EFSA experts say more research needed on breeding goats for TSE resistance

EFSA experts on the Scientific Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) said in an opinion that further research is needed on breeding programmes in goats for genetic resistance to Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) (including Classical scrapie, Atypical scrapie and BSE).

The Panel concluded that there are encouraging but as yet incomplete data available to consider supporting a breeding programme for resistance in goats against Classical scrapie in all EU Member States. Ongoing studies are expected to provide a more robust scientific background in the coming years. The Panel also concluded that at present there are not enough data available to consider supporting breeding programmes for resistance against Atypical scrapie and BSE in goats.

The Panel highlighted the need for a sound logistical and technical infrastructure in order to support a breeding programme for resistance to TSEs in goats in any given territory, as such an infrastructure at present seems to be lacking in most Member States. The Panel also made a series of recommendations on research that could further support the success of such a breeding programme.

This scientific opinion is the second and final part of a response to a request from the European Commission for advice on the possibility of breeding goats in the EU for genetic resistance to TSEs. In a first opinion addressing Classical scrapie in goats in Cyprus[1], the BIOHAZ Panel looked at a pilot study funded by the European Commission and carried out in Cyprus. The results appeared to indicate that goats with a particular genetic makeup have a relative higher resistance to TSEs. This opinion was followed by a statement on how to collect additional data on genetic resistance to TSEs in goats in Cyprus to support a possible breeding programme in that country[2].

EFSA’s risk assessments with respect to TSEs provide scientific support for the implementation of measures foreseen in ‘The TSE Roadmap’[3], the strategic document in which the Commission has defined possible tools to control and eradicate TSEs in animals. These two opinions complement EFSA’s previous work in this area, such as the scientific opinion on the breeding programme for TSE resistance in sheep[4] published in 2006. That opinion confirmed the appropriateness of measures aimed at developing breeding programmes at EU level for genetic resistance to TSEs in sheep.

Media contacts