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.
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."
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in confusion" over bovine TB