15-02-2013 09:02 AM | Animal Health, Cattle, News, Veterinary News

Badger cull 'will not stop TB in cattle' says new research



Badger cull 'will not stop TB in cattle' says new research
New research conducted by Durham University has claimed a 'widespread badger cull' will have no impact in solving the problem of tuberculosis in cattle.

It has been claimed that controlling badger numbers would reduce the risk of TB in cattle and a cull is due to begin in the summer after the government announced a temporary ban in October.

Professor Peter Atkins, from Durham University's Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience has investigated the spread of the disease in new research.

"Badgers almost certainly play a part in spreading the disease, but my conclusion is that their impact over the decades has been far less than suggested" said Atkins.

"Very carefully arranged culling may have a part to play alongside other measures in areas of particular prevalence such as South West England and South Wales, but my research suggests that extending the policy elsewhere may neither be justified nor particularly effective. It certainly won't be a panacea."

After the October ban, the NFU wrote to the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to request a commencement in the summer.

"The Government is determined to tackle bovine TB by all the means available to us. Now, in the next few months, we will ensure that the pilot culls can be implemented effectively, in the best possible conditions, with the right resources" Paterson said.

"Having looked at all the evidence over many years, I am utterly convinced that badger control is the right thing to do, and indeed the higher than expected badger numbers only serve to underline the need for urgent action. I remain fully committed to working with the farming industry to ensure that the pilot culls can be delivered effectively, safely and humanely next summer."

But Atkins claimed that 'no one' has yet proved which direction the infection travels between species and that the disease is a 'spillover' from cattle rather than an endemic condition. He also claimed a cull could even 'exacerbate the problem'.

"The Randomised Badger Culling Trial, which ran from 1998-2006 indicated complex, interwoven patterns of infection and concluded badger culling was unlikely to be effective for the future control of bTB."

"When badgers are disturbed, they seem to perceive they are being attacked and move from their original area by a kilometre or more and join other badger groups, which spreads the disease."

Following 2001's foot and mouth crisis, different parts of the country were restocked with cattle from the southwest, a traditional breeding area and that this has been a factor in the spread of bTB to regions that had previously had low incidence of it.

A likely solution to the problem was said to lie in vaccination, but inoculating cattle for TB is forbidden by EU rules as it would render testing for the disease as ineffective, because all vaccinated cattle would test positive for it.

The search for an adequate TB vaccine for cattle continues, but badgers can be vaccinated now to help prevent the spread of TB as an alternative to culling.

New government-backed research revealed that vaccinating badgers can reduce the level of TB within an infected colony by 54%.

The results, which are from a four year study by the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), conflict the view that culling badgers is the only method to stop the disease.

"This report must be the final nail in the coffin of the plan to cull badgers" said Philip Mansbridge, CEO of wildlife charity Care for the Wild.

"Pro-cull supporters claim that the disease can only be stopped if the so-called reservoir of disease within wildlife is reduced – this study shows that vaccination can achieve this."

But farming groups claim that a vaccine to help control TB in the future 'remains many years away'.

Unions such as the NFU have admitted a vaccine should be part of a package of measures to help control the disease but said that measure alone would not be enough to combat it.

"We need a package of measures to tackle TB and yes, cattle vaccine must be one of them. But as Defra’s chief vet Nigel Gibbens said cattle vaccine, and the tests and regulations needed to put it in place across Europe, ‘may take years’. In the meantime, the spread of TB is doubling every nine years" said NFU President Peter Kendall.

Professor Atkins has concluded that the government should take a more comprehensive approach to controlling TB: "The assumption that badgers are always responsible for this disease in cattle has to be reviewed."

"If our analysis showing the lack of disease persistence in medium and low density badger populations is correct, the improvement of cattle controls including improved testing, tighter movement controls and, eventually, a useable vaccine should be enough to halt the spread. We should continue to investigate, and cooperate with farmers over this problem."

Comments

15-02-2013 11:14 AM | Posted by Clued-Up
Prof Atkins' analysis is yet more confirmation of what's been long known by the UK's leading scientists, animal health experts and those who've studied the development of bTB problems in cattle.

To summarise, the spread of bTB in cattle has been created by earlier inadequate controls on cattle movement and can be halted by the tighter cattle movement controls now in force.

Cattle vaccination is a new and powerful tool, to be used ASAP.

Badgers have been scapegoated as the cause of cattle bTB, in spite of no evidence at all whether cattle infect badgers or the other way round.

