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Brussels, December 15, 2000

Co-ordinating TSE research
in the interest of consumer protection
- Experts to discuss best way forward -

Keywords: transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, BSE, experts, research

Today, leading TSE (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) experts meet in Brussels to examine current European research in this field and suggest ways for improving its impact. The meeting is organised by Research DG with Health and Consumer Protection DG at the request of the Research Council which met on 16 November 2000. Improving co-ordination of national and Community research activities is expected to be one of the most promising ways forward. The Commission has provided more than € 50 million in financial support for research on TSE since it launched the European Research Action Plan on TSE diseases in 1996. Its Joint Research Centre also conducts scientific work to underpin the Commission’s policy measures in the field of BSE.

Said Commissioner Busquin: “Recent events have demonstrated again the need for a solid scientific knowledge base on TSE transmission, infection and prevention as well as its impact on human health. It is the Commission’s role, in line with the concept of a European Research Area, to help co-ordinate efforts with and among Member States.” Commissioner Byrne added that further research is essential to provide answers to the many questions which remain in relation to TSEs”.

The Council of Research Ministers requested the establishment of a group with national experts whose mission is:

The European Parliament has also called for more research, especially in relation to diagnostic tests for TSEs.

The expert group includes experts from all Member States and experts from the Ad-hoc Group on TSE which is linked to the Commission’s Scientific Steering Committee. The expert group will meet again on 16 February and a preliminary report is due to be delivered at the end of February 2001.

Current activities
Significant research activities are currently being undertaken, as a result of an Action Plan adopted in 1996 and research efforts pursued in the Fifth Framework Programme.

On 15 November 2000, the Commission published a new call for proposals in the Quality of Life programme. This call offers opportunities to strengthen European efforts and focus on critical issues where research is needed.
For more information: http://cordis.europa.eu/life/

The Joint Research Centre The Joint Research Centre (JRC) produces reference material for validation tests, and evaluates and estimates the infectivity of bone meal. In the food area, the JRC has initiated research on the detection of nervous tissue in bone meal and in the animal feed area it is intensifying its efforts on the rapid detection of bone meal. Possibilities for the treatment of slaughterhouse waste and of recycling as an alternative to incineration will also be examined.
For more information: http://www.jrc.ec.europa.eu/

New EC-led initiatives The Commission intends to reconvene a meeting of research project co-ordinators to review progress in light of recent developments. The research carried out under the EC Action Plan has provided input to the deliberations of the Commission’s Scientific Steering Committee over recent months, particularly on diagnostic methods, transmission issues, scrapie and testing of casualty animals. The proposed European Food Authority will further consolidate these efforts with the support of the Community research programmes and the JRC.

For further information, please contact:

Stéphane Hogan, Quality of Life programme, Research DG
Tel : +32.2.296.29.65, E-mail : Research Contact

Michel Claessens, Communication Unit, Research DG
Tel : +32-2-295.99.71; Fax: +32-2-295.82.20, E-mail: michel.claessens@ec.europa.eu

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PRESS RELEASES | 15.12.2000