Breakthrough in fight against swine fever

Breakthrough in fight against swine fever

A promising African swine fever (ASF) vaccine has emerged in the US, but even if it passes further scrutiny and safety tests, it could still take a couple of years to be ready for commercial use.

Without a successful vaccine, efforts to stop the disease have been focused on culling and movement regulation in affected regions.

ASF has decimated China’s pig herd since August, 2018, and some of Europe’s largest pig producing countries are now threatened, if it spreads from Poland and other Eastern European countries.

Although the disease cannot harm humans, nearly every pig infected dies within 10 days.

There is no known cure, nor commercially available vaccine.

Now spreading in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, ASF is blamed for the deaths of one quarter of the world’s domestic pigs, either killed by the virus or pre-emptively culled to control spread. That includes 40-60% of China’s pig herd, the biggest in the world.

In Vietnam, it led to the death or culling of about 22% of pigs.

Now, the Agricultural Research Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture, has revealed very promising results for an experimental vaccine made by creating a mutant form of the ASF virus strain known to be causing the current epidemic.

Every pig treated avoided developing significant signs of ASF, and appeared well-protected after 28 days.

Nor do immunised animals spread so much viral material that they became dangerous to non-vaccinated pigs.

The next step will be to trial the vaccine in larger herds on commercial farms.

The Tereos co-operative group has commenced the first organic beet sugar production in France.

Nearly 200 hectares of organic beet were sown, and were processed at the Pas-de-Calais sugar factory in northern France. This followed several agronomic and industrial tests in 2018.

Tereos previously marketed organic cane sugar in Europe for over 15 years, and says its organic sugar from beet is a response to a strong consumer demand for organic and local products.

Special support was been put in place for growers, for whom mechanical weed control represents the main organic sugar beet challenge.

Test plots using alternative techniques were monitored by growers and partner organisations.

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