Updated: Sunday, 26th March 2017 @ 7:40am

‘No scientific basis’: Badgers must not be culled regardless of Government vote, warns Greater Manchester MP

‘No scientific basis’: Badgers must not be culled regardless of Government vote, warns Greater Manchester MP

By Paddy von Behr

Badgers must not be culled, a Greater Manchester MP is warning the government – despite winning a parliamentary vote on the issue.

A campaign to prevent the nationwide culls went to a House of Commons vote on Wednesday, after an online petition passed 100,000 votes, and was heavily back by the Labour Party.

Their cause was defeated by 49 votes but Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, has not given up the fight.

“There is no scientific basis for the cull,” he said. “It may not be effective and could make matters worse.

“Labour has warned the Government for two years that the badger cull was bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.

“We need a science-led policy to manage cattle movements better and a vaccine to tackle TB in cattle.

“The Government imposed heavy discipline on the vote, and so unfortunately Labour didn’t quite manage to scrap the cull. Even so, I was proud to oppose it.”

The cull aims to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) through cows across the UK but Lord John Krebs, the foremost expert on bTB, labelled it a ‘crazy scheme’.

And, after 10 years of research, the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) revealed in 2007 that ‘badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain’.

However, the British Veterinary Association believes the ISG’s conclusions are too conservative and has opted to support the cull.

In England 28,284 cattle were slaughtered in 2012 for bTB control, which represents a 7% increase on the previous year.

It also expects bTB to cost British taxpayers more than £1billion over the next decade.

The BVA accept cattle vaccination is the ideal long-term strategy, but this will not be available until 2023, making badger culls the best immediate alternative.

A statement read: “The continuing spread of TB in cattle and wildlife has an unacceptable impact on animal health and the potential to be a serious risk to public health.

“All the tools in the toolbox should be made available in the fight against bovine TB.

“The BVA therefore supports the proposed pilot badger culls as well as stronger cattle controls, improved surveillance, and increased biosecurity.”

Picture courtesy of Fred Dawson, witht thanks.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.