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Doing TB differently: Generating a workable TB policy during an acute episode within a chronic countryside conflict

1 October 2013 - 31 March 2015

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Clare Saunders

Research partners: Professor Stephen Hinchliffe (Geography) and Professor Robbie McDonald (Environment and Sustainability Institute) at the University of Exeter

Funding awarded: £ 200,000

Sponsor(s): ESRC

About the research

Drawing on the case study of pilot badger culling, this ESRC-funded project seeks to assess reactions to emergent science claims and whether deliberative forums can assist in the resolution of intractable policy problems.  In the summer of 2013, the UK government in England began a pilot scheme to cull badgers using controlled shooting.  This pilot is hugely controversial, leading to disputes amongst those who are for and against the cull, and the largest yet E-Gov petition.  Although the debate is not straightforwardly black-and-white, farmers, landowners and veterinary surgeons generally consider that culling will help control bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle.  Conservationists and animal rights groups stand firmly against it, questioning evidence in favour of culling.  The pilot scheme will be officially assessed on the grounds of effectiveness at reducing badger populations by 70%, humaneness of shooting and public safely.  The narrowness of official policy evidence is likely to exacerbate tensions between pro-and anti-cullers further.  Using a mix of methods, we seek to answer these two key questions: How does emerging policy evidence shape key actors’ understanding of the issue and the stakes of conflict?  And to what extent is it possible to move the debate beyond black-and-white divides by bringing together those involved in the conflict in deliberative forums?

Read our blog.

Economic and Social Research Council