Mad Cow Disease
The Environment
Human Health
Animal Rights


"Mad cow disease is important today, not just as a deadly food-borne illness, but also as a powerful symbol of all that is wrong about the industrialization of farm animals." ( Eric Schlosser, "Fast Food Nation," Afterword: pg. 272)


[Posted 11/16/06]: CANADA FINDS 8TH CASE OF BSE: (08/23/06): "Canada has identified its eighth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, just a few weeks after the seventh case. The illness was found in an Alberta beef cow estimated to be between 8 and 10 years old, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced. Given the cow's age, it was probably exposed to the disease either before or shortly after Canada banned the feeding of cattle protein to cattle and other ruminants in 1997, the agency said. The cow was tested in the course of Canada's BSE surveillance program, which targets high-risk cattle."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: USDA STILL PREVENTING ONE OF NATION'S LARGEST MEATPACKERS FROM TESTING ITS CATTLE FOR MAD COW DISEASE: (09/13/06): " ... [the] USDA can no longer ignore the overwhelming public support for allowing companies such as Creekstone Farms to voluntarily test all of its production. Testing will give consumers at home and abroad added confidence in U.S. beef and improve America's trade status with countries such as South Korea and Japan. At the same time, USDA must apply its trade policy fairly and reasonably, enabling facilities to export beef even while those that fail inspections are held back temporarily. It is the right thing to do; it will create U.S. jobs, grow our economy and help us regain global market share.

John Stewart is the chief executive officer and founder of Creekstone Farms Premium Beef in Arkansas City."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: MAD SHEEP -- THE USDA'S WAR ON SMALL FARMERS & CONSUMERS: (09/15/06): " Foreword to the Book by Ronnie Cummins... What we are confronted with in Mad Sheep is a government conspiracy. A politically inspired ritual of fabricated charges, manipulated science, and doctored evidence. A modern witch-hunt to sacrifice the innocent in order to protect the massive profits and scandalous practices of the guilty. A diabolically orchestrated, media-scripted search and destroy operation in the Vermont countryside, designed not just to murder some innocent sheep and thereby exorcize mounting consumer fears about food safety and mad cow disease, but also to turn us all into sheep, to fan the flames of fear and ignorance, and to foster our continued dependence on an abusive Big Brother government that has promised to protect us from the contemporary terrors that lurk, well, nearly everywhere...

...Armed with $90 billion in taxpayer money each year, the USDA is waging war against all of us consumers, family farmers, farm animals, and the environment. The direct and collateral damage of this war includes rampant water, air, and food pollution; an epidemic of cancer, birth defects, obesity, and hormone disruption; pollution by genetically engineered crops; an unsustainable, massive venting of climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases; pesticide and antibiotic contamination; proliferation of junk food; systematic exploitation of small farmers, farm workers, and slaughterhouse workers; and the dumping of millions of tons of subsidized crops and meat at below the cost of production on developing nations, thereby destroying the livelihoods of millions of small farmers and rural communities."

[The full foreward is well worth reading for more behind-the-scenes descriptions of what Mr. Cummins, and to a similiar degree Howard, have been through addressing these issues:

[Posted 11/16/06]: CASE OF MAD COW DISEASE FOUND IN FRANCE: (09/18/06): " A cow in central France has tested positive for mad cow disease, the country's fifth detected case this year, local authorities said. Local veterinary chief Dominique Chabanet said Monday it was probably infected by eating animal-based flour, before its use as cow feed was banned in 1996. France has recorded a total of 15 cases of the human form of the disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, since it first appeared in 1996..."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: SCRAPIE PROGRAM ON HOLD IN VERMONT: (09/24/06): " ...Scrapie, which only affects sheep and goats, and mostly black-face breeds, such as Suffolk and Hampshire, is not transferred to humans. A sheep from a flock that has scrapie is safe to eat. The disease destroys the animal's brain, but it often takes more than five years to surface after exposure. There is no cure. The disease gets its name from the sheep's attempt to "scrape" its fleece off its back, as part its dementia from the debilitating brain disease. Other symptoms include hopping like a rabbit, shaking, stumbling, lip smacking and frequent itching. Scrapie is in the "mad cow" class of diseases. But scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy are different diseases, according to USDA literature, and scrapie poses no risk to human health.

The USDA and the sheep industry have been trying to eradicate sheep scrapie since 1951 with limited success. A renewed effort, launched in 2001, called for a Sept. 30, 2006, deadline for states to have scrapie flock certification programs in place. Vermont is not yet in compliance with the federal regulation. Vermont Agriculture Secretary Stephen Kerr said last week that Vermont will not be in compliance because of the state's now-shelved "premises registration" program. Kerr said he had hoped to use the premises registration program which ran into sustained public opposition during a series of public hearings this summer to satisfy the federal requirement for the scrapie certification program. But the registered flocks account for only a fraction of Vermont's estimated 750 flocks."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: US BEEF MAKING TENTATIVE RETURN TO NORTH ASIAN MARKET: (09/24/06): " American beef is back in the Japanese market and slated to return to South Korea soon. But for America's beef exporters, who lost two of their three largest markets in 2003 after a few cases of mad cow disease were discovered in the United States, it is going to be an uphill struggle to rebuild their north Asian business. Despite consumer fears in north Asia about possible bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad cow disease, American beef is returning to shops and restaurants in this region with ceremonial flourish. Staff at Tokyo's popular Yoshinoya restaurant chain welcome patrons back to sample dishes made with American beef. Some diners waited as long as 12 hours to make sure they would get a taste - as supplies are limited for now.

Ambassador Thomas Schieffer has been heavily promoting U.S. beef to help American exporters rebuild their nearly $1.5-billion annual business in Japan. Amb. Thomas Schieffer being served American roast beef Amb. Thomas Schieffer being served American roast beef. The ambassador, leaving another beef promotional lunch in downtown Tokyo, joked that his cholesterol count must have soared in recent days after eating American beef for nearly every meal. But he says what is important is Japan's appetite for U.S. meat..."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: EXPERT SAYS U.S. NEEDS TO BEEF UP PROTECTION OF FOOD SUPPLY: (09/25/06): " The United States needs to continue taking steps to protect its food supply from terrorism just as it would its buildings, airports and other elements of its infrastructure, FBI deputy director John S. Pistole said Monday. "The threat from agroterrorism may not be widely recognized, but the threat is real and the impact could be devastating," Pistole said. "The recent E. coli outbreak in California spinach has captured the public attention even without a terror nexus. Pistole, keynote speaker at the second International Symposium on Agroterrorism, pointed to a nonterrorism example, a single case of mad cow disease in the United States in 2003, to illustrate the potential impact.

