Unique-Check (UC) project is a FP7 project funded (>€1M) by the European Commission under Marie Curie Action, Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP). Launched in Jun 2009 with a duration of 4 years, the project has four partners from three European countries (UK, Belgium and France) with the aim to develop a unique means of detecting and proving illegal administration of recombinant somatotropin in dairy cows.
The ability to increase milk production in cow by bovine somatotropin (BST) was first demonstrated in 1930's. The use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) in dairy cows has become common practice in many countries worldwide since the commercial product became available in 1994. Such use, however, has never been approved in the European Union (EU) and was banned in 1999 due to concerns on animal health and welfare, food safety and quality, and human health implications associated with the administration of rBST in dairy cows (Council Decision 1999/879/EC). Although the administration and marketing of rBST is prohibited in the EU, imports of milk and dairy products from rBST treated animals into the EU are unaffected. There are currently no detection methods that allow the unequivocal identification of the presence of rBST in milk.