Official Advice To Cull Badgers Was Hasty, Scientist Tells MPs

UK - The government chief scientist's recommendations to ministers on badger culling were "hastily written", "superficial" and "selective" according to the scientist who led the government's study into the problem of cattle TB.
calendar icon 25 October 2007
clock icon 1 minute read

John Bourne was responding to a report from Sir David King, released on Monday, which recommended that large-scale badger culls in those areas most affected by bovine TB were the most effective way to control the disease - a conclusion that ran directly counter to his group's recommendations to government.

Another scientist on Prof Bourne's group, Rosie Woodruff at University of California Davis, said Sir David's report was "pervaded" with errors. All three were being questioned by the Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee about the incompatibility of their advice. MPs repeatedly asked Sir David how his conclusions, which were based on a one-and a-half day discussion with a five experts in the field, could be so opposed to the conclusions of Prof Bourne's Independent Scientific Group (ISG).

Sir David praised the "excellent" work of the ISG and said his group did not challenge the scientific data, but their interpretation of it. He said he agreed with their estimate that badgers were responsible for up to 40% of cattle infections in some areas. "If we really want to eliminate TB in cattle herds then it's not going to happen while there's still TB in wildlife," he said.

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