Small step forward on bTB vaccine

Scientists announced a small step in the development of a bovine tuberculosis (bTB) vaccine shortly after the Secretary of State announced the pilot cull was to go ahead this summer.

The information, released by the Badger Trust late last week, explained that further progress had been made in the creation of a bTB vaccine. And, although it was a small step, said the Badger Trust in a statement, it was important progress in the prevention of bTB.

Chairman of the Badger Trust David Williams said: “We welcome this refinement in laboratory technique, part of the progress towards the long-awaited goal of an effective cattle vaccine. This discovery represents constant and encouraging movement in molecular studies and techniques, and it follows steady progression elsewhere.”

Badger cull

At the Oxford Farming Conference last week the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Owen Paterson told delegates that the badger cull was to go ahead this year, despite its cancellation last summer.

Despite controversy over cull, Paterson said it was a “pressing health problem in the UK” in his speech to delegates at the conference last Thursday.

He said: “Its impact on our cattle farmers, their families and their communities cannot be overstated. Last year, TB led to the slaughter of 26,000 cattle in England at a cost of nearly £100m. In the last 10 years, bovine TB has cost the taxpayer £500m. This will rise to an estimated £1bn over the next decade if the disease is left unchecked.”

It is Defra’s belief that, due to 15 years of research, the culling of badgers could lead to a reduction of bTB in cattle, Paterson added: “The decision, based on the advice of the NFU, to postpone the culls last autumn was a disappointing one for us all, but the right one in terms of the effective delivery of the policy.”