University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Departmental Seminar Programme, Department of Veterinary Medicine > Science, Media, Policy and Wildlife: The Badger/Bovine TB Controversy

Science, Media, Policy and Wildlife: The Badger/Bovine TB Controversy

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Debates over whether to cull wild badgers to help manage bovine TB in domestic cattle have been ongoing since the 1970s, when the two species were first linked and badgers became a highly protected wildlife species. This talk will give an overview of my research investigating public debates over badgers and bovine TB since the commissioning of the Krebs report in the mid 1990s. I will discuss how the issue has been framed by opposed groupings of media, scientific, industry, NGO , celebrity and political actors. Advocates on both sides have drawn upon a historical legacy of debate over badgers in British culture to represent the animals either as innocent victims or disruptive ‘vermin’; while also mobilising shared rhetorics of ‘the public’ and ‘sound science’ to support their case. This paper will trace the development of badger/bTB from specialist debate into mainstream public controversy, and examine the role of polarisation in this process. Finally, it will reflect on the various sciences involved with badgers and bTB, their relationships with political decision making, and how the issue might be reframed in order to move beyond the current impasse over how best to manage this worsening animal disease problem.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminar Programme, Department of Veterinary Medicine series.

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