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Dr. Stanley Prusiner visits the OIE to meet the Director General, Dr. Bernard Vallat

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) continues to be the focus of consumer concerns and safety of international trade of animals and their products. Recent international trade disruptions still indicate either the apparent misinterpretation of BSE standards of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), or the failure to implement these standards by Member Countries.

The 72nd General Session of the OIE took place last week in Paris. During the meeting the delegates of the 167 Member Countries discussed and adopted revisions to standards related to animal diseases, including BSE among others, based on the most recent scientific findings.

In this context and in his capacity as a world-renowned prion expert, the Nobel Price recipient Dr. Stanley Prusiner requested to meet with the Director General of the OIE, Dr. Bernard Vallat. Dr. Prusiner came to get a clearer understanding of the science based standard setting process of the OIE. In particular, he was interested in the justification for recommending targeted surveillance of bovine populations as opposed to testing all animals for human consumption.

Dr. Vallat noted that the standard setting process of the OIE is a difficult balance between science and practical recommendations commensurate with the assessment of human and animal health risks, within the global resources available for consumer and animal protection linked with food safety.

"We appreciated Dr. Prusiner's visit very much, especially our discussions on how the OIE incorporates new scientific knowledge into its standards", Dr. Vallat said. "I also appreciated Dr. Prusiner's agreement to assist the OIE by providing his high expertise in future work of specialists advisory groups", he added.