Joint accountability “key to eradicating bovine TB”

19 November 2018

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Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Director of the Oxford Martin School, has called for “concerted and concentrated effort by all sectors involved” to reduce levels of bovine TB in England, following the release of his review of the government’s current strategy.

In February Environment Secretary Michael Gove commissioned Professor Godfray to review the 25 year strategy, which has the goal of eradicating the disease by 2038.

“The Review Panel are acutely aware of the burden this disease places on the welfare and well-being of farmers and their families, and the distress many people feel about badger culling,” said Professor Godfray at the report’s launch in London on Tuesday.

There were no easy answers to reducing disease levels, he added, saying “new drive” was required to shift the current culture to one where farmers and government assumed joint ownership and accountability for solving the problem.

The findings and recommendations from the report include:

  • Greater responsibility must be taken by industry 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

Hear Professor Godfray discussing the findings, and their implications for future strategies, on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, Today Programme and Inside Science.