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Volume 171: debated on Friday 4 May 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 19 April, Official Report, column 980, what conclusion he has drawn from the Stormont study's findings that the presence of a substantial population of infected badgers was not associated with tuberculosis breakdown in the study area.

An internal study by the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland concluded that the main origin of breakdowns in the limited study area appeared to be cattle-to-cattle contact. There is no reason to doubt the validity of this conclusion for the area studied. Nor is there any contradiction between this conclusion and the firm evidence that exists of badgers being implicated in outbreaks of tuberculosis in other areas of the United Kingdom.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the connection between local badger populations and the level of local cattle infected with tuberculosis.

In 1989, badgers were implicated in 69 of the 96 new confirmed cattle breakdowns in south-west England and in one of the 28 occurring elsewhere in Great Britain.