25 April 1997

Cull move after election

DECISIONS on any extension to the selective cull, after a review of maternal transmission trial results, will not be taken by MAFF ministers until after the general election.

SEAC, the BSE advisory committee, concluded that the study showed some evidence of direct maternal transmission at a low level. But differences in genetic susceptibility to infected feed could not be ruled out (News, Apr 18).

Farm minister, Douglas Hogg, said the committee had not recommended the need for any urgent action. "Any implications will, therefore, be fully considered after the general election," he said.

A SEAC statement said maternal transmission would have only a small effect on the duration of the epidemic. And, similarly, any cull based on the slaughter of calves born to confirmed BSE cases would have only a small effect on the incidence of BSE and the length of the epidemic.

"Nevertheless government should consider the possibilities for such a cull, and its effects," it added. &#42