The RSPCA has called for "badger friendly" labels on milk and other dairy products, which are sourced from farms not participating in the badger cull. The Animal charity says farmers should be made to feel the commercial consequences of the cull.
As reported by Digital Journal, last week the UK government issued a licence authorising the mass killing of badgers. The policy, which is intended to reduce the incidence of bovine TB in cattle, is highly controversial. It has been severely criticised by both scientists and animal welfare groups. A petition against the cull on the government website, which was only created last week, has already received over 100,000 signatures.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has now called for milk and other dairy products that come from farms that are not participating in the cull to be labelled "badger friendly" so consumers can make informed decisions.
The Independent quotes Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the RSPCA, as saying:
Those who care will not want to visit areas or buy milk from farms soaked in badgers' blood. Dairy consumers should be saying: "I will not buy milk from areas where they are culling". Landowners and farmers allowing this to happen on their land have to realise there will be commercial consequences.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) was quick to react to the call to provide badger friendly labelling. Tom Hinds, Director of Corporate Affairs at the National Farmers Union, said anyone calling for people to boycott milk from where the badger culls are taking place are "playing fast and loose with an extremely serious animal welfare issue". He added:
By potentially threatening the livelihoods of dairy and beef farmers, and the jobs of people in the tourism industry, you have to ask; are you serious about finding a solution to TB or have you just become part of the problem?
Contrary to the NFU's suggestion that people opposed to the mass killing of badgers do not care about animal welfare and addressing the issue of bovine TB, Lord Krebs, the scientist whose work the cull is based on described the policy as "crazy" and suggested vaccination and biosecurity as a better solution.
As BBC News reports, the fact that the petition against the badger cull has passed the 100,000 threshold means parliamentary time should be found to debate the issue. In such a debate, it is difficult to see how calls for accurate labelling in order to allow consumers to make informed decisions could be reasonably rebuffed.