Friday, March 14, 2014

Hot air

If you had nothing better to do yesterday afternoon[ link] an interesting but depressing few hours could have been spent listening to a group of people, discussing with incredible certainty and many howlers, a report which they had yet to read on a subject which few had any knowledge at all.

 As the Telegraph - [link] pointed out, 'the Honourable members agreed that they did not know what they were talking about'.

 So a more pertinent debate might have been on why the Secretary of State and the Honourable members were apparently the last the read the report into the pilot badger culls, ahead of a media driven, opportunist frenzy led by the BBC?

 A couple of beacons of light in an otherwise total waste of time, were comments from David Heath and in particular, Roger Williams @ 3.12 who said: "
Continuing results from the RBCTs show continuing benefits from proactive culling many years after the conclusion of the trials. The TB situation continues to improve in New Zealand and Australia. Improvements are also evident in southern Ireland where, the hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge might like to note, a reactive cull has been used.

Surprisingly, those areas that used reactive culling in the RBCTs now show improvements compared with the survey areas. Perhaps we should re-examine the use of reactive culling. More support for culling could be generated if we had a better test for TB in live badgers.

The good news is that the polymerase chain reaction test is making progress and hopefully by next year we will have a conclusive test. I am sure that the culling of infected setts, as identified by PCR tests, and the protecting of healthy setts would be supported. I ask the Minister whether there is any advance on those tests.

I am told that badgers culled in the pilots vary in weight from 6.5 kg to 22 kg. Evidence of disease in the lightest badgers probably implies that they would not survive the winter and would die in considerable distress of starvation, hyperthermia and disease. I have not heard anything today that would lead me to believe that the BCG vaccine alone will lead to an elimination of disease in the wildlife reservoir. I believe a cull is also needed as part of a wide-ranging policy, and for that reason I cannot support this motion."
By concentrating on cattle and badgers, the Honourable members missed the point that control of zTuberculosis, a grade 3 zoonotic pathogen,  is a statute to which this country is a signatory.

As a footnote, if as the leaked document implied, it took a badger 5 minutes to expire after being shot, is that not more the responsibility of the trial protocol, which demanded only two shots in the rifle chamber?
It also compares very neatly to the length of time it takes an unborn calf to die, kicking in the belly of its destroyed, heavily pregnant mother when she is shot as a TB reactor.


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