlife)if necessary. too many things done at once wouldmake it impossible to tell which was doing what.

Regarding 'closed herds', I don't think there are any in west Cornwall (where I live). A closed herd means no cattle to cattle contact, as well as no 'bought-in' animals. Holdings in west Cornwall are very fragmented - unless you know different. Where in west Cornwall are there cattle that are kept isolated on a contiguous farm double ring fenced or otherwise isolated?

Matthew said...

We covered Warwick's press release in a previous post, and like many others, they are taking the 1st. year of RBCT results at face value without examining exactly how and on what basis they were achieved.

I'm very encouraged by their comments on PCR's ability to 'target'. I feel we should ALL be pushing for the use of a targetted cull of anything harbouring bTb, using PCR. Good grief America offered it to HMG in 2001 for FMD, but it was turned down in favour of 'carnage by computer' and 12 MILLION animals died. This must not happen again. Warwick's work is ground breaking stuff, and several high profile vets and politicians have been up to see it. It will comply with Bern, and answer concerns about culling healthy animals - which brings me to our cattle - and Matthew 1's.

Our Cornish contributer is near St. Austell, and from what you say you may be further West than that? His farm is in a 'ring fence', that is it has no bits of land away, and has woods, stream or roads as boundaries. His cattle can hardly see any others let alone get near enough to have nose to nose contact.

Our farm is the same, in fact we only have one boundary with one other farm and that has sheep. No cattle. That boundary is a high, wide thorn hedge, back fenced (both sides)as we adopted very high biosecurity as part of the Ministry inspected EBL scheme, which we paid to take part in several years ago. Double fencing and no cattle contact were conditions of entry.

Derbyshire Matthew is similarly placed with his organic Angus cattle. Absolutely no cattle contact with other herds and stone 'hedges' back fenced both sides to protect them. The common denominator is the wildlife which track between the various farms.

I would have welcomed a PCR based 'trial' to sort out infected setts in our area when neighbours went under restriction. Maybe then we wouldn't have lost 'our' badgers, and become the dustbin for the whole area's sick ones.

RBCT did a 7 night sweep of the valley in 2000, stirred everything up, (as Paul Caruana said) and then nothing for 3 years, when they caught 2 absolute 'horrors' on our land. Had just these two been responsible for the carnage? Five cattle farms within 3 or 4 miles of us, either side of the valley lost over 300 cattle. Two are still under restriction.
We and two neighbours are clear - at the moment.

We are glad that this site has not become (with a very few notable exceptions) a slanging match. We started it to explain that there were herds who had not bought in any cattle, but had endured the misery of long periods of bTb restriction, seen the stress on those cattle and felt the sheer anger, frustration and helplessness when they are loaded up for slaughter. All the Parliamentary Questions are archived for reference as a basis.

We do not want 'wipe out' of any species, but bTb in wildlife must be controlled if herds (like our contributers) which have taken every precaution to avoid disease go under restriction - and stay there. Cattle only measures will never work in isolation from controlling the maintenance reservoir of bTb within wildlife in general, and badgers in particular. And we have 50 very dead cattle to prove that point.

Anonymous said...

*TB or not TB. *


*Despatches from behind the iron curtain of a British "biohazard" zone.*

*By Mark Purdey, High Barn Farm, Elworthy, Taunton, Somerset, TA43PX,

*/European livestock farmers dread the day when their cattle succumb to
a tuberculosis breakdown. The implications are severe; a ruthless cull
of infected cattle and badgers, with all remaining healthy cattle
impounded behind an iron curtain of government mandated movement
restrictions and red tape. The knock on effects have virtually paralysed
small farming businesses into a state of financial melt down. /*

*/But the official procedures of TB control are archaic and outmoded.
They are founded upon the age old hypothesis that humans develop TB as a
sole result of exposure to TB infected animals, whilst failing to
accommodate the more recent front line revelations in the multifactorial
science surrounding mycobacterial disease. In this respect, we need to
be questioning whether such cruel and costly strategies that are
currently involved in TB control programmes are actually fulfilling
their desired effect -- to protect the human population against the TB
agent. /*

*/Earlier this summer , I was forced to come to terms with my own cattle
joining the ever increasing ranks of TB infected herds that are
currently blighting the UK./*

*/TB Breakdown; a testing time/**/./*

At dawn I scaled the hill to collect the cattle from the furthest
fields. The earth still held the heat of the previous day, and I was
forced to coerce the cows a little, for they seemed more reluctant to
rise and amble the few feet to the green lane than usual. Perhaps the
cows were more perceptive than me, their sixth sense receptive to the
fate that was about to befall them in a few hours time

