The government's decision to give the go-ahead for pilot badger-culling schemes in England in an effort to combat bovine TB was based on "short-term political calculations" and was not backed by scientific evidence, shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh has said.
In a Commons statement on 19 July 2011, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman acknowledged there was "great strength of feeling" about a cull but insisted: "I believe this is the right way forward."
Mrs Spelman said there would be further consultation on the proposed guidance issued to Natural England, who will issue culling licences, and in the first year there would be two pilot schemes.
She said: "I wish there was some other practical way of dealing with this, but we can't escape the fact that the evidence supports the case for a controlled reduction of the badger population in the areas worst affected by bovine TB."
But Ms Creagh said Mrs Spelman had scrapped vaccine programmes and failed to accept the findings of a major badger control trial under Labour.
She said: "When you became secretary of state you cancelled five of Labour's six trials into a vaccine for badger TB.
"Why did you not give those vaccine trials a chance to work?"
The cull announcement was "led by short-term political calculation" and "these pilots will not change the science".
"Your solution - the free shooting of badgers - has never been tested. It is therefore not supported by the science," she concluded.