Introduction and Background
1.1 Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies ( TSEs) are fatal diseases of the brain. TSEs include Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy ( BSE) in cattle and scrapie in sheep and goats. TSEs can be genetic, sporadic (atypical) or of infectious origin (classical). They are caused by pathogens known as prions which are an abnormal and infectious form of a natural protein that is abundant in the brain and spinal cord.
1.2 Transmission of these pathogens into the animal feed chain resulted in the emergence of classical BSE (c BSE) in the UK cattle herd in 1986 and in significant consequences for the global beef industry. This c BSE is now declining as a result of appropriate measures to control animal feed.
1.3 Due to its disease history, the United Kingdom as a whole is classified as having BSE Controlled Risk ( CR) status. It will be 2020 before the UK could as a whole apply for BSE Negligible Risk ( NR) status. The last animal born with BSE in Scotland was over 11 years ago. Scotland is now therefore eligible to apply for BSE NR status as a region of the UK. This status can be granted if particular tests can be met.
1.4 The Scottish beef sector take the view that BSE NR status would provide an improved global image for Scottish agriculture, which could offer a trade advantage in terms of gaining entry into new markets. The Scottish Government supports the making of this application in principle but is now seeking stakeholders' views. Any application would need to be carefully balanced to consider all the options and impacts on other sectors within Scotland and on a UK basis. A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment also accompanies this consultation and is attached at Annex B .
1.5 We are keen to hear views from as wide a variety of individuals and organisations as possible, in particular those involved or with an interest in the livestock, agricultural, food business operator, environmental and academic sectors.
1.6 This consultation is your opportunity to share your views on making an application to the World Organisation for Animal Health ( OIE) for BSE NR status for Scotland. Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us reach a decision on whether a BSE NR application should be made. All documentation is then passed to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the competent authority in the UK, for onward transmission to the OIE.
Email: Ian Cox, BSEConsultation@gov.scot