Why are the supermarkets keeping so schtum about the badger cull?

The truth is that the badger is being used as a scapegoat by both the dairy industry and the Government that's using flawed science as a justification for the cull

Share
Related Topics

As the howls of protest against the badger cull grow ever louder, there's one voice that's strikingly silent in the vociferous debate over the shooting of badgers: that of our big supermarkets.

The big supermarkets enjoy a dominant position in the retail milk market with 70 per cent of milk being bought from the Big Seven: ASDA; Co-op; M&S; Morrisons; Sainsbury's; Tesco and Waitrose.

Unusually for a sector that normally can't keep its big marketing mouth shut, the Big Seven are keeping tight-lipped on the issue and what little they've said amounts to nothing more than sitting on the farmyard fence.

Care For The Wild, Ethical Consumer and other groups from Team Badger, a coalition of animal welfare and environmental groups opposed to the badger cull, believe that the big supermarkets must shoulder some of the blame for the crisis facing the dairy industry.

For years dairy farmers have had to deal with the supermarkets' bully-boy tactics of slashing the amount they paid for the farmers' milk.

This downward pressure on prices has led to the dairy industry industrialising milk production on an unprecedented scale in an effort to turn a profit from ever tighter margins with Daisy being turned into a non-stop milk-making machine.

The impact on animal welfare is that cow herds are increasingly stressed making them more vulnerable to infections, including bovine TB.

With falling incomes dairy farmers have also increased the trade in cattle to over 13 million cattle movements a year, the highest figure in the EU, despite such movements being recognised as a major cause of disease transmission.

The Big Seven are also open to accusations of hypocrisy over the badger cull crisis.

Many progressive supermarkets take a responsible attitude on other wildlife issues such as the negative impact that palm oil plantations are having on orangutans in south east Asia.

So why don't they care about the senseless killing of badgers, a protected species in the UK?

Just three of the Big Seven supermarkets - ASDA, M&S and Waitrose - guarantee that their own-brand milk is sourced from outside the cull zones, although this is probably down to the luck of their supply-chains rather than policy.

If the cull is rolled out nationally it's doubtful that even these supermarkets would be able to claim that their milk is badger-friendly and like the other big supermarkets they'll have to face an increasingly angry army of shoppers demanding action.

The truth is that the badger is being used as a scapegoat by both the dairy industry which is in crisis and the Government that's using flawed science as a justification for the cull. It's no surprise that the supermarkets aren't challenging this as it maintains the status quo and keeps milk prices low.

Public opinion is clearly on the side of the badgers yet the cull has been steamrollered through regardless illustrating that democracy is failing our wildlife.

With the public being ignored, it seems that the only hope for the badgers are those people who are trying to stop the senseless killing of badgers themselves.

If you don't want to buy into the cull then check out Ethical Consumer's badger-friendly shopping list that helps shoppers boycott milk sourced from dairy farmers involved in the badger cull. It also includes a guide to dairy alternatives which avoids the animal welfare problems that the dairy industry poses for both cows and badgers.

Shoppers can also badger the Big Seven into helping to stop the cull, whilst the supermarkets themselves should wake up, accept that they're part of the problem and use their colossal economic clout to become part of the solution.

Katy Brown is an animal rights, environmental and social justice campaigner and co-edits Ethical Consumer magazine

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
More From
Katy Brown
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high