There has been some discussion about my article in the Mail on Sunday [‘THIS CRUEL BADGER CULL IS POINTLESS – AND I CAN PROVE IT’, SAYS QUEEN GUITARIST BRIAN MAY], since David Heath smugly waved a piece of paper around in his summing up speech in our Badger Debate in the House of Commons.
He read out part of a message from the Commissioner for Agriculture, which said my comments following Team Badger’s visit to Brussels were misleading.
As a tactical move, this fell wide of the mark, because our motion was upheld by 147 votes to 28. But it warrants closer examination.
There was indeed a message from this Commissioner, which can be seen here.
It says …
“The European Commission was disappointed to see an article by Brian May in the Mail on Sunday on 21 October which quotes Georg Haeusler, chief adviser to the European Commissioner for Agriculture. Some of the quotes are out of context or inaccurate – and therefore misleading.
Vaccination of cattle against TB is forbidden under current EU rules agreed by all Member States, including the UK. This is because there is no effective test to tell the difference between vaccinated and infected animals, making it impossible to protect the food chain and identify which animals could be exported.
If such a test were to be developed and approved at EU and international levels – which would take time – the rules could be changed relatively quickly. But Mr Haeusler explained that this would be the responsibility of the Health Commissioner, who deals with vaccination issues, and who could also advise on the exact process and timing in this case.
The Commission provides substantial financial support to the approved UK bovine TB eradication programme. For 2012, EUR 31.2 million were allocated to implement a rapid eradication strategy.There is no EU financial support provided for the culling of badgers.”
Note especially this part:
“If such a test were to be developed and approved at EU and international levels – which would take time – the rules could be changed relatively quickly.”
This is a sentence that Heath conveniently neglected to read out! This is what’s known as cherry-picking – choosing the bits of a document that seem to support your case. It’s something which this Government has been accused of before.
It says, “The rules could be changed relatively quickly” – which is a clear indication that my most important contention in the article was true. It’s confirmation that, contrary to what this Government has been saying, Europe has NOT been holding up progress towards vaccination of our cattle, and is unlikely to in the future. I believe Europe has actually been used as an excuse for our incredibly slow progress. I believe that this cry of ‘It will take years and years’ no longer holds water. This rhetoric can now be seen for what it is – an attempt to justify a meaningless cull of badgers, by pretending that there is no other ‘tool in the box’ available to control Bovine TB. There IS a tool. Cow vaccination is that tool, and is the only one which will work.
I believe cow vaccination can be closer than YEARS away and vaccination is the ONLY hope of eradicating bTB.
There is no doubt that husbandry of cattle needs re-examination; and vaccination of badgers will protect badgers from further infection from cows, which in the long run will be good for cows too – much better than an indiscriminate cull, which makes no sense whatsoever.
But I believe that vaccination of cows is the key to unlocking a workable future for Britain’s dairy farmers.
P.S. The last sentence is perplexing. If 31.2 Million Euros were given to Britain to combat bTB, and none of it was for culling of badgers, where did that money go?
(PLEASE OBSERVE COPYRIGHT)