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Badger cull sketch: Thunderous Owen Paterson looked ready to slay badgers himself

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 24, 2012

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson announcing the postponement of the badger cull in the House of Commons; main picture, badger cull protesters demonstrating outside the Houses of Parliament

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Political sketch by Matthew George in Westminster...

So, another day in the life of this faltering coalition Government, and another U-turn, this time on the West badger cull.

The Daily Press was assured, on the record last Thursday, the plan would go ahead as planned this year in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Those promises came from both Defra and the NFU, but given the journalistic maxim to never believe anything until it’s been officially denied, the alarm bells should have been ringing.

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Yesterday it fell to the new Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to front up to MPs and admit the cull will not in fact happen this year, flanked by Agriculture Minister David Heath, Somerton & Frome MP.

As Queen guitarist Brian May, a leading campaigner against killing badgers, watched from a Commons gallery, Mr Paterson blamed bad weather and this summer’s Olympics for the delay.

He also blamed the badgers themselves, as Mr Paterson found out – very late in the day – there are just too many of them for the cull to work, especially in Somerset.

So if they want to make their temporary reprieve a permanent one, all they have to do is keep on breeding at ever increased rates.

Critics scrambled to find suitable Twitter hashtags, such as #BadgerBodge, #settback, #abrockalypse Later and #omnivoreshambles.

Mr Paterson, who famously used to have two pet badgers, was in a thunderous mood, banging the despatch box at one point as he was quizzed on how much money has been wasted on the cull.

He gave the impression he would be more than happy personally to slaughter all 4,300 badgers in the West Somerset pilot area, and the 3,600 in West Gloucestershire. At times, his emergency statement verged on the surreal, such as when he revealed how just 1 millilitre of badger urine contains enough TB to spread the disease.

The previous big Defra U-turn was on selling off our forests, abandoned after mass criticism, which effectively did for Caroline Spelman, Mr Paterson’s predecessor.

There is plenty of opposition to the badger cull too, but unlike the forest sell-off, it is supported by most Tory MPs.

They turned up in numbers yesterday, turning their fire on Labour for doing nothing to halt the spread of bovine TB when they were in power.

With the farmers also proving supportive, Mr Paterson should survive yesterday’s embarrassment, although his long-term political future rests on getting the cull right next year.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 12:42PM

    That is very close to libel John. . I suggest caution. . Most professional medics have association with marketing agencies. . Probably even your GP. . That's how the industry works. You obviously know nothing about tuberculosis or any of bacteria in the M.tuberculosis genus of TB causing bacteria, so with respect your opinions on the subject are worthless. . Medicine is not practised by plebiscite. Being a badgerist won't protect anyone from MDR or XDR M.bovis spread by badgers. . Mycobacterium bovis is constantly mutating and getting closer. 1. Woman struck down with TB that she caught from her pet ALPACA. (M.bovis) http://tinyurl.com/8a7bwy9 2. Urgent need for tuberculosis vaccines; experts report progress, obstacles in growing drug resistance. http://tinyurl.com/c2r52bq (open in a new window) 3. Mum seeks answers to TB infection. http://tinyurl.com/9txo85a (open in a new window) 4. Child TB poses bigger threat. http://tinyurl.com/9r6ennv (open in a new window) 5. Molecular typing of Mycobacterium bovis isolates in Argentina: first description of a person-to-person transmission case. http://tinyurl.com/bwxembw (open in a new window)

  • Freeborn_John  |  October 24 2012, 12:07PM

    And thanks for posting it twice Charles... It's always good to know the opinion of a Vet who's worked for a marketing agency for the last 25 years of his career (check linkedin)

  • Freeborn_John  |  October 24 2012, 11:48AM

    Battle won - now the war... 9 months to prepare

  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 10:31AM

    It would be greatly appreciated by all farmers if people would try to become educated to the problem before they make any emotional judgement or comment. Why BCG does not perform like other Vaccines. "In any normal infection the body defence works by production of vast amounts of antibodies. Such antibodies can also be stimulated by ordinary vaccines for all kinds of bacteria and virus diseases and they can be traced in blood which makes diagnosis with various techniques fairly easy. But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do - because the tubercle bacteria have a waxy coat to which antibodies cannot attach. Tuberculosis therefore causes a so called humoral body defence; that means the very slowly multiplying bacteria are attacked by enzymes and white blood cells mainly. These are killing or even digesting the bacteria by a method called phagocytosis resulting in crumbly pus in the so called tubercles - whole heaps or lumps containing several 1000 to billions of bacteria. This defence is much more unspecific and slower than the usual one by antibodies. Any BCG vaccine stimulates this humoral defence only but never prevents an infection; it may keep it on a low scale maybe. There is no other vaccine available and there most probably will never be another one. No matter how many millions more DEFRA invests (I hear of some 30 so far for the Vaccine only) this is nature - which cannot be forced by politics." . . . . . . . . . . Dr Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL Somerset Dr Ueli Zellweger who is highly respected is a veterinary surgeon with over 30 years experience mainly with cattle and is considered a world expert in this field. Again quote:- "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do."

  • Jennypenny  |  October 24 2012, 10:14AM

    OK here we go again lol Even the government themselves say the reduction in bTB is only likely to be 12/16% after NINE yrs of culling, wiping out tens of thousands of mostly healthy badger & still leaving 84% of the problem there!! . Listen to the eminent scientists not some vet. The immune response to TB vaccination is only 50% in us Humans, the immune response in badgers is 73%! Its a no brainer really! unless you really dont like badgers?!!!

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  • Charlespk  |  October 24 2012, 9:40AM

    It would be greatly appreciated by all farmers if people would try to become educated to the problem before they make any emotional judgement or comment. Why BCG does not perform like other Vaccines. "In any normal infection the body defence works by production of vast amounts of antibodies. Such antibodies can also be stimulated by ordinary vaccines for all kinds of bacteria and virus diseases and they can be traced in blood which makes diagnosis with various techniques fairly easy. But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do - because the tubercle bacteria have a waxy coat to which antibodies cannot attach. Tuberculosis therefore causes a so called humoral body defence; that means the very slowly multiplying bacteria are attacked by enzymes and white blood cells mainly. These are killing or even digesting the bacteria by a method called phagocytosis resulting in crumbly pus in the so called tubercles - whole heaps or lumps containing several 1000 to billions of bacteria. This defence is much more unspecific and slower than the usual one by antibodies. Any BCG vaccine stimulates this humoral defence only but never prevents an infection; it may keep it on a low scale maybe. There is no other vaccine available and there most probably will never be another one. No matter how many millions more DEFRA invests (I hear of some 30 so far for the Vaccine only) this is nature - which cannot be forced by politics." . . . . . . . . . . Dr Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL Somerset Dr Ueli Zellweger who is highly respected is a veterinary surgeon with over 30 years experience mainly with cattle and is considered a world expert in this field. Again quote:- "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do." "But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do."

  • Jennypenny  |  October 24 2012, 9:16AM

    Has anyone considered the impact culling in the summer is going to have on the tourist industry? How many holidaymakers are going to want to visit with badger slaughter going on??? If Farmers,NUF,Government care at all about the livelihoods of other sectors then please listen to science,dont cherry pick the results, culling wont make a significant difference to TB & could make it worse. Please go down the humane route of vaccination.

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