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Monday, October 08, 2012

Another reason to end the English badger cull

Today's Independent carries an important article about the ability to distinguish between TB in cattle and a vaccine administered to prevent infection. They say that British scientists have made a breakthrough which may enable cattle to be vaccinated against TB, doing away with the need to cull the badgers believed to be infecting them.
They say that vaccinating cattle against bovine tuberculosis is currently banned throughout Europe, because there is no way of distinguishing in existing diagnostic tests between an animal that has merely been vaccinated, and an animal that has actually contracted the disease. Vaccinated but healthy cattle would thus appear contaminated and could not be sold or traded abroad and TB vaccination of cattle has been prohibited across the EU since 1978.

My understanding is slightly different, that it has been the export of vaccinated cattle that has been banned not the act of vaccination itself, which has been available for a few years. Furthermore, the existence of this test has been known for some time. It was certainly one of the arguments being used by those opposed to the Welsh badger cull a few years ago.

Perhaps the fact that it is a cull of badgers in England that is now imminent that the UK media are taking an interest in it. Nevertheless, this article underlines once again why this cull is wrong-headed and needs to be stopped.

As a practising politician, could you enlighten me please WHY THE WESTMINISTER CONDEMS EVER GOT THEMSELVES INTO THIS MESS (the policy to slaughter badgers en masse)? I am genuinely mystified.

There's evidence from the past on how you can get rid of bTB. As a University of Cardiff researcher pointed out, completely banning the movement of cattle from bTB hotspots into clean areas got rid of the disease in the 1960s.

There's repeated evidence from the past that killing badgers has nil or minimal positive effect in controlling bTB.

DEFRA and the politicians knew public opposition to badger killing has been sustained and massive (polls recorded up to 96% disapproval before the current scheme got underway).

What on earth persuaded the Westminster COnDems to back such a detested and scintifically invalid scheme?
And why did Clegg once anti the badger kill change his mind? The plans for a badger kill in England are now so shambolic I can't see it going ahead.
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