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Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has undertaken into live tests for bovine spongiform encephalopathy; and whether this included studies of prion proteins. (79812)

[holding answer 26 June 2006]: Scientific investigation of a live animal test for bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been a priority part of the research programmes funded by DEFRA and other Departments for several years. Information on these projects can be found on the DEFRA and Medical Research Council websites:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/research/project data

http://www.mrc.ac.uk/index/current-research/current-mrc_tse_portfolio.htm

A wide range of possible diagnostic markers of the disease have been studied, with a particular focus on prion proteins.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance he has issued on whether cattle suspected of being infected with a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy must be culled within a specified period under EC Regulation 999/2001. (79813)

[holding answer 26 June 2006]: State Veterinary Service (SVS) staff are instructed to slaughter cattle suspected of being affected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) at the time of their examination. In a minority of cases, the SVS arrange for live suspects to be transported to the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) in Weybridge, subject to an assessment of fitness to travel and journey time considerations. BSE suspects received at the VLA are slaughtered within 72 hours of arrival. However, most BSE suspects are slaughtered on-farm.