As we reached the steeper gradients of the shillet track, the cattle
accelerated a little, rutting up the dust with their hooves. The tail
swish of a cow disturbed an early morning bee, that droned off beyond
the bank of bluebells and into the haze of the dazzling sun. Gradually,
the entire caravan of cattle snaked its way down the track to the valley
bottom below. On the last stretch to the farm, a patch of giant
foxgloves towered over us like an array of mauve lanterns, their
luminescence still resonating the brilliance of first light. But I
failed to heed their red alert, and just drove the cows on without a
second thought.

Back at the yard, the vet was ready and we lead the cows straight down
to the inspection pens. The procedure was simple - to measure the size
of any lumps that had erupted on the cows' necks which served as a
yardstick for gauging the extent of allergic response to the TB skin
test - an intradermal injection of tubercle bacillus that had been
administered by the vet three days earlier.

After a few minutes I saw the vet stand back abruptly. "Oh" he said in a
despondent, drawn out tone, popping on his spectacles slightly askew.
"We could have a problem here, Mark". I watched him fumbling through his
pockets for the callipers, and now knew that he had to take a more
precise measurement of what obviously looked like a colossal reaction
lump on the cow's neck. I became anxious, and my mouth was beginning to
parch up in anticipation of what was coming next.

The air was heavy, like that period of suspense before a thunderstorm.
Even the robins who had been busy in the yard a minute earlier rustling
up the brittle leafs, seemed to have stopped in their tracks. The vet
raised his glasses and wiped the sweat off his forehead. "You have a
reactor, I'm afraid Mark".

A few minutes later there was another reactor, and then several more. My
mouth had parched up completely now and my stomach felt nauseaous. I
became angry at the thought of these fine young pedigree animals just
into their prime, now condemned to slaughter under the government's
animal health diktat.

Furthermore, like many other cattle farmers in the UK, I was confused by
the perfect condition of the TB reactor cows, since I had always assumed
that TB was a debilitating disease. Although these cows had reacted to
the skin test and were therefore deemed to carry TB, I began to wonder
whether they had successfully adapted to the infection by knocking out
the greater majority of the invasive mycobacteria. In this respect, The
TB slaughter programme could actually be annihilating the resistant
animals -- culling the genetically robust individuals that we really
needed to be keeping as breeding stock for future generations.

*/Badgering the true evidence/**.*

The next stage of the so called 'crisis' procedure was to retire to the
farmhouse for a tree's worth of form filling, where I was presented with
several sheets of a TB questionnaire. I was amazed by the reductionist
contents of the questions that followed. Each one had been designed on
the assumption that the transmission of the TB agent from infected
badgers to cattle was the sole cause of bovine TB. In this respect,
*/baddie the badger/* had been dubbed the guilty culprit before the
necessary detective work had even begun. The exact same 'back to front'
investigation was applicable to the questionnaire which the government
presented to farms that had experienced a case of mad cow disease where
every question was based on the assumption of a meat and bone meal feed
cause - despite the diversity of evidence which indicated that this
theory was totally flawed.

*/The search for susceptibility factors -- the seeds of TB ?/*

The real question was why had my farm always boasted a TB-free status,
despite being surrounded by TB affected cattle / badgers for many years.
I began to wonder what changes had been integrated into our farming
practises over recent years: changes that could be responsible for
switching on the susceptibility of our cattle to the TB agent ? I felt
that this was the relevant question that I should be asking right now.

TB is virtually endemic in the soils, waters and atmospheres of the
majority of ecosystems, where mycobacteria have co-existed with
mammalian life for centuries. Despite its widespread prevalence, the TB
agent has produced relatively few major outbreaks across the world. It
seems that an epidemic of clinical TB can only erupt once some anti-TB
component of our immune defence has been disrupted. In this respect, the
primary event is a disruption of immunity which enables the TB agent to
breach the body's defences and opportunistically take a hold.

