Genetic resistance to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) in goats
Competing interests: Marion Simmons and Giuseppe Ru recused themselves from the discussion during Working Group meetings that involved two documents to which they had contributed and which were submitted by the European Commission along with the mandate. Both documents are listed in the section Documentation provided to EFSA on p. 53 (numbers 1 and 2) of this Opinion.
Breeding programmes to promote resistance to classical scrapie, similar to those for sheep in existing transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) regulations, have not been established in goats. The European Commission requested a scientific opinion from EFSA on the current knowledge of genetic resistance to TSE in goats. An evaluation tool, which considers both the weight of evidence and strength of resistance to classical scrapie of alleles in the goat PRNP gene, was developed and applied to nine selected alleles of interest. Using the tool, the quality and certainty of the field and experimental data are considered robust enough to conclude that the K222, D146 and S146 alleles both confer genetic resistance against classical scrapie strains known to occur naturally in the EU goat population, with which they have been challenged both experimentally and under field conditions. The weight of evidence for K222 is greater than that currently available for the D146 and S146 alleles and for the ARR allele in sheep in 2001. Breeding for resistance can be an effective tool for controlling classical scrapie in goats and it could be an option available to member states, both at herd and population levels. There is insufficient evidence to assess the impact of K222, D146 and S146 alleles on susceptibility to atypical scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or on health and production traits. These alleles are heterogeneously distributed across the EU Member States and goat breeds, but often at low frequencies (< 10%). Given these low frequencies, high selection pressure may have an adverse effect on genetic diversity so any breeding for resistance programmes should be developed at Member States, rather than EU level and their impact monitored, with particular attention to the potential for any negative impact in rare or small population breeds.