"Silence of the lambs, calves, sheep, cattle and mathematicians"An article to his fellow vets in the Veterinary Times, March 2006, by Bob Michell, BVetMed BSc PhD DSc MRCVS, Former President of the RCVS
Rapid Diagnosis RT PCR - " a transforming moment"
" ...the means to eradicate and control these diseases are now available ... ..." Read in full
Warmwell.com Archive ~ Bird Flu pages Contact the site How FMD crisis was turned into a disaster - Scotsman, TimesPlease use F5 button to refresh the page RPA latest bovine TB Harriet - latest --------------------------------
Archive July 2006
July 30 /Aug 1 2006 ~ "we need the technology brought up to date and we need it fast."
James Irvine's (FRCP(Ed)FRCPathDscFRS(Ed)FID FIBiol), recent article on landcare.org about the Royal Highland Show, laments the apparent lack of interest shown by government and other influential bodies in updating their contingency plans for the control of Foot and Mouth Disease.
".......My attempt to raise any enthusiasm about the key importance of rapid diagnostic tests which would facilitate the early use of vaccination as a front line measure (as recommended by EU Directive) drew a blank. As far as this SVS officer was concerned it did not seem to have much priority. It would be a lot of slaughter all over again, was the impression I gained. And of course the Executive now have a revised Animal Welfare (Scotland) Act to help them enforce it. .."In this latest article Basic mistakes in the control of FMD UK2001 which must not be repeated he again emphasises how negligent it would be for the authorities not to make use of the ever advancing technologies in their contingency planning.
".....What is now urgently needed is a radical change in outlook by the authorities particularly within the UK and by some of the lobby groups, such as NFU, NFU Scotland, the National Beef Association and certain of the veterinary bodies. ..Dr Irvine's article cites "Use and abuse of mathematical models: illustration from the 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic in the United Kingdom" (See abstract) Rev. sci. tech. Off. int. Epiz., 25:293-311. Kitching, R.P., Thrusfield, M.V. & Taylor, N.M. (2006).
Clearly vaccination is a powerful potential weapon in breaking the line of transmission, rather than simply following it. But to use vaccination effectively, speed in diagnosis and in defining the virus's specific characteristics is essential. For that we need the technology brought up to date and we need it fast.,," Read article
July 29 2006 ~ Avian Flu - "Mild in the Wild, Benign in the Backyard, Fatal in the Factory."
As the Vice President of the European Parliament's Temporary Committee of Inquiry into the handling of Foot and Mouth, Dr Caroline Lucas witnessed at first hand " the extraordinary devastation that was wrought on the British countryside by this government's failure to consider vaccination. It is vital that the lessons of this experience are learnt, and that adequate supplies of vaccine are made available". But her report goes further. It examines the root causes of high pathogenic bird flu and makes serious and timely recommendations. . Extract from Dr Lucas' report:
".. .. The Government's Chief Scientist, Professor Sir David King, the man whose presided over the Government's rejection of vaccination during the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001, is already looking at a future for poultry where the official response would mean that "organic and free-range farming would come to an end. It would change farming practices."
The vaccination and quarantining of poultry is an important protection, especially for free range and organic poultry. However, it can never be a long-term solution for the intensive chicken sector, since they are too prone to becoming "viral factories," and risk becoming the route for H5N1 to mutate and hence spread resistance to available vaccines. .
.....it would appear that chickens are shipped from Europe, used for breeding in Thailand, then cooked chicken is sent back again to Europe.
And this from a country that is Asia's biggest producer of poultry and poultry feed for exports. Day old chicks, exported to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, are already thought to have brought avian flu to these countries. ..." The Role of Intensive Poultry Farming and International Trade in the Spread of Avian Flu ( pdf file opens in new window) .
