Part 1 of 2:Danger Drug In UK Horsemeat: Tests Reveal Health Hazard AFTER Meat Was Exported To Europe

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“Why in Gods name are we eating horses anyway? We raise more than enough animals that can suffer heinous living conditions, & an even worse death, not to mention the abuse many share…just to satisfy the human demand for meat…burgers, sausages etc. Why would anyone want to eat a horse or baby cows & lambs…it’s sickening!! If I wasn’t already vegetarian, almost vegan…the thought of eating something that could contain any amount of horse; would be enough to turn my stomach & make me vegetarian. There is no way my horses will ever go to slaughter as I ticked the “Not fit for human consumption” box on their passports.

  • The horses were slaughtered in UK and tested for phenylbutazone, or bute
  • It is an anti-inflammatory drug that can affect human health
  • The meat has already hit Europe and has been eaten or processed

British horse meat contaminated with the danger drug bute has been exported to Europe and has already been eaten or added to processed food, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Details are due to be announced by ministers and the Food Standards Agency today.

The horses were slaughtered at an unnamed British abattoir in the last few weeks and the resulting meat was tested for the presence of the anti-inflammatory drug bute.

But the results of the tests only came back after the meat had been shipped to the Continent and eaten or added to processed food.

Tests have shown the drug bute is contained in horsemeat butchered in the UK and sent to be eaten and processed into food in Europe “What a disgusting filthy yard, the hay looks mouldy…those poor ponies!”

It is not known whether any resulting processed food came back to the UK in ready meals such as lasagne or spaghetti bolognese.

The revelation came as Environment Secretary Owen Paterson signalled more raids could be carried out on British firms suspected of selling contaminated meat in the coming days.

On Tuesday Food Standards Agency officials raided a Yorkshire slaughterhouse and a Welsh factory which it claimed was passing off horse meat as beef.

But the bute scare points to a serious loophole in the food protection regime for consumers, which has been highlighted by Labour’s environment spokesman Mary Creagh.

The FSA announced last week that it would be moving to close this loophole with a new regime for horse meat.

This new system, which only came into effect days ago, is meant to ensure that no carcass is allowed to be sold for food until the bute test results have come back as negative.

The Peter Boddy slaughterhouse in Todmorden, Yorkshire, which was raided yesterday as part of the police inquiry into the sale of horsemeat being sold as beef

While the presence of bute – phenylbutazone – is a concern, the amounts that appear in horse meat would be extremely small and unlikely to cause any ill effects. “If unchipped horses passports are being swapped around, (as they were with the previous post of the cob swapped, for another horse much bigger to go to slaughter)… nobody can tell how much bute was given to that horse; apart from the owner! I have given my horses bute & not just on a vets prescription. I think most horse owners who know what they are doing, have some bute around, just in case a horse bruises a sole, or has arthritis & seems a bit stiff. 

It is known to be able to induce blood disorders, including aplastic anaemia, in which the bone marrow stops making enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. “Above they say it isn’t a big concern, but if a horses passport has been switched & the passport given to another horse, your not going to know how much bute was in that horse before it was slaughtered; bute is not a drug required to be registered on a horses passport!

Those with severe or very severe aplastic anaemia are at risk of life-threatening infections or bleeding. Bute is also known to cause cancer in rats, but there is no conclusive evidence for it to have the same effect in humans.

Miss Creagh said: ‘With every passing day this scandal seems to get wider.

‘I raised the problem of bute contaminated horse meat being released into the food chain with Defra [farming] ministers last month yet up until two days ago horses were still not being tested for bute and were being released for human consumption.

Parliamentary answers released this week show 9,405 horses were slaughtered in the UK for human consumption abroad last year. We must make sure horse meat is not contaminated with bute.“You must make sure that the horse has the correct passport too!

facemarkings on old horse passport

Markings on face to be recorded in passport by vet

“Without all horses having to have microchips, I don’t know how they are going to tell without testing a sample from each horse that is slaughtered…imagine how much that is going to cost!” 

“Micro-chipping has been compulsory for foals in the Thoroughbred breeding industry since 1999. Then any equine foal born after 1 July 2009 had to be micro chipped under European-wide regulations.”

