Monday, 18 June 2007


Ministers are expected to abandon plans to license a widespread cull of badgers after a decade-long study by independent scientists concluded that a cull would only increase the spread of bovine tuberculosis.

Culling would have no noticeable effect on TB in cattle, report said.

The final report of the Independent Scientific Group, described by its chairman, Prof Sir John Bourne, as the "comprehensive picture" of TB in cattle and badgers, rules out badger culling on any scale as a way of controlling the outbreaks.

The scientists' report says that while badgers are "clearly a source" of TB in cattle, badger culling can make "no meaningful contribution" to the control of the disease in Britain.

There were 1551 outbreaks of the disease in Britain last year - affecting about 5 per cent of all herds - and 7000 herds were under movement restrictions.

The report says culling around outbreaks of the disease in cattle would be "likely to make matters worse rather than better."

The overall benefits of pro-active culling were modest, with an estimated reduction of 14 outbreaks in an area of 1000 square kilometres.

The second key finding of the report, which has been submitted to
Mr Miliband,is that weaknesses in the present regime of cattle testing means that cattle themselves contribute significantly to the spread of the disease - because the full number of cattle with TB is not picked up.

In some parts of Britain, it says, cattle movements are likely to be the main source of infection.

Ministers are expected simply to welcome the report and say they will consider a response in due course but a well-placed source close to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the "definitively anti-culling" conclusions of the report meant a cull was off.

The scientists' report does considers the case of Ireland where badger culling has been going on for 20 years. It says the incidence of TB in cattle in Ireland, despite badger culling, is twice what it is in Britain.

Ireland, which stopped pre-movement testing of cattle in 1996, found that the number of cattle with the disease rose from 27,000 in 1996 to 45,000 in 1999, despite badger culling going on throughout that period.

See full article:

As a farmer's son,this report does not surprise me. Any farmer could have told the Government that badger culling was only a distraction. Ireland has been trying to get rid of TB in cattle for around 50 years

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