Thursday, March 01, 2007

Survey after survey after...

..survey. On what? How the public would react if a cull of infectious badgers is mentioned in the same breath as bTb.

After government's altruistic 'consultation' excercise of twelve months ago on this subject - despite being presented with an industry package, two parts of which the 'industry' has delivered - the NFU commissioned their own survey, and reported its findings a couple of weeks ago. After a favourable result, the organisation is said to be shifting all its lobbying efforts to that end rather than fight on the preMT issue.

FARMERS GUARDIAN carried the story a couple of weeks ago, describing the results of a poll carried out randomly by England Marketing. It showed that 74 percent of recipients supported a legal cull of badgers to prevent the spread of Tb.

And this week, another one. This time a survey into "Public Opinions on Badger Populations and the Control of Tuberculosis in Cattle", (sorry - no link) which was undertaken at the taxpayer's expense, by the Universities of Reading and Newcastle.

Their results mirrored the NFU poll. A combined telephone and postal poll of randomly selected recipients found that:

* 71 percent thought that management of badger populations is sometimes necessary.

* 92 percent agreed with the statement 'controlling bTb in cattle is important'.

But when asked whether bTb control should involve the management of badger populations, respondents were much more in favour of SVS / Defra influence than farmer licences.

* 49 percent agreed with farmer licences, compared with 36 per cent who disagreed.
* 68 percent agreed with the statement 'If badger populations are to be controlled, the Government should be responsible for it'.

And leaves the Right Honourable gentleman quoted in our post below, Lord Rooker, a tad adrift in his support of 'farmer licenses'. Not only do the contributers to this site feel Tb is a governmental responsibility, but the public appear to think it is too. While Defra ministers scatter weasel words like 'partnerships' around, what part of 'shared responsibility' does this administration not understand?

And how many 'surveys' will there be, one asks? As many as it takes to get the answer government wants to hear, one suspects.

(Survey published in full in Veterinary Record 24th. Feb. Authors R. Bennett and K.Willis. The study funded by Defra.
[No it wasn't, 'Defra' has no money. The long suffering taxpayer paid to support this 'beneficial crisis'- ed])

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Badger Trust has welcomed the admission by animal health and welfare Minister, Ben Bradshaw, that a cull of "sick" badgers is impossible.

Speaking in yesterday's debate on the dairy industry [1], Mr Bradshaw said:

"We are well aware that TB is a difficult problem. However, we also want to be careful to ensure that any decision on badger culling is guided by the science. We do not want to initiate any sort of action that could be counter-productive.

"As he [Mr Geoffrey Cox, Conservative, Torridge and West Devon] well knows, one of the things that all the science says is that a piecemeal, patchy culling regime for badgers could make matters worse. One of the other myths that a number of people still repeat and that it is worth exploding while we are on the subject is that it would be possible to have a cull of sick badgers. That is not possible. One cannot tell whether a live badger has TB. One can tell only through a blood test. Any badger cull would have to include healthy badgers, as well as sick badgers."

Responding, Trevor Lawson, public affairs advisor to the Badger Trust, said:

"The vast majority of badgers, even in bovine TB hotspots, are not infected with bovine TB. Of the minority that are infected, most are not even 'sick' - long term studies at Woodchester Park show that most badgers with bovine TB show no adverse symptoms and go on to live and breed normally for many years. Bovine TB is not even an important cause of death in badgers [2].

"Mr Bradshaw's admission that countless healthy badgers would be slaughtered in a badger killing strategy is welcome. It explodes the myth, repeated by the farming lobby, that only sick badgers would be killed whilst healthy badgers would be protected [3]. The grim reality is that a badger cull would be a grotesque slaughter on a massive scale that will irrevocably damage public support for farmers."


1. See Hansard, 8 March 2007, Column 1657.
2. Cheeseman, C., 16 January 2006, Farming Today, BBC Radio 4. Dr Chris Cheeseman is the outgoing director of the Central Science Laboratory's research facility at Woodchester Park, Gloucestershire.
3. On 31 January 2007, the NFU used an opinion poll to claim that 74 per cent of the public supported a cull of sick badgers. The NFU did not report that the 38 people questioned in the poll had been told that the NFU wanted the "culling of infected badgers and protecting healthy ones, in much the same way as diseased cattle are dealt with at the moment". The panellists were not told that no such mechanism exists for killing the minority of infected badgers. On 13 February 2007, NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond admitted that "any badger culling strategy would need to be intensive and thorough". On 28 February, NFU spokesman Anthony Gibson admitted that virtually 100 per cent of the badgers in a culling area would need to be killed.