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Appendix 7: Black And White Politics :- Costly Badgers Part 3

View 4 :- Farmers Betrayed And Misled Over Politically "Science-Based" Policy :--

Dear Prime Minister, DEFRA ministers, EFRA committee Badger culls/vaccines emphatically will not stop the spread of cattle tb; so are a total waste of time and ££££:-

  1. RBCT cull of 11,000 badgers had zero effect on cattle TB (Detailed statistics bottom of Section 2 below);
  2. So vaccinating a few thousand brocks is wildly pointless too ( Section 1 below);
  3. The Actual spread of TB has been amongst cattle anyway, via "unconfirmed" reactors and "missed cattle "within problem herds; so 2 tried & tested ways to stop this cattle tb could start tomorrow (detailed at start of Section2 below).

Section 1. Badger Vaccine Dear Owen Paterson & George Eustice , and Prime Minister , You were somewhat annoyed a while ago, at badger activists shouting from the sidelines as regards currently unavailable " wretched vaccines, so you might find the following mature reflections and a genuine effort to restore commonsense, of interest.

Farmers have been sorely betrayed over the last few years by pro-badgery / anti-cull folk advocating the mythical perturbation/vaccine solution ; comprehensively dismissed by government :- see response to EFRA vaccine report below .. Many of these campaigners already know its not the answer, so put politely it is rather disingenuous ; and politically very naive to mindlessly keep pushing it because :-

A. Most farmers are perfectly aware its a total waste of time !!; B. IF "Perturbed" badgers are so important as to require vacines, then its a No-Brainer, simply cull even more badgers even more widely ! C. Politicians, have sadly been bamboozled over last 4 or 5 years by the vaccine "Magic cure", so the several debates in both houses of Parliament, whilst very well meaning, have been wonderfully ineffectual /ill-informed, and alas hence merely a major contribution to Global Warming !! It would be a great help if all farmers boycott any involvement in any further vaccine trials, most particularly the one in lands end .

There have been some 4 - 5000 (?? ) badgers vaccinated so far ( so only a further 245,000 still to go, and they should all be caught up annually to check new cubs status !) variously :- in the Cirencester VES (Vaccine Efficacy Trial, Chambers 2011); the BVDP, (DEFRA's own Badger Vaccine Deployment Trial), the Welsh IAIA Intensive Action Area one ,assorted very small scale Team Badger/NGO ones in a few Selected farms / Nature Reserves / National Trust Properties, (they mean SO well, but HOW can these initiatives do the slightest good..even IF they MIGHT stop 1-2 breakdowns ??; since they represent a mere pin-prick in the whole county problem ; indeed 1/2 of GB problem area now); And in Ireland : the Kilkenny Trial (Byrne 2012); Plus, the new Ulster TVR initiative , Test, Vaccinate, Remove infected ones ; nice idea but some 30,000 badgers involved, hugely labour intensive /totally impractical , like the Clean Ring Culls back in 1980s.

Three Main Flaws In A Vaccine Strategy :-

  1. None of these trials have shown whether there has been the slightest effect on cattle TB (at huge Cost , Wales c. £630 per badger which is staggeringly expensive for something which probably wont have the slightest impact... obviously it will never be "rolled out" to the whole TB Hotspot area which is now 1/2 of GB , simply a waste of money); (Report, see para 10, 13-15 particularly admits "Lack substantial data" on effect , and even, admit a decade on ; No real idea of what Krebs 1997, noted nil evidence as to if, how, to what extent Badgers might infect cattle);
  2. Too little too late. A. BadgerBCG, has nil effect in badgers already infected, but as noted in VES, does not prevent badgers catching TB from cattle (ISG 2007 & PNAS Reports)... so the Report's claim that it would take decades for a vaccine to eradicate badger TB overlooks the fact that it will persist in badgers as long as there is spillover from cows !.... and wont ever "Get Ahead " of cattle spread ...which is why the "Serious Scientific" Suggestion of any Firewall "Ring Vaccination" to stop the spread is hilarious nonsense . The Badger Cull Consultation 2010 claimed a possible 16 % reduction in cattle TB , ie. a mere 47 out of 292 expected breakdowns after 9 years (Annex B, para 20).. and vaccine would do half as well in FERA's own Model, so just 23 breakdowns ... the other 84 % is cattle spread !). A further flaw in this idea is that IF sow to cub TB transmission IS as important as claimed, then they will be infected before they emerge above ground at 8 weeks old.

