Campaigners call for clarity over badger cull in organic sector

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Campaigners opposed to the badger cull are upping the pressure on the organic sector, as a new survey suggests one in three organic shoppers could end up boycotting organic milk because of concerns over the planned controversial cull.

A YouGov poll of 3,651 adults – commissioned by charity Care for the Wild, which opposes the cull – suggests 35% of those who buy organic produce are either “very likely” or “fairly likely” to stop buying organic milk from farms that participate in the planned badger cull pilots.

Philip Mansbridge of Care for the Wild said the results showed the organic industry – and the Soil Association – urgently needed to come clean on where the sector stood with regards to the cull.

“Just as people buy Fairtrade because they don’t want to buy from sweat shops, many people are drawn to organic dairy products because they care about animal welfare,” he said.

“The organic brand means something to people – and this poll shows that it doesn’t mean slaughtering badgers.”

A pilot cull of badgers is due to go ahead in West Gloucestershire and Somerset shortly, although there were suggestions today it could be delayed as anti-cull campaigners step up their protests.

The Soil Association said in a position statement on the cull that its standards covered production aspects only, “not other things that happen on farms, such as public access or killing animals like rats or rabbits”.

“Decisions on whether to allow badgers to be killed on their land is something individual organic farmers will decide,” it said.

“It would not make sense for consumers to stop buying organic milk if they disagree with badger culling when independent reviews have shown that no other system of farming has higher animal welfare standards and government studies have shown that organic farms have up to 50% more wildlife.”

Readers' comments (5)

  • I always buy organic milk. Yes, the reason is animal welfare.
    I absolutely refuse to have any small part in this trial cull and will only purchase dairy/meat products from farms/areas that are guaranteed as NOT participating.
    I do wish the Soil Association would speak out against this unscientific and unjustifiable cull but that is a matter for their own moral conscience.
    I will, therefore, continue to buy organic food because it will still offer the highest animal welfare standards but I will have to be alot more proactive and selective. I will also harbour a little resentment against the organic sector for what I consider to be a pitiful stance

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  • I will not buy any Soil Association registered products because of their appalling support for this barbaric and unscientific slaughter. People who buy organic do not expect the producers to be shooting and maiming badgers. Shame on the Soil Assoication!

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  • It absolutely DOES make sense. To most people, 'organic' is synonymous with 'ethical', and there is nothing ethical about cruelly shooting 70% of the local badger population when studies show that over 95% of those badgers will be perfectly healthy. It is criminal, immoral, and most definitely not ethical. People expect better standards from our Organic farmers. Please vote to vaccinate badgers, not kill tens of thousands of healthy animals for no gain at all to cattle farmers.

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

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  • People may buy organic food for their own health's sake but the same people are likely to have a conscience about slaughtering an iconic protected species against all the scientific evidence that they play only a minimal part in bovine TB.

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  • Current government policy on culling badgers is non-scientific, immoral and unethical. A few powerful voices have backed the Government and DEFRA into a corner. Evidence for not culling badgers is science-based, rational, moral and ethical. In addition, the pilot cull relies on methods that have not been tested, are not randomised and have no controls in place to allow an objective post-cull evaluation of their effectiveness. The pilot cull is driven by sentiment, not science

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