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€5.6m funding to tackle ASF and LSD
LSD entered Europe, the Balkans and Caucasus for the first time in 2015 and caused the deaths of thousands of cattle.

DEFEND consortium addresses emerging threats 

A global consortium has been awarded €5.6 million to study two serious and emerging diseases in Europe - African swine fever and lumpy skin disease.

The consortium, called DEFEND, is being spearheaded by the Pirbright Institute in Surrey. It is comprised of 31 members from 21 countries in Europe, as well as Russia, Canada, Israel, Azerbaijan, South Africa and Australia.

Both ASF and LSD present an immediate and serious threat to the pig and cattle industries in Europe and eastern and central Asia.

Since 2007, ASF has moved through eastern Europe owing to the spread of infection by wild boar and the lack of a vaccine. It is highly contagious and causes a haemorrhagic syndrome in pigs with up to 100 per cent mortality.

Meanwhile LSD entered Europe, the Balkans and Caucasus for the first time in 2015 and caused the deaths of thousands of cattle.

DEFEND aims to control the growing epidemics by developing new tests and vaccines, understanding what drives outbreaks and working with decision makers to ensure appropriate and rapid responses.

The consortium’s work is split into 15 work packages. Pirbright contributors include Dr Pip Beard, who will work on an LSD vaccine for use in Europe and neighbouring countries; and Dr Chris Netherton, who will develop an ASF vaccine for wild boar and backyard pigs.

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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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News Shorts
British sheep meat to be exported to India in new agreement

The UK government has secured a new export deal of sheep meat to India.

In 2017, UK sheep meat exports were worth £386 million. This new agreement is predicted to increase this value by £6 million over the next five years.

With a range of meat cuts due to be exported, the deal is seen by international trade secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, as “another vote of confidence in our world-leading food and drink”.