A historical study of the epidemiology of TB demonstrates that epidemics
of TB have occurred since the iron age, and that this disease has always
been rife amongst specific population groups who are nutritionally
impoverished in some way. For example, TB was rife amongst city slum
dwellers who had no choice but to breath the industrially polluted air
24 hours a day, as well as the half starved Scottish / Irish crofters
who were evicted and forced onto boats bound for North America. Another
more recent example involves AIDS victims whose immune systems are so
severely compromised that they invariably develop TB as a secondary

*/A Limey's view of TB cause. /*

So what is the key factor that has suddenly unleashed TB susceptibility
amongst my cattle following so many years of TB-free status ? After much
thought about the specific changes that I had integrated into my farming
system over recent years, I began to wonder whether the TB breakdown in
my herd could be connected to the drastic cost-cutting measures which I
have been forced to adopt in order to survive the current agri-economic

Along with most other hard pressed livestock farmers across the UK, we
had foolishly cut back on the use of the so called '*/non essential'/*
lime / calcified seaweed based fertilisers. Furthermore, the trend in
reduced usage of lime based fertilisers has been exacerbated by recent
conservation measures that have debarred the harvesting of Cornish
calcified seaweed altogether - thereby preventing future usage of this
material on the farm.

It is the general reduction in use of lime fertilisers, combined with
the recent increases in winter rainfall across the western UK, that has
acidified the top soil as a result; whilst other eco-influences such as
acid rain and the continued use of so called '*/essential'/* artificial
fertilisers will undoubtably be playing their contributory roles in the
acidification of Agricultural ecosystems.

The pH alkaline/acidic value of the soils on our farm has dropped from
an acceptable neutral pH 6 to an acidic pH 5 over the last three years -
evidenced by the invasion of buttercups into our pastures where clover
used to flourish.

Research has shown that there is a correlation between areas of high
mycobacteria incidence and regions where the soils are acid. This
association is strengthened by the results of studies where lime was
spread on farms in Michigan that were suffering from high rates of
mycobacterium infection ( albeit the paratuberculosis strain of
mycobacterium ). The study concluded that the lime treatment had
produced a ten-fold reduction in the infection of cattle after a three
year period had passed. [ Johnson-Ifearulundu and Kaneene 1997 ].

*/Branding the Iron on TB/* */cause/*.

The relevant issue in respect of TB infection and soil acidity hinges on
the fact that acidification of the topsoil leads to an excessive
accumulation of available iron [ Pais and Benton Jones 1997] --
particularly in the regions where soil iron is naturally elevated and
rainfall is high. The iron is taken up by the pasture herbage (
especially ryegrass, plantain [ McDonald and others 1973 ], bluebell
tubers, etc) as well as percolating into the local water supplies as a
result; which, in turn, is taken up by any animals who thrive upon the
local iron rich ecosystem -- particularly those individuals who are
genetically predisposed to an increased uptake/retention of iron within
their biosystems.

Interestingly, the key hotspot zones of bovine TB across the UK are the
Forest of Dean, Exmoor, Cornwall, Devon and the Mendip hills. These
regions all correlate with the areas where iron has been mined in
abundance [ Flett 1935 ] and rainfall is high.

Preliminary pasture sampling from the specific fields on my own farm (
June 2005) where the TB reactors had been pastured has consistently
demonstrated an */excessive/* elevation of iron ( average 378 mg/kg), in
relation to the levels of 143 mg/kg recorded three years previously.
This research is being expanded to cover TB-free and TB farms across the
key TB cluster areas of the UK .

*/What is the relationship between elevated iron and increased
susceptibility to TB ?/*

Much research is published in the scientific literature which
demonstrates that Iron represents an essential prerequisite in the
pathogenesis of TB , enabling TB and other strains of mycobacterium to
proliferate, metabolise and survive within the mammalian biosystem [
Ratledge 2004 ]. In this respect, it is the supply of 'free' iron within
the host which provides the TB agent with its 'fire power' capacity to
unleash its deleterious pathogenicity, thereby invoking the often fatal,
devastating consequences that result from TB infection.

Although TB victims adapt to their parasitic attacks by stashing away
their iron supplies in tissues that are inaccessible to the
mycobacteria, the grand finale of the TB disease process usually
culminates in the parasite getting the upper hand; whereby the host
develops the classic iron deficient anaemic state that is a central
clinical feature of TB.

Mycobacteria acquire their iron from the host's own transferrin /
ferritin molecules -- the iron binding transport / storage proteins that
are integral to the healthy metabolism of iron within the mammalian
biosystem. The mycobacteria rob their host's iron by releasing a type of
iron-capturing siderophore called an exochelin; which, in turn,
transfers and donates the iron back to the mycobactins which exist in
the cell walls of the mycobacteria themselves [ Gobin and Horwitz1996 ].