" Days after the discovery, 53 countries banned U.S. beef imports. The economic loss to the U.S. cattle industry from the loss of beef imports just to Japan was more than $2 billion a year," Pistole said. "Almost three years later, countries have reopened their borders to U.S. beef, but exports still have not reached 2003 levels." He said while there was no "specific communicated threat at this time," the "absence of a communicated threat does not prove the absence of a threat." The U.S. food and agriculture industry employs about one in eight Americans and is important not only to Americans, but because of its massive exports, to much of the world, as well, Pistole said. "The bottom line is that agriculture, just like buildings, bridges and tunnels, is a critical infrastructure in need of defense," he said.

Barry Erlick, president of BJE Associates, a scientific and technical consulting firm, said the U.S. food supply faces threats from livestock diseases around the world... Because of the high concentration of livestock in various sections of the country, one infected animal could conceivably infect scores of other animals, he said."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: U.S. BEEF GROUP SPENDS ON ADS, BARBECUES TO WOO JAPAN CONSUMERS: (09/27/06): " The U.S. Meat Export Federation is running full page ads in Japanese newspapers that cost as much as 79 million yen ($681,000) each to convince consumers American beef is safe to eat. The biggest supermarket chains don't buy it. Repairing the image of U.S. beef after it was banned in Japan because of mad cow disease has fallen to Philip Seng, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Meat Export group, which has Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. among its members. He said in an interview the U.S. industry may have lost $5 billion since Japan first imposed the ban in December 2003. The ad spending, along with barbecue events and a new website are part of Seng's strategy to convince Aeon Co. and Seven & I Holdings Co., Japan's two biggest supermarket chains, to put U.S. beef back on the shelves after the government lifted the ban in July. He says demand is growing and supply shortages are a problem.

The U.S. Meat Export group will run a series of consumer and trade campaigns running up to Christmas and into spring 2007 to regain Japanese customers lost to Australian beef suppliers. The group said the newspaper ads are "only a beginning of the campaigns.'' Seng declined to say what his spending budget is."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: JAPAN IMPORTS OF U.S. BEEF SLUMP AFTER BAN LIFTED: (09/28/06): " Japanese imports of U.S. beef totaled only 105 tonnes in August, the first full month of shipments since Tokyo reopened the market to meat from the United States, government data showed on Thursday. That figure marks a plunge from the 22,000-25,000 tonnes of U.S. beef that industry officials say Japan was importing each month in 2003 before it imposed a ban following the discovery of a case of mad-cow disease in the United States. Tokyo briefly lifted the ban at the end of last year, but closed its borders again about a month later in January when inspectors found forbidden meat parts in a U.S. shipment. Industry officials have said that U.S. beef will only make a gradual return to the Japanese market partly due to the lack of sufficient volumes of meat that meets Tokyo's requirements.

Philip Seng, president of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said on September 20 that Japan's purchase of U.S. beef will likely be a modest 15,000 tonnes this year. Japan was once the top importer of U.S. beef, buying 240,000 tonnes valued at $1.4 billion in 2003. That accounted for nearly 30 percent of total beef supplies in Japan. Tokyo agreed to resume imports of U.S. beef in late July on condition that the meat only comes from cattle aged up to 20 months. All specified risk material must also be eliminated. Washington is pressing Japan to relax the rules so that it is in line with an international standard that allows trade in boneless beef from animals aged up to 30 months."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: JAPANESE CONFIRM 29TH CASE OF MAD COW DISEASE: (09/28/06): " Japanese authorities... have confirmed the country's 29th case of mad cow disease. The Agriculture Ministry said tests had confirmed that a 75-month-old Holstein cow from a farm on the northern island of Hokkaido had been infected with mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). 'The cow will be incinerated so that it will not be used as fodder or food for human beings,' the ministry said in a written statement. The authorities run mad cow tests on all animals to be slaughtered for consumption."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: MAD COW BURGERS 'KILLED MY SON': (09/29/06): " The mother of a man who died from the human form of mad cow disease said she believes burgers caused her son's illness. Margaret Marshall was speaking after an inquest into the death of her 30-year-old son Stephen which concluded he contracted variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) through eating contaminated beef. Mrs Marshall, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, said the father of one had probably become infected 10 years before, when he used to eat burgers regularly. She said: 'I think it was from when he was about 18 or 19, when he was travelling about a lot. He used to live on burgers.' She added: 'It's a devastating illness, I would not wish it on anybody.' Mr Marshall was diagnosed with vCJD last December. He died in March.

Doctors believe exposure to mad cow disease (BSE) could be widespread in the UK despite there being only 160 vCJD cases so far identified. Earlier this year, British scientists said the number of people infected could be far higher than originally thought because of a longer incubation period. They believe the time between infection with BSE and developing vCJD could be more than 50 years."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: SCHWARZENEGGER SIGNS BILL THAT ENDS SECRECY ABOUT MEAT RECALLS: (10/02/06): " California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill, SB 611 (Speier), that allows California public health officers to notify the public of the names of retailers that receive USDA-recalled meat and poultry, so that consumers can better protect themselves from food-borne illnesses. In 2002, California's Department of Health Services (DHS) signed a secrecy agreement with USDA, agreeing not to release the names of the stores and restaurants where tainted, USDA-recalled beef and poultry have been shipped and sold. Federal and California state agencies maintain that secrecy is necessary in order to protect the proprietary interests of the beef and poultry industries. But eighty percent of Californians believe that the public should be told the names of retail stores and restaurants that receive and sell potentially contaminated, USDA-recalled beef and poultry, according to a 2006 Field Research Corporation survey. Greater than eight in ten Californians (84%) favor mandatory recalls when unacceptable levels of contaminants are found in beef and poultry products, compared to just 11% who favor the current system of voluntary company recalls.

In 2004, California was one of seven states that received a shipment of beef products subject to a USDA recall because it included meat and bones from the first U.S. cow that tested positive for mad cow disease (the country's third confirmed case of mad cow disease was discovered on March 10, 2006 in Alabama). But California consumers had no way of knowing which grocery stores and restaurants received the products because the state had agreed with the USDA to keep that information secret. The state's secrecy agreement covers all recalls of unsafe beef and poultry not just those that involve mad cow disease. The names of retailers selling recalled beef and poultry products tainted with other hazards, such as E. coli and listeria, are also kept secret from the public under the current agreement."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: ELK EQUIVALENT OF "MAD COW DISEASE" A CONCERN IN IDAHO: (10/02/06): " Fish and Game officials are looking for four domestic elk believed to be ear-tagged and roaming near the town of Chubbuck, Idaho. It's not known where the elk came from, but it's raising more questions about the security of farm-raised elk and what could happen should they come into contact with wild elk. This latest case comes on the heels of another high-profile escape last month. When more than 100 domestic elk took off from a hunting reserve in Eastern Idaho, Gov. Jim Risch ordered that they be shot on sight. The fear was that they might pollute the wild elk gene pool and possibly spread disease, most notably the deer and elk equivalent of mad cow disease.