July 29 2006 ~ Avian Flu - "these bodies are using the avian flu crisis to push for a further increase in the industrialisation of the poultry sector"
Once loaded, Dr Lucas' very readable report can be read in full and printed out. Its importance can't be overestimated particularly in view ofthe fact that
"Governments, the European Union, and international agencies like the FAO appear to be doing nothing to investigate how the factory farms and their by-products, such as animal feed and manure, spread the avian flu virus. Indeed some of these bodies are using the avian flu crisis to push for a further increase in the industrialisation of the poultry sector." (page 10)
July 29 2006 ~ "What the U.S. veterinarians who went to England really wanted was a test for confirming FMD with a quick turnaround"
... and five years later, now that Homeland Security, awake to the dangers of FMD, has funded the efforts to develop the assay, Colorado State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is now demonstrating its rapid diagnostic test for seven animal diseases, including FMD.
"....The concept of an assay that could test for multiple livestock diseases grew out of the 2001 outbreak of FMD in the United Kingdom that caused about $5 billion in losses to the food and agriculture sector and even greater losses to tourism. Up to 10 million sheep, pigs and cows were slaughtered.... ..... Simultaneous testing for these diseases has not been possible in the past. ....While this is very good news, we remember that - unknown to the vets who were so frustrated during the crisis - similar technology was actually available in 2001. What was not available, either in the UK or the US, was the political will to use such tests. (The convenience of using animal disease and supposed concern about vaccination to justify protectionism was also a tragic and continuing disgrace.) The excuse that rapid on-site tests had not been "validated" looks very thin, given that..
"This new diagnostic assay will significantly enhance the future security of U.S. agriculture by providing improved technology for animal disease diagnostics," said Tammy Beckham, deputy director of science for the DHS at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center......."
" ...APHIS was at that time (Feb 2001) diagnosing FMD and other diseases in its own labs using APHIS-derived PCR tests - none of these PCR tests had been validated, they were developed with far less stringency than the ARS tests, there was no validation protocol, and the Head of Veterinary Service stated that his agency was exempt from APHIS licensing rules and did not need to do any validation. Ironically, USDA Secretary Veneman was being advised by the California State Veterinarian, who was also opposed to providing the new FMD test and equipment to the states..." (Dr Breeze's letter to warmwell)It seems a tragic error that animal health policies have been so closely confined and controlled by political rather than veterinary interests.
July 24 2006 ~ " By striving to protect the planet and maintain animal health we are also protecting human health, and vice versa.
To succeed we have to share knowledge and resources, and improve international interactions to build the required trust for a promising future. "
The conclusions of Martin Hugh Jones' paper Rev. sci. tech. Off. int. Epiz., 2006, 25 (1), 421-427 - which itself rounds off the thought-provoking collection of papers of the recent OIE publication: Biological disasters of animal origin The role and preparedness of veterinary and public health services remind us of the interconnectedness of everything to do with animal and human health. Now that countries are so globally connected, now that there is an ever increasing threat from zoonoses, now that the knowledge and technology to combat disease is ever more available and the political willingness to embrace them more and more urgently needed - all this makes a new open preparedness vitally important. Some points we consider key from the paper (which can be read in full) appear below.
July 24 2006 ~ " To defend ourselves against the possibility of new outbreaks, of transboundary disease spread, the first defence is information, fast and accurate information ..."
From Martin Hugh Jones' paper Conclusions (Rev. sci. tech. Off. int. Epiz., 2006, 25 (1), 421-427) "..And in this day of molecular testing we need to be routinely fingerprinting these pathogenic agents. For those doing this, a way must be found to have this information promptly available on the web, because a small sequence change may be meaningless in one laboratory but explain all to investigators in another country...
More extractsA full list of the papers in the OIE publication (available to order) may be found here at www.oie.int/eng/publicat/rt/A_RT25_1.htm
- "...... Making definite claims about the source of infection in an outbreak without scientific backup indicates incompetence, and/or bureaucratic shuffling, and how then can we trust anything else that country reports? Similarly, the OIE and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) need to be less gentlemanly and more aggressive in obtaining information
- ... there is a deep need for improved epidemiological training of veterinary officers. If they are incompetent, the system collapses. Various advanced countries now spend more time on molecular analyses and mathematical model building. But the truth is in the farmyard and that can only be determined by skilled investigators. Genomics and models assist them but cannot replace them. ...
