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British Veterinary Association responds to Godfray Review of Bovine TB Strategy

14 November 2018, at 10:14am

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has responded to the review of the Government’s 25 year Bovine TB Strategy.

The review, which was commissioned by Environment Secretary Michael Gove and led by population biologist Sir Charles Godfray, aims to inform future strategies around the Government’s goal of eradicating the disease by 2038. BVA’s Senior Vice President John Fishwick gave oral evidence to the review in May.

John Fishwick said: “We are pleased that this review recognises the major role that vets play within TB control and the importance of maintaining strong working relationships with farmers and wider industry. Collaboration and mutual ownership of the task in hand are key to curbing the spread of TB and building on the progress made to date.

“The recommendation for creating a new body to oversee disease control in conjunction with the Livestock Information Program is one that we would support, provided that the Government taps into veterinary expertise to make this as effective and evidence-based as possible. It’s also positive to see that the report recommends that new testing regimes and approaches to vaccination should be explored, supporting our view that all the tools in the toolbox need to be considered in the fight against Bovine TB.

“There is also a need to critically evaluate the economics behind the levels of cattle movements in England and farmers should be factoring these in as part of their overall farm biosecurity strategy.

“BVA supports the principle of badger control where there is a demonstrated need and where it is done safely, humanely and effectively. We will continue to emphasise the importance of a rigorous evidence base for informing decisions, but welcome this review’s extensive scope and recognition that badger control is necessary as part of a comprehensive strategy, particularly in high risk areas.

“It is now down to DEFRA ministers to consider the options presented and weigh up how they take them forward. We would urge them to take early and decisive action and ensure that vets continue to be engaged in this process given the vital role they have to play in understanding and eradicating this devastating disease.”