TB ad­vice was based on fake science

Western Daily Press - - Opinion -

I WAS sad­dened to see the lengthy let­ter from your reg­u­lar cor­re­spon­dent John Tuck ( Western Daily Press, Novem­ber 26). He re­peats the oft-re­peated claim that the Thorn­bury cull worked, as al­legedly en­dorsed by Ben Brad­shaw and fre­quently by Ge­orge Eus­tice in Par­lia­men­tary de­bates.

Well, sorry, the ac­tual truth about Thorn­bury was that cat­tle con­trols got TB down to just one farm in 1971 in this 103sq km area. A flare-up to 16 herds, but cleared by cat­tle test­ing to zero. So gassing some 500 to 1,000 bad­gers in this big area was un­nec­es­sary and mean­ing­less. One sett had to be gassed 19 times to re­move those pesky brocks.

And, in fact, whilst bad, con­firmed break­downs did not reap­pear for a decade, with re­stock­ing after mad cows. There were in fact one to two un­con­firmed break­downs ev­ery year af­ter­wards, clearly by bought-in cat­tle.

With a skin test un­der 50 per cent ac­cu­rate, and 20 mil­lion lo­cal cat­tle move­ments per an­num, that is what spreads cat­tle TB.

The be­lated God­fray Re­port, on Novem­ber 13, is a dis­grace­ful, in­com­pe­tent re­cy­cling en­dorse­ment of the per­tur­ba­tion cull pol­icy, launched by a group of ex­perts in 2011.

The first ‘re­sult’ of the RBCT/Krebs cull in 2002 was that there was an un­ex­pected rise in cat­tle TB in both re­ac­tive cull ar­eas, and in the 2km buf­fer ring out­side proac­tive ar­eas. That is where the cur­rent pol­icy came from, with the mis­taken idea that a cull over a big enough area would halve cat­tle TB, de­spite an ini­tial per­tur­ba­tion rise.

Un­be­liev­able – no-one has no­ticed that there was no cull in that out­side ring, so no per­turbed bad­gers, and the dra­matic rise in all 30 trial ar­eas, and 30 buf­fer rings, was ac­tu­ally sim­ply due to lack of test­ing dur­ing foot and mouth in 2001, 42 per cent of break­downs had ac­cu­mu­lated six-plus re­ac­tors. And the re­ac­tive rise hap­pened be­fore the cull, so it

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