The Secretary of State for DEFRA, Hilary Benn, announced today that he has decided against a cull of badgers in England to control TB in cattle. The decision came after protest actions last month with a rally attended by over 300 supporters and the sabotaging of five offices owned by the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Farmers Union of Wales (FUW). Mr Benn also has resounding public support for sparing badgers. A DEFRA public consultation on the issue received submissions from 47,000 respondents, ninety-five per cent of whom opposed a cull. Despite this, The Welsh Assembly has voted to allow badger culling to go ahead in Wales.
The government-appointed Independent Scientific Group announced in June 2007 - following a decade of research - that killing badgers would not significantly reduce bovine TB and could make matters worse. It also declared that TB probably first spreads from cattle to badgers, where it remains stable, provided the badgers are undisturbed. Research has demonstrated that culling causes massive disturbance and has the effect of increasing the incidence and spread of the disease. Benn has come under unrelenting pressure from the farming industry to give permission for the destruction of around 170,000 badgers - half the population.
Newswire: Welsh Demo for the Badgers, Colwyn Bay, 26th July | Benn confirms Badgers saved in England | Badgers saved in England, but not in Wales | Badgers spared - Thank you ALF! | Anti-Badger Cull Demo Action Report | ALF target farming union offices over badger cull | Rally For Badgers - Stop The Cull!
Some 30,000 badgers have been destroyed since 1975, in a failed attempt to curb the disease. And despite virtually exterminating badgers from four counties in Ireland, a huge TB problem remains in each of those areas. (1)
The farming industry has long resisted the idea that its own intensive rearing, breeding and transport practices are at the heart of the bovine TB problem. In fact, exhaustive research demonstrates that cattle movements 'substantially and consistently outweigh' all other factors in spreading bovine TB. (2) The disease has appeared in areas that have been TB-free for ten years, sometimes longer, despite the fact that badgers were present throughout the period. The key new factor was the unregulated countrywide movements of cattle who - because of the BSE and then the foot and mouth crises - were not tested for TB infectivity before being transported. (1)
(1) 'Bovine TB and the government's proposed slaughter of badgers: TIME FOR THE CATTLE INDUSTRY TO CLEAN UP ITS ACT', Animal Aid, 1 February 2006 (http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/NEWS/news_factory/ALL/1247)
(2) This is according to a paper published in Nature on May 26, 2005, by Dr William Wint and colleagues at Oxford University's Environmental Research Group (http://www.indymedia.ie/article/70074)
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