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Minister Says No to Badger Cull

Wally Burley, LAWS

This is great news and the Labour Animal Welfare Society is delighted with the decision of Labour Minister, Hilary Benn. A decision we have been calling for over a long period of time.

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment, told the House of Commons that even large scale culling of badgers only produced “marginal benefits” and that whilst a prolonged cull over even larger areas “might work, it might also not work”. He therefore concluded; “I do not think that it would be right to take this risk”.

Trevor Lawson, for the Badger Trust, said, “We are delighted that Hilary Benn has based his decision on sound science. The Government and the farming industry can now move forward together in controlling the disease in a way which supports rather than harms the industry. Eradication is a long way off, but the science clearly shows that control is rapidly within our grasp, provided that the farming unions are prepared to work towards it”.

However, the Badger Trust criticised Conservative spokesman James Paice MP for claiming that Mr Benn had gone against the advice of the scientists and for claiming that PCR – the Polymerase Chain Reaction – could be used to “target” diseased badgers.

Trevor Lawson said, “The Secretary of State has not gone against the advice at all. It advised him that badger culling can make ‘no meaningful contribution’ to bovine TB control. Furthermore, Mr Paice should be well aware, because we showed him the research paper on 31 January 2006, that the Veterinary Laboratories Agency has ruled out PCR as an effective test for TB in badgers. This test is even ruled out by the researchers who have been working on it, including Dr Orin Courtenay at the University of Warwick who tells the Badger Trust that ‘the application of this technology could only really be used for detecting BCG after a vaccine trial’.

“Mr Paice appears not to have grasped the scientific evidence and it is lamentable that he seems so determined to kill badgers in spite of the overwhelming evidence that this will not help the situation.”
SHADOW Agriculture Minister James Paice MP has accused Hilary Benn of a ‘complete failure’ to address the problem of bovine TB. Speaking at the Royal Show, he said the Tories would have been culling badgers for the ‘past two or three years’ as the evidence is, this is the only way to curb the spread of the disease.

James Paice MP said, “If I was in his position, we would have been culling badgers for last two or three years anyway. We were culling badgers up to 1997 but as soon as Labour came in they stopped it, the incidence of Bovine TB has rocketed. Culling wasn’t curing it but at least it was keeping it under control.”

If the Conservatives’ are elected not only will they bring back Hunting with Dogs but it is also clear that they will condone the mass slaughter of Badgers.