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US professor warns UK to maintain welfare standards
Vets play a key role as advocates for animals, even if this requires speaking uncomfortable truths.

Debate explores farm animal welfare post-Brexit 

An eminent US professor has warned the UK not to dilute its high animal welfare standards in order to secure trade deals with the US.

Jim Reynolds, professor of large animal medicine and welfare at the Western University of Health Sciences in California, was speaking during a debate at the Animal Welfare Foundation’s annual discussion forum in London.

Along with other speakers, he argued that vets play a key role as advocates for animals, even if this requires speaking uncomfortable truths about issues such as tail docking and beak trimming.

According to a report by Vet Record, he argued that US livestock vets do not speak out enough about animal welfare issues, and as a result, welfare is less consistent than the UK.

Mr Reynolds added that maintaining the UK’s current standards in any post-Brexit trade deals could help to pressure the US to change its own.

“Our system has changed over the years from a supply management system to a commodity-based system in which the profit margins are low … so America's looking desperately to export low-value products.

"That's how we make money. Keep your high-welfare, high-value products because that's something we can attain to. Our welfare programmes come from here (the UK) to us.”

However, he argued that while the UK had high welfare standards, the issue is confidence - whether animals are represented in all circumstances and whether assurance schemes took into account the lives of the animals. 

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Veterinary Evidence Student Awards winners revealed

News Story 1
 The first winners of the RCVS Knowledge Veterinary Evidence Student Awards have been revealed.

Molly Vasanthakumar scooped first prize for her knowledge summary comparing the ecological impact of woven versus disposable drapes. She found that there is not enough evidence that disposable synthetics reduce the risk of surgical site.

Second prize went to Honoria Brown of the University of Cambridge, for her paper: ‘Can hoof wall temperature and digital pulse pressure be used as sensitive non-invasive diagnostic indicators of acute laminitis onset?’

Edinburgh’s Jacqueline Oi Ping Tong won third prize for critically appraising the evidence for whether a daily probiotic improved clinical outcomes in dogs with idiopathic diarrhoea. The papers have all achieved publication in RCVS Knowledge’s peer-reviewed journal, Veterinary Evidence.  

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News Shorts
Animal Welfare Foundation seeks new trustees

The Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) seeks three new trustees to help drive the charity’s mission to improve animal welfare through veterinary science, education and debate.

Veterinary and animal welfare professionals from across the UK may apply, particularly those with experience in equine and small animal practice and research management. Trustees must attend at least two meetings a year, as well as the annual AWF Discussion Forum in London.

For more information about the role, visit www.animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk. Applications close at midnight on 13 August 2019.