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bTB page Archive 2005 -2009

December 31 2009 ~ ".. the Government's heart and mind are focused elsewhere than on agriculture..."

December 30 2009 ~ "You have to weigh up all these facts - the emotive thing of killing badgers against all the damage the disease is doing and the compensation."

December 30 2009 ~ Health Check Wales is hailed a success

December 28 2009 ~ The Badger Trust is applying for a Judicial Review against the Welsh decision to allow the killing of badgers in its attempt to eradicate bTB.

December 19 2009 ~ TB Awareness Meetings 2010.

December 13 2009 ~ Disease spillback in camelids (and other species).

December 11 2009 ~ "...the Department is doing as much as it can.."

December 11 2009 ~ "Infection acquired through consuming food products infected with M. bovis may affect any part of the human body..."

December 10 2009 ~ About 2 in every 3 animals slaughtered are not confirmed cases at post mortem

December 8 2009 ~ New Welsh plan to reduce TB compensation to 'bad farmers'

December 3 2009 ~" I wanted to show how the disease has got out of control and yet is not being addressed."

December 2 2009 ~ Hedges a factor? "This is at variance with our experience."

December 2 2009 ~ Are hedges a factor? Blog reveals a 2006 paper made a link

November 29 2009 ~ "In whose interest is it to keep this disease circulating, its casualties increasing and becoming more varied by the day?"

November 26 2009 ~ Vaccinating cattle "..options which would result in significant restrictions on trade are not being considered"

November 23 2009 ~ "I have been very patient with this slick, full of spin, young MP who, incidentally lives in lovely countryside a few miles from me. Very clever boy"

November 20 2009 ~ Rod Who?

November 20 2009 ~ just published BMC paper "Performance of TB immunodiagnostic tests in Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) of different ages and the influence of duration of infection on serological sensitivity"

November 20 2009 ~ "It's not just those with herd restrictions whose lives are affected by bTB," says NFU

19 November 2009 ~ "nice to meet Chris Chapman yesterday. Lovely chap, and a very good photographer / film maker

November 16 2009 ~ Just come to light- the DEFRA policy on testing camelids and Reporting Procedures

November 13 2009 ~ "Both these systems will help farmers cope when under TB restrictions.."

November 9 2009 ~ 49-9 vote by Welsh AMs in support of the Wales bovine TB eradication programme

November 6 2009 ~ Bovine TB statistics for GB from January to July 2009 show a slight decrease

November 5 2009 ~ "There were also comments that vets were not allowed to advise freely because government doesn't allow them to say what they think."

November 3 2009 ~ " I'm confident that what we have is a non political, educational and informative film which will go a long way to help the public understand the disease and how we might move forward."

November 2 2009 ~ Irish Trials to stop the spread of TB in cattle by vaccinating badgers is showing good results, according to the Irish Department of Agriculture.

October 30 2009 ~ "continuing to make the case for a more effective strategy to tackle the disease in wildlife species...On such a highly emotive issue, we vets must always endeavour to inject the reality of science"

October 30 2009 ~ "Have the Government looked into the spreading of bovine TB to alpacas? Is there a compensation scheme?"

October 30 2009 ~ "Far too many good dairy cows have been put down in my constituency ..." Ann Winterton

October 30 2009 ~"...whether he has received any as yet unpublished reports that would help the TB eradication group develop better policies that would assist in reducing the levels of TB in cattle and in badgers?"

October 29 2009 ~ " how much his Department has received from the salvage of carcasses or part carcasses of bovine tuberculosis reactor, inconclusive or dangerous contact cattle sold into the food chain..."

October 29 2009 ~ "The Secretary of State has discussed vaccination of badgers against bovine TB with the New Zealand Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Forestry."

October 23 2009 ~ Scientific review on Tuberculosis in wildlife in the EU

October 23 2009 ~ Are alpaca owners taking bTB seriously enough?

October 17 2009 ~ EU gives interim approval to the UK eradication plan

15 October 2009 ~ Defra is consulting on plans to amend the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 to allow non- vets to vaccinate badgers against bTB.

13 October 2009 ~ "...from 1 January 2010 only a single re-test of repeat inconclusive reactors will be allowed before they are removed and slaughtered."

October 9 2009 ~ "It is not indiscriminate massacre of the wildlife.."

October 9 2009 ~ Farmers Weekly Farming Champion of the year: Christianne Glossop and Elin Jones because of their stance in Wales on tackling TB

October 8 2009 ~ "the Group also recognises that real progress towards eradication for those in high risk areas can only be made once measures are in place to tackle disease in wildlife on a large scale."

October 8 2009 ~ "However, we still believe that more can be done in England and we urge the Secretary of State to reassess his criteria for introducing a badger cull."

October 7 2009 ~ Tuberculosis is the second leading cause of death from infectious disease worldwide; bovine TB is a growing problem throughout the world

October 5 2009 ~ Mushroom compounds to stop the spread of bTB?

October 5 2009 ~ "Biology and organisms never do what they are told to in the text book..."

October 5 2009 ~ bTB "Perhaps, somewhere in all these changes, we have damaged the immune system of both cattle and badgers...."

October 1 2009 ~ New Zealand to spend £37 million on bTB

September 30 2009 ~ Bovine TB "...we need to reduce the load in the animal reservoirs in a humane and satisfactory way."

September 30 2009 ~ "I am still of the view that a badger cull in an Intensive Action Pilot Area (IAPA) is necessary as part of our programme to eradicate bovine TB." Elin Jones

September 30 2009 ~ Bovine TB "...we need to reduce the load in the animal reservoirs in a humane and satisfactory way."

September 23 2009 ~ "... such crass dereliction of duty by an administration"

September 22 2009 ~ Bovine TB: "The cat owners et al may be reassured..."

September 21 2009 ~ The spread of bTB to humans and pets

September 17 2009 ~ bovine TB "two-thirds of survey respondents said the cost of controlling the disease was a good use of government money"

September 17 2009 ~TB in alpacas. A growing problem

September 17 2009 ~ Christopher Thomas-Everard believes most farmers would be prepared to contribute to the cost of a TB badger cull.

Sept 14 2009 ~ Tories plan to charge farmers for the cost of a badger cull

September 13 2009 ~ Scotland gets TB free status

August 30 2009 ~ NBA chairman Christopher Thomas- Everard: "There is no way the Government can afford this money. What are they going to do? The only answer is they will throw the cost back to farmers, by which time it will be too late."

August 14 2009 ~ Handy 'badger bins'

August 10 2009 ~ Protecting our Alpacas - a review of the bTB Situation

August 10 2009 ~ TB in camelids

August 7 2009 ~ suspected human case of bovine TB among staff at the Food and Environment Research Agency

August 3 2009 ~ Scotland is set to capitalise on its low incidence of bovine tuberculosis by applying to the EU Commission for TB-free status.

July 31 2009 ~ If DEFRA were acting on scientific principles it would authorise TB testing of badgers in 'clean' areas

July 27 2009 ~ UK animal health policy 2009 - still killing the victim rather than the aggressor

July 24 2009 ~ bTB - The Farm Crisis Network has just produced a report on the human cost of bovine TB

July 23 2009 ~ Bovine TB - "widespread and continued baiting with more than one antibiotic may reduce the infectious load." "

Tuesday July 21 2009 ~ Bovine TB - An open letter to from Dr. Ueli Zellweger

An open letter from the Swiss Vet, Dr. Ueli Zellweger, sent to July 21 2009

DEFRA and its TB Vaccine for Badgers and Cattle

The vaccine is called BCG which stands for Bacille CalmetteGuérin. This strain of bovine TB bacteria was found 88 years ago and has been the main one reproduced for vaccination ever since. It is common practice to cultivate virus and bacteria for a long time for after some 10 to 20 generations they tend to lose their power to infect but still may produce specific antibodies.

BCG is rather an uncommon type of vaccine. In most infections the infected body copes with production of a large amount of specific antibodies within a few days which protect against an infection becoming serious trouble and these antibodies can be traced for diagnosis. This is not so with Tuberculosis for 2 reasons:

  1. TB bacteria need 12 to 18 hours to multiply ( E. Coli takes 20 minutes only).
  2. TB bacteria have a waxy coat - quite unusual in microbes - to which antibodies cannot attach themselves.
Therefore the body' s defence against TB has to work by making an allergic type of reaction instead of antibodies, a reaction which is made use of when humans and cattle are skin tested for TB.
In the past BCG was used for millions of doses for healthy young babies and in some countries it is still administered to a certain extent. It does not prevent an infection but minimizes the risk of it turning into a serious generalised form.
BCG' s efficiency was never over 80% and new scientific papers say it is dubious to rely on it.
The way BCG should work in already diseased badgers (and cattle) is highly questionable, meaning it is much more likely to produce adverse reactions such as awaking existing "silent" or low scale Tuberculosis.
The Merck Veterinary Manual covering all aspects of Vet Medicine worldwide comments: This is likely to be a quite hurtful process and the vaccination site itself might well end up as an abscess.
As seen in trials, one cannot trap more than 60% of all badgers roaming around. Therefore if 60 out of 100 badgers are vaccinated with a vaccine which is only efficient to a maximum of 50 - 80% ( in healthy animals! ) you end up with far less than 50 badgers with a rather dubious protection.

It is well known and common practice that if you do not succeed to vaccinate up to 95% of all animals of a target species, the long term positive effects in an area are likely to be pretty close to zero.
If BCG is used as planned by DEFRA there will be huge perturbation and stress for all badgers, high costs and risk that the whole project will backfire.

In the hot spots some 50 % or more of all badgers might carry the TB infection already increasing the risk of TB spreading when being vaccinated and according DEFRAs plans all badgers should get a booster vaccination every 12 months making things even worse.

Who will be liable when it all goes wrong?

Dr. Ueli Zellweger

July 15 2009 ~ Alpacas positive for bovine TB

July 15 2009 ~bovine TB "I was a reactor and never developed the disease - something I have in common with most of the 40,000 cattle that were shot last year"

July 15 2009 ~ "Talk about missing the point.." writes Farmers Guardian bTB blogger

July 14 2009 ~"My Lords, would the Minister like to demonstrate joined-up government?"

July 9 2009 ~ BVA: "..... humane, targeted and managed culling of badgers in some areas will be necessary if we are to reverse the increasing prevalence of bTB"

July 9 2009 ~ "I think there is a definite change of attitude at Defra.."

July 6 2009 ~ The TB Eradication Group held its thirteenth meeting in London on June 25

June 12 2009 ~ "Can we learn anything from Australia and apply it to the UK's bTB problem?"asks the Farmers Guardian today

May 25 2009 ~ "Dozens of lovely cattle with bloodlines going back generations have been destroyed and I have shed many tears of rage and frustration..."

May 19 2009 ~ "a targeted and humane cull of badgers must be a part of the action necessary to tackle Bovine TB"

May 15 2009 ~ "I can show you which badger setts are infected, where sick badgers are hiding out and trying to survive, and where they die in horrible circumstances."

May 15 2009 ~ Killed reactors go into the food chain.

May 15 2009 ~ " thinking of giving up, because he can't bear the thought of breeding quality pedigree dairy cows simply to feed them into the maw of the Government's bTB killing machine"

May 7 2009 ~ TB has been found in several pigs in Cornwall over the past six months.

April 29 2009 ~ First full livestock animal genome sequenced

May 1 2009 ~ " more sociable cattle were more likely to be curious about badgers, and therefore more likely to catch and then pass on any infection"

21 April 2009 ~ bovine TB- £27.5 million pounds spent on killing TB suspected cattle last year

April 9 2009 ~ Report says bTB vaccination "should not negate the urgent need for measures to tackle the problem now"

April 9 2009 ~ bTB - An oral vaccine for badgers is expected by 2014 at the earliest - and a change in EU legislation is needed before it can be used in the cattle population.

April 4 2009 ~ Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control - Parliamentary Questions

Sunday March 29 2009 ~ Why aren't we already starting a programme of BCG cattle vaccination, and getting the rules about the use of vaccines changed in Brussels?

March 29 2009 ~ " Sooner or later it will splash out into more cats / pets / companion animals than we have now, and onwards into people."

March 26 2009 ~ DEFRA accounts for massive rise in bTB: " a combination of more cattle being tested for TB and a higher rate of reactors being identified"

March 25 2009 ~ "No allocation has yet been made for 2010-11 onwards and as such we are unable to provide any estimates."

March 23 2009 ~ "... a 'trend line' on our graph of cattle casualties up to 2014 when we are told a vaccine may be available, is not a pretty sight..."

March 21 2009 ~ bTB "I am truly THRILLED about this film..."

