Badger cull consultation 'flawed'
14 March 2006 - BBC News
government's consultation on badger culling was flawed because a
number of the possible options were based on unsound science, MPs
have said. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee said
evidence from scientists showed only extensive culling would cut TB
levels in cattle.
Yet ministers also asked for opinions on issuing individual
licences, and limited controls on badger numbers.
Many farmers blame badgers for a sharp increase of TB in their
The committee said the consultation document failed to take
account of the findings of the government's Independent Scientific
Group on Cattle TB (ISG), lead by Professor John Bourne.
In December, Animal Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw launched a
consultation on three possible culling options:
- individual licensing
- a targeted cull over specific areas
- a general cull over larger areas of high TB incidence
Figures published at the time by Defra showed that more than
22,500 cattle were compulsorily slaughtered in 2004, because of the
disease, at a cost to taxpayers of £90.5m.
Michael Jack, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Select Committee, said: "Two of the three questions asked were, in
light of the opinion of Prof John Bourne and the committee of
independent scientists, not viable.
Prof Bourne found that if you were going to have any kind of
culling it would have to be very intense, over a long period of time
and over a very large area. If Mr Bradshaw has had some other advice from within his
department which convinces him that he can go ahead with an option
that has been rejected by the ISG, we say he should publish it," he
told the BBC News website.
The consultation period ended last week and ministers are now
considering whether badger culling, along with other measures, is
needed to control the spread of bovine TB.
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