    B. Too few badgers .. no-one seems to have noticed, but these studies all show that there are incredibly few badgers involved in these vaccine trials .

    Cirencester, 844 badgers trapped in 55 sq.km., but of the 262 from 64 social groups, caught more than once, only c. 18-33 actually had TB ; Kilkenny, a mere 500 badgers vaccinated from 755 sq.km., c. 1 / sq.km ..how can that have had any effect ? Lands End/West Penwith .. the trial just started to vaccinate badgers in the 200 sq.km. WILL FAIL, and Waste £ 2 million +; the ISG's own cull there 1998-2005 found JUST 118 TB badgers out of 1614 culled......... so hardly a major hidden TB reservoir, In fact, The Richards Report 1972 found over 2 1/4 years 3 elderly non-reactior or anergic cows caused 18 herd breakdowns, ie 10 % of total, so depopulating a dozen such herds allowed whole area to go clear in 1985.. a hidden cattle source , NOT Badgers . see www.badgersandtb.com, Appendix 6// see also my Ev W8 in EFRA COM Vaccine Report vol.ii.
  3. Politics ...A. Jim Paice sensibly scrapped 5 out of 6 BVDPs as soon as he became minister as a waste OF "£££; B. hilariously chief vet. Christianne Glossop under the last Welsh government said culls would work , vaccines wouldnt ... new government, U-TURN , message is culls wont work, vaccine will ! (Prof. Chris Pollock, Aberstwyth resigned over this farce).. maybe Profs Chris Wathes and John Beddington too decided as a matter of intellectual and moral integrity to stop being "Political Pawns Validating pseudoscience". C. Very clever politics to encourage Team Badger et a to vaccinate in Pilot Cull areas .. when cattle controls reduce cattle TB in 5-10 years , DAFTA can claim , YES our culls/vaccines WORKED After All !
  4. Incidentally , as i pointed out to the Political Pawns comprising the "scientific pilot cull monitoring team" The logic against any further culls/ vaccines is absolutely irrefutable , a total waste of £££, since :- The RBCT cull of 11,000 badgers had absolutely zero effect of cattle tb, because the spread of cattle tb has been amongst cattle all along !!! (statistics in para 2 below)..
  5. I'd be happy to meet and discuss, Sincerely, Martin Hancox, MA Oxon, Ex-TB panel

Section 2. Two cattle measures which would halt TB spread / RBCT cull of 11,000 badgers nil effect

Dear Pilot Cull Monitoring team .. 24th December 2013

You might like to modify your impending advice to ministers, in light of the 3 key issues below :- The badger "religious obsession" is an absolute obstacle to ""stopping spread ""of cattle TB; both the EFRA vaccine study & DEFRA new TB eradication strategy January 2014 have ignored my advice that :-

  1. Two tried and tested ways to stop spread could have a major impact and be introduced tomorrow, A. Pre- and post-movement tests of cattle from hotspots to low risk areas, would find nearly all cattle causing new usually unconfirmed breakdowns/reactors .. This stopped spread via Irish imports since 1970s to northeast England , and works in Scotland; B. Problem herds with chronic TB.. c. 2000 currently, restricted up to 16 years , could be cured Very Rapidly using late TB antibody tests to find "anergic" or skin test non-reactor active spreader cows .. ENFER Multiplex used routinely in Ireland, IDEXX Ab. test , or PCR on faecal swabs.. an active spreader cow can be shedding 38 million bacilli/ day in cow pats !.. so no wonder poor Od Brock almost guaranteed to catch tuberculous scrofula (starts in submandibular lymph nodes under tongue ).
  2. RBCT/ Krebs cull of 11,000 badgers (contrary to ISG Interpretation)...... had absolutely nil effect on cattle TB .... Ever since the "First" TB Badger in 1971, the actual contribution of badgers ingenuinely causing cattle herd breakdowns has been in truth unknown, since no-one has realistically explained how transmission might occur (Only 1 truely Proven case in 4 decades of badger to cow spread in a very artificial yard experiment, Little 1982, Vet Rec ) so guestimates of the badger role in the alleged % Decreases OR Increases (Perturbation) in new incidents have in fact been merely Assumptions for breakdowns which ""could not be traced to a confirmed cattle source"". Both the ISG & DEFRA assume c. 50 %, "Due to badgers" , but in that case the culls should have 50 % fewer breakdowns than no-cull or survey only areas in the RBCT... However ; although The Statistics are incredibly complicated, since culls ran for different periods, 4- 7 culls in different triplet areas in trial, and figures span the pre- / post-foot & mouth cattle TB accumulated "no testing upsurge" after 2001 when reactors went from 8000/ a to 23,000 ! (see www.badgersandtb.com).