March 20 2009 ~ "A vaccine would avoid that dispersal effect, which as the science reveals, is a major flaw in a badger cull"

March 20 2009 ~ TB Decision too little too late, says Farming UK.

March 19 2009 ~ The five-year Injectable Badger Vaccine Deployment Project - efficacy trials show a "very noticeable protective effect" on badgers.

March 19 2009 ~ "Farmers query development cash snub to TB problem"

March 19 2009 ~ Bovine TB: Campaign to trap and vaccinate badgers to begin next year.

March 19 2009 ~ A Way Forward - update on the film's progress

March 10 2009 ~ "a combination of approaches will be required to achieve significant control of bTB"

March 8 2009 ~ Bovine TB is "out of control"

March 4 2009 ~ "an absence of an effective partnership approach on this issue "

March 4 2009 ~ NAO report says Defra is failing on bovine TB

March 4 2009 ~ Diagnosis of TB - the problems

March 2 2009 ~ Bovine TB: A Way Forward

February 27th 2009 ~ "The film will highlight the current anomaly whereby vets and farmers, under present legislation, are unable to take control of the crisis. .."

February 19 2009 ~ We lost about 47 cattle over 4 and half years from that 'closed herd', 2001 - 2005. Only 3 had lesions or were culture positive

February 19 2009 ~ "Article 13 requires member states to ensure "anti-tuberculosis vaccination" is prohibited under their eradication plans.

February 13 2009 ~ ".... the potential for being a very serious risk to public health"

February 13 2009 ~ Another plea for trial vaccination of badgers

February 13 2009 ~ "Animal Health" keen to review "the reactor removal process" ..."with a view to improving timescales."

January 30 2009 ~ Online questionnaire on bovine TB

January 17 2009 ~ " of the reasons why there is such a problem in animal medicine"

January 17 2009 ~ TB compensation in Wales to be linked to farmers' "good farming practices and disease control measures".

January 16 2009 ~ TB "The present policy's bias against cattle is immoral and could compromise human health."

January 8 2009 ~ "The deplorably deteriorated bTB situation in the UK ..."

November 24 2008 ~ Tuberculosis in cattle up 28 percent

November 12 2008~ bTB " I would be tempted to assume that the risk both to household animals and humans is a lot higher and more widespread than is being appreciated by the UK authorities." ProMed

Novemer 9 2008 ~ EFRA Committee Nov 5 - Hilary Benn was asked about vaccination against bTB

Nov 9 2008 ~ Can we not get on with it - initially injecting the badgers - to see if hotspot areas can be dampened down?

November 9 2008 ~ "TB bacteria plastered across the environment is a very different source of exposure from unpasteurised cows' milk 50 years ago"

November 6 2008 ~ TB Eradication Group's priority is not eradication, says Hilary Benn

November 6 2008 ~ "the change in language is encouraging."

November 3/4 ~TB Eradication Group -

October 18 2008 ~ Bovine Tuberculosis: Vaccination

October 18 2008 ~ TB in cattle is costing the country ten times as much as is spent on human TB - but there is a terrible emotional and social price to be paid too

October 16 2008 ~ From Normal Baker's website

October 14 2008 ~ A European Commission task force on how to tackle Bovine TB has now been requested by the UK

October 8 2008 ~ Bovine TB in France

October 1 2008 ~ Lord Rooker "had enough" of DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn's "indecision"

August 10 008 ~ Bovine TB confirmed in another human

July 31/ Aug 1 ~ bTB: The EU Working Document's ten point plan adds restriction and cost to farmers

29 July 2008 ~ "a better understanding of diseases present in wildlife ... is of key importance to develop control measures," says Bernard Vallat

28 July 2008 ~ Bovine TB - As we saw with Bluetongue, vaccine producers can work miracles when the money and commitment are really there.

28 July 2008 ~ While we care about the badgers, lets not forget the hedgehogs

28 July 2008 ~ "Farmers have had a rough deal from this Government who understand so little about the rural way of life. If we neglect our farmers we are going to really regret this now and in the future."

26 July 2008 ~ Jim Paice says the public would be "horrified" if they saw how badgers suffered as they were dying from the disease

July 26 2008 ~ No EU ban

July 25 2008 ~ "In England, the control and registration of bovine TB is not organised sufficiently...." Siem-Jan Schenck, Dutch Agricultural Board

July 24 2008 ~ "We must not be too English...."

July 23 2008 ~ "This is not good enough - it fails to recognise fully the seriousness of the situation."


July 23 2008 ~ An end to UK calf exports?

July 23 2008 ~"Information from the United Kingdom on the tuberculosis situation in calves exported to other Member States"

July 23 2008 ~ What a mess....

July 22 2008 ~ PCR test for use on environmental samples and excretions collected from badgers "ruled out" except in laboratory

July 22 2008 ~ Bovine TB: More Parliamentary answers yesterday

July 22 2008 ~ Bovine TB in the Netherlands: 32 more animals infected and 60 undecisive.

July 22 2008 ~ Bovine TB in Welsh goats - "many of the goats from that herd went to two other herds, from both of which stock had been sold on quite widely..."

Monday 14th July 2008 ~ bTB compensation: The judge not satisfied by the Secretary of State's stated position

July 13 2008 ~"It is ridiculous to expect farmers to continue fighting TB with one hand tied behind their back.

Wednesday 9 July ~ RABDF Questions Government Bovine TB Funding

July 8 2008 ~ "... this method did not do away with the badger population but TB was virtually unheard of. Surely someone in DEFRA is aware of how it was dealt with in those days..."

Tuesday 8 July 2008 ~ Bovine TB. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) "expresses disappointment, but no surprise"

July 6 2008 ~ "a few of the basic facts about this disaster which the BBC has not been telling us..."

July 6 2008 ~ "We confidently expect this to duck the elephant in the room, and concentrate on more severe cattle measures...."

July 5 2008 ~ "wildlife is a major source of new herd infection ....may be a more important source than cattle"

July 5 2008 ~ "We want to see healthy cattle alongside healthy badgers"

June 26 2008 ~ "Results from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial show that badgers are the main wildlife reservoir and contribute to bovine TB (bTB) in cattle." Jonathan Shaw

June 20 2008 ~ "... cattle-to-cattle transmission accounts for just 1-2% of herd breakdowns. The remaining 98-99% of bovine TB is brought in from other sources."

June 16 2008 ~ Even a closed herd does not protect cows from DEFRA's rules

June 16 2008 ~ Just 70 colony forming bTB bacteria are needed to infect a cow. A badger with kidney lesions can excrete up to 300,000 cfu of bacteria in just 1ml of urine

June 13 2008 ~ Why is DEFRA not heeding expert advice on the desperately important subject of bovine TB but instead giving partial and muddled information to its Minister?

June 13 2008 ~... "The great irony is that those with rampant infection (similarly in humans) do not produce any antibodies or white cell response and their skin tests will remain negative"

May 18 2008 ~ "Defra itself admits on its website that the blood test is cruder and less "specific" than the skin test..."

May 18 2008 ~ What an appalling waste.

May 17 2008 ~ "The fact that Defra insisted in doing this without a re-test is just awful. All those poor healthy cows have been put down without reason."

May 1 2008 ~TB blood test clear - but all the cows to be destroyed...

March 31/April 1 2008 ~ bTB - part of the answer at least lies in the soil

March 6 2008 ~ Bovine TB - polarised positions

February 22 2008 ~ Bovine TB gamma interferon test "One farm business has issued legal proceedings against DEFRA, a date has yet to be set for the claim to be heard."

February 12 2008 ~ Clarke Willmott case challenging Defra's refusal to allow re-tests on cattle that tested positive to the gamma interferon (gIFN) bovine TB test has been adjourned until April. 
 is a good source, if you haven't seen it yet.

Bovine Tuberculosis In Cattle And Badgers, British Veterinary Association

 Article Date: 28 Feb 2008 - 2:00 PST

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed calls by a Parliamentary Select Committee for Defra to adopt a multi-faceted approach to tackling the growing problem of cattle TB, including control of badgers in endemic areas.

Commenting on the publication of the House of Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRACom) report 'Badgers and cattle TB: the final report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB' BVA President Nick Blayney said: "The multi-faceted approach unanimously recommended by the Committee reflects our long-held view that both badgers and cattle are significant animals in the spread of TB and that both aspects must be tackled if TB is to be controlled and eradicated.

"For too long debate on TB control and eradication has been polarised. This has held up progress. EFRACom has addressed the very complex issues involved in a thorough and dispassionate manner.

"The current approach, whereby farmers apply restrictions on the movement of high-risk cattle, pre- and post-movement testing and the application of farm health planning to improve on-farm biosecurity is clearly not working, and it ignores the role of an infected badger population as was confirmed by the Bourne Report.

"Vaccination of both species involved is under investigation and we support the call for adequate Defra funding. However, the current situation must be addressed and it is time for Government to accept that the loss of so many cattle is a cost financially and emotionally that neither the country nor especially the farming industry can continue to bear. "

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of cattle slaughtered in (a) Devon and (b) England which had (i) tuberculosis and (ii) lesions in lymph glands and lungs in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [190577]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 29 February 2008]: The following table shows the number of cattle slaughtered under bovine tuberculosis (TB) control measures in (a) Devon and (b) England in each of the last five years, with the number of cattle with demonstrable post-mortem evidence of infection (for instance, visible lesions of TB and/or isolation of the bovine TB bacterium on culture).

Devon England
Number of cattle slaughtered( 1) Number of "confirmed" cases Number of cattle slaughtered( 1) Number of "confirmed" cases


























(1) Includes cattle slaughtered as skin and gamma-interferon test reactors, skin test inconclusive reactors and direct contacts.
(2) 2005-07 figures are provisional, subject to change as more data become available.

4 Mar 2008 : Column 2274W

Data on the number of cattle displaying TB lesions in particular organs or parts of the carcase is not centrally collated in an electronic format.

Following a TB breakdown, we aim to carry out post-mortem inspections of all the slaughtered cattle and to take tissue samples from the reactor (or if several animals must be removed, from a representative subset of those), to attempt isolation and molecular typing of the causative organism in the laboratory. This is done to support epidemiological investigations and management of the incident, rather than to validate the ante-mortem test results.

Failure to detect lesions of TB by post-mortem examination, or to culture M. bovis in the laboratory, does not imply that a test reactor was not infected with bovine TB. In the early stages of this disease, it is not always possible to observe lesions during abattoir post-mortem examination and, due to the fastidious nature of this organism, it is very difficult to isolate it from tissue samples without visible lesions.

Meaningful "confirmation" proportions for TB test reactors cannot be provided, as substantial numbers of skin and gIFN positive animals are not subject to laboratory culture, for example, once infection has already been identified in other cattle from the same herd.

4 Mar 2008 : Column 2273W

Bovine Tuberculosis: Compensation

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent by his Department on compensation to farmers whose cattle were slaughtered as inconclusive reactors to tuberculosis in each of the last three years. [190578]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 29 February 2008]: The following table shows the total amount of compensation paid to farmers in England, in each of the last three years, for cattle compulsorily slaughtered for bovine tuberculosis control reasons.

Compensation paid to farmers for all cattle slaughtered under bovine tuberculosis control measures( 1)
£ million







(1) The compensation payments are for England only.

The Government require the compulsory slaughter of inconclusive reactor cattle that fail to resolve after three tests. Repeat inconclusive reactors must be deemed to be reactors under EU legislation.

The way that these cattle are recorded and slaughtered means that we are unable to provide a breakdown showing the amount of compensation paid for this sub-group of cattle.


Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2007-08

27 February 2008


Badger and cattle TB: the final report of the Independent Scientific Group"—Report published

The Government's current method of controlling cattle TB, that of surveillance, testing and slaughter, is not working effectively. That is the conclusion of the EFRA select committee in its report Badgers and cattle TB: the final report of the Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB published on Wednesday 27 February.

Cattle TB is an infectious disease that is one of the most serious animal health problems in Great Britain today. The number of infected cattle has been doubling every four and a half years. The consequential growing cost of the disease to the taxpayer and to the farming industry is unsustainable. In "hot spot" areas where the prevalence of the disease is highest, the farming industry has reached a breaking point as the disruption to business in both human and economic terms has become unacceptable. The final straw for many farmers has proved to be the introduction of a new system of valuations for their slaughtered cattle which has proved inequitable in many cases.

The Committee's conclusion is that there is no simple solution that will control cattle TB. The Government must adopt a multi-faceted approach to tackling the disease, using all methods available. The Government's strategy for cattle TB should include:

• more frequent cattle testing, with more frequent and targeted combined use of the tuberculin skin test and the gamma interferon test;
• the evaluation of post-movement cattle testing;
• greater communication with farmers on the benefits of biosecurity measures;
• the deployment of badger and cattle vaccines when they become available in the future; and
• continued work on the epidemiology of the disease.

