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USDA Ignores Science on BSE Risks

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R-Calf Cattle Update: USDA Memos Show Pattern Of Ignoring Science On BSE Risks 6/2/2005 2:29:00 PM


R-Calf Cattle Update: USDA Memos Show Pattern Of Ignoring Science On BSE Risks



News stories that appeared Tuesday on Dow Jones Newswires and in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal show that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials have ignored warnings about food safety and health risks associated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and related risks associated with importing Canadian cattle and beef products. The agency also has disregarded administrative policies that require public comment on such decisions.



“The information in these reports shows a consistent pattern and philosophy at USDA, and that’s to de-emphasize its mission of protecting the health and safety of the U.S. livestock industry while the agency aggressively pursues the unregulated traditional trade models coveted by foreign governments and multi-national meatpackers alike,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “USDA has not, and is not, doing enough to stop the potential spread of BSE from Canada into the United States. Once the BSE problem in Canada is addressed, it will become easier to reopen the more than 50 markets around the world that are currently closed to U.S. beef exports.”



Reporter Bill Tomson, author of both news stories, wrote about an internal USDA document called a ‘decision memorandum’ from October 2003, in which top USDA officials reversed a May 2003 ban on imports of certain Canadian processed and rendered beef products, including ground beef, that could have potentially contained the BSE-infective agent. The ban was implemented after Canada announced its first indigenous case of BSE on May 20, 2003. Three additional cases of BSE have been discovered since, all in Canadian-origin cattle. No cases have been discovered in native U.S. cattle.



The memo stated the requested expansion of imports “increases the possibility that higher risk product . . . may be imported into the United States,” and warned that the decision would be a “significant change in policy without opportunity for public comment.”



Tomson’s articles indicate top USDA officials made the decision to allow these questionable Canadian products into the United States after the agency was “requested to do so by the U.S.-based National Food Processors Association and others.”



Tomson also interviewed Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the consumer watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), who reacted to the October 2003 memo by saying it “makes clear ‘that USDA was putting the industry concerns about access to this meat from Canada in front of both public health concerns and in front of their own requirements to abide by administrative procedures.’”



According to Tomson, USDA claims that it weighed the pros and cons before making the decision to import these additional products from Canada.



“But when you look at USDA’s points in favor of these additional imports, and the points the agency weighed against making this decision, it’s surprising that USDA would have taken this risk to food safety simply to appease the meat-processing industry,” noted Bullard.



Below are the “Pros” and “Cons” listed in USDA’s October 2003 decision memorandum:



Pros: 1) addresses certain industry concerns that current import permit policies are too restrictive for trade; 2) addresses industry concerns that ground meat presents a significantly different risk regardless of age of animal; 3) maintains consistency by allowing the entry of meat from animals less than 30 months of age, regardless of processing; 4) demonstrates confidence in CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) control over segregation process.



Cons: 1) would raise the concern of certain consumer groups that our import permit policies are too lenient; 2) is a significant change in policy without opportunity for public comment; 3) increases the possibility that higher-risk product – mechanically separated product or product from animals greater than 30 months of age – may be imported into the United States due to possibilities of a breakdown in the segregation process in the facility or of mislabeling.



“It’s important to note that this is not the first time USDA has ignored the science surrounding BSE,” Bullard said. “Another memo, dated June 16, 2003, was sent to top USDA officials from the very scientists – experts on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies – the agency had assigned to a working group to advise USDA on how to best handle the BSE situation, and yet, USDA chose to ignore the safety recommendations of those experts.”



Notably, USDA’s own scientists recommended the agency disallow ground beef from cattle of any age – a recommendation USDA ignored – when it began in October 2003 to allow ground-beef imports from Canadian cattle under 30 months of age.



Bullard said these examples reinforce the fact that USDA has not adhered to sound scientific principles, but rather has been basing critical decisions on inappropriate considerations, including pressure from the meat-processing and packing industries.



“We’re pleased that Mr. Tomson has brought this important information to the public’s attention, as it helps shed light on the motives behind USDA’s attempt to prematurely reopen the U.S. border to a country where BSE exists,” Bullard concluded.
 

