For those who missed the original broadcast, Warmwell have
transcript of the recent "Countryfile" programme:
Transcript by warmwell.com
Vaccination Programme in Argentina
programme aired on Sunday 9th September 2001
"From the empty livestock markets of Britain, we cross the Atlantic to the
country of Argentina which returned to mass-vaccination when it too had an
outbreak of the disease - and they did it as just a matter of routine. From
Argentina, Charlotte Smith has this report."
CS: Welcome to beef country , the world's fifth largest producer, Argentina,
provides two and a half million tons a year. Beef's been a valuable export
earner in a country where the economic situation is as bad as the current
weather (shots of rain sleeting down on cattle)
This is winter. Coming from Britain it's really difficult to appreciate the
scale of beef production here. This area is called the Pampas and it covers
a quarter of the country - that's 25 million hectares, around sixty million
acres. Now, most of Argentina's 52 million head of cattle are here.
Normally, not very much would be happening on the ranch at this time of year
but now they're busy gathering all the animals together as part of the
national vaccination programme.
Argentina is in the midst of a major outbreak with about the same number of
cases as Britain. Like us, their exports are halted but unlike us they've
decided to vaccinate all the cattle, sheep and pigs - and not for the first
time. Vaccination is something farmers are used to.
Georgina Pelham (farmer) We have 24 thousand head of cattle here, beef and
meat and well all the farm work, you know, the de-horning the castration the
vaccination is all part of our life and we take it completely naturally..I
mean it's no big deal. We If we don't have foot and mouth it would be
better because we don't have to pay for the vaccine and we don't have to
work but I mean it's been like this for as long as I can remember.
CS But surely it's an awful lot of work gathering together that many
GP But they have to be gathered together anyway. They are gathered together
to go to the field for better food and then they go to the corrals on the
way and they get their vaccine and they go in there and they're perfectly
happy with it.
CS If you were unlucky enough to get foot and mouth what happens?
GP Then we cure them of their mouth sores and their foot sores if it's a
very mild outbreak with one or two applications of the medicine and that's
ok, and they recover. If it's worse then all the cows that have got it are
put into a kind of sick bay in the field, a special field and they're looked
after until they recover. We give them time.
CS So you don't slaughter even infected animals?
CS. wouldn't it be better to stamp it out that way though?
GP It's impossible! It's impossible. If you can imagine slaughtering for one
animal 600,000 head - all the farmers would go completely under - the
government hasn't got the money to pay compensation. I mean it would never
enter our heads. It is not a viable policy.
CS Under international rules only disease-free meat can be exported. As it's
feared that vaccination could disguise infection carcasses must be treated
to kill any virus. The British fear that the cost would make our meat
uncompetitive - but the Argentineans have been doing it for years.
Hector Salamanco, Argentino Meat Exporters Association
We export more or less 50% - 60% of our export are directed to the European
market . We have there a niche market for special cuts, mainly in Germany
and a minor proportion to ... to Spain...We export to the United States and
Canada and we vaccinate our herd. So the only country where exports are not
admitted with vaccination... are Japan, Korea and Mexico.
CS Since the outbreak started in February Argentina's lost export markets.
It couldn't have come at a worse time. The economy's in crisis, protestors
taking to the streets and the International Monetary Fund called in.
Vaccination's not just the cheapest way to deal with Foot and Mouth. It
seems the fastest way to get Argentinian meat back onto the world markets.
Argentina has been here before; they have always vaccinated against foot and
mouth. Now ten years ago they decided to use vaccination as a control to try
and eradicate the disease and by 1998 were free of foot and mouth. That's
when they took the controversial decision to stop vaccinating. Now though,
the mass vaccination programme is back with the latest outbreak.
That's down to one man, Marcello Regunaga. He was appointed Agriculture
Minister in April. He immediately reversed the non-vaccination policy.
CS It was your decision to vaccinate. So why?
MR Well, because we feel that it's very risky and it's very difficult and we
have already the national experience and Britain, in which when you don't
vaccinate and the animals don't have a history of vaccination immediately
that you have one outbreak it moves all over the country.
CS In an attempt to prevent that, Argentina uses the latest vaccines and has
re-employed the man who, ten years ago, was in charge of the mass
vaccination which got on top of this virus.
Dr Bernardo Cane, Chief Vet of Argentina
All the animals are twice a year vaccinated and protected the virus is going
to be live and it is not going to mutate. We have a good experience. We have
been working from decades 70, 80s and 90s - we stopped vaccination in 99
which declined the level of protection and one year after that blew up the
problem because the challenge from domestic or from foreign virus is very
CS Any vaccination policy is only as good as the vaccines. Argentina is
confident that its have improved. While limited culling has been used, the
government said that mass killing is out.