There is still a lot unknown about Chronic Wasting Disease, the brain disorder that kills deer and elk. Researchers still don't know what causes it or exactly how the disease is transmitted among animals. It hasn't shown up in Idaho yet, but because of the severity of the disease, state wildlife officials aren't taking any chances. "It's a situation where the state needs to remain vigilant. We have never found the disease here and we need to make sure we take all steps necessary not to have it enter Idaho," said John Chatburn, Department of Agriculture. Since about 2002, Chatburn's department has required that all domestic elk be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease when they die. There are also rules against allowing elk into the state that come from ranches where CWD has occurred in the last five years. To date, there is no proof that any humans have been infected by CWD. However, scientists still do not understand the potential risk it poses to public health."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: SIMPLE EYE TEST COULD SPOT ALZHEIMER'S EARLY ON: (10/02/06): " Scanning the eyes with lasers could help detect signs of Alzheimer's even before symptoms of the disease appear in the brain. These laser tests could improve patients' chances of starting Alzheimer's treatments earlier, before the onset of irreparable damage to the brain....In 2003, Goldstein [an interdisciplinary neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School] and his colleagues discovered that the exact same malformed amyloid beta proteins that are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease are also found in the eye's lens and its surrounding fluid.

Last year, they revealed a pair of noninvasive tests that scan the eye for these telltale molecules to potentially detect the disease in its earliest stages. Both tests very briefly shine a low-power near-infrared laser into the eye. The light is safe, not visible to the patient, and does not cause any discomfort. The tests are slated to enter phase III multicenter human clinical trials over the next year. In the end, the tests might cost less than $300 per patient. Goldstein hopes they can become a routine part of an annual physical exam starting in middle age. He is cofounder of Neuroptix, which is developing these tests for clinical use, although Goldstein is not receiving any sponsorship from the company. Goldstein will present his team's latest findings on Oct. 9 at the annual meeting of the Optical Society of America in Rochester, N.Y."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: STUDY: BRITISH CATTLE GIVE TB TO BADGERS: (10/03/06): " The controversial practice of killing wild badgers to prevent tuberculosis in cattle is unlikely to succeed, a U.S. study claims. The research was led by Rosie Woodroffe, an ecologist at the University of California-Davis, and a member of Britain's Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB. In Britain, farming interests and badger protectionists have battled for 30 years concerning the merits of culling badgers to fight cattle tuberculosis, a disease which can occasionally be transmitted to people.

Woodroffe examined the outcomes when badgers were culled as part of a 7-year British experiment. Conventional wisdom suggested that should have reduced transmission among badgers, as well as from badgers to cattle. Instead, after four years of culling, Woodroffe found infection rates in badgers had doubled. The report also provides the first evidence of widespread TB transmission from cattle to badgers. The study appears in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

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[Posted 11/16/04]: 100 YEARS LATER, FOOD MAKERS RESIST OVERSIGHT: (10/03/06): " It took a book called ``The Jungle,'' a grim assessment of work inside slaughterhouses, plus a campaign by labor unions, medical professionals and consumer groups, to pressure the U.S. Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act on the same day in 1906. The food industry was opposed to legislative and regulatory oversight of its business then, as it still is in many instances today. That is despite periodic instances of bad publicity, such as that accompanying the recent discovery of fresh spinach contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

The increased complexity of growing and distribution systems, the influx of foods from all over the world, and threats to the meat supply such as "mad cow'' disease haven't shaken the resistance of most producers and sellers to major modification of the U.S.'s food-safety system. In particular, the industry and Congress have no stomach for giving federal regulators the power to order recalls, fine transgressors, or unify the sprawling regulatory authority. That authority is now shared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees meat, poultry and eggs, and the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for everything else, or about 80 percent of the food supply... More recently, Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, has introduced several bills to establish a single Food Safety Administration and authorize mandatory federal recalls.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, has been carrying the banner in the House. "They can't even get a hearing. These public-interest, good-government issues -- there is no hearing,'' said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer-advocacy organization."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: MEXICO EASES MAD-COW BAN TO ALLOW U.S. DAIRY HEIFERS: (10/04/06): " Mexico is resuming imports of U.S. dairy heifers, lifting a ban imposed in December 2003 when the U.S. found its first case of mad-cow disease, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said... Under the agreement, exported animals must be under 24 months of age, the Agriculture Department said in a statement. The heifers will be individually identified as they leave the U.S. as part of Mexico's mad-cow surveillance program... "My goal is to restore the once-vibrant live cattle commerce between the U.S. and Mexico and to do so in accordance with science-based international guidelines,'' Johanns said in the statement. He called the agreement on dairy heifers a "first step'' in that process.

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[Posted 11/16/06]: MAD DEER DISEASE MAY SPREAD WITH SALIVA/BLOOD: (10/05/06): " Deer probably spread a brain-destroying illness called chronic wasting disease through their saliva, concludes a study that finally pins down a long-suspected culprit. Chronic wasting disease is in the same family of fatal brain illnesses as mad cow disease and its human equivalent. There is no evidence that people have ever caught chronic wasting disease from infected deer or elk. But CWD is unusual because, unlike its very hard-to-spread relatives, it seems to spread fairly easily from animal to animal. Scientists were not sure how, primarily because studying large wild animals is a logistical nightmare. The sheer stress of researchers handling a deer caught in the wild could kill it.

Is it spread through shared salt licks? Or by drooling onto grass or into streams? Studying environmental contamination by infectious proteins, called prions, that cause CWD is among Hoover's next steps. "It's very likely they could be shedding a lot of saliva" shortly before death, noted Richard Race, a veterinarian who studies CWD at the National Institutes of Health's Rocky Mountain Laboratories. "Saliva's a good bet."

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[See also: "Scientists Find Blood, Saliva Can Be Common Channels For Infection Between Animals:"

[Posted 11/16/06]: IOWA COMPANY INSISTS MEAT RECALLED FOR POSSIBLE E. COLI IS SAFE: (10/07/06): " The owner of an Iowa meat company says the federal government has needlessly requested that he recall 5,200 pounds of meat that he claims is safe and has likely already been consumed by thousands of people across seven states. Jim Goeser, owner of Jim's Market and Locker Inc., said tests have negated the government's claim that his meat may have the same E. coli strain responsible for three deaths in the recent outbreak of contaminated spinach. Goeser said he voluntarily issued the recall Friday after federal inspectors questioned the testing methods used by a slaughterhouse in Omaha, Neb. No illnesses have been reported and none likely will, he said.

" We are absolutely confident as we can be that the meat is as clean as it can be," Goeser told The Associated Press on Saturday. E. coli lives in the intestines of cattle and other animals and typically is linked to contamination by fecal material. It's believed responsible for about 60 deaths and 73,000 infections a year in the United States."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: TAIWAN HALTS CANADIAN BEEF FROM U.S.: (10/09/06): " Taiwan is no longer accepting imports of Canadian beef products from the United States, according to a news release from R-CALF USA. The Billings, Mont., advocacy group said the U.S. Department of AgricultureÕs Food Safety and Inspection Service on Tuesday issued updated export requirements for Taiwan regarding fresh and frozen boneless beef derived from Canadian cattle under 30 months of age. Effective Monday, Oct. 9, beef products derived from cattle imported from Canada for immediate slaughter are not eligible for export to Taiwan, according to the news release from the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America.

