Response to Government’s bovine Tuberculosis control announcement

14 December 2011

In light of the Secretary of State’s announcement today that the Government will go ahead with two pilot badger culls, we have reaffirmed our position that comprehensive, coordinated and science-based action is essential in order to reduce or eradicate bovine Tuberculosis (bTB).

Dairy cattle

Bovine TB is a serious infectious disease that presents one of the biggest challenges facing the cattle farming industry.

The disease has a major economic and social impact on farmers and it places a significant and rising cost burden on central Government.

Moreover, there is an important argument for controlling bTB on animal welfare grounds, as both farmed animals and wildlife suffer from the disease.

The RCVS strongly supports the development and implementation of an effective science-based approach to tackling bTB, but notes that tackling the disease is an intensely political issue and that key stakeholders approach the issue from opposing standpoints.

In order to control bTB, the Government has to take difficult political decisions to implement, oversee, monitor and manage any effective policy to control and eradicate the disease, and be prepared to ensure that any policies are in place for a sufficient length of time truly to test their effectiveness.

To have a real impact in reducing bTB, it is essential that the Government takes an holistic approach to tackling the disease.

Controlling a disease where there is a known wildlife reservoir, in the absence of a proven vaccine for the target species (in this case a vaccine against bTB for cattle), is one of the most difficult exercises that can be undertaken.

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