 “The regulations apply to foals of all equines —horses, ponies, donkeys, mules and so on.”

“For older horses, it wasn’t mandatory for them to be micro-chipped. 

(“See pictures attached as to how the vet would shade in areas on the passport, of the horses colours & markings, this would be in the passport for an older horse & one not mandatory to be microchipped “)

“The old style passport had an area at the back of the passport where there was an outlined picture of a horse showing the front, right & left side, back, legs, & face of a horse which had to be shaded by a vet to match the exact markings, colouring, even whorls (spiral patches of hair on a horse) & a detailed description given of that particular horse then signed by a vet as proof of identification. Unless your horse was valuable, people didn’t use to microchip until it came into force.”

body of horse passport picture

A vet had to shade in all areas of horse markings & colours

Mr Paterson entered talks with EU ministers in Brussels to try to secure mandatory labelling of the ‘Country of Origin’ on all processed meat products, intelligence sharing between regulators, and spot checks on processors and retailers. “Sounds good, but how is that going help if they have a passport for the horse 

Workers handle meat at the Doly-Com abattoir, one of the two units implicated in the horse meat scandal. Romanian officials say the meat was properly declared and any fraud was committed elsewhere

After the meeting it was announced all member states should carry out 2,500 horse DNA tests on processed beef products and 4,000 bute tests on horse meat during March, and publish the results in mid-April.

Mr Paterson has put the blame for the food fraud scandal on retailers, saying: ‘People have got to trust what they buy and the ultimate link between the quality of the products and what is marked on the label has got to be the business selling the product.

‘If people are being sold a product that says processed beef and get a product that contains a significant amount of horse meat, that is a fraud.

FSA officials said they were looking at trailswhere the meat wentfrom five slaughterhouses in the UK that regularly process horses.

Mr Paterson said Tuesday’s raids were the result of information  passed to the Food Standards Agency after contamination was first detected in Ireland three weeks ago, and said the agency was doing ‘methodical, painstaking work … sifting through data’.

Tesco withdrew its everyday value spaghetti bolognese when it emerged that it contained horsemeat. The product was prepared in Europe

‘We saw vigorous action yesterday, and we may well see some more action over the course of the coming few days’, he said. ‘But it’s not very clever to give advance notice of what we are going to do in carrying out investigations that may lead to criminal prosecutions.’

However, he insisted processed meat on British supermarket shelves was safe to eat, and even said he would eat anything, including horse. ‘I’m relaxed about it’, he said. ‘ I’m omnivorous, I’ll eat anything.’

Mr Paterson said it was ‘too early to tell’ how many people may have eaten burgers and kebabs from the firms raided yesterday, or what chemicals could be in them.

Last week Mr Paterson described the scandal, then only linked to horse meat sent from Poland to Ireland, and from Romanian slaughterhouses to the French food company Comigel as an ‘international criminal conspiracy’.

Yesterday he said the premises raided in Britain were a separate issue.

A police community support officer stands guard at the gate of the Peter Boddy slaughterhouse

The FSA were ‘working through all those involved in the slaughter of horses … and that work is carrying on, they are looking through invoices and customers lists’, he said.

‘There will be further action, depending on their investigation,’ he said.

He added that when the investigation was over there were likely to be ‘lessons to be learned’, for the agency.

At Prime Minister’s question time, David Cameron said it was ‘appalling’ and ‘completely unacceptable’ that consumers were buying beef products that turned out to contain horse. ‘I do think that this is a serious issue.

People are genuinely worried about what they are buying at the supermarket and I really think we have got to get a grip,’ he said.

‘Retailers I think do bear a real responsibility here.

‘At the end of the day, it is they who are putting products on their shelves and have got to say that they are really clear about where that meat came from, what it was, who it was supplied by.  It is up to them to check that and I think that is vitally important.

