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"Sound Science"- Give Consumers the Choice

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Producers argue for sound science

Dec 21, 2005 9:13 AM
By Daryll E. Ray


U.S. agricultural and trade negotiators had been pressuring the Japanese to reopen their market which had been closed to U.S. beef since BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or mad cow disease) was first detected in the U.S. herd at the end of 2003.


The U.S. is also in a trade dispute with the EU (European Union) over the EU’s restrictions on the importation of GMO (genetically modified organism) crops. In both cases the U.S. has argued that, on the basis of “sound science,” both of these trade restrictions ought to be lifted.

On the face of it, it would seem that the U.S. argument is very strong. After all how could and why would one argue against sound science?

For their part the Europeans and the Japanese defend their actions on the basis of the “precautionary principle.” The precautionary principle is what our mothers were talking about when they told us that it is better to be safe than sorry.

As long-term readers of this column know, we have written about these issues before. Our analysis of these two trade disagreements has been based on two ideas. The first is couched in economic terms arguing that the “customer is always right.” If the Japanese are willing to pay for the BSE testing of every head of beef, the idea that the customer is always right would suggest that we would agree to the testing. Likewise, if the Europeans want non-GMO grain, then U.S. farmers ought to be working to provide them with non-GMO grain.

Our second idea has been to identify why customers might assess the risk of GMO grains differently than the producers. After all, growing GMO crops makes it easier for producers to control weeds and insects. While producers receive the benefits, customers take the risks if at a later time it were to be shown that GMO crops posed some health risk. It makes no difference how low the probability of that event is, the probability is nonzero and therefore important in minds of some customers.

Different view

This past summer we read a paper presented by Priya Om Verma and William R. Freudenberg at the 2005 Rural Sociological Society Annual Meeting that took a different look at the conflict between those advocating for the use of sound science and those advocating for the use of the precautionary principle in decision making. Verma and Freudenberg of the University of California, Santa Barbara argue that “the precautionary principle may be the more scientific of the two approaches.”

The core of their analysis reduces the two arguments to their essentials. Those using the sound science as the justification for their policies - pressuring Europeans to buy GMOs or Japanese to purchase U.S. beef - are arguing that something is safe unless it is proven to be hazardous. Thus, declaring something is safe runs the statistical risk that it is not.

Those supporting the precautionary principle are arguing that when there is a potential risk to life and safety, the prudent course of action is to err on the side of caution, risking the chance that one may reject an action or product as unsafe when in fact it may be safe.

Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans provide us with a chance to apply these concepts to a situation most of us are familiar with.

Those officials who supported cutting back on levee repairs were arguing that the likelihood of a Category 3 hurricane that would cause a breach in the levees was very small and that the money would be better spent elsewhere. This is the sound science argument which takes the risk assuming the levees will hold when in fact they won’t.

Those who were arguing for the levee expenditures and protecting the wetlands surrounding New Orleans were basing their argument on the precautionary principle. As we have seen the sound science argument favors short-term economic gain over the potential of catastrophic long-term costs. In this case we can see that an ounce of prevention would have been worth more than a pound of cure.

Applying argument

Applying this back to the case of GMO sales to the Europeans, the U.S. is arguing in favor of immediate economic gains from increased trade over and against long-term health and/or safety problems that may arise if it were to turn out that GMOs pose a risk that does not show up for 10, 20, or 30 years. Similarly, in the case of the sale of beef to the Japanese, the U.S. is arguing that the extra cost of testing each head of beef sold to the Japanese is unnecessary, given the low chance that any one animal would have BSE. The Japanese are arguing that given the long-term risks - if one imports enough untested beef, sooner or later a BSE positive animal will slip through - the cost of testing is a small price to pay for increased long-term safety.

As Verma and Freudenberg note, statistics teaches us that these two risks are closely related. As one reduces the chance of making a short-term error - rejecting a product as unsafe when it is in fact safe - one increases the chance of making a long-term error. There is a tradeoff between these two types of errors. We cannot have our cake and eat it too.