This hijaking of the host's iron supply is beneficial for the survival
of the TB mycobacteria in more ways than one. Not only does the TB agent
utilise the host's iron for its own proliferation and survival, but it
also utilises this metal to indemnify its own long term security within
the host; by disabling the host's immune defence against itself. The
parasite achieves this means of self protection by curtailing the viable
synthesis of the iron binding beta-2-microglobulin molecules whose role
is to activate the killer T lymphocytes [ Schaible and others 2002 ] -
the host's main line of immune defence against mycobacteria infection.

This could explain why individual humans whose T immune systems have
become compromised through nutritional deprivation or AIDS toxicity are
at a significantly greater risk of developing TB as a secondary

But TB is not the only pathogen that depends upon the host's iron for
its maintenance and growth within the body. The infamous Clostridium
Botulinum ( implicated in grass sickness of horses ), Leprosy, HIV,
Candida , Listeria, Salmonella, Malaria etc, are all members of this
insidious family of */ironmonger /*pathogens to which TB belongs
[Weinberg 1999]

Only last week, champion horsebreeder Gail Dunsbee had been in touch
with me over the sudden death of one of her horses as a result of grass
sickness -- a devastating paralysis of the autonomic nerve endings in
the horse's gut due to infection with clostridium botulinum. But much
like TB, Botulinum is virtually endemic in the gastro tract of horses
where it rarely produces any adverse health effects at all. So what
environmental factor had suddenly switched on the susceptibility of her
horse's gut to the infection ?

Dissatisfied with the professional ignorance surrounding the root causes
of grass sickness, Gail had taken matters into her own hands in order to
safeguard the future of her surviving horses. And once again, it looks
like the results of her preliminary soil analyses have provided the
causal clues that might address this catastrophic problem for horse

Apart from the low potassium readings, the extremely excessive readings
for Iron ( at 1344 ppm ) was the only other element of the twelve
elements tested which had deviated from its respective reference range.
This result could explain why grass sickness, like TB, has invariably
remained confined to acid soil districts where iron levels are generally

*/Ironing out the TB pathogen./*

Since elevated iron increases TB risk , it is easy to understand how the
management of dietary iron can influence the outcome of TB [ Ratledge
2004, Cronje and Bornman 2005 ]. For example. when TB infected mice were
treated with the iron chelating lactoferrin protein ( a natural
ingredient of colostrum milk ) , there was a one hundred fold reduction
in the number of pathogens present in the mice. [ Schaible and others
2002 ].

Likewise, TB diseased individuals used to be regularly treated with the
iron-chelating compound p-aminosalicylate with some success [ Ratledge
2004 ]. In this respect, it could prove beneficial from a preventative
as well as a curative perspective to introduce copper or zinc
bicarbonate supplements into the diet of TB affected populations [ Pais
and Benton Jones 1997 ]. Whilst these anionic compounds do not act as
iron chelators as such, they will impair the absorption of iron across
the gastrotract by competing for its uptake system of transport
proteins. Furthermore, any foodstuffs containing phytic acids, such as
legumes ( alfalfa, clover, etc ) and grains [ McDonald and others 1973 ]
will produce the same anti-iron effects.

Use of inorganic phosphorus as an inclusion in fertilisers or mineral
feed supplements would also assist in reducing the amount of free iron
that is rendered 'available' in the soil or taken up into the animal
respectively [ Underwood 1977 ]. The phosphorus competes for the iron
binding site on the transport proteins that normally convey iron across
the gut wall; thereby arresting the uptake of iron at its initial point
of entry into the body.

It is also important to consider the knock-out effects that iron
chelators might impact upon the */horror chamber/* of other pathogens
which need to bite the */iron bullet/* before they can trigger disease.
For instance, it has already been demonstrated that the iron chelating
compounds, deferoxamine and 8-hydroxyquinoline-5-sulfonic acid have
produced beneficial effects in the treatment of leprosy and clostridium
botulinum respectively .[Weinberg 1999][ Bhattacharyya and Sugiyama 1989]

*/Iron in the Ecosystem. /*

It is proposed that badgers and cattle that co-exist within the same
environments will both develop TB due to their separate co-exposure to
the same iron-rich foodchain, and not necessarily due to a
cross-infection from one animal to the other.

Bluebell and other iron-rich tubers constitute a large part of the
badger's diet and these will gradually load up the badger's biosystem
with a concentrated source of iron until threshold levels are exceeded -
thereby providing any mycobacterial pathogens that are present with the
sustenance to proliferate to pathogenic levels. Likewise, the high
incidence rates of human TB that have been recorded amongst steelworkers
and slum dwellers ( who lived beside their workplaces during the
industrial revolution ) could have been induced by the high levels of
iron in the atmospheres of their local environment.