Yesterday a Dutch meat broker, Draap Trading Ltd, was named as a middleman in the horse meat scandal. The company bought some £45,000 of horse meat from a Romanian abattoir, some of which eventually ended up in Britain

News Link:- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2278342/Danger-drug-UK-horsemeat-Tests-reveal-health-hazard-AFTER-meat-exported-Europe.html#ixzz2Ku0BJdpW
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Findus Lasagna 60% to 100% Horsemeat, Find Prompts Call For Processed Beef Advice

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“What a surprise…NOT…I wondered when other foods would start to show traces of horse meat; but to have some that are 100% horse meat is criminal. If I wasn’t already vegetarian, I think I would be after this…

People need to be told officially whether they should eat any processed beef foods in the wake of the discovery of horsemeat in Findus lasagne, the shadow environment secretary has said.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh: “It’s not fair… that consumers are being kept in the dark”

Labour’s Mary Creagh accused ministers of “pretending this isn’t happening”.

The government said it was working with businesses to enforce regulations.

The Food Standards Agency has ordered UK retailers to test all processed beef products. Findus has withdrawn its lasagne from sale.

It is the latest company to be caught up in the controversy surrounding contamination of meat products, which has affected companies in the UK, Irish Republic, Poland and France.

Last month, Irish food inspectors announced they had found horsemeat in some burgers stocked by a number of UK supermarket chains, including Tesco, Iceland and Lidl.

Findus Beef Lasagne Meals 100% Horsemeat

Published on 8 Feb 2013

Findus not 100% sure whats in there meals

Criminality or negligence’

Ms Creagh expressed fears that there were further revelations to come from the food industry.

What we have had over the last four weeks is a constant drip, drip, drip of revelations from the food industry, from the Food Standards Agency, and what I am worried about is that the more they are testing for horse, the more they are finding,” she said.

She suggested official guidance was needed on whether people should eat other processed foods labelled as containing beef.

“I certainly wouldn’t, but I’m waiting for the government, the experts, the scientists, to tell us and issue proper clear advice for consumers,” she said.

“It’s simply not good enough for ministers to sit at their desks and pretend this isn’t happening.”

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson called the Findus discovery “completely unacceptable” and said the presence of unauthorised ingredients in foods “cannot be tolerated”.

Mr Paterson said the government was working closely with businesses to “root out any illegal activity” and enforce regulations.

“Consumers can be confident that we will take whatever action we consider necessary if we discover evidence of criminality or negligence,” he said.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it was “highly likely” criminal activity was to blame for the contamination.

Chief executive Catherine Brown told the BBC: “I have to say that the two cases of gross contamination that we see here indicates that it is highly likely there has been criminal and fraudulent activity involved.

“We are demanding that food businesses conduct authenticity tests on all beef products, such as beef burgers, meatballs and lasagne, and provide the results to the FSA. The tests will be for the presence of significant levels of horsemeat.”

The agency has asked for test results by next Friday.

Police in the UK and Europe were involved in the investigations into the contaminated products, the FSA said.

It added: “People have been asking whether it is safe to eat any frozen meat products at the moment.

“There is no reason to suspect that there’s any health issue with frozen food in general, and we wouldn’t advise people to stop eating it.”

Beef Lasagne Meals 100% Horsemeat

Published on 7 Feb 2013

Findus Beef Lasagne Meals 100% Horsemeat
Shoppers who have bought the ready meals have been advised not to eat them and to return them to the shops.
9:51pm UK, Thursday 07 February 2013
Findus.

Apology

The FSA said there was no evidence of a health risk from the contaminated lasagne, but has also ordered Findus to test the products for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone, or “bute”.

“Animals treated with phenylbutazone are not allowed to enter the food chain as [the drug] may pose a risk to human health,” it said.

Findus

We understand this is a very sensitive subject for consumers”

Findus’s affected products were made by a third-party French supplier, Comigel, which had alerted the company to concerns that the beef lasagne product did not “conform to specification”.

The FSA said Findus had tested 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 meals containing between 60% and 100% horsemeat.

Findus had withdrawn its beef lasagne in 320g, 360g and 500g sizes as a precaution on Monday.

The company said: “We understand this is a very sensitive subject for consumers and we would like to reassure you we have reacted immediately. We do not believe this to be a food safety issue.

“We are confident that we have fully resolved this supply chain issue. We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.”

It said all its other products had been tested and were not affected.

A statement from the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said it “deplores the latest reported incidents of gross contamination of some processed meat products“.