R-CALF USA is among groups that have pushed USDA to keep Canadian beef and cattle out of the U.S. because of the number of mad cow disease cases in Canada. Mad cow is known scientifically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. Earlier this year, South Korea asked that no Canadian beef be commingled with its imports of U.S. beef, according to Bull Bullard, chief executive of R-CALF USA. USDA has not reported any sales of beef to South Korea this year, he said. R-CALF also said that because a recent discovery in Canada of a 4-year-old BSE-positive cow, the USDA should stop imports of Canadian cattle less than 30 months of age. The animal was born five years after Canada imposed its ruminant feed ban, which is aimed at stopping the spread of BSE."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: DENMARK REPORTS FIRST CASE OF LETHAL SCRAPIE ANIMAL DISEASE: (10/12/06): " Denmark reported its first case of scrapie, a lethal disease affecting sheep and goats which is related to mad cow disease. A crippled animal in Kjellerup in Viborg County was confirmed to have died of an atypical form of scrapie last month, Preben Willeberg, Denmark's chief veterinary officer, said in a report to the World Organization for Animal Health. The report didn't say whether a sheep or goat was infected. The animal was more than 10 years old and the source of its infection is unknown, according to the report, which was received by the Paris-based organization this week. Another 17 animals were susceptible to infection and the affected property has been quarantined, it said. Scrapie is a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. Scientists believe that the feeding of rendered scrapie-infected livestock in the form of meatmeal to cattle in the U.K. in the late 1970s and 1980s caused the emergence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. The disease, also known as mad cow disease, has been linked with the fatal brain-wasting disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, in humans."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: US SENATOR SEEKS OKING BLANKET BSE TESTS FOR EXPORTS TO JAPAN:(10/12/06): " U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., has sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns urging him to allow beef producers to conduct blanket testing for mad-cow disease for their exports to Japan and other countries, according to a copy of the letter made available Thursday, Kyodo News reported. "This is vital to regaining U.S. market share in Japan, South Korea and other markets critical to U.S. beef suppliers," Bunning said in the letter dated last Friday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture restricts testing to its own program, banning voluntary testing despite repeated requests for permission from some American meat processors so they can test all cattle for beef exports, especially to Japan to satisfy consumers there. Japan conducts blanket testing on all slaughtered cattle. But the U.S. tests only a small proportion of the total cattle herd because the USDA program is designed to statistically check the prevalence of the disease."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: RESEARCHERS DETECT CWD IN HEART MUSCLE OF ELK AND WHITE-TAILED DEER: (10/13/06): " Chronic wasting disease for the first time has been found in the heart muscle of white-tailed deer and elk, according to researchers in the University of Wyoming's College of Agriculture. The finding is important to wildlife managers, hunters and scientists because the cardiac muscle -- which comprises meat -- of big-game animals susceptible to CWD is consumed by humans. Hunters, however, should not be alarmed, said Jean Jewell, a research scientist in the UW Department of Veterinary Sciences. "There is a tendency for people to become alarmed when they hear something that makes them think their health might be at risk, but at this stage there is no evidence to suggest humans are susceptible to CWD," Jewell said. That does not mean hunters shouldn't take precautions, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (G&F). They are advised not to kill or eat animals that appear sick, and it is recommended they wear long, disposable rubber or latex gloves when field dressing animals. This will help protect them from not only CWD but other diseases. Meat should be removed from bones when butchering, according to G&F.

CWD is a chronic, fatal disease of mule and white-tailed deer, Rocky Mountain elk and moose. It belongs to the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which are thought to be caused by prions."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: JAPANESE RULES PROMPT CATTLE ID TAG USE: (10/15/06): " Japanese consumers aren't just asking, "Where's the beef?" They want to know: "Where's the beef from?" That question is proving to be a good opportunity for cattle businesses to test a new national system for tracking animals that federal officials hope to have operative on a voluntary basis by 2009. The Japanese government is making sure that any U.S. beef it imports can be traced to its origins and comes from cows not more than 20 months old. The strict protocol stems from the December 2003 find of a Washington state cow that tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease. As a result, 52 countries, including Japan, banned U.S. beef. That cow eventually was traced to Canada.

In the United States, the tags are part of the first phase of a National Animal Identification System the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Florida Department of Agriculture and the livestock industry are developing. The program, which will allow tracking of animals through the system from farm to feedlot and slaughterhouse, is slated to be implemented on a widespread voluntary basis by 2009.

Groups such as the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest have called for a mandatory system to be implemented as soon as possible. It would give consumers more confidence that illnesses such as mad cow disease are not in the food supply. "The animal ID system also would be enormously helpful in pinning down causes of food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria, which routinely kill thousands of people annually," the center's food safety director, Caroline Smith DeWaal, said.

Livestock industry fears about pinpointing blame for a disease outbreak, as well as concerns about costs, have slowed the program's implementation."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: QUEBEC FARMER SEEKING PERMISSION FOR CLASS ACTION OVER MAD COW CRISIS: (10/16/06): " Ottawa and a multinational feed company knew how to prevent the spread of mad cow disease a decade before BSE showed up in Canadian cattle but they did nothing, says a Quebec farmer who is trying to initiate a class action lawsuit against both. Their negligence and inaction led to the crisis that saw international borders closed to Canadian beef, costing Quebec farmers between $6 billion and $7 billion and Canadian farmers overall up to $20 billion, alleges the lawsuit filed by Donald Berneche. Berneche was in Quebec Superior Court on Monday asking a judge to approve the class action suit against the federal government and Ridley Inc. (TSX:RLC) on behalf of all Quebec farmers.

" The respondents are responsible for the present mad cow crisis due to their inaction and negligence," says the suit. "Since the end of the 80s, the beginning of the 1990s, worldwide its been known how BSE is spread, which is basically through ruminant meat and bone meal," Berneche's lawyer, Gilles Gareau, told reporters outside the courtroom. "Stop feeding (it) to cows. It's as simple as that."

Great Britain banned ruminant meat and bone meal, or animal parts, in its cattle feed in 1988. "Here in Canada we waited until 1997 to do that," Gareau said."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: MAD COW DISEASE FOUND IN RUSSIA NEAR THE EU BORDER: (10/18/06): " A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease has been discovered in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania, the Federal Control Service for Consumer Rights said. "A case of mad cow disease was detected in the town of Razdolnoye in the Nesterovski region," near the Lithuanian border, it said in a press release. "The two people who had contact with the animal have received vaccinations," it added, saying that authorities are "taking measures designed to eliminate the source of the disease." In July 2005, Moscow announced it had found around 10 cases of mad cow disease in four farms in Mordovia, in the eastern European area of Russia."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: EU WILL COMMENT ON HUMAN RISK FROM PRION DISEASE: (10/18/06): "Europe's top food safety agency will give its views next month on whether a fatal brain-wasting disease, similar to mad cow disease, might threaten human health if transmitted form sheep and goats, its executive director said on Wednesday. Earlier this year, two sheep in France and one in Cyprus, were suspected of being infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) infection, also known as mad cow disease. A final series of tests is continuing and should be completed next year.

