Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers

  AVTRW is the largest organisation representing research workers, not exclusively veterinarians, involved in veterinary research in the UK and Ireland. We also have some European members. We are pleased to respond to the call for evidence and would welcome the opportunity to present oral evidence.

  Veterinary research comes through as one of the most internationally competitive areas of British research in recent analyses. It is also inherently involved in work intended to find commercial application, whether in veterinary practice, public health (control of zoonoses), food hygiene, the pharmaceutical industry, or other sectors, such as the bloodstock industry, which are dependent on the health of animals.

  There is a crossroads in veterinary research, not simply because we are in a new millennium, but because the Selborne Report on Veterinary Research has identified problems requiring solutions and created a climate of change and, in addition, the centre of gravity of veterinary activity has moved from farm animals to companion animals and horses.

  In the original Technology Foresight programme we were keen to ensure that veterinary research should be aligned with life sciences, in view of the growing importance of comparative medicine and the prevention and control of zoonoses. Accordingly our nominee (Prof Michell) sat at meetings of the Health Services Panel. Despite recommendation from us and from the chairman of that panel, representation has been lost in the transition to the new panels under the current Foresight programme. Granted the importance of the subject, both to the community and to British industry, it seems strange that veterinary medicine has been marginalised in the current programme and that this important area of British research enterprise has lost its link to national scientific policy development.

  Restoration of that link is pre-eminently important at this time. This is emphasised not only with regard to commercial opportunities, but to areas of public concern such as the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and development of antimicrobial resistance. Our scientific understanding of these issues would have benefited from closer alignment of veterinary and medical expertise.

  In our wider national responsibilities, the importance of veterinary medicine in solving the problems of equating food supply with food production in disadvantaged areas was well illustrated by the recent award of the International Food Prize to a distinguished veterinary scientist, Professor Walter Plowright, FRS."

12 June 2000

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 3 April 2001