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Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Volume 169: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research his Department has carried out to see whether calves' brains can be contaminated by bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

In studies carried out in relation to natural scrapie in sheep and goats, infectivity could not be detected anywhere, including the brain, in animals under 10 months of age. The probable cause of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was the feeding of ruminant-based protein, which included material from sheep with scrapie. Calves would not have been fed this material, since the practice was banned in July 1988. In addition, there is no evidence at present of cattle-to-cattle transmission, although we are conducting experiments to see whether this could occur. Field and experimental studies on BSE are in hand and include the assessment of the infectivity of different tissues.