Pressure builds on Government over controversial badger cull as MP debate gets green light

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GREEN MP Caroline Lucas: “We don’t need any more trials or pilots – scientists are queuing up to warn that badger culling is not the solution”

The growing campaign against the Government’s controversial badger cull pilot was given a boost today as MPs got the go-ahead for a Parliamentary debate on the policy (1).

The Government confirmed last July that it would introduce a major cull of British badgers in an attempt to control the spread of bovine TB in cattle – despite a weight of scientific evidence exposing the method as ineffective.

Opposition to the plans has been fierce, with the RSPB, the Badger Trust, Animal Aid, Team Badger and others presenting strong evidence against a cull and putting forward alternative approaches to tackling bovine TB.

An e-petition calling on ministers to stop the cull and implement a vaccination scheme has attracted over 100,000 signatures – leading to the Backbench Business Committee to green-light a House of Commons debate today.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, vice chair of the all party parliamentary group (APPG) on animal welfare, is one of five MPs sponsoring the debate.She said:

“(if the debate goes ahead) I am delighted that the voices of all those who signed the e-petition against this reckless badger cull will now be heard in Parliament when the debate takes place later this year.

“In choosing to plough ahead with the barbaric cull in our countryside, the coalition government has shown complete contempt for scientific evidence on bovine TB.

“A nine year randomised cull trial by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB – costing £50m and destroying 10,000 badgers – concluded that ‘badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain’.

“Even Lord Krebs, the Government adviser responsible for a 10-year experimental cull in the 1990s, has rejected the method – with his name appearing alongside more than 30 leading animal disease scientists warning against a cull in a letter to the Observer last week.

“All this shows that we don’t need any more trials or pilots – the belief that badger culling represents an effective solution to the problem of TB in cattle has already been disproven.

“Given that eighty per cent of the transmission of bovine TB, a respiratory disease, is thought to be caused by cattle-to-cattle infection, it’s about time the Government paid far more attention to the crowded conditions imposed on these animals by intensive dairy farming.”

Caroline Lucas concluded: “Rather than cruel and ineffective mass culling, restrictions on cattle movement and contact between badgers and cattle should be given high priority, in addition to far greater efforts to introduce a vaccination programme and improve testing.”

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