At a meeting of the NSP in a hotel in Dumfries several speakers and farmers were present. Mike Dawson vet (NSP. F.S.A and FSA technical adviser to SEAC) explained how genotyping worked (ARR VRQ etc) He also talked about the attempts to date to produce scrapie resistant sheep.
In answer to a question he said that semen would be stored as an insurance policy in case in the future VRQ was seen to have other qualities that at present had not been appreciated.
He also said that 85,000 had had bolus put in - 38 sheep had been killed or had to be put down. He described the results when sheep had been "challenged" ( deliberately infected to you and me - Ah the way that language can be used in a sanitised way.)
Dewi Jones (Manager of sheep University of Wales) spoke about how genotyping would work its way through the national flock. He put forward several scenarios which would increase the speed of this . He also described how the gene types found in the national flock varied amongst breeds and how this had implications for the speed of a scrapie resistant flock.
Chris Lloyd from NSA (National Sheep association) spoke about how this was at the moment a voluntary scheme. It was clear however that the government had made it clear that a scrapie resistnat flock was the governments intention.
All the speakers clearly understood this message.
No great effort was made to explain why scrapie was now being treated as a major problem. Yes it affected output and could cause death but the main reason seemed to be that if it was shown that it could be transferred to humans then the sheep industry would suffer the same fate as had affected cattle with BSE.
Towards the end the question was asked of Stuart Baxter of SEERAD "If there were any plans to bring in TSE legislation such as had been brought in by England and Wales. He said that as far as he was aware this was not going to happen.
I then told the audience that "SI 843" had been brought in on 19th May - which said that any TSE susceptible animal could now be taken. So too was the right to seize computer records (storing genotype info of the sheep presumably).
The audience were urged to consult the information on the website Warmwell.com which also gives access to the legislation. There are plans to bring this into Scotland at the end of May which was written in Hansard" On that sobering note Stuart from SEERAD (Scotland's Agric dept) said that he was unawre of this and he closed the meeting. I was left with the following thoughts;
I had gone along to the meeting as a pet owner deciding to be informed about sheep issues and Yes I had learned a lot about genotyping, which I previously had no idea about.
My ignorance about genetics however was dwarfed by the Farmers' and Speakers' ignorance of legislation which is fundamental to their very existence.
Wise Up Farmers and your representatives before it is too late.
Why does the UK need legislation that goes Further that the EU regs? We must pressurize our political representatives for an answer.