Farming Today  http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/ram/farming_today.ram
 
Anna Hill
 
Leading scientists from around the world want to start a research project which will eliminate foot and mouth disease world wide.  The team of scientists from the UK Canada, the States and Australia believe they have the ability to develop new vaccines which in the long term will get rid of the disease.  But it will cost forty million pounds.
 
Dr David Paton from the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright told me  why current vaccines weren't good enough.
 
"If you actually look at the vaccines that are available now, they're very effective at preventing clinical disease but they have a number of key drawbacks.  One of which is that they only protect against the particular strain that you vaccinate with.  Another very important one is that the duration of protection is quite short - you're probably looking at six months to a year at best and if you're wanting to use vaccination to try to control or eradicate foot and mouth in endemic regions then it's really not possible to go on vaccinating animals over and over again.
 
So what's your idea then? What would you like to see instead?
 
 Well, what you need then is a vaccine that gives a longer lasting immunity, and another need we have in the developed world where we want to del with FMD incursions on a sporadic basis with emergency vaccination is you need to have quicker vaccines so that it would give you a faster protection than the ones that are currently available.  If you look at the vaccines that we have at the moment they're relatively "low tech", vaccines that haven't changed much in the last twenty or so years.
 
Aren't we putting rather a Western spin on this?  We're worried about foot and mouth disease because it stops the commercial selling of our meat and therefore everyone gets very worried about it= but as you've said, Asia, Africa, Central America - those are all places where they have endemic and almost constant foot nd mouth disease.  We're just putting our fear about foot and mouth onto other countries aren't we?
 
Certainly we have an interest in improving FMD control but I think there is no doubt that the developing world does also.  They have aspirations to be able to supply their products internationally and at the moment foot and mouth is a major constraint.
You're asking for sixty million dollars - that's an awful lot of money. Aren't you asking for too much and who is going to pay for it?
 
It's quite a lot of money but you have to set it against what are the costs that you're paying out at the moment.  If you consider that some figures would say 8 billion pounds for the cost of the UK outbreak in 2001 then of course it's a drop in the ocean.
 
http://www.abc.net.au/news/justin/weekly/newsnat-30sep2003-25.htm
 

Scientists cap in hand for foot and mouth

Leading research scientists have launched a campaign to try to eliminate one of the world's most devastating livestock diseases.

Scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada want to raise $US60 million to develop an improved vaccine for foot and mouth disease.

They are calling on United Nations agencies and other international donors for support.

Dr Martyn Jeggo, from the CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory, says it is a good investment.

"It's a five-year delivery time with a new vaccine on the shelf in five years time," Dr Jeggo said.

"It sounds a lot of money but when you think that the UK outbreak cost at least $12 billion to the UK economy, you can realise that a vaccine that could really halt the infection and give immediate control would have huge financial benefits."

He says the disease is a global responsibility.

"It threatens both the developing world where it's a major cause of poverty through the loss of livestock revenue and it's a major threat to the livestock industry in the developed world."