4.15.96Ag Secretary Feeds Daughter a Hamburger4.4.96 LIMITING BSE AND REDUCING HUMAN HEALTH RISKS
4.16.96Tighter Curbs on Mad Cow Disease4.4.96WHO Seeks Barriers Against Mad-Cow Disease
4.15.96Beef Producers Blame Dairymen for Losses4.2.96Spotlight on Puzzling Human Brain Disease
4.10.96Supermarket beef sales draw poor4.2.96Europe to Pay Cost of Killing Cows?
4.10.96EU Forced to Eat Tainted Meat4.8.96Mad Cow Disease and the Decline of UK Beef
4.3.96WHO: Disease outbreaks reported4.20.96CABI News Stories

April 1996 ... Mad Cow ... News Archives


Ag Secretary Feeds Daughter a Hamburger

London Times 15 April 1996

May 1990:
Agriculture minister John Gummer attempts to allay public fears about the safety of beef by feeding his daughter, Cordelia, a hamburger on the steps of Parliament.
The new Agricultrual Minister is Douglas Hogg.


FARMERS joined furious Tory backbenchers and Euro-MPs yesterday in calling for an end to the EU ban on British beef after a senior Brussels official admitted it was safe to eat. Franz Fischler, the European Agriculture Commissioner, said the ban, which has halted exports worth £600 million a year, had been imposed to calm consumer panic over "mad cow" disease and not because British beef was a health risk.

"I would not hesitate to eat beef in England", Herr Fischler said in an interview with Reuters in Absam, his home village in the alpine region of western Austria. "I see no medical reason not to." He added: "For [public safety alone] a ban would not have been needed. We also wanted to make sure that the whole beef market did not collapse as dramatically as was unfortunately the case in Britain".

Herr Fischler, who has been tipped as a future Austrian president or federal chancellor, suggested that trade in some beef-derived products, such as gelatine and tallow, might be allowed to resume before the overall export ban was lifted.

Commenting on Herr Fischler's remarks, Sir David Naish, president of the National Farmers' Union, said: "British farmers have been under siege because of a decision by the Community, and it is just unacceptable to me if that was taken for purely political reasons." A leading Tory Euro-sