Top scientist resigns from Welsh bovine TB board

The Welsh Government’s badger vaccination strategy has suffered a major blow with the resignation of a leading research scientist from the management board established to oversee bovine TB eradication.

Professor Chris Pollock stood down because he could not defend the Welsh Government’s badger vaccination strategy.

Professor Pollock, a former director at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth, had been a member of the Welsh Government’s scientific review panel set up to advise ministers on the evidence behind TB control.

He has now expressed his disappointment that environment minister, John Griffiths, appeared to have adopted a strategy that could not be backed up by scientific evidence and stood down from the board.

“I felt I was unable to defend the decision publicly and, as such, I felt I could no longer sit on the group that had been asked to administer the strategy,’’ he said.

Key among Professor Pollock’s concerns were the absence of a track record for badger vaccination and the doubts over the efficacy of vaccinating in areas where there is a high incidence of TB.

He believes that using vaccination in the north Pembrokeshire Intensive Action Area, where the number of infected badgers is high, goes against the recommendations of the minister’s own scientific review.

Vaccinated infected badgers can live for several years and continue to spread the disease, he added.

John Griffiths was aware of Professor Pollock’s concerns before he made his decision not to follow the culling policy favoured by the previous Welsh administration under rural affairs minister, Elin Jones.

The Welsh Government has acknowledged Professor Pollock’s resignation.

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