NFU says badger cull is still vital as TB cattle vaccine remains years away
Cattle vaccine should be part of a package of measures to help control bovine TB in the future, but a workable vaccine remains many years away said the NFU today.
The statement comes after news reports on a breakthrough in cattle vaccine for TB which has been developed by Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency.
The breakthrough talked about is the diva test, which will be able to help differentiate between a vaccinated cow and a cow that has TB. This is one of the main stumbling blocks to a cattle vaccination programme.Â The diva test report has been with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate since January and is still being evaluated.
NFU President Peter Kendall said: â€œWhat concerns me most is that after today there could be more confusion about what is already a highly complex situation. We need a package of measures to tackle TB and yes, cattle vaccine must be one of them. But as Defraâ€™s chief vet Nigel Gibbens said cattle vaccine, and the tests and regulations needed to put it in place across Europe, â€˜may take yearsâ€™. In the meantime, the spread of TB is doubling every nine years.
â€œTB is one of the main problems facing our dairy and beef farmers today and all of the scientific reports to date tell us that no one measure alone is going to combat TB.
â€œSo while no-one wants to cull badgers this policy does have to include tackling TB in badgers because badger vaccination alone will not be enough; it will not cure a badger that already has TB. No other country in the world has ever got on top of TB without also tackling the disease in its wildlife carrier and breaking the cycle of reinfection.
â€œThis TB eradication package also includes strict biosecurity on farms, tight cattle movement controls, a tough cattle TB testing regime and a cull policy that sees all cattle that test positive for TB being slaughtered. This meant losing more than 34,000 cattle across Great Britain last year alone to this disease.
â€œWe must also remember that studies so far have shown that the cattle vaccine itself is not 100 per cent effective so on its own can only be part of the solution to tackling TB. In the meantime do we stand by idly while the disease gets worse, with more cattle being slaughtered and the disease spreading even further in our wildlife?
â€œI will say again that no-one, not the NFU, nor the farmers involved, wants to kill badgers. But TB must be stopped from making its relentless march across our countryside. Only by using all of the available tools in the box will we begin to get on top of this terrible disease.â€