BC If you approach with that system and you see that in two weeks the
disease is continuing growing, forget it! Stop killing animals! Do
CS This is Argentina's vaccine and now, because of the current campaign they
are preparing twenty million doses of vaccine every month. That vaccine
should protect against four of the twelve strains of foot and mouth - that's
the four that are most common here in South America.
The foot and mouth virus mutates but as vets will be vaccinating on the
country's 300,000 farms twice a year, they hope to be able to track the
effectiveness of the vaccine and hone it to tackle future strains.
This is a really busy place and that is all down to the current campaign.
This lab is having to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week and it's producing
20 million doses of vaccine every month. In fact, they're making so much
that they have run out of space and have had to hire in refrigerated
containers. In there (pointing to a container building) are 2 million doses
of this vaccine
BC One thing to be made clear, the vaccine is completely safe for the
animals and for the consumers of the meat and the meat. There is no allergic
reaction - nothing at all is related to the vaccines. Not only here. We have
been vaccinating from thirty years - 50 million heads a year for thirty
years: more than one and a half billion units of vaccine have been done in
Argentina. And the cost - of course it is very important for you to
understand the cost - the vaccine is around 20cents add 25 cents for the
cost of application - each animal costs about half a dollar each time and
it's done twice a year so it's one American dollar per animal per year.
CS Would you have considered slaughter if you could have afforded it?
BC It's not a problem of the budget, it's a problem of they are not going to
stop the disease?
CS But is Argentina vaccinating itself into a corner? Foot and mouth is a
major problem across South America and the virus doesn't recognise
international boundaries, so with the disease endemic in neighbouring
countries could Argentineans ever be able to stop vaccinating?
We have two borders we have two borders with Paraguay, Bolivia and now
Uruguay where foot and mouth is present so under these conditions I think we
have to go on vaccinating until all of these countries have removed the
disease. This is a regional problem not a country problem
Dr Bernardo Cane
The programme is for the first four years but we are advising to continue
protecting not because it exists but because of the risk that is coming from
outside. At the moment the thinking is not to stop vaccination for mid term
We need three years at least showing the world from now that we could be
preparing not to vaccinate so this decision could be taken in 2003 or 2004.
I would say at that time, if I am the secretary, I wouldn't decide to
CS And in Argentina this really isn't a controversial policy. All the
farmers we met supported it as the only way to regain the export trade.
Farmer 1 I think that if vaccination continues we will eradicate FMD. I was
one of the first to use vaccination.
Farmer 2 I think it's the only form of control
CS What about slaughter?
Farmer 2 There's about 19 million head of cattle in the province of Buenos
Aires alone. How could you possibly think of slaughtering that many cattle?
CS What does he (farmer 3) think of what we have done in Britain,
slaughtered and killed?
Interpreter He says that a lot of people have made a lot of effort to have
the cattle and that to kill them is a crime.
CS So in Argentina vaccination continues alongside some restrictions. At
this bull sale for instance, only the animals from one ranch are under the
hammer, which reduces the risk of the disease spreading. The government is
confident that their present outbreak will be under control by next month,
and even if foot and mouth isn't eradicated it will be enough for the
international community and Argentina will be allowed to resume exports.
We want to export meat - not the disease so if we fulfil a lot of
requirements that will be possible to export including having the disease
CS So you will be vaccinating and exporting?
MR Yes as we did in the past
CS And theres no problem?
MR There's no problem
Argentinians seem bemused by the UK's antipathy to vaccination but British
Ministers are not convinced that vaccinating would control our outbreak.
They fear it would jeopardise our meat export business which is worth about
the same as Argentina's.
Meat exports bring much needed foreign currency into Argentina - they're
worth more than 600 million dollars a year. What they have proved over the
past years is that vaccination is no barrier to trading with the rest of the
world. In fact, here they argue that it's countries that don't vaccinate
which are taking the risk both with animal health and with business
The more globalised is the world, the more tourists, the more transit and
the more interaction so if you have areas in which you have the disease and
areas in which you don't have, the risk of bringing in the disease is very
high. It's almost impossible to control a virus - the virus flows through
the air...nobody knows how it arrived in Japan or Britain so it's very risky
so a lot of technicians today are rethinking their strategy.
CS People in Britain are very nervous about vaccination and many people are
actually against it. What would you say to them?
