The farming industry is to blame for the bovine tuberculosis (TB) crisis, not just badgers, according latest research.
The independent review found that constant trading of cattle and poor biosecurity on farms, such as ineffective fencing, is ‘severely’ damaging efforts to fight the TB crisis in England.
Scientists concluded that blaming badgers for causing the outbreak was a mistake.
The review, which commissioned by the environment secretary, Michael Gove, also said it was ‘highly desirable’ to stop culling badgers and vaccinate them instead.
The results fly in the face of Gove’s current policy, as he recently announced a huge expansion in badger culling.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the report proved the Government is ‘abandoning science’ in its badger culling programme.
“Clearly, abandoning science & blaming badgers is easier than standing up to poor industry practice,” she tweeted.
- 33,000 infected badgers were slaughtered in 2017
- 42,000 badgers will be shot this year
- TB infections in cattle cost the taxpayer £100m a year
- Government has spent £40m on badger culling in total
- £700,000 has been offered for badger vaccinations over four years
The report is highly critical of farmers and ministers.
Leader of the review, at Oxford University, professor Charles Godfray, told The Guardian: “It is wrong to put all the blame on [badgers] and to use this as an excuse not to make hard decisions in the industry, which unfortunately is going to cost them money.
“We are still concerned about the amount of cattle movements that happen in this country. The number is really high.”
- Farming industry must take greater responsibility for on-farm controls, biosecurity and safe trading practices
- More can be done to help farmers make purchasing decisions reflecting the risks of cattle being infected
- Badgers do transmit bovine TB to cattle and contribute to the persistence of the disease
- Vaccinations of badgers are more appropriate than culling
The report, which was commissioned by Environment Secretary Michael Gove in February, aims to inform strategies to eradicate the disease by 2038.
Farming minister George Eustice said: “As a Government we are committed to eradicating TB and have always been clear that there is no single measure for tackling it.
“That’s why we have pursued a range of interventions, including cattle movement controls, vaccinations and controlled culling in certain areas.”
What do you think of the report? Tell us in the comments section below!
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