23 November 2001

End of road for BSE research?

A SCIENTIST whose controversial research could lead to an on-farm live test for BSE fears his work could be scuppered by demands from government advisors.

Alan Ebringer, professor of immunology at Kings College, London, voiced his concerns after MPs discussed his funding which runs out at the end of the year. Prof Ebringer believes BSE is caused by bacteria, placing him at odds with most scientists who blame rogue prions.

Last week, DEFRA secretary Margaret Beckett told the House of Commons that the BSE advisory committee SEAC had no vested interests in seeing the work end.

Although she supports the research, Mrs Beckett added that she had no plans to renew funding.

Prof Erbinger told farmers weekly that he believes Mrs Beckett is awaiting the outcome of an SEAC meeting in February at which he will make a presentation.

But Prof Erbinger is concerned the panel may ask for more data, which his team have no funding to provide. &#42