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Northern Ireland considering culling badgers
£4 million research programme to be commissioned

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has responded to recent criticism from the Ulster Farmer's Union (UFU) of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) policy on badger culling as a means of countering the spread of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) by confirming that controlling the disease is a 'key priority'.

Ms O'Neill stated that “We are investing around £4million to commission a programme of TB and wildlife research and studies towards the ultimate aim of eradicating TB in cattle. We will use the evidence produced by this programme to inform a comprehensive approach that deals with all aspects of TB and will help to reduce the level of disease in cattle.”

“We already have a rigorous EU Commission approved eradication programme in place. We also need to build a sound evidence base to underpin further interventions in cattle and/or wildlife that could help to reduce TB as part of our eradication programme.” the Minister added.

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New DNA testing scheme for Labradors

News Story 1
 The Kennel Club has approved a new DNA testing scheme for hereditary nasal parakeratosis (HNPK) in Labrador retrievers. Announcing the news, Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko, said: "The Labrador is the most popular breed of dog in the UK, so ensuring that the resources are available for breeders to make informed breeding decisions is paramount.

"We are pleased to be announcing this new DNA test for the breed, which will assist in responsible breeding and enable potential puppy buyers to be aware of an issue which could affect their chosen breed, and ultimately protect and maintain the health of the breed."

A list of the laboratories the Kennel Club accepts results from can be found here: thekennelclub.org.uk  

News Shorts
Prion diseases 'should remain national research priority'

Professor Neil Mabbott, a group leader at the Roslin Institute, has written about the importance of further research into prion diseases in the journal PLoS Pathogens.

Prion diseases remain untreatable but research over the past 10 years has shed light on how prion proteins are transmitted and has allowed preventative measures to be adopted.

Prof Mabbott said there is a clear need for further research into how prions spread from the gut to the brain, causing irreversible damage, and for this knowledge to be translated into therapies.