As vaccinating badgers against bTB works and won't be delayed by the need to gain EU permission to use the vaccine, we may soon have the bizarre situation where WILD badgers are 100% protected against bTB and DOMESTICATED cattle are not.
15-02-2013 12:29 PM | Posted by Brockspreader
"If our analysis showing the lack of disease persistence in medium and low density badger populations is correct..."

If you can find an area with medium and low density badger populations in England and Wales then congratulations - you will probably find bTB incidences are already low there for precisely that reason - Scotland and Anglesey are good examples. But the reality is that badger population densities are now vast, with some individual farms having ten setts or more.

It may also be worth Prof. Atkins reading up on the latest results from the RBCT trials rather than paraphrasing the 2007 rhetoric which has now been proved to be wrong: The ISG claimed that "badger culling was unlikely to be effective for the future control of bTB" yet their own trials resulted in ... better future control of bTB in culling areas.

There is now a desperate effort to stop a cull by some scientists because their own advice against culling will be shown to have cost the nation millions and caused the deaths of scores of thousands of cattle.
15-02-2013 15:14 PM | Posted by Clued-Up
@ Brockspreader

Re "There is now a desperate effort to stop a cull by some scientists because their own advice against culling will be shown to have cost the nation millions and caused the deaths of scores of thousands of cattle" ...

A vicious slur on scientists, for which you've no evidence.

Science depends on the well-informed, meticulous gathering of appropriate evidence, its assessment and the fair and accurate reporting of research discoveries. Scientists have a respect for data that sadly isn't often shared by many other members of the population.



15-02-2013 19:09 PM | Posted by Jenny Noraika
We need more money put into immunisation, it's no good killing all our native badgers, besides it's called BOVINE TB, not badger tb. So leave the badger alone.
15-02-2013 20:35 PM | Posted by Ryan D
"A desparate attempt by scientists to disrail the cull", are you completely insane, they are SCIENTISTS that is their job, and no they are not all wrong, YOU ARE WRONG!!

Pro cull types are absolute morons, complete idiots, you have lost the argument and the CA are resorting to ridiculous stories in the Telegraph and Mail to try and drum up support for their pathetic cull.

Famers are NOT all for the cull, farmers can do much better than listen to the CA. Paterson is merely a front for the CA and the big landowners.

This is madess, farmers can do better without a cull!
16-02-2013 14:47 PM | Posted by Lindy
It has been suggested that a cull will make badgers move further afield, which seems logical, and that IF they are responsible for bovine tb, which is debateable, it will be spread over a wider area then, making it much worse.
17-02-2013 14:28 PM | Posted by Blake2pi
"My research suggests that extending the policy elsewhere may neither be justified nor particularly effective."
Of course it's not justified, it's never been justified hence why it was never proposed in the first place. Badger culling has only been proposed in areas where TB is endemic in the badger species, something he himself says; "may have a part to play alongside other measures."

"The search for an adequate TB vaccine for cattle continues, but badgers can be vaccinated now to help prevent the spread of TB as an alternative to culling."
Cattle vaccination is unfortunately at least 10 years away. Badgers can indeed be vaccinated but, that is on the scientific strenght that it does them no harm (not that it does them any good). We are still not in a place where it is possible to describe vaccination as a solution because it has of yet not be show to build the all important herd immunity (something that maybe more likely to be achieved in application with culling). Research continues, of which I believe there are very few against but, in the mean time culling (which is scientifically proven) will continue to be used as a part of the TB erradiation programme.
17-02-2013 19:45 PM | Posted by Clued-Up
"We are still not in a place where it is possible to describe vaccination as a solution because it has of yet not be show to build the all important herd immunity" ...

Other UK human and animal vaccination programmes (eg against polio) point to herd immunity being securely established once 80% target population is vaccinated.

Considerable progress has already been made in rolling out the badger vaccination programme - herd immunity hasn't yet been established but it's getting much closer. The costs of vaccinating badgers are coming down considerably, they can now be as low as £12 per animal.

There are already sufficient pools of vaccinated, TB resistant badgers to create quarantine areas stopping the disease spreading amongst a number of badger populations. There's progress towards enlarging these individual quarantine areas so that they cover the whole of the UK's cattle bTB hotspots.

Vaccinate 70% badgers and you've probably got so close to herd immunity as to end TB in badgers.

