Intended for healthcare professionals


BSE inquiry plays down errors

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 04 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1097
  1. Kamran Abbasi
  1. BMJ

    Doctors, scientists, politicians, and civil servants have been criticised by a major UK government inquiry into the handling of the crisis surrounding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

    The 16 volume BSE inquiry, published last week, reported a catalogue of errors but is reluctant to apportion blame. The inquiry exposed flaws in the way that the government seeks scientific advice and communicates risk to the public.

    Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the inquiry chairman, set the tone: “Much of the inquiry has been taken up with examining this question [Was BSE correctly handled?]. The processes of government have been subjected to public scrutiny, which I believe has been without precedent. We have concluded that, in general, our system of public administration has emerged with credit from the part of the BSE story that we have examined.

    “Sound policy decisions were taken, both with a view to eradicating the animal disease and with a view to protecting humans against what was believed to be a remote risk of transmission.”

    The subtext of the inquiry report, however, tells a …

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