Win for MEP over TB

An Northern Ireland MEP has won an appeal to get a map linking badgers with the spread of TB in cattle released.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) originally refused MEP Jim Allister's request to disclose the map, quoting public interest grounds. However, the MEP appealed and the decision was overturned.

The DARD-funded research collated data of M. bovis isolates from cattle and from badgers killed on the roads while mapping the different strain types. The research revealed a clear correlation between TB strains in badgers and cattle.

Allister said: "I believe it is in the public interest that this data should be published. This map illustrates the prevalence of various strain types of M. bovis across Northern Ireland. Crucially, the map confirms that there is a clear correlation in strain types being detected in cattle as in badgers.

"It speaks volumes that DARD would want to hide this information from the public, on the basis that this Department would rather bury its head in the sand than acknowledge there is a wildlife dimension to TB eradication.

"Farmers continue to lose out financially through disruption caused by an ineffective Government policy on TB control. Perhaps DARD will come clean on whether some form of badger cull/management strategy will go ahead."