By contrast, if you EVER manage to slaughter 70% badgers in an area, it's estimated that at the end of 9 years the best result is you MAY have reduced cattle bTB by 15%. The scientists also warn it's quite possible slaughtering badgers will actually increase cattle bTB.

Whichever way you look at it, the badger cull programme is stupid and counter-productive.

19-02-2013 08:28 AM | Posted by DocMike
The difference between science and farming folklore is that science is still TRUE whether you BELIEVE in it or not!
DEFRA's own figures show that a cull MIGHT at their most wildly and unscientifically optimistic only marginally slow the growth of bTB. DEFRA's 'new' non-simultaneous free-shooting is based not on sound science but on desperate guesswork and has been assessed as a 'recipe for perturbation' i.e. it WILL CAUSE bTB TO SPREAD! It also remains to be seen whether it will be proven to be inhumane as part of the 'trial'.
So realistically badger culling would most probably do nothing to help bTB or make the situation worse! DEFRA has also stated that a cull is GUARANTEED TO BE UNECONOMIC for farmers - yet some farmers & Owen patterson still put their folklore faith in it and are willing to also waste £millions of taxpayers money on policing & monitoring.
By using the bTB skin test (less than 80% reliable & suitable for use only as a herd test!) & through chronic non-compliance; farmers and DEFRA have systematically destroyed natural immunity to bTB in cattle through decades of false positives. They have reinfected their own herds and spread bTB to others through decades of false negatives plus unrestricted movement during restocking after Foot&Mouth, plus an unquantified amount of fraud which has necessitated the introduction & additional undisclosed costs to taxpayers of DNA testing.
Time to join the overwhelming majority of OBJECTIVE scientists backed by the MANDATE of both public opinion and MPs (147 to 28 AGAINST a cull). 'First do no harm' so cancel the culls and accelerate development of the DIVA test, cattle VACCINATION and EU/UK law change! By all means expand the ongoing, increasingly effective, badger vaccination programmes. Why is the Welsh badger vaccination proving so effective? Because badgers still retain natural immunity to bTB as it originated as and remains primarily a CATTLE disease and that immunity has not YET been destroyed through indiscriminate culling!
19-02-2013 09:18 AM | Posted by Sheepfarmer
I cant believe all the fuss, badgers have no positive economic benefit for the countryside, nor does most wildlife. If there there were no badgers only a few weird looking drug crazed hippies from pop groups and little old cat ladies would care. My grandfather bulldozed the badger sets on our land in the 1950s---they have never recolonised our land despite the nearby national Trust protecting sets. Thank goodness we have Patterson and Benyon ,we will all soon be able to get back to hunting and perhaps we can have badgers delisted and put on the quarry list and find some use for them.
19-02-2013 09:57 AM | Posted by Balbuzard Pecheur
Facts :
169,000+ people have signed a government e petition against the cull.
90% + of the general public are against the cull.
Parliament voted against the cull by 147 to 28.
The majority of scientific opinion is against the cull.
Paterson has to be the worst environment minister ever, supporting weird policies like fracking and GM crops. He is pro hunting, anti gay and a climate change denier. He has handled the horsemeat crisis very badly, looking like a rabbit in the headlights most of the time.
Sanctions will be taken aganst farmers who pursue this policy which wont work and is doomed to fail.
19-02-2013 10:15 AM | Posted by Clued-Up
@ Sheepfarmer

You're being deeply ironic, right?

You're presenting yourself as a "Colonel Blimp" of a farmer - arrogant, unthinking and out of touch with the world beyond your farm. This can't be a true picture of what you really think, surely?
20-02-2013 21:21 PM | Posted by Blake 2pi
My point about vaccination was clearly aimed at application of the BCG within the badger species. It's disappointing to be taken out of context like this but, demonstrates the lack of scientific evidence behind the failing BCG vaccine. Vaccination still has a long way to go, it will take time to establish whether herd immunity within this application is even possible to achieve bare alone to achieve it. It's interesting the costs you quote (taking out all the costs). The simple fact is that badger culling is expensive, the Welsh government and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust both did it for over £600 a badger.
http://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/vaccination.html
Whilst the vaccine dose itself might be considered "cheap" there are many associated costs that come with it. It's expensive but, we need to be realists when considering the options of tackling the endemic problem of TB in the badger species. It's seems odd then to see that people talk about the economic aspects of culling and include the police costs. Let us not forget the police are there because of the extremist nature of some of the opposition against culling. Tackling TB in the badger species has never been considered economical and hence the disease has spread throughout the badger species. 10's of thousands of dead badgers, 100’s of thousands of dead cattle at a cost of £3 billion, who still wants to try and claim any rational or moral ground talking about economics?

