By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News
28 March 2017
A senior researcher has accused the UK government of using "fake science" to justify its policy of culling badgers to control cattle TB.
Prof Rosie Woodroffe has told BBC News that ministers were creating an "illusion" of success to justify the policy.
She was speaking ahead of a scientific symposium on controlling cattle TB.
Ministers say their approach is supported by government scientists and leading vets.
When evidence is being cherry-picked and presented in the best possible light it ceases to be evidence. It is fake scienceProf Rosie Woodroffe, ZSL
Prof Woodroffe, a wildlife expert at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) who carried out the scientific assessment of culling badgers to control Cattle TB on which the current policy is based, said the government risked losing trust on how it used evidence - not just on its policy on controlling cattle TB but also on other important scientific issues.
"When evidence is being cherry-picked and presented in the best possible light, it ceases to be evidence. It is fake science.
"When it comes to (other policy areas) such as climate change and bee pollination, issues that have a big impact on lives and livelihoods of people, it is important that we can rely on the government to provide good evidence that stands up to scrutiny."
England has the highest incidence of TB in Europe and that is why we are taking strong actionDefra Spokesman
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which oversees the badger cull, responded: "England has the highest incidence of TB in Europe and that is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease and to protect the future of our dairy and beef industries.
"Badger control in areas where TB is rife is one part of our long-term plan, which also includes strengthening cattle testing and movement controls, improving biosecurity on farm and when trading, and badger vaccination when possible."