Their argument that the “precautionary principle may be the more scientific of the two approaches is based on their contention that “the precautionary principle recognizes the reality of scientific unknowns and acknowledges . . . scientific uncertainty.” They go on to say, “Under conditions of scientific uncertainty, judging what is an acceptable level of risk for society is an inherently political responsibility . . . These are value-laden processes that reflect differing perspectives regarding what ought to be ‘society’s’ preferences for short-term economic risks versus longer-term risks to health and the environment.”

Daryll E. Ray holds the Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy, Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, and is the director of UT’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center (APAC). (865) 974-7407; Fax: (865) 974-7298; [email protected]; http://www.agpolicy.org. Daryll Ray’s column is written with the research and assistance of Harwood D. Schaffer, research associate with APAC.
 

Murgen

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the U.S. is arguing that the extra cost of testing each head of beef sold to the Japanese is unnecessary, given the low chance that any one animal would have BSE

I thought that they were arguing that removal of SRM's (a higher cost alternative to testing) was the "sound science"?
 

Sandhusker

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Murgen said:
the U.S. is arguing that the extra cost of testing each head of beef sold to the Japanese is unnecessary, given the low chance that any one animal would have BSE

I thought that they were arguing that removal of SRM's (a higher cost alternative to testing) was the "sound science"?

You know, Murgen, you bring up a dang good question. The packers are whining like whipped pups about the cost of removing SRMs and the associated disposal problem and cost. It seems to me a much better alternative is to use the $20 test. I think their reluctance is a tell. They don't want to test. Why is that? It's not cost as that would be the cheaper alternative. I think it is either they don't trust it, or they are afraid of what they will find.
 

Murgen

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I think it is either they don't trust it, or they are afraid of what they will find.

I would be inclined to believe with the "spot' checks of under 30 and with the safeguards the North American industry has implemented since the late 90's, that the removal of SRM's is the more accurate way to go, not the cheapest, but most prudent.

Big picture/long term is that we will be able to prove to our customers that neither is needed in the near future. If it isn't present in an amount in the OTM's and safeguards are in place, then what good would testing of UTM's do!

That's my common sense though!
 

Murgen

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I thought that was what you were doing in the US? Widespread testing of the candidates for infection, in regard to the risk factors and proven science of BSE?

That's what we're doing in Canada, as part of the North American efforts to irradicate it from the continent!
 
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Murgen said:
I thought that was what you were doing in the US? Widespread testing of the candidates for infection, in regard to the risk factors and proven science of BSE?

That's what we're doing in Canada, as part of the North American efforts to irradicate it from the continent!

Murgen what is the "proven science" concerning BSE? We were also told that it could not occur in cattle under thirty months old- but since then cases in Japan, and I believe England and Italy have been found in under thirty month animals... Japan "believes" this is because they were exposed to high doses of BSE infected material- How do we know these clusters don't exist in Canada, or the US, or wherever unless we test?...

Were all cattle coming out of the Alberta cluster area tested?
 

Murgen

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We weren't feeding BSE infected cattle back were we, to expose the further population to BSE? Feedban has been in place for how many years?

What age group of cattle in the UK has BSE at present? Have they relaxed their regulations due to this? How many UTM are they finding now? A continent that has fed contaminated feedstuffs back to their animals for many years!

OT, are still standing by your organizations' statements that North American beef is unsafe?
 

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Very good article which outlines the philosophical differences in opinions, and gives people perspectives without judgement. Hind-sight being 20-20.

I read an article about GM peas in Australia. The company developing stated they were perfectly safe. A independent anaylsis on mice, showed that the mice got sick; therefore, Australia has stopped further development of this GM pea.

As I have done some recent research on growth hormones, I find that the EU is justified, in my opinion, in banning the meat which has been raised with them.

