EU orders Britain's organic farmers to treat sick animals with homeopathySarah Knapton, Science Editor and Richard Orange 9:00PM BST 24 Apr 2015
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.”
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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.”
Supporters claim that homeopathy can treat everything from depression to hay fever, the theory being that substances that produce the symptoms of an ailment can cure it once they have been watered down many times to reduce their strength.
Advocates of the practice claim the water retains a “memory” of the original substance.
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However in 2010, the Science and Technology Committee ruled there was no evidence that the drugs were any more effective than a placebo while a meta-analysis by The Lancet found the treatment worked no better than a sugar-pill.
Critics argue that a placebo effect cannot possibly work on animals because they are unaware they are being treated.
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.
It even emerged that the British government had voted in favour of the new rules.
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Last week The Norwegian Veterinary Association called on their government to begin discussions with the European Union to ensure that only “scientifically documented” therapies are recommended in future.
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.”
The Soil Association, one of the leading bodies certifying organic produce in the UK is broadly supportive of homeopathy.
Natasha Collins-Daniel, the Soil Association’s press officer, stressed that while the use of homeopathic treatments was “not mandatory” to gain an organic certification, it could be effective.
“We have significant collective experience from livestock farmers and vets showing that herbal treatments and homeopathic approaches can help them care for their animals,” she said.
Homeopathy has prominent supporters including the Prince of Wales and Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, however in recent years many NHS trusts have stopped funding the treatments, with prescriptions falling by 94 per cent in the last 20 years.
NO SCIENCE? AN OUTRIGHT LIE:
Armstrong, S. (2009). A homeopathic approach to cancer in animals. Homeopath Pract, 2009(2), 56.
Baptista Haine, G., Ghandour, S. E., Ghandour, S. E., & Ricardo Fréz, A. (2012). Assessment of homeopathic medicine Aconitum napellus in the treatment of anxiety in an animal model. International Journal Of High Dilution Resarch, 11(38), 33-42.
Costa, L. J., & Furlong, J. (2011). Efficiency of sulphur in garlic extract and non-sulphur homeopathy in the control of the cattle tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus. Medical And Veterinary Entomology, 25(1), 7-11. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2915.2010.00909.x Ribeiro Almeida, A. L., Barros e Silva, A. G., Lacerda, E. B., de Almeida Rezende Machado, N. V., Pereira, A. L., & da Silva, S. M. (2014). Pregnant dairy goats endoparasites reduced by commercial populational Homeopathy. International Journal Of High Dilution Resarch, 13(47), 135-136.
Klocke, P., Ivemeyer, S., Butler, G., Maeschli, A., & Heil, F. (2010). A randomized controlled trial to compare the use of homeopathy and internal Teat Sealers for the prevention of mastitis in organically farmed dairy cows during the dry period and 100 days post-calving. Homeopathy: The Journal Of The Faculty Of Homeopathy, 99(2), 90-98. doi:10.1016/j.homp.2009.12.001
Oberbaum, M., Spira, R. M., Lukasiewicz, E., Armon, Y., Samuels, N., Singer, S. R., & ... Hersch, M. (2011). Effect of Traumeel S on Cytokine Profile in a Cecal Ligation and Puncture (CLP) Sepsis Model in Rats. Journal Of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 17(10), 909-913. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0205
Šoch, M., Zábranský, L., Janoušková, A., Šimková, A., Švejdová, K., Čermák, B., & ... Maršálek, M. (2014). Influence of Alternative Methods in Treatment and Precaution of Cow Mastitis. Scientific Papers: Animal Science & Biotechnologies / Lucrari Stiintifice: Zootehnie Si Biotehnologii, 47(2), 342-346.
and the list goes on - but sure - there is definitely more that needs to be done... so help fund RESEARCH in Homeopathy so that there can be more research done!