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Risk Regulation: BSE...ten years on

Public Lecture by Professor Hugh Pennington
Discussant: Dame Deirdre Hutton CBE, chair, Food Standards Agency

Tuesday 21 March, 1.00-2.30pm
Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE, Aldwych, London

To mark the 10th anniversary of announcement by the British Government of a link between v.CJD and BSE, the ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation is hosting a public lecture on 21st March 2006, at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) by Professor Hugh Pennington

  • On 20 March 1996, the British Government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) announced the existence of a probable link between BSE in cows and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans.
  • On 8 March 2006, the EU vets' committee unanimously adopted a resolution to lift the worldwide ban on British beef exports introduced ten years ago.
  • Professor Hugh Pennington will deliver a public lecture on the subject of risk regulation and food safety, with Dame Deirdre Hutton CBE, Chair of the Food Standards Agency, acting as discussant.
  • "In 1996, a possible link between BSE and vCJD was announced in the House of Commons, the biggest British E.coli O157 food poisoning outbreak occurred in central Scotland, and influenza H5N1 emerged as a lethal bird virus in geese in Guandong."

Professor Pennington will consider risk regulation in the light of these and subsequent events. He said: 'Striking similarities make my job easier; all three pathogens are new, and while all have been difficult for us to catch, in the sense that their abundance in their natural hosts (ruminants or birds) contrasts with the number of human victims, which has been small, infections by them have had very bad consequences for those individuals.

'The big public impact of the pathogens has been matched by their influence on the regulatory scene.'

He continued: 'the topicality of this subject comes, of course, only in part from an anniversary timing; E.coli O157 in Wales in 2005 and the continued spread of H5N1 signifies unfinished business, which I will also consider.'

Hugh Pennington is emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University. He chaired the Pennington Group enquiry into the 1996 outbreak of E.coli O157 infection in central Scotland. He is a member of the Scottish Food Advisory Committee (Food Standards Agency), BBC Rural Affairs Advisory Committee, vice-chair of the Broadcasting Council for Scotland, and director of the Rowett and Moredun Research Institutes. He is the author When Food Kills (2003) on the topic of BSE, vCJD and E.coli 0157.

Dame Deirdre Hutton CBE is chair of the Food Standards Agency. She has served on a number of public bodies and has considerable experience of corporate governance, risk-based regulation and consumer policy. She is vice-chair of the European Food Safety Authority Management Board and deputy chair of the Financial Services Authority. For five years, she was chair of the National Consumer Council, having formerly chaired the Scottish Consumer Council. Prior to her appointment at the Food Standards Agency, she was a member of the Better Regulation Task Force.

Risk Regulation: BSE ... Ten Years On is on Tuesday 21 March 2006 at 1pm in the Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House, LSE, Aldwych, London. This event is free and open to all with no ticket required.


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2 March 2006 (updated 20 March 2006)