Top scientist resigns over Welsh badger cull U-turn
ONE of the UK’s leading research scientists and a member of the management board set up to oversee the eradication of bovine TB in Wales has resigned in protest over the Welsh Government’s change of direction.
Professor Chris Pollock, who after retiring as director of the world famous Aberystwyth-based Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences was appointed acting Chief Scientist in Wales, has told Farmers Guardian that he believes the decision by Environment Minister, John Griffiths, to opt for badger vaccination rather than culling is flawed.
“There are two reasons why I felt I could no longer be a member of the programme management beard,” he said today (Friday, April 27).
“Vaccination is effectively untried so you are exchanging an approach which has a track record of success in Ireland and elsewhere with one not really tried at all,” he says.
“That was a position I was far from happy with but more significantly from my standpoint was that in the scientific report the Minister commissioned there was a specific comment about the problems of using vaccination in an area where you obviously had a high incidence of disease.
“Using vaccination in the targeted Intensive Action Area, where the level of infection in badgers is extremely high, in my view goes against the recommendations of his own scientific review.
“I was certainly not happy about that and as such did not believe I could continue to be a member of the programme board if I did not fully support the programme being pursued.
“Bovine TB is a very difficult disease to eradicate and there is no straightforward answer, Indeed, if there was we would not have the problems we have.
“It needs concerted action on all fronts and I believe the policy of the previous coalition Welsh Assembly Government did have a reasonable chance of gaining some real progress.
“But I believe the chances of making progress have been reduced as a result of the changes being pursued by the current administration.
“If you vaccinate an animal, or even a human, that already has the disease it has not affect whatsoever,” says Professor Pollock.
“Vaccinated infected badgers can live for several years and continue to spread the disease. It does not stop them being carriers and as such I am not convinced this is a change for the better.
The only response from the Welsh Government has been an acknowledgement of Professor Pollock’s resignation.