The sheep were initially tested for scrapie, which is similar to BSE, and known to exist in sheep for more than 100 years. That followed on from a similar ordeal that France faced in 2005, when mad cow disease was confirmed in a goat that had been killed three years earlier --- the first case of BSE in a goat. Scrapie belongs to a family of diseases known as TSEs (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) and characterised by a degeneration of brain tissue giving a sponge-like appearance. While no case of BSE has ever been confirmed as naturally occurring in sheep, there are fears that some sheep diagnosed as having scrapie -- not known to be harmful to humans -- might be carrying the other brain-wasting disease."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: FATE OF 1,000 TONS OF U.S. BEEF STUCK IN CUSTOMS LIMBO: (10/21/06): "Fate of 1,000 tons of U.S. beef stuck in customs limbo to be decided soon... Japan will soon decide whether to allow into its market U.S. beef that arrived before Tokyo reinstated an import ban on U.S. beef in January, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka said Friday. The ban was lifted in July, but the beef has yet to clear customs at ports and other areas in Japan.

" We have been planning to make a judgment after watching (U.S. beef imports) for about three months (following the resumption of imports)," Matsuoka told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. "We intend to carefully consider this in order to make a final decision." The beef in question amounts to about 1,000 tons. It has been kept on ice since Japan reinstated its import ban on U.S. beef in January immediately after a veal shipment from the United States that arrived at Narita airport was found to contain spinal cord, a risk material banned under a bilateral agreement on beef trade."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: CJD LINK TO GRAN'S MYSTERY DEATH: (10/22/06): " A Melbourne grandmother who died this week from suspected Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was a blood donor for 25 years. Valerie Powell, 68, died on Tuesday. Her husband Ron, 70, said his wife was a regular blood donor until a year ago. But he said doctors had told him the type of CJD his wife had could not be transmitted by blood or blood products. The Australian Red Cross said there had never been a reported case of classical CJD being passed from a blood donor anywhere in the world. CJD expert Prof Colin Masters, head of the Department of Pathology at Melbourne University, said Victorians who may have received blood from Mrs Powell should not be alarmed because there was no evidence classical CJD was passed through the blood. But he said in the past year there had been three cases, all in Britain, of variant CJD -- more widely known as mad cow's disease -- passed from blood donors."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO SURVIVE: (10/23/06): " In his new book The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery, science writer D.T. Max explores the strange world of prions and their connections to cannibalism, fatal insomnia and hamburgers. Max talked about his findings with Wired News. [excerpts:

WN: What makes prions go bad in the first place?

Max: There are three ways. One is through an infection: If you ingest a misformed prion, it will probably make other prions in the body misform. That's Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease -- mad cow disease in humans. The second way is through genetic mutation, such as in fatal familial insomnia. There's a mistake in your DNA, and your genes are making misformed proteins all the time. Those proteins are commingling with other healthy prions in your body and causing them to misform. The third way is sporadically (or randomly), although there are some respectable scientists who don't believe in this.

WN: Some people thought the British mad-cow outbreak would potentially kill hundreds of thousands of people. But only about 150 people have gotten sick. What happened?

Max: Fortunately, the bovine protein was just different enough from the human protein that it isn't a very efficient infector. If we'd been closer to them, nobody would be alive in England except vegetarians. It's an extraordinary piece of luck from a human experience point of view. Certainly the British government didn't know (the truth) and to some extent it didn't want to know.

WN: What do you make of food safety in the United States when it comes to prion diseases?

Max: The USDA does as poor a job as you could imagine. I've never seen an organization that seems more determined to not find what it's in charge of exploring..."

WN: Are you a vegetarian?

Max: I don't eat cheap hamburger. When I learned it was comprised of hundreds of thousands of body parts and when I learned how it was blown off the bones of the cow and steer, I just decided I didn't quite have the stomach for it anymore."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: OHIO EXPANDS TESTS OF DEER FOR DISEASE: (10/24/06): "Ohio is changing its method of testing white-tailed deer for a deadly neurological disease. The state will test 1,500 Ohio deer this fall for chronic wasting disease and for the first time will include deer killed on roads, said Dave Risley of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife. That's a boost from 2005 when Ohio tested about 700 deer from both hunters' check-in stations and deer-processing facilities. That testing effort will cover the entire state although it will be more intense in eastern Ohio where deer concentrations are higher and the chronic wasting disease threat are greater, Risley said.

" It's a serious problem that's not going away and it's something that we need to stay on top of... and keep an eye on it,'' he said."

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[Posted 11/16/06]: SCIENTISTS WARN OF 'MAD HONEY DISEASE': (09/10/06): "Mad honey disease is among the rarest afflictions in the world, but it appears to be on the increase. Only 58 cases have been reported worldwide, but eight people were treated in 2005 alone. The trend towards eating more natural products may be driving a rise in cases of the disease, whose symptoms can include convulsions, low blood pressure, fainting and temporary heart problems, according to a new report. "Mad honey disease has the potential to cause death if untreated," say the researchers. "Because of the increasing preference for natural products, intoxication induced by consumption of honey will increase in the future."

Just a spoonful of the wrong honey can cause problems, according to researchers, who report their findings this week in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Mad honey poisoning is most prevalent in honey from the Black Sea region of Turkey. Compounds called grayanotoxins, found in the nectar of rhododendrons, mountain laurels and azaleas, are thought to be responsible for the disease. Though harmless to bees, they are psychoactive and poisonous to humans. Affected honey is said to have a very bitter taste.

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http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article1433411.ece atroo.com/cgi-bin/tm3/l?g=a&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pure3x.com%2

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[Posted 08/03/04]: Mad Cow Tests Go To Industry Before Public: (06/15/04): "The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to notify industry officials of positive mad cow test results at least one hour before informing the public, according to a meat industry newsletter obtained by United Press International. The revelation comes as government officials are being investigated for possibly leaking information about the first U.S. case of mad cow in December to commodity traders prior to telling the public.

A statement on NMA's [National Meat Association] Web site says, "Generic information concerning the inconclusive result will be publicly released after the market closes for the day, after the plant and other key personnel or associations have been notified, with at least an hour between the two notifications." The statement goes on to say USDA officials told industry representatives in a private meeting, "No establishment information will be publicly released, including the city or town of the slaughtering facility."

In January, various consumer groups, including GAP, Public Citizen and the Consumer Federation of America, requested the USDA hold a public hearing on the mad cow issue. The groups reiterated their appeal just last month. So far, their requests have gone unanswered."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: Japan's BSE Demands Dividing U.S. Cattle Industry: (06/21/04): "Japan's continued insistence that the U.S. test all cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) at slaughter is creating a divide in the cattle industry. Scientists agree that BSE, commonly called mad cow disease, doesn't develop in cattle until about 30 months of age. Therefore, testing all slaughter cattle for BSE is scientifically unjustified and cost prohibitive, Greg Doud chief economist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) told Farm Bureau county vice presidents at last week's Midyear Conference in West Des Moines.

