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Evidence shows that badgers do transmit bovine TB to cattle and contribute to the persistence of the disease

University of Exeter expert contributes to Government’s bovine TB strategy review

A University of Exeter expert has contributed to the review of the Government’s 25 Year Bovine TB Strategy.

Professor Michael Winter was appointed by the Defra Secretary of State, Michael Gove. The review aims to inform future strategies around the government’s goal of eradicating the disease by 2038.

The review was led by zoologist Sir Charles Godfray. The findings from the report include:

  • industry must take greater responsibility for on-farm controls, biosecurity and safe trading practices to stop the disease spreading
  • more can be done to help farmers make purchasing decisions reflecting the risks of cattle being infected
  • evidence shows that badgers do transmit bovine TB to cattle and contribute to the persistence of the disease
  • disease reduction would benefit from greater flexibility and agility in adapting bovine TB control measures as new research findings emerge
  • A new independent body on disease control would be helpful to take over disease control operations from APHA, Natural England and local authorities (this recommendation will be considered by the government in light of the wider Dame Glenys Stacey review into farm inspections).

Professor Winter said: “Bovine TB has been one of the most challenging issues facing the livestock farming community for many years. I hope this review will improve the way the disease is controlled.”

Farming Minister George Eustice said: “We welcome this review of the Government’s 25-year Bovine TB strategy and I extend my thanks to Sir Charles Godfray and his team for their hard work in producing the report.

“As a Government we are committed to eradicating bTB and have always been clear that there is no single measure for tackling it. That’s why we have pursued a range of interventions, including cattle movement controls, vaccinations and controlled culling in certain areas.”

Sir Charles’ report is an important contribution that will inform next steps in the strategy to achieve officially TB free status for England by 2038.

Date: 14 November 2018

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