Rethink Bovine TB

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Could DEFRA be pushing harder?

Bovine TBPosted by Susan Hooper Thu, October 18, 2012 18:14:31

Michael Ritchie, spokesman, Rethink Bovine TB writes:

"The only significant obstacle to a cattle TB vaccine is EU law, which forbids vaccination against BTB because it may interfere with the (woefully inaccurate) skin test. For this reason DEFRA has developed a test able to differentiate between vaccinated and infected cattle, the DIVA test.

"In 2010 DEFRA stated that it aimed to have BCG and the DIVA test licensed by 2012 but that "due to the need to change EU legislation which is a lengthy process we anticipate that a cattle vaccine and DIVA test could not be used in the field before 2015".

"It is now 2012 and both BCG and the DIVA test are ready to licence, but DEFRA is vaguely stating that use is "many years away". Why the change from 2015? It is because DEFRA is hoping that proposed new EU animal health legislation will allow vaccination.

"It is not clear what steps, if any, DEFRA has taken to change the law or get a derogation during the years it has been developing the vaccine. It is equally perplexing that DEFRA is just hoping that a major redraft of EU law will provide the solution, rather than demanding that existing law is changed and changed urgently to allow cattle farmers to protect their stock.

"Earlier this year DEFRA asked the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to licence the DIVA test. DEFRA was caught unawares when the OIE demanded UK field trials, trials that DEFRA claims it cannot do because use of the vaccine in the UK is illegal.

"There the matter is stuck - the vaccine is ready to licence but illegal to use. The DIVA test removes the reason vaccination is illegal, making the law pointless. But the DIVA test cannot be licensed until the vaccine is legal.

"What is now needed is nothing more than a strong DEFRA minister who will put an end to this farce and order officials to find solutions - not create more bureaucratic muddles - so as to deploy cattle vaccination without delay."

Extracted from Farmers Weekly article at

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