Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wipe out

An update to our posting on the carnage achieved in one test at Trioni farms, in SW Wales.

After a sweep with Defra's favourite toy, the notorious gammaIFN, as Mr. Harris was warned, the remainder of his cattle have been hoovered up and slaughtered.

By Friday 13th February, there was not a cow left standing on the farm.

The full story, can be seen here.

Stats made clear

A contributer to the site has come across a little gem which we felt deserved a wider audience.

It is a well put together snapshot of wasted cash, wasted opportunity and political prevarication on a grand scale as shown by statistics gleaned from many and various government agencies, particularly over the last ten years.

Some good pictures of the effect of tuberculosis on the poor old badgers too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ASA dismisses 4 out of 5 claims

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has summarily dismissed 4 out 5 claims brought by the Badger Trust, Viva and others, in response to the NFU advert shown in the press last year.

After Hilary Benn's "well it might work, but then again it might not" prevarication over badger culling, the NFU ran a series of adverts in the National and regional press last summer featuring an image of a dead cow. The headline read: "She needed indecision on TB like she needed a hole in the head”. Further text at the bottom of the page explained:

"In 2007, 28,000 cattle were lost to TB. This year that figure will be closer to 40,000 unless action is taken to eradicate TB from infected badgers. It's time to take the politics out of animal disease control. Please support our call for positive action on bovine TB, including the appointment of a separate animal health body that makes decisions based on scientific facts, not sentimentality.

The advert drew complaints from Viva, the Badger Trust and members of the public who claimed it was misleading. Today the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) delivered its decision. Four of the five complaints against the advert have not been upheld, with one complaint upheld.
The complaint that has been upheld relates to a challenge that our advert implied that badgers were solely responsible for the spread of Bovine TB.

So, the ASA were happy with quoted 28,000 dead cattle, a figure spiralling to almost 40,000 in 2008? Yup, they were.
"Time to take the politics out of animal disease control"? Can't argue with that. They shouldn't have been there in the first place.
Separate 'animal health' body - rather than one which puts one animal's lack of health above all others? Fine with us.
So, where does the advert say the almost 40,000 cattle will be dead because of badgers? No-where that we can see, but the advert does say that 40,000 cattle will be dead if action isn't taken to eradicate the disease from infected badgers.

And no action was taken. The moratorium remains, and the figure for slaughtered cattle will be approximately 38,000 in 2008. So the point is?

We are pleased to post the NFU response to the ASA decision.
“Clearly we are disappointed that the ASA has upheld this complaint, because, the NFU has never said, nor does it believe, that badgers are solely responsible for the spread of bovine TB. However, it is abundantly clear that there is a reservoir of TB in badgers and that unless the level of infection in badgers is addressed we will continue to see increases in the numbers of new cases of bovine TB and continued re-infection of existing TB affected herds.

Defra's own prediction is incidence of TB in cattle doubling every four and a half years, in the absence of any 'new dynmanics' - by which they mean culling infectious badgers. The press release continues:
“We acknowledge that TB can be spread by other means such as cattle movements. However, we are convinced that if we are to eradicate bovine TB then we have to tackle all sources of infection. Regrettably, we are currently trying to control TB with at least one arm tied behind our back and the result is that we are seeing increases in new incidences of bovine TB and the government is likely to have slaughtered close to 40,000 cattle last year, 12,000 more than the previous year because of TB.

And concludes:
“Our advert was intended to highlight the tragic impact that TB is having on our cattle industry and the farmers and their families that have to live with TB day in, day out whilst the Government stands by and refuses to tackle one of the major sources of the infection. The NFU will not give up its fight to see TB eradicated and unlike the government we will not give up on thousands of farmers and their families that lives and businesses are being devastated by TB.”

Mike Thomas
Press & PR Officer
National Farmers' Union
Stoneleigh Park
Warwickshire, CV8 2TZ


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Another passenger...

Even in the depths of a multi $trillion recession, there is no end of the ability of our Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to waste spend taxpayers' money.

Latest to benefit from DEFRA's largesse, is the University of Reading's Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics Research Unit (VEERU). The department is carrying out some online research under project title No SE3253, to try to discover:
"descriptive information which may not have been recorded previously, in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the [bTB] outbreaks and possible risk factors".
Reading's Keith Allison hopes that anyone affected may be kind enough to devote between fifteen to twenty minutes on ticking boxes - "more if you want to add 'free text' comments, but that is optional," he explains.

Kind enough? Sheesh. Another university expressing 'gratitude' for my time - while putting a bill into the taxpayer for its own? Sounds about right.

The survey is open to anyone involved in badger Tuberculosis: farmers veterinarians and others, with experience of the disease since 1980, and can be accessed here. It begins:
Welcome to the VEERU on-line confidential consultation with veterinary surgeons, farmers and others with practical field experience of bovine TB (bTB) in England since 1980.
Your input is very valuable for this project and will help guide future prevention and control policy.
You will not be identifiable from the information you provide.
You will have the option to provide your email if you would like feed back, or are willing to be contacted by VEERU researchers for further discussion on particular issues that you may raise.

The amount of passengers, beneficiaries of this catastrophic and totally avoidable crisis, show no sign of alighting from Defras' gravy train.