1. BTB poses negligible risk to human health in the UK. The current policy has a greater adverse effect on cattle welfare than the disease could.
2. The existing test and cull regime would take decades to achieve OTF status, if it ever did, whatever is done or not done to badgers.
3. The “skin test” is only suitable as a herd test. It misses far too many cattle (and condemns too many falsely) to be very effective in finding infected individuals and removing them from the herd.
4. It is widely said that countries which have achieved OTF status have addressed any wildlife reservoir. It is conveniently forgotten (by those wanting to slaughter wildlife) that the two examples they choose most often, Australia and USA, have used the skin test as a herd test – if one reactor is found the whole herd, however large, is slaughtered.
5. Most importantly cattle vaccination must be allowed. It could be used alone or alongside any other policies and methods. The vaccine and the accompanying test could be licensed this year with the political will.
6. Only EU law prevents cattle vaccination, and EU law over rules ours. Defra claim that it would take 5 years to change. They have been saying this for as long as anyone can remember and there is little evidence of efforts to actually change it. Other authorities say it could be changed very quickly. The French and Italians would probably just ignore it. It is intolerable that we cannot use vaccines to protect our cattle and the interests of our farmers against BTB. The reason for the EU prohibition, interference with the skin test, is no longer relevant as a different test would be used on vaccinated cattle.