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Friday, July 04, 2008

Badgers Cull background information.

For information here is the summary of the press release issued 18th June 2007 and the report covered seems to be the subject of current press speculation about the UK Government policy on culling Badgers. The policy may be announced on Monday 7th July 2008


Chairman: Professor John Bourne CBE MRCVS
18 June 2007
The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) today published its Final Report,
Bovine TB: The Scientific Evidence.
The Report describes the outcome of nearly ten years’ work which has provided a broad
understanding of the complex issues involved in the epidemiology of TB in both cattle
and badgers. The potential of badger culling for cattle TB control and the likely
effectiveness of enhanced cattle based control measures have been evaluated.
The ISG has concluded that, although badgers contribute significantly to the cattle
disease in some parts of the country, no practicable method of badger culling can reduce
the incidence of cattle TB to any meaningful extent, and several culling approaches may
make matters worse. The ISG also conclude that rigidly applied control measures
targeted at cattle can reverse the rising incidence of disease, and halt its geographical
Publishing the Report, ISG Chairman Professor John Bourne said:
“The objective of our work, outlined in this scientific report, has been to seek
scientific truth and to provide clarity on the major issues that need to be considered
for gaining control of cattle TB.”
“We believe that in this Report Ministers now have sufficiently robust and extensive
evidence to enable informed policy decisions to be made. They now have the sound
science they require.”
Concluding, Professor Bourne said:
“After nearly a decade of work we believe that we have fulfilled our original aims
and are now able to provide a comprehensive appreciation of the overall problem.
Our findings will surprise some, and be unwelcome to others.”
“Having shown that the main approach to cattle TB control should be rigorously
targeted to cattle, we hope that the overwhelming scientific evidence we have
provided to support this view, and the policy options we present, will enable the
farming industry and Government to work together in a constructive and cooperative
manner to tackle this very serious disease of cattle which causes so much economic
loss and hardship to cattle farmers”.
Cattle tuberculosis (TB) was almost cleared from Britain in the 1970s but has since reemerged
as a major problem for British farmers. Badgers (Meles meles) were implicated
in spreading the infectious agent (the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis) to cattle and
between 1973 and 1998 cattle-based TB controls were supplemented by various forms of
badger culling.
A scientific review of the issue, chaired by Professor John Krebs (now Lord Krebs) and
completed in 1997, concluded that there was “compelling” evidence that badgers were
involved in transmitting infection to cattle. However, it noted that the development of
TB policy was hampered because the effectiveness of badger culling as a control measure
could not be quantified with data then available. Professor Krebs’ team therefore
recommended the establishment of a large-scale field trial of the effects of badger culling
on cattle TB incidence, to be overseen by a group of independent experts.
The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) was formed in 1998. In addition to
designing and overseeing the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), the ISG
identified and initiated a broad array of research related to the diagnosis, pathogenesis,
dynamics and control of TB in cattle and badgers. This report – the ISG’s 6th and final,
formal, report – describes the outcome of this research, which provides a previously
unavailable scientific basis for the design of future TB control policy.

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