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Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Volume 281: debated on Tuesday 16 July 1996

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what communications he has had with the Agriculture Commissioner concerning the allegations by Gilbert Castille in respect of the publication of results of scientific research into BSE. [37736]

The Commission has made its views on this subject perfectly clear in the press and I see no reason to raise this matter with it. It is an internal matter for the Commission.The policy of the British Government has been to be open in publishing research results in relation to BSE and our track record clearly shows that that is precisely what we have done.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what resources are being devoted by his Department to bio-assay-based research into pre-clinical diagnosis of BSE in cattle. [32325]

[holding answer 17 June 1996]: In transmissible spongiform encephalopathy research, bioassays are used to detect infectivity and can therefore be used as a diagnostic test in their own right. They are being used to diagnose pre-clinical infection in experiments where animals have been experimentally challenged with BSE and are probably incubating the disease. Also MAFF has approved a project to develop a transgenic mouse carrying the cattle prior-protein gene which may eventually result in a bio-assay that is more sensitive and faster than existing bio-assays. Such mice may eventually play a role in the development of a pre-clinical bioassay. The support allocated to all these research projects in 1996–97 is £0.7 million.