Skip to main content

Agriculture: Sheep

Volume 702: debated on Monday 16 June 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Rooker on 20 May (WA 113) and Lord Darzi of Denham on 22 May (WA 205), why, if the likelihood of BSE in sheep is near zero, it is necessary to remove the spinal cord for a non-existent health risk. [HL3940]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave him on 10 March 2008 (Official Report, col. WA 193).

While bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has not been found in the United Kingdom sheep flock, and the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) has advised that the prevalence of BSE in the UK sheep flock may be zero and in the worst case that no more than 10 flocks would be affected, SEAC has also advised that maintenance of current surveillance levels and risk reduction measures such as the feed ban and specific risk material (SRM) controls would minimise the risk of an epidemic and risk to human health were BSE ever to enter the sheep flock. In addition, a possible human health risk from atypical scrapie cannot, at present, be ruled out. For these reasons, precautionary SRM controls on sheep and goats remain in place.

The requirement to remove sheep spinal cord as SRM is set out in directly applicable European Union legislation. Any potential changes to these controls would need to be supported by the European Commission and have the support of other member states and the European Parliament before they could be implemented in the UK.