The BMPA has urged its members to be vigilant, and to review their raw material and ingredients-sourcing procedures in order to ensure that they meet their responsibilities to produce safe food and to describe and label their products accurately.”

TescoSupermarket chains Tesco and Aldi have also withdrawn some beef products

Earlier this week, Comigel had advised Findus and Aldi to withdraw Findus Beef Lasagne and Aldi’s Today’s Special Frozen Beef Lasagne and Today’s Special Frozen Spaghetti Bolognese.

An Aldi spokesman said its products had been withdrawn immediately and the retailer was carrying out its own investigations.

“The products will remain withdrawn from sale until we are confident that the meat content complies with the specification presented to us,” he said, adding that customers could claim refunds by returning packaged products.

Tesco also decided to withdraw Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese.

The Tesco product was produced at the same Comigel site but there was no evidence of contamination, the supermarket said.

News Link:-http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21377601

With Your Invaluable Support, The League, RSPCA And Other Organisations Will Continue To Oppose The Badger Cull in 2013.

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“Please watch the video below, from last year…then please sign petitions etc. Together we can save the badgers”

The Government’s proposed badger cull, set to go ahead last year was postponed after a sustained and comprehensive campaign that involved numerous organisations, including the League and our supporters, coming together as Team Badger.

Last year over 160,000 people also signed a Government e-petition, far exceeding the 100,000 signatures needed to be considered for a House of Commons debate, which went ahead on 25th October.

The Parliamentary vote against the badger cull was overwhelming: 147 votes to 28 votes, with the majority of MPs agreeing with scientists, animal welfare organisations and the general public, that the cull is wrong and would be ineffective on scientific, humanitarian and practical grounds.

However, the vote is not binding and the Government are still planning to resume culling this summer.

The League, our partner organisations and supporters are committed, therefore, to continue with the campaign to ensure the cull isn’t just postponed, but abandoned for good, in favour of vaccinating badgers and developing an effective bovine TB vaccine.

As part of Team Badger, the League recently submitted evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee inquiry, which is looking into vaccination alternative to culling and is due to report later this year.

Vaccination has already been a proven success in Wales, where over 1,400 badgers have already been protected against bovine TB as part of a five year programme of work to eradicate TB completely. The badger vaccination initiative in Wales reflects the constructive alternative to culling that the League, along with “Team Badger”, is calling for. It also demonstrates the co-operation that is possible between the farming industry and government in taking swift, positive and decisive action against the spread of Bovine TB.

The League, alongside our campaign partners, believes strongly that vaccination of both badgers and cattle and better husbandry are the most effective and long-term way to tackle this terrible disease. Together we successfully came together to ensure badgers had a stay of execution in 2012 and we are now working for a full and permanent pardon in 2013.

What can I do to stop the cull happening this summer?

You should contact your MP to remind them that the badger cull is set to go ahead in summer of 2013. You should ensure that they know the evidence and science against the cull and ask them to make sure they will continue to oppose the cull in 2013.

Link:-http://www.league.org.uk/faq/32/Badger-Cull-FAQs

Keep checking back at this site for more news & next steps to take:- http://www.league.org.uk/content/643/Badger-Cull

Badger cull to begin from June, Environment Secretary confirms

Conservative MP Owen Paterson said that, if successful, the cull aimed at stopping bovine tuberculosis would be rolled out across the country next year.

It has not been confirmed where this summer’s pilot culls will take place, however the National Farmers Union (NFU) said it believed they would be in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Animal rights campaigners expressed dismay, claiming there is still no scientific evidence to support the cull and that the move is against the wishes of the British public.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Paterson said: “We need to make sure that these two trials are carried out in a professional and scientific manner and if we prove that this works we will continue.”

The Government wants to stop the animals spreading the disease which has cost the taxpayer £500m in the last decade. That figure is expected to rise to £1bn in the next 10 years.

Adam Quinney, the vice president of the National Farmers’ Union, welcomed the decision and said they had expected the cull to go ahead this summer.

“The two licences have been issued for two areas in Gloucestershire and Somerset and they still stand.

“There have been discussions about looking at alternative areas just because it is prudent,” he said.