- ...Animal-side field tests and remote sample analyses are becoming available and validated. They can only become more common with time, and even more reliable and cheaper. They are particularly important in the initial phase of an outbreak or epidemic, especially if movement controls are to be quickly invoked and tracing started.....
- ...Stakeholders, major and minor, must be included in disease control. Efforts must be made to get their input and to keep them informed before events occur. Uninformed stakeholders are most unlikely to support government actions, especially when their doubts, either through ignorance or from disagreement, are ignored and disregarded. Transparent stakeholder involvement and participation - tiresome though it may be to the traditionalists - pays off, especially when navigating the questions of slaughter, vaccination, and post-vaccination policy and strategies.
- ..... the vital conclusion is that we live on one globe. There is only one health that we should strive for, that of wildlife and domestic animals, humans, and the environment. By striving to protect the planet and maintain animal health we are also protecting human health, and vice versa. To succeed we have to share knowledge and resources, and improve international interactions to build the required trust for a promising future.
21 July 2006 - "A truly rational government would acknowledge that preventive vaccination is the most effective method of combating AI (avian flu) in the modern world..
and would now be preparing to vaccinate all outdoor and organic flocks."..
".... "Bio-security measures are an essential element of any strategy but the slaughter element is as outdated as British imperialism," the Elm Farm Research Centre said in a report. "A truly rational government would acknowledge that preventive vaccination is the most effective method of combating AI (avian flu) in the modern world and would now be preparing to vaccinate all outdoor and organic flocks," the report added."....... Britain currently plans to house all birds for a limited period in areas where the bird flu virus has been found and slaughter affected flocks. If the disease became endemic in an area, flocks could be kept indoors indefinitely.However, to the surprise and dismay of many, the Soil Association has "... distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement supporting "strategic" but "not preventative" use of vaccination. " - perhaps forgetting, like the politicians and officials, that keeping free range birds under nets for protracted periods is impossible for many owners and causes deep distress for birds that are so kept. As Joanna Blythe in the Guardian wrote in June "Unless the vaccination lobby prevails.... then consumers may lose the option of choosing more ethical and humane outdoor-reared poultry products" See also below.
"This is an apparent willingness amongst politicians and officials to ignore animal welfare by permanently housing outdoor birds thereby destroying the free-range and organic markets in an attempt to maintain an outmoded disease free status for the nation," the report said...."
21 July 2006 - The Annual Review of Controls on Imports of Animal Products: April 2005 - March 2006
(1.84 MB - pdf (28 pages)
"..... The number of seizures of illegal imports of POAO totalled 32,795, a 28% increase on 2004/05. 86% of seizures are made from higher designated risk countries of origin. HMRC accounts for 99% of all UK seizures. .......Since assuming responsibility for anti-smuggling controls on POAO at the frontier in 2003, HMRC have prosecuted nine people for illegal imports offences under the POAO Regulations. Fines issued by magistrates have varied with the maximum to date being £400.The Annual Review is to be laid before Parliament today.
Of the two successful prosecutions in 2005/06........"
July 19 - Britain should opt to vaccinate poultry rather than slaughter flocks in order to tackle the threat of the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu
(Reuters) - http://mobile.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L19603856.htm See Elm Farm Research Centre's full report 'Vaccination Nation' [this file is 2 mb]
July 19 2006 ~ 1080 poison. "There is a very real danger the residue from 1080 could be in exports"
1080 is a poison that is broadcast by air over much of New Zealand, killing "pests" - and many other creatures against whom it is not targeted - including pets.
The website www.stop1080poison.com aims to spread the word to other countries, as overseas opinion will be the most effective way to convince the NZ government to stop this sort of killing in the name of "animal health" There is no antidote. Animals may take from 20 minutes to several hours to die. As the campaigners say
"The 1080 National Network consists of a growing number of New Zealand citizens concerned about the continued bombardment of aerial 1080 poison over vast tracks of our "clean, green" country with complete disregard to the harmful effects of this lethal poison on both our environment and human health. Our members' biggest concerns are the unknown long-term effects of 1080 on our environment, the indiscriminate killing of non-target species, birds, deer, dogs, water supplies, and its effect on future NZ exports, tourism and the destruction of our clean, green image..."See also an email from the owner of a sanctuary in New Zealand whose rare goats have, she strongly suspects, been affected by such indiscriminate air drops.
