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Stackyard News Aug 06

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Vets and farmers in "last chance saloon", advise conservationists

In advance of their meeting today, the Badger Trust today advised the British Veterinary Association, British Cattle Veterinary Association, National Farmers Unions and other bodies that they are drinking in the last chance saloon regarding their credibility on the bovine TB issue.


“These organisations are meeting together today [24 August] to discuss the issue of bovine TB in cattle,” explains Trevor Lawson, spokesman for the Badger Trust. “It is the last chance that these bodies have to demonstrate a sane and sound understanding of the science that informs the TB debate.

“They are drinking in the last chance saloon. If the result of the meeting is yet another call for badger culling, it will be clear that both veterinary and farming lobby groups are incapable of grasping the complexities of bovine TB and adopting a rational approach to controlling the disease.”

The Badger Trust has today published a critique of recent claims from these organisations, highlighting key flaws in their current policies and distortions of the scientific evidence base.

Trevor Lawson explained: “Taken together, veterinary and farming lobby groups have been making three key errors in their approach to policy:

“First, they have so far failed to distinguish between controlling and eradicating bovine TB. Control is feasible but eradication is not, even though it is very desirable. Unless they make that distinction, their policies will remain unrealistic.

“Second, the demand for badger culling has been based on dogma, not fact. As a result, they have collectively failed to offer a badger culling strategy which is publicly acceptable, cost-effective, practicable or which does not conflict with the scientific evidence. This is not surprising, since such a strategy is impossible.

“Third, by meeting together, vets and farming lobby groups have presented themselves as an unholy alliance rather than constructive partners in the debate. This has been particularly damaging to the veterinary profession, which gives every impression of being led by the nose by farmers and by a minority of vested interests within the veterinary profession.

“In our view, under the cloak of their professional qualifications, a number of vets are failing to disclose that bovine TB is actually an increasingly important source of income to large animal veterinary practices as the number of farmers declines. Rather than taking an objective and scientific stance on bovine TB policy, they have consistently repeated what farmers – their customers – have demanded. This discredits the profession and weakens public confidence in the trustworthiness of vets.

“This meeting is an opportunity for vets and farmers alike to acknowledge the significant reality that large, landowning organisations, such as the National Trust, Wildlife Trusts and RSPB, recognise that killing badgers is not a viable to control bovine TB.”

The Badger Trust’s critique addresses the flaws in four key claims recently made by the NFU and veterinary lobby groups.

link Roll out of TB blood test (IFN-g) is positive move - NBA
link New TB testing regime is step forward but no solution
link Further action to improve testing of cattle for bovine TB
link Badger Trust welcomes TB consultation results

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