Environment Secretary grilled on badger cull

November 5, 2013

Houses of ParliamentEmma took the opportunity to question the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson in Parliament last week, as the Secretary of State delivered his department’s annual report.

Emma asked Mr Paterson why the Government was determined to go ahead with its badger cull, despite trials having failed to reach their targets and thereby risking the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis (TB).

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) originally set a target of a 70% kill rate in order for the trials to effectively control the disease, but even with an eight-week extension this looks unlikely to be reached.

Yet the Secretary of State appears determined to press ahead with the cull.

Emma asked Mr Paterson: “The criteria that were set out initially have failed, yet you’ve sanctioned extension of these culls at the risk of spreading TB.

“The Chief Veterinary Officer has revealed in leaked documents reported to the press he has been given the green light to ignore the scientific criteria for these and any future culls.”

“Don’t you think this has damaged the credibility of all involved, and perhaps in some way, the public has been misled?”

The Secretary of State asked Emma to look at the “big picture” and said that culls were the only way to prevent the spread of the disease.

But with the current kill rate so low there is a serious risk that Bovine TB will spread further, as badgers abandon their depleted social groups and roam further afield.

Labour has called for the approval of further badger culls to be put to a vote in Parliament, but so far the Government has refused this request.

Emma said: “The Secretary of State appears to have made up his mind to go ahead with a cull regardless of what the evidence tells him. Even after the timetable was extended the criteria for success have not been reached, and the result is that a measure that was intended to control Bovine TB may actually make it worse.

“The Government needs to allow Parliament to vote on any extension of these trials so that the evidence can be properly assessed and the failure of the Government’s plan exposed.”

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