MADAM - The Governments Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) backed by its masters in the National Farmers' Union (NFU) is leading a campaign of brainwashing the public into believing a cull of badgers is essential.

It is trying to argue that black is white, or rather that black and white must be eliminated from our countryside.

Cattle TB, as its name suggests, is a cattle disease.

It is not a disease that originated in badgers.

Hence, even if every badger in the country was slaughtered there would still be disease in cattle.

Even so, Defra and the NFU over the next 25 years want to exterminate badgers over large tracks of our countryside.

Cattle TB is a horrible disease that does need to be eradicated.

There is only one way to do this and that is by vaccination of cattle.

The Government claims that this is many years away but the amount of money spent on developing a vaccine is derisory compared with that spent on compensating farmers for killing cattle.

The cry from the NFU is that TB kills cattle.

It does not.

It is Government policy that is killing cattle, because they have dragged their feet over developing, implementing and gaining acceptance for a vaccine.

The cattle which are slaughtered look perfectly healthy; the presence of the disease can only be determined by a special test.

The notion that disease can be controlled by killing is medieval.

We are not living in the those times.

Man managed to land safely on the moon 40 years ago and vaccines have been developed for TB in, at least, humans and badgers.

It is not rocket science to develop one for cattle.

Only government inertia, lack of funding, and lobbying from the all-powerful NFU, is stopping progress.

The big question is why are Defra and the NFU so keen on culling badgers when there is no scientific basis for the measure, and it is a measure that could actually make cattle TB worse?

The NFU quote success in tackling TB by culling badgers in a limited number of other countries.

In Ireland there has been a drop in cattle TB, not a large drop but culling badgers was not the only measure implemented.

What about Scotland where there are badgers and there is no TB?

What about the many other countries in continental Europe?

If you follow the NFU argument, then we should be eradicating badgers, then deer, then foxes and any other mammals that may carry TB.

We would be left with no mammals in the British countryside.

The badger is supposed to be a protected species.

How can we as a nation criticise other countries over their lack of conservation when we are pursuing the extermination of a protected species?

What we need is a concerted effort to rapidly develop and deploy a cattle vaccine.

It is the only effective option to ensure the health of cattle and the livelihood of our farmers.

Fortunately, it is not long until a general election.

If the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats don't change course they will be tarred as badger killers and will have to face the consequences.

Dr Clive Mowforth Dursley