Breast J. 2004 Nov-Dec;10 (6):514-521.

Transformation of MCF-10A human breast epithelial cells by zeranol and estradiol-17beta.

Liu S, Lin YC.

Laboratory of Reproductive and Molecular Endocrinology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State University, 1900 Coffey Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43210-1092, USA.

Among the endocrine factors associated with breast cancer, estrogens are considered to play a central role in human breast carcinogenesis. Breast cancer risks are increased by long-term exposure to estrogens. Zeranol (Ralgro) is a nonsteroidal agent with estrogenic activity that is used as a growth promoter in the U.S. beef and veal industry. To determine whether zeranol and estradiol-17beta play a role in the neoplastic transformation of human breast and to compare the estrogenic potency of zeranol to that of estradiol-17beta in human breast, we treated human breast epithelial cell MCF-10A with different doses of zeranol or estradiol-17beta for 10 repeated treatment cycles. By utilizing the doubling time assay, soft agar assay, and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, we showed that 10 repeated estradiol-17beta or zeranol treatment cycles to MCF-10A cells decrease the doubling time of the cells by 30 to 40% and stimulate colony formation in soft agar and induce estrogen receptor beta (ER-beta) mRNA expression, all of which are not dose related in our tested dose range. Furthermore, we show that zeranol and estradiol-17beta have a similar potency in the stimulation and inhibition of gene expressions in human breast cancer cell line MCF-7 by RT-PCR. These results indicate that both zeranol and estradiol-17beta can induce human breast epithelial cell neoplastic transformation with similar potency in the long-term exposure through the oxidation-reduction (redox) pathway and/or ER-beta-mediated pathway.

PMID: 15569208 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]



Link to full text: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1075-122X.2004.21410.x?cookieSet=1

(What this study is saying, is that at levels even lower than those approved by the FDA (USA), of growth hormones in meat, they are capable of causing tumor growth in breast cells. Some will be malignant and some may be benign. Either way the hormones caused an increase of 30 to 40%, in the time it takes for these cells to double, ie: 10 to 20, 20 then to 40, and so on. This report was supposedly funded by the Pentagon. The link will take you to the full report (I hope).

And,

J. Food Prot. 2005 Nov; 68(11):2411-9.

Antibiotic resistance and hypermutability of Escherichia coli O157 from feedlot cattle treated with growth-promoting agents.

Lefebvre B, Diarra MS, Giguere K, Roy G, Michaud S, Malouin F.

Centre d'Etude et de Valorisation de la Diversite Microbienne, Departement de Biologie, Faculte des Sciences, Universite de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada J1K 2R1.

In a longitudinal study (165 days), we investigated the effect of growth-promoting agents (monensin and trenbolone acetate-estradiol) and an antibiotic (oxytetracycline) on the incidence in feedlot steers of Escherichia coli O157, including antibiotic-resistant and hypermutable isolates. Eighty steers in 16 pens were treated with eight combinations of promoters, and each treatment was duplicated. Fecal samples were collected at nine different sampling times for detection of E. coli O157. Overall, 50 E. coli O157 isolates were detected in treated animals, and none were found in untreated animals. Compared with untreated controls, there was a significant association between the utilization of growth-promoting agents or antibiotics and the shedding of E. coli O157 at day 137 (P = 0.03), when a prevalence peak was observed and 50% of the isolates were detected. Multiplex PCR assays were conducted for some virulence genes. PCR results indicated that all except one isolate possessed at least the Shiga toxin gene stx2. MICs for 12 antibiotics were determined, and eight oxytetracycline-resistant E. coli O157 strains were identified. Antibiotic-resistant strains were considered a distinct subpopulation of E. coli O157 by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis typing. Seven of these antibiotic-resistant strains were isolated early in the study (on or before day 25), and among them two were also hypermutable as determined by rifampin mutation frequencies. The proportion of hypermutable strains among E. coli O157 isolates remained relatively constant throughout the study period. These results indicate that the use of growth-promoting agents and antibiotics in beef production may increase the risk of environmental contamination by E. coli O157.


