Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ASA uphold (another) complaint by FUW.

Once again, the Advertising Standards Authority have upheld complaints against misleading statements issued by the so-called protectors of badgers. This time the 'Save the Badger' campaign, operating from the address of 'Secret World Wildlife Rescue' in Somerset, has had the majority of its claims ruled as being 'untrue and unsubstantiated' by the ASA, say the Farmers Union of Wales.

Following a complaint by the FUW (Farmers Union of Wales), the ASA ruled that claims made in advertisements placed by the 'Save the Badger' charity and published in May this year, repeatedly breached Truthfulness, Substantiation, and Matters of Opinion codes. Welcome though this ruling is, it is too late. The 'Save the Badger' campaign encouraged members of the general public to oppose badger culling, and called on them to write to the Welsh Assembly Government and the Rural Affairs Minister opposing plans to cull badgers in north Pembrokeshire. And it used advertisements which repeatedly made statements which the ASA now say breached their standards of 'Truthfulness, Substantiation and 'Matters of Opinion' codes.

Following the ASA’s ruling, the advertisements must not appear again in their current form, and the ASA has written to the operators of 'Save the Badger' instructing them to ensure in future that claims which are not clearly an expression of their view, can be substantiated.

In 2006, publication of unsubstantiated claims by the RSPCA and others, once again brought by the FUW, provoked a similar response from the ASA, as we reported at the time. But the damage - and it is considerable - is done. People are misled, many animals suffer and the only winner is tuberculosis.

We note that similar emotive and misleading generalisations which are today condemned as 'matters of opinion which were untrue and unsubstantiated' by the ASA can still be found on Brian May's 'Save the Badger' website. Including, amusingly, irritatingly, the old assumption that mycobacterium bovis, is a virus. Dr. May's website has the following introductory paragraph:
The disease at the centre of this appalling tragedy is called Bovine TB. The history of the establishment of this virus in populations of Cattle in the British Isles is well documented. It did NOT, of course come from Badgers (or it would presumably have been called "Badger TB") - it was allowed to flourish because of intensive farming methods, and was spread around the UK by farmers moving cattle around to maximise the profit that could be made from them when they were slaughtered. Badgers were infected by the cattle, entirely innocent of any wrong-doing except being in the vicinity of these diseased farm animals.

And that from a superannuated, former pop star with a newly acquired 'ology?

Corrections to all Dr. May's erroneous assumptions may be found in this post and the PQ answer below. We do not intend to go through them again.

But we also note that pictures of badgers adorning his site, do not reflect the true result of tuberculosis on badgers. Emaciation, exclusion from the social group, starvation and finally death? Very nice. Disease in the badger on the right, had developed as tuberculous pleurisy and when the animal was caught, it was emaciated to the point that its death was imminent.

And this badger, weighing a fraction of its optimum weight had starved to death. A postmortem showed that it too, had generalised tuberculosis, the bacteria from which were available to any mammal which crossed its miserable path.

Finally, we would remind readers of the answer to our Parliamentary Questions as to the likely reason for the total and complete clearance of 'bovine' TB from the cattle herds at Thornbury, after a short period of badger clearance. The effect lasted for over a decade:
No confirmed cases of tuberculosis in cattle in the area of the Thornbury operation were disclosed by the tuberculin test in the ten year period following the cessation of gassing" Hansard: 28th Jan 2004 col 385W [150573]
So, what was the cause of the Thornbury success? Whole herd slaughter? Cohort slaughter? Zoning and movement restrictions, licensing and more cattle measures? Biosecurity and stricter testing? Change in the weather? All measures offered today by the Badger Trust, discussed ad infinitum by the T-Beggars ( T-BAG's successor around Defra's TB round table ) - and tried in the past by others, with humiliatingly expensive and ignominious results.

However, we did ask. And remembering that it is a hanging offence to mislead a minister in written parliamentary questions, his answer was thus:

The fundamental difference between the Thornbury area and other areas in the south west of England, where bovine tuberculosis was a problem, was the systematic removal of badgers from the Thornbury area. No other species was similarly removed. No other contemporaneous change was identified that could have accounted for the reduction in TB incidence within the area" (Hansard 24th March 2004: Col 824W [157949]

Congratulations, once again to FUW.


Yvonne Anthony said...

Subject: Welsh Assembly Government make CATASTROPHIC ERROR ON 25000 leaflets/letters TO RESIDENTS

Welsh by birth with many connections still in Wales, I write as someone who has taken an interest in the subject of the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) wanting to kill thousands of badgers and the expensive mistakes they have made in the past. This one tops them all, yet there is no sign of them attempting to make good a truly catastrophic error on a leaflet/letter sent to 25,000 homes in the key intensive Action Area in Pembrokeshire. I suppose this is one way of getting the result you want but what happened to truth, apologies and democracy??? But unfortunately no equivalent to the Advertising Standards Authority has offered to put this blatant error right.
Published by WAG a statement which says:
"Previous trials have shown that culling badgers can reduce TB in cattle, by as much as 50% in six months This should have read:
"Previous trials have shown that culling badgers can reduce TB in cattle. Culling can start to show a benefit in six months.

