18 January 2002

Scrapie plan extension

THE government has extended its national scrapie plan to include all purebred and scrapie-affected flocks in a bid to speed up eradication of the disease.

Junior DEFRA minister Elliot Morley said: "The time is now right to extend participation to all pure breeding flocks and to all scrapie-affected flocks."

Although the scheme was launched in July 2001, up until now it has only been open to about 15,000 sheep breed society members.

The extension of the scheme is thought to take the total pool of sheep owners eligible to apply to 60,000. Mr Morley said: "I urge every eligible sheep farmer to register an interest."

Owners of flocks will get a letter asking them to register an interest in participating in a ram genotyping programme. The move comes less than a week after scientists published an estimate that up to 150,000 people could die from CJD if BSE is ever discovered in sheep. &#42