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Northern Ireland considering culling badgers
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£4 million research programme to be commissioned

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has responded to recent criticism from the Ulster Farmer's Union (UFU) of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) policy on badger culling as a means of countering the spread of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) by confirming that controlling the disease is a 'key priority'.

Ms O'Neill stated that “We are investing around £4million to commission a programme of TB and wildlife research and studies towards the ultimate aim of eradicating TB in cattle. We will use the evidence produced by this programme to inform a comprehensive approach that deals with all aspects of TB and will help to reduce the level of disease in cattle.”

“We already have a rigorous EU Commission approved eradication programme in place. We also need to build a sound evidence base to underpin further interventions in cattle and/or wildlife that could help to reduce TB as part of our eradication programme.” the Minister added.

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Beef production is more damaging to the environment than other protein sources, study suggests

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that beef production is approximately 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock.

It has long been known that beef has a greater impact than other meats, but this paper is the first to quantify the scale in a comparative way, the BBC reports.

The scientists measured the environment inputs required to produce the main sources of protein. It was found that beef cattle need 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than pork, poultry, eggs or dairy.

Although the study was based on US data, researchers say that the conclusions are applicable in Europe.

Speaking to the BBC, professor Mark Sutton, from the UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: "The overall environmental footprint of beef is particularly large because it combines a low production efficiency with very high volume,"

"The result is that the researchers estimate that over 60 per cent of the environmental burden of livestock in the US results from beef. Although the exact numbers will be different for Europe, the overall message will be similar: cattle dominate the livestock footprint of both Europe and US."