Many people have asked me for the content of my address to the public anti-badger cull meeting in Taunton on Saturday. I didn’t work from notes for this speech. I spoke spontaneously, following talks by Gavin Grant, CEO of the RSPCA, and eminent farming consultant Steve Jones. http://www.not-in-this-farmers-name.com/what.html
I introduced two new music tracks aimed at raising awareness that will be released later this month, which were very well-received. I then summed up, and clarified three main points.
1. The INEFFECTIVENESS and DANGER OF THE CULL.
After ten years of culling badgers in the UK, based on figures from DEFRA and a proper reading of the RBCT (Randomised Badger Cull Trial) report, as opposed to cherry-picking, it can be seen that even the small drop in infection of 16 per cent claimed by advocates of the cull is not a real expectation. Lord Krebs (author of the RBCT) himself reminds us that the figure of 16 per cent is merely a lessening of the rate of increase of prevalence of the disease. So after 10 years, farmers will in fact not see an improvement. And the long term prediction is even worse. Thus the proposed cull, is, as agreed by the whole scientific community, nothing short of ‘crazy’.
In addition the cull will alienate farmers from the public, who are horrified at this unethical killing, which places no value on a wild animal whatsoever. From a supposed Ministry of the Environment, this is a disgrace.
The prognosis for farms on the periphery of the cull zone is grim indeed. They will very likely see bTB increase by up to 30%. DEFRA are (ironically) talking about vaccinating badgers in these zones, but Lord Krebs warns that vaccination only works with a badger population that is stable. This is not going to be the case next to an area where there are being randomly shot.
2. THE PATH OF CATTLE VACCINATION
The European Commission has now laid out a ten-year plan for the legal establishment of vaccination for cattle. This is not, as Paterson and Heath are so fond of telling us, bad news. Cattle vaccination could be here in 2023 if the Government acts now, to take up this proposal as an absolute priority. Time and money spent on killing badgers is counter-productive, because, although this looks like ‘doing something right now’, it is something which will not solve the problem. With badger culling, we arrive at 2023 with a crippled farming industry.
3. VACCINATION OF BADGERS
Team Badger will assist anyone in the cull zone to vaccinate their badgers now instead of culling. This will not disrupt the badgers; they will stay in situ, preventing emigration and immigration, and protecting the TB free status of the farmer’s environment. A herd immunity in the badgers will be built up over about four years, as infected animals disappear, which prevents bTB from being passed to them from then on, and eliminates the ‘reservoir’ of disease. Infinitely more sensible than killing off the healthy badgers and risking an influx of unhealthy animals.
Team Badger is committed to helping both cattle and badgers in this campaign, and solving the problem of TB for farmers. The team is composed of animal campaigners, and its work is directed towards the welfare of all animals. We urge the Government and the NFU to abandon this awful plan immediately and clear a path to all parties working together towards a viable solution for farmers.
Photographs from Twitter
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