Animal Aid

FOOT AND MOUTH - Drug residue worries over FMD vaccination?

Posted 23 April 2001
Dead pig

Factory farmed animals are already plied with a whole range of drugs

As the government and farming industry nudge towards a policy of vaccination against foot and mouth, the issue of vaccine residues in meat products has been flagged as a potential human health worry.

The public should be under no illusions that virtually all farmed animals in the UK are subjected to a vast array of powerful pharmaceutical products. As well as vaccines, they include anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, reproductive hormones, wormers, insecticides and growth promoters. The public is asked to take on trust assurances from farming industry scientists that the high volume use of such potentially toxic substances presents no risk to the health of consumers.

The purpose of some of these drug products is to increase animal 'productivity'. The others are used in an attempt to suppress symptoms of diseases that are a natural consequence of the oppressive systems in which farmed animals are bred, fattened, transported and slaughtered. Nonetheless, millions die prematurely every year in sheds and fields.

Lambs, for instance, are typically given a cocktail of eight vaccines soon after birth against conditions such as pulpy kidney, black leg and dysentery. Even so, between 15 and 20 per cent of all lambs die within days - that's about 4 million a year. They perish mostly from exposure, disease and malnutrition.

Animal Aid's view of the proposed vaccination programme against foot and mouth is that, since it will not prevent the cruel treatment and slaughter of animals destined for the food chain, it provides no benefit for them. But if vaccination ends live exports, we favour it. We would also be in favour if it prevents the destruction of sanctuary animals in foot and mouth areas.

Animal Aid has produced a special eight-page Question & Answer guide to foot and mouth disease - also a campaign flyer and sticker.

Notes to Editors

  • For further comments contact Andrew Tyler or Yvonne Taylor on 01732 364546.
  • We have an ISDN line for Broadcast-quality interviews.

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