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Commission announces BSE research priorities

Mr. Franz Fischler, Commissioner responsible for agriculture and rural development, and Professor Charles Weissmann, Chairman of the group set up by the Commission to review research needs in the field of BSE (mad cow disease), announced the results of the group's study, in Br...
Mr. Franz Fischler, Commissioner responsible for agriculture and rural development, and Professor Charles Weissmann, Chairman of the group set up by the Commission to review research needs in the field of BSE (mad cow disease), announced the results of the group's study, in Brussels, on 9 October 1996.

The group, set up in autumn 1995, was asked to look particularly at issues relating to the transmissibility of BSE to man, and methods of testing for the disease in live animals and people.

Since the group was established, public awareness of the issues related to BSE has increased greatly, following the crisis in spring 1996. In the wake of this, the Commission has proposed that additional funding be allocated to Community research budgets for work on BSE. The Council, in conclusions adopted on 7 October 1996, has also called on the Commission to increase research efforts on BSE but, as yet, no extra funding for this has been approved by the Community's budgetary authority.

The Weissmann group's draft report identifies areas for research, as well as potential problems which will be encountered. Areas for research include:

- Establishing if BSE has been transmitted to man, and if so assessing the risk of this;
- Examining possible routes of transmission, including: cattle products other than bovine offal, and maternal transmission;
- Diagnostic techniques;
- Developing treatment techniques.
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