News in from the beeb, the government has decided against a cull of badgers in England to control TB in cattle. The policy announcement, which was due to be made next Monday, goes against the recommendations of the former Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King.
NFU president, Peter Kendell, told BBC News that Westminster had “ducked the issue” and that the NFU would be organising a protest outside parliament next week. He added that farmers in England would be “devastated” by the decision. Some 4,000 herds were affected with TB in 2007, mainly in the south west of England, which was up nearly 18% on the previous year.
Ministers however have instead accepted the scientific arguments of the Independent Scientific Group on TB in Cattle.
The ISG’s analysis – an earlier and much larger study than Sir David’s – concluded that culling badgers would not be economic. The ISG’s analysis showed that sustained culling over a large area for five or six years might have some effect, “but even that is not clear cut”, according to Lord Krebs.
He said: “It’s not practical to carry out that kind of scorched-earth cull over a prolonged period for a policy that may not even work.” According to Lord Krebs, the incidence of TB in cattle is increasing very slowly, and he believes that the disease could be bought under control through better surveillance and biosecurity.
The announcement is sure to be welcomed by badger groups, who have fought a campaign against a mass cull.