*/The politics of TB. /*

I believe that government ministers in the UK have been correct in
resisting pressures to re-enact wholesale slaughter of badgers as a
means of controlling TB in the bovine / human populations. For the
badger culls of bygone years have achieved nothing in terms of
eradicating TB. The disease has kept on re-occurring irrespective of the
various slaughter measures that have been put in place. In this respect,
we need to consider what is actually achieved each time that we re-enact
this final farcical solution for TB control --eg; badger gassing and
blanket cattle culls ?

Furthermore, it is scientifically naïve to think that we will ever be
able to eradicate a pathogen that is endemic in the environment at
large. As long as optimum eco-conditions for the survival of TB
mycobacterium are allowed to exist ( eg; high iron / soil acidity ),
then TB epidemics will continue to rear their ugly head, as and when
alterations in weather conditions and husbandry methods permit.

In respect of consumers who are anxious about exposure to TB pathogens
in their foods, they need to be aware that modern methods of food
processing safeguard consumers from exposure to the TB agent -- methods
that did not exist half a century ago. For example, any milk that is
taken from a TB affected animal today is automatically pasteurised in
the modern dairy set up. Although pasteurisation produces some negative
health effects -- by switching our immune response to TB and other
pathogens into 'sleep mode' - this ultra efficient sterilisation process
provides a guarantee of biosecurity for those who are concerned about TB
exposure.* *

Whilst it is high time that governments should say farewell to their
archaic strategy for TB control, some viable alternative will be needed
to replace it. In this respect, governments should begin to examine the
considerably cheaper / animal welfare friendly option of encouraging
farmers ( via subsidies) to adopt husbandry practices which prevent
cattle from succumbing to TB infection in the first instance. Eg; by
subsidising the spreading of lime fertilisers across the TB endemic/high
iron regions, as well as promoting feeding / fertilising with
iron-chelating/ anti-iron compounds on farms in the TB risk areas. This
would reduce the amount of iron that is flowing up the farm foodchain,
which, in turn, would reduce the levels of TB mycobacteria.

Such a radical approach which curtails the susceptibility of cattle to
the TB agent could produce some major advantages over the existing
system which slaughters out the end results of TB infection. This would
achieve a considerable reduction in the overall incidence rates of TB,
thereby reaping major savings for both human and animal life, farmers'
livelihoods and the tax payer.

Since the incidence of TB is increasing amongst the human population, it
is high time that we adopted a more intelligent, civilised and updated
strategy for dealing with the prevention of TB. In this respect, we need
to be taking a closer look at the underlying causes of 'iron overload'
in the human foodchain and ecosystem at large. This would entail looking
at the impacts of acid rain and how it brings about a rise in the levels
of available iron within the soil and water supplies. Issues surrounding
the industrial emission of iron particulates into the atmosphere, as
well as the supplementation of our foods with iron additives represent
important areas that warrant investigation and the development of controls.

Likewise, the indirect impact of various toxic or mutagenic
environmental agents upon the metabolic processes that regulate iron
homeostasis is an area that also needs to be considered. For a whole
range of environmental chemicals /metals are recognised to disrupt or
mutate the body's capacity to regulate the balanced uptake, storage
and/or excretion of iron; thereby representing an alternative means
through which iron levels could become elevated in the biosystem; which,
in turn, switches on an increased susceptibility to TB infection.

Meanwhile back on the farm, the knacker man had arrived to collect the
TB reactors at nightfall. I lead the unsuspecting cows to the loading
pen, feeling guilty that I had betrayed them by failing to mount any
kind of resistance against the government's strategy of senseless
slaughter. The cows waited, absorbing their final moments of life in the
half light. Their backs were steaming and heads held low.

The monster lorry rattled in like an aluminium alien, and then backed up
to the loading pen. The ramps came down, and after a rapid fire of
whelpings and whip lashings, the cattle reluctantly surrendered
themselves to their fate; hooves sliding and clattering up the steely
ramp into the dark hold of the lorry.