"There is a fundamental misunderstanding between the U.S. and Japan about beef safety because of differences in the production system," Doud said. He said most cattle slaughtered in Japan are 30 months old or older. U.S. slaughter cattle are generally 15 to 18 months old, well before BSE infects the animal."

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["BSE in 21-month Holstein in Japan" - mentioned in MC Newsletter #32:

[Posted 08/03/04]: Florida Woman With Human Form Of Mad Cow Disease Dies: (06/21/04): "A Florida woman suffering from the only known case in the United States of the human form of mad cow disease has died, her family said on Monday. Charlene Singh died on Sunday at her home in Fort Lauderdale after being ill for several years with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is fatal and incurable. Her family believe she contracted it by eating contaminated meat in Britain more than a decade ago. Singh, 25, was born and raised in Britain, where an outbreak of the disease hit tens of thousands of cattle in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of the more than 150 cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob worldwide have been reported in Britain."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: Bush Given Grade Of "D" At Anniversary Of Mad Cow Finding: (06/22/04): " The Bush administration received a letter grade of "D" today for its efforts to prevent mad cow disease during the six months since a mad cow was found in the United States. Seven public interest organizations with more than 5 million members released a report card rating the administration's performance. The groups assessed 10 key actions needed to prevent the disease including testing, feed restrictions, animal identification and tracking, prevention of the human version of the disease and whether the administration has been following its own rules.
Groups rating the Bush administration include the Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union (the publisher of Consumer Reports), the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation, Friends of the Earth, the Government Accountability Project, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy - Action, and Public Citizen."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: USDA Warns Canada, Mexico Of Rapid Mad Cow Test: (06/24/04): "Canada and Mexico should not shut their borders to U.S. beef if a new U.S. testing system finds an animal may have mad cow disease, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday. The USDA this month began using rapid test kits that carry a greater risk of false positives for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Any positive or inconclusive tests would be confirmed by the USDA's main animal health laboratory in Iowa. John Clifford, USDA's chief veterinarian, said the department has prepared Canadian and Mexican government officials for the possibility of inconclusive tests. "They understand that they are not going to shut us off based on an inconclusive (test result)," Clifford told reporters. "It would be inappropriate in our minds for that to occur."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: USDA Finds 2nd Suspect Animal For Mad Cow Disease: (06/29/04): "A second animal in less than a week preliminarily tested positive for mad cow disease and it will be retested, the U.S. Agriculture Department said late on Tuesday. The USDA refused to disclose any information about the suspect animal's slaughter location, age or sex, but said the cattle carcass did not enter the human food supply. USDA officials say the government's new, rapid tests carry a greater risk of false positives. The first U.S. case of mad cow disease was diagnosed last December in a Washington state dairy cow. In response, Japan and dozens of other countries halted purchases of American beef, valued at about $3.8 billion annually."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: U.S. Says Finds Negative Result To Mad Cow Test: (06/30/04): "A suspect animal tested negative for mad cow disease in a second round of testing, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Wednesday. The additional tests were ordered after an inconclusive or possible positive test was found last Friday in an animal sent to slaughter. "That particular result is negative for BSE on confirmatory testing," John Clifford, the department's chief veterinarian, told reporters. BSE stands for the formal name of mad cow disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The department has cautioned that its new rapid tests to detect the brain-wasting disease are likely to produce false positives."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: Up To 100 More Mad Cow Cases Expected: (06/30/04): "...a food industry consultant told UPI he estimates there could be more than 100 cases of the deadly disorder in the country's herds. About half of the cases will go undetected and passed on for human consumption, Robert LaBudde, president of Least Cost Formulation Ltd., a food industry consultancy in Virginia Beach, Va., told UPI. LaBudde, who has served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, thinks there will be many more infected cows detected.
Only about half the cases will be detected, however, because many animals will not show any symptoms, LaBudde said. This is based on the experience in Europe, where half the animals that test positive have no outward symptoms of infection, he added. LaBudde said the department should test all cows over age 5 regardless of their health status, because these are the most likely to have passed through the lengthy incubation period of the disease and test positive. He called the USDA's failure to do that bordering on "negligent."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: Japan Says U.S. Played Down Seriousness of BSE: (07/03/04): "The chairman of the government's Food Safety Commission on Friday played down the seriousness of mad cow disease in the United States. "Deep down, I think the risk of BSE in the U.S. was hardly taken seriously," Masaaki Terada said during a workshop on food safety. Terada also said that as the U.S. government does not have enough data on the disease, it is still difficult to scientifically assess the danger of the brain-wasting disease in the country, leading to Japan's ban on American beef imports. The commission is therefore collecting information to determine necessary safety measures against U.S. beef, Terada said."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: French Mad Cow Epidemic Went Undetected: (07/04/04): "French researches have concluded that more than 300,000 cows in France contracted bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, between 1980 and June 2000, the Telegraph reported on its Web site. About 50,000 of the infected animals entered the food chain, the newspaper said, citing a report by researchers at France's Institute of Health and Medical Research. The study, "The Unrecognized French BSE Epidemic,'' is published in Veterinary Research, the newspaper said.

The number of officially recorded cases of mad cow disease in France over the past 13 years is 923, the newspaper said. The editors of Veterinary Research had three independent scientists verify the study's findings, the newspaper said."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: Canadian PM Says BSE Cow Likely Contaminated By US Feed: (07/08/04): "At a conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, this week, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin criticized US actions after BSE was discovered in a Canadian cow in May 2003. "Some chose to ignore the fact that in all probability, the feed that gave it the disease came from the United States and consequently, the border was closed," he said.

Martin blamed special interests for blocking the US government from a joint solution. "Beef prices are at an all-time high because Canadian beef is no longer coming in and they are enjoying very high profits, and obviously, in a year in which there is a US election, there is huge pressure being brought to essentially keep that border closed," he said. In the long run, Martin said it's the US beef industry that will suffer unless the border is fully opened, because Canada will have no choice but to build massive processing facilities there."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: FDA Delays Mad Cow Feed Rules: (07/09/04): "The Food and Drug Administration on Friday banned brains and other cattle parts that could carry mad cow disease from use in cosmetics and dietary supplements, but delayed some similar safeguards in animal feed for up to two years. The FDA said it will adopt some regulations, initially announced in January, that prohibit the use of brains, skull and spinal cords from older cattle in human food and cosmetics. The USDA, which regulates the meat industry, adopted similar measures in January.