Murgen

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“The information in these reports shows a consistent pattern and philosophy at USDA, and that’s to de-emphasize its mission of protecting the health and safety of the U.S. livestock industry while the agency aggressively pursues the unregulated traditional trade models coveted by foreign governments and multi-national meatpackers alike,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “USDA has not, and is not, doing enough to stop the potential spread of BSE from Canada into the United States. Once the BSE problem in Canada is addressed, it will become easier to reopen the more than 50 markets around the world that are currently closed to U.S. beef exports.”

Please explain Bill, how is boxed beef impacting the US market to those 50 countries. Is the meat being re-packaged, and resold? It comes with a stamp and records to where it is processed, so how is it effecting your export markets?

I think when you figure out this staement OT, you'll have also realized why it is called a North American Industry. :)
 

Sandhusker

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Murgen,"Please explain Bill, how is boxed beef impacting the US market to those 50 countries."

Those countries are not taking our product out of fear of BSE. They want to be assured they are not risking the entry of BSE via our product. Us taking product from a BSE country that they won't take product from is counter productive to assuring them we are clean. They have the front door shut to you, but if we're taking your beef and they in turn take ours, the back door is wide open. Whether the risk comes from a direct source or indirect doesn't matter - it's still a risk.

Remove yourself from your emotions, Murgen, and look at it like this; You wouldn't buy calves from Tam if you knew she had sick calves. Would you then buy calves from somebody else who you knew just bought calves from Tam?
 

rkaiser

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What a logical story sandhusker, if you truely believe that the American herd is completely clean, and the Canadian herd is diseased.

Utter nonsense. :roll:
 

Broke Cowboy

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What a logical story sandhusker, if you truely believe that the American herd is completely clean, and the Canadian herd is diseased.

Thing is, there are many who truly do believe the Canadian herd is diseased. As for the cleanliness of the U.S. herd - well, until it (BSE) is actually found and reported - it will be thought of as disease free and promoted as such.

With the big dollars riding on this, I often wonder if it WOULD be reported.

Be that as it may, the absolute vast majority of folks do not even know there is a beef herd in Canada. Or many other countries either.

When the customer from downtown (pick your city) picks it up from the meat counter all s/he wants to do is take it home and cook it.

Only folks really fighting about this are those who have a vested interest - it's a dollar issue

B.C.
 

Bill

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rkaiser said:
What a logical story sandhusker, if you truely believe that the American herd is completely clean, and the Canadian herd is diseased.

Utter nonsense. :roll:

I guess people will say whatever they think the public may believe to stay in power.

Richard Nixon......I am not a crook!!!!!!!
Bill Clinton.......I did not have sexual relations with that woman!!!!!
R-Calf leadership..........????????????!!!!!!!
 

Tam

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Sandhusker said:
Murgen,"Please explain Bill, how is boxed beef impacting the US market to those 50 countries."

Those countries are not taking our product out of fear of BSE. They want to be assured they are not risking the entry of BSE via our product. Us taking product from a BSE country that they won't take product from is counter productive to assuring them we are clean. They have the front door shut to you, but if we're taking your beef and they in turn take ours, the back door is wide open. Whether the risk comes from a direct source or indirect doesn't matter - it's still a risk.

Remove yourself from your emotions, Murgen, and look at it like this; You wouldn't buy calves from Tam if you knew she had sick calves. Would you then buy calves from somebody else who you knew just bought calves from Tam?

Answer me this Sandhusker do those export markets trust the US to sell them what they say they are selling them or do they fear you will lie to them about what is in the boxes? Is the US shipping reboxed Canadian beef to their export markets when they say they are shipping US beef? If you tell them that you will only ship US beef then that should be what is in the boxes? You are also telling them that there is only 30 month and under or 20 month and under in the box do they have to fear that is also not the truth? What about if you do the 100% testing will they have to worry about the US cheating the testing and not testing and shipping it as tested beef? If you are not exporting because those markets fear our meat you better look at how much credibility you have with your export markets.
 

Kathy

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After talking to my vet yesterday, he stated:

He had spoken to two vets who were just back from Japan.

These two vets stated that Japan wants to buy their beef from Canada because they know we are testing the highest risk animals, and because we have admitted to finding some cases. They said the Japanese did not trust the USA, because they have never reported a case of BSE.

I'm just passing this tidbit of information on.
 

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