Chris Packham: milk boycott is not the way to save badgers
'Rural communities have enough problems as it is without us boycotting their produce,' says TV naturalist
WILDLIFE presenter Chris Packham has condemned activists' plans to boycott milk produced in areas where badger cull trials are due to take place, claiming it would be "counter productive".
Packham said activists should "leave farmers alone", as "rural communities have enough problems as it is without us boycotting their produce".
The BBC Springwatch presenter, who is against the badger cull, told The Daily Telegraph that fellow campaigners should instead use science to persuade farmers not to go through with the culls.
Packham said the Government's own studies show a badger cull will not stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis and the shootings have the potential to worsen the spread of the disease, as sick badgers flee from cull areas into other UK regions.
However, rock star Brian May and other members of the Team Badger anti-cull coalition have pledged not to buy milk from farms where badgers have been killed.
Gavin Grant, chief executive of the RSPCA, called for supermarkets to use 'badger friendly' labels, so supporters could avoid milk "soaked in badger blood". Other activists have said they will invade the shooting areas to protest and will vandalise supermarkets stocking milk from cull areas.
The National Farmers Union called the attempts to prevent the cull "cowardly". NFU director of corporate affairs Tom Hind said: "This simply deflects attentions from where they should be focused; eradicating this terrible disease of TB from both our beef and dairy herds - and from badgers."
The threat of boycotts has forced Britain's leading supermarkets to release statements clarifying their positions on the subject, reports The Guardian.
Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons are likely to face a backlash from protestors as they appear to support the cull. A Tesco spokesperson said the supermarket remained committed to supporting farmers "through this challenging time and have no plans to stop sourcing from farmers in the affected areas".
M&S, Waitrose, Asda and the Co-op have all adopted a more neutral stance, claiming it is a matter for the government. M&S and the Co-op both make it clear that they have never sourced supplies from the pilot areas in the West Country anyway.
The new farming minister, David Heath, has insisted that, despite the protests and a petition against the cull of over 100,000 signatures, the government remains 100 per cent committed to its decision.
The pilot cull in Gloucestershire is likely to begin in four weeks and a licence for culling in Somerset is expected to be issued by the governmental body Natural England later this week.