Consumer groups criticized the agency for taking six months to issue only some of the new safeguards. "Action that was urgent in January has become action that can be delayed until the last mad cow comes home," said Carol Tucker Foreman, food policy director for the Consumer Federation of America. The American Meat Institute, a trade group representing U.S. meatpackers, said it was against a mandatory elimination of cattle brains and spinal material from all animal feed."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: USDA Advised Against Mad Cow Test In 2002: (07/13/04): "The U.S. Department of Agriculture in late 2002 warned against using the same mad cow disease test the agency now is using in its expanded surveillance program for the deadly disorder, United Press International has learned. The USDA said governments should not authorize the test, which is manufactured by Bio-Rad Laboratories in Hercules, Calif., because it can give false positives -- results that are ruled negative on follow-up testing -- and "will cause loss of consumer confidence in beef and beef products," the agency wrote in a letter to the World Organization for Animal Health in Paris.

The USDA recommended countries employ a different test manufactured by the Swiss firm Prionics -- a test the agency has licensed but has not yet put into use. The USDA's reason for the delay is the Prionics test, which has not yielded a false positive in more than 20 million tests in Europe, still must pass through the agency's validation procedures. Experts on testing and mad cow disease have suggested one reason the USDA might have opted for Bio-Rad is the same reason it advised against it in 2002: its potential to yield false positives. By releasing preliminary positives -- or inconclusives, as the USDA has deemed them -- that are later ruled negative, the agency could desensitize markets, consumers and foreign trading partners to real positive cases when and if they occur, the sources said."

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[Posted 08/03/04]: USDA'S Own Audit Slams Its Mad Cow Plan: (07/13/04): "The U.S. Department of Agriculture's mad cow disease surveillance plan has numerous problems that may have reduced the chances of detecting the deadly disease among U.S. herds, according to a draft report from the agency's inspector general. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who made the IG report available on his Web site [address below], sent a letter Tuesday to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman noting the House Government Reform Committee -- on which Waxman serves -- and a separate IG investigation not yet made available to the public, found additional evidence contradicting claims of USDA officials regarding potential U.S. cases of mad cow disease.

"The Inspector General's finding and the additional evidence obtained by the committee have major implications," Waxman, the ranking Democrat, wrote in the letter. "They call into question the credibility of the department's public statements and the adequacy of the department's past and ongoing response to mad cow disease." The IG audit of the mad cow surveillance plan details a slew of problems, including failure to test the riskiest animals, confusion among inspectors in the field due to inadequate training, and "an almost complete absence of available documentation" supporting the surveillance plan from 1990 through 2003.

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[See also:

[For formal letter and Draft Audit:

[Posted 08/03/04]: USDA Says Mandatory Mad Cow Tests Wouldn't Work: (07/15/04): "Mandatory testing of cattle for mad cow disease would not improve on the current voluntary system because the government still could never be sure producers were complying, an Agriculture Department official said Wednesday. Even under mandatory testing, if a producer did not want an animal tested, ''it would be very difficult for us to find out,'' said Dr. Ron DeHaven, administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. ''When we are talking about potentially every cattle producer in the country getting involved in this program, enforcement is a real issue,'' DeHaven said.

He said that relying on cooperation from farmers, slaughterhouse operators and renderers is working well in coming up with brain tissue samples to be checked for the fatal brain-wasting disease. ''We clearly are getting the support we need to make this successful, so there is no need to proceed to a mandatory program,'' DeHaven said. Mandatory testing also would mean time-consuming rule-making, DeHaven said."

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Italy Reports Latest Case Of Mad Cow Disease: (07/19/04): "A 7-year-old cow from a breeding farm in northwestern Italy has tested positive for mad cow disease, bringing to 122 the number of cases detected in the nation since testing began in 2001, the Health Ministry said Monday. Two years ago, Italy reported its first case of the human form of the brain-wasting illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which experts believe is transmitted by eating meat from infected animals."

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[up to index]

[Posted 08/02/04]: Tonsil Tests Suggest Thousands Harbour vCJD: (05/04/04): "Almost 4000 Britons aged between 10 and 30 may be harbouring the prion proteins that cause the human form of mad cow disease. The new estimate comes from direct analyses of human biopsies, rather than epidemiological projections based on variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) deaths. The investigators discovered three infected tonsil or appendix samples from a total of 12,674 stored between 1995 and 1999. However, because so few positive samples were found, the projected total of 3808 can only be speculative. Furthermore, harbouring the prions may not necessarily lead to vCJD. The Department of Health says that the uncertainties in Hilton's studies justify its measures to protect patients. These include filtering potentially infective white blood cells from blood donations, and upgrading sterilisation equipment to stop prions spreading on surgical instruments."

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["Prevalence Of Lymphoreticular Prion Protein Accumulation In Uk Tissue Sample:" http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/108563520/ABSTRACT

[Posted 08/02/04]: Experts Foresee 60 More BSE Cases In Japan: (05/15/04): "About 60 more cases of mad cow disease are expected to occur in Japan, with discovery likely to peak in 2005 and 2006, the Cabinet Office said in a survey report Friday. The report was complied by an expert panel in the governmental Food Safety Commission. Testing of all cattle is expected to uncover more cases as the brain-wasting disease has an average incubation period of five years, the office said. The report assumes the presence of 60 more BSE-infected cows because one case of infection is estimated to have led to four more infections in countries such as Britain."

[Posted 08/02/04]: No Mad Cow Tests At Texas Firm In 2004: (05/14/04): "The U.S. Department of Agriculture did not test any cows for mad cow disease in the past seven months at the same Texas facility where federal testing policies for the deadly disorder were violated last month, United Press International has learned. The USDA also failed to test a single cow in 2002 at another Texas slaughterhouse that processes high-risk, downer cows, according to agency testing records obtained by UPI under the Freedom of Information Act. Downer cows are unable to stand or walk, which can be an indication of mad cow disease, as well as other disorders.

The low-level of testing irks consumer advocates because Lone Star, the 18th largest slaughterhouse in the country, processes high-risk, older dairy cattle, slaughtering approximately 172,000 per year. "We have, in my opinion, a government policy (on mad cow disease) of 'Don't look, don't find,'" said Howard Lyman, a former rancher turned vegetarian, who has insisted mad cow is present in U.S. herds and has called for increased testing for several years. The concern is humans can contract a fatal, incurable brain-wasting disorder called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from eating meat infected with the mad cow pathogen.

"When you're slaughtering 35 million head of cattle and testing as few cows as the USDA does, it's like sending a blind man to find a needle in a haystack," Lyman told UPI. The agency tests less than 1 percent of cows slaughtered annually."

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[Posted 08/02/04]: USDA Alienates Japan By Being Evasive On Mad Cow Problem In The USA: (05/15/04): "The U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to supply the number of cows exhibiting signs of a brain disorder it has tested for mad cow disease to Japanese authorities, who requested the information more than four months ago, an official told United Press International. The failure to provide the information comes amid the recent revelation USDA officials did not test an animal displaying brain disorder symptoms consistent with mad cow disease at a Texas plant in April.

