Sunday, July 11, 2010

Badger Vaccine Deployment Project cut to allow ineffective culling

While doing a bit more research on the badger culling promised by the Agriculture Minister despite the evidence from the latest studies showing it to be ineffective: 
"Our findings show that the reductions in cattle TB incidence achieved by repeated badger culling were not sustained in the long term after culling ended and did not offset the financial costs of culling. These results, combined with evaluation of alternative culling methods, suggest that badger culling is unlikely to contribute effectively to the control of cattle TB in Britain." 
I happened upon this press release from Defra
Changes to badger vaccine deployment project 
Ministers have reviewed the planned Badger Vaccine Deployment Project (BVDP), designed to vaccinate badgers against bovine TB in parts of England, due to start this summer.
The BVDP was designed at a time when culling was not an option. Since the policy on badger control is still being developed, ministers have decided that vaccination will proceed as part of the project in the area near Stroud, Gloucestershire, only, beginning in July for five years. Badger sett surveys will also be completed in the area near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 
This reflects both the changed policy position and the need to consider carefully all public expenditure. 
Trapping and vaccination is not now planned as part of the BVDP in the areas in Staffordshire, Herefordshire/Worcestershire and Devon where the project was due to take place. 
Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: 
“We’ve committed to carefully-managed and science-led badger control as part of a package of measures, and we’re looking carefully at badger vaccination and culling as part of that. 
It makes sense to review the Badger Vaccine Deployment Project to keep our options open and to ensure best possible use of taxpayers’ money. 
By going ahead with the training in Stroud, we’ll maintain capacity to train lay vaccinators while we consider how best to deploy vaccines as part of a badger control policy.” 
The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) will trap and vaccinate badgers using the recently-licensed injectable badger BCG vaccine on up to 100 km2 of cattle land near Stroud and will offer training to lay vaccinators to help build capacity. 
The Government is committed to introducing a carefully-managed and science-led policy of badger control in areas with high and persistent levels of bovine TB, as part of a package of measures. 
Notes 
The aim of the BVDP is to build confidence in the principle and practicalities of vaccination, develop practical know-how for vaccinating badgers and provide an opportunity to learn how best to address practical difficulties. 
The project was originally intended to cover six areas: NW of Stafford, E of Tenbury Wells; NE of Cheltenham; NW of Stroud; W of Tiverton; SE of Tiverton. 
The Veterinary Medicines Directorate issued an authorisation for Badger BCG vaccine on 24 March 2010. This is the first tuberculosis vaccine authorised for use in badgers in the UK.
It's an unusual definition of "science-led" that means "pretty much ignore the science".  Actually that's not at all unusual for a UK government.  I just hoped it would change.

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