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


Memorandum submitted by Professor A R Michell, President Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

  Veterinary science is an area in which this country has made an exceptionally strong contribution and this continues. While the traditional perception of veterinary medicine relates to its role in agriculture, change has been rapid in recent years and the great majority of veterinary activity now relates to companion animals and horses.

  Veterinary science is, intrinsically, applicable and relevant not only to the agricultural and food production industries but to the network of SME's represented by veterinary practices, and the industries (pharmaceutical, surgical supply etc) which depend on their success.

  Scientifically, the key role for veterinary research has become its relevance to public health (zoonoses, food safety) and to comparative medicine, the lessons for human disease which can be drawn from relevant models in domesticated species, notably dogs and cats. A closer alignment between the research interests of human and veterinary medicine has been a key objective of this organisation in recent years.

  It was, therefore, highly appropriate that there was a veterinary representative at the meetings of the Technology (Foresight) Health Sciences Panel and it is a matter of regret that this is no longer so with its successor. We would urge that similar representation is restored otherwise an important area of applied biomedical science, in which Britain is strong, is left in limbo with regard to this key dimension of national scientific policy development, with its particular emphasis on the interface between research and its commercial potential. This is certainly a decisive time for veterinary research as we move towards implementation of the findings of the Selborne Report, assisted by the Chairman of HEFCE (Sir Brian Fender).

9 June 2000

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