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Badger Trust welcomes TB consultation results
12/07/06

The Badger Trust has welcomed the revelation that 96 per cent of people who responded to the Government's consultation on badger culling opposed a cull. And only 25 per cent of the public who submitted a "substantive" response to the consultation supported a cull.

badger

Trevor Lawson, spokesman for the Badger Trust, commented:

"The most important finding to come out of this consultation is that 83 per cent of respondents believed that more effort should be put into controlling the disease through cattle-based measures. Almost one third (30 per cent) were concerned that bovine TB in cattle was a product of intensive farming methods."

But the Badger Trust condemned the Government for "dishonesty", by misleading members of the public involved in its Citizens Panels. The panellists were given a pack of information, including "factsheets" provided by Defra. The first factsheet claimed:

'The Government’s compulsory testing and slaughter programme means that most cattle are tested for bTB at least every four years. As [bovine TB] takes a long time to develop, this identifies most infected cattle before the disease can be seen.'

In fact, most cattle are NEVER tested for bovine TB and the skin test misses cattle in the early stages of infection, when they are at their most infectious. Research for Defra by the University of Warwick, involving a cohort of 96,862 cattle, found that 82,682 (85.4 per cent) were never tested for bovine TB. Defra failed to disclose this information to Opinion Leader Research who ran the Citizens Panels.

Panellists were also told that the skin test was the only TB test used on cattle, when in fact Defra successfully undertook 9,000 gamma interferon TB tests in 2005. And they were told that gamma interferon is "less specific" than the skin test, identifying uninfected animals, when in fact the test can match the specifity of the skin test.

Trevor Lawson commented:

"Even though Defra knowingly supplied the public with dishonest information, members of the citizens panels were still reluctant to back a cull of badgers. Had they been told that improved TB testing regimes can control bovine TB, we are confident that the members of the citizens panels would have opposed a cull.

"It is clear from the consultation that culling is not an acceptable or viable way forward, yet Ben Bradshaw, the minister for animal welfare, is still snaring badgers in a pointless field trial on culling methods. It is about time that the minister had the courage to face up to reality and focused his attention on cattle to cattle transmission of TB."

link Huge response to badger culling consultation
link Badger Trust welcomes Miliband's commitment to science
link Badger Trust "disappointed" by beef farmers' "cynical threats"
link Defra cannot let farmers down over badger cull, says NBA
link NFU "mired in confusion" over bovine TB

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