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Moral Disability and Tuberculosis

Posted on 3rd July 2014

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This report on the BBC really causes me to doubt the competence of politicians to make rational and moral decisions.

The story describes new research which suggests that the culling of badgers to control the spread of TB in cattle will never work, and that other existing control measures are also insufficient. The study recommends a new strategy be defined.

One of the facts highlighted in the BBC story is the use of testing for TB to limit the spread of TB in cattle. The test currently used does not reliably detect TB in the early stages of infection, meaning that infected cattle can infect other beasts in the herd before their disease is detected. Duh!

What is made clear by the story is that the whole strategy for TB control in dairy herds in the UK (and therefore probably elsewhere too) is based on bad science and bad control techniques. This should not be a surprise to anyone; a small amount of reading on the subject leads to this inevitable and obvious conclusion.

My real question is, how can such a dodgy scientific case be used as the justification of a programme (now finally cancelled, thank goodness) for mass culling of badgers? The culling programme is difficult enough to justify at the best of times, but how on earth can such a morally questionable activity be implemented on the basis of such a thoroughly incomplete and unsound scientific background?

I recently posted some comments, here, on a recent call by Mark Carney, the new governor of the Bank of England, for more ethics in business. How about more ethics in politics?