July 18 2006 ~ DEFRA has made moves to order large stocks of an avian influenza vaccine
Friday's Farmers' Guardian reported that this is " a cautious step towards using vaccination in the event of an outbreak."
".....Defra said last Tuesday it had invited tenders to supply 10 million doses of avian influenza vaccine for potential use in poultry and other captive birds. Ben Bradshaw said the vaccine would "only be used if a risk assessment and scientific evidence indicated it would help to prevent disease spread........The Soil Association welcomed Defra's decision and claimed it was a significant change of emphasis from the Government in dealing with disease outbreaks. Poultry adviser, Anna Bassett, said: "This latest positive announcement will be a great relief to our poultry farmers; hopefully confirming the Government is taking a more sophisticated and strategic approach to bird 'flu than it did with foot-and-mouth." ....".We now await news of the meeting held this week at the House of Commons (see below) (Defra ordered 2.3 million doses of vaccine for zoo birds earlier this year from Intervet UK.)
July 16 2006 ~ "If, as Defra says, farmers will have to pick up the bill for disease control, they should have a say over what is allowed in to this country.."
NFU South West spokesman Ian Johnson , commenting on the call for the banning of Brazilian beef - about 270,000 tonnes of which comes into Europe each year. The demand for a ban comes from the MEP Neil Parish. The Western Morning News says that his call follows "a report by the European Union's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) which revealed a catalogue of concerns over the quality, safety and traceability of Brazilian beef. The FVO voiced similar concerns about Brazilian pork, honey and eggs. .."
July 14 2006 ~ " One must accept that only a fraction of illegally imported meats are intercepted..."
The ProMed moderator MHJ draws attention today in the most tactful terms to the " inter-agency non-collaboration blocking situation" in countries including the UK .
"It seems to be a fact of life that the customs agencies work independently of the health and veterinary services. Thus the latter are unintentionally kept in the dark over which pathogens are coming in illegally from wherever. One must accept that only a fraction of illegally imported meats are intercepted. In spite of the sampling problems it would be valuable to know what is coming in over the transom. The same inter-agency non-collaboration blocking situation occurs in the UK and I am sure in many other countries."Another moderator points out the danger of smuggled meat: ".......in the 2005 Taiwan incident H5N1 virus was actually identified in smuggled meat.......The extent in which the illegal movement of contaminated poultry products has contributed to the spread of global H5N1 in poultry populations is unknown but should not be discounted........ The really unfortunate thing, over and above the greed and illegality involved, is that smuggling just adds another wrinkle that really shouldn't be there to the already complicated epidemiology surrounding the global spread of the H5N1 virus"
Read ProMed comments in full on the relevant page of the website.
July 14 2006 ~ The UK Government is not going to request special EU support if H5N1 destroys consumer confidence. The poultry industry is on its own.
Mr Salmond asked what special EU support is offered to poultry farmers and what assessment the Secretary of State had made of the impact of such support on the poultry industry in the UK . Ian Pearson replied
".... "It is a long established Government policy that accommodating market fluctuations is something for the industry to manage. It is principally for this reason that we do not propose to exercise the EC provision to provide these exceptional market support measures."Hansard
July 13 2006 ~ Bioflavonoid based products - "....active ingredient has been tested independently by DEFRA and found to be effective against viruses such as those causing Avian Influenza and Newcastle disease..."
An article in www.foodsafety.eu.com suggests that bioflavonoid based products - and in particular the "EnviroCyte", and "Nvirox" - are highly effective in killing pathogens. The active ingredient in Nvirox, Citrox MDC, has been tested against H5N1 virus at the Retroscreen Laboratories and shown to be 99.9998 percent effective.
