Friday, March 30, 2012
Scrapping plans for a badger cull trial in Wales is a 'devastatingblow' for farmers, which will put back efforts to tackle bovinetuberculosis for years, industry leaders have warned.
Environment minister John Griffiths has opted for a vaccination policy to reduce the disease in Wales after reviewing scientific evidence and has urged the farming industry to work with him on this.
"At present I am not satisfied that a cull of badgers would be necessary to bring about a substantial reduction in cases of TB in cattle," he told a Plenary session of the Welsh Government.
But Carl Padgett, president of the British Veterinary Association, said it was clear that the decision was based on politics not science. "It will potentially set back our efforts to tackle this devastating disease by many years," he said.
"The Science Review states that no scientific evidence exists to assess whether vaccinating badgers will reduce the incidence of TB in cattle. Vaccinating infected badgers has no effect and we know that there is a high level of infection in the badger population."
John Griffiths set out what he termed as the government's "challenging and progressive plans" for dealing with bovine TB over the next four years.
He acknowledged that TB had a significant financial and social impact on farmers in Wales and insisted he was personally committed to the eradication of the disease in the principality.
He had considered a number of options.
"After careful consideration I have decided to pursue a badger vaccination project within the Intensive Action Area,'' he said.
The minister has asked Wales' chief veterinary officer, Dr Christianne Glossop, to design a five-year vaccination programme which will begin in the Intensive Action Area. Other areas where vaccination could be expected to contribute to TB eradication will also be considered.
But the Farmers' Union of Wales questioned the feasibility of vaccination. The union's bovine TB spokesman, Brian Walters, said: "According to the experts who have conducted the most significant research to date into badger vaccine, it would require a massive trial covering thousands of square miles of land just to establish whether vaccination can have an impact on cattle herd breakdown.'' He accused the Welsh Government of a "cowardly betrayal" of Welsh farmers.
And Stephen James, deputy president of NFU Cymru, said vaccination had no chance of success unless diseased badgers in the IAA were culled first.
Plaid Cymru's rural affairs spokesman, Llyr Huws Gruffydd, said the relationship between government and the farming community was at its lowest point since devolution.
But RSPCA Cymru said it was relieved at the decision on vaccination. It strongly believes vaccination coupled with increased levels of cattle testing, improved bio-security and control on the movement of cattle is the way forward.
"Scrapping plans for a badger cull trial in Wales is a 'devastating blow' for farmers, which will put back efforts to tackle bovine tuberculosis for years, industry leaders have warned." Farmers Weekly 23 Mar. 2012. Environmental Studies and Policy. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.
Gale Document Number: GALE|A283954773