Background on the regulation of specified animal pathogens

Following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, which began in Surrey in August 2007, Sir Bill Callaghan led a Review of the Regulatory Framework for Handling Pathogens. The Government accepted a number of recommendations to improve the regulatory system for work involving specified animal pathogens and in particular that:

  • HSE should become the single regulatory body for both human and animal pathogens with responsibility for inspection and enforcement functions; and
  • Defra should work with HSE and others to bring the legislation encompassing genetically modified organisms, human pathogens and animal pathogens within a single regulatory framework.

Since 2008, HSE has taken responsibility for inspection and enforcement of the work with specified animal pathogens, while Defra and the Scottish and Welsh Governments (Devolved Governments) continued to licence premises for work with animal pathogens under Specified Animal Pathogens Orders (England, Scotland and Wales).

Significant work has been undertaken to deliver a single regulatory framework but it has not been possible due to the legal complexities of the different primary legislation (Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Animal Health Act 1981) and issues around devolved powers. However, HSE, Defra and the Devolved Governments developed alternative (non-legislative) approaches to regulate this area and revised arrangements will be implemented from 1 April 2015.

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Updated 2024-06-06