It's important to remember when it comes to vaccination of badgers it’s unlikely to give lifelong immunity. Badgers (and new cubs) will need to be caught repeatedly over many years before we will even know it has a chance of working, there is certainly a long way to go. Whilst I most certainly do support the furthering of vaccination research without the scientific weight behind it we are talking about faith. Just because we run scientific research doesn't mean it will work, just look at MVA85A.

If one was to vaccinate 70% of badgers within the hotspot areas, with a vaccine that can protect around 70%, of which at most 70% would be TB free then you are looking at protecting around 35%. This is a long way off the success rates that have been seen or are required for successful vaccination policies. So the question that needs to be answered is can this over years be used to build up herd immunity i.e. if we achieve 35% in the first year can we improve on this further over several years. It's not going to happen overnight, it will take years and there is no guarantee of success. Scientific process is followed for a reason, it's so that we do not lose control of the disease. Unfortunately there is not easy way to speed up the research or the scientific breakthroughs that are required. They will take time and with that must come patience.

Then we go again with the lopsided cake and eat it attitude towards badger culling. If free-shooting does not work then cage trapping will be deployed, just as in the vaccination trial. So the idea that vaccination definitely will and badger culling probably won’t reach 70% capture rates is complete nonsense.

Unfortunately because of how the figures have been presented people are getting them confused as to what they are. Let me be very clear about this, it's an average not a maximum or something seen at the end of year 9. It’s an average over the entire term. This includes the high level of perturbation seen in the early years and the longer term large reductions in TB which resulted in a net benefit equivalent to 16% over 9 years. This is more of a legal figure that demonstrates badger culling does make a significant contribution to the reduction of TB. It’s important to remember this is not all that badgers contribute to the level of TB (because it includes the negative aspects of perturbation). It was specifically stated early on in the RBCT that such a figure would not be possible to calculate (due to the political limitations placed on the study).

Whilst there are risk with culling, the "might make it worse" is a term that was more directed towards different policy options. I realise have two different types of culling can be confusing but, care needs to be taken in understanding the difference in reactive and proactive culling. Proactive culling was proven to give these large reductions. Reactive culling was abandoned in the RBCT and hence became a perfect recipe for perturbation. However, more rigid application of reactive badger culling (as recommended by Krebbs) in Ireland has yielded TB reductions which have brought TB down to generational lows.

There's a lot spun against the internationally recognised skin test. A skin test used in less rigorous applications that has cleared many nations from TB. It's interesting this talk about use as a herd test, because whilst in certain countries it is used as this, this is also coupled with wide scale wildlife culling, something they are against. It's odd how one wants one side of the equation to be ruthlessly and rigorously addressed and the other side left with no controls. It's also important to note that just because a cow has reacted and has been slaughtered showing no visible signs of TB (as is most often the case) doesn't mean that the cow didn't have it. Surely the fact that the test is picking up so many early cases demonstrates that it's working and hence a large indication towards the direction of transmission.

The Conservatives promised a badger cull in their manifesto, the Lib Dems promised scientific action on the badger species with a certain senior Lib Dem agricultural Minister pretty much spelling out a cull. These parties were elected into power and took this policy further with two public consultations. They most certainly do have a mandate and have certainly followed the democratic, scientific and legal process. Hence why badger culling will be going ahead.
21-02-2013 10:01 AM | Posted by Clued-Up
Thanks for a nicely argued and informative post, Blake.

"The Conservatives promised a badger cull in their manifesto, the Lib Dems promised scientific action on the badger species ... They most certainly do have a mandate".

Parliament voted AGAINST the badger cull. A Parliamentary vote trumps a party manifesto.

As an aside, political parties rarely seem to respect their own manifestos, treating them as "sales brochures" rather than commitments to the voters (a good example being Cameron's "no top down re-organisation of the NHS").

"It's seems odd then to see that people talk about the economic aspects of culling and include the police costs"...

Police costs have to be included in the cull equation because:-

(a) with around 90% public opposed to it, there'll be massive protests (lawful and unlawful) against it; the police have to protect both sides against the other - risks being particularly high as the cullers will have guns and most confrontations will be in the dark

(b) the badger cull programme proposed presents an exceptional level of risk to third parties. There'll be no advance warning of the areas where shooting is to happen, putting late evening and early morning walkers and their dogs at risk - previous "cull areas" have been criss-crossed by footpaths.

