Thursday, September 06, 2007

"This is the answer ....

... now, what was the question?"

The ISG final report from the RBCT Badger Dispersal Trial was categoric in its recommendations. Badger culling, in the way that it was conducted during their trial, has absolutely no place in the GB armoury against bTb - unless as he said in our posting here it was to act as an inducement for the cattle measures which Professor Bourne openly told veterinary colleagues at the start of the excercise, would be their only option, at the end of it.

We have explored the difference between the trial protocol as described by Professor, Sir John (now Lord?) Krebs here
and how it differed substantially and critically from what the ISG delivered in practise. And from the Welsh Assembly's examination of various industry reactions to the report's findings, we quote this gem from Mr. Rooney, speaking for the CLA:

" Perhaps I might preface my remarks by saying that I was brought up as a scientist; it was not in this discipline, but scientific principles hold, whatever the discipline. One of the things that I was taught was that, in designing an experiment to try to address an issue or a problem, you may not like the results, but you accept them. I find it deeply shocking that responsible scientists should have been prepared to undertake a research study having been told at the outset that there is a conclusion that they are not allowed to reach. I find that utterly disgraceful".

Mr. Rooney concludes, in robust fashion:
"In my more bitter moments I see its approach to the wildlife issue as having been a most impressive exercise in creative prevarication. The excuses for not doing anything have been most imaginative".

The reflections by the ISG on their trial protocol from the ISG in public are somewhat inconsistant. While they assert that it was 'their protocol', when pressed on the specifics, the answer is somewhat different.
Professor Bourne to the EFRAcom (18/06/07)
The Irish "...have less welfare considerations than we forced to give to the trapping that we carried out on the trial"

'Forced? John Bourne? Exactly who had him in an armlock, one wonders? He continues;
"Very importantly, there was 100 % farmer co operation and we did not get that.The other thing is that there is no badger group in Ireland".

"Let us go back to 1999 when we started our work. It was made very clear to us by ministers of the day - and they have not refuted it since - that elimination of badgers over large tracts of countryside was not an option for future policy".

A horrified Geoffrey Cox, MP intervened "Is it not the function of science..." but the diminutive Prof. was in full spate. He was not to interrupted and continued:
It was on that basis that we (note that we - ed) designed the trial. We also had to take into account welfare considerations with respect to culling used, and limitations on culling with respect that cubs were not killed or died underground [ ] Those were clear political limitations that we operated under; I have no reason to believe that those political limitations have changed".

Geoffrey Cox, MP then asked Bourne to clarify the report's findings and its conclusions in the light of his statement describing a political steer in what should have been a scientific exercise. Professor Bourne replied thus:
"We repeatedly say "culling, as conducted in the trial." It is important [that] we do say that. Those limitations were not imposed by ourselves. They were imposed by politicians."

and he concluded the session:
"At the end of the day I think you have to accept that it is the price society puts on a badger. [ ] In this country there is a price on a badger and on badger welfare".

An astounded Mr. Cox, whose constituency houses some of the worst hotspots in the country replied:
"I beg your pardon: they put a price on it in terms of the suffering of families, and the slaughtering of tens of thousands of cattle?"

Professor Bourne, now condescendingly patiently explains to Mr. Cox, the difference between 'science' and 'political science':
"Whatever has driven that I do not know [ try copious multi million ££ donations to political parties? - ed) but the fact is that a price has been put on the badger in this country which related to the way we were able to carry out our scientific work. That is exactly what we report".

So there we have it. As the fallout from this expensive farce continues, one may safely assume that Professor Bourne and the ISG, having ignored Krebs original protocol and its clear warnings, grabbed a politically skewed methodology, conveniently labelled "This is the answer, now phrase the question".

That it was an 'exercise' in prevarication is beyond doubt, but to label it 'science' in the same breath as reading how it was steered, is stretching the imagination.


Anonymous said...

with all this political correctnes
how come an unliscenced vet{bourne} wasv allowed to conduct the trials?

Matthew said...

Anon 8.30
Because he's got an 'ology, and we haven't?

Anonymous said...

unliscenced vets are not allowed to pratice or consult even if they got an ology

Clearstats said...

Thank you for linking to Clearstats and sending me the link to this post.

I see that the minutes for the meeting featured in this post are given in the following link

I was not aware of it and have just read it in its entirety. Thank you for alerting me to it.

Matthew said...

You are most welcome. The evidence from all sides, is illuminating.