"Exchange of views on measures which may be required to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis from areas with a high prevalence of the disease via intra-community trade in live cattle: outcome of the working group of 2 September.(MZ)"
They could start by making sure that a maintenance reservoir of disease is not allowed to flourish amongst the tuberculin-tested cattle sentinels in GB. That would be sensible, as they outlined in this document which we posted in July. The responsibilities of EU member state governments with regard to such reservoirs are described quite clearly. One would assume that not even Defra could misunderstand them, but on the experience of the last decade, one would be quite wrong..
... in order to address the role of infected wildlife in the persistence of TB [measures] should be implemented without any delay so as to allow the progress of the eradication programmes. Removal of wildlife, either proactively or reactively following outbreaks, has proven to be an effective ancillary, and in certain situations necessary, measure to control and eradicate TB.
and to reinforce the point:
The elimination or reduction of the risk posed by an infected wildlife reservoir enables the other measures contained in the programme to yield the expected results, whereas the persistence of TB in these wildlife populations impedes the effective elimination of the disease.As we pointed out before, the costs of not removing an infected wildlife reservoir are infinitely greater, both in straight monetary terms or the long term transmission opportunities afforded to the many and increasing spillover victims. But Defra's figures for TB incidence in GB in the first five months of the year are appalling. In fact they are a damned disgrace, with cattle slaughterings up a staggering 42 per cent, and confirmed new breakdowns increasing by almost 200 herds. Herds under TB restriction due to a TB breakdown, increased from 4391 in 2007 to 5209 this year.
Major socio-political resistance (lobbyism) against any measure involving the removal of infected wildlife or interventions affecting the environment are to be expected. The additional costs associated with these actions are not likely to be negligible."
(Note: The link to Defra website for the May 2008 figures will automatically update when later figures are available. )
Farmers Guardian reports that early indications from the SCFSAH meeting in Brussels suggest that the European Commission has decided against adding further restrictions to UK cattle exports despite European fears that TB could be spread to the continent. But the cattle industry and Defra cannot breath easily yet, as the committee are said to be considering the risk of TB-infected exports at a meeting in October.
So while SCoFCAH monitor the situation without further sanctions at present, official trade restrictions demanded by the Dutch and Belgian veal importers, already imposing their own unofficial boycott, in the short term, have been avoided.
And 'short' is the appropriate word, as cattle slaughterings and herds under TB restriction mount. A week maybe a long time in politics, but a month is very short time span indeed in the life cycle of the bacterium quite misleadingly known as micobacterium bovis. This autumn's casualties are already in the pipeline.