Dr Brian May, Queen guitarist and founder of the Save Me Trust has spoken out after former Defra Secretary Owen Paterson claimed 'An extraordinary reduction' in bovine TB disease levels seen in the Somerset and Gloucestershire pilot areas proving badger culling works.
Dr May said “Calling an ex-minister a liar is, of course, a very serious accusation, but, in the light of new expert analysis of the statistics on the Government's badger cull, it is an inescapable conclusion. Much more serious is the fact that Owen Paterson is apparently deliberately misrepresenting the facts to the farming community, giving them false hope that killing badgers will solve their bTB problem. We, the public, of course, continue to foot the bill for this cruel, misguided, and ultimately doomed policy.”
NFU president Meurig Raymond has also highlighted the ‘dramatic reduction' in disease levels in the cull areas as evidence the cull was working. He said he had received personal assurances from David Cameron and Defra Ministers that ‘the TB strategy is on the table and they are determined to drive it forward’
The claims of the NFU and Mr Paterson are in direct opposition to the science and research of the 10 years RBCT Trial, widely regarded around the world as the leading scientific study in relation to culling badgers.
The criteria of the current culls are based on the RBCT trials that require a minimum of 70% of badger population are killed within six weeks to achieve any reduction in the disease. The RBCT trials demonstrated that a failure to achieve the targets would result in perturbation, an effect where the disease is spread by transient animals out of the cull zone. Increased TB on adjoining land is expected by Defra for these culls - the concern is that as the criteria isn't being met it will increase TB inside the cull zones themselves
Professor Lord Krebs who oversaw the RBCT as Chief Scientific advisor to the government said "It’s simply not true that the pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have resulted in a decline in TB. The NFU should be more honest with the public and its members.”
Anne Brummer, CEO of the Save Me Trust said "Mr Paterson is being deliberately misleading with his comments, he and the NFU know that the same figures show an increase in bTB around the cull zones. They are making this problem worse for farmers, the tax-payers, cattle and wildlife."