Not ususally supporters of 'conspiracy' theories - we tend to err on the side of egos and their associated and inevitable cock-ups - but could the RBCT been done any differently? Why was it so designed to inflict on groups of badger the very methods which would give a known result? It was certainly not as Krebs originally intended. But now, a convenient airbrush has diluted that all important 'Cull all badgers' in a Proactive area, and 'Cull all badgers in response to confirmed Tb in cattle' to a mere 'population reduction'.
We re-post both the article from John Cohen, BVetMed, MRCVS and today's comment on it.
"As a landowner in one of the 'trial' areas, I had the dubious pleasure of being invited and attending Professor Bourne's meeting to explain the aims and implementation of the Krebs trial to landowners. His presentation was fluent, forceful and full of spin. During the presentation, he pontificated on some events in the history of badger / bovine TB in Dorset. Unbeknown to him, these were events that I had been personally involved with and knew full details of.
It was very educational to me.
I realised that he was describing the facts in a strictly accurate - yet totally misleading - way, so the impression given was the opposite to the truth."
That the trial is severely flawed - in my opinion, fatally so - is self evident to any objective scientist. A sound experiment, for that is what the 'trial' purported to be, depends on knowledge of, and control of, all the variables. This trial had no control.
In the 'proactive' areas no culling took place during the lactating periods, and 20 percent of the babgers were left behind. It would seem that there was, effectively, not a great deal of difference between proactive and reactive areas.If one allows for the unofficial culling that took place in the no treatment areas, these results are skewed. No matter how the statistics are applied the conclusions drawn can be challenged by a competent sixth former.
Over the past 25 years or more, many veterinary officers have diligently collected masses of data on thousands of breakdowns, and have had their work scrutinised by a sceptical mini panel. All that work, together with that of the veterinary investigation officers, has been effectively been ignored by both Krebs and Bourne. The results of the inquiry and the trial appear to have more to do with egos of eminent men, than science or truth. Bourne's insulting personal response to the points raised by Paul Caruana is no less than I expected from this most arrogant of men."
That broadside, with which we fully agree, was launched by John Cohen, BVetMed, MRCVS of Chard, Somerset, and printed in Veterinary Times, June 12th. 2006
And a comment on this from one of the Wildlife team operatives (we guess) working with The RBCT, came the following insight :
"Well, you've really been stitched up by John Bourne and his scientific report this time !
As one of the staff working on the Krebs Trial, we all knew John's views before the trial really got underway. He had always said, as he does now, that the problem lies with cattle. "It is a cattle disease and it has to be treated this way" is what he has always subscribed to. Both he and Chris Cheeseman clearly wanted the result that they have now delivered - kill infected cattle, leave infected badgers alone !
Were the results made to fit their theories? It does make you think !
How can that possibly be a way forward ? The source has to be removed, or we had all just as well give up cattle farming once and for all ! The article written by Paul Caruana, one of the Wildlife Unit's more sensible and realistic field officers, said it all- but where did it get him? ( he was disciplined for those who didn't know) before he left Defra last year. After he submitted his article, both he and the majority of the wild life Unit's managers were summoned to meet with Ben Bradshaw. They unanimously agreed what a waste of time the trial had been, and that things should have been done much more efficiently and effectively. None of them gave credence to the results that came out of the trial. If that doesn't tell you what a farce the Krebs Trial was, nothing will.
There is a way forward for all concerned. PCR technology, coupled with Government paid pre/post movement testing will do the trick. Target sick badgers, sick cattle, have the reassurance of the gamma interferon test behind you and , hey presto, things will surely improve ?! Clearly, to all of us, there is no political will to get on top of this disease, as has been shown by the sacking of all of the Wildlife Unit staff before Krebs was even finally reported. They do not want any part in the culling of sick badgers, and that is unlikely to change without some fierce and voiciferous lobbying from the farming community, the NFU and all other interested parties.
Something has to happen, and soon. Ten years have been wasted on the Krebs trial, with outcomes that have affected us all. More badgers, more TB, more financial hardship, worse morale in the whole of the farming community- what has to happen before somebody in Government has the guts to make the decision that is needed ?
I am in total despair over it".
This comment rang some disturbing bells. In 1997 one of our contributers heard Dr. Cheeseman of CSL's Woodchester Park, tell shell shocked cattle farmers at a Cheshire meeting that they could not separate Tb infected badgers from the cattle herds on which they depended. "Where you are farming cattle, you are essentially farming badgers; they predate on cattle habitat." And answering the question of biosecurity, Dr. Cheeseman delivered the bombshell: "You can't " he said, "you get rid of your cattle".
That was after describing the effects of peturbation on diseased communities of badgers, the levels of infection they carried and possible transmission opportunities. Which is why we say the RBCT told us nothing we didn't (or Cheeseman et al didn't, know before). We are told that Dr. Cheeseman repeated his "Get rid of cattle" blast at an October meeting in 2006.
And that is a most extraordinary statement for a government advisor to make.