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From: TSS (
Date: November 23, 2004 at 7:19 am PST

Date: November 23, 2004 Time: 11:45


Professor William Hill FRS, Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences of the University of Edinburgh has been appointed by Defra to carry out an independent review of their work on BSE cases born since 1 August 1996 in the UK.

The Chief Veterinary Officer, Debby Reynolds said, "I am delighted that Professor Hill has agreed to undertake this review for us. There has been enormous progress in reducing the number of cattle infected with BSE in the UK since the first case was found in 1986. Much of this can be attributed to the controls that were put in place to prevent the spread of the disease in meat and bone meal, an ingredient that was used extensively in animal feed prior to 1988. These controls have gradually been tightened over ensuing years and in the UK particularly so since 1 August 1996.

Despite this we have had 99 cases of BSE born since 1 August 1996. The current advice, which has been considered by both SEAC and a European scientific advisory committee, is that feed contamination still remains the most plausible explanation, as the feed controls in some parts of Europe were not introduced until 2001. We have work in place to test this theory. However, there are also other possible explanations for at least some of these cases. We want to eradicate this disease and it is important for us to be sure that we are not overlooking any important factors and that the work we are doing is comprehensive and scientifically sound.

We have therefore invited Professor Hill to take a look at what we are doing. We have deliberately chosen someone who is eminent in his own field but who has not been involved in TSE work before. He can be expected to probe and challenge the evidence. If we can meet this challenge it will give us reassurance that we have not overlooked anything that might prevent us from getting rid of the disease by the end of 2010. If we have overlooked something it will give us time to put in place some additional studies.

I have asked Professor Hill to report his findings to me within the next six months and I will ask SEAC to consider these."

Notes for Editors

1. Professor William Hill OBE, BSc, MSc, PhD, DSc, FRSE, FRS is Emeritus Professor of Animal Genetics at the School of Biological sciences of the University of Edinburgh. His group undertakes theoretical and experimental studies on population and quantitative genetics and on their application to animal improvement. Professor Hill was formerly Dean and Provost of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, he has consulted extensively in the UK animal breeding industry and chaired Defra's National Consultative Committee on Animal Genetic Resources. He is also an editor of Genetical Research and senior editor designate of Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B.

2. The hypothesis that cases born after the reinforced feed ban (BARBs) are due to an exogenous feed source arising from the perfectly legal handling and shipment of meat and bone meal in European ports up to January 2001 comes from John Wilesmith following a detailed analysis of epidemiological data on the first 59 cases. This analysis has been considered by the EU's Scientific Steering Committee and more recently by EFSA.

3. A SEAC ad-hoc group is overseeing a case control study the primary objective of which is to test this hypothesis. In addition Defra is funding work to investigate the genetic homogeneity of the PrP gene in BARB cases. Professor Hill will consider all of this work as part of his remit.

4. Further details of the legislation in place relating to feed controls and information on BARB cases can be found on the Defra website at

Public enquiries 08459 335577;
Press notices are available on our website Defra's aim is sustainable development

Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

19/11/2004 SWEDEN 2004.606 fragments of bones of land animals in feed
acidifiers in premixtures

15/11/2004 ESTONIA 2004.CMB fish protein and mammalian protein in feed
pellets for pigs and ruminants


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