[With respectful apologies to Jonathan Swift]
I cannot understand why we worry about TB in cattle and whether or not it’s spread by badgers, bad farming practices or what. Who cares? The meat from infected cows is safe to eat, and we are all of us who are beef eaters eating it regularly. Milk is heat treated -in fact that was the whole reason pasteurisation was introduced – to prevent the spread of TB to humans from infected milk.
So, let’s just give up all this nonsense and let TB spread unchecked. The government will save millions, all badgers and other wildlife will be free to roam, just as they are now, and spread or not spread the bacteria depending on your point of view. Sure, thousands of cattle will die (and thousands of badger, deer etc) but then thousands are dying anyway – when they test positive. They will probably die rather slowly and painfully but then, according to those who are not keen on dairy farming, that’s what is happening to them every day. Milking cows are abused and exhausted by over production. So for them, perhaps death by TB would be no worse than life in an intensive dairy herd.
Of course, our national herd of milking cows would decrease fairly rapidly so popping out to Tesco for our next litre would be a problem – or would it? Tesco et al will just import all its dairy range, fresh milk included, from Holland and France where they eliminated all their wild life reservoirs ages ago and have no bTB. They still have wildlife as well,and lots of it but we are not going to do what they did as we are told it won’t work.
That’s fine then. No dairy industry but there are other countries who can supply us. No need for any of us to worry.
I suppose we ought to spare a thought for farmers who might lose their jobs, and maybe dairy processors too, but since they are ruining the countryside with their intensive farming methods and harming wildlife by allowing their cattle to spread TB unchecked into the local environment, perhaps we shouldn’t care that much. They could all become park keepers in the new National Parks we could create where the dairy farms used to be. Or National Woodlands I should say because I’m told grazing land reverts to scrub then woodland within about 10 years. Great – all those new walking and cycling trails and sculpture parks plus lots of free car parking etc. Farmers could work as car park attendants or rent out bicycles for visitors. No worries there then.
I’m told there IS a bit of a niggle over this – other animals are being increasingly infected with TB. Sheep, goats, and most severely affected of all, Alpacas and other Camelids. But then we can import all that as well. Who needs all these other species? No one would miss them. Spring lambs gambolling around fields, Lambing Live on the BBC – we’ve got loads of film for the archives. We don’t need the real thing. (Might have a problem with wool of course. We’d have to import it all.) As for goats, well, no one in their right minds takes THEM seriously! The 98,000 in the UK would definitely not be missed.
A bit more tricky are the cats and dogs.TB caught on trips to the countryside is an increasing problem in domestic cats and dogs and DEFRA are concerned. People cuddle pets bringing them into close proximity with TB bacteria. Vaccination is not possible or practical for cats and dogs. If we implement my scheme, the easiest solution would for all owners to keep their cats and dogs inside and away from anywhere they might encounter fox, badger, cattle. sheep etc – just while all the populations are dying off. Keeping them inside would save all that fuss of having to take the things for a walk and also keep cats out of neighbours gardens – wonderful! And then it would be sensible not to cuddle our pets for few years anyway – just to be sure. Of course this will only be an issue while our farmed livestock are dying. Once they have all died, Fido and Tabby can venture out again safely.
We would have to take sensible precautions as well of course. While the new National Forest was growing and all the animals were dying, we would need to be vaccinated for TB again. The whole population. And probably wear full protective gear for Health and Safety reasons when visiting the new free access recreation areas. Dead animals will be a risk for a while and then there are those live populations which might survive and just carry the bacteria acting as a reservoir of infection, so it could go on for some time. But white suits, masks and disposable gloves etc are not too much of a problem on a day out – and it would give all those ex-farmers something to do – selling suits to visitors and then clearing up the mess they leave behind them as they discard them in the car parks.
So, there you have it – a reasonable proposal for an end to the TB problem. No animals, a new National Forest and imported food. What’s wrong with that?
[Please make sure, before you comment, that you know who Jonathan Swift was and about the "Modest Proposal" pamphlet. My post should be read with this in mind. I have no answers, no magic bullet, and no axe to grind for ANY side but I do want to see an end to this ridiculous wasteful situation ]