(This study is saying that animals dosed with antibiotics and/ or growth hormones, shed E. coli 0157 strains of bacteria. The animals in the test study which were not treated with them, did not shed the E. coli bacteria in their feces. There are others studies similar to this. One such report, stated calves fed milk replacers with antibiotics increased the levels of E. coli 0157 shed in their feces, as well.)

When we apply the same thought philosophy to BSE, you get the policy to remove SRM's even though each animal is not tested and may not be positive. We remove them even though there is no guarantee that anything in the SRMs causes BSE or vCJD. Proof being elusive in the scientific community, hence the term "best science available at the time".

To test younger animals, it is unlikely that the present day testing would catch an animal with a misfolding protein disease, as a substantial amount of time must occur before there are enough misfolded proteins which can be detected.

If these accummulations of misfolded proteins were the root cause of the disease, then the hypothesis that they cause disease is somewhat unfounded; as disease has been iatrogenically spread long before the individual showed signs of disease (which only occur after significant accummulation). This leads to Factor X, the unknown, which until we push the envelope of science further, will remain, buried in the scientific reports of researchers that have "barked up a different tree".

I appreciate the fact that we are all individuals, not lemmings! I believe the final decision lies with the consumer (re food products). We should be more in tune to their needs, but we must educate them at the same time. The problem we no have is that the mainstream consumer, is to busy or to lazy, to look at nutrition as the most important thing in maintaining our health.

Testing all the 4 Ds is a good place to start. (dead, dying, diseased and downers). No quota system should prevent them being tested.
 
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Murgen said:
We weren't feeding BSE infected cattle back were we, to expose the further population to BSE? Feedban has been in place for how many years?

What age group of cattle in the UK has BSE at present? Have they relaxed their regulations due to this? How many UTM are they finding now? A continent that has fed contaminated feedstuffs back to their animals for many years!

OT, are still standing by your organizations' statements that North American beef is unsafe?

I still have doubts about the Canadian herd since their were POST feedban born cattle that tested positive...I still think all cattle slaughtered in Alberta (origin of the cluster) should have been required tested to find the true extent of the disease...
 

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Similarly, in the case of the sale of beef to the Japanese, the U.S. is arguing that the extra cost of testing each head of beef sold to the Japanese is unnecessary, given the low chance that any one animal would have BSE. The Japanese are arguing that given the long-term risks - if one imports enough untested beef, sooner or later a BSE positive animal will slip through - the cost of testing is a small price to pay for increased long-term safety
 

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European Rules:

How did the Commission decide on 24 months as the new age limit for removing the vertebral column?

The most important consideration for the Commission for any amendment to the current measures was that the consumer would still be guaranteed the highest level of protection. On the basis of the EFSA opinion, the age limit of 24 months was considered by the Commission to fulfil this requirement. It was also chosen as the safest limit which would pose the least practical difficulties. The age of the animal at 24 months or older is easier to verify than that of some younger animals and 24 months is also the threshold at which certain other veterinary checks are carried out in the slaughterhouse. Therefore, this age limit will allow for more effective controls to ensure the removal of the vertebral column of all animals over this age, and will prevent unnecessary extra burdens on farmers and the meat industry. [/b]
 

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Oldtimer said:
Murgen said:
We weren't feeding BSE infected cattle back were we, to expose the further population to BSE? Feedban has been in place for how many years?

What age group of cattle in the UK has BSE at present? Have they relaxed their regulations due to this? How many UTM are they finding now? A continent that has fed contaminated feedstuffs back to their animals for many years!

OT, are still standing by your organizations' statements that North American beef is unsafe?