The Committee recognises that under certain well-defined circumstances it is possible that culling could make a contribution towards the reduction in incidence of cattle TB in hot spot areas. However, as there is a significant risk that any patchy, disorganised or short-term culling could make matters worse, the Committee could only recommend the licensed culling of badgers under section 10 of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 if the applicants can demonstrate that culling would be carried out in accordance with the conditions agreed between the ISG and Sir David King, which indicated that there might be an overall beneficial effect. These were that culling should:

• be done competently and efficiently;
• be coordinated;
• cover as large an area as possible (265km² or more is the minimum needed to be 95% confident of an overall beneficial effect);
• be sustained for at least four years; and
• be in areas which have "hard" or "soft" boundaries where possible. 

We recommend that no application for a licence should be approved by Natural England, which already has statutory responsibility for the granting of culling licences, without scrutiny to ensure that it complies with the conditions set by the ISG and Sir David King. It is important that were such a cull approved, other control measures should also be applied. Any cull must also be properly monitored by Defra. It is unlikely that such culling would be sanctionable in more than a limited number of areas. We recognise that culling alone will never provide a universal solution to the problem.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has put forward a proposal for an organised licensed cull by farmers, or their contractors. They believe it would fulfil the conditions agreed by the ISG and Sir David King. If the NFU is able to meet the licensing requirements laid down by Defra, can satisfy Natural England both that it would conduct any cull in accordance with its animal welfare requirements and would satisfy the conditions agreed by the ISG and Sir David King, we accept that a licence for such a cull could be granted.

If Defra is to save expenditure in the long run it must continue to fund work to fill the gaps in the knowledge about cattle TB and the way it spreads. Central to this work must be an answer to the question of what is the precise mechanism of the infection between badger and cattle. Defra's approach to future research into aspects of cattle TB must not be determined simply by its wish to reduce its overall level of spending on combating the disease.

The measures the Committee has recommended will require an increase in financial support from Defra. However, this is necessary if the Government wants to avoid ever-increasing expenditure forecast in future years, which could total as much as £1billion between now and 2013. Ministerial assertions, driven by Defra's budgetary control problems, that the budget for cattle TB will be reduced are unrealistic. Defra has a continuing responsibility to seek to end the incidence of this disease just as it does with BSE. Defra is now justified in making a case to HM Treasury for a "spend to save" policy. But in so doing it will once and for all have to commit itself to a strategy with clear goals against which progress can be measured.

Commenting on the report, the Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee the Rt Hon Michael Jack MP, said:

"This is a complex issue and there is no simple solution.  But I am pleased that the Report represents the unanimous view of the Committee."


1. Further details about this inquiry can be found at:


2. The Committee's inquiry initially focused on the conclusions of the final report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG), which was set up by the Government in 1998 to conduct the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) in order to establish the effects of badger culling on the incidence in herds of cattle TB. A subsequent review of the ISG's Final Report, produced by the then Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King at the Government's request, produced a different interpretation of the same basic data. Both reports said that badger culling would have an overall beneficial effect.  However, whilst the ISG concluded that culling would make a "modest difference" in the incidence of cattle TB, the King report concluded that at 300km², culling "would have a significant effect on reducing TB in cattle".

Media Enquiries: Laura Kibby: Tel: 020 7219 0718, Mob: 079174 88557, Email:

February 12 2008 ~ Clarke Willmott case challenging Defra's refusal to allow re-tests on cattle that tested positive to the gamma interferon (gIFN) bovine TB test has been adjourned until April.

     "....the law farm acting on behalf of the partnership, Clarke Willmott, were granted permission for the case to be adjourned on Monday night. They had asked for more time, so they could respond to the scientific evidence submitted by Defra in support of the gIFN test. ...... agricultural specialistist Tim Russ said this suggested 'something is seriously wrong with one or both of these tests'. .... "


January 25 ~ bTB "... If the High Court backs the case for a re-test .. it could force Defra to offer re-tests to other farmers and lead to a review of how the test is used."

     today "The credibility of Defra's TB testing system will come under scrutiny in the High Court next month in a case that could have far-reaching implications for use of the gamma interferon (gIFN) blood test. A Somerset organic farming partnership, battling to save cattle that tested positive to the gIFN bovine TB test, this week won the right to a full High Court hearing of their case. A Judicial Review of Defra's refusal to allow the animals to be re-tested will be heard on February 12..... Defra will mount a vigorous defence of its uses of the gIFN test that it insists is reliable and is a vital tool in the battle against bTB." See also below

January 20 2008 ~ Bovine TB - like FMD and Bluetongue, the problem is money, politics and trade

    It seems that DEFRA are testing whole herds in certain areas when there is one positive cow by post mortem, or skin test even, in a desperate bid to stop the spread of bTB.
    The gIFN test gives about 80 gamma interferon positive animals to one PM case or skin test positive. Farmers, some of whom are challenging the results in court or refusing to kill the animals said to be positive in large numbers with the gamma interferon test, are getting quite desperate.
    DEFRA gives the farmer only £400 but then sells the animals into the food chain. Some feel this is a policy of overkill that mirrors that used to control FMD and one that might well be giving underfunded DEFRA a much-needed boost in funds. See Lord Rooker's reply
    to the EFRA Committee in December
      "...a set of new policy options start to cost money. We have reached a limit. We are not going back to the Treasury".
    A change of emphasis would allow the boon of modern virology and technology to come to the aid of farmers.

January 20 2008 ~ BTb vaccination - ' a trade catastrophe and illegal under EU law'

      "... Lord Rooker was asked at the EFRAcom meeting why he was funding the development of vaccines for bTb if there was no possibility of using them. His reply was the same as our veterinary pathologists' .... ' a trade catastrophe and illegal under EU law', but he added, that doesn't preclude 'us' working on them. 'Us' being multi national pharmaceutical companies operating from the UK and Defra's science departments.."
    One sees that money, politics and ignorance of the science once again result in a policy that can only consist of killing. Vaccination against bovine TB would probably - like FMD - result in a trade ban if the UK were to use it unilaterally (other Member States do not have our huge problem) However, badger vaccination could go ahead as the animal is not a food producing species. But, as in the case of Bluetongue, appropriate vaccine will not be produced unless a firm commitment for orders precedes the work involved. So funding for research work on BtB vaccines continues, as politically it must, but with very little likelihood of the vaccines ever being used.

January 19 2008 ~ Gamma interferon (gIFN) test alongside the skin test is throwing up spurious results. DEFRA is challenged.

     is reporting on the bid by Clarke Wilmott, acting on behalf of the Higher Burrow Organic Farming Partnership, Somerset, which supplies organic milk to Waitrose, to challenge DEFRA on these bovine TB results and get 100 threatened cows retested.
      "Lawyers were due to issue proceedings this Thursday ...Clarke Wilmott is seeking an injunction to prevent Defra culling around 100 animals that tested positive to the gIFN blood test, at least until they have been re-tested."
    The farm is resisting the cull. According to the experienced agricultural lawyer, Tim Russ, this could cost it £100,000 but because it strongly questions the validity of the gIFN results it is going ahead. Since the gIFN has been used, hundreds more cows have been slaughtered than would have been under the skin test alone. Several other farmers are now questioning the accuracy of the gamma test used and fighting for a retest - including one anguished farmer whose cows are pedigree Guernseys, "virtually irreplaceable" and which "would all be calving over the next two or three months" DEFRA, who has now dropped farming from its title, is as deaf as ever to all such requests. But the accuracy of the test itself really must be questioned. We welcome comments.

      Tuberculin testing, the bovine TB skin test...the vet uses the same syringe (very expensive) and needle going from herd to herd. The needle is dunked in alcohol or surgical spirit. The orbivirus (bluetongue is an orbivirus) is very robust with a double protein shell and it should be checked out as to whether the surgical spirit or type and concentration of alcohol used would inactivate the virus.

      High Court gamma interferon case postponed

      News | 12 February, 2008

      A HIGH Court case challenging Defra's refusal to allow re-tests on cattle that tested positive to the gamma interferon (gIFN) bovine TB test has been adjourned until April.

      Lawyers were due in court this morning to seek an injunction to prevent Defra slaughtering 100 animals belonging to the Higher Burrow Organic Farming Partnership, in Somerset.

      But the law farm acting on behalf of the partnership, Clarke Willmott, were granted permission for the case to be adjourned on Monday night. They had asked for more time, so they could respond to the scientific evidence submitted by Defra in support of the gIFN test.

      The partnership is hoping, ultimately, to force Defra through the courts to agree to re-test its animals, after the two TB tests used together gave vastly different results. While the skin test showed just two or three cases of TB, the gIFN test showed 100.

      Clarke Willmott agricultural specialistist Tim Russ said this suggested 'something is seriously wrong with one or both of these tests'.

      Defra wanted to slaughter the animals on Tuesday January 22, but agreed not to cull the animals until the NFU-backed case was heard.

      Clarke Willmott is also acting behalf of three other farmers, one in Devon, one in Dorset and one in Wiltshire, who are in a similar position.


      November 3 2006 ~ England and Wales are the only countries in the EU to have seen an increase in human TB cases over the past 10 years

        Bovine TB can affect all warm-blooded vertebrates. Although in the past, pasteurization of milk and improved inspection and hygiene virtually eliminated human illness cases linked with bovine TB, a series of 35 human cases in New York City in 2005 prompted warnings in America against eating soft cheeses made from raw milk. Now, according to today's Independent, there are "10 new cases of TB a day in London and more than 600 of the total diagnosed last year were drug resistant. Drug resistant strains can take over a year to treat and cost tens of thousands of pounds. England and Wales are the only countries in the EU to have seen an increase in TB cases over the past 10 years. Germany, France and Spain have seen decreases of up to 35 per cent. In New York, the number of cases has more than halved in the past decade."

      October 14 2006 ~ "The whole basis of Krebs was to remove badgers off the ground. For the first 4 years, that effort was farcical due to restrictions placed upon us. The trial had too many flaws in it to be trusted to produce meaningful evidence.."

        ProMed today quotes in full a letter about the published paper by Dr Rosie Woodroffe. The distressing first hand experience outlined in the letter from a West Country farmer whose closed farm of pedigree Holsteins - with MAFF-approved biosecurity - nevertheless fell victim to TB, refutes the findings in Dr Woodroffe's American paper. A botched RBCT Reactive badger clearance' a hit-and-run visit on the neighbouring farm led to the deaths of 48 cattle - " in our bitter experience, the last thing the RBCT did was cull badgers - but disperse them, it most certainly did. And then abandon any attempt to 'react' for 3 years."
        The farmer goes on to quote senior member of the RBCT wildlife team, Paul Caruana, in a submission to the EFRA committee:
          "The whole basis of Krebs was to remove badgers off the ground. For the first 4 years, that effort was farcical due to restrictions placed upon us. The trial had too many flaws in it to be trusted to produce meaningful evidence. How much weight do we give the latest ISG report, detailing their 'robust' findings to the Minister? If it were down to me and my staff, very little."
        The posting is also interesting for its description of the little studied effects of FMD on biodiversity: Read in full

      Oct 5 2006 ~ Dismay at new bovine TB 'hotspots'

        icNorthWales "...Farmers in parts of North Wales have reacted with dismay after learning their holdings are now in bTB hotspots. Letters, in Welsh only, were sent out this week announcing changes to the Parish Testing Interval (PTI) regime. It means that sections of Denbighshire and a small area around Deeside are now classified as bTB hotspots. Affected farmers were told their cattle would now be tested once every 12 months or two years, depending on the perceived threat. Previously they had been subjected to four-year testing cycles...."

      Oct 4 2006 ~ American bTB research "the same computers - or more up to date models - that were responsible for 11 million deaths in FMD"

        email received
          ".....The news today of 'American' research which supports cattle / cattle transmission of Tb, and even cattle/ badger (from Badger Trust) is spearheaded by our own Rosie Woodruffe, a former member of the ISG / Bourne / Krebs magic circle, but now domiciled in California.
          From what we can see the 'evidence' is the RBCT / VLA in all its glory. First year only of course, and masticated through Imperial College's computer modelling. Yup, the same computers - or more up to date models - that were responsible for 11 million deaths in FMD, and then had the audacity to halve the number, by ignoring lambs, piglets and calves. (compensation being paid for 'a single unit' which as you know, was a mother and her unweaned offspring)..."
        See also recent links

      See DEFRA site

      September 28 2006 ~ "Another glossy booklet and a new committee is not a solution to the problem of bTb, which after twenty years of prevarication is now "endemic" in the UK's badgers and producing an "epidemic" in the sentinel cattle..."

