British organic farmers are being forced to treat their livestock with homeopathic remedies under new European Commission rules branded ‘scientifically illiterate’ by vets.
Although homeopathy has been branded as ‘rubbish’ by the government’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, organic farmers have been told they must try it first under a new EU directive which came into force in January.
The regulation means that animals could be left diseased or in pain for far longer than necessary and organic meat could end up containing higher levels of bacteria, vets have warned.
John Blackwell, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: “We should always use medicines which have a strong science base and homeopathic remedies are not underpinned by any strong science.
“Disease is painful and farmers have an obligation to reduce that pain and not allow their animals to suffer so this regulation is troubling. It may lead to serious animal health and welfare detriment.
“If animals are not treated promptly it could lead to an underlying level of pathogen which could mean that the animal was no longer fit for human consumption.” . . .
The directive states that: “it is a general requirement…for production of all organic livestock that (herbal) and homeopathic products… shall be used in preference to chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary treatment or antibiotics.” . .
The Department for Food and Rural Affairs admitted that organic farmers were bound by the new regulations but said they could resort to other means, such as antibiotics, without losing their ‘organic’ status if homeopathic remedies proved to be ineffective. . .
But what about the suffering of the animals while they wait for treatment that will work?
Vets in Norway have also called on their country’s Food Standards Agency to delay fully implementing the directive in protest at the “ridiculous” guidelines.
“We think it’s totally unacceptable from a scientific point of view because there’s no scientific basis for using homeopathy,” Ellef Blakstad, scientific director of the Norwegian Veterinary Association, adding that the move was “scientifically illiterate”.
“If you start using homeopathy, you prolong the time when the animals are not getting adequate treatment and that’s a threat to animal welfare.” . .
Antibiotics should not be used indiscriminately but no good farmer or vet should let animals suffer for bureaucracy when there’s a scientifically proven way to treat the problem.
A friend who was overseeing an organic farm received a call from the manager telling him sheep were dying in large numbers.
The overseer took one look at the stock and told the manager to drench them.
The farm lost its organic status but the stock survived and thrived.
Hat tip: Tim Worstall