.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More bodges on badgers

The Independent reports on more problems with the ill-starred, ill-advised and incompetent policy being pursued by the UK Government of culling badgers.

They say that the Government has admitted that distorted data may have significantly exaggerated the number of cattle infected by tuberculosis in Britain, raising fears that its badger cull pilot could have been based on erroneous information:

It is the second time that a problem with the Sam IT system, which measures data on cattle, has been exposed as faulty in just over two years – inflicting a further blow to the project’s credibility.

It follows a private internal memo at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency – the unit responsible for the data – which recently described the problems with the Sam system as a “crisis”.

The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson had made his case for the badger cull, which was supposed to reduce the spread of bovine TB levels in cattle, using alarming data showing that thousands of herds were carrying the disease, and rates of new infections, known as the “incidence rate”, were rising.

But Mr Paterson’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said that a problem with data recording meant that the number of herds infected with TB had been “overstated” since September 2011, and that “it can be expected that this data series will be revised significantly downwards for 2012 and 2013”.

Furthermore, it said there is a “possibility” that the Sam IT problems could have distorted the incidence data, regarded as the most telling measure of the scale of the disease.

It really is time that this mindless cull was abandoned and a more measured and humane approach to controlling bTB adopted in England instead.
The issue is with classification of Officially TB free’ (OTF), ‘Status suspended’ (OTFS), or ‘Status withdrawn’ (OTFW) instead of ‘TB free, unconfirmed or confirmed’ in contiguous herds in low incidence areas. The data relating to gamma interferon testing in high incidence areas (cull zones) is complete and correct, as is all the data for Wales. But don't let the facts get in the way of Professor Rosie Woodroffe dabbling in a loaded press release. She evidently has lost all respect in the field as it's a very poor attempt to apply a data discrepancy in one area on data relating to other areas to further her political agenda. Whilst it's true some infection rates have been overstated in low incidence areas, it has no relevance to the validity of culling, vaccination or monitoring in areas if high incidence areas, where a more robust recording mechanism is in place. The 'SAM' issue is not an IT glitch but a data input issue on classification. Such discrepancy does not include the cull areas of England, or the whole of Wales, where more robust classification is in place due to the chronology of follow up testing.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?