        The Blog, challenges current weasel words and woolly arguments. It is updated most days and its archive is important.

        ( Farmers' Weekly reports that tests on 459 found-dead badgers in Wales show 55, or about 12%, TB positive. FWi quotes Evan Thomas, the FUW's TB spokesman, "Imagine if one in nine of our children was infected with TB, it would be the worst epidemic in centuries.")

      September 27 2006 ~ Claims made by the RSPCA found to be unjustified by the Advertising Standards Agency

        Listen again to Farming Today (Wednesday 27 Sept) Earlier in the year the RSPCA paid for newspaper coverage to assert that badgers had nothing to do with the spread of TB and that it was a cattle to cattle disease. An email received today "... Nick Renwick (not sure if spelling is correct!) of the Welsh Farming Union and Hilary Seals a South Devon breeder from Derbyshire were the only people to challenge these articles with the Advertising Standards Agency - after a protracted investigation and the RSPCA employing a team of expensive lawyers - the ASA upheld the complaint saying that they had invesigated the claims made by the RSPCA and found them to be unjustified..... Whatever does the Charity Commission do? " Read in full

      Can the government now ignore the use of a technology that allows any necessary euthanasia to be both humane and targeted?

        The University of Warwick's department of Biological Sciences press release about its research using PCR diagnosis on badger setts and latrines. "....without technology such as this its is very difficult to differentiate "clean" setts containing uninfected badgers from "problem setts" containing infected badgers.":
          "We do not advocate culling badgers to control bovine TB, particularly in light of the scientific results emerging from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. However if the government takes the decision to continue to cull badgers, then we would prefer that culling is targeted at diseased and infectious animals- indeed cattle, badgers or other wildlife hosts-, rather than see a policy of untargeted culling..."
          "..... In the Gloucestershire population, they found 100% of the examined badger setts and latrines to be contaminated with M.bovis, whereas none of the samples in the Oxfordshire population were positive...... Results suggest that once the organism is excreted into the environment by cattle, badgers, or other wildlife, it could act as a source for further transmission..." More
        As one of the lead researchers on the project, Dr Orin Courtenay, says, " if the government takes the decision to continue to cull badgers, then we would prefer that culling is targeted at diseased and infectious animals"

      March 2006 ~ An Easy, Inexpensive Test Detects Tuberculosis in Livestock and Wildlife

      Open Letter 24 February 2005 from more than 350 vets and scientists (new window)

      LATEST news

      Recommended articles

      Worcestershire farmers fight for their cows.

      Use of an Electronic Nose To Diagnose Mycobacterium bovis Infection in Badgers and Cattle - extracts Journal of Clinical Microbiology, April 2005

      Rapid PCR diagnostic portable kits. The UK catches up....

      From the Telegraph15/09/2004"...... There will also be in-the-field testing for animal diseases, including foot and mouth or tuberculosis in cattle within 30 minutes, rather than having to send samples to a lab.
      Tim Rubidge, Dstl head of technology transfer and investments group, said the idea of a tabletop DNA test laboratory was no longer a "a twinkle in the eye of a research scientist looking far out into the future".
      "We have a portfolio of more than 20 strong patents, field-tested instruments and continuing research projects supporting the MoD and Department of Health," he said. "It is fair to say that we have taken PCR out of the research lab and into the field where it is most needed." ...." Read in full

      The obvious potential of a portable, rapid diagnostic PCR cycler machine is to give a rapid identification of TB and the spoligotype of TB present in badgers. If one animal from a sett is found to have TB of a type causing infection in nearby cattle, then that sett could be eradicated with carbon monoxide - a humane method of killing the infected animals. Of course "Brock" is a much loved icon of the English countryside - but an unfortunate badger with TB should not in its miserable condition, be kept alive so that it can die slowly and infect everything else around.

      Only in an environment free of bovine TB would it make sense to cull anything that has had contact with tuberculosis. Unfortunately, the UK with over 30% of badgers are now infected, and capable voiding up to 300,000 units of bacteria in every 1 ml of urine, most of the cows in the West will have antibodies to bovine TB. This does not mean that there will be fewer dead cows, protected by antibodies. DEFRA's policy of killing anything that reacts to the TB test means there is massive slaughter of reactors - many of whom who do not have the disease itself.

      Recommended Blog

      Britain 'is facing £2bn bill for TB in cattle'
      By Charles Clover
      (Filed: 26/11/2005)

        "Tuberculosis in cattle will cost £2 billion over the next decade unless the Government takes the kind of determined action seen in the United States...... Mr Paterson said: "I was overwhelmingly impressed by the absolute determination of the authorities to eradicate TB before it took hold, especially in comparison to the pitiful efforts of their UK colleagues." ..."

      Bovine TB Control in Great Britain A Paper for Discussion

      by the National Beef Association can be seen in full here pdf file

      It makes 18 recommendations, including "the obvious potential of a portable PCR cycler machine" (See below)

      NBA recommendations for TB control:

      1. Bovine TB is increasingly expensive both to Government and industry but it is a case where front-loading of cost will undoubtedly save money in the long run so long as a full basket of control measures is implemented. This needs to be properly explained to Treasury.

      2. To bring a disease under control it is imperative that one knows where it is. The inspection for bovine TB lesions in OTM carcases, a major element in surveillance for bovine TB, may be too hurried to be effective. It is recommended that more care is taken and a sample of culls from herds with repeated TB reinfections are examined with closer veterinary attention, if necessary growing cultures from tissue samples of any carcase under suspicion.

      (Only 154 cattle with visible lesions at inspection out of 3.4 million carcases seems to be almost too good to be true.)

      3. Conduct a full analysis of the DEFRA database and link its information to industry databases to construct a clear national, regional and farm cluster (not merely parish) description of the incidence of TB nationwide. Faster analysis of TB 99 information would assist in compiling this essential instrument of control.

      In many cases TB restrictions on neighbouring farms are completely anomalous merely because they are in adjoining parishes.

      4. Test all herds in parishes within 30 kilometres of any TB incident on an annual basis until that parish has been clear of TB for at least 3 years.

      5. Treat any new TB out-breaks in TB clean areas urgently by testing cattle on all neighbouring farms twice, firstly within two months and then a second time after a 60 day interval. Test sufficient of the local badger population to establish whether the TB flare-up is badger derived or cattle to cattle infection or from some other cause. Such testing could use the PCR method described in 4 (c).

      6. In any case immediately introduce field trials on the portable PCR machine described in section 4 (c) of this paper for both badgers and cattle.

      7. The NBA would support a blitz on cattle TB using both the skin test and the GI blood test (subject to the comments in section 4 (b)) in repeat TB incidents in low risk areas.

      8. The rescheduling of testing areas i.e. six months, one, two and three years using specifically targeted areas or farm clusters rather than parishes, is necessary (see recommendation 3 above).

      9. Continue enforcement of test intervals.

      10. Where practicable, farmers should maintain records of where individual animals (within groups) have grazed over the summer months  particularly if they have been in fields close to badger setts or fields in which badgers are regularly present. This could provide data valuable to the understanding of local patterns of infection.

      11. Reduce TB spread into low risk areas by post-movement isolation and double testing of all cattle carried from high risk to low risk regions. Where SVS veterinary inspection justifies it, cattle housed in isolation from breeding animals and going for slaughter before turn-out, could be put lower on the priority list and might often be slaughtered before a second test.

      12. Any translocation of badgers from one area to another (except by DEFRA officials) should be made illegal. All badger sanctuaries should be licensed, regularly inspected, and should have to keep full records of all badgers in their care.

      13. Expand the RTA survey of dead badgers throughout all high risk areas and for at least 150 kilometres beyond these. Indicate to farmers where the badger population remains free of infectious TB so they can be reassured that their local badger population is keeping outside badgers at bay. Where TB-infectious badgers are found, employ an experienced local wildlife watcher (such as a gamekeeper) to carry out an urgent survey of the numbers of badgers per sett within the locality to see the extent to which these exceed 8 per sett and to note the number of main setts in a given area.

      14. Krebs reactive trial areas (now only being "observed") should be treated as proactive areas. This should be done to reverse the 27% average increase (compared to the control areas) in TB herd breakdowns caused by the (often much delayed) reactive culls. Now that the main trapping has been done in the proactive areas the DEFRA badger trapping teams can be spread wider.

      15. DEFRA must remove the current moratorium on its use of section 10 of the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act which provides for licences to be granted for the removal of badgers for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease, serious damage to land, crops, poultry or any other form of property. This will open the way for limited and targeted removal of badgers under full DEFRA control, with the option for them to check such badgers to ascertain the extent of TB infection.

      16. Once the effectiveness of the Krebs proactive treatment is proven, roll this outwards into adjoining TB-infected badger areas and catch any new spread of TB in badgers into lower risk areas. It should be remembered that when the 10 Krebs trial areas were chosen, they covered 75% of the TB restricted areas of the country. They now only represent about 12% of the TB restricted farms. I

      17. Subject to the result of the field trials in 4 (c) (PCR testing) ensure that, where TB infected badgers are found within the Krebs trial proactive areas, and in danger spots in clean areas, the infected setts and their social groups are treated with carbon monoxide, and the setts filled in, to eliminate spread of infection to healthy badgers moving inwards. This task should be done working inwards from the outer ring to reduce the risk of infected badgers moving outwards to a clean area. See end note v

      18. Publicise through all possible means:

      a) The reasons why some badgers need to be culled. Include photographs of emaciated badgers in the final stages of death from TB and of their internal organs post mortem

      b) The use of the PCR technique to differentiate between infectious badgers and the rest.

      c) The fact that the skin test on cattle is close to 100% effective when repeated at a 60-day interval.

      d) The fact that the normal incidence of TB in a herd shows that only a very few cattle have been infected (often only one and more often under 5 in 1,000 cattle), and that farming methods are therefore unlikely to be the prime cause of escalating bovine TB.

      e) That the so-called 'bio-security' of attempting to separate badgers from cattle is wholly impractical.

      f) The high cost of TB control and the rate at which TB costs are escalating.

      g) The fact that bovine tuberculosis can be transmitted to people (children in particular), and pets, from badgers urine, pus or sputum, and that both people and other animals are in at greater risk because of the seven-fold increase in these sources of infection.

      (page 10 of pdf file)

      PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)

      There are two forms of using this powerful technique by which an enzyme and a cycle of heating and cooling is used to generate billions of copies of segments of DNA (to make detection and spoligotyping easier). After multiplication, the system identifies TB, or any other bacteria, or virus or DNA material by comparison with a known sample, utilising the properties of florescent light to do so.

      a. Laboratory-based conventional heating block thermocycler using agra gel electrophosesis; this has greatly facilitated research in the Badger Road Traffic Accident study.

      b. A portable mini-lab which can give an on-the-spot diagnosis of infection within 30 minutes; this technique has been developed for detection of biological warfare agents on the battlefield in the US, and in this country by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. In the UK it is being "spun-out" by an offshoot of the MOD, Enigma Diagnostics, with investment led by Porton Capital, and including the Treasury and a private venture company, Partnerships UK, and was announced in the veterinary press in September. I

      A variant of this system in the form of a machine called a Lightcycler, was recommended by Professor Fred Brown of the US Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center in 2001 to the UK Government to rapidly diagnose Foot and Mouth on site. One individual went as far as ordering one, at a cost of £20,000, but the Government intervened to prevent this without providing the industry or even the individual with an explanation.

      I Veterinary Times 27th Sept '04 "Battlefield technology deployed in fight against bovine TB" and BBC News 4th Oct '04
      The obvious potential of a portable PCR cycler machine is to give a rapid identification of TB and the spoligotype of TB present in badgers. If one animal from a sett is found to have TB of a type causing infection in nearby cattle, then that sett could be treated with carbon monoxide with less nervousness by Ministers who would be able to give a better explanation to the general public.

      There are 29 strains or spoligotypes of bovine TB, of which 17 are found very infrequently. In the UK the most common is type 9 with type 11 being more common in Devon, type 21 and 9 more common in Somerset and Dorset, and Cornwall being higher in types 9 and 15. The geographical distribution of spoligotypes of bovine TB in badgers has a high level of correlation with the distribution of spoligotypes in cattle. Spoligotype 35 has recently been identified in farmed deer near Ulverston, Cumbria, and linked to a spread to cattle there. The samples for multiplication in the PCR machine can be from any source and could merely be from a small amount of cattle blood or badger sputum or urine. Samples from several animals can be put in each of the glass testing tubes within the machine. A single case of infection in one animal would show up, allowing immediate rechecking of the animals in that batch.

      The suitability of the portable PCR cycler machine for testing cattle for TB obviously depends on finding cattle that are shedding TB bacilli - either in milk, saliva, dung or urine - or which have bacilli in their blood.