Police costs will be huge. Police PLANNING for the Gloucestershire cull area cost over £1M; actually doing the policing would have cost millions more of tax-payers' money for a project they oppose.

"If one was to vaccinate 70% of badgers within the hotspot areas, with a vaccine that can protect around 70% ...then you are looking at protecting around 35%."

No, you're looking at protecting a very much higher percentage than that, because of the quarantine effect. A successfully vaccinated badger can't pass on TB to another badger. Vaccinate around 70% and you've got herd immunity near as dammit.

You've also reduced the risk of TB being passed down the badger generations - you haven't eliminated the risk entirely because TB is endemic in the environment.

Hope to get back to you later on the other points you've raised - I should really get on with work now!
23-02-2013 09:38 AM | Posted by ssimples
24 yrs of data shows that intense badger cull substantially reduced/eliminated persistent bovine TB across 104 square kilometres.

http://www.bovinetb.info/gassing.php
23-02-2013 12:52 PM | Posted by blake 2pi
It was a non-binding vote after a very poor debate in which only a minority of MP’s voted. I certainly do not believe that this is grounds for a trump card.

a) I have yet to see credible figures to suggest anti-cull support is anywhere near as high as 90%. As can be seen in my link if you are against badger culling and believe in vaccination then do that; Support vaccination. Wildlife Trusts are queuing up to deliver it but, need support. I will also like to point out that that just because you don’t like a policy it does not give you the right to participate in illegal activities or justify them. Hence why I refuse to believe police costs should be associated with the costs of culling. Anyone planning extremist activities needs to take responsibility for themselves. There is also the question why they would want to disrupt culling in the first place. Disruption of badger culling increases perturbation. So their actions will not save badgers but, result in greater badger and cattle death. Anyone involved in these disruptive activities will have badger death and suffering on their hands. Why would you do this when there are perfectly legal activities that support what you believe in available?

b) Free shooting goes on throughout the countryside every night of the summer. Just because the sights will be turned on badgers doesn’t make it any more dangerous.

And on the police, they are paid to be impartial and uphold the law. The idea that they support or oppose badger culling is nonsense.

“No, you're looking at protecting a very much higher percentage than that…”
Over time maybe and this is what must be trialed and is not know but, intitially you can't hope for more than 35%.
24-02-2013 10:55 AM | Posted by Clued-Up
@ blake

"It was a non-binding [parliamentary] vote [to ban the badger cull] after a very poor debate in which only a minority of MP’s voted."

When Parliament votes - and votes overwhelmingly - against a course of action a democratic government SHOULD respect that decision.

If it wants the decision rescinded then it's up to government to ask for a new vote and try to persuade a majority of MPs to support them.

The government has no mandate now for its proposed badger cull. Having been voted down once, it hasn't dared to ask for a new parliamentary vote to legitimise its action - presumably because it fears a second defeat.


"I have yet to see credible figures to suggest anti-cull support is anywhere near as high as 90%."

All the polls I've seen over a number of years point to a minimum of two-thirds of the population being against badger culling when this is only raised as a theoretical possibility (see polls provided by companies that conduct national polling exercises - they're quoted by DEFRA).

As the threat of an actual badger cull comes closer, the percentage of the public against such action rises to 90% and beyond 90%.

Some local polls indicate 99% public opposition to the badger cull (the quality of these is questionable).

At least one poll has identified that country folk are even more opposed to the cull than "townies".

Clearly the most credible polls are those conducted by the national polling organisations. What all the polls show, however, is that the badger cull programme is massively unpopular with the voters.

"I will also like to point out that that just because you don’t like a policy it does not give you the right to participate in illegal activities ... Hence why I refuse to believe police costs should be associated with the costs of culling".

It's perfectly fair to associate police costs with the costs of culling. The cull creates the need to send in huge numbers of police for months at a time to safeguard human life (the masses of lawful protesters, the armed badger killers and the relatively small numbers of unlawful protesters) in high risk situations.
24-02-2013 11:11 AM | Posted by Clued-Up
@ blake

"Over time maybe and this is what must be trialed and is not know but, intitially you can't hope for more than 35%."