" Although the Japanese government requested this information in January, the official said the USDA has not yet provided any substantial statistics. " We received a one-page document" showing the number of dead and downer cows -- those unable to stand -- that have been tested, the official said. But there is no information on the number of tested animals with CNS signs, he added. The USDA has also failed to address other questions about how the agency is ensuring mad cow disease does not infect U.S. herds, the official said. This has created a sense of frustration among Japanese authorities.

J.B. Penn, USDA's undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services, who has been heavily involved in the negotiations with Japan, declined repeated requests from UPI for comment. [A Japanese official] noted, however, that Japanese officials took issue with some of Penn's other statements to reporters -- for example, he appeared to downplay some of their most serious concerns, including the worry that cows under 30 months old can carry the disease and therefore should be tested. Two of Japan's young cows --ages 21 and 23 months -- have tested positive within the past year for mad cow, otherwise known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy."

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[Posted 08/02/04]: USDA Says Canadian Beef Imported Despite Ban Was Safe: (05/21/04): "The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) acknowledged today that it allowed the importation of about 7.3 million pounds of Canadian beef that was officially banned under rules intended to keep bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) out of the United States. But the USDA said the meat, imported since last summer, did not represent any risk to consumers because it came from cattle under 30 months of age. BSE has very rarely been found in animals younger than 30 months.

USDA officials discussed the issue in response to news reports published yesterday. A Washington Post report, quoting figures from a cattlemen's organization, said 33 million pounds of "processed" beef was imported since last summer despite the official ban. Ron DeHaven, administrator of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), said all of the processed beef that was imported was made from beef that would not have been subject to the ban in its unprocessed form. While insisting that the products posed no risk to consumers, USDA officials admitted mistakes in handling the matter. "Clearly the process and our failure to announce some of these actions was flawed," DeHaven said."

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[See also a Transcript of USDA Briefing:

[Posted 08/02/04]: Malformed Proteins Found In Sheep Muscle: (05/23/04): "Prions, the misfolded proteins that are widely believed to cause brain-wasting diseases, have been found in sheep muscle, scientists announced yesterday - the first time they have been discovered in animal flesh that many humans normally eat. But the scientists emphasized that the finding did not mean that lamb or mutton posed a danger to humans. "The risk of transmission from sheep to humans is very, very low," said Olivier Andréoletti, a prion specialist at the National Veterinary School in Toulouse, France, and lead author of the study, which was published yesterday in Nature Medicine.

Two years ago, in collaboration with Dr. Stanley Prusiner, who won a 1997 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in the field, Dr. Legname found prions in the muscles of mice and showed that they could replicate there. Since then, Swiss researchers have found prions in the muscles of humans with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative brain disease that is thought to arise spontaneously in one in a million humans.

Dr. Brown, who spent decades on prion research, said he was not surprised that they had been found in sheep muscle. "In the last few years, the sensitivity of immunoblot tests has been ramped up so much that people are beginning to find the protein all over the place," he said. He ventured a prediction: "Within the next year, somebody will make a big splash by finding it in the muscles of cattle," he said, "and the beef industry will go crazy."

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[Posted 08/02/04]: Beef Promotion Case Goes To Supreme Court: (05/24/04): "The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it would decide if the federal government can require cattle ranchers and farmers to pay for an industry marketing program, famous for its "Beef, It's What's for Dinner" advertisements. The beef promotion program raises more than $80 million a year by requiring American farmers to contribute $1 per animal from their cattle sales. In addition to television and magazine ads, the program offers recipes to consumers to encourage them to prepare steaks, roasts and other cuts of beef. An appeals court last year ruled that the program violated farmers' free-speech rights and should be ended.

The U.S. Agriculture Department runs dozens of promotion programs for commodities such as beef, pork, eggs, milk and cotton. Producers of the commodities are required to contribute to funds that pay for programs that encourage consumption. The Bush administration, along with the largest U.S. cattle ranchers group, said the program is essential to boost consumer demand for steaks, roasts and other beef cuts. U.S. per capita consumption of beef is forecast to rise to 66.9 pounds in 2004, up from 64.8 pounds last year, according to the USDA."

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[Posted 08/02/04]: UK Firm Develops Test For Human 'Mad Cow' Disease: (05/26/04): "British diagnostics company Microsens has developed the first blood test that can detect abnormal proteins that cause the human version of "mad cow disease," the privately owned company said on Wednesday. The firm's Seprion technology can detect abnormal prions, a type of protein, in the blood of patients with so-called variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), it said."

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[Posted 08/02/04]: Intensive Mad-Cow Testing To Begin For Washington Cattle: (05/31/04): "The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to test between 5,000 and 10,000 Washington cattle for mad-cow disease as part of a $70 million effort to find out if the infection is present in the United States, and if so, at what level. The one-time, intensive program, which kicks off Tuesday, aims to test at least 220,000 animals nationwide over the next 12 to 18 months.

"It's important to acknowledge that, in fact, it is possible we will find an additional BSE-positive cow," Ron DeHaven, the agency's chief veterinarian, said last week. "If this weren't a concern, we obviously would not be undertaking the huge surveillance effort that we are." Consumer groups and the Japanese government, which suspended imports of U.S. beef after the December mad-cow case, continue to push for even more testing. "You only have absolute safety if you test all animals that can be tested and remove any that test positive from the human and animal food supply," said Michael Hansen, of Consumers Union.

Even the expanded testing program will examine less than 1 percent of the 35 million cattle slaughtered in the United States each year.

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[Posted 08/02/04]: House Wants Mad Cow Research Coordinated: (06/02/04): "Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was asked Wednesday to create a task force to coordinate research now performed by several agencies and universities into diseases such as mad cow. Thirteen House members, all but one of them Democrats, said their request was triggered by the first U.S. case in December of mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. "We are concerned that there is limited coordination among the crucial components of a national research program around the prevention, surveillance and study of prion disease," the lawmakers wrote Thompson. "And there appears to be no coordinated action plan to ensure that these efforts build on one another."

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[Posted 08/02/04]: Hot Debate Over Chicken Dung; FDA Wrestles With Whether To Ban It And Other Waste From Cattle Feed: (04/22/04): "A mountain of chicken dung - among other things - is preventing the Food and Drug Administration from banning blood, chicken waste and restaurant leftovers from cattle feed, a top administration official said yesterday. In the scramble to keep mad cow disease from spreading after a Holstein from Yakima County was diagnosed with the brain-wasting illness, the FDA recommended in January what seemed like simple and sensible restrictions on cattle feed.

In an interview yesterday, Sundlof [director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine] provided no likely deadline for the new bans, only assurances that progress was being made. But Sundlof did offer some explanations for the delays. He said, for example, that the proposed ban on adding chicken litter (fecal matter, dead birds, feathers and spilled feed) generated huge concern from chicken producers. Sundlof said adding chicken litter to cattle feed is one of the primary methods of waste disposal for the chicken growers, especially in the Southeast. "From an environmental standpoint, what are people going to do with the poultry litter?" he asked. "One of the benefits of doing this was that it was an environmentally sound way of recycling the material.""

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