Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Victory for the badgers as Benn says "No" to 'cull' in England

Release date: 
Friday, July 4, 2008

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 " has congratulated the Minister for putting science and common sense before the misguided wishes of farmers. Viva!, claim the "cull' would have been an animal welfare disaster " with around 170,000 badgers slaughtered across the UK should it have gone ahead. The group " and its supporters " wrote to Benn to urge him to act on the available science that showed that a "cull' would do nothing to solve the problem " and would actually help to spread bovine TB. The decision follows a mass rally held by Viva! last Saturday (June 28) outside the Welsh Assembly. 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! campaigns manager Justin Kerswell, says: "In their eagerness to blame anyone but themselves for the bovine TB epidemic, farmers are targeting 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 bovine TB testing that is inaccurate in one-third of cases and you start to see the real causes of the problem. 'Hilary Benn is to be congratulated for taking a stand against ignorance, and standing by the largest ever study into bovine TB, which found that "culling' badgers would not curb the disease. This is a victory for British wildlife " and a victory for common sense and science. 'In light of the decision in England, we will now renew our calls on Elin Jones and the Welsh Assembly to reverse their decision to kill badgers. They are now looking increasingly isolated, and must face facts " annihilating wildlife is not the way forward. We are also calling on consumers to reject meat and dairy " the very things that are driving this problem.' For more information, visit www.viva.org.uk/badgers or call Viva! on 0117 944 1000. ENDS Notes to editors Viva! maintain that the biggest ever scientific study of badgers and bovine TB 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 bovine TB 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. Anti-'cull' quotes are available 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 For further information contact: Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000.