MR I would say that only very rich countries would be prepared to spend the
money in Europe preparing for this strategy in a disease that does not
affect the human people because if you tell me "I want to kill animals that
have the Macao" ...this is a serious disease but with the foot and mouth,
this is a disease of animals, no problem with people...you need to have a
lot of money, too much money I would say, to have a strategy killing
millions of animals, hurting the capacity of the country and the just for
the strategy which is not supported all over the world
CS The way Argentina sees it, before it even considers ending its
vaccination programme, Europe will have one of its own
John Craven concludes the item
" So Argentina can export vaccinated beef if it treats it first. The British
government says it's much harder with sheep exports - our main market - and
then of course there's the vexed question of European policy. In Europe, if
animals are vaccinated they must then be killed . That's what happened
recently in the Netherlands where an outbreak was contained within two
months. But now the Dutch are pushing for a change in European policy so
that vaccinated animals can live."
Our comment: An interesting programme that tries to tackle a complex
subject in a straightforward manner - and is largely successful. Shame
about the final comment "In Europe, if animals are vaccinated they must
then be killed" which is completely false and serves only to perpetuate one
of the main myths about vaccination. Another glaring error is the earlier
statement that the UK's meat export trade "is worth about the same as
Argentina's" , when in fact UK imports of meat exceed exports, so there is
no export trade at all, only another myth. People used to think that the
BBC was responsible in its reporting and that facts would be carefully
cross-checked before being broadcast . . . . . . . . wrong!
# # #
Following the extraordinary announcement by the government that the entire
national sheep flock could be slaughtered in the worst case scenario should
BSE be discovered in them, reaction has been swift:
RARE BREEDS SURVIVAL TRUST CONDEMNS PLAN TO SLAUGHTER ALL BRITAIN'S SHEEP
THE RARE BREEDS Survival Trust (RBST) has reacted angrily to a suggestion
made by a Government Minister that all 40 million sheep in the UK could be
wiped out if BSE was found in flocks.
Speaking on this morning's (29 September 2001) BBC Radio 4 Today programme,
Elliot Morley, DEFRA Parliamentary Under Secretary, said a total cull was an
option that would have to be considered.
The RBST says that such a policy would destroy hundreds of years of work
spent developing the widest selection of specialist agricultural breeds.
"With more than 50 native breeds of sheep, 28 of which are recognised as
being endangered, Britain has more diversity and choice for specialist
applications than just about anywhere in the world," says Rosemary
Mansbridge, the Trust's Chief Executive.
"British sheep breeds are suited to local topography and climatic
conditions. They cannot instantly be replaced by foreign breeds developed
for different environments," she adds. "For example, it would be almost
impossible to replace our specialist mountain breeds."
The RBST is urging the Government to adopt policies that will improve
scientific understanding of scrapie, a similar disease to BSE which has
existed in sheep in many parts of the world for hundreds of years without
affecting human health, before adopting extreme policies based on limited
Rosemary Mansbridge says that the Government has obviously not learned the
lessons of the current foot and mouth outbreak. "So far, we have culled six
million animals. The effect on the environment, the rural economy and
tourism has been horrific. If the total sheep population is wiped out, foot
and mouth would look like a minor problem.
"The Government needs to do a lot more work before making pronouncements
about which there is little scientific understanding."
While the Warmwell site comments:
Sept 28 ~ Headlines today are likely to reinforce the erroneous idea,
already planted in the imagination of the public, that British sheep get BSE
and that therefore eating lamb can give human beings nvCJD. Neither has any
basis in reality. The idea has also been planted that the entire national
sheep flock could be wiped out. Why are these spectres being raised today?
They are not linked to any specific event - merely speculation. John
Thorley, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, said, in the
Telegraph report this morning: "The most important thing to remember is that
British sheep have not got BSE. "These are contingency plans. I honestly
believe that the slaughter of the British flock would never happen. It would
be ridiculous. We have the most resistant national flock in the world."
The parade of this contingency plan and its extensive airing on BBC R4
'Farming Today', News, and 'Today Programme' looks horribly like another
deliberate move by the UK government on the psychological side of a
campaign, suspected by many now, to eradicate the independent farmers. We
thought at first this idea was preposterous. We are now not so sure.
You can listen again to the BBC broadcast by clicking on the link below:
Our comment: The timing of this announcement is no accident. No-one
should be surprised. What the government is now saying is that foot and
mouth has been just a warming-up starter for the campaign proper - the
campaign, that is, to eliminate sheep from the UK scene. There is not, and
has never been, any evidence to link sheep to BSE, other than the most
bizarre laboratory experiments that have fed them on BSE-infected brain
material from cattle - yuk! But a string of "announcements" from people
like Sir John Krebs, and now Elliot Morley, are steadily convincing the
public that a real danger exists, LONG BEFORE a lengthy scientific study
into any possibility of a risk has been completed. One cannot imagine them
acting in this same way over the hazards posed by nuclear waste, for
example, or by GM pollen contamination, both of which are real and already
measured to some degree.
There is no longer a hidden agenda. It's on the table for everyone to see.
