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Sunday, 17 January 2010

Bovine TB

There is among Plaid, Labour and Conservatives a degree of consensus on bTB which in the run up to the General Election is unusual, granted of course that this is a devolved matter and not technically relevant to Westminster. However it is a major issue in rural Wales. The behaviour of the Liberal Democrats again highlights the inconsistency for which they are famous, who do we listen to their Leader or their internal opposition? Peter Black has comprehensively dismissed and disassociated himself from his Leader's press release, the blog headline should read 'My Leader is wrong on this matter'.
What is lost in this and is appreciated by the other parties is the 3 pronged attack on bTB, there is the comprehensive testing regime, greater control on bovine movements and lastly the badger cull. Choosing to emphasise one at the expense of the others is misleading.
Our MP in Ceredigion is VERY quiet on the matter, does he support Peter Black? does he support the 'do nothing' attitude of DEFRA? does he support his leader? or as is typical of the Liberal Democrats there is another line operating in Ceredigion?


Anonymous said...

Hi Penri, Have you read George Monbiot's (a constituent of yours of course) take on the badger cull issue? What do you think?

Farming Today, today was also interesting on the issue on Radio 4 at 6.30am.

Penri James said...

Jeremy - Actually George Monbiot lives in Aberdyfi which is in Elfyn Llwyd's constituency. George Monbiot makes his usual thorough appraisal of the situation but I disagree with his conclusion. The policy is a three pronged process, thorough testing of cattle, movement control not just the badger cull. Whatever policy is adopted whether the vaccination programme in England or the more rigorous approach in Wales, experimental controls are difficult if not impossible to set up and until a policy is given time to operate in a particular area, it is only over time that accurate comparators can be evaluated. Unfortunately the status quo is not an option.

Anonymous said...

Apologies for being geographically challenged ;-) Monbiot's main point about how testing 2 simultaneous variables (culling and other management improvements) in a scientific experiment will render the results experiment impossible to evaluate is surely correct?

If you want to test the effectiveness of culling, then that's all you do in the test area, you don't do other stuff as well, otherwise you never know what resulted in what, and we are back to square one, not knowing which approach is most effective.

Penri James said...

Jeremy - Scientific experiments regularly test for 2 or more simultaneous variables and there are statistical tests available to distinguish between each. However in this case, it is not an experiment as such unless you make comparisons between tb control practices as a package i.e. Tagging/Movements/Culling in North Pembs vs Movements/Culling in all other areas. The single differentiating variable here is the cull and it should be possible to make comparisons, assuming all other factors are equal, which they are unlikely to be. I am talking grey areas here which is always the case with policy that has a scientific basis. I want to see what happens as a result of the cull.