(webicon - Should badgers be protected? Tell us your view at ....) A BADGER protection group has slammed MPs who have supported claims that a cull on the animal could help stop the spread of TB.

Simon Hacker, spokesman for Stop War on Badgers, an animal welfare group based in Wotton-under-Edge, said: "Agriculture needs to clean up its act. The suffering caused to cows through TB, a known 80 per cent of which is generated within and between herds, is just part of a far broader picture of profiteering and exploitation of animals, the environment and the consumers' credibility.

"The lies about badgers' culpability are just a distraction."

The criticism comes after the environment select committee, a cross-party government scrutiny body, released its report on how the government should tackle the spread of TB among cattle.

The report said the government's current method was not working and the committee concluded there should be a multi-faceted approach, including more frequent cattle testing, the promotion of biosecurity, use of vaccines and more controversially culling in hotspot areas like Gloucestershire.

Last year the West Country was the worst affected by TB with 4,140 herds under restrictions because of the disease.

According to Defra, of the 1,406 cattle herds in Gloucestershire 386 were under restrictions and 1,719 animals were slaughtered because of TB between January and December 2007.

The select committee's report will now be considered by the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, who will outline the government's policy on controlling TB in cattle.

Peter Kendall, the president for the National Farmers' Union, said Mr Benn must adopt the recommendations of the committee.

He said: "We must attack this disease on every front before it destroys more cattle, damages more businesses, infects more wildlife, ruins more lives, and costs government and farmers even more money."

However, Mr Hacker believes a cull is not the answer.

He said: "This is a festering battle, which the NFU needs to realise is not going to be won by killing our wildlife. This is the 21st century, a time when farming should be solving its problems through science and good management, not lashing out and victimising the icon of England's countryside."