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MP is accused by rival over badger TB cull

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: March 12, 2014

  • HOPEFUL: Steve Double.

  • INCUMBENT: Steve Gilbert.

Comments (12)

TWO political heavyweights are at loggerheads over how to tackle the spread of TB in cattle.

Conservative parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay Steve Double and sitting Lib Dem MP Steve Gilbert are on opposite sides of the political divide when it comes to deciding whether badgers should be culled or vaccinated to help stop the spread of the disease.

Mr Gilbert has recently criticised the Government over the trial badger culls and this week branded them a "spectacular failure", but Mr Double has slammed the MP for failing to consult local farmers before making his views known, claiming many back a badger cull.

"On hearing of the news that our MP had changed his position I wrote to every farmer in the constituency and asked for their views," Mr Double said.

"This is clearly a major issue for many local farmers, which they have very strong views about. One farmer that contacted me told me that he had lost over 200 animals to the disease.

"The overwhelming majority of local farmers stated they supported both the trial cull and believed culling badgers was an essential part of controlling this disease."

Current Mayor of St Austell, Mr Double said his figures showed 100 per cent support for a badger cull from farmers who had experienced TB in their cattle or where TB was nearby.

He said 63 farmers had responded to his survey, with 60 per cent having bovine TB on their farms or nearby.

In total there was 62 per cent support for the trial badger cull and 65 per cent support for culling as part of the measures to tackle TB on their farms.

Mr Double added: "Personally I am appalled that our MP would change his position without consulting those working locally in the agricultural industry.

"I believe if you truly want to represent the electorate on issues like this you need to listen to those most affected. This is what I have done and what I plan to continue to do. If elected, I will continue to represent St Austell and Newquay by listening to local people."

In response Mr Gilbert hit back, claiming he changed his mind based on the evidence made public by experts.

"There's no doubt that TB is having a devastating effect on the farming community and having met with farmers scores of times to talk about the issue I supported the trial culls," he said. "What's clear, however, is that they have not worked – indeed, they were a spectacular failure.

"It's not just me saying that, it's the Independent Evaluation Panel too. They found the culls were not effective in controlling TB, were not humane and were vastly more expensive than planned.

"In both Somerset and Gloucestershire marksmen failed to shoot the number of animals necessary, even with a time extension, and they actually may have contributed to the spread of TB." He said the cost of culling rose to more than £4,000 per shot badger, making the cull more expensive than vaccinating.

"I want to see action to tackle TB on our farms and it's clear now that the only effective solution will be a programme of vaccination of badgers and cattle."

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12 comments

  • Jake_Blake  |  March 14 2014, 11:52AM

    "It's not just me saying that, it's the Independent Evaluation Panel too. They found the culls were not effective in controlling TB, were not humane and were vastly more expensive than planned." Considering there's only a leak to go on and this has not be supported by their reasons it's a nonsense to jump to such conclusions. If they found shooting inhumane one needs to ask why that is? Why did it take so long for the second shot to be fired. Could it be that the protest itself has contributed to the inhumaneness of the cull? We already know that disruption of culling will increase perturbation and hence increase badger and cattle suffering, so it hasn't "save badgers" but condemned more of them to a slow and painful death. It would also be interesting for the panel to conclude that these culls were ineffective. These culls have achieved far higher cull rates than the RBCT which showed massive reductions in TB which average out to 16% over 9 years. So for such a conclusion to be made would be very odd to say the least considering most scientists agree that the RBCT is the best scientific evidence available.

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  • JeremyBadger  |  March 12 2014, 10:17PM

    Conservative parliamentary candidate for St Austell and Newquay Steve Double and sitting Lib Dem MP Steve Gilbert, political heavyweights? Who are you trying to kid???

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  • josdave  |  March 12 2014, 8:38PM

    The cull was a failure and was always going to fail because of it's inefficiency. But true to type Patterson will not admit that. The previous cull only produced a 16% drop in bovine tb and the forecast fro the one just held was not much better and it even fell below that. The badger, the fall guy in this dispute, has been around long before intensified dairy farming and will be vilified by farmers for a long time to come but short of making the species extinct no attempt to reduce bovine tb by a badger cull will be effective.

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  • NicoleWarren  |  March 12 2014, 7:48PM

    I heard he was in the Bugle Inn with a colleague and was overheard to be concerned about the marginal seat Tory campaign so was going to make 'a public fuss' about the cull to secure farmer votes - of whom he was quite disparaging according to my source! Watch him jump off that bandwagon when the Tories get voted out, then he'll shaft farmers in a flash.

