Strict anti-BSE rules stopping farmers feeding livestock with the remains of other animals could be overturned.

It has emerged that the European Union is spending £1.2m on scientific research which could allow the remains of pigs and chickens to be used as animal fodder.

This practice was banned seven years ago to combat the spread of BSE but farmers and food processors are becoming increasingly concerned by the high costs of disposing of animal carcasses. It is thought that any change would be highly unpopular with consumers.