Monday, October 15, 2012


There was a lot of froth over the week end with a letter opposing the proposed badger cull, signed by several scientists. They conclude:
We recognise the importance of eradicating bovine TB and agree that this will require tackling the disease in badgers. Unfortunately, culling badgers as planned is very unlikely to contribute to TB eradication. We therefore urge the government to reconsider its strategy.
"Culling badgers as planned ... "

Planned? Planned by whom?
We would refer readers back to the Defra Consultation Document, page 43. It's conclusion and thus the spin steer was:
Our preferred approach is option 6: to issue licences under the PoBA for industry to cull badgers, subject to a specific set of licence criteria. Under existing arrangements farmers and landowners will also be able to apply for licences to vaccinate badgers either on its own or for use in combination with culling. This approach will allow farmers to manage their own situations and use all the control measures available. It also means that taxpayers will not be paying for significant additional disease control measures. We consulted further on the implementation of this option, as articulated in draft Guidance to Natural England from July-September 2011

The research published and / or establishments occupied by many of the names on this letter are mentioned in these Defra documents. They would have been instrumental in constructing the protocols, the 'preferred option' of those on offer, was the one now being roundly trashed.
And we seem to have heard something like the phraseology of the protest before.

Indeed, some of the signatories to this letter were in the magic circle which conceived the RBCT Badger Dispersal Trial, which cage trapped into an infected population on 8 nights only, annually if you were lucky, with a couple of years off for FMD. And about which, their chairman and lead wizard was proud to tell any audience (in this case the EFRA committee in 2007) how 'his' trial was conceived and why it was carried out in such a way.

At that meeting, Geoffrey Cox, MP asked Professor Bourne to clarify the ISG's report's 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:
"Whatever has driven that I do not know 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".
Fast forward and the much quoted 16 per cent success projection for the current proposal. This was culled from the RBCT data, mathematically modeled figures taken over its whole politically rigged length. Why?

But to back to this current letter, now backed up by the lead wizard, himself. Yup, the very man who gave this statement (above) to support his 'political science' to his masters.

A salient point we think, is that many of the signatories to the Observer / Guardian letter appeared more than comfortable with the RBCT, when they were employed by it. We heard no shrieks of disapproval. But this was 'the science' - or pensions? Take your pick..But the RBCT debacle, which, having been involved in it,  we have criticised, and will continue to criticise,  mapped areas one third smaller than these proposals, used a different operating protocol and had a 'limitations imposed by politicians'.

Work that one out.

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