Here in Britain we want rid of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). Here’s a list of notifiable diseases affecting livestock in Britain. On our way to that goal, we want to reduce bTB’s spread. Therefore we have new rules about testing cattle (Bos primigenius) for bTB and about moving them around.
Minister David Heath told us the new rules. They came into force at the beginning of 2013. This was a few days after I wrote that I was waiting for Mr Heath’s boss at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Owen Paterson, to tighten cattle movement controls. Oops, I should keep up.
So we have these new rules. Are they any good?
I’m seeing scientists say that the right way forward is to test cattle more and to move cattle around less. That the wild badger (Meles meles) does indeed get bTB but isn’t to blame for spreading it. I’m seeing mixed opinions from farmers.
John Bourne chaired the team which gave us this: ‘A Science Base for a Sustainable Policy to Control TB in Cattle’. Prof Bourne’s team spent over ten years considering bTB and then said, in scientific words, ‘Don’t shoot badgers, you fools! Stop moving infected cattle around the country!’
Damian Carrington at the Guardian reported Prof Bourne saying that the Government wasn’t serious enough about anything but shooting M. meles. That the new rules are ‘a move in the right direction’ but too weak. We need ‘even stricter biosecurity’. We need to learn from our history and from Australian history.
I’ve been writing about the history and about the farmers’ points of view. I’ll show you those words when they’re ready. Just now, I’ll leave you with Prof Bourne.