I still have doubts about the Canadian herd since their were POST feedban born cattle that tested positive...I still think all cattle slaughtered in Alberta (origin of the cluster) should have been required tested to find the true extent of the disease...
I would be interested in the answer to that question as well Oldtimer.

A couple of others, where was the May 2003 BSE case born and how many post feedban born cattle were there?
 

Murgen

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The most important consideration for the Commission for any amendment to the current measures was that the consumer would still be guaranteed the highest level of protection. On the basis of the EFSA opinion, the age limit of 24 months was considered by the Commission to fulfil this requirement. It was also chosen as the safest limit which would pose the least practical difficulties. The age of the animal at 24 months or older is easier to verify than that of some younger animals and 24 months is also the threshold at which certain other veterinary checks are carried out in the slaughterhouse. Therefore, this age limit will allow for more effective controls to ensure the removal of the vertebral column of all animals over this age, and will prevent unnecessary extra burdens on farmers and the meat industry. [/b]

Good post Mike, I would add, in the European experience, not the North American, where we had the insight into the experience in Europe.

What is happening now in Europe, after culling, or movin through the testing procedures, of the OTM's?
 

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ood Law News - UK - 2005

FSA Consultation Letter, 4 March 2005
BSE - Proposals for implementing a managed transition from the Over Thirty Months rule to BSE testing

The FSA are seeking views and comments on proposals for implementing a managed transition from the Over Thirty Months (OTM) rule to testing of OTM cattle for BSE. Responses are requested by: 31 May 2005

Consultation details

The Government announced on 1 December 2004 the start of a managed transition towards replacing the OTM rule with BSE testing. It made clear in its announcement that a final switch from the OTM rule to testing would not take place until the FSA has advised Ministers that the BSE testing system is robust.

The change, when introduced, would bring the UK into line with arrangements that apply throughout the European Union, except that UK cattle born before August 1996 would remain permanently excluded from the food chain.

The draft Regulations attached below would bring the change into effect in England . Separate consultations on proposals to make parallel changes in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland are being carried out in those countries.

Key Proposals

The key proposals are:

* that a managed transition towards replacement of the OTM rule with testing OTM cattle for BSE should start, but that a final switch to testing should not take place until the FSA has advised Ministers that the UK testing system is robust
* that the FSA should take on a new role in the audit and review of the whole system for BSE testing of cattle slaughtered for food
* that the OTM rule should be lifted for both imported and home-produced beef at the same time
* to introduce new Regulations to implement a move from the OTM rule by BSE testing, following advice from the FSA that the testing system is robust

Background

The Over Thirty Months (OTM) rule was introduced in 1996 as one of three main BSE controls aimed at protecting public health. With limited exceptions, the rule prohibits the sale for human consumption of meat from cattle aged over 30 months at the time of slaughter. The main BSE food safety measure is the removal of specified risk material, those parts of the carcas's most likely to carry BSE infectivity. The third control measure is a ban on feeding mammalian meat and bone to farm animals.

In other EU Member States, meat from OTM cattle is allowed into the food supply, subject to testing negative for BSE.

The FSA launched a review of the OTM rule in July 2002. The review comprised a scientific risk assessment undertaken by a FSA/SEAC Risk Assessment Group (RAG) which steered and peer reviewed mathematical modelling work commissioned by the FSA. A Core Stakeholder Group was formed to examine the results of the risk assessment and advise on whether the OTM rule might be replaced.

A report from the Core Stakeholder Group was issued for public consultation in March 2003. Following discussion of the results of the consultation by the FSA Board, the FSA advised Ministers in July 2003 that, 'a move to replace the OTM rule by testing of all OTM cattle going through UK abattoirs is justified on the grounds of public health risk in relation to food and proportionality'. The advice also stated that Ministers should not change the OTM rule until they were satisfied that the necessary arrangements (which would include arrangements for BSE testing) had been made.