WAG should now do the honorable thing and cancel their culling policy or at least attempt a new consultation in which perhaps they might even be tempted to do away with their tunnel vision attitude and they could start to seriously consider vaccination of both cattle and badgers !!!

If I had no understanding of bTB etc., and read the above statement in an official WAG document, sent me in the post by WAG, I would believe them, THE ISSUE IS NOW SO COMPROMISED BY WAG THAT THEY MUST CANCEL.

Talk about bias, Secret World Wildlife Rescue were unfortunately telling the truth, no embellishments, no half truths and in no way should they be penalised for telling the public
What is really going to happen. It is a great pity they don't have the political clout the Welsh NFU have, I only hope the rest of the welsh public can recognise what is going on.

Yvonne Anthony

Subject: ..Welsh Assembly Government Error in Leaflet

The Welsh Assembly Government’s (WAG) should repeat its resurrected public consultation about its proposal to kill badgers. The Badger Trust says a serious mistake in 25,000 official leaflets made the consultation – its second attempt – invalid.

A Welsh Assembly Government statement said last month [1] that an “error occurred in the editing” of a sentence in the leaflet (also referred to as a letter) sent to homes in the key Intensive Action Area in Pembrokeshire where WAG proposes to kill several thousand badgers in an attempt to control cattle tuberculosis.

The statement said: “The sentence in question reads, ‘Previous trials have shown that culling badgers can reduce TB in cattle, by as much as 50% in six months’. This should have read ‘Previous trials have shown that culling badgers can reduce TB in cattle. Culling can start to show a benefit in six months’.”

David Williams, chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “This error is unforgivable for a national government supposedly offering reliable guidance to constituents responding to its consultation. The Badger Trust’s own response [2] exposes many other misinterpretations of science in the WAG consultation document.

"WAG has already had to climb down once and this is its second attempt at a consultation following the Badger Trust’s successful Appeal Court action during the summer to stop its killing plans. Now we demand at least a third attempt to conduct a fairer consultation, or at best the complete scrapping of its misguided culling policies which could well make the situation worse”.

The Badger Trust has also submitted a carefully-argued response to the Coalition Government’s consultation document about its similar plans for England where do-it-yourself shooting of badgers by farmers is suggested. Scotland enjoys TB- free status and Northern Ireland has said it had no plans to kill badgers. The intention in Ireland is to replace culling with badger vaccination.


Anonymous said...

Thought you'd enjoy that one.

Would the FUW be one of those groups that seek the impossible - a targetted cull of diseased badgers?

Please don't bother wheeling out Brian Hill with his divining rods or wet seaweed - or whatever other mythical methods he has. No-one except some misguided farmers believe his methods would work.

YvonneAnthony said...

Here they go again, this really should be the final nail in Elin Jones coffin. She must be aware of the catastrophic so called blunders made in her department and the mishandling and misinformation they have fed to the public, nicely timed to have maximum effect on the 25000 recipients, their mild attempt at correction didn't happen for about 5 days, now it's too late because the consultation has closed BUT not to tarnish their reputation of being either totally incompetant and/or questionable, they slip yet another major error into their so called apology. They wouldn't you say, well, they did and here it is again:
Subject: ..Another Blunder Over Welsh Badgers

Thursday 23rd December 2010

Mistake reveals the politics of the blunderbuss, says Badger Trust.

The Welsh Assembly Government has published yet another blatantly misleading mistake over bovine tuberculosis. Last month it had to retract a claim that killing badgers would reduce herd infections by 50 percent but in its apology claimed:

Previous trials [not listed] have shown that culling badgers can reduce TB in cattle. Benefits could be seen in six months. [1]

However, only in January 2010 it said:

Our aim is to eradicate TB from the [Intensive Action Pilot Area]. This will take years to achieve and it could go up in the short term. It may take up to three years before we see a reduction in TB cattle in the area [2].

David Williams, the chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “It is shameful that the WAG proposes the protracted slaughter of thousands of badgers apparently with no clear idea of what benefits, if any, could be expected. Even the latest apology has no foundation in science. The broad policy proposals have been missold to the public and, crucially, to farmers.

“The subject – and the badgers – deserve careful science, not the politics of the blunderbuss”.
It makes you cringe doesn't it, the awful truth is that the losers in this fiasco are the badgers. Have you ever held a nearly dead, cold, soaking wet badger cub when its mother has been killed and it's now totally reliant on you getting it help? Perhaps Elin Jones should along with the rest of WAG MP's. I have and I shall never forget the experience. This beautiful, clever and fascinating animal deserves all the help we can give it. No I'm not a bunny hugger, I respect nature and our animals. WAG must now call a halt to the fiasco of the century.
Yvonne Anthony'

Anonymous said...

More on Thornbury here: