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Commission launches action plan for research into BSE

On 13 November 1996, the European Commission announced its intention to launch an ECU 50 million Action Plan for research into BSE (mad cow disease). The research programme, proposed on the joint initiative of Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, and Mr. ...
On 13 November 1996, the European Commission announced its intention to launch an ECU 50 million Action Plan for research into BSE (mad cow disease). The research programme, proposed on the joint initiative of Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, and Mr. Franz Fischler, Commissioner responsible for agriculture, will cover all transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), including BSE (mad cow disease) and other prion diseases, notably Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Given the serious risks to human health posed by the development of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), there is a particularly urgent need for research which brings together the best teams in Europe. The proposed research programme, which incorporates the research priorities identified by the Weissmann Group (group set up by the Commission to review research needs in the field of BSE) sets out five priority areas for research:

- Clinical and epidemiological research on human spongiform encephalopathies;
- The infectious agent and its transmission mechanisms;
- Diagnosis of spongiform encephalopathies;
- Evaluation of the risk of contracting spongiform encephalopathies;
- Treatment and prevention of spongiform encephalopathies.

Each of these topics will of course give rise to several research projects. The budget for this action plan will amount to ECU 50.7 million over the period 1996-1998, of which ECU 45.7 million for research proper and ECU 5 million to cover the costs of coordinating the research.

An amount of ECU 15.7 million can be found from available funds. To complete the action plan a further 35 million is needed which can only come from supplementary funding for the Fourth Framework Programme, still to be approved by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

The research projects will be undertaken as part of three specific programmes which make up the fourth RTD framework programme:
- The Biomedicine and Health programme (BIOMED): ECU 19.9 million ECU;
- The Biotechnology programme (BIOTECH): ECU 8.5 million;
- The Agriculture and Fisheries programme (FAIR): ECU 22.3 million.

The Commission is hoping for a quick decision on the supplementary funding so as to be able to launch a joint call for proposals, between the three programmes, in the first few months of 1997. A call for proposals under the FAIR programme (animal health sector) is already scheduled for December 1996.

Source: European Commission, Service du Porte-parole
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