Agriculture: Sheep

House of Lords written question – answered on 20th May 2008.

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Photo of Lord Vinson Lord Vinson Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in the light of the fuel costs of incinerating dead sheep and the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee report that the likelihood of BSE in sheep is near zero, they will press the European Union to consider the findings of the Scientific Steering Committee meeting of 16 January 2003 with a view to obtaining a derogation to enable fallen sheep to be disposed of by burial under site licence.

Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Minister of State (Sustainable Farming, Food and Animal Welfare), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Sustainable Farming, Food and Animal Welfare)

No. Although the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee has concluded that the prevalence of BSE infection in the UK sheep population is most likely to be zero or, if present, very low, the risk from scrapie and other diseases with on-farm burial remains. With regard to TSE infectivity in the environment, recent studies have suggested TSE-associated prion protein adheres to soil minerals and remains infectious, even after a number of years. Defra-funded scientific research investigating the persistence of TSE infectivity in the environment is ongoing and details can be found on the Defra website.

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