Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2003-04
13 July 2004 Bovine TB: Committee publishes its report

13 July 2004 Bovine TB: Committee publishes its report

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has today published a report about bovine tuberculosis. It notes that bovine TB has been, at least until very recently, a growing problem in the United Kingdom, bringing suffering to animals and also adversely affecting farmers in economic and other terms.

The report primarily looks at responses to the problem other than culling badgers, which are widely held to be one of the causes of the problem. Its focus is vaccination of cattle and badgers; the gamma interferon test; husbandry; trace elements; and the lessons to be learnt from Ireland. The Committee has reviewed developments in all these areas, and has made recommendations.

The report concludes that a decision about culling badgers must await the outcome of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. But there are a number of promising steps forward that might be taken now. It recommends that

  • Government move quickly to testing vaccination in badgers

  • assessment of the gamma interferon test is completed urgently, and the Government should pay incentives to farmers to recruit them to the current field trial

  • if the gamma interferon test proves efficacious it should be adopted, and policy should be adapted to its use, particularly in terms of movement restrictions on cattle

  • research into cattle vaccines should continue, and that greater effort and resources be devoted to such research.

The report also recommends that farmers take note of the Minister's comments about good animal husbandry and take steps to ensure that they follow best practice.

On publication of the report the Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon Michael Jack MP, will say:

"Many farmers argue strongly that culling badgers is the only effective way to deal with the problem of bovine TB, which has increased in recent years. However, the reality is that culling will not be permitted in the near future and, if it is ever allowed, it will form only part of the response to the disease. Therefore it is important to look at all the other ways of responding to the disease in order to provide a comprehensive response to the spread of bovine TB."



The report follows an inquiry announced on 20 April 2004 and conducted in May 2004. The full report will be available on our website from around 3.30 pm on 13 July.