A group of concerned farmers and consumers have launched a campaign against the French government’s plans to impose mandatory vaccination for livestock against Bluetongue disease, arguing that consumers should be able to choose products free from chemical substances, and that farmers should be able to choose how they prevent disease among their animals.
Bluetounge is an insect-borne viral disease of ruminants, most commonly affecting sheep, cattle and goats. Opponents to mandatory vaccination argue that its effectiveness and necessity is questionable, and that as there have been no reports of transmission of Bluetongue disease to humans, it does not present any risk for human populations. Furthermore, the vaccinations used contain additives and allergens such as aluminum hydroxide and mercury salts, which may present untold threats for the consumer.
The proposed compulsory vaccination would cost the French taxpayer 98 million euros, funds which, antagonists argue, would be better reserved for national vaccination campaigns for seriously dangerous diseases, and for which a vaccination strategy is useful and effective. The funds should be used to research natural immunity and farming conditions, they urge, in a time when the large majority of research budgets are devoted to intensive and industrial agriculture.
“We want to support the farmers who take great risks to preserve healthy food for us and our children, to assure the quality of our food and our environment”, explained the Atakna Cooperative, organizers of a petition in favor of the campaign that has collected over 5,000 signatures so far. The cooperative hopes to support the farmers and, “unite consumers who refuse to accept just anything, with producers who are aware of the future, and who are inventing the agriculture of tomorrow.”
The group aims to help farmers around the country who risk receiving large fines if they refuse the vaccinations, which could lead them into bankruptcy or force them to slaughter cattle. Terra Madre food communities of herders in France are among the producers who would be affected by the decision, and have signaled the importance of this issue to the international Slow Food community.
Click here to find out more (in French)
Click here to sign the petition