Badger Cull on the Cards
21 February 2005 - Reuters
The government has given its clearest signal yet that
badger culling could form part of a new plan aimed at halting the
growing problem of bovine tuberculosis (TB).
The disease, which
makes cows physically sick, leading to a drop in milk yields and meat
production, can also be passed to humans through infected dairy
products. However, pasteurisation and modern production techniques make
Speaking to delegates attending this year's National
Farmers' Union (NFU) conference, farming minister Margaret Beckett said
on Monday the government had not ruled out the controversial move,
despite intense lobbying by animal welfare groups against the move.
are thought to be the main culprits in spreading the disease, which can
lead to the forced closure of farms and the compulsory slaughter of
"We will be prepared to consider badger culling if
the evidence supports this as a cost-effective, proportionate and
sustainable contribution to disease control," Beckett said.
government said findings from recent badger culling trials in Ireland,
which indicated that a controlled culling programme helped to curb its
spread among cattle, would also be examined.
"The results, along
with emerging evidence from our own culling trial will make an
important contribution to the evidence base on which decisions will be
made," Beckett said.
The government, which is under pressure to
devise a scheme that will keep the disease in badgers and cattle in
check, is due to announce details of its new 10-year strategy aimed at
dealing with the problem next week.
Farm leaders say bovine TB could cost the taxpayer up to 2 billion pounds over the next 10 years if the problem goes unchecked.
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