NFU sets stage for scientific discussion on bovine TB

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has hosted leading UK experts to discuss the scientific basis for eradicating bovine TB (bTB).

A range of specialists spoke at the event at the union’s headquarters in Stoneleigh, including Defra’s chief scientific adviser professor Ian Boyd; lead scientist for TB at the Animal and Plant Health Agency Professor Glyn Hewinson; and Professor Christianne Glossop, chief veterinary officer for Wales.

NFU deputy president Minette Batters said: “This conference is not about policy. It’s about the best science that is going to pave the way to beating bovine TB. It is a unique opportunity for scientists to engage with farmers. It is very much about understanding the basics and really trying to appreciate the complexities.

“Beating this disease is going to hurt, it’s not going to be easy and the science and investment in the science is going to be crucial for success. I strongly believe that the government strategy – which was launched in April of this year – offers a much-needed opportunity for looking forwards.”

A planned nationwide rollout of the badger culls was put on hold in the spring, with government deciding to concentrate on improvements in the existing cull areas, as well as developing badger vaccination projects and improving biosecurity, amongst other measures.
The NFU added that it was leaving no stone unturned in its mission to beat the disease, and was “not prepared to wait until after next year’s election to see further action taken”.

The TB Eradication Advisory Group (TBEAG) is an advisory group which reports to ministers, but the NFU wants to see the issue ‘be de-politicised’, suggesting that TBEAG becomes an independent body “equipped with the teeth that will be needed”.

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