      The potential advantages of the PCR cycler over the gamma interferon test is that it should be able to differentiate between bovine TB and avian TB in blood and can be used on farm and give a result within 30 minutes. In the case of cattle this would save the wait of 3 days to read the skin test and the further wait of 6 to 12 weeks for confirmation of TB by culture test.

      However the PCR cycle seems potentially to be of even more use in identifying bovine TB in badgers - which no other test can currently do satisfactorily. The sensitivity of the current (brock) ELISA blood test for badgers is only 40.7 per cent, and needs to be done 3 times at 28 to 42 day intervals, which entails keeping wild badgers in captivity for at least 84 days for a result. I

      A further attraction of using this PCR technique is that it may be accurate enough to distinguish the TB status of individual badgers within a sett. If a half hour test can reveal this, then the targeted cull of badgers that we propose might be refined even further.

      Bovine TB - news section

      TB in badgers

      September 2006 ~ Claims made by the RSPCA found to be unjustified

      June 23 2006 ~ Why did we have to find out about the new trials from the BBC? asked Daniel Kawczynski , MP

      June 23 2006 ~ Million pound Badger vaccine trial in Gloucestershire "could lead to more than 100 000 badgers being vaccinated nationwide"

      June 16 2006 ~ "A DEFRA spokesman refused to be drawn

      June 11 2006 ~ Bovine TB policy and badgers " joint and cooperative approach" needed - Letter in the Vet Record

      June 9 2006 ~ Bovine TB "as the vets have now comprehensively exposed, the Krebs trials were only a pseudo-scientific charade, never designed to work."

      May 1 2006 ~ Badgers, TB and Modern Farming Practice.

      April 28 2006 ~ Re the bovine TB and badgers consultation, Defra says....

      April 24 2006 ~ DEFRA job cuts signals the Government's intent to have no direct involvement in the future control of badgers

      April 24 2006 ~ "A Welsh Assembly prediction that it wold take a year to collect 400 dead badgers for TB testing looks like being wrong

      - 323 of the animals had been reported by the end of March, says Glyn Davies, Welsh Conservative AM for Mid and West Wales....."
      "I hope the Assembly Government will now quickly establish the relationship between Bovine TB and badgers - and quickly develop a policy to tackle the disease. Bovine TB is causing devastation to the cattle herds of Wales and to the lives of many farming families. The disease is running out of control. The quick response by the public has removed one of the reasons for lack of Government action." News Wales

      April 23/24 2006 ~ Pedigree calf, Fern, did NOT "show typical signs of bovine TB at the post mortem" There were no open lesions at all - but the press were told there were.


      April 13 2006 ~ "the Government today (Wednesday) announced that it would meet the cost of one pre-movement test per farm

      April 11 2006 ~ BBC reports that post mortem test showed bovine TB in Fern

      April 11 2006 ~ Bovine TB testing move turned down by Assembly

      April 2 - 9 2006 ~ "The University of Warwick is developing a portable machine to test whether a badger sett is infected...."

      April 2 - 9 2006 ~ "Government vets prepare to slaughter Fern, the pedigree Dexter calf at the centre of the Kremers bovine tuberculosis case in South Devon"

      April 2 - 9 2006 ~ "both theories were dismissed as "tinkering at the edges of the problem" by Dartmoor vet John Gallagher

      April 2 - 9 2006 ~ Today Programme on Farmer Dick Roper's organic real food solution in th middle of the Gloucestershire TB hotspot

      April 2 - 9 2006 ~ Royal Society tells ministers to justify plan to cull badgers

      April 2- 9 2006 ~Can the government now ignore the use of a technology that allows any necessary euthanasia to be both humane and targeted?

      April 2 - 9 2006 ~ Mum seeks answers to TB infection

      March 29 2006 ~TB is rapidly increasing in Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire, with cases rising by 20 per cent each year.

      March 23 2006 ~ DEFRA to push on with pre-movement bovine TB testing

      March 17 2006 ~ NFUS decries Defra 'policy failure' on bovine TB

      14 Mar 2006 ~ "As the Government consultation on the issue closed yesterday, more than 25,000 people had sent in their views - four times the response seen during the debate on hunting with dogs.

      14 Mar 2006 ~ "in the long term, the only solution is vaccination. Yes, it would be expensive, but bovine TB is already costing £100m a year in testing and compensation to farmers."

      14 Mar 2006 ~ "At the moment we have serious doubts that a badger-culling strategy is likely to be beneficial and cost-effective however it is implemented," the English Nature report concluded.

      13 Mar 2006 ~ Farmers may shoot badgers to stop TB

      12 Mar 2006 ~ 14 million cattle movements responsible? Hardly...this is numbers moving, not hooves.

      12 Mar 2006 ~ Badger cull pointless, says MPs' committee

      5 Mar 2006 ~ Ben Bradshaw's statement re the Kremers case

      March 4 2006 ~ Bovine TB "The Ben Bradshaw statement on the Kremers' calf calls into question the entire bovine TB testing regime."

      March 2 2006 ~ We learn today that Sheilagh Kremer's Dexter calf, Fern, has been granted a second test by Defra

      March 1 2006 ~ An Easy, Inexpensive Test Detects Tuberculosis in Livestock and Wildlife

      9th February 2006 ~ NBA (pdf) recommendations for TB control included this vital paragraph (p18) Publicise through all possible means:

      8th February 2006 ~ farmers "at the end of their tether"

      Tuesday 7th February 2006 ~ The Badger Trust will use a press conference at the Commons to put forward a package of "cattle-based" measures to control the disease

      WMN "......Proposals are expected to include a dramatic tightening of the cattle movement regime, investment in improved testing techniques, research into badger and cattle vaccines and stringent "biosecurity" rules to prevent cattle and badgers mixing on farms. The new strategy, which is designed to put pressure on ministers to abandon plans for a badger cull, will be launched by the former Conservative Home Officer minister Ann Widdecombe......"

      Tuesday 7th February 2006 ~ Bovine TB tests in cattle face legal challenge

      Monday 6th February 2006 ~ "The LVI who did the test has over-written the readings recorded on farm"

      Monday 6th February 2006 ~ Wiggin: Price of everything, value of nothing

      Sunday 5th February 2006 ~ "With the urgent need to develop more sensitive, rapid, and cost-effective means of diagnosing M. bovis infection in cattle and badgers, the EN approach described here offers considerable potential. The method is not only easy to perform, and therefore does not require a specifically trained technician, but is also cost- and time-effective, since, once validated, it would dispense with the need for the isolation of M. bovis by culture (which is protracted and costly) or repeated visits to the farm (in the case of the cattle skin test). Furthermore, the technology is amenable to automation and/or condensation into a portable device that could eventually permit the rapid testing of large numbers of animals in situ." From Use of an Electronic Nose To Diagnose Mycobacterium bovis Infection in Badgers and Cattle Journal of Clinical Microbiology, April 2005, p. 1745-1751, Vol. 43, No. 4 This was work funded partly by DEFRA. Any information about what happened to it would be gratefully received.

      Sunday 5th February 2006 ~ "its lungs and vital organs were a mass of abscesses and lesions and it must have died in agony" The RSPCA, once respected for its original and laudable aim of protecting animals from pain and neglect, has taken up a polarised position on TB and is urging its supporters to do the same by means of its urgent Back Off Badgers campaign. Instead of putting the full weight of its now considerable political clout towards persuading the government to get behind the technology already existing to effectively diagnose and eradicate bTB in both cattle and wildlife, the RSPCA is urging the public to object en masse to any idea of a cull. Their fact sheet (Know Your Facts!) includes statements such as "In the few badgers that do have symptoms they are wheeziness and loss of weight and condition. There may be some skin ulceration." The email received yesterday: " A vet friend in Staffordshire did a postmortem on a dead badger found in client's bull pen - its lungs and vital organs were a mass of abscesses and lesions and it must have died in agony - what sort of animal welfare is it that takes - (sometimes) healthy cattle and leaves sick badgers?" See also email received today and warmwell's page on the RSPCA

      5th February 2006 ~ Email received about the RSPCA "back off badgers" campaign "There are clearly a number of things that readers of your site can do
      (a) complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - their complaints procedure is explained on-line at .
      It would be helpful if the text of the advert could be quoted so that specific complaints can be made
      (b) complain to our MPs about the RSPCA's behaviour - again citing particular inaccuracies wherever possible
      (c) write to our MPs asking them to press the government to prioritise the development of PCR test for bovine TB - for use on cattle and other species
      (d) write to DEFRA supporting the badger cull and asking them  to prioritise the development of PCR test for bovine TB - for use on cattle and other species...."   Read in full

      4th February 2006 ~ Hansard MP Anthony Steen " To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons her Department has refused Mrs. Kremers of New Park Farm, Ogwell, Devon the option of paying for a second TB test for an animal that tested positive to the initial tuberculin skin test; and by what means Mrs. Kremers can appeal against this decision "
      We understand that Mrs Kramer may now make a complaint against Defra to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

      Thursday 2nd February ~ RSPCA says, "Unfortunately, there is no reliable test for TB in live badgers"

      February 1st 2006 ~ "The new compensation arrangements would better protect the taxpayer

        by addressing the serious 'over-compensation' problem identified by independent reviewers, promote good industry practice, and enhance disease control by facilitating the speedier removal of diseased animals." says Mr Bradshaw. See Farmers Weekly. Protecting both wildlife and cattle might " better protect the taxpayer" since £2 billion is the projected cost of bTB in the next decade.

      Wednesday 1 February ~ What price PCR?

        The price, according to Enigma, is from £10,000 - £30,000 depending on how many units are sold. A structure to test the efficiency of humane gas culling, built in Weybridge has never been used. Fifty portable PCR machines could have been bought for what it cost. The Telegraph reminded us in November that TB in cattle will cost £2 billion over the next decade unless the Government takes determined action. (Q: Can anyone tell us which "billion" is meant when the press refers to a billion pounds?)
        We understand that, at a demonstration of the UK produced, portable, "Enigma" rapid diagnostic machine given yesterday at a National Beef Association meeting in Bristol, the audience was told how easy it was to operate. ("Even a vet could do it." Laughter.)
        We understand also that the VLA have ordered some for use in April - but for Bovine Virus Diarrhoea - and there is no word yet that it is envisaged that the machines be used to detect bovineTb yet their use would conform to the Bern convention in that it identifies where disease actually is present and allows the response to be accurately targeted. Where diagnosis confirms the bacterium in badger setts, the humane culling of the infected creatures would be seen to be justifiable, since they are doomed to a nasty and lonely death anyway. A blanket cull of badgers that may or may not be healthy, by means other than the most humane, may well be regarded as a miserable solution and against the spirit and terms of the Bern Convention.

      Wednesday 1 February ~ "on-site analysis in about 30 minutes "

        The latest Idaho machine, the hand-portable RAZOR, is able to perform on-site analysis of viruses and bacteria in about 30 minutes. It allows testers, who may be non-laboratory personnel, to get safe and valid results quickly.
        Copybook Solutions Ltd (City of London) exists to "provide Governments with news, information and issues affecting security, the armed forces, new legislation and developments across the world in all sectors of industry" Unfortunately for UK Contingency Planning, key policy makers in Government appear to be unaware that RT PCR has already transformed diagnostics, bringing to an end the need to transport samples on lengthy journeys to specified labs (World Reference Centres) before a definitive result can be obtained. The speed and accuracy of the technology enables rapid response. Mass slaughter and its attendant miseries has become as unnecessary as it is unethical.
        Copybook Solutions article:
          " The RAZOR(tm) Instrument, weighing only 9.1 lbs (4.1 kg), can be carried by hand and used on-site to test samples. Testing the sample where it is collected has practical advantages; such as sample-handling timesavings, reduction in chain-of-custody risk and most importantly, increasing speed-to-results.... No longer is laboratory equipment being adapted to the field, but field equipment is being developed using technologies once thought only applicable in the lab setting, state-of-the-art technology is now field applicable...."
        More about the PCR portable test and how it works Once the technology is understood, Dr Breeze's letter becomes even more startling.

      Wednesday 1 February ~"The status of the FMD World Reference Center at the IAH as a disinterested party for the evaluation of FMD products is problematic"

        In trying to understand why technology that can transform animal disease policy should, in the UK as previously in the US, be ignored and even rubbished, a glimpse into a world of jealously guarded privilege and commercial interests provides a clue. Evidence submitted five years ago to the Royal Society Inquiry of Edinburgh by the Director Patent and Licensing Affairs United Biomedical Inc. about non-cooperative practices was tactfully worded but there is little doubt as to what was meant.

