On 30th March 2011 the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) will be dissolved.  Thereafter the advisory functions previously carried out by SEAC will transfer to the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP).  Further details may be found on the Department of Health website

This Website will be closed on that day. It will be copied and will be available to view indefinitely on the UK Government Web Archive at  http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/*/http://www.seac.gov.uk  

The SEAC e-mail address: seacsecretariat@seac.gsi.gov.uk  will not be available for use from 29th March.

Statement from Prof Chris Higgins, Chair of SEAC, in response to the Government announcement that SEAC is to be dissolved as a Non-Departmental Public Body

"SEAC has for many years provided high quality scientific advice to Ministers.  That advice has contributed to the development of policies to control BSE and vCJD that have significantly reduced the risks from those diseases.  The need for advice from SEAC is accordingly much less than it has been in the past and a change to the current arrangements is therefore appropriate.  As Chair of SEAC, I have been invited to join discussions with the relevant Government Departments to consider how expert scientific advice on the risks from TSEs can still be provided to Ministers once SEAC is stood down, to ensure that the risks from these unusual animal and human diseases remain low in the future."

The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) is appointed by Ministers and sponsored jointly by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department of Health (DH) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).  Its rôle is to provide independent expert scientific advice to the Government on spongiform encephalopathies such as BSE, CJD and scrapie.  SEAC's remit is wide-ranging, and covers public health, food safety and animal health issues.

The Committee was formed 20 years ago and its terms of reference are as follows:

'To advise on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) at the request of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Health, the Food Standards Agency, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.

To provide independent scientific advice on food safety, public and animal health issues relating to TSEs taking account of the remits of other bodies with related responsibilities.

To provide scientifically based assessment of risk from TSEs to public and animal health and food safety taking appropriate account of scientific uncertainty and assumptions in formulating advice.  The Committee will convey the nature and extent of such uncertainties with the advice.

To advise on important general principles or new scientific discoveries in TSEs to assist in the identification of new or emerging TSE risks for public, animal health and food.

To advise on the scientific basis and risks associated with the introduction of new control measures or the reduction, phasing out or withdrawal of current control measures which are in place to protect public health or animal health from TSEs.

To identify where research is desirable to reduce the scientific uncertainty and inform the assessment of public and animal health and food safety risks relating to TSEs.'

The Committee has met over a hundred times since 1990 and presently meets at least twice a year to discuss TSE-related issues and provide scientific advice to Ministers.  SEAC has published public summaries, and more recently full minutes of meetings, for all its meetings since October 1997.  These documents, which are all available through this Website, provide a comprehensive public record of the Committee's conclusions and recommendations.


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Page last updated: 15 March 2011