• Badger Trust Staff Team

Badger Trust welcomes bovine TB policy review which finds farming industry largely responsible

Badger Trust welcomes bovine TB policy review which finds farming industry largely responsible for spread of disease

The Badger Trust has welcomed the publication of a Government sponsored review of its bovine TB policy by Professor Sir Charles Godfray.

The long awaited report concludes that it is wrong to over emphasise the role of badgers in the spread of bovine TB to cattle. Also that the farming industry is directly responsible for a significant amount of the spread of the disease in its cattle herds. 

To date around 35,000 badgers have been killed under Government cull licences at an estimated public cost of over £50 million and this figure could rise to 75,000 badgers in 30 cull zones by the end of 2018.

Although Professor Godfray concludes in his report that culling badgers can have a 'modest impact' on lowering bovine TB in cattle, his review gives a major emphasis to the current limitations in the regime. He highlights cattle testing, poor biosecurity measures at the farm gate level and the lack of trading and movement restrictions, which may lead to increased levels of TB infection in or between cattle herds.

The Review also states that 'moving to a non lethal control of the disease in badgers is highly desirable' and calls on the Government to undertake more research on the relative effectiveness of badger vaccination compared to culling.

Responding to the publication of the TB Policy Review Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust said 

" A combination of incompetence, negligence and deceit at the heart of the Government and the farming industry has resulted in a bovine TB policy which is failing farmers, tax payers and our wildlife. 

After 5 years of indiscriminate, cruel and ineffective badger culling, we welcome Sir Charles's TB Policy Review which finally recognises what we have been arguing from the beginning; the urgent need for the Government to focus on finding solutions within the cattle industry to lower the spread of bovine TB. 

However it is very disappointing to see the Review continues to state that badger culling can reduce the spread of TB in cattle, despite the fact that the Government has failed to produce any reliable evidence to support this claim. In fact, recent figures from Gloucestershire suggest an increase in the number of herd incidences of 55%.

The Badger Trust fully supports the serious concerns raised by leading vets reported by the BBC, that the Government are manipulating data from the four year pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset. Effectively misleading the public and politicians over the effectiveness of the badger cull in lowering bovine TB rates in cattle. 

The Badger Trust supports the Godfray Review recommendation for a cost benefit analysis comparing badger vaccination to culling. There needs to be more research to better understand how badger vaccination can reduce the spread of TB in badgers and possibly cattle. We believe this would be best achieved by a large scale publicly funded national badger vaccination programme in areas of England, which have not been subject to badger culling"

The Chair of the Badger Trust Jo Bates-Keegan said 

"We welcome the focus in the Godfray Review on the need for improved TB testing systems for cattle. However we remain concerned that the Review continues to suggest that the standard cattle skin test picks up roughly 8 in 10 infected cattle, whereas according to published research, it is probably as few as 5 in 10 cattle. This is of vital importance in the fight against bovine TB and we urge the government and vets to ensure that farmers are made aware to prevent ongoing spread of disease.  

Likewise, we are concerned that the report suggests vaccination should be trialled in areas where culling has taken place. This will not effectively test vaccination against culling, nor will it reduce the heavy cost to the tax payer and farmers alike who are not getting what they are paying for. The publication of the Godfray TB Review is a key opportunity for the government to move the focus away from badgers and back to the cattle industry, where it belongs and to come clean to farmers about the inadequate test and what needs to be done. It’s now time that the Government, veterinary and farming industries take stock and recognise that culling badgers has been a costly diversion. The government needs to take the recommendations of this report seriously and make immediate changes to policy if they are ever to bring this disease under control”

For press enquiries please contact Dominic Dyer at dom@badgertrust.org.uk

Please find the report here. 

476 views1 comment