22 November 1996

MAFF to start review into cattle TB at last

MAFF is at last starting its independent review into tuberculosis in cattle and badgers.

The NFU welcomed the move saying it would make prompt representations to the review committee. But it is unhappy that it has taken the government so long to establish the committee after MAFF announced plans for a review in July.

The union submitted a detailed report to ministers more than a year ago, highlighting the increasing problem of bovine TB and the urgent need to overhaul the governments current badger control policy.

Bovine TB costs the farming industry about £4m a year says the NFU. And it is convinced that there is a definite link between badgers and the incidence of TB in cattle.

Prof John Krebs was appointed to chair the committee in July. Among the five scientists who will join him is Prof Roy Anderson from Oxford University.

He was the leading scientist involved in a study into the effectiveness of cattle culling policies to eradicate BSE published in the science journal Nature.

The other committee members are Dr W Morrison, head of immunology and pathology at the Institute of Animal Health, Compton; Prof Douglas Young, a specialist in TB at St Marys Hospital; Prof Tim Clutton-Brock, professor of animal ecology at Cambridge University; and Dr Crystl Donnelly from Oxford universitys zoology department.

Farm minister Douglas Hogg said the committee would study the incidence of TB in cattle and badgers and assess the scientific evidence for links between them. The review would also take account of EU TB policies.

"Its overall purpose will be to review, in the light of scientific evidence, present government policy on badgers and tuberculosis and to make recommendations," Mr Hogg said.

Interested parties who wish to submit written evidence to the committee should do so before Jan 15, 1997.