Defra’s decision to use the gamma-interferon blood test
to increase the accuracy of the TB testing regime will be a useful
step forward in detecting infection in cattle, but attacking TB
at source remains the key to making lasting progress in controlling
and eradicating the disease, says the NFU.
TB will remain a scourge, to cattle, badgers and farmers alike
NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “The Government’s
announcement of increased blood testing for TB is fine as far as it
goes, but it still does not get to the root of the TB problem, which
is the reservoir of disease in wildlife.
“The increased use of the gamma interferon blood test will
make it easier to stamp out isolated outbreaks of disease, away from
the main hotspot areas, where TB is not established in the badger
population and cattle are not at risk of re-infection.
“But additional testing will be of little value to the thousands
of farmers in the hotspot areas whose herds are constantly exposed
to infection spreading from wildlife as a result of the Government’s
refusal so far to deal with disease in badgers.
“The increased use of the gamma interferon test – which
is known to produce a higher proportion of false positives – also
reinforces the need for a fair system of compensation.
“An improved cattle testing regime is part of the answer to
the spread of the disease. But it will make no difference to the source
of the problem, and until we get to grips with that, TB will remain
a scourge, to cattle, badgers and farmers alike.”
The new gamma interferon testing policy comes into force immediately
and details are available on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/control/gamma.htm
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