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  • NDJMILLER  |  March 12 2014, 6:22PM

    mmjames, we've been over this before but you seem to have forgotten. So I'll repeat the FACTS. The HPA records cases of human TB infections in the UK and since the turn of the century there have been 342 recorded cases of mycobacterium TB in humans for every recorded case of zTB. http://tinyurl.com/brxjzwa http://tinyurl.com/pzl2zbt It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out which strain is a threat to public health. Your conspiracy theory that the real statistics are being hidden is laughable, if the government wanted to gain public support for the cull then why would they fabricate figures that would work in their favour ? What next, black helicopters ?

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  • mmjames  |  March 12 2014, 5:20PM

    Clued-Up Wednesday, March 12 2014, 12:08PM "mmjames is scare-mongering ................. Read the evidence for yourselves. Clueless is a blatant propagandist, outed on an FG thread at least a year ago. Zoonotic Tuberculosis is a huge public health problem being swept under the carpet by those who should know better but keep the real stats hidden. The TRUTH will out eventually.

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  • Clued-Up  |  March 12 2014, 12:08PM

    mmjames is scare-mongering. The untruth that the TB vaccine doesn't work is peddled by pro-cullers in spite of clear evidence that it does. Before the TB vaccine was available for use in protecting human beings, a significant minority - perhaps a third? - of the UK population became infected with TB (though many of them recovered). Thanks to the removal of bTB from most of the cattle herd, the pasteurisation of milk and mass human vaccination programmes, TB is now no longer a public health problem. A few individuals get TB each year but TB as a public health problem no longer exists. The badger vaccine has been proved to work even better than the human version of the vaccine.

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  • Clued-Up  |  March 12 2014, 11:49AM

    So Double wants the fears, prejudices and ignorance of 62% local farmers to decide government policy on spending TAXPAYERS' money on badger killing they don't want? If Double really wants to help local livestock farmers, he should be doing his utmost to persuade his Tory contacts to copy the amazingly successful Welsh bTB eradication programme. The Welsh have reduced the number of bTB infected cattle by a third in 2 years. They've done so by bTB testing all cattle every 6 months, bTB testing them before they go to agricultural shows and markets and bTB testing them before they're moved to geographically dispersed holdings owned by the same farm. The Welsh now provide on-farm animal health advisory services, tailored to the needs and circumstances of the individual farmer. They're also running a huge and successful badger vaccination programme. Incidentally, badger vaccination costs £51 a hectare (cost information based on a Gloucestershire pilot). By contrast, the badger cull costs at least £4,121 for each badger corpse - the figures may climb to over £5,000 a badger when all costs are known.

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  • dandypeople  |  March 12 2014, 11:42AM

    It really doesn't matter how many people want something if it is wrong. I am sure that a poll of people might say they want the death penalty brought back, or want to legalise dog fighting etc, they won't get it because it is wrong, immoral, cruel etc. The cull has proved to be cruel, inhumane, ineffective and may have actually increased the tb risk to cattle and has probably increased the tb levels in badgers causing those remaining to suffer more. There is so much more that can be done to solve btb that doesn't involve killing badgers. Anybody who is basing an election campaign on culling is really barking up the wrong tree and is just out for votes and not solving btb. The skin test is meant to be a herd test, it is not accurate enough to be an individual test, missing 20% of infected cattle. It is time to use the gamma interferon test throughout the high risk area. Btb can remain viable in slurry for 6 months and in soil where infected slurry is spread for 2 years. We should ensure that slurry from infected herds is dealt with properly, it is probably a major cause of the disease spread to wildlife. All mammals can get btb so it is nonsensical to just target one species. Good bio-security will cut the risk from all wildlife, make all feed stores and cattle barns wildlife proof. As it is known that the badger is susceptible to btb and also favours farmland then we should vaccinate them to prevent them getting the disease. We need to increase the testing rate in high risk areas to every 6 months as Wales is doing to great effect. Cattle movement is another area we need to tackle. Pre-movement and post-movement testing should be the norm as Scotland does. We should test all cattle going to shows, preferably with the g-itfn test before being allowed to be entered. We need to move to electronic cattle tagging so remove the opportunity to switch ear tags. We should be looking at the many scientific papers that point to iron rich soil, acid soil, climate etc as all being factors. We need to look at selenium deficiencies due to the feeding of maize for cattle and badgers, local trials have shown selenium licks for both species to be beneficial. We need to look at herd size as the increasing size of cattle herd is also linked to btb risk. But most of all we should be fast tracking cattle vaccination, yet this incompetent government who had hoped to start trials this year has now put them back till next year, delayed again. Any spare money should be put to better cattle tests and research into how to actually target the bacteria itself.

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  • mmjames  |  March 12 2014, 11:38AM

    Search The Guardian site using the word "Tuberculosis" - you'll find some interesting facts about the uselessness of BCG in humans - read the comments for personal experiences. Doesn't give much hope for efficacy of BCG in infected badgers - but of course it isn't licensed for efficacy in badgers anyway!

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