A spokeswoman for The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed: “The earliest the cull can take place is from June 1, and it will definitely be going ahead this summer.”

The cull cannot take place before then for a number of reasons, including licence restrictions and welfare concerns for badger’s caring for their young.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said they were “deeply disappointed” with the plans to cull the animals tomorrow as there is no “real proof” that it will help either cows or badgers and called for Defra to look again at alternatives including vaccines.

They said: “The Government must think again and the RSPCA will continue to campaign against the cull until it does so.

“After this year’s postponement we had hoped that the government would finally see sense and pay attention to the vast amount of scientific research showing that a cull will be ineffective, wasteful and potentially damaging to the welfare of both farm and wild animals.

“The vaccination of both badgers and cattle along with more effective biosecurity is the only approach which addresses the welfare of both cattle and badgers and the long term livelihood of farmers.

“This announcement flies in the face of the views of a huge majority of MPs who voted against the cull as well as the majority of the British public and the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion. The RSPCA stands ready to work alongside all those seeking an alternative to this barbaric cull.”

News Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/farming/9828358/Badger-cull-to-begin-from-June-Environment-Secretary-confirms.html

British Badger Cull – Channel 4 News

Published on 19 Sep 2012

UK channel 4 news item with Brian May, badger supported and guitarist with Queen and Jan Rowe, cattle farmer, debating the badger cull which is taking part in the UK now. 
This programme was first shown in the UK on Monday, September 17th, 2012 
If you are against the cull please support http://www.teambadger.org

Relevant sites & petitions:-

A selection of related items, to find more, type Badgers in the search box in my blog:-

Charities Warning Of Potential Crisis For Horses And Ponies

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“Redwings is one of my favorite charities in the UK, they do immense work taking care of neglected, sick & abandoned horses; but their name is not as well known as World Horse Welfare etc. I support all equine charities, just wish I could help more.  I rescued 1 but can’t take anymore as I don’t have any fields anymore, I now keep mine in full livery (due to my disability)  which is expensive, but I know they are well taken care of. I do have several virtual adoptions & fosters, which is a great way to help the charities; without physically having the horses!

 Redwings is working alongside other welfare charities to call for government and public help in a landmark report that warns of an impending crisis in England and Wales which could leave the welfare of many thousands of horses at risk.

The report, ‘On the Verge: the approaching Equine Crisis in England and Wales’, predicts that another harsh winter will leave animal charities physically unable to cope and asks what will happen to the increasing numbers of horses being abandoned or suffering from welfare concerns

We are asking the public to rehome more horses; for horse owners to take responsibility for their animals and not pass the problem onto local authorities, charities and landowners; and for the Government and other agencies to meet us halfway and help rein in this problem before another winter of misery for hundreds of horses and ponies.

  • All the organisations have seen increasing numbers:
  • The RSPCA took in more than twice the number of horses, 304, between April 2011 and March 2012 as it did the previous year.
  • World Horse Welfare has seen the numbers of horses taken into its centres rise by 50% from 129 in 2006 to 194 in 2011 and has had to restrict admissions to the most severe cases.
  • Redwings has seen a 28 per cent increase in equines being taken in from 2006 to 2011 and has seen abandonments rise from 160 in 2009 to 450 in 2011. So far this year we have had an astonishing 636 horses and ponies reported to us as abandoned up to the end of September.
  • Last winter HorseWorld saw a threefold increase in the number of abandoned and neglected horses it rescued, compared with the previous year.

Nicolas de Brauwere, Head of Welfare at Redwings Horse Sanctuary and Chairman of the National Equine Welfare Council, said: “It is an extremely serious state of affairs. In February this year, for example, we had a situation where a group of more than 60 horses and ponies that had been left to fend for themselves in Wales were facing euthanasia by the local authority which had found itself in an impossible situation through the irresponsible actions of a callous owner. On that occasion several charities stepped up at the last moment and offered them a home, but we had to stretch ourselves and our teams to the limit to do so.

“Another case like that may be the final straw, which is why we urgently need the help and support of both the public and the government as this winter approaches.”

Overbreeding

Horses are still being bred on a large scale and continue to be imported from Ireland and the continent, despite there being no market for them. This has led to the market becoming saturated, with animals being sold at some markets for as little as £5.

