Bovine Tuberculosis Policy in England: Would a Virtuous Government Cull Mr Badger?

Steven McCulloch, Michael J. Reiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Bovine tuberculosis (bovine TB) is the most important animal health and welfare policy issue in Britain. Badgers are a wildlife reservoir of disease, although the eight-year Independent Scientific Group (ISG) Randomised Badger Culling Trial concluded with a recommendation against culling. The report advised government that bovine TB could be controlled, and ultimately eradicated, by cattle-based measures alone. Despite the ISG recommendation against culling, the farming and veterinary industries continued to lobby government for a badger cull. The 2005--2010 Labour government followed the ISG advice and decided against a cull. The 2010--2015 Coalition and the 2015-present Conservative governments have followed a badger culling policy. This paper investigates whether a virtuous government would cull badgers. It provides an overview of virtue theory in the context of government animal health and welfare policy. Bovine TB and badger control policy options are then analysed in the context of the virtues of justice, wisdom, integrity, loyalty, curiosity, trust, empathy, compassion and aesthetics. Justice is the first virtue of government, and badger culling is seriously problematic from a virtue perspective given that five badgers are culled per cow that avoids slaughter as a result. Analysis based on other virtues strongly suggests that government should not cull badgers. The paper concludes that a virtuous government would not cull badgers as part of policy to control bovine TB in cattle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-563
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Volume30
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2017

Keywords

  • Animal health and welfare polic
  • Badger culling
  • Badger vaccination
  • Bovine tuberculosis
  • Evidence-based policy
  • Virtue theory

Cite this

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title = "Bovine Tuberculosis Policy in England: Would a Virtuous Government Cull Mr Badger?",
abstract = "Bovine tuberculosis (bovine TB) is the most important animal health and welfare policy issue in Britain. Badgers are a wildlife reservoir of disease, although the eight-year Independent Scientific Group (ISG) Randomised Badger Culling Trial concluded with a recommendation against culling. The report advised government that bovine TB could be controlled, and ultimately eradicated, by cattle-based measures alone. Despite the ISG recommendation against culling, the farming and veterinary industries continued to lobby government for a badger cull. The 2005--2010 Labour government followed the ISG advice and decided against a cull. The 2010--2015 Coalition and the 2015-present Conservative governments have followed a badger culling policy. This paper investigates whether a virtuous government would cull badgers. It provides an overview of virtue theory in the context of government animal health and welfare policy. Bovine TB and badger control policy options are then analysed in the context of the virtues of justice, wisdom, integrity, loyalty, curiosity, trust, empathy, compassion and aesthetics. Justice is the first virtue of government, and badger culling is seriously problematic from a virtue perspective given that five badgers are culled per cow that avoids slaughter as a result. Analysis based on other virtues strongly suggests that government should not cull badgers. The paper concludes that a virtuous government would not cull badgers as part of policy to control bovine TB in cattle.",
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Bovine Tuberculosis Policy in England: Would a Virtuous Government Cull Mr Badger? / McCulloch, Steven; Reiss, Michael J.

Vol. 30, No. 4, 28.08.2017, p. 551-563.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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