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Tb (Badgers)

Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the incidence of TB in badgers was in (a) England and Wales and (b) the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire in each of the last five years. [111019]

Since 1998, collection of data about the incidence of TB in badgers has been collected only from the randomised badger culling trial (the "Krebs" trial) and from the road traffic accident survey taking place in seven counties (Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Dorset). Data from both will be analysed by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG).It is a fundamental principle of scientific trials that data must not be released prematurely since that could compromise the subsequent integrity of the trials. The ISG expressed concern in its second report that no data should be released from the field trial and related research which could discourage farmers' willingness to participate in the trial, or encourage either illegal killing of badgers or interference with trial operations. For this reason, they recommended that a narrow band of data (including the prevalence of TB in badgers caught in the trial) should not be disclosed. The ISG has asserted and reinforced the need for total confidentiality of these data until such time as they can be safely released with a considered analysis.