    The actual number of breakdowns accumulated during the cull period ( 1998-2005) in the ISG final Report .. ((the detailed numbers are given in Tables 5.1, 5.2, and 5.4 -- 5.11 ( & Lefevre 2005));

    Reveal virtually nil difference between cull versus no-cull areas :-

    Overall, a total OF 1562 vs 1668 breakdowns ie a mere 106 fewer, out of 3000 sq.km. OR just 10 per 300 sq.km. triplet after 8 years (This total is for reactive , and proactive inside + outside ring... the proactives were 1206 vs 1310 ie just 104 fewer, from 1835 sq.km., of which there were 141 fewer inside and 37 more outside of which unconfirmeds = -31, -4 in/out ... the comparable total figures also given in Tables ie pre-FMD jump , for 3 previous "interim" cull years were 517 vs 568 ie. JUST 51 fewer... ie 18 fewer inside, and 33 fewer outside of which there were -22 and + 6 unconfirmeds) ; The most remarkable fact here, is that given that the skin test is only 66 - 80 % accurate & cattle controls so imperfect, is that there was'nt a far greater difference in cattle control effectiveness !!

    As regards the breakdown of this total , for the two different cull treatments...(proactive vs no cull)

    A. Localised reactive culls (of a mere 311 TB badgers from 900 sq.km.), gave 356 VS 358 confirmed breakdowns, ..175 vs 172 unconfirmed breakdowns, 56 vs 59 repeat breakdowns;

    B. Widespread proactive culls ( of a mere 1200 TB badgers) ... the number of baseline herds were almost identical ( Total proactive vs survey, 2182 /2199 or 17 fewer in grand total of 4381 proactive trial herds = inside areas 1221 /1276 ie 55 fewer; outside 961 / 923 ie 38 more);

    Proactive vs no cull cumulative

    • A. during study period 1998-2005 ... and,
    • B. in 3 previous years with "interim" culls:-

    Inside cull area :-

    • A. 692 / 833 ie -141 confirmed/unconfirmed ..of which 472 /582 ie -110 confirmed; 220 / 251 ie -31 unconfirmed;
    • B. 345 / 363 ie -18 confirmed/unconfirmed .. of which 257 / 253 +4 confirmed, 88/110 ie -22 unconfirmed.

    Outside ring cull area (2 km. wide) :-

    • A. 514 /477 ie +37 confirmed /unconfirmed.. of which 362 /321 ie +41 confirmed; 152 /156 ie -4 unconfirmed;
    • B. 172 / 205 ie -33 confirmed/unconfirmed.. of which 115 / 154 ie -39 confirmed; 57 / 51 ie +6 unconfirmed.

    NB. The ISG's own conclusion was that culls had nil effect on unconfirmed breakdowns ( simply because they were caused by unconfirmed reactors, ISG 2007, p. 96, 101... and strikingly, in the early 1990s, 2 in 3 breakdowns were unconfirmed, so 2 in 3 badger culls produced ZERO TB Badgers !

  3. Since RBCT culling of 11,000 badgers , only 1515 of which had tb , and only 166 superexcretors (which might have been a risk to other cattle or badgers ) Had absolutely nil effect in preventing cattle TB breakdowns (not, "due to badgers" after all); Any badger vaccine programme will have nil effect either. Pointlessness of badger vaccines is amply Confirmed in the Oct. 2013 .. government response to EFRA Vaccine Report please """click below""", see para. 10, 13-15 particularly ... farmers and vets are perfectly aware a badger vaccine wont work , Ian Johnson of NFU said on live colour telly 16 Dec.2013 . "a total waste of time" . NB . MY Ev W8 in Vol. ii of EFRACOM Report.

I'd be happy to meet and discuss , sincerely, Martin Hancox MA Oxon, ex-Government Badger TB Panel The EFRA com third special report containing the government response to the committee's second report, vaccination against bovine TB, has now been published (on website 16 the October 2013): http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmenvfru/705/70502.htm Committee website: www.parliament.uk/efracom