Scientific experts back Welsh TB standpoint

A EUROPEAN task force of scientific experts has backed the Farmers Union of Wales bovine TB eradication standpoint by criticising the Welsh Government’s decision to vaccinate rather than cull badgers.

“There is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that badger vaccination will reduce the incidence of TB in cattle,” says a report by the European Commission’s bTB sub-group, comprising veterinary experts from across the EU.

It adds: “However, there is considerable evidence to support the removal of badgers in order to improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle.”

Those conclusions, says the FUW, confirmed that the Wales TB eradication programme has been severely compromised and reflected what the union has been saying regarding badger culling for the past decade.

“More than five years ago the FUW wrote to the EC to highlight these concerns and asked that Europe properly analyse the science and take a robust approach to the UK’s failure to tackle TB in badgers,” according to FUW TB spokesman and Carmarthen dairy farmer, Brian Walters.

“At last, the scientific experts have not only come out and supported what we have been saying all along, but they have also effectively slammed the Welsh Government for making policies based upon elections rather than tackling disease.

“Yet we know from the outcome of the last Welsh Assembly elections that those most supportive of badger culling kept their seats, so it really seems there is not even an excuse for such political cowardice.”

According to the report, UK politicians “must accept their responsibility to their own farmers and taxpayers as well as to the rest of the EU and commit to a long-term strategy that is not dependent on elections”.

It also states: “The Welsh eradication plan will lose some impetus as badger culling will now be replaced with badger vaccination. This was not part of the original strategy that consisted of a comprehensive plan that has now been disrupted.”

Mr Walters said now that a group of international scientific experts had effectively slammed the Welsh Government for going against the science and deliberately decelerating its TB eradication programme, the FUW has written to Environment Minister, John Griffiths, asking for an urgent meeting to discuss where Wales goes from here.

“We will naturally be arguing for a return to a policy based upon science,” Mr Walters added.

Readers' comments (8)

  • There is a lack of resolve by governments who are only elected for 5 years and are not committed. If there was commitment over successive governments perhaps problems would then start to unravel.

    The link below lists some issues which support the view taken by the EU regarding what the current Welsh administration have done regarding abandoning culling in favour of administration

    http://www.bovinetb.info/wales.php#iaa

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  • The Peasant
    REAL science will triumph in the end, not the stupid Krebs trials.

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  • Badger culling is "ineffective", the expert behind the UK's biggest review of the links between badgers and tuberculosis in cattle, said on Monday.

    Professor Lord John Krebs was the government adviser responsible for the scientific review in the 1990s which found that badgers were a "reservoir" of bovine TB and could transmit the disease to cattle. He called for trial culls, which were then carried out. But he said on Monday the results of the trials showed that culling was "not an effective policy" and would be a mistake."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/11/badger-culling-ineffective-krebs

    We need 100,000 people to sign now. Please share, tell your friends and sign. We need your help. There are 65,000 people who reach 1.5m friends so please share and sign NOW

    http://www.teambadger.org/

    https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257/signature/new

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  • Any farmers allowing badger culls to take place on their land will likely attract the attention of AR activists, so i doubt its worth the bother of joining this cull !

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  • Well out of date info Dave - get up to speed.

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  • bTB testing is known to be unreliable, we have all had cattle test positive only to find at a later stage the positive test result was in error! This also means that cattle which have tested negative can actually be positive! therefore many cattle that are moved and sold do carry and spread bTB. For an effective control of this disease we need to implement an extended period of movement restrictions combined with vaccination. Dont listen to the Europeans, they have less information/studies on bTB than the UK, the krebs report does highlight a lot of points which make sense, we should take heed and follow the recommendations contained in the report. Us farmers stop this bickering over who's right and who's wrong and collaborate with the badger protection groups, together we could be a powerful force !!

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  • Chive.

    @ Anonymous above. The test is not unreliable at all when it comes to false positives. The skin test has a specificity(the ability to identify infected cattle) of 99.9%. The estimated sensitivity (accurate identification of uninfected animals) is between 75% and 95.5%.

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  • Let's be clear Anonymous the skin test is not 100% accurate, as Chive points out very clearly, but compared to the vaccine it is incredibly accurate.

    There is no evidence that vaccinating badgers works at all!

    Vaccinating humans is only 60% effective.

    Vaccinating cattle does not work at all for some adult populations but in neonatal calves it can be up to 60 % effective. But the vaccine is not licensed and is very unlikely to ever be licensed at those sort of rates.

    Reliance on a failing vaccine alone is gambling on the lives of our children and grandchildren.

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