Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced that almost $2 million in funding has been redirected to enhance research on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and that $5 million has been awarded to 17 colleges and universities to establish a Food Safety Research and Response Network.



"In a rapidly changing world marketplace, science is the universal language that must guide our rules and policies, rather than subjectivity or politics," said Johanns. "Expanding our research efforts to improve the understanding of BSE and other food-related illness pathogens will strengthen the security of our nation's food supply. These projects will help improve food safety by enhancing our research partnerships with the academic community and establish another tool to aid our response to food-related disease outbreaks."



The BSE research funds, redirected by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), will be used for new BSE projects and facilities and build upon President Bush's fiscal year 2006 budget proposal, which would increase BSE research by $7.3 million or 155 percent over 2005 funding levels. The newly funded projects include international collaborations with the Veterinary Laboratory Agency in Great Britain to study the biology of the BSE agent, the Italian BSE Reference Laboratory to evaluate present diagnostic tools for detecting atypical BSE cases and the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain to compare North American and European BSE strains.



About $750,000 will go toward a biocontainment facility now under construction at the ARS National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa. These facilities will eventually allow the long-term study of BSE infection in cattle and other large animals, which can take a decade or more.



Source: Government Release