25 September 2000
BSE fears over blood in feed
By FWi staff
BOVINE blood, tallow and gelatine are still being used in cattle feed, raising fears that they could be responsible for continuing cases of BSE.
Feeding meat and bonemeal to cattle was banned in 1996, as this was widely seen as the most likely route for spreading the infection.
But the governments Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) allowed certain other bovine material to be used in feed after 1996.
It permitted the use of blood, tallow and gelatine because it believed there was no risk of infection.
However, one calf born since the 1996 ban has been diagnosed with BSE, and there are seven other suspected cases.
While maternal transmission could be the source, there are concerns that cattle may be contracting the disease from permitted bovine material.
Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme, farm minister Nick Brown said the government had followed SEAC advice.
He said: “The government acts on the advice it receives from its advisory committees SEAC and now the Food Standards Agency.
“The advice they give to us we stick to, and that includes with animal feed.”
Dr Stephen Dealler, who has researched BSE since the 1980s, said there was not enough data to say whether SEAC was correct.
In view of all the unknown factors, Dr Dealler told Farming Today the SEAC decision was “very silly”.
He speculated that “economics and politics” were behind the decision to take the risk.
Dr Dealler said there may be an unknown form of transmission, such as through infected cowpats on pastures
Edwina Currie, new patron of the BSE Foundation, reacted with anger to the news.
It was “outrageous” that cattle were fed bovine material, and there may be grounds for prosecution, she told Farming Today.
The Foundation represents families of victims of the human form of the BSE, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.