The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has urged Defra to give full and careful consideration to the role of vets in protecting animal and human health and ensuring food safety. BVA’s statement follows a report in the Guardian today of recommendations made to the Cabinet Office-led Red Tape Challenge by external consultants that included cuts to health inspections on farms and the use of “non-vets” to carry out bovine TB testing.
BVA President John Blackwell said:
“BVA understands the pressures on public spending and the need for efficiencies and appropriate lessening of the regulatory burden on business, including the agriculture sector. However, we cannot overstate the importance of any cuts or changes being carefully considered from a fully informed perspective and with an eye to long term-consequences, not simply short-term expediency. Cuts cannot come at the expense of animal welfare and health, which if compromised can have serious consequences for human health and food production.
“Defra works closely with vets and is aware of the critical role vets play in disease surveillance – Defra’s own survey highlights that local vets are a trusted source of key information to their clients and this is fundamental to ensuring robust disease control and eradication strategies. If these reports are true, our message to Defra is don’t downgrade the role of vets in food safety and animal health and welfare. It is important to stress that any attempt to reduce regulation by government should not increase risk by reducing the pivotal role vets carry out in public health and food safety, alongside animal health and welfare.”