Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2007-08

22 July 2008


Badgers and cattle TB: the final report of the Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB€”Report published on the Government Response published

GOVERNMENT IS PLAYING DOWN THE SERIOUS NATURE OF CATTLE TB

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is disappointed with the Government's response to its report: is report Badgers and cattle TB: the final report of the Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB, which was published on 27 February .

The Committee says the Government response to its report is tentative in many areas and appears to play down the serious nature of cattle TB, asserting that the problem is a regional one. However, the statistics for incidence of cattle TB in 2007 show that the number of herd breakdowns is still increasing.
The Government has chosen to put all its eggs in one basket by focusing its energies and funding on the long-term goal of developing cattle and badger vaccines when it is unlikely that a badger vaccine will be available before 2014 and a cattle vaccine before 2015.

There is little in the Government's strategy, beyond the current policy of surveillance, testing and slaughter, to tackle the disease in the short-term. This is not good enough. Furthermore, the Government is opting out of leadership of the issue, and subcontracting important decisions with high cost implications to the Bovine TB Partnership Group. As some of the livestock industry has withdrawn from cost-sharing discussions with Defra, the Committee is concerned that important discussions and decisions on cattle-based measures to tackle cattle TB will be delayed should the industry not be prepared to participate in the work of the Group.

The Chairman, Rt. Hon. Michael Jack MP, said: "The Committee unanimously felt that the response by the Secretary of State was less than satisfactory and that certain key deficiencies in it should be highlighted. We look forward to hearing from the Secretary of State again on this subject in the autumn".

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Further details about this inquiry can be found at:

http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environment__food_and_rural_affairs/efra_bovine_tb_follow_up.cfm

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