As GB's bTB figures last year rocketed towards 8 percent of herds under movement restriction and with some areas having a quarter of their herds affected, the Minister said that he had to make his decision on "science, impact of proposed measures, practicality and public acceptibility".
On the first point, he ignored the Chief Scientist's
Benn also seemed unaware of the work from Stirling University, released last week, paid for, one assumes, by his Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs? which laid the root cause of 75 per cent of outbreaks of bTb in GB at the striped paws of - badgers. Not any badger of course, but grossly and endemically infected with tuberculosis badgers - as described in Parliamentary Questions by his predecessor in the hot seat, Ben Bradshaw.
A BBC report of the speech, is headed "Farmers heckle Benn over Tb plans"
What plans? He doesn't appear to have one - apart from an annual cull of sentinel tested cattle that is. The same old chestnut of 'public acceptability" was waved, to avoid making a decision on the control of a disease that is 100 per cent a governmental responsibility. And a disease whose spillover will increasingly and inevitably impact on 'the public' who, like his predecessors he is content to use as his ministerial shield.
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has been heckled by farmers after he suggested culling badgers may not be the answer to preventing TB in cattle. Mr Benn was told to "stop waffling" as he pledged to take a decision based on science, its impact and practicality".National Farmers' Union President Peter Kendall urged Mr Benn to make the "right decision" on culling badgers and to show political leadership in explaining to the public the "absolutely devastating" effect of the disease. (Forget cattle Peter - explain about the cats, dogs, free range pigs, llamas and children - all susceptible to tuberculosis, and more 'valuable' as vote fodder) He urged Mr Benn not to adopt a "nimtoo" approach - "not in my term of office".
Mr Benn said the call would be made "on my watch", based on the science, impact of proposed measures, the practicalities and its "public acceptability". and it was the latter comment which roused his audience....
To boos from the audience he said: "Many of you don't think that's a factor governments should take into account but I have to take it into account alongside the other three tests."The BBC comments "While cattle farmers (and the Treasury??) may support a cull, a government consultation of more than 47,000 people suggested that more than 95% of people opposed it". Aah yes. That would be the consultation in which the RSPCA was later found found by Advertising Standards Authority to have offered misleading and incorrect' information? Yup, that'd be the one. The BBC nailed its colours to the mast this week with a David Attenborough TV special on the Secret Lives of Badgers. Repeated to allow for the sunday afternoon consumption. They didn't show one dying of Tb though.
One angry farmer shouted that the government had done nothing to tackle bovine TB in 10 years, adding: "Stop waffling." Answering his heckler, Mr Benn said: "I'm not waffling. I'm going to take a decision and we're going to have to find a way forward."And that won't involve culling the wildlife reservoir of bovine tuberculosis. The Minister then announced that he was awaiting instructions. He was:
...awaiting a report by the Environment Food and Rural Affairs select committee, due within weeks, before making a decision.NFU Chairman, Peter Kendall said it was "disappointing" Mr Benn referred only to the ISG report rather than one by former chief scientist Sir David King, which drew different conclusions.
No doubt Mr. Benn will also be awaiting the result of his department's 'Inquiry into the Inquiry', which went to tender last month
Anytime in the next ten years will do Minister.