EU rules require the cohorts of BSE cases to be culled and kept out of the food supply. Due to the OTM rule, the UK has not routinely culled cohorts. A move towards replacement of the OTM rule with BSE testing would require cohorts of BSE cases in the UK to be culled. Rural Affairs Ministers have decided not to proceed with a cull of cohort cattle born before August 1996, because of difficulties with tracing the cohorts of the large number of BSE cases born before that date. Consequently, cattle born before August 1996 will remain permanently excluded from the food supply.

Ministers subsequently asked the FSA to consider the implications for the risk assessment of developments that had occurred while they were considering its advice. A key development was the publication, in May 2004, of the results of a survey of human appendix tissue indicating that the public health impact of replacing the OTM rule, in terms of additional future vCJD cases, might be higher than the estimate considered in July 2003. The FSA consulted the RAG and SEAC as to the significance of these results and how they should be taken into account in estimating the risk to human health of replacing the OTM rule. SEAC advised that the appendix survey data provide a more robust basis for estimating the risk from rule change than that used to produce the estimates considered by the FSA Board in July 2003.

The FSA Board met in July 2004 to consider revised estimates which took account of developments since July 2003 (as set out in an FSA board paper). The Board noted what SEAC had to say about there still being significant scientific uncertainties surrounding these estimates due to the paucity of data, which meant that, despite the use of pessimistic scenarios throughout the analysis, some components of the risk analysis were based on expert judgement rather than being fully informed by all the required data. They also noted the pessimistic assumptions that SEAC agreed should be used where the data were limited, along with the Committee's conclusion that, even with the pessimistic assumptions recommended, a change to the OTM rule would contribute a very small number of future vCJD infections relative to infections attributable to past exposure.

The new calculations give a range of between none and 2.5 additional vCJD cases, over 60 years, with the central estimate of 0.5, as a result of replacing the OTM rule with testing. The Board took all these points into account in agreeing to advise Ministers that replacing the OTM rule by testing for cattle born after July 1996 continues to be justified on grounds of the food borne risk to consumers and proportionality, subject to the putting in place of a robust testing system.

The OTM rule applies to imported fresh OTM beef (except for imports from certain countries which had no history of BSE when the rule came into force) but not to imported meat products. The FSA also advised Ministers that the application of the OTM rule to beef imports can no longer be justified on grounds of risk to UK consumers and should be discontinued.

Government decision to start a transition towards lifting the OTM rule

In the light of the FSA advice, the Government announced on 1 December 2004 the start of a managed transition towards lifting the OTM rule and its replacement with a robust system for BSE testing.

The announcement made clear that a final switch from the OTM rule to testing would happen only when the FSA has advised Ministers that the testing system is robust. The announcement also noted that, in providing that advice, the FSA will be assisted by an independent expert group.

The announcement stated that, in keeping with its remit to protect public health and consumer interests in relation to food, the FSA should take on a new role in the audit and review of the whole system for BSE testing of cattle slaughtered for food. As lead responsibility for the testing system will remain with DEFRA in Great Britain and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland, this arrangement will provide strict separation of responsibility between the operation of the testing system and its audit, to ensure rigorous scrutiny.

The Government also announced that it would be desirable for the ban on OTM imports to be lifted at the same time as the domestic OTM rule, and that every effort should be made to accelerate the lifting of the EU restrictions on UK beef exports. You are welcome to comment on these decisions by the Government.

The Draft Bovine Meat (Restriction on Sale ) ( England ) Regulations 2005

See The Bovine Meat (Restriction on Sale)(England) Regulations 2005 - Draft Statutory Instrument

Draft Regulations to implement a move from the OTM rule to BSE testing of UK cattle born on or after 1 August 1996 are attached below. We are consulting on these draft regulations now although, as stated above, no move from the OTM rule would be made until the FSA has advised that the BSE testing system is robust. Ministers would not therefore bring the Regulations into effect until they have received advice from the FSA that the testing system is robust.

