22 November 2001
End of road for BSE research?
By Donald MacPhail
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.
While insisting that she supports the research, Mrs Beckett said that she had no current plans to renew funding.
Prof Erbinger told FWi that he believes Mrs Beckett is awaiting the
outcome of an SEAC meeting in February at which he will make a presentation.
But he is concerned the panel may ask for more data, which his team
have no funding to provide.
“They may say that our data is interesting but requires further material, which would essentially sink our work, said Prof Ebringer.
If we have no more money, we cant do more research.”
After submitting further results to Mrs Beckett at the end of the year, the team will cease to work on BSE.
Parallel research into multiple sclerosis funded by a US company will continue.