The effectiveness of culling badgers in dealing with bovine TB has been called into question by a new independent study.

The scientific review has said that badger culling can have a "modest" effect in reducing cattle TB but suggests vaccination as a better alternative.

Continuing culling would still lead to more than 40,000 badgers being killed a year and such high levels of culling might not be publicly acceptable.

The authors urge the government to accelerate the development of non-lethal controls, such as vaccination.

The findings were published in a review led by Prof Sir Charles Godfray of Oxford University.

The report was commissioned by secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs Michael Gove in February.

He asked an independent group of scientists to review Defra's strategy for controlling the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle. According to Prof Godfray he was "explicitly asked" not to look at the effectiveness of the current culls.

Instead Prof Godfray and his team drew on the results of the randomised badger control trials carried out between 1998 and 2007.