As the truck turned the top corner, I caught my last glimpse of the
cows, their noses frantically pressing through the six inch slats - a
last ditch attempt to escape their premature and pointless execution.
Tonight they will be sectioned to the post mortem bench, abattoired into

As I walked back to the farmhouse in the half light, I caught a glimpse
of the patch of foxglove petals glowing like red hot irons on the hill,
still resonating with the evening sun. It was a timely reminder that our
TB problem had not been extinguished by the removal of our reactor cows
from the farm, but was still very much alive and well, and rooted in the
acidity of our soils. As I walked back to the farmhouse, I remembered
that the presence of foxgloves indicates high iron and high manganese
levels in the soil.

Mark Purdey 15/8/05

*References *

Bhattacharyya SD, Sugiyama H. (1989) Inactivation of botulinum

and tetanus toxins by chelators. Infect Immun; 57(10): 3053--3057

Cronje L, Bornman L (2005). Iron Overload and tuberculosis; a case for
iron chelation therapy. Int J Tuberculosis and lung disease.

2005 9; (1) 2-9.

Flett, Sir JS (1935). Map of Iron Ores of England and Wales. Geological
Survey of Great Britain; Ordnance Survey Office, Southhampton, UK.

Gobin J, Horwitz MA (1996). Exochelins of mycobacterium tuberculosis
remove iron from human iron-binding proteins and donate iron to
mycobactins in the M tuberculosis cell wall. J Experimental Med; 183,

Johnson-Ifearulundu YJ, Kaneene JB (1997) relationship between soil type
and mycobacterium paratuberculosis. Am Vet Med Ass; 210 1735-1740.

McDonald P, Edwards RA, Greenhalgh JFD (1973). Animal Nutrition . 2rd
Edition. Longman , London.

Pais I, Benton Jones J. (1997) The Handbook of Trace elements. Saint
Lucie Press, Florida.

Ratledge C (2004). Iron , mycobacteria and tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (
Edin ); 84 (1- 2): 110-130.

Schaible UE, Collins HL, Priem F, Kaufmann SH (2002). Correction of the
iron overload defect in beta-2-microglobulin knockout mice by
lactoferrin abolishes their increased susceptibility to tuberculosis. J
Experimental Med; 196 (11); 1507-1513.

Underwood EJ.(1977) Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition 4^th
Edition London . Academic Press.

Weinberg E (1999). Iron loading and disease surveillance.

Emerging Infectious Diseases; 5 (3) 346-352.

Matthew said...

Thanks for this from Mark Purdey. We'll scan it in as a new thread later.
Mark's done sterling work on BSE, but got (we felt) a little sidelined by ley lines and the moon, from his original thesis of applied organo-phosphates etc. In our case on that score, OP's applied to the cow, influenced the fate of her unborn calf, and that combined with mbm fed (unknowingly and well disguised)to very young calves produced a synergistic result. BSE. (Originally Mark published work targetting the cow who had been drenched with OP's as the culprit, but in our case, these animals were alive and well, it was their calves - then 5 years old - who were dropping like wobbly flies.)

Any theory only holds promise if it can be applied to our own situation. On bTb and minerals, Mark may have cut down his fertiliser applications/ lime / seaweed or whatever. We did not. The soil and herbage was analysed every 2 years and a special mineral mix was produced to match deficiencies / correct inbalances. Chelated iron, selenium etc were used as standard. Cattle blood tests checked results. The cattle manure would recycle any unused trace elements or minerals directly to the soil and herbage.

We do not agree that m.bovis is rampant in the environment. It is not, and neither should it be.

Anonymous said...

I follow Mark Purdeys work quite closely. As far as I recall his BSE theory doesn't mention ley lines or phases of the moon. I suggest that you perhaps go back and have a look at a complicated but evolved theory (unlike the perfectly formed at inception official theory)that he has come up with.
Keep up the good work though.

Anonymous said...

The 'good work' could perhaps give us some guidance on what to conclude from DEFRA TB figures.

The latest bovine TB figures would appear to be good news!
According to the Provisional TB statistics for Great Britain released on 5 May 2006

TB TESTS CARRIED OUT (in the year to 31st March) increased from
1,649,543 in 2005 to
1,807,805 in 2006

Despite this the number of cows slaughtered as reactors decreased from 7731 to 5455.

I reckon that is about 29% DECREASE

However 6099 herds were under movement restriction on 31 March 2006 (due to a TB incident, overdue TB test, etc), almost half of these
(2994) restricted due to overdue TB tests!

More cattle tested, loads less reactors than last year, and half of the herds under movement restrictions due only to late testing.

Am I missing something, or is this very good news?

Matthew said...

We aren't sure re the 'drop' in reactor cattle. And neither are the vets. Thanks for the figures. We've put them up to start a new thread.