Editorial: The UK government must stand up to the powerful farming lobby.

The League Against Cruel Sports before lobbying MP’s.

Yesterday, a coalition named ‘Team Badger’ and including the organisation ‘The League Against Cruel Sports’ set up a lobbying session at Westminster, with the aim of encouraging MPs to oppose the badger cull and vote against it today.

As I write, the House of Commons is debating the controversial badger cull which the Environment Minister, Owen Patterson, announced this week will be delayed until next summer (but nevertheless will still go ahead).

The cull is happening to eradicate Bovine TB in cattle. Today is the first day MPs have had the chance to vote on the cull and if successful opposition to it is reached, the whole plan could be dropped, something which would please former Queen guitarist Brian May . He recently started an e-petition against the badger cull which currently stands at 163,000 people and is one of the main reasons that today’s debate and vote is happening.

This blog believes that whilst there is no doubt the devastating effect that TB is having on cattle is heartbreaking to farmers both financially and emotionally, we should be clear that badgers did not bring TB to cattle, cattle brought TB to badgers. Therefore the argument that culling badgers we would heavily limit the spread of TB is false. Science tells us that even with a mass cull we would at the most eradicate only 16% of TB cases that happen to occur due to badger contact. Additionally, can we really justify slaughtering vast populations of badgers for an illness that they did not create in the first place?

Rather than culling animals, the focus should be 100% directed towards removing TB from cattle by Bovine TB vaccinations which are increasingly available. This is the only holistic approach and long term solution to the problem, and one which respects wildlife and cattle welfare equally.

Additionally, we can’t allow the farming industry in the UK to become so powerful that they control our wildlife and nature. We should take this opportunity to look at the unsustainable level of farming in the UK, which is becoming more and more unnatural. We can’t sustain the high level of meat farming which contributes to deforestation in poorer developing countries by increasing the demand for soya crops (used in animal feed), the level of space that the animals have to roam in and the way we pollute the soil through the increased use of harmful pesticides. Rather than controlling wildlife to allow for farming activities, we need to revolutionize and reframe our approach to farming and look at things like investing in local supply chains, eliminating pesticides, giving animals natural space to roam and adopting organic farming methods.

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