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  • Open Access
  • © 2019

Vermin, Victims and Disease

British Debates over Bovine Tuberculosis and Badgers

Palgrave Macmillan


  • Focuses on the interactions and collaborations between scientists, policymakers, campaigners and the public to understand how this problem has developed into today’s publicly polarised controversy

  • An Open Access title that combines historical and social science approaches, incorporating policy archives, mass media and oral history

  • Provides a reliable source of information for those currently engaged in this continuing debate and offers recommendations for moving ahead

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 34.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (8 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxiv
  2. Contexts

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
    2. Of Badgers, Bovines and Bacteria

      • Angela Cassidy
      Pages 3-46Open Access
    3. How the Badger Became Tuberculous

      • Angela Cassidy
      Pages 47-72Open Access
  3. Reframing Bovine TB (c. 1960–1995)

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 73-73
    2. Changing Veterinary Knowledge

      • Angela Cassidy
      Pages 75-117Open Access
    3. Pest Control and Ecology

      • Angela Cassidy
      Pages 119-159Open Access
    4. Protecting the Badger?

      • Angela Cassidy
      Pages 161-201Open Access
  4. Contesting Animal Health (1996–Present)

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 203-203
    2. Cutting the Cake of Science and Policy

      • Angela Cassidy
      Pages 205-240Open Access
    3. Building a Public Controversy

      • Angela Cassidy
      Pages 241-274Open Access
    4. The Badgers Have Moved the Goalposts!

      • Angela Cassidy
      Pages 275-294Open Access
  5. Back Matter

    Pages 295-366

About this book

This open access book provides the first critical history of the controversy over whether to cull wild badgers to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in British cattle. This question has plagued several professional generations of politicians, policymakers, experts and campaigners since the early 1970s. Questions of what is known, who knows, who cares, who to trust and what to do about this complex problem have been the source of scientific, policy, and increasingly vociferous public debate ever since. This book integrates contemporary history, science and technology studies, human-animal relations, and policy research to conduct a cross-cutting analysis. It explores the worldviews of those involved with animal health, disease ecology and badger protection between the 1970s and 1990s, before reintegrating them to investigate the recent public polarisation of the controversy. Finally it asks how we might move beyond the current impasse.


  • bTB
  • TB
  • Cow
  • Robert Koch
  • Cattle
  • Testing
  • Vaccination
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF)
  • Badger cull
  • Policy
  • Legislation
  • Welfare
  • Land and wildlife management
  • Oral history
  • Science and society
  • Open Access
  • medical geography


“This book is a history of the science and policy behind Britain’s ongoing badger controversy. … The advantage of Dr Cassidy’s book is that she carefully peels back the layers and reveals the full complexity of a situation that seems to have little hope of immediate resolution. … Dr Cassidy’s style is admirably clear, jargon-free and without artifice.” (Peter J. Atkins, Agricultural History Review, Vol. 69 (1), 2021)

“Dr Cassidy draws pertinent general conclusions about generating policy and mediating the role of the expert in today’s science-sceptic and increasingly polarised society... It is both a useful and original contribution, specifically to the history of zoonotic disease policy, and policy history more generally.” (Helen Bynum, Author of Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis (2012))


Authors and Affiliations

  • Centre for Rural Policy Research (CRPR) University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

    Angela Cassidy

About the author

Angela Cassidy is a Lecturer in the Centre for Rural Policy Research (CRPR), University of Exeter, UK. She works across the history and social studies of science, researching public controversies and policy through an interdisciplinary lens.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Vermin, Victims and Disease

  • Book Subtitle: British Debates over Bovine Tuberculosis and Badgers

  • Authors: Angela Cassidy

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: History, History (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-19185-6Published: 02 October 2019

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-19188-7Published: 11 September 2020

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-19186-3Published: 25 September 2019

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXIV, 366

  • Number of Illustrations: 11 b/w illustrations, 9 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: History of Britain and Ireland, History of Medicine, Animal Ethics, Environmental Policy, Modern History, Integrated Geography

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 34.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)