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SSC revises BSE advice and presents opinion on GM cotton

New evidence has persuaded the Scientific steering committee (SSC), the scientific advisory group to the European Commission, to revise its opinion on the safety of certain animal products. In view of the new data, the SSC published an opinion on 4 July stating that tallow de...

New evidence has persuaded the Scientific steering committee (SSC), the scientific advisory group to the European Commission, to revise its opinion on the safety of certain animal products. In view of the new data, the SSC published an opinion on 4 July stating that tallow derived from tissues other tan standard meat could present a Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) risk if used in cattle feed without adequate measures, such as the removal of specified risks material (SRM) and filtration, and, for certain tissues, heat treatment. A further opinion concludes that certain parts of the discrete fatty tissues directly associated with the intestine tract should be considered a potential BSE risk material if a BSE risk cannot be excluded in the animal. On a more positive note, the committee also updated its standing opinion of January 2000 on the safety of gelatine. The opinion highlights the finding that two newly validated processes for the production of gelatine are at least as safe as those already authorised. The opinion lists, for each different use of gelatine (food, feed, pharmaceutical and industrial), the safety requirements in terms of SRM removal and sourcing of materials. The SSC had also been asked to advise on issues relating to the potential use of genetically modified (GM) cotton in feminine hygiene products, in baby or adult incontinence products and other garments. The SSC concluded that there is no reason or evidence to believe that the genetic modifications introduced in the two GM cotton lines for which authorisations are pending in Europe could result in the formation of GM cotton fibres which will be different from their non GM counterparts. The committee added that any protein, whether endogenous or introduced into cotton by genetic modification should be denatured or removed during processing of cotton fibres. The SSC opinion also states that it sees no reason for any additional risk from feminine hygiene products made with GM cotton than with non GM cotton. However, the committee recommends that, if GM plant products are considered for use in medical and hygiene cotton products in the future, risk assessments be carried out on a case by case basis