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R-CALF's latest BS

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SASH

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U.S. ranchers urge stricter tests for mad cow

Mon June 13, 2005 4:48 PM GMT-04:00
By Sophie Walker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States needs stricter safeguards against mad cow disease, but has not introduced them in part because of pressure from meatpackers to keep costs down, a U.S. ranchers group said on Monday.

Faced with a possible second U.S. case of BSE, some critics are calling for new measures such as stricter controls on livestock feed, mandatory testing of all high-risk cattle, and removal of high-risk tissues from younger animals than now required.

Bill Bullard, president of R-CALF USA, told Reuters the United States should take its lead from Europe, where mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) first emerged in the 1980s. It devastated the beef industry, prompting governments to put austere testing regulations in place.

"Europe has had far more experience in dealing with BSE than has the United States," Bullard said. "We need to further strengthen our BSE measures here."

Late on Friday, the USDA said a suspect animal tested positive in a new kind of test, after being cleared of the disease in two other tests last November. The tiny amount of remaining brain tissue will be retested by the USDA and by a renowned British laboratory for a final diagnosis.

Final results may not be available for two weeks.

R-CALF is fighting attempts by the USDA and meatpackers to re-open the U.S. border to Canadian cattle. R-CALF contends it is not yet safe enough to allow imports from Canada, which has had a total of four BSE cases since mid-2003.

One of the Canadian-born animals, a dairy cow, was diagnosed with BSE after it was shipped to Washington state and became the United States' first confirmed case in December 2003.

TOO MUCH INFLUENCE

Bullard, along with Consumer Union and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, renewed a call for stricter measures to protect the United States from mad cow disease.

"The major meatpackers in the United States and Canada do not want to incur these costs," he said. "We think they are having far too much influence on the BSE policies of USDA."

The U.S. industry dismissed the criticism as unfounded.

"We have such a low level of risk already and the disease is clearly on its way out ... do you want to spend billions of dollars and essentially have no practical benefit?" said Jim Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation.

"If we thought that additional safeguards of any kind would be helpful or needed, we would be the first standing in line regardless of the cost to call for them," Hodges said. The meat industry has a huge financial interest in ensuring that beef is safe to eat, he added.

Bullard and other critics say the USDA should do more.

For example, Europe bans the recycling of all types of animal carcasses into feed for other animals, whereas a 1997 U.S. regulation only bans the feeding of cattle products back to cattle. The United States and Canada allow pork, horse and bird tissues in cattle feed, and the presence of cattle products in other kinds of animal feed.

Furthermore, Europe has a mandatory testing program for all high-risk animals, whether they are dead, dying, diseased or "downers" unable to walk. Last year, the USDA expanded its BSE testing program to check more, but not all, sickly or downer cattle. So far, it has tested some 375,000 animals.

Another difference is Europe's requirement that tissues most likely to harbor the BSE agent -- brain, eyes and spinal cord -- be removed in all cattle over 12 months of age. The United States only removes those tissues from animals over 30 months old.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation said America's BSE safeguards were in proportion to the size of the risk.

"There have been 180,000 confirmed cases in Europe and in the United States the number would be one at this point -- maybe two. So there is clearly a differential risk," said Lynn Heinze, spokesman for the organization.

America's Food and Drug Administration began considering a ban on pork and poultry products in cattle feed after the first U.S. case of mad cow was discovered. But if those animal carcasses cannot be recycled into livestock rations or pet food, the rendering industry may have to find new ways to profitably dispose of the product.
 

Sandhusker

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"We have such a low level of risk already and the disease is clearly on its way out ... do you want to spend billions of dollars and essentially have no practical benefit?" said Jim Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation. "

Talk about BS! "The disease is clearly on it's way out"? Where is the research to back that up?
 
A

Anonymous

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Sand: "Talk about BS! "The disease is clearly on it's way out"? Where is the research to back that up?"

How about the obvious fact that since BSE surveilance has been stepped up, no positives have been found that were born since the feed ban or during the phase out.

WHAT ABOUT A TRACEBACK SYSTEM SANDMAN?

Well, ah, gee, ah, garsh, ah!

Hypocrites!

R-CULT's translation: Stop Canadian Live Cattle Imports


~SH~
 

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