      Tuesday January 31st 2006 ~ mounting pressure to sanction a cull of badgers - more than 10,000 cattle in Devon and Cornwall were slaughtered because of the disease in 2005

        WMN "... The annual TB statistics, which were released by the Government without comment at the weekend, showed that more than 10,000 cattle in Devon and Cornwall were slaughtered because of the disease in 2005 - an increase of more than 40 per cent on the previous year. Nationally, the figure rose by 28 per cent. ...... Geoffrey Cox, Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devo....whose constituency is one of the worst affected, said farmers faced the prospect of having to accept an expensive and impractical new testing regime, coupled with reduced compensation, without the promise of an effective badger cull. .......
        Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw launched a consultation on a badger cull last year, although the debate about its likely effectiveness continues, particularly given the Government's apparent preference for snaring and shooting as a method of control. " Read in full

      Monday January 30th 2006 ~ Defra has no intention of using on-site PCR technology to identify infected badger setts

        The page mentioning the "new measures to tackle bovine TB in England" (see DEFRA website) has the usual DEFRA ring of confidence, but the omission of the very technology that could preclude the killing of healthy badgers makes all the rest ring very hollow indeed. The farmers want culling and the badger groups don't. But putting down badgers that are infected and doomed to a very nasty death, and that infect other mammals that cross their path or graze the grass which their dribbled, highly infected urine has contaminated is sensible and humane.
        Without on-site PCR this will be impossible.
        The wildlife teams are being disbanded and in their plae the Central Science Laboratory have advertised for applicants 'with 5 GCSE's' to" count badger setts".
        DEFRA's preferred method of killing is by snare.

      Sunday January 29th 2006 ~ Cats, dogs and all mammals with TB must be reported to DEFRA from next month

        We understand that Cornwall has now had 23 cats with confirmed TB.
        See Extract from Tuberculosis in badgers; a review of the disease and its significance for other animals J.Gallagher and R.S. Clifton-Hadley Monies et al. (2000) confirmed tuberculosis in 4 of 12 cats on a premises in Cornwall where 3 months previously an emaciated tuberculous badger had been found. The badger was thought to have passed infection to the cats by contaminating the cats feed bowls outside the house when eating left over food scraps...."

      Saturday January 28th 2006 ~ ".... ironic that those who attempt to exonerate badgers of being the reservoir of TB infection for cattle show such little concern for the suffering those badgers with TB undergo" is, and has always been, an unpaid, independent observer with no financial interest in any of the issues covered. We watch with increasing concern the ever increasing politicisation of bodies that should be impartial and expert. The fact that many tough, experienced family farmers will now openly admit to being frightened of DEFRA's bungling and bullying ways is a matter of deep worry.
        Animal disease policy, now bovine TB in particular (see bovine TB pages in new window) - instead of being dealt with by vets able to inform government of the facts - has become such a political hot potato that, while shrill voices carry on arguing, cattle that are as yet uninfectious are slaughtered in their thousands and ill badgers have been dying in the most unpleasant circumstances.
        One vet who has spoken out is D.J.B.Denny MRCVS. His letter in yesterday's Farmers' Guardian should be read in full It explains why badgers are both the victims and the villains in the spread of bovine TB. He concludes by asking
          Extract:"..... Is it hypocritical of Martin Hancox and his ilk to allow the suffering of the infected badgers, never mind the mass slaughter of cattle and the despair of the farmers concerned, to be further prolonged? ." read in full

      Saturday January 28th 2006 ~ "misinterpretation of the scientific facts" says SVS vet

        Quoted in full on the Bovine TB Blog website is a letter from an SVS (veterinary) officer, for once, the voice of sanity
          " ... you certainly can't keep badgers away from cattle.....
          Cheeseman and Bourne have lost all credibility in my eyes. The Krebs trials - what a farce, and a misinterpretation of the scientific facts. ....SVS staff on the ground are as frustrated as the farming community - NO-ONE wants to see the badger exterminated - just a HEALTHY and CONTROLLED population, so they can exist in harmony with cattle. ..... Any mammal can become infected with bTB, and there's no doubt that deer population is becoming seriously infected ..... It is no good just taking and killing cattle, the wildlife reservoir has to be tackled. Some farmers have lost more than 50% of their stock, and in some cases the last of blood-lines that have been bred by their forefathers. .......".
        (read in full)

      January 27 2006 ~BADGERS ARE TB VICTIMS AND VILLAINS - a letter in the Farmers Guardian

        A LETTER BY D.J.B.Denny MRCVS Published in The Farmers Guardian 27th. January 2006.

          It is ironic that those who attempt to exonerate badgers of being the reservoir of TB infection for cattle show such little concern for the suffering those badgers with TB undergo. The usual route for the TB bacilli to enter the body is either by inhalation or by ingestion. They can enter through open wounds and bites. Either way, the bacilli pass through the throat before going down the trachea to the lungs and/or down the oesophagus to the intestinal tract.

          The body`s first line of defence after a challenge from TB is the lymph glands, which become inflamed and then develop abscesses - lesions. Lymph glands are scattered throughout the body, with three pairs in the throat, five groups in the chest and many hundreds protecting the intestinal tract. Lesions in the chest glands can be the result of either inhalation or ingestion of the bacilli.

          After a period of time - months or even years, shorter if the challenge was very high- then the bacilli will break out from the gland(s) into the bloodstream to settle in various organs particularly those with a filter system such as the lungs, liver and kidneys. Here, the body attempts to isolate the infection by walling it off to form other abscesses. It is at this stage that the animal begins to suffer and becomes infectious to others.

          Except in an outbreak of many months or even years duration, when some cattle will be ill and have multiple lesions, the majority (90% plus) of reactor cattle will have no lesions when post-mortemed. This is because, although the animal has been challenged there has been insufficient time for them to develop. Lesions when found, are mainly in the glands of the throat and/or lungs with a few in the intestinal ones.

          Martin Hancox`s explanation how cattle could transmit TB to badgers via the "cow pat" is plausible. However, since there would be only a very few cattle with advanced clinical disease involving the intestinal tract and therefore excreting the bacilli, his claim, his claim that it is cattle that are infecting the badgers is very weak. It is even further weakened when he acknowledges " a far higher challenge is needed to get past the lymphatic immune system of the gut"

          Infected badgers on the other hand excrete 300,000 bacilli in a teaspoonful of their urine which they are continually drippling (sic) out. So when badgers "do visit barns briefly ( minutes, hours or days?) to access water or food supplies" it is hardly rocket science to understand how badgers transmit TB to cattle.

          Is it hypocritical of Martin Hancox and his ilk to allow the suffering of the infected badgers, never mind the mass slaughter of cattle and the despair of the farmers concerned to be further prolonged?

          It is a fact that badgers are both the villain and the victim.

      January 26 2006 ~ proposed methods .... to the alarm of both farmers and welfare groups, have focused on snaring.

        WMN reports on the EFRA consultation "The cross-party Commons rural affairs committee has announced it will stage a detailed investigation into the controversial plan that could see thousands of badgers across the Westcountry culled in an attempt to halt the crippling spread of TB among the region's cattle herds. The committee, which has not supported culling in the past, will examine both the rationale for a possible cull and the Government's proposed methods for conducting it, which to the alarm of both farmers and welfare groups, have focused on snaring.
        Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw will be called to answer questions next month as will NFU chiefs and scientists running the Government's badger culling trials. The decision to stage a new inquiry comes amid further scientific controversy about the justification for the cull proposals...."

      January 25th 2006 ~ Carwyn Jones has been accused of "failing to listen to the needs of farmers in Wales" by Welsh Lib Dem AM Mick Bates.

        Daily Post
          "Welsh policitians are to visit Ireland next month following claims by farmers that bovine TB is now "worse than foot-and-mouth". Members of the Assembly's countryside committee want to learn more about how the Irish government has tackled the disease. It follows continued criticism of the Assembly's stance and rising alarm about next month's introduction of new pre-movement testing rules for cattle. The Livestock Auctioneers' Association is considering making an application for a Judicial Review of the new regulation, due on February 20. Worried that some livestock markets may close, the LVA is also seeking independent expert advice on the likely effects of the new procedures. "

      January 25th 2006 ~ The EFRA Committee to consult on Bovine TB: Badger Culling - again

        The last report from the EFRA Committee on bovine TB was in September 2004. The Government Reply to the Committees Report - containing the Committee's recommendations in bold print - can be read here (opens in new window) and a selection of oral evidence given then - only just over a year ago - is on the warmwell bovine TB pages. After its many recommendations in September 2004 for proactive research into differential tests and vaccines was that the EFRA committee, while supporting a new strategy to deal with bovine TB, was
          " less impressed by the decision to consult about the matter.
          Defra must surely know by now what its key stakeholders think about this matter; and repeated consultations are unlikely to shift entrenched attitudes in any event . Now is the time for decisions and actions." (Paragraph 46)
        It is to be hoped that those with clout on both sides of the badger argument will emphasise to the committee that rapid PCR diagnosis can detect Btb both in badger setts and in cattle well within the hour. Slaughter of uninfected animals is therefore not an option that should be considered in the light of modern technological advance. "The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has decided to examine the Governments proposals for introducing badger culling as a bovine tuberculosis control measure, as set out in the consultation paper issued on 15 December 2005. In conducting its inquiry, the Committee intends to focus on the key questions that Ministers must address in reaching conclusions on the issues set out in the consultation paper. The Committee invites interested parties to address these matters in writing. The deadline for submissions is Monday 6 February 2006. (More information ) The Committee intends to call selected witnesses to give oral evidence on Wednesday 15 February 2006.

      January 25th 2006 ~ Defra's Science Advisory Council (SAC) says 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. See
          " 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.. "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."
        However, see also warmwell's bovine TB pages which deals with on-site testing, closed herds where cattle to cattle transmission is impossible and the view of a senior Pro_Med moderator. Here, for example, is the view of a farmer, Matthew, who has lost reactors and who shares the compassion genuine animal lovers have for badgers:
          "the suffering of these delightful animals is immense and it is something the Badger groups and Wildlife Trusts fail to acknowledge. It is perfectly true that for up to 8 years the badger can thrive, maintain body weight, rear cubs (and infect them too) all the while shedding tb. That is why this animal is such a successful host of the disease.
          But it gets them in the end and the results are an affront to anyone who calls themselves an animal lover.
          Starvation through generalised TB is their main exit, with animals crawling about, half their target body weight, overgrown claws so that they are unable to dig and are forced to seek shelter in barns and cattle sheds. .." (Matthew is one of the team that writes the Bovine TB Blog (opens in new window)
        Read in full and, opening in a new window, the constantly updating bovine TB pages and Nine years going no-where with the TB Forum

      January 23rd 2006 ~ "by killing the sentinel cattle without listening to the song they are singing, government are exposing more and more of the population either directly, or via their pets, to a seriously infectious zoonosis"

        An email today from "Matthew" who has studied the bovine TB problem in detail and with great compassion towards the badgers as well as the cattle, concludes:
          The only good thing Bradshaw has done this February, (apart from a fictitious 'consultation' on culling badgers which contains in several places the words "Valued and cherished" when referring to tubercular badgers but emphasises "Valued and slaughtered - at vast cost to the taxpayer" re. cattle!) is to make tuberculosis 'Notifiable in any mammalian species" .
          The public are being negligently misled into believing the m.bovis loop affects just cattle and badgers. It does not."
        Read in full

      January 22nd/23rd 2006 ~ Bovine TB: "...why, when an error may have occurred, is there no appeal process and no opportunity for the farmer to be heard? Instead, verbal bullying, threats and intimidation have been levelled ..."

        Bill Wiggin asked Mr Blair in Wednesday's Prime Minister's Question Time (Hansard)
          "The Prime Minister will be aware that when cattle fail the TB test, they need to be destroyed. However, why, when an error may have occurred, is there no appeal process and no opportunity for the farmer to be heard?
          Instead, verbal bullying, threats and intimidation have been levelled at a constituent of mine, Mrs. Booton.
          I wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 5 December and I still have not had a reply. Will the Prime Minister investigate these appeals? I am worried that, if people do not co-operate, the Government's policy for sorting out this disease will be seriously undermined."
        The PM's reply was that he did not know about the incident but said to Mr Wiggin " I am perfectly happy to look into it, discuss it with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and get back to him."

