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Brussels, 15 July 2005

Commission outlines next steps on BSE

The European Commission today adopted a reflection paper, the TSE Roadmap, providing an outline of possible future changes to EU measures on BSE in the short, medium and long-term. TSEs are transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, namely BSE affecting cattle and scrapie affecting goats and sheep. Over the past few years, there has been a significant decrease in the number of positive cases of BSE detected in the EU, due to the stringent risk reducing measures at EU-level. In light of this positive trend, and new developments in science and technology, the TSE Roadmap considers possible amendments to certain BSE measures currently in place while still making food safety and consumer protection the highest priority.

Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said, “The EU has made great strides in its battle against BSE and the consistent fall in the number of cases is testament to the strong, comprehensive EU measures put in place to tackle this disease. The Commission has at no point stopped monitoring or reacting to the challenge of BSE and this Roadmap is a response to the improved situation and positive developments. Rest assured, however, that any adaptations made to the BSE measures will not affect in any way our fundamental objectives of BSE eradication and the protection of the EU citizen. These have always been, and will continue to be, the first consideration.”

The TSE Roadmap is a reflection paper looking at the next steps that could be taken with regard to BSE. It provides an overview of possible future amendments that could be taken on issues such as the removal of Specified Risk Material (SRM), the feed ban, the culling policy and monitoring programmes. The Roadmap will be used as a basis for discussion with Member States, the European Parliament and other stakeholders.

A review of the age limit for the removal of certain SRM may be envisaged based on data from BSE surveillance and supported by scientific advice. With regard to the total ban on processed animal protein in feed, which was introduced in 1994 and extended in 2001, certain measures could also be reviewed once specific criteria are met and it is scientifically shown that this would not jeopardise current eradication measures.

The TSE Roadmap considers a review of current regimes for testing animals for TSE, possibly with a more targeted approach. It also suggests that alternatives could be sought for the immediate slaughter of the whole cohort when one case of BSE is detected, to avoid the social and economic damage of mass culling. In the longer term, the Roadmap proposes that the situation should be re-examined in light of the new measures introduced in the short to medium term, and evolving scientific knowledge.

See also MEMO/05/263.

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