4th July 2008
Elin Jones increasingly isolated as England says ?No? to badger ?cull?
TODAY?S leaked decision by Hilary Benn (Environment Secretary) to rule out a badger ?cull? in England has been welcomed by Viva!. The group ? Europe?s largest campaigning vegetarian organisation ? are renewing calls on Elin Jones (Minister for Welsh Rural Affairs) to follow suit, by acting on the available science and cancelling the proposed ?cull? in Wales.
Benn?s decision follows a mass rally held by Viva! last Saturday (June 28) outside the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff. Over 300 people called for the decision for a trial ?cull? of badgers in Wales to be reversed. Photos of the rally can be viewed at http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/badgers/rallyphotos.htm .
Viva! claim a ?cull? across the UK would have been an animal welfare disaster ? with around 170,000 badgers slaughtered should it have gone ahead. The group ? and its supporters ? have written to Elin Jones to say that a ?cull? in Wales will do nothing to solve the problem ? and would actually help to spread bovine TB.
Viva! campaigns manager Justin Kerswell, says: ?Elin Jones is looking increasingly isolated in her stance against badgers. England has decided to follow the largest ever study of bovine TB ? which found that killing badgers would not curb TB in cattle and could make it worse. She must stop pandering to farmers and now face facts that exterminating wildlife is not only ethically and morally wrong, it won?t even work.
?In their eagerness to blame anyone but themselves for the bovine TB epidemic, farmers are trying to target wildlife when they should be looking closer to home. The rush to intensify animal agriculture has led to this disastrous situation. Dairy cows suffer the dual burden of pregnancy and lactation during much of their lives. Their immune systems are shot to pieces and they are physically exhausted and killed after just two or three lactations, at four or five years old. Add to this unreliable bTB testing that is inaccurate in one-third of cases and you start to see the real causes of the problem.
?We are also calling on consumers to reject meat and dairy ? the very things that are driving the spread of this disease.?
For more information, visit www.viva.org.uk/badgers or call Viva! on 0117 944 1000.
Notes to editors
Viva! maintain that the biggest ever scientific study of badgers and bTB ever undertaken did not support ?culling?. The ten year report by the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) published in 2007 and chaired by Professor John Bourne (Animal Health, University of Bristol) concluded that ?badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of bTB in Britain.? The authoritative report also found that ?culling? would increase the spread of the disease by displacing badger populations.
It is not badgers who are responsible for the spread of the disease but poor husbandry and the intensification of farming practices. Herds are now twice the size they were in the 1970s with cows so overworked that they are increasingly unable to fight off infection. The number of infections has gone up as cattle movements have increased, with 110 million cattle having been moved around the UK in the last ten years. These findings are supported by the ISG.
Viva!?s campaign is supported by Welsh AMs Lorraine Barrett (Cardiff South and Penarth) and Trish Law (Blaenau Gwent). Quotes are available from them and from celebrities including Twiggy, Joanna Lumley, Wendy Turner-Webster, Benjamin Zephaniah and Rose Elliot.
A fully referenced Viva! fact sheet on badgers and bTB can be read on-line at http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/badgers/factsheet.htm