".... Laboratory tests carried out by Prof John Oxford at Retroscreen Laboratories, University of London, have shown the product ("EnviroCyte") to be effective against viruses...... the active ingredient has been tested independently by DEFRA and found to be effective against viruses such as those causing Avian Influenza and Newcastle disease...."The whole article can be read on the www.foodsafety.eu.com website.
"...Nvirox can be used as a preventative measure destroying the virus before it is even discovered. The spread of disease can then be contained and the threat deactivated. ."
July 12.13 2006 ~ "Millions of gallons of leachate still seep into our water supplies from the hundreds of FMD burial sites around Cumbria & Dumfries & Galloway"
This is, according to the government, "being monitored & is perfectly safe." However, an email from Cumbria today suggests a link between this and the disappearance of the sea trout population of the Solway Firth and its many rivers.
".....The "Half-Netters" - professional Solway fishermen - have noticed their nets now remain a horrible brown colour and the number of Sea Trout being caught has fallen to a trickle...."See email.
More on Great Orton
July 13 It has been pointed out to us that these problems are not confined to Cumbria. The Virodor Landfill site in Devon has been shown to contain - among other harmful compounds - Benzene, Methyl mercaptan and Hydrogen sulphide. These are included in the AERC 'Top Ten compounds in LFG as being most significant in terms of their health implications. (AERC p8-9). (email )
July 11 2006 ~"At all costs, in combating H5N1, we must avoid the vaccine-free zone that the catastrophic 2001 foot and mouth outbreak became.." Lawrence Woodward
Avian Flu and the vaccination issue - A House of Commons Reception on 19th July
Elm Farm and its Research Centre - familiar to many warmwell readers - will be presenting a report at the reception at the House of Commons next Wednesday (19th July 2006 4 p.m. to 6 p.m) sponsored by the MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon. Their report - Vaccination Nation? - is a study of the arguments surrounding the use of preventive vaccination for the control of H5N1 avian flu in poultry
To attend - or merely to find out more information - you are invited to contact Elm Farm. Email Pam.email@example.com with name and your full postal address in order to request a personalised invitation. (These are required for HoC security.) The page of Background information should, we feel, be read in full. Extract:
"At all costs, in combating H5N1, we must avoid the vaccine-free zone that the catastrophic 2001 foot and mouth outbreak became," says Elm Farm Research Centre's Director Lawrence Woodward. "We must show that we have all learned the lesson that planned, timely, preventive vaccination is the scientifically proven, politically acceptable route for controlling such serious diseases."( Elm Farm Research Centre is the UK's leading organic farming research and advisory body based near Newbury in Berkshire. It is grateful for the help it has received from like-minded farming and poultry organisations in the preparation of the report).
July 10 2006 ~ H5N1 vaccination plan "None of the stakeholders dissented"
We reproduce, with permission, an article (pdf) in the Ranger which is the official magazine of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association. The title: "Bird flu threat - housing flocks not always an option. DEFRA urged to put in place vaccine plan."
"Small scale poultry keepers have joined forces to lobby Defra for the establishment of a preventive vaccination policy for avian influenza.The html file of the whole article may be read here.
The 14-strong group of organisations - including the British Waterfowl Association, the Poultry Club of GB and the Henkeepers Association - is urging the government to put in place a plan now in case vaccination is deemed necessary in the future.
"What bird keepers want is a policy. We are not asking for vaccination now," says Dr Chris Ashton of the British Waterfowl Association. "But our organisations are poorly represented at meetings with Defra and not in a significant proportion when faced with the demands of the commercial poultry industry."......
Defra confirmed at the meeting that it currently holds no vaccine bank. "
July 10 2006 ~ PowderMed's DNA vaccine against avian flu tested in animals, "stops the infection entirely"
In the Guardian report by its science correspondent, Ian Sample, about the H5N1 vaccine, made by PowderMed, that is ready for human testing, we read that the DNA vaccine has been entirely successful in animals.
