Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, West Cornwall MP Andrew George called for the government’s badger cull policy to be scrapped.
Mr George who strongly argues in favour of ‘evidence-based policy making’, pointed out that he had supported the randomised badger control trials (RBCT) which commenced in 1998 and which included a much-disputed controversial pro-active cull of badgers in the Penwith area of his own constituency because he argued that the experiment was necessary to provide policy makers with the evidence on future policy options.
Mr George has now teamed up with Professor Rosie Woodroffe of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to create the first and largest community-led badger vaccination project in the UK across the whole of the 200 square kilometres of the Penwith peninsula.
Mr George referred to the conclusion drawn by Professor (now Lord) Krebs after the completion of the two pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire in which he said ‘we now know that the pilots have been a complete fiasco’!
Mr George said, ‘We will now have to wait a couple of weeks for the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) to determine whether they believe that the two pilots were ‘effective, safe and humane’. I don’t know what they will say about the safety and the humaneness about the pilots, but if they conclude that they were ‘effective’ then it will call into question the wisdom of the expert panel itself.
‘I warned the government at the time that their policy was not based on sound science and ran the very high risk of making the situation significantly worse. Farmers need a robust policy to get on top of a disease which has a devastating impact on livestock, and the lives and livelihoods of farmers and their families. The partial cull of the badger population in any area can only disrupt the stability of the badger social groups to the point where TB transmission is increased and the risk to livestock is heightened.
‘It is now time for the government to pull back and to get fully behind the kind of projects which Professor Rosie Woodroffe and I are seeking to roll out in the Penwith area.’