Defra is getting mixed messages from its two main groups advising on bovine Tb.
In an interview given to Farmer's Guardian last week, Professor Charles Godfray, of Imperial College's Biological Science Department confirmed his report into bovine Tb (see post below) and assessment of the Krebs' RBCT. He told FG that "The evidence on reactive culling from the trial, was not conclusive." In fact Prof. Godfray suggested there was "urgent need for a further study", to see if "practised in a different way, reactive badger culling could work".
He continued, "We advise that the results of the Reactive culling at the time it was halted (Nov. 2003) should not be interpreted as evidence against - or of course, for - reactive culling policy. The experiment only provides evidence about one particular type of reactive culling, and the manner in which it was implemented during the RBCT. It is possible that a more efficient reactive culling policy could be designed."
"An example of the last option might be licensing farmers to control badgers on their own property"
Professor Godfray again described the 'constraints' and 'delays' which have dogged the RBCT including inefficient trapping methods and a lack of resources which led to delays in culling.
We would agree, and our farmer contributors have told you many times of 'delays' of several years in 'reaction' times. Parliamentary questions archived (and as always, our grateful thanks to the Minister for Fisheries and Conservation, Rear Admiral Ben) confirm that 57 percent of the Krebs traps were 'interfered with', and 12 percent disappeared, either with or without their occupant. So yes - delayed and inefficient it most certainly is, but the other scientific heavyweight in Defra's arsenal, Prof. Bourne is hanging on in there. 2008 did he say?
Prof. Godfray is not alone in proposing that farmers be given licenses to sort their own problems - John Bourne has said the same to one of the thirteen EFRA select committees who have examined Tb. Swifter, more discreet and yup, basically Defra get in a hole and want someone to dig them out of it. As cheaply as possible.
Small problem here though. Or rather a large one given Ben's answer to PQ 158605 18th March
2004 col 431W. Defra is responsible for issuing licenses under 2 sub sections of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. A culling license granted under 10(2)a is for the "purpose of the spread of disease, to kill badgers or to interfere with a badger sett within an area specified in the license by any means so specified."
Q. To ask the Secretary of State what is her policy on the issuing of licenses to kill badgers under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, and how many licenses she expects to issue in the next 5 years.
A. It is current policy NOT to issue any licenses under sub-section 10(2)a to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis.
Has there been a Statutory Instrument to amend the Act? No.
Debate and discusssion on this major breach of a persons's right to apply for a license under this section? Absolutely no.
Who decided to amend this Act?
We don't know - but we'll ask.