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Bovine Tuberculosis: Cattle

Julian Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had on the spread of bovine tuberculosis among cattle; and what proposals she plans to bring forward to prevent any further such spread. [49446]

Mr Paice: Tackling bovine TB is a key priority for the Government, and Ministers continue to have regular discussions about how to halt the spread of TB amongst cattle and bring the disease under control.

We received a large number of responses to our consultation on a badger control policy, which we are considering carefully. We will announce our decision and publish a comprehensive and balanced bovine TB eradication programme for England as soon as possible.

30 Mar 2011 : Column 341W

Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of vaccinating cattle against bovine tuberculosis; and if she will make a statement. [49580]

Mr Paice: Cattle vaccination is a potential long-term option for helping to control bovine TB and could have benefits in reducing the risk of infection and onward transmission of disease. However, a vaccine cannot guarantee that all cattle will be fully protected against TB and is therefore unlikely ever to be suitable for use as a sole eradication strategy. In addition, evidence suggests that without addressing the problem in the badger population, it will not be possible to eradicate TB in cattle.

DEFRA has invested around 18 million into the development of a cattle vaccine and associated diagnostic tools. There are still significant technical and regulatory challenges to overcome before a cattle vaccine would be available for widespread use. This includes the need to change EU legislation. We therefore anticipate that a cattle TB vaccine could not be used in the field before 2015 at the earliest.