E. coli vaccine maker seeks on-farm funding

Most Canadian cattle producers don’t see a financial upside to vaccinating their animals to reduce the E. coli bacteria in manure, so it may be up to Ottawa to make it worth their while.

Bioniche Life Sciences, a Belleville, Ont. company that has developed the only registered vaccine against E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in cattle, says it brought that argument to Ottawa Wednesday in an appearance before the House of Commons’ subcommittee on food safety.

“It appears to Bioniche that most Canadian cattlemen are willing to administer the vaccine, but cannot afford to incur the expense of the vaccine without receiving an offsetting increase in revenue,” the company said in a release Thursday.

“At the same time, cattle producers believe that they receive no immediate or direct benefit for spending money to vaccinate their herds against E. coli O157. Bioniche is seeking the support of government to provide initial funding to encourage adoption, given that E. coli O157 poses a serious risk to human health.”

“Such an initiative would position Canada as a global leader in food safety, preserve customer confidence in Canadian agricultural products and bolster public health,” said Rick Culbert, president of Bioniche’s food safety division, in the company’s release.

Bioniche’s vaccine, marketed under the name Econiche, has been proven in field studies and clinical trials to reduce colonization of cows by O157 bacteria and to reduce the amount of the bacteria shed in cattle manure, thus decreasing the number of bacteria to which humans may be exposed, the company said.

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