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Bluetongue vaccine for new strains should be priority

October 28, 2008 12:00 AM

Tim on a quad bike on a hill farmMP Tim Farron has urged the Government to speed up its development of a bluetongue vaccine after Dutch authorities confirmed a new strain of the disease had been discovered on three farms in the south of the country.

Tests confirmed by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture revealed the new strain is serotype 6 - a strain never before seen in Europe - and ministers have now imposed a 50km protection zone around the three infected farms.

Mr Farron, who is also the Shadow Secretary of State for DEFRA, said:

"This news is a source of serious anxiety. We don't need another outbreak of a different strain of Bluetongue at a time when farmers are already dealing with serious pressures including fluctuating food prices caused in part by the oncoming recession and the credit crunch.

"Farmers have only just been able to get back to normal trading after the outbreak of bluetongue in this country-they can't afford another setback. Hilary Benn has to make developing a bluetongue vaccine for new strains his immediate priority.

"The Government must protect British farmers by stopping this strain from entering the country. This may mean putting temporary restriction measures on imports and ensuring that all breeding stock is only allowed to move on following a negative test for the virus."