GMB: Farmer says putting down Geronimo ‘for better of society’
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Geronimo’s owner Helen Macdonald spoke with Good Morning Britain’s Ben Shephard, 46, and Kate Garraway, 53, on Tuesday’s programme following protests outside Parliament on Monday to save the alpaca from being euthanised. The trio were also joined by farmer and agriculture expert Martin William who although sympathetic to the situation, told the ITV team he understood why the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs were issuing concern for the animal being kept alive. Understanding Helen’s situation, he added she would have to “accept” Geronimo’s fate and allow the experts to take control before the disease gets out of hand.
Martin said as he recalled his own experience: “For me, it was very sad. Watching animals be shot on the farm when we had a breakout and lost 60 or so animals in one hit just before Christmas.
“It is a very upsetting affair, however, for the better of society, we’re now not having to use a BCG injection in everybody.
“They don’t get those nasty scars on their arms and Tuberculosis in people has pretty much been eradicated.
“So farmers, in particular, accept for the greater good that’s what has to be done. The testing regime in agriculture is no different.
“It’s probably not the greatest in the world, maybe 60 to 70 percent accurate,” he explained but emphasised this was enough to put the alpaca down.
Helen was and still is unwilling to accept Geronimo’s fate as she believes the tests brought back false positives and the alpaca should be allowed to live.
“We’ve known there has been problems with this tuberculosis test since 2016 but DEFRA didn’t tell me that when we had this first test result in August 2017.
“Th second round of testing, by their own admission, was bias and they said, ‘We actually deviated from protocol to make sure the client understood the first test was positive for tuberculosis’.
“I was discriminated against since the very get-go and a few months after that, we found out they already knew there was a problem with this test.”
Accept it’s for the greater good
“So, there is no validity to their claims. There is a new test which looks for the Bovine in the bloodstream,” Helen continued.
“And what we’ve always been asking for is for testing that is appropriate for an alpaca and let’s have a better answer.
“Because clearly, he produced an antibody to tuberculosis four years ago or he wouldn’t be standing here today,” she added.
An official statement by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has been issued and was read aloud on-screen to give balance to the argument.
The statement on Geronimo’s fate read: “The fact remains that Geronimo has sadly tested positive twice using a highly specific and reliable and validated test.
“This is something the environment secretary [George Eustice] has looked at very carefully,’ it concluded.
Mr Eustice wrote for the Mail on Sunday about the matter and said: “There has been a great deal of focus on the case of Geronimo the alpaca this week.
“However, each week on average, we have to remove more than 500 cattle from herds due to infection in England alone. Behind every one of those cases is a farmer who has suffered loss and tragedy.”
“Farmers understand that infected animals are a risk to the remainder of their herd, so while the loss of individual animals is always a tragedy, the farming communities have worked with our Government vets in this arduous but necessary endeavour,” the politician explained.
This hasn’t stopped Save Geronimo protestors from marching on Downing Street to show their support in keeping the alpaca alive.
More than 10,000 people have also signed a petition, calling for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to take action and halt the death of the animal.
Helen has stated she will not break the law if DEFRA officials arrive to kill Geronimo but she will “not make it easy” for them to euthanise an animal which she believes does not need to be put down.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.
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