      January 22nd/23rd 2006 ~ Bovine TB - a time bomb mishandled

        Mr Blair might be better informed (see above) were he to read the warmwell pages on bovine TB - and in particular what a ProMed moderator wrote in July "Contrary to views expressed by some interviewees, the spillover of bovine TB from the highly infected, dense badger population in Cornwall to other species, wild and domestic porcines included, should not be surprising. .... If the current situation continues, it might be only a matter of time before humans are infected.." More

      January 19/20 2006 ~ 8 reactors at Pensax - the fight is lost

        District Judge Bruce Morgan, sitting at Worcester Magistrates' Court, said he had no alternative other than to take the "sad decision" to grant the warrant. BBC

      January 18 2006 ~ "I have a nightmare vision of farmers fighting running battles through the countryside with animal rights extremists;

        of television news footage showing snared badgers struggling for hours to free themselves; and of TB getting worse, not better, as diseased badgers are dispersed across the countryside by incomplete control operations..." Anthony Gibson in the WMN

      January 18 2006 ~ "absolutely no practical reason why tests could not be done"

        An article (in FWi) by Owen Paterson on his visit to the USA in December to discuss Bovine TB Policy
          "....The USA shows clearly that Bovine TB can be eradicated in cattle and wildlife by a combination of the following:
        • fast, accurate and modern diagnosis.
        • rigidly enforced but workable pre-movement testing and movement restrictions.
        • vigorous, if unpopular, campaign to bear down on disease in wildlife.
        It must be emphasised that only a combination of all of these will work. Picking only one or two of them will not eliminate the disease. ..."
          "...... new PCR kits, developed for the army in Iraq, are as small as a briefcase and there is absolutely no practical reason why tests could not be done on the environment on the environment from the back of a truck in less than two hours. A well equipped laboratory could do over 1000 a day. They believe that PCR would work on material around setts. It was felt that Ben Bradshaws letter to me was quibbling....
          (US vets were) ... utterly astounded by the grotesque dimensions of the TB epidemic in the UK. .... there was clearly no doubt that we should be pressing the Government to trial PCR technology as we have already proposed. "
        Read in full

      January 18 ~ Bovine TB : Latest parliamentary questions on the issues re gassing and the culling policy .

          Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons gassing has been ruled out as a method of culling badgers. [41551]
          Mr. Bradshaw: Gassing has not been ruled out as a method of culling badgers. We are currently consulting on both the principle and method of a badger culling policy.
          Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the compatibility with the Berne Convention of the practice of licensing individual farmers to cull badgers. [42255]
          Mr. Bradshaw: We are currently consulting on both the principle and method of a badger culling policy. Any new culling policy would have to be sustainable and take account of legislation protecting the welfare of badgers. But no decisions have yet been made. Badgers are listed as a protected species under Appendix III of the Berne Convention, but they are not an endangered species. The Berne Convention allows regulated management of a protected species as long as this is not "detrimental to the survival of the population concerned".

      January 18 2006 ~ Shelagh Kremers wins public support

        The Farmers' Weekly reports
          The Devon farmer who is continuing her fight to save a bull calf from being slaughtered as a TB reactor has received many messages of support in her battle against DEFRA. Sheilagh Kremers, of New Park Farm, Ogwell, Newton Abbot, is refusing to allow DEFRA access to slaughter one of her 12 pedigree Dexter cattle on the grounds that the tuberculin skin test is unreliable and was poorly carried out.
          "Only 13-20% of cattle slaughtered for TB are positive, which simply isn't good enough," she said. "But DEFRA is refusing to allow us a second test, even if we do it privately."
          Mrs Kremers has complained to the Royal Veterinary College, questioning the validity of the TB tests..." Read in full
        The Kremers' petition.

      January 18 2006 ~ Bovine TB. Ben Bradshaw says he doesn't have "information on the number of applications for private tests rejected by the SVS". Nor does he appear to understand that rapid PCR tests can already diagnose Mycobacterium bovis in live cattle.

        Hansard Bill Wiggin asked
      • about appeal procedures against the results of the tuberculosis test,
      • when the use of a private tuberculin test would be approved
      • how many cases the use of such a test has been refused in the last two years
      • DEFRA's reasons for not using the gamma interferon test to support tuberculosis tests. Excerpts from Mr Bradshaw's replies:
          Mr. Bradshaw:...any request to release tuberculin for a further private test will always be declined by the Department. Approval for private tests is generally granted in the context of a test for purchaser assurance, or as a condition for cattle export in herds not subjected to tuberculosis restrictions.
          Information on the number of applications for private tests rejected by the state veterinary service is not held by the Department.
          .....We are continuing to fund projects at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency to develop methods (including polymerase chain reaction-PCR) for detecting Mycobacterium bovis in clinical samples. At present it is unrealistic to consider PCR methods as a viable alternative to the existing primary surveillance tool for TB in live cattle
          .. Defra does use the gamma interferon test in identified problem TB herds at a rate of about 6,000 animal tests a year. EU legislation allows the blood test only to be used to supplement the skin test. Preparations are now being made for wider use of the gamma interferon test, in prescribed circumstances. A working group has been established to prepare and deliver a policy for increased use of the test."

      January 18 2006 ~ bovine TB "... the panel had done little more than "rubber stamp" government proposals. His own views had been excluded from its final report."

        The Livestock Auctioneers Association is considering legal action against the Government. David Kivell, a prominent livestock auctioneer in Devon, is quoted by the Western Morning News today on government plans to test all cattle being moved - except those going directly for slaughter - still without agreeing a cull of TB-infected badgers
          " ... I don't think Defra have quite understood the implications. As these rules stand they would cripple the markets in the South West - it has to change."
        The Livestock Auctioneers Association has warned that traditional markets, that still form the backbone of rural life in many Westcountry communities, are likely to be devastated. WMN
          "Association vice-chairman Ben Messer-Bennetts : "The country's 137 livestock markets have a combined turnover of £1 billion. This is not some little industry - we are vital cog in the wheel of farming and the rural economy."
        He said that the rules would have little impact on the spread of bovine TB. He was himself a member of the independent panel that advised the Government on pre-movement testing, and the WMN reports that he said the panel had done little more than "rubber stamp" government proposals. His own views had been excluded from its final report.

      January 9 2006 ~ FARMER TOLD CALF WON'T HAVE SECOND TB TEST">WMN 11:00 - 09 January 2006

        A westcountry farmer has vowed to continue her fight to save a bull calf from slaughter despite being told by Ministry vets that the animal will not be tested a second time for bovine tuberculosis. Sheilagh Kremers has refused to let officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on to her land at New Park Farm, Ogwell near Newton Abbot, to cull a calf which tests have indicated is a bovine TB carrier.

        Mrs Kremers, 63, is making a stand because she says the Government is failing to control badgers - which she believes is the cause of the disease spreading among cattle. She has now been told, in a letter from the Department for Food and Rural Affairs that her five-month-old pedigree Dexter bull calf Mous'l Fern will not be tested a second time for bovine TB.

        The Defra letter said: "I am confirming that no re-test will be carried out.

        "After informing the District Veterinary Network of the facts of this case I again confirm there will be no change in this decision."

        Defra are due to contact Mrs Kremers again tomorrow to discuss the next stage but she has vowed that she will not change her stance.

        She told the WMN yesterday: "It's not going. I'm still doing my utmost to stop it being slaughtered."

        Mrs Kremers has denied the Government permission to value the bull for slaughter. She will only get around £500 in compensation.

        Defra inspectors tested her herd of 12 rare-breed Dexters for bovine TB and Mous'l Fern was the only one to show signs of exposure to the disease.

        But the only way Defra vets can be sure is to kill the calf and carry out a post-mortem examination.

        Mrs Kremers has already told the WMN that she is prepared to go to court over the issue. Ultimately she could face six months in prison, a £5,000 fine, or both.

        In addition to her battle to save her calf, she is also launching a petition calling for the introduction of more accurate bovine TB tests to stop the spread of the disease from wildlife, together with vaccinations for domestic farm animals to build a resistance.

        Anyone who wants to support Mrs Kremers or sign the petition is asked to write to her at New Park Farm, Rectory Road, Ogwell, Newton Abbot, TQ12 6AH.

      January 6 2006 ~ Muckspreader Private Eye

        ".......What Hatters further omitted to mention was the force of that letter signed by more than 420 vets and scientists (originally suggested by Tory agriculture spokesman Owen Paterson), calling on the government to allow a cull as a matter of highest urgency. Not only, they argued, was this the only way to save thousands of farmers and their cattle from disaster. It would also serve the welfare of the diseased badgers themselves, condemned otherwise to a lingering, unpleasant death. So pitifully ill-informed was the Timess bizarre contribution to the debate, in short, it is perhaps unsurprising that the paper declined to print any of the letters sent in to point this out. .." Read in full

      January 4 2006 ~ SLAUGHTER NOTICE FOR 'TB' CALF

        Department of Food and Rural Affairs inspectors tested her herd of 12 rare-breed Dexters for bovine TB just before Christmas. ... news report

      15th December 2005 ~ Another consultation on Bovine TB crisis creates an unnecessary delay

        Commenting on the DEFRA consultation on tackling Bovine TB, Shadow DEFRA Minister, Jim Paice said:
          The proposed consultation is another unnecessary delay in making the inevitable though distressing decision to cull badgers in hot-spot areas. Removing individual animals will not work. Studies have shown that use of Polymerase Chain Reaction tests can indicate whether a sett contains badgers carrying TB. Where this is the case the whole family should be humanely culled. The Government should then develop a means of relocating badgers from clean areas into those from where badgers have been removed, after a suitable time period. We do not want to create long term badger free zones but unless the Government gets a grip we will soon see cattle free zones. The whole farming world believes the Government has spent 8 years putting off a difficult decision. Unless robust measures are taken, badgers, cattle and farmers will continue to suffer.
        Press release


        WMN Ministers have been accused of stifling debate on bovine TB by railroading independent experts into "rubber-stamping" government policy on the issue.

        Ben Messer-Bennetts, a livestock auctioneer in Cornwall, said he was dismayed by his experience of sitting on an independent stakeholder group set up by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to report on aspects of TB control policy. In a controversial report earlier this month the group recommended introducing pre-movement testing for all cattle in TB hotspot areas, a policy favoured by ministers but opposed by many Westcountry farmers. Mr Messer-Bennetts, a member of the nine-strong team that drew up the report, said the group had enjoyed very little independence. He said the group had been presented with a "template" for the report at the start of its work and that the Defra "observers" who attended all but two of the group's meetings had had "far too much influence" on the debate. He was also deeply unhappy that his own views on the issue had been cut completely from the report.

        "I went into this process with an open mind," he said. "I thought the idea of a stakeholder group was a good idea and I have tried to be constructive throughout. But I have come out of it feeling that we were just being used to rubber-stamp what the Government was going to do anyway. The whole thing was very much stifled by Defra observers. I was not able to express my views in the final report, even in an appendix, despite the fact I contributed throughout. I think that's out of order. A minority view should be there for people to see even if it's one the Government doesn't want to hear."

        The Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw insisted that the group was independent, pointing out that its chairman was a Staffordshire dairy farmer, Bill Madders: "The independent TB implementation group is chaired by a livestock farmer and is doing very important work in driving policy on this issue. It is a pity that one member of the group could not sign up to their report."

        Mr Bradshaw said the decision to exclude Mr Messer-Bennetts' views from the report was "a matter for the independent group". Mr Madders said the criticisms of the group made by Mr Messer-Bennetts were "unfair".

        He said: "It is true that the group was held under the auspices of Defra, they did present us with their plan, but we modified it considerably. Defra people were there giving advice, but not making decisions.

        "Everyone, including Ben, worked hard on this report, but in the end he took a different view to everyone else. We would all like to have put in minority reports on certain issues, but what sort of report would that have been?"

        But Mr Madders said he shared the view of many farmers that the Government's TB strategy should include measures to control the disease in wildlife.

        He added: "Our remit was specifically to look at pre-movement testing. That is one way to control the spread of the disease, but it is not the only one. It has to be part of a package that includes control of the reservoir of the disease in wildlife. That is an area that has been subject to a lot of trial work, but not a lot of concrete action. It has to be part and parcel of the total package."

        Mr Bradshaw said that pre-movement testing, which the group eventually recommended, was "vital" to the future control of bovine TB.

        In a detailed open letter Mr Messer-Bennetts has laid out a detailed critique of the policy, which he said would have a "devastating" impact on the Westcountry's livestock industry. He said the policy, which would only apply in TB hotspot areas, would place a "stigma" on the Westcountry, leading to lower prices for farmers and the "certain closure" of livestock markets. He told the WMN: "Pre-movement testing on its own will do absolutely nothing in my view to reduce or control TB in cattle. If we are going to have it then it must be introduced with a more rigorous testing regime in parts of the country outside the hotspots and we have to deal with the issue of the badgers, all diseased badgers have got to be controlled. "If it's introduced on its own pre-movement testing will have a devastating effect on the livestock industry in the Westcountry, it will kill it off."