Economic climate

Horses can cost up to £100 per week to look after and in the current financial climate, people try to cut back on vet costs, hoof care and feed. This inevitably leads to welfare problems.

Both factors have led to a visible increase in the problem of fly grazing – illegal grazing of horses on public and private land. Fly grazing is a problem for farmers, landowners and local authorities, and increasingly it is leading to welfare concerns, as too often these owners do not provide basic care for their animals.

RSPCA head of public affairs, David Bowles, said: “We have a perfect storm of horses continuing to be bred and imported to the UK adding to a rising population and people, suffering under the economic climate, cutting back on animal care bills.

“People need to start realising that there is very little financial reward in breeding horses and ponies, especially where there is poor husbandry or the animals have genetic problems. You won’t make your fortune, all you will have is lots of horses and animals on your hands which need feeding, shelter and care and which you will not be able to sell.”

  • What the Government can do:
  • The Government should introduce criminal legislation targeting fly grazing – punishing offenders with fines and seizure of horses
  • – Introduce legislation or mechanisms to better link horses to owners to tackle irresponsible ownership
  • – Increased intelligence-led enforcement of horse imports and exports
  • – Review the Tripartite agreement** that allows the import and export of vulnerable horses and ponies into and out of Britain from Ireland and France
  • – Encourage responsible breeding through guidance and education
  • – More assistance for local authorities including provision of places to keep horses on a temporary basis
  • – Improve enforcement and cooperation between enforcement agencies and charitiesWhat YOU can do:
  • – The horse owning public can play an important part by keeping on top of their own situation. If you need help, please contact our Welfare helpline on 01508 481008 for advice before the situation escalates into a welfare problem.
  • – If you think you could give a good new home to a horse or pony you can view the horses we have available for rehoming here: www.redwings.co.uk/rehoming. The National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) is a membership organisation for over sixty horse charities and welfare organisations and details of how to rehome a horse from any of its members can be found at http://www.newc.co.uk/
  • – Members of the public can also write to their MP  (click the link below to send email) and ask them to lobby the Secretary of State Owen Paterson about the national horse crisis and ask him to support tougher laws to encourage responsible ownership and improve enforcement. http://campaign.publicaffairsbriefing.co.uk/emailsupport.aspx?cid=defb0b88-91af-4aab-a047-f6aff6db6c97

    Tiny Tilly was dumped on the side of a road with a severe leg injury

And of course, please continue to support us so we can help as many horses as we can, just like those below…and thank you for all your support in the past from everyone here at Redwings. Thank you!

Left on the verge

Horse welfare charities need your help to handle what could become a ‘horse crisis’ in England and Wales.

We are under immense pressure due to the increasing number of horses and ponies needing our help. There are 2,800 equines in our rehoming centres, which are now at capacity, and it is estimated that a further 6,000 horses are at risk in England and Wales. There is real concern that should there be another harsh winter, we will be physically unable to cope with the number of horses needing urgent care.

World Horse Welfare, the RSPCA, Redwings, The Blue Cross, The British Horse Society and HorseWorld are working together with the support of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) to try and overcome this crisis, and have produced a report showing the problem and our proposed solutions, but we also need the support of the horse owning public, government agencies and local authorities. 

Please help us by emailing your MP and asking them to support us in dealing with this crisis. We need Government support for the solutions in our report. By contacting Ministers, MPs can use their influence to help us – but we need you, their constituents, to ask them to do so.

News Link:http://www.redwings.org.uk/news-horsecrisis.php

Full-scale badger cull set to get government go-ahead

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First licence expected to be issued in policy that could lead to a third of the animal’s national population being shot

Protesters at a rally against the proposed badger cull in Bristol earlier this week. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The Government is poised to give the go-ahead to the first full-scale cull of badgers in England, under a policy that could soon mean as many as 100,000 of the animals – a third of the national population – are shot dead by farmers in an attempt to protect cattle from bovine tuberculosis.

According to Whitehall sources, the first of two licences is expected to be issued as soon as Monday for a large pilot cull area in Gloucestershire, which is a hotspot for bovine TB.

