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.