12 June 1998
Scientist’s early BSE warning ignored

AN expert on rare brain disorders gave a warning more than 10 years ago that “mad cow” disease could destroy the meat industry, the inquiry into BSE was told.

Alan Dickinson, former head of the Neuropathogenesis Unit in Edinburgh, told the inquiry that the Ministry of Agriculture failed to consult the best-qualified scientists and had wasted millions of pounds by entrusting research to inexperienced people.

Dr Dickinson said his decision to retire as director of the unit two years early in September 1987 was prompted in large part by despair at the “research shambles” created by Government policy.

He said the “last straw” was the realisation that the Ministry of Agriculture was determined to put the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL) in Weybridge, Surrey, in charge of research into BSE.

Scientists could have provided proof of the nature of the disease within “a few days” instead of the year taken by the CVL. Instead he was not told about BSE until nine months after it emerged.

  • The Times 12/06/98 page 10
  • The Independent 12/06/98 page 7
  • The Daily Telegraph 12/06/98 page 6