"Our tests have shown that it stops the infection entirely, to the point that we can't even measure the virus in the animals afterwards," said John Beadle, chief medical officer of the Oxford-based company PowderMed......The company has listed details of the trial on the government's website, Clinicaltrials.gov where it states it is seeking 75 volunteers for the trial at Guy's drug research unit in London..."(PowderMed's development facility is located in the former PowderJect development laboratories in Oxford. It will be remembered that PowderJect has been in the news in the past. Mr Blair ran into a cronyism row over the initial £32 million contract awarded without normal tendering to Powderject, formerly run by the Labour donor Paul Drayson. See report about smallpox vaccine.)
July 9 - 10 2006 ~ Article on bTB at Food Solutions Europe
Peter King, the Executive Committee Chair at the European Livestock Association is quoted by Food Solutions
"....The present testing system in the UK is widely acknowledged to be inaccurate - it's like taking a shotgun to the problem and hoping they hit something. I will mention one farmer that had six pure pedigree Herefords killed because they reacted to the UK TB test. When they hung them up and studied them, none of them showed any clinical evidence whatsoever of having TB. That farmer has lost those animals forever from a herd that has been established for 50-60 years, the slaughtered cattle included rare bloodlines. DEFRA now have no credibility with him. And that is a significant factor, because if they want support and cooperation from producers to beat the problem, they need a credible way of going about it. Right now, it is a national joke as well as a national disgrace."On the subect of vaccination, the article quotes DEFRA:spokesman Matt Conway
"The department has invested more than £10 million in vaccine research over the last seven years. A field trial has been approved for a TB vaccine for badgers and the initial survey work required to underpin the trial is almost complete. Work on improved diagnostics and oral delivery of vaccine in badgers is continuing. In relation to cattle vaccine our laboratories began work in January on new vaccine candidates and delivery protocols in a natural transmission study." Read articleIt presently costs Britain an estimated £90 million a year to tackle bTB and the NFU forecasts that this will more than double in the next five years.
(The article unfortunately says that the FMD crisis in the UK "left thousands of premises infected". This sort of reporting is all too common. While it is true that 10,509 premises lost animals to the killing, we know for certain that on only 1324 of the 2,056 farms actually designated as Infected Premises, foot and mouth disease had been positively identified. (401 were negative and 301 were untested.)
Killing took place on 9185 other premises, certainly - but to assert that they were necessarily "infected" is, alas, nonsense. Anyone seriously interested may consult Understanding the 2001 UK foot and mouth epidemic)
July 8 2006 ~ Spanish H5N1 case. Was the dead bird found six weeks ago?
Bird Life International says "we hope that ornithologists will be allowed to examine the corpse " "......Dr Richard Thomas of BirdLife International. "Too often, invaluable information as to the source of the virus in wild birds has been wasted because appropriate experts have not been called in."
On the question of the possibility that the dead bird was found as loing ago as six weeks, the ProMed moderator says,
"For one such report, attributed to Reuters ...... It is quite strange that this key detail has been omitted from most media versions of the report, as it totally alters the epidemiological interpretation of the event, as stated above. - Mod.JW]See also warmwell's H5N1 page
July 7 2006 ~ " It would be interesting to obtain expert analysis of the possible contribution to this improvement of the mass vaccination policy implemented "
Commenting of the latest FAO avian influenza update by Joseph Domenech (See H5N1 page) the ProMed moderator (AS) says,
".....2 subjects seem to deserve special attention: First, the worldwide decreased prevalence of the disease since April 2006. It remains to be seen if this is a repeated seasonal decrease, as observed also in 2004 and 2005, or an indication of the pandemic having peaked. .."We read in the FAO report that in Vietnam ".... A total of 117.9 million doses of vaccines have been used. Post-vaccination surveillance has been implemented. Except for the finding during the border control, there has been no new case reported since the last case which was detected in Cao Bang on 17 Dec 2005." (See H5N1 page)
A 2nd point of interest is the improvement in the Vietnamese situation, both on the public- as well as animal-health fronts....... It would be interesting to obtain expert analysis of the possible contribution to this improvement of the mass vaccination policy implemented "
July 6 2006 ~ Intervet International completed the acquisition of the FMD vaccine factory in Cologne on July 4th
The Intervet press release says,
" The site in Cologne will become Intervet's international competence center for FMD vaccine research, development and production. The factory -in combination with Intervet's expertise in vaccine production- will significantly contribute to the needs of the market for safe and efficacious FMD vaccines. In addition, this factory will provide an antigen bank, which -under government contracts- can guarantee emergency supply of FMD vaccines..."Good news if there were a new outbreak since no one could pretend again there there would 'not be enough vaccine'. ( Keith Sumption, in 2001 a senior lecturer in international health at Edinburgh University, but now Secretary, EUFMD at the FAO, told the European Parliament that there had been five million doses in the EU vaccine bank. He told the meeting that if blanket vaccination had been used, "following typical epidemiology patterns after vaccination, the last case would have taken place around one month after vaccination began". Telegraph )
July 5 2006 ~ "Sooner or later we will need it back again."
