Badger culling "unlikely to be an effective control measure"
The Badger Trust has welcomed advice from Defra's Science Advisory Council (SAC) which states that badger culling is "unlikely to be an effective control measure" for bovine TB.
The advice is contained in a letter dated 20 January 2006 and sent to Defra's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Howard Dalton.
The SAC says that research "supports the hypothesis that a substantial proportion of infection of cattle in GB at present is not due to infection by badgers, but is associated with other mechanisms such as cattle-to-cattle transmission". Crucially, the SAC emphasises that TB control measures based on cattle must be "implemented successfully" before any badger culling could be considered:
"Culling of badgers is therefore unlikely to be an effective control measure unless and until further measures to reduce breakdowns due to mechanisms such as cattle-to-cattle transmission have been implemented successfully."
It also advises that the "small reduction" in TB achieved by badger culling "may not be cost effective".
David Williams, chairman of the Badger Trust, commented:
"Continued claims by the National Farmers Union that badgers are the primary source of bovine TB are clearly unfounded. We urge the farming industry to reverse its decision not to cooperate with cattle- based TB control measures if badger culling is not permitted. The NFU has lost the badger culling argument and must now show some political maturity and intelligent leadership in this debate."