Regulation 3 of the draft Regulations would prohibit the sale for human consumption of meat from cattle which were slaughtered in the United Kingdom and either born in the UK before 1 August 1996 or reared in the UK at any time prior to that date. This provision would:

* allow meat from UK cattle born on or after 1 August 1996 to enter the food supply (subject to having tested negative for BSE)
* continue to exclude UK cattle born before that date
* lift the current prohibition on imported meat, as the sale of meat from cattle which were slaughtered outside the UK would not be restricted

The draft Regulations would also revoke the current OTM rule legislation. This would result in the closure of the Beef Assurance Scheme (BAS), which currently provides an exemption from the OTM rule for cattle from specialist, registered herds, which may be slaughtered for human consumption at up to 42 months of age. This is because, with the replacement of the OTM rule by BSE testing, the need for such an exemption from the rule would be removed.

Currently the Animal By-Products (Identification) Regulations 1995 (as amended) define 'animal by-product' to include any carcass's or part of a carcass's derived from a bovine animal slaughtered for human consumption at over 30 months of age. This provision supports the OTM rule by requiring the carcass's or part-carcass's of any OTM cattle slaughtered at an abattoir to be stained and disposed of as animal by-product, thereby preventing it from entering the food supply. The draft Regulations would make a consequential amendment to the 1995 Regulations, such that any carcass's or part carcass's of a UK bovine born before August 1996 would be defined an animal by-product (regulation 8). This would ensure that the new rule would continue to be supported by a requirement to dispose of the carcass's of any cattle prohibited from the food supply as animal by-product.

The draft Regulations also provide for offences and penalties (regulation 4) and powers of authorised officers to inspect and seize suspected meat (regulation 6).

Views are sought on the draft Regulations to replace the OTM rule.

The Draft Bovine Meat (Restriction on Placing on the Market) ( England ) Regulations 2005

See The Bovine Meat (Restriction on Placing on the Market)(England) Regulations 2005 - Draft Statutory Instrument

New EU food hygiene legislation comes into force on 1 January 2006 . As a result, the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 (FMRs), which implement earlier EU legislation, are being revoked with effect from that date. The draft Bovine Meat (Restriction on Sale ) ( England ) Regulations 2005 refer in several places to FMRs. Consequently, the draft 2005 Regulations would also become out of date on 1 January 2006 .

It is therefore proposed, if the draft Bovine Meat (Restriction on Sale ) ( England ) Regulations 2005 are in force by 1 January 2006 , to replace them from that date by the attached draft Bovine Meat (Restriction on Placing on the Market) ( England ) Regulations 2005. These are intended to have the same effect as the 'Restriction on Sale ' Regulations. The references in those Regulations to the FMRs would simply be replaced by references to the corresponding provisions in the new food hygiene legislation.

Some associated changes in terminology would also be necessary to adopt that used in the new hygiene legislation (e.g. a definition of 'slaughterhouse' is needed in the 'Placing on the Market' Regulations but not in the ' Sale ' Regulations, in which 'slaughterhouse' is covered by the term 'premises licensed under' FMRs). The change from a restriction on 'sale' to a restriction on 'placing on the market' has been made only because the latter is the term used in the new EU food hygiene legislation. (The two terms mean almost exactly the same, although 'placing on the market' is considered to have a slightly wider meaning, as it would include gifts, which 'sale' arguably would not).

Views are also sought on the draft 'Placing on the Market' Regulations applicable from 1 January 2006 .

Please note that, as the FSA are consulting on these draft Regulations now, they are not proposing to consult separately on them at a later stage.

Disposal of cattle born before August 1996

DEFRA is in discussions with the EU Commission on a successor to the OTM Scheme (under which OTM cattle are purchased and destroyed) as a market support measure to dispose of cattle born before 1 August 1996, which would remain excluded from the food supply.

