The nonsense that is badger culling in England

Source: BadgerHero, wikipedia

The long-fought for badger cull in England is about to start. The plan is to kill – systematically – 100,000 badgers; one third to the UK population. That, to reduce the infection of cattle by 15-20 per cent – not even to eradicate it.

Now the case against the cull has reached a new high with a number of eminent scientists at last speaking out. Lord John Krebs:  “The scientific case is as clear as it can be: this cull is not the answer to TB in cattle. The government is cherry-picking bits of data to support its case.”; Lord Robert May, a former government chief scientist and president of the Royal Society, said: “I have no sympathy with the decision. They are transmuting evidence-based policy into policy-based evidence”; and the current government chief scientist, Professor Sir John Beddington, said: “I continue to engage with Defra [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] on the evidence base concerning the development of bovine TB policy. I am content that the evidence base, including uncertainties and evidence gaps, has been communicated effectively to ministers.”

Not surprisingly, David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, is quoted as saying: “I believe this is the right policy for healthy badgers as well as healthy cattle.” Even though, according to Professor Rosie Woodroffe of the Zoological Society of London “…all the evidence shows that culling badgers increases the proportion of badgers that have TB”. Dead badgers are always healthy.

So what is going on? Farmers and landowners have always had a penchant for destroying the countryside and anything else in it that offers a hint of competition to their activities. Foxes and birds of prey are persecuted incessantly on this basis. There is nothing like a land-owner’s whim – backed by the National Farmers’ Union – to base policy. Why do they never look at their own husbandry practices? Mad Cow disease, for example, was the farmers’ own doing. Though, we, the taxpayer, and the cattle, ended up paying for it.

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