Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stop the badger cull

There's no need for me to explain the reasons why the badger cull is a bad idea; other people have done that. My contributions to the protests have been twofold; to cancel my doorstep milk deliveries, because the supplier, Dairy Crest, supports the cull - I've let them know why; and to spread the word on social media.

If you buy milk, ask where it comes from and if its producer supports the cull. If they do, consider changing your supplier or do without until the policy is changed. Ask where the milk comes from that's used by your favourite coffee shop and other milk-users; I'm told that Starbucks is supplied by Dairy Crest. The important thing is to make milk wholesalers and retailers who support the cull aware of your views and boycott their products; commercial interests may prompt a revision of their policies.

Click on any or all of these links to find out more about why the cull is a bad idea, and why it's not just bad for badgers; it won't help cattle either.

From the Independent: Costs of proposed badger cull to prevent TB in cattle will be greater than the financial benefits

The RSPCA's campaign to stop the cull

From the Guardian: Badger cull "mindless", say scientists

Sign Brian May's e-petition (you must be a UK citizen to do this)

Photo: European badger from Wikimedia Commons

Update: 23/10/2012
Reply from CEO Allen at Dairy Crest says he's referred my letter to the managing director of dairies who deals with doorstep deliveries. No idea why, as I doubt he has any say in the cull policy.  Meanwhile, the cull's been postponed a year, with excuses aplenty, though the RSPCA hopes it means a complete revision of the government's position.

Update: 2/11/2012
Reply from my MP to an email:
Thank you for your email of 19 October about bovine TB and badger control.

As you are aware, infected badgers are highly contagious carriers of bovine TB. The dairy farming community has made clear that their livelihoods are at serious risk if the infected population is not controlled properly. Bovine TB harms farmers, their cattle, and consumers of dairy products; it also undermines wider countryside management and conservation efforts.

The Government is committed to using all of the tools at its disposal and continuing to develop new ones as a package of measures to tackle the disease. In high-risk areas herds are tested annually and any cattle that test positive are slaughtered. Restrictions on cattle movements have been further strengthened to reduce the chance of disease spreading from cattle to cattle – farmers who have had a case of TB on their farm will not be allowed to bring new cattle in until the rest of the herd has been tested for TB and a vet has carried out an assessment. They will also now have only 30 days, down from 60, to move cattle that test negative for TB from a TB breakdown farm.

The possibility of a mass vaccination programme was considered very carefully but is currently impractical. The Government has funded and developed an injectable badger vaccine and over the course of the next three years is making available £250,000 a year to support and encourage badger vaccination around the areas of any cull. The vaccine does, however, have significant limitations in the field. Badgers need to be trapped before they can be vaccinated and the process has to be repeated annually for many years, which limits its use to small-scale projects. In addition the vaccine is not 100 per cent effective in preventing TB and does not appear to make any difference to those animals that are already infected. As a result, current vaccines will not be as effective as culling in reducing the spread of the disease from badgers to cattle.

For these reasons, I support the Government’s decision to protect dairy farming and the interests of the wider rural community by approving a cull. However given the importance of the pilot culls, it is vital that the policy is delivered effectively. It is for this reason that the Government has accepted the request of the NFU, on behalf of the companies co-ordinating the culls, not to proceed with the pilots this autumn. The decision follows this summer’s exceptionally bad weather, protracted legal proceedings, the advice of the police to delay the start until after the Olympics and Paralympics and, most recently, the revision of local badger population numbers to a significantly higher figure.

By starting the pilots next summer we can build on the work that has already been done and ensure that the cull will conform to the appropriate scientific criteria and evidence base.

I appreciate that you do not agree and will find this response disappointing, but hope that you will not hesitate to contact me again in future.

Yours sincerely
Tim Yeo

1 comment:

Drac noise person said...

Having read this letter, for some reason the name of it's author came as no surprise to me.