Commenting, Baroness Hayman said:
"I have accepted the VPC's advice that the Government should support a continuation of the moratorium to prohibit the use of rBST. The VPC was asked to consider the latest scientific information on both the human and animal safety aspects of rBST and advise the Government in preparation for the review of the European Union's moratorium on its use."
The VPC concluded that the risk to human health from drinking milk from rBST-treated cows was likely to be extremely small but could not be ruled out entirely without further studies.
The Committee also concluded that the treatment of dairy cows with rBST is associated with welfare problems, notably decreased body condition, an increased risk of mastitis, lameness and injection site lesions.
The Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) was set up in 1970 under the terms of Section 4 of the Medicines Act 1968 and gives independent advice to the Licensing Authority (i.e. the Agriculture and Health Ministers) on the safety, quality and efficacy of veterinary medicinal products. The VPC was asked to consider the latest scientific information on human and animal safety aspects of the use of on recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) in order to advise the Government for its consideration of the review on the European Union's moratorium on the use of rBST. The VPC was assisted by a working group of three VPC members and six external veterinary and medicinal experts (MAFF News Release 166/99 of 11 May 1999).