Explaining the Science Behind the Badger Cull

UK - News that parliament will be given chance to debate the government’s TB eradication programme and the inclusion of badger controls has been welcomed by the National Farmers Union (NFU).
calendar icon 18 October 2012
clock icon 3 minute read
National Farmers Union

The debate, which has been triggered by a public e-petition asking for further discussions on the current government policy to eradicate bovine TB, will take place on Thursday October 25 2012.

NFU President Peter Kendall said that the parliamentary debate offers a fresh opportunity for the science to be fully explained and for any misinformation that exists to be corrected.

“We understand this is a highly emotive issue and people should feel their views have been listened to,” said Mr Kendall. “Badgers play a huge part in the cycle of reinfection for TB in cattle; this is why a cull of badgers is a regrettable but absolutely necessary part of this TB eradication package.

“Yet even those against badger controls understand action on TB is imperative; TB is out of control, doubling its spread every nine years. While they may disagree about badger controls not one has been able to offer another workable alterative.

“It is worth remembering that this TB policy has already been thoroughly scrutinised and been upheld after two legal challenges both in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

“The NFU will listen with interest as the MPs debate this extremely important and complex issue; one which causes misery to farming families in areas where levels of this disease are persistent and high. We hope it gives everyone opportunity to dispel any myths and misunderstanding surrounding TB, explain the science that backs up the government policy and the need to include badgers as part of the solution to ridding our countryside, both for cattle and for badgers, of bovine TB.

“The NFU supports this science-led government policy because TB is getting worse not better. 34,000 cattle were culled in Great Britain last year alone because they reacted to a TB test. No cattle vaccine is available, and one with the ability to provide near whole herd immunity is years away. Badger vaccine is being used and will continue to be used as part of the package of measures in this policy to try and halt the spread of TB. But we must remember that no other country in the world has ever got on top of this disease without also tackling the reservoir of infection in the wildlife host, thereby breaking the cycle of infection between badgers and cattle.”

Changes to TB Control Measures

The changes, announced by Defra, will start on January 1 2013 and include moving to county from parish testing intervals.

NFU chief livestock adviser Peter Garbutt said: “Defra has made additional changes to the cattle surveillance programme in order to further reduce the risk of disease spread to areas currently free of TB. While we fully agree with the need to get on top of and eventually eradicate this disease, we recognise that some of these changes are bound to cause consternation to those farming businesses directly affected by them.

“Nevertheless, these changes will simplify the complex patchwork of the parish system, keep our testing regime one step ahead of the disease and ensure that investigation of new TB breakdowns is risk based. There is an acceptance from farmers outside the high risk areas that further measures to reduce the spread of the disease are needed and we know that the Commission is keen to accelerate the eradication programme.

“These announcements come at a time when the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England are conducting a separate review of all measures in place to control TB in cattle and wildlife along with looking at how stretched government budgets are best spent. The NFU is engaged with this process to ensure that these controls are effective, practical and affordable.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.