FMD 2007 – surely not another case?

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Oh no not again. We’ve only just started to relax about the threats from Pirbright’s FMD farce. British farmers are trying to recover business after the last lot of trade and movement restrictions, which hit us all. Now there’s another confirmed case of Foot and Mouth Disease. We feel sorry for the poor farming community around Egham, Surrey, who have also been kept in the dark. The BBC knew long before the local farmers. 

We called for preventative vaccination weeks ago but Defra was not interested. Nor were the NFU, who put the meat export trade before animal welfare every time, and then support Defra when they do the same. Read why Defra should have vaccinated!

Sheepdrove Organic Farm calls for a CURE NOT CULL policy, with preventative immunisation, and care for infected animals to help them recover. That would be the best ethical approach for farm animals.

Myths, Assumptions and Bad Science
We are told by the government that they are using ‘the best science’ and yet they contradict their own scaremongering spin used to justify a kill-first-test-later policy.

For example – the biggest threat of spread comes from the industrialised food system (as for Avian Flu) because of the transport of animals for long distances between farms, in live export and to slaughter. Yet thousands of vehicle movements were allowed between Surrey farms last month, to allow the media, vets, government officials, etc, to access Pirbright and the Surrey countryside.

Walkers and off-road vehicles can spread the disease, and yet the footpaths were not closed immediately around the ‘protection zone’ because the government are scared of upsetting tourism.

Sheep tend to recover rapidly from FMD, shrug it off, and get on with their lives. So healthy, post-infection farm stock could be out there. Not just in Surrey, but wherever the animals have been transported to since restrictions were relaxed. Vaccination could have helped to control spread to new flocks, and better FMD monitoring – especially last month – could have detected unexpected cases. Defra’s science team would surely have warned ministers that they could not assume FMD was not still out there.

FMD is classed by the FAO as “the most contagious transboundary disease affecting cloven hoofed animals” and yet Defra didn’t talk about controlling FMD in Surrey’s deer population. Why aren’t the wild cloven-hoofed animals being vaccinated? This would protect the deer and local farmers. Just one more reason why a ‘ring fence’ vaccination strategy should have been put in place.

Ring fence immunisation is used continuously worldwide. Vaccines are recommended by the Royal Society, and they also conclude that recovered post-infection animals pose a low risk, because they do not shed lots of FMD virus. Also, the vaccines are made of DEAD virus material and don’t pose a threat of infection. (Contrary to myths you might have heard.)

Why don’t Defra learn from the best science and change their strategy in response? By now they should have learned that their policy of mass cull and closing the countryside does not work.

Rural communities must not be at the mercy of FMD every time it appears. Let’s change policy now, for the sake of the animals and for the sake of our countryside. Please join us in the call to Cure not Cull.

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