# # #
In our short critique of the latest DEFRA newsletter the other day,
concerning the byzantine complexity of the new licencing arrangements for
livestock movements, we ommitted to mention another item that caught our
"Plan now for the Spring - stock welfare.
Movement restrictions may be in place for some time to come. Last spring
the sight of animals suffering in appalling conditions shocked many. Please
plan now where to keep stock over the winter and early spring, in order to
minimise potential welfare problems. Prosecutions may result if preventable
welfare cases occur over following months."
How about that for mind-boggling hypocrisy? "Preventable welfare cases"
encompasses EVERY SINGLE case that has occurred throughout this epidemic,
for which the government itself is wholly accountable. Yet now they
threaten to prosecute farmers prevented from taking proper care of their
stock by government-imposed restrictions!
How much longer are farmers in general going to put up with this?
# # #
Lawrence has sent us this:
Dear Alan and Rosie,
From the NFU Newsletter for 28/9/01. I sent it for the Devon news but then
included the rest for the comedy value.
With best wishes,
Blood-testing in Devon: The good news..Is that the sheep at Chevithorne near
Tiverton in which a high proportion of positive antibodies were found last
week have tested negative for virus. The cattle on the farm have also
blood-tested negative. This will not, therefore, become a confirmed
And the bad news.Is that positive antibodies have been found in two flocks
in North Devon: in three of six groups of sheep making up a flock of1700 at
Kentisbury; and in one group of a flock of 700 at Brayford. The relatively
small number of animals found with positive antibodies suggests that the
disease was not recent. Both flocks are outside the 10km surveillance zone
and would not have been picked up by the original testing programme, and
what has also set the alarm bells ringing is that the Kentisbury flock is
right alongside Exmoor.
However, every known flock of sheep in that part of Devon - up to the
Somerset border - will be blood-tested and DEFRA is also doing patrols to
pick up any flocks of which they may not have records. The sheep are being
re-tested tomorrow and those groups containing positive antibody animals
will be slaughtered if the results are confirmed. But this discovery will
inevitably delay Devon's move to FMD-free status, which is now unlikely
before the end of October.
Relief (so far) in Gloucestershire: Initials test on the sheep found with
apparent lesions at a collection centre at Ross-on-Wye have come back
negative, and the farm at Lower Wick, Dursley, which was the source of a
scare the previous week, has been given the all clear, following negative
tests for both antibodies and virus. All of this may, however, delay
Gloucestershire's move to FMD-free status.
We had hoped that Cornwall would be given "free" status last Tuesday, but
this was delayed by cross-border blood testing from Devon. We remain hopeful
that the county will officially go "free" next Tuesday, but there is no
guarantee of that. If this does happen it will stop the movement of cattle
from Devon to Cornwall which has been permitted this week (if you can get a
DEFRA cock-up dashes Somerset hopes: Farmers in Somerset are incandescent
with rage after it was revealed that a cock-up by DEFRA will delay the
lifting of the county's "at risk" status for several weeks. It appears that,
in late July, DEFRA HQ sent a list of 22 farms due to be blood-tested in the
North Somerset UA to the Taunton Veterinary Office. It should have gone to
Gloucester, which is responsible for North Somerset. Taunton DEFRA simply
ignored the list ("nothing to do with us, guv"), leaving Gloucester in
blissful ignorance, and the 22 farms untested.
All of this has only come to light this week. But the implications are
serious. The flocks are now being blood-tested, but it could be several
weeks before the results come back and formaliities are concluded, and in
the meantime, both Somerset and North Somerset will remain "at risk".
Livestock movement licensing - chaos still reigns: Trading Standards
Departments across the region have been doing their best to issue movement
licenses in the face of continuing problems with the DEFRA database.By way
of example, Somerset TS received 412 licence applications during the first
three days of last week, but were only able to produce 23 licenses, and the
situation is similar in every TS office.
The message to frustrated farmers is: please do not take it out on the staff
in Trading Standards. The situation really is not of their making and they
are doing their best.
New "Sole Occupancy Licensing Scheme (SOLS): At last, some good news.
Details are expected to be announced in the next few days of a new Sole
Occupancy Licensing Scheme which will allow repeated movements of stock
animals between areas of land in a farmer's sole occupancy within a 20km
diameter circle. The group of premises must be clearly defined at the outset
and can include "land rented for autumn management purposes". All movements
to be by vehicle, subject to self-certified C and D, except for cattle and
sheep up to 0.5km which do not pass land or buildings in another
ownership/control. Blood testing not required; records must be kept;
licenses issued only after LVI visit and report on biosecurity and will be
subject to conditions specifying number or frequency of movements.
Tonight's joke comes from Astrid:
"Doctor, doctor, I keep seeing a spinning insect."
"Don't worry sir, it's
just a bug that's going around"
from Alan & Rosie