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PRESS RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE         Sheepdrove Organic Farm              17 Aug 2007

Sheepdrove Organic Farm, known for its high standards of organic farming, animal welfare and sustainability projects, is owned by environmental campaigners and former publishers, Peter and Juliet Kindersley. They have responded to the recent outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease by renewing their call for FMD vaccination to be adopted.

 

Allow vaccination against FMD now!

The UK must develop a programme of vaccination against FMD now. Sheepdrove’s campaign line is “Cure not cull!” because it’s time to start caring  for animals and stop killing them – start preventing through vaccination and curing those that have it as we do for any other illness that we or animals get. This is the ethical way.

 

Peter Kindersley points out, “Defra’s outdated FMD strategies have been a disaster for rural communities. This government’s stupid, pointless policy led to a 2001 bill of £8.5 billion and 6.5 million animals killed - the vast majority completely innocent  - not infected at all by FMD!”

 

“We saw in 2001 that the mass slaughter policy was a disaster for farmers, tourism and the countryside and there is absolutely nothing to stop the same madness happening again (as we started to see with this new outbreak). We don’t need a vast new strategy – we just need to start acting ethically - doing what we do with every other illness – vaccinate to prevent it and learn how to cure those animals that get it.” What could be more straightforward?

 

The low point of this new outbreak came when the white suited figures with bolt guns  culled 362 animals and then tested them AFTER they had killed them.  Insanity? And found that none of them carried FMD. Why not test before? Think of the time and trouble to cull, remove the good carcasses and test when there was no need (all paid for by you and me) – and then incinerate them! They should have been sold and eaten. Let’s not devalue their lives. Farm animals should lead a happy life, die humanely, and nothing put to waste.

 

Trade is driving the current policy – it is not a disease issue. We should learn to live with the disease. Historically greedy exporters have wanted to protect their trade and gain special status for exporting FMD-free meat and animals. Where do you see words ’FMD free beef’ on the restaurant menu anyway? We already import meat from countries with FMD. And we already vaccinate farm animals.

 

So who gains from this topsy-turvy trade policy? And is this what the public want? We say NO! They want real ETHICAL farming that cares for animals – not assassins putting bolt-guns to their heads.

 

Frankly we don’t understand enough about FMD. Albert Howard, one of the founders of the Soil Association, would let his cows graze next to FMD cattle in Africa and they never got it. He put it down to good nutrition. German farmers took a sack, wiped the mouth of the infected cow, and then infected the rest of their herd so they all had immunity. They did this because it wasn’t as infectious as is the NFU et al make out. Way back in 1914 India stopped worrying about FMD vaccines because indigenous livestock were highly resistant to infection. That’s the key – we can learn to live with this disease and develop robust livestock through a more natural health approach. Meanwhile let’s vaccinate.

 

The NFU and the slaughterers of Whitehall need to realise that where FMD comes from is a side issue – whether it came from Pirbright or some piece of meat does not matter. What matters is that it comes and will keep coming – it will find it’s way here whatever barriers we try to put up – especially in a world of trade-for-trade’s sake. So we need to deal with it in a sensible, practical and ethical way.

 

SIGN THE PETITION

Go to http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/To-live-now where you will find a petition to No.10 Downing Street. Here’s your chance to tell the government that you do not support their mass slaughter strategy. Do it now, don’t let them forget about this important issue!

 

BETTER FOR ANIMAL WELFARE

Compassion in World Farming are campaigning strongly for FMD vaccination, because they can see that a mass cull policy leads to a devaluation of life for millions of sentient animals; and during outbreaks, standards in normal animal welfare are superseded by the most unethical, cruel and indefensible behaviours.

 

CIWF are clear about the hugely exaggerated reputation of FMD as a super dangerous infectious disease, and say, “It usually runs its course in 2 or 3 weeks after which the great majority of animals recover naturally.”

So what on earth is going on? Trade is the reason…

 

REAL SCIENCE FROM THE ROYAL SOCIETY

Vaccination for FMD was reviewed by the Royal Society in 2002 and by the EU Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW) in 2003. Both came out in favour of an increased role for vaccination in both routine and emergency control. Yes – routine means routine – when the owners of animals believe that protection is needed. At Sheepdrove we believe it should be left up to the farmer to make their own risk assessment – if they believe there is a risk then the farmer should be able to vaccinate.

 

The Royal Society report concluded that “emergency vaccination should be seen as a major tool of first resort, along with culling of infected premises and known dangerous contacts, for controlling FMD outbreaks”. So why did we cull 362 animals at the Hunts Hill farm all of whom tested completely innocent of the disease? Why test afterwards rather than before culling?  Why was ‘emergency vaccination’ not used? It shows a state of mind that has not the animals best interest at heart – a cruel and disproportionate approach – not ethical at all.