The concluding paragraph of Magnus Linklater's article in the Times on the state of British farming compared to the situation in France (" a net exporter of food") and the "myth" that small-time agriculture is holding France back. Policies there are changing in favour of the small producer. France is indeed beginning " to assess the cost of centralised production, not just in economic terms but also as a factor that contributes to global warming."
".....We cannot forever continue to jet in fruit and vegetables from improbable places in the name of choice and cheapness. If we are serious about the environment, we cannot turn a blind eye to the ranching conditions or the deforestation in countries like Brazil or Argentina, which supply our beef. Above all, we cannot simply allow our farming heritage to melt away because it is out of fashion. Sooner or later we will need it back again. .."
July 3 2006 ~ " The origins of the 2001 epidemic, which cost £8 billion, remain a mystery"
A Telegraph article today says that when David Miliband and David Cameron visit the Royal Show they will come under pressure. Cheaper imports that do not meet European animal health standards and, in Brazil, are produced by human workers in conditions that could be described as slave labour.
"....Brazilian beef imports are cheaper than British beef but an official European Union mission to Brazil last year found that there was no system in place to trace where meat products had originated. A further EU inspection will take place this month. The origins of the 2001 epidemic, which cost £8 billion, remain a mystery..... The National Farmers' Union has written to Markos Kyprianou, the European health and consumer protection commissioner, demanding a total ban. Thomas Binns, the NFU livestock board chairman, said: "We're still seeking assurances about the measures implemented to prevent foot and mouth disease entering Europe and that fresh beef from Brazil is not placing the EU at an unnecessary risk."
July 3 2006 ~ New Zealand offers the power of the internet to those trying to control TB infected possums
In New Zealand the scourge of bTB is spread not by badgers but by infected possums.
Massey University News today:
"Possums are major carriers of bovine tuberculosis and infect domestic cattle and deer herds. The Animal Health Board is a local government and farming body responsible for implementing the national pest management strategy for Bovine Tb. It has a goal to wipe-out Tb by 2013....The Possum Control Decision Support System is free and can be accessed at: http://possumdss.landcareresearch.co.nz/ Written in clear plain English, checklists cover the biological and technical constraints managers or contractors need to consider when planning a control operation. It recommends tools and techniques for a range of conditions. The database answers specific queries, and features an "encyclopaedia" of information sheets linked through key words.
".....the system will ensure people involved in possum control have ready access to expert knowledge. ......Many control contractors are Internet savvy, and use technology such as laptops and global positioning systems routinely..... With this system they can now go and check any concerns they may have on their planned approach from a large database of information. They can use it like a book." ...." (Massey University News)
July 2 2006 ~ Outbreaks of the H5N1 avian virus have now been confirmed in 53 countries
The Bangkok Post reports that
"...... The USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service's Avian Influenza Coordinated Agriculture Project will conduct surveillance on migratory birds in Alaska, California, Washington state and Utah, and test about 7,000 birds this year at a total cost of $19 million, the USDA report states.See also warmwell bird flu page with news of the new outbreak in China
The department said it plans to spend $28 million on domestic poultry surveillance this year and another $21 million to coordinate international avian flu projects. This international effort includes the establishment of USDA offices in China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia that will focus solely on avian flu."
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