Badger culling is still on the agenda - a decision looks likely in coming weeks - maybe even this week. I've discussed this issue at some length with farmers who are for and against a cull and with a vet who is convinced it is the only way forward. However from all the evidence I have seen there is still not evidence that badgers cause TB in cattle - indeed if anything there is more evidence of the other way around. The letter below is in today's Citizen today from Martin Hancox who I have also spoken to today and previously. He makes a useful contribution to the debate. Certainly urgent attention must be given to this issue as farmers are being left in impossible situations - indeed it is an outrage this has gone on so long.
Copyright photo: Badger by Tony Evans Nature Picture Library reproduced with permission from Stop War on Badgers
According to a leaked source, Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Hillary Benn told colleagues that he "was not persuaded by the science behind badger culling", hence his delay in responding to the EFRA Committee report and any decision on a cull. Quite right too. While farmers are very certain that a cull is necessary, many herds have been under TB restriction for years - and these cases are proof that it is not Old Brock after all.
Up to 30% of cows go temporarily non-reactor after giving birth, and some of these go on to become totally "angergis" or non-reactor, while still actively spreading within the heard. So, in many big dairy herds, the repeat tests skim off new cases but fail to remove the culprit.
1. Since the blood IFN test is being used on such herds, it would be very easy to use a sub-sample with the Brock stat pak test which targets such late TB anti-body levels.
2. Cows can be shedding 38 million bacilli in 30lbs of faeces per day, and PCR (DNA) tests on faecal swabs give results within hours, costing £6-10.
M. HANCOX, Nouncells Cross, Stroud
For previous blogs and campaigns on this topic use the search facility and see The Badger Trust.