Previously, there have been localised trials to test the science behind such culls. Yet despite the mixed results of the tests, ministers have decided to push ahead with the national scheme after winning an appeal-court battle brought by campaigners last week.

In 2011, 26,000 cows were slaughtered because of the disease, which can also be carried by badgers.

A decade-long scientific trial of badger culling concluded that such killing could make “no meaningful contribution”, and was “not an effective way” to control the disease. But the government is going forward with the plan under intense pressure from British farmers.

A Defra spokesman said: “We will continue to work with the farming industry so badger control in two pilot areas can start as soon as is practical.”

As yet, no badgers have been killed as part of the cull, but with only straightforward administrative steps required after the granting of the licence, culling could begin within days.

Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, is a fervent supporter of the cull, having tabled a record 600 parliamentary questions on the issue while serving as environment spokesman in opposition.

In an interview with the Farmers Guardian on Friday, Patterson appeared to cast the proposed cull as being of benefit to badgers: “I find the attitude of those who want these wonderful animals to die of this disgusting disease [bovine TB] completely incomprehensible.”

But Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, said: “The cull will cost more than it saves, put a huge strain on the police, and will spread bovine TB in the short term as badgers are disturbed by the shooting. Ministers should listen to the scientists and can this cull – which is bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.”

A source in Paterson’s department said the controversial policy was causing great anxiety: “The panic among senior officials outweighs anything since foot and mouth. It makes The Thick of It look tame and gentle.”

The government has refused to release numerous documents under freedom of information rules, including advice from the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir John Beddington, and communication with the National Farmers Union. The latter was blocked on the grounds that it was “internal communication”.

Natural England, the licensing body, said: “We are working flat out with licence applicants on processing their applications. We will issue licences to enable control activity to commence in the pilot areas as soon as is possible.”

The licence will be issued to a group of farmers and landowners who will commit to killing at least 70% of the badgers on their land for at least four years in a row.

The government’s own impact assessment concluded that it would cost farmers more to carry out the cull than to do nothing and suffer any losses from bovine TB.

The licence area must also have “hard boundaries”, such as rivers, to prevent badgers fleeing and potentially spreading the disease and making the situation worse.

The government pointed to the 16% cut in bovine TB found at the end of the 10-year trial but the new culls will use a different killing method. Instead of trapping then shooting – considered expensive – the badgers will be “free shot” by marksmen. The deaths have to occur before 1 February, when the close season for badger shooting begins and runs till 31 May.

But the start of the cull could be halted by a legal challenge to the licence. The Badger Trust, which unsuccessfully challenged the government’s cull policy in the appeal court last week, stated: “We will continue to pursue all legal means to stop culling. We will closely study any licences issued by Natural England.” The trust was successful in a previous legal action against badger culling in Wales. Campaigners are also pursuing a complaint against the government in Europe under the Bern convention, which governs wildlife and habitat protection.

A licence for a cull in Somerset is thought to be taking longer to process due to a legal issue involving the crown estate, but sources said they did not expect that to prevent the licence being granted in due course.

Animal rights campaigners are determined to halt the trials through protests at the cull sites, whose location is not being made public. Volunteers plan to patrol the zones and stop the badgers coming into the open.

The Gloucestershire and Somerset culls are trials meant to test whether free shooting is as effective as trapping and shooting.

Critics say the short time of the trials will be insufficient for comparison with the decade-long trial, but if the government calls the trials a success, killing will happen across affected areas in England and is expected to end the lives of 70,000 to 105,000 badgers – from an entire UK population estimated at 300,000.

A badger vaccination plan is replacing the Welsh cull. Vaccination is also being tested in Devon by the National Trust, and by the Wildlife Trust in Gloucestershire.

The last Labour government said an oral badger vaccine would be ready by 2015. The coalition cancelled five of six trials of injectable vaccines, and said a viable oral vaccine was “years away”.

News Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/16/badger-cull-government-go-ahead

Petition:-https://www.e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=122&ea.campaign.id=12310

Petition:-http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2214

Petition:-http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaigns/wildlife/badgers

More Info:www.backoffbadgers.org.uk

More Info:-http://badger-killers.co.uk/

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