Legislation for BSE testing

There is no need to include any requirements for BSE testing in the above draft Regulations. This is because BSE testing arrangements are already in force in the UK under directly applicable EU legislation. National legislation providing for the administration and enforcement of the BSE testing system is also in force. DEFRA is consulting separately on a draft amendment to the national enforcement rules, which is intended to strengthen enforcement of BSE testing of OTM cattle slaughtered for human consumption, following any replacement of the OTM rule with a robust testing system.

The EU rules for BSE testing include requirements that no OTM bovine may be allowed into the food supply unless it has tested negative for BSE and that all parts of any test-positive animals must be disposed of as SRM. BSE testing already operates in the UK for OTM cattle entering the food supply under BAS and for disease surveillance purposes.

Assessment of the robustness of the BSE testing system

As stated above, a final switch from the OTM rule to testing would happen only when the FSA has advised Ministers that the testing system is robust. In providing that advice, the FSA will be assisted by an independent group.

An initial report from the group, setting out recommendations for a testing regimen which should proceed to extended trials for an assessment of whether or not it will be robust, was considered and agreed by the FSA Board in December 2004.

The Agency has also asked the group, following delivery of these recommendations, to review them in the light of trials of the testing system and to report.

Trials of the individual components and some trials of the whole system in fresh meat abattoirs have already taken place. Extended trials of the whole system in further abattoirs are planned to take place in March/April this year. DEFRA's and DARD's proposals for these trials have been considered and approved by the independent group.

The group will examine the outcome of the extended trials and report back to the FSA Board on whether or not the proposed testing system will provide effective and robust protection of public health. FSA would advise Ministers that testing will be robust only if there had been a favourable judgement on the testing system from the independent group.

The FSA is planning to hold a public meeting, once the independent group has completed its assignment but before its final report is forwarded to the Board for consideration, to seek views on the group's emerging conclusions on the robustness of testing.

T
 

Murgen

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I just looked at the title of this topic again.

Consumers do have a choice don't they, they can either buy SRM's removed or buy tested beef.

If there is no tested beef, then they don't buy. They are probably aware of how well testing has worked in the past in the US! If they are still purchasing beef, they have made the choice that it is safe, by the present testing standards!
 

Sandhusker

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What really bothers me is that BSE is a very serious disease, it seems the more we learn of it the more we realize there is more to learn, questions abound, and inspite of all if this, we are not allowed to take the better safe than sorry route and buy tested beef. :? We've got Republicans in office, I thought that was the party of free enterprise and minimal government interference?

You can buy life insurance for a newborn, you can buy a pet rock, you can buy meat from a chicken guaranteed to have never been in a cage, you can buy beef from a cow that gets massages and is fed beer - but you can't buy BSE tested beef. Just what the hell is going on? :x
 

Murgen

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Every few months another several shelves of organic products show up in my local Safeway although I still have ONLY organic ground beef, no other choice in beef. As soon as Whole Foods 1/2 mile away opens, I'll be shopping for my meat there and probably buying Coleman.

Have they got "BSE tested" organic down south yet? or if the USDA allowed it, would that be another counter?
 

William Kanitz

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National legislation providing for the administration and enforcement of the BSE testing system is also in force. DEFRA is consulting separately on a draft amendment to the national enforcement rules, which is intended to strengthen enforcement of BSE testing of OTM cattle slaughtered for human consumption, following any replacement of the OTM rule with a robust testing system.

The EU rules for BSE testing include requirements that no OTM bovine may be allowed into the food supply unless it has tested negative for BSE and that all parts of any test-positive animals must be disposed of as SRM. BSE testing already operates in the UK for OTM cattle entering the food supply under BAS and for disease surveillance purposes.

Assessment of the robustness of the BSE testing system

As stated above, a final switch from the OTM rule to testing would happen only when the FSA has advised Ministers that the testing system is robust. In providing that advice, the FSA will be assisted by an independent group. Could you guess who the group is?
 

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