On 20th November 2003, the then shadow minister Owen Paterson MP., asked our Ben, Mr. Bradshaw the Minister responsible for Animal Health and Welfare - well most animals, not all - what was the OIE limit of incidence of bovine tuberculosis needed to maintain 'Tb-free trading status'.
The answered, archived with Mr. Paterson's other 538 parliamentary questions on this site, is as follows;
20th November 2003: column 1205W [ 140308]
"The Office of International des Epizooties (OIE) provides expertise for the control of animal diseases.
Article 22.214.171.124 of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health code states that for a country or zone to qualify officially as officially free from bovine tuberculosis,it shall staisfy the following requirements:
* bovine tuberculosis is notifiable in the country.
* 99.8 per centof the herds in the considered geographical area have been officiallly free from bovine tuberculosis for at least the past three years as disclosed by periodic testing of all cattle in the area to determine the absence of bovine tuberculosis.
(Periodic testing of all cattle is not required in an area where a surveillance programme reveals that 99.9 per cent of the cattle have been in herds officially free from tuberculosis for at least six years).
So how do we fare? Well, Ben kindly gives us the figures for 2001, 2002 and 2003 and we have grabbed the calculater and worked out the figures for 2004, 2005 and 2006 (just posted with pride of course, on the Defra website).
2001 2.3 per cent of herds were under restriction due a Tb incidence.
2002 4.1 per cent
2003 5.6 (PQ answer showed 4.8 per cent to September only)
2004 5.68 per cent
2005 6.26 per cent
2006 6.5 per cent
So there we have it folks. For the OIE - as determined by the intradermal skin test - Tb free status kicks in at 99.8 percent of herds Tb free, or an incidence of just 0.2 percent. And what do we record? 6.5 per cent. See: Defra website
Even Scotland cannot 'stand alone' on this one, recording 0.4 herds under restriction in the period to December. And while the 'West' region (that's anywhere south of Bristol, by the way) shows an instance from 25 percent of herds affected during the period for Glos, 22.5 for Hereford, 21.5 Devon and 18 percent for cornwall, other AHO's are flagging up 'hotspots' where a few years ago there were none at all.
Shropshire now has nearly 8 percent of its herds affected, Somerset, Avon and Wiltshire 8 - 13 percent and in the East, normally a region associated with no tb at all, the Leicester office has almost 3 percent of its herds affected, and is showing an extra 13 herds under restriction from last month. Reading is similar, with 'amplifying incidence' in Defra-speak and 1.3 percent incidence involving 43 herds.
Our colleagues in the north are increasing steadily too, with Lincoln, Carlisle and Cheshire recording up to 2 percent of herds under restriction, while in the old hotspots of Stafford (Derbys) and Stafford(Stafford) 9.2 herds are under restriction.
All in all, nothing whatsover to be proud of. And risking the wrath of the EU, who are quite capable of serving up to Defra, the veterinary certificate see
here drawn up in 2004, which allows the Commission to institute a ban - at their discretion on ..... whatever products they wish.