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We will abandon badger culls, Eagle tells Labour Conference

Shadow Defra Maria Eagle has told the Labour Party Conference Labour would scrap the current Government’s badger cull policy if wins next May’s General Election.

Speaking from the main platform of the Manchester conference on Tuesday morning, Ms Eagle said: “A Labour government will tackle the scourge of Bovine TB, but not by using a policy dubbed “an epic failure” by the Chief Scientific Advisor of Natural England.”

 

“Conference, I want to make it clear today. We will put a stop to these inhumane, ineffective badger culls.”

 

She has become the latest in a string of Labour MPs to condemn the policy in Manchester, where it is being made clear Labour would not even see out the completion of the pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

 

The pilots are licensed to run for four years, based on the findings of the Independent Scientific Group on Bovine TB, which culling needed to be sustained over a number of yeas to maximise its eff effectiveness.

 

But they would be scrapped after just two years under a new Labour Government next year.

 

Shadow Farming Minister Huw Irranca-Davies told the NFU’s conference fringe meeting Labour’s policy would be driven by the science.

 

He acknowledged the ISG’s scientific underpinning of the policy to cull over four years but said the pilots had already been deemed by the Independent Expert Panel to have failed to meet their criteria for effectiveness and humaneness.

 

He claimed there also ‘some investigation going forward’ to establish whether the culls were also safe.

Scientific trial

Asked why Labour would not run the pilots for another and independently monitor them to gauge whether improvements had been made, he said: “So, forget what they said in Year One and ignore the fact that there was no independent monitoring in Year Two? Then put it in place in Years Three and Four? That’s not the basis of a scientific trial.

 

“This has never been a scientific trial.

 

“You are right about what ISG are saying (about four year culls). But that same trial said, yes, it had to be four years but it has to be done in a very short timescale – six weeks - and to a certain number – 70 per cent.

 

“It failed catastrophically on both fronts. It didn’t say four years. It said you need to do that short timescale with mass culling.”

 

NFU deputy president Minette Batters said: “My challenge to Labour is – do you want to break the law in Europe?

 

“TB is a notifiable disease. It is very, very serious disease that is out of control in this country. If we want to be compliant in EU regulation we have to everything to eradicate this disease. We are killing thousands of cattle. You have to deal with endemic disease in badgers.”

 

Vet Den Leonard, who with Cheshire farmer Phil Latham had earlier endured a torrid time as they addressed a badger cull debate earlier on Tuesday, then intervened to describe the Randomised Badger Cull Trial as a ‘very bad trial’ that has subsequently hampered policy to control badgers.

 


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The badger cull debate

During the earlier badger debate, Mr Leonard and Mr Latham were frequently shouted down with cries of ‘shame’ as they tried to explain why a badger cull should be part of a wider strategy to control TB.

 

Labour MP, Dawn Primarolo, even with her experience as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, was unable to keep any semblance of control on the debate, frequently having to halt it to implore people to stop shouting and give the speakers some respect.

 

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