        Many Westcountry farmers fear that the pre-movement testing proposal is designed merely to slow the spread of the disease to other parts of the country without offering anything to those farmers already suffering in bovine TB hotspot areas

      July 13 2005 ~ Bovine TB in pigs

        See BBC report ProMed mail moderator: [_Mycobacterium bovis_ has been identified in humans in most countries where isolates of mycobacteria from human patients have been fully typed. The incidence of pulmonary TB caused by _M. bovis_ is higher in farm and slaughterhouse workers than in urban inhabitants. One of the results of bovine TB eradication programs has been a reduction in disease and death from TB among the human population. Pasteurization of milk and improved sanitation have also been of great importance.

        Cattle are considered to be the true hosts of _M. bovis_, but the disease has been reported in several other species of domestic and wild animals. Isolations have been made from buffalo, bison, sheep, goats, equines, camels, pigs, deer, antelopes, dogs, cats, foxes, mink, badgers, ferrets, rats, primates, llamas, kudus, elands, tapirs, elks, elephants, sitatungas [wild bovines], oryxes, addaxes [these last 2 are antelopes], rhinoceroses, possums, ground squirrels, otters, seals, hares, moles, raccoons, coyotes, and several predatory felines including lions, tigers, leopards, and lynx. (see moderator's commentary in 20021208.6015).

        Contrary to views expressed by some interviewees, the spillover of bovine TB from the highly infected, dense badger population in Cornwall to other species, wild and domestic porcines included, should not be surprising. Though laboratory confirmation on the species identity of the mycobacterium isolated from the affected pigs (lymphnodes?) should be awaited, it may be assumed that it is _M. bovis_. If the current situation continues, it might be only a matter of time before humans are infected. - Mod.AS]


        WMN A Cornish couple who have been battling an outbreak of bovine TB among cattle on their farm face losing their livelihood as the Government refuses to test badgers in their area.

        Jeffrey and Margaret Miles, of Trewollack Farm, near St Mawes, have lost nearly half of their dairy herd since the disease was detected in October last year. This has resulted in a loss of more than £30,000 in milk sales, which they say is making their herd unviable.

        Another five cows, some with calf, have been culled since their last test on May 9. They have managed their closed herd on the remote Roseland Peninsula for 40 years, but now bovine TB has taken a hold - and a rising local badger population appears to be the only source. Despite repeated requests from the couple, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is refusing to test badgers on the farm, leaving the source of the disease unconfirmed. Mrs Miles, 64, yesterday sent her second letter to Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw questioning the way in which the Government is handling the outbreak, which she warns is "spiralling out of control". She said that the numbers of badgers on the farm had increased considerably, and since last summer they had found several dead or dying badgers.

        "If the badgers were tested for TB this would at least give us an indication of where the disease could have come from," she said. "It is Defra policy not to test badgers dead or alive from any farm, only road kill. We found dead and injured badgers on our farm during the 12 months before our test failure, and could not get them tested. "Even if badgers are tested as road kill we are not allowed to know the results. Slaughtering our cattle would seem pointless without efforts to eradicate reservoirs of infection in the wildlife."

        According to Defra, no reliable test for live badgers is yet available. Mrs Miles said the reliability of the test used for cattle itself should be questioned when assessing the reliability of existing tests for badgers, as results often showed fake positives and negatives in cattle. "Defra are content to have that level of unreliability for cows, but not for badgers - that is unfair," she said. "If they are waiting for a test that is 100 per cent accurate they will never get there. "We could say the cattle test is unreliable, but we have to use it."

        In the meantime, Mr and Mrs Miles also have a movement restriction in place on their farm, meaning that they cannot sell anything until the herd has passed two clear tests.

        When the area was clear of TB there was annual testing of cattle. But now, despite cases of the disease spreading, testing is only carried out every two years. "Two years gives plenty of time to incubate," Mrs Miles said. "It would be much better to catch it at an early stage and prevent the devastation we are experiencing."

        Once cattle have been diagnosed with TB, they say they have to wait a month before Defra takes them away to be slaughtered. With the numbers involved, they find it difficult to isolate them satisfactorily. The remaining herd are now tested every 60 days, a task which itself takes two days. Mrs Miles said they expected to lose even more animals the next time around. "We are frustrated, we cannot plan for the future," she said. "It looks almost inevitable we will have to give up milking, even though it is all we have done for 40 years. We would like to continue with a beef herd, but it does not look as if it would be viable. Financially we are going to lose out."

        The family, including their two sons who help on the farm, have all tested negative for TB, but have stopped drinking fresh milk from the farm as a precaution. They are now concerned that the disease will spread to other animals. We are not anti-wildlife," Mrs Miles said. "We have always enjoyed the wildlife on the farm. We want a healthy wildlife and countryside, and this cannot be any good for the badgers." Defra says Government scientists are working on a live test for badgers, and testing dead badgers in counties worst affected by the disease, including Cornwall.

        A spokesman said: "Those advocating badger culling need to acknowledge that, if carried out now, it would inevitably mean killing healthy as well as infected badgers. "The Government has not ruled out badger culling. We are conducting culling trials in Cornwall and elsewhere, and examining the results of recent trials in Ireland. "The key questions are whether a badger-culling policy could be cost effective, sustainable and viable as part of our overall efforts to control TB."

      March 6 2005 ~ Booker's Notebook

        ... of the Government's dismissal last week of an urgent plea by 350 vets and scientists that it should act now to halt the epidemic of bovine TB that is sweeping ... Booker's Notebook
      July 2 2004 ~ FWi ".. NBA chief executive Robert Forster said: "Obviously, the minister cannot see the wood for the trees. Stating in May that TB was in decline was astonishingly premature of Mr Bradshaw. He should have thought how his statement would sound to those who are suffering under restrictions and whose livelihoods are still being devastated by this dreadful disease." FWi "...In the south west there is a three-month backlog on TB testing. We have had enough." Mr Haddock was supported at the meeting by Devon county chairman Martin Hann, who said he had met the minister and found him to be arrogant and contemptuous of farmers' problems." See also TB statistics comment

      TB or not TB - Badgers - Sunday Telegraph May 30 2004

      July 2 2004 ~ the minister cannot see the wood for the trees. Stating in May that TB was in decline was astonishingly premature of Mr Bradshaw.

        FWi ".. NBA chief executive Robert Forster said: "Obviously, the minister cannot see the wood for the trees. Stating in May that TB was in decline was astonishingly premature of Mr Bradshaw. He should have thought how his statement would sound to those who are suffering under restrictions and whose livelihoods are still being devastated by this dreadful disease." FWi "...In the south west there is a three-month backlog on TB testing. We have had enough." Mr Haddock was supported at the meeting by Devon county chairman Martin Hann, who said he had met the minister and found him to be arrogant and contemptuous of farmers' problems." See also TB statistics comment

      May 27 - June 12 ~ "The minister's comments demonstrate a dismal appreciation of the practicalities of farming.."

        WMN reports that "Farmers who fail to protect their herds from badgers infected with TB could be fined, the animal health minister Ben Bradshaw hinted yesterday. In comments likely to infuriate many Westcountry dairy farmers, Mr Bradshaw said the Government was considering introducing financial "incentives" to encourage farmers to barricade their farms against diseased badgers... In practice, however, incentives are likely to include such measures as withholding a portion of compensation payments or other farm payments if farmers are deemed not to have taken "biosecurity" issues sufficiently seriously.
        ..... Ian Johnson, spokesman for the National Farmers' Union in the South West, said it was virtually impossible to barricade farms against badgers. ..... "The minister's comments demonstrate a dismal appreciation of the practicalities of farming. Unless you are going to keep your cows locked up in a concrete shed day and night it cannot be done. Footage has been taken of a badger scaling a nine-foot fence - if they are sick and looking for food they will pretty much get through anything."
        Shadow animal health minister Owen Paterson said: "There was an awful lot of emphasis on blaming farmers for the disease ...... The committee heard some farmers had put up electric fences to keep out badgers and still gone down with the disease. What are they supposed to do?"
        Colin Breed .....: "The message that the Government is going to try to deal with this by penalties on farmers won't go down well at all."

      Discussion paper on TB control policy options - TB Forum Secretariat paper TBF79 urce: FWi

      Who advises DEFRA on TB? Bovine Tuberculosis

        Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from which organisations the Department takes advice on the control of TB in cattle. [140291]

        Mr. Bradshaw: The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) is a group of independent scientists who advise the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how best to tackle the problem of cattle TB. The ISG was set up following the acceptance by Ministers of the recommendations contained in the Krebs Report (1997).

        In addition, the TB Forum aims to bring together experts and interested parties to consider new measures which might be taken to control TB in cattle. Membership consists of representatives from the British Veterinary Association, the British Cattle Veterinary Association, the Countryside Council for Wales, the Country Land and Business Association, English Nature, the Farmers Union of Wales, The National Farmers' Union, NFU (Wales), Wildlife Trusts, the National Federation of Badger Groups, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the National Beef Association, the Tenant Farmers Association and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

        Professor John Bourne, Chairman of the ISG is also a member of the Forum, which is chaired jointly by the Chief Veterinary Officer, Jim Scudamore, and the Head of the Animal Health Group at Defra, Peter Nash. (MORE)

      TB reactors at Eatons Farm - latest

      March 21 - 28 ~ Defra's TB consultation document ".. it would seem that Defra fails to define this as the purpose of using gamma interferon, and fails to rule out its use on an individual animal."

        Mary Marshall writes
          "After watching with interest the item on the gamma interferon assay in last Sunday's BBC Countryfile broadcast, including a discussion with Defra about the problems of being able to use this assay as part of a testing regime, I was surprised to learn that it has already been introduced by Defra to "... resolve suspected cases of non-specific reactions (NSR) ... as a decision making tool...". This was published in February 2004 in a bovine tuberculosis consultation document (PB 9066), "Preparing for a new GB strategy on bovine tuberculosis",, on page 34, Chapter 4:
          "4.9.5 Moreover, we have already introduced the use of gamma interferon to resolve suspected cases of non-specific reactions (NSR) to the skin test as a decision making tool when considering whole or partial herd depopulation."
          I ...was informed that this 'decision-making' tool is used in special circumstances where whole herd slaughter is being considered and that it is not to be used to back up the decision on individual reactors.... it would seem that Defra fails to define this as the purpose of using gamma interferon, and fails to rule out its use on an individual animal. The implication (perhaps by omission) is that this test could be used to confirm the individual reactor.
        Read in full together with links from this website on the use of the gamma interferon test.





































        Archive July and August 2005

        Archive Jan 2005 - July 2005

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        OTHER WARMWELL ARCHIVES(opens in new window)


        Nov 2008

        (uncorrected) evidence to EFRA Committee Wednesday Nov 5 2008 (new window) NB One wonders if on-site rapid diagnosis, such as that given proper trials by Warwick, could allow any necessary euthanasia to be both humane and targeted. The polarised "debate" between those who want to save their cattle and those who want to protect badgers involves both sides speaking from what they are sure is the best of motives. The technology to deal with bovine TB without a mass cull - vaccines and rapid diagnosis - depends on funding, field trials - and a change of mindset in Brussels. Without political understanding, investment and willingness the expensive and distressing killing continues.
        The problems of diagnosis (new window)

        Bovine TB News 2009

        (Farmers Guardian Q and A page of the Eradication Group)
        Return to
        (Bluetongue page now moved)
          The TB Eradication Group for England Progress Report (October 2009 -see Executive Summary) says " .. the scale of the problem: TB testing is identifying thousands of cases per year; the taxpayer spent £84m on bovine TB controls in England in 2008/09; and the costs, both emotional and financial, to individual farmers and the cattle industry collectively, are significant." The TB Advisory Group Report (April 8 2009) pdf reminds the government that
            ".... there is a need to acknowledge the human costs of this disease. TB has negative effects not only on the health of animals and trade but also the health and well-being of the herd owners involved...."

          DEFRA page: Bovine TB: Badgers and bTB

















          In 2006 Muckspreader (Private Eye) wrote:

          "... as the vets have now comprehensively exposed, the Krebs trials were only a pseudo-scientific charade, never designed to work. Even Defra admits that the percentage of badgers culled was sometimes as low as 20 percent. .. the tragedy rolls on: for farmers, for cattle, for taxpayers, and for all those sick badgers, condemned to a lingering death." (read in full)
          ( Paul Caruana and other ex Wildlife Unit colleagues now run offering practical advice and bio-security help to those concerned about protecting their animals and premises from disease. )
        "Trying to stop bovine TB without a cull is like trying to deal with foot and mouth without repairing the leaking pipe at Pirbright. Whatever the difficulties of badger culls, something has to be done,'' Anthony Gibson (Daily Telegraph Oct 22nd 07)