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Control of scrapie by selective breeding: what are we getting for free?
  1. Thomas J. Hagenaars, MSc, PhD
  1. Central Veterinary Institute, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Lelystad, The Netherlands
  1. e-mail: thomas.hagenaars{at}

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IN 2001, Great Britain adopted the National Scrapie Plan (NSP), which aimed to control classical scrapie (and reduce the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in sheep. The NSP is a breeding programme that makes use of the strong influence of the prion protein (PRNP) genotype on the level of susceptibility to scrapie by selecting for certain genotypes with low susceptibility to scrapie. Together with programmes in the Netherlands and France, the NSP was among the first such programmes in the European Union (EU), initiated before the breeding programmes became obligatory according to European Commission regulation in 2004 (an obligation which was lifted again in 2007). In common with the French programme and those of other EU member states initiated since 2004, the NSP selects animals for breeding based on genotyping and is restricted to breeding flocks, despite the fact one would seek to control scrapie at the national level (commercial as well as breeding flocks). The rationale is that if breeding flocks become less susceptible, in time this effect will be automatically disseminated to commercial flocks, …

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