Memorandum submitted by Professor A R
Michell, President Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Veterinary science is an area in which this
country has made an exceptionally strong contribution and this
continues. While the traditional perception of veterinary medicine
relates to its role in agriculture, change has been rapid in recent
years and the great majority of veterinary activity now relates
to companion animals and horses.
Veterinary science is, intrinsically, applicable
and relevant not only to the agricultural and food production
industries but to the network of SME's represented by veterinary
practices, and the industries (pharmaceutical, surgical supply
etc) which depend on their success.
Scientifically, the key role for veterinary
research has become its relevance to public health (zoonoses,
food safety) and to comparative medicine, the lessons for human
disease which can be drawn from relevant models in domesticated
species, notably dogs and cats. A closer alignment between the
research interests of human and veterinary medicine has been a
key objective of this organisation in recent years.
It was, therefore, highly appropriate that there
was a veterinary representative at the meetings of the Technology
(Foresight) Health Sciences Panel and it is a matter of regret
that this is no longer so with its successor. We would urge that
similar representation is restored otherwise an important area
of applied biomedical science, in which Britain is strong, is
left in limbo with regard to this key dimension of national scientific
policy development, with its particular emphasis on the interface
between research and its commercial potential. This is certainly
a decisive time for veterinary research as we move towards implementation
of the findings of the Selborne Report, assisted by the Chairman
of HEFCE (Sir Brian Fender).
9 June 2000