I think you CAN argue from other animal and human vaccination programmes where the combination of successfully vaccinating much of the target population plus the benefits of the quarantine effect have effectively controlled other diseases.

Distemper amongst dogs (once common) is now an exceptionally rare disease, for example, even though there are significant numbers of puppies and dogs that are not vaccinated and / or that do not receive booster injections.
01-03-2013 00:14 AM | Posted by TeamBadger Jeffery
This cull will also reverse all the goodwill and faith that is being shown to British farmers in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. Their sales can drop suddenly again when we all boycott them and either go veggie or chose to buy from elsewhere. DEFRA and farmers will not only be shooting badgers but themselves ..... In the foot!
01-03-2013 20:51 PM | Posted by Dorset
What a complete waste of money and what is even worse is that it does not even make sense. Unfortunately, it would appear that Owen Patterson is out to please rather than base decisions on science.
02-03-2013 14:35 PM | Posted by Blake 2pi
The democratic and legal process has been followed. I find it odd that you keep asserting that a non-binding vote in parliament in which little over a quarter of MP's voted should posthumously become binding and be considered “overwhelming”. Hence why your "no mandate" argument holds no water as this is not a strong enough argument or vote to override the mandate the government received from the public.

The most credible poll was that of HSI UK in which the results were as follows;
In favour: 31%
No opinion: 29%
Against: 40%
Considering how easy it is to spin the case of the endemic nature of TB in the badger species, I would hardly say this demonstrates an overwhelming public majority against badger culling either. A lot of the polls you quote get passed around the anti-cull twitter crowd at which point the survey gets spammed by anti-cull votes. Hence why you get your 90%+ results. I certainly do not consider this reliable and hence why it has no bearing on developing policy.

"At least one poll has identified that country folk are even more opposed to the cull than "townies""
This was a BBC poll which used a cold calling telephone survey that was carried out a couple of weeks after the case of Adam Hensen’s death threats was revealed. Considering it's the folk in the countryside that are more likely to be involved in a badger cull I would not advise anyone to answer such a cold call in support of badger culling. Especially since this is the same tactic being used by many extremists in order to target farmers.

I fail to see how protesting suddenly becomes a culling cost. Legal protests are a perfectly acceptable activity in any democracy but, its costs are associated with themselves and democracy. Legal protests will not increase the costs of culling badgers. It's a very unbalanced argument you present when you won’t accept the associated costs with vaccination (i.e in actually deploying the vaccination) and then expect the police cost (policing you, i.e. costs you create) to be included in the cost of a cull.

However, there will also be police costs due to that of illegal activities to protect these extremists from themselves and others. These people must take responsibility for themselves. In which you lead me onto another point that you failed to address. There are legal alternatives and proactive ways in order to voice your discontent, and as I pointed out successful disruption of badger culling will not help the badgers. I fail to see therefore a rational need for such protests to be carried out in this way. Therefore anyone taking part in such protests much takes responsibility for themselves and their own actions.

You keep repeating the idea of high risk. Can you please explain to me if everyone acts legally and responsibly how it suddenly becomes “high risk”? This scare tactic is not going to work. As I have pointed out, free shooting goes on every night of the summer. How does it suddenly become more dangerous now the sights are pointed at badgers?

"I think you CAN argue from other animal and human vaccination programmes where the combination of successfully vaccinating much of the target population plus the benefits of the quarantine effect have effectively controlled other diseases."
I do not believe this is a valid argument into ensuring success, and certainly does not hold weight as scientific proof that vaccinating badgers with the BCG is going to work. The success of other vaccination programs lies in gaining access to and vaccinating younger subjects before they have had exposure to the contagion. The problem with vaccinating badgers is that we cannot easily achieve this, and coupled with the weaknesses of the ever weakening BCG vaccination makes this exceedingly difficult. Hence why we are still not at a stage to call it a solution bare alone scientifically proven.

@TeamBadger Jeffery,
It’s disappointing to see such a misleading comment. The Horsemeat scandal just like the banking crisis demonstrates the problems in globalised markets and how we play our part in them. As is generally the case, the UK market is strong and shows remarkable honesty. It’s only when we open up to imports of international products (where we expect the same sense of fair play to take place) that we have problems. You say goodwill and faith shown to British farmers but, what are you accusing us of? It’s not goodwill or faith, its trust. The British consumer can trust the British farmer because we have a world beating farming system with strong and thoroughly enforced regulation.

