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Defra must vaccinate swiftly to allow animals to live

News Section Icon Published 07/08/2007

"We must not allow EU trade to come before animal welfare. We should not forget that we are dealing with hundreds and thousands of sentient beings, animals that feel pain and can suffer"

Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming

Defra must not delay vaccination any longer. Compassion in World Farming applauds the swift handling by Defra of the foot and mouth outbreak so far and welcomes the news that 300,000 doses of vaccine have been ordered. We are now concerned that any delay in implementing vaccination may risk unnecessary suffering to farm animals and undue disruption to the farming community. The Government's own guidelines suggest they should be equipped to start emergency vaccinations five days from a confirmed outbreak.

We urge Defra not to hesitate; to avoid the temptation of putting trade considerations above all else and start the vaccination process as soon as possible to prevent a major disaster for the farming community and farm animal welfare. There are reportedly over 2,000 animals within the 3km protection zone that are threatened and many more in the 10km radius. The welfare of these animals would surely be better protected if Defra started vaccinating to keep them alive.

Compassion in World Farming is also concerned that Defra has not made it clear whether its vaccination strategy would be 'vaccinate to live', whereby the animals live out their normal economic lives and their meat is then eaten; or 'vaccinate to die' whereby animals around an infected farm are vaccinated to reduce the spread of infection and are then killed.

Since the latest outbreak began, Compassion in World Farming have been calling on the UK Government to adopt a policy of vaccination to keep animals alive. This 'vaccination to live' strategy would avoid any unnecessary killing of healthy farm animals and would avoid the horrific scenes of wholesale slaughter witnessed in 2001.

A 'Vaccination to die' policy would simply take away the panic and enable the government to kill animals in its own time. However, it is still likely to lead to mass culling and an unnecessary waste of animal life.

Whilst opponents of vaccination fear a EU export trade barrier which would be extended from three months to six months, Compassion in World Farming believe that in reality it is better for the animals, farmers and the rural community to swiftly implement a 'vaccinate to live policy' without further delay.

We should not forget in this debate that we are dealing with hundreds and thousands of sentient beings, animals that feel pain and can suffer. We are already experiencing a serious impact on the economy from the outbreak. We question whether three months of extended trade conditions really outweigh the impact of not vaccinating.

Since the start of the foot and mouth outbreak in the UK, Compassion in World Farming has been working to prevent a potential animal welfare disaster. Previous foot and mouth outbreaks have resulted in mass slaughter of animals, resulting in totally unnecessary suffering. For example, during the 2001 outbreak, Compassion in World Farming received many reports of inhumane slaughter methods being used throughout the UK as people struggled to implement such a huge cull in a very short timescale.

We believe that farm animals should not, and need not, suffer. If you agree, please support our work with a donation today.


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