 

Sheepdrove Organic Farm supports the Royal Society’s conclusion that the “policy should be vaccinate-to-live, which necessitates acceptance that meat and meat products from vaccinated animals enter the food chain normally”. The Food Standards agency has already stated that vaccination poses no problems for human consumption – just as all the other vaccinations we give our animals don’t.

 

THE LIES THE GOVERNMENT, DEFRA, NFU AND PIRBRIGHT TOLD US IN 2001

Why do you think the Blair government refused to have a public enquiry after the 2001 outbreak? Because it was just too embarrassing for them – the lies, untruths and sheer insanity of MAFF – so as a fop to us they changed the name to DEFRA – but nothing has changed!

 

CARRIER STATUS?

The Royal Society also concluded that “many experiments have failed to demonstrate the transmission of disease from carriers to susceptible animals in close contact with them”, whilst reports of carrier transmission in outbreak situations are ‘largely historical’ and were made before tests could determine whether the virus in the carrier animal and the infected animal were the same strain.

 

VACCINES DON’T WORK?

High potency vaccine prevents sheep from becoming carriers and pigs have never been shown to be carriers. The scientists continue: “We conclude that detailed scientific evidence for the infectiousness of carriers is weak.”

Vaccination is generally seen as the responsible way to eradicate disease, both in animals and in humans. Vaccination of livestock against a range of diseases is normal practice.

 

VACCINATED ANIMALS CAN INFECT OTHER ANIMALS?

There is no evidence that a dead vaccine suddenly resurrects itself into life again!

 

THE VIRUS CAN BE PICKED UP FROM THE WIND OVER MANY MILES?

So why isn’t FMD all over Surrey? Where is the proof?

 

LET’S HAVE REAL SCIENCE

The virus that causes Foot and Mouth Disease is in a group called the Picornaviridae – the same family as Polio virus. Instead of DNA they have RNA, and gradual changes in their genes create slightly different structure to their protein capsule. Certain sections of this capsule are known as neutralisation sites because this is where antibodies attach as part of an immune  response. Immunised animals with the right antibody are able to stop the virus.

 

Structural changes to neutralisation sites make new ‘serotypes’ and require a new vaccine, however the rate of change is usually rather slow with Picorna viruses – not as fast as the mutations seen in influenza virus, for example.

 

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN?

Policy makers need to learn from the latest science to drive a comprehensive re-think. Serious and swift steps are required to advance EU and British policy to support a proper vaccination system – just as we do for other more serious diseases. For example:

  • Vaccination must be adopted as the ‘first line of defence’ against FMD
  • Trade penalties must not be held against vaccination  - whether we cull or vaccinate the conditions should be the same.
  • Proper controls and animal registration (built into the current system) can enable tracing of vaccines and immunised livestock.

 

Defra must promote the facts (real science) behind a vaccination policy and immunisation programmes, including the following:

  • The mechanism of how FMD vaccine works – being clear that this is a dose of dead virus. This would stop the myth of perpetuating infection by vaccination or the belief that it is necessary to cull healthy, uninfected animals after vaccination.
  • How serology testing can distinguish between vaccinated and infected animals.
  • Vaccinated animals make safe meat and this should be treated equally in trade. No extra labelling will be needed, as UK consumers already eat vaccinated meat.

 

MYTHS AND AWKWARD QUESTIONS

  1. How do we tell the difference between animals who are infected and those who are vaccinated? Modern vaccines are purified and contain only non-structural proteins (NSP) to stimulate antibodies to just the ‘neutralisation sites’ on the virus. This means that tests can distinguish between vaccinated and infected livestock, as the latter will have produced additional antibodies to structural proteins as well as NSP antibodies.
  2. Can vaccinated animals be carriers of the disease? If they have up-to-date vaccination and are healthy, this should not happen. Remember  non-vaccinated animals are MUCH MORE likely to catch and carry FMD! The Royal Society in 2002 concluded that the risk from carrier animals is actually very low.
  3. Aren’t vaccines too slow to be effective in an emergency? An immune response to the vaccine can be effective after 4 days.
  4. What about the virus evolving into new strains? All types of vaccines require continual updating to cover new strains, as normal practice.
  5. Culling will still be needed, won’t it? Only infected animals will need to be culled, rather than carrying out a ‘just in case’ mass slaughter.
  6. Vaccination will destroy the UK meat trade. Not true. Immunisation against FMD only extends the period before an ‘all clear’ so any ban on exports following future FMD outbreaks would be temporary. There is also the need  to change the current trade rules.

 

Ends.

 

CONTACT DETAILS

Sheepdrove Organic Farm 01488 674747. www.sheepdrove.com

Email: sales@sheepdrove.com Press enquiries: jason.ball@sheepdrove.com 07747 848429

 

LINKS

Read our farm blog - http://sheepdrove.wordpress.com

Please sign the petition - http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/To-live-now

CIWF’s 10 key points on FMD vaccination - http://www.ciwf.org/home/news_fmd07_vac_keypoints.shtml 

The Royal Society’s 2002 report on diseases - http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/inquiry/intro.htm