Conservation group the Badger Trust has claimed that bovine TB is a mess of farmers’ own making and also suggested that the public will not stand for badger culling.

The comments have come in response to a statement from the National Beef Association which said that carbon monoxide gas must be included in a badger culling tool box.

But the views have already been rejected by the NBA which has warned that without an effective badger cull, TB levels will double every four years.

“The public is supportive of farmers, but not at any price,” said David Williams, chairman of the Badger Trust.

“There is even greater public support for animal welfare and nature conservation. Consumers are not going to appreciate the taste of British beef if it has been contaminated by the poisonous stench of gassing.”

Mr Williams also claimed that the “vast majority” of the spread of TB was down to cattle movements, not badgers.

“We fully understand that farmers are upset at the spread of bovine  TB, but the blame for that – as with other animal disease disasters –  lies squarely at their own door.

“Bovine TB is a mess of farmers’ own making. Conservationists and the wider public will support farmers in controlling TB through cattle-based measures, but the extermination of healthy badgers is simply unacceptable.”

But NBA chief executive Robert Forster said Mr William’s claim that the spread of TB was largely down to cattle movements was “rubbish”.

“It is impossible for anyone objective to deny that badgers do play a role in the continuance of TB,” he said. “A group that does is undermining its own credibility.”

Mr Forster said he thought the public would accept culling, if the consequences of not doing so were properly explained.

“If TB is allowed to spread then only badgers in remote areas will remain uninfected and that is the choice facing the public,” said Mr Forster.

“It both appalls us and astonishes us that the impact of TB on badgers is denied by the most outspoken anti-cull supporters.

“There is clear veterinary evidence that badgers are tough animals whose durability condemns thousands to a prolonged assault and then a lingering death from the deadly TB bacillus.”