Need to Know

So many myths, so little time…

Myths and misconceptions crop up with alarming frequency in the long-running debate on bovine TB and what needs to be done to manage it. Indeed, some of these myths and misconceptions are repeated so often they’ve become rather like mantras and can easily be mistaken for facts. But as we plan to demonstrate on Need to Know, the evidence base for some of these oft-repeated claims and justifications for badger culling is less than black and white. Instead, it is either inconclusive (i.e. open to interpretation), at odds with the best available evidence (i.e. false), or entirely unsubstantiated (i.e. speculative).

Others too like to bust myths. Defra had a dedicated mythbusters webpage until recently, albeit not specifically on badgers and bovine TB. We couldn’t find anything similar on their new website (on, but maybe it will pop up soon.

Meanwhile, the NFU has also taken to busting myths and misconceptions, specifically on badgers and bovine TB.  We suspect we may be covering some of the same topics on Badgergate and we aim to do this in a systematic evidence-based manner.

In Need to Know we will look particularly closely at the pilot badger culls, including amongst other things their scientific and economic basis, stated policy objectives and design, including monitoring and evaluation. We also consider badger and cattle-related topics insofar as they are relevant to analyzing the Government’s badger control policy.

Bovine TB is not a new problem or unique to the U.K. Consequently, a wealth of information exists on many different aspects of the disease and its management from many different countries. Much of this information is in the form of scientific papers and technical reports that are either difficult to access or, more often, almost impossible for non-specialists to want to wade through or understand. As and when time permits, Badgergate will provide summaries of key scientific and technical issues for the non-specialist reader, including reviews of scientific and technical papers that are particularly relevant to the current debate on badger control and bovine TB management in England.