As for public disapproval, you keep saying this will have a knock on effect to the consumer. But, I believe that this is more wishful thinking. You say sales can drop again highlighting the fact that you yourself are;
a) Not likely a customer
b) Have nothing to lose
You bring nothing to this debate other than threats of what you will make other people believe. The consumer is not as stupid as Team Badger believes. They are perfectly capable of making their own decisions.

The democratic and legal process has been followed. I find it odd that you keep asserting that a non-binding vote in parliament in which little over a quarter of MP's voted should posthumously become binding and be considered “overwhelming”. Hence why your "no mandate" argument holds no water as this is not a strong enough argument or vote to override the mandate the government received from the public.

The most credible poll was that of HSI UK in which the results were as follows;
In favour: 31%
No opinion: 29%
Against: 40%
Considering how easy it is to spin the case of the endemic nature of TB in the badger species, I would hardly say this demonstrates an overwhelming public majority against badger culling either. A lot of the polls you quote get passed around the anti-cull twitter crowd at which point the survey gets spammed by anti-cull votes. Hence why you get your 90%+ results. I certainly do not consider this reliable and hence why it has no bearing on developing policy.

"At least one poll has identified that country folk are even more opposed to the cull than "townies""
This was a BBC poll which used a cold calling telephone survey that was carried out a couple of weeks after the case of Adam Hensen’s death threats was revealed. Considering it's the folk in the countryside that are more likely to be involved in a badger cull I would not advise anyone to answer such a cold call in support of badger culling. Especially since this is the same tactic being used by many extremists in order to target farmers.

I fail to see how protesting suddenly becomes a culling cost. Legal protests are a perfectly acceptable activity in any democracy but, its costs are associated with themselves and democracy. Legal protests will not increase the costs of culling badgers. It's a very unbalanced argument you present when you won’t accept the associated costs with vaccination (i.e in actually deploying the vaccination) and then expect the police cost (policing you, i.e. costs you create) to be included in the cost of a cull.

However, there will also be police costs due to that of illegal activities to protect these extremists from themselves and others. These people must take responsibility for themselves. In which you lead me onto another point that you failed to address. There are legal alternatives and proactive ways in order to voice your discontent, and as I pointed out successful disruption of badger culling will not help the badgers. I fail to see therefore a rational need for such protests to be carried out in this way. Therefore anyone taking part in such protests much takes responsibility for themselves and their own actions.

You keep repeating the idea of high risk. Can you please explain to me if everyone acts legally and responsibly how it suddenly becomes “high risk”? This scare tactic is not going to work. As I have pointed out, free shooting goes on every night of the summer. How does it suddenly become more dangerous now the sights are pointed at badgers?

"I think you CAN argue from other animal and human vaccination programmes where the combination of successfully vaccinating much of the target population plus the benefits of the quarantine effect have effectively controlled other diseases."
I do not believe this is a valid argument into ensuring success, and certainly does not hold weight as scientific proof that vaccinating badgers with the BCG is going to work. The success of other vaccination programs lies in gaining access to and vaccinating younger subjects before they have had exposure to the contagion. The problem with vaccinating badgers is that we cannot easily achieve this, and coupled with the weaknesses of the ever weakening BCG vaccination makes this exceedingly difficult. Hence why we are still not at a stage to call it a solution bare alone scientifically proven.

@TeamBadger Jeffery,
It’s disappointing to see such a misleading comment. The Horsemeat scandal just like the banking crisis demonstrates the problems in globalised markets and how we play our part in them. As is generally the case, the UK market is strong and shows remarkable honesty. It’s only when we open up to imports of international products (where we expect the same sense of fair play to take place) that we have problems. You say goodwill and faith shown to British farmers but, what are you accusing us of? It’s not goodwill or faith, its trust. The British consumer can trust the British farmer because we have a world beating farming system with strong and thoroughly enforced regulation.

As for public disapproval, you keep saying this will have a knock on effect to the consumer. But, I believe that this is more wishful thinking. You say sales can drop again highlighting the fact that you yourself are;
a) Not likely a customer
b) Have nothing to lose
You bring nothing to this debate other than threats of what you will make other people believe. The consumer is not as stupid as Team Badger believes. They are perfectly capable of making their own decisions.
16-06-2013 06:35 AM | Posted by John
Bovine tb will never be eradcated until a work able cattle is used
Its a long well know about disease it's in cattle probably before man ever domesticated them

From an old dairy worker

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