David Black Award Winner Calls for Science Based Approach to Biosecurity

UK - A plea has been sent out to the British pig industry and the industry leaders to base its approach to biosecurity on fact and science rather than myth and perception.
calendar icon 4 November 2015
clock icon 4 minute read

Andrew Knowles, who picked up the British pig industry David Black award for his contribution to the sector on Wednesday (4 November) at a ceremony at the House of Lords in London, said he was concerned that the industry was not taking the same approach to questions of biosecurity as the pig industry in other countries in Europe.

And he added that pig farmers on the Continent “get much more support and advice”.

“The UK industry’s approach to biosecurity must be based on fact and science,” Mr Knowles said.

“Let us remember who our customer is, but let us not base our approach on myth, perception and wrong thinking.”

Mr Knowles said that exotic disease present a real threat to the UK pig industry and he applauded the work that is being carried out by industry organisations to put systems in place to counter these diseases.

However, he added: “Is our approach to disease based on science or is it based on myth?”

Mr Knowles welcomed the “unique partnership” between the British pig sector and the government and he applauded the work that was being carried out to improve export opportunities particularly in the work that has been done to gain export certificates for the pig industry to China.

He also applauded the work that is being carried out with eh Veterinary Medicines Directorate to optimise pig medicines and also in the field of antimicrobial medicines.

“We have a ‘can-do’ attitude,” Mr Knowles said.

In the judges’ citation for the 2015 David Black Award, Mr Knowles was acclaimed for the introduction of the world-leading electronic Animal Movements Licensing System, where pig producers record online the movements of their pigs to and from farms, abattoirs and other locations.

“Not only has this saved time and money for farmers, hauliers and processors but the almost instantaneous access to movement data will enable the industry to manage disease outbreaks more effectively,” the citation reads.

“This initiative is also acting as the platform on which other innovative services are being developed.”

The Citation adds that despite the challenges that the pig industry faced, Mr Knowles has taken an innovative approach.

“He devised a number of ground-breaking services for the industry, including the Two Tonne Sow programme and the British Pig Health Scheme.”

Mr Knowles has spent his working life in the pig industry starting on an outdoor breeding unit in Oxfordshire and joining BPEX in 2001, just before the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

His last role of the agency was as head of technical at AHDB Pork before moving to his present post as Head of Market Development at the international animal feed company ForFarmers based in the Netherlands.

Mr Knowles said of the award: “I was absolutely stunned and I was also in a bit of a dilemma about accepting it as, to my mind, I was simply doing my job and there is nothing exceptional in my work for the industry.

“Everything that has been achieved is down to the hard work of not only my colleagues but also a large number of people in the industry.

“There were many people, who gave their time, experience and knowledge to the industry, in addition to driving their own businesses.

“Though I was somewhat flummoxed about why I should have been chosen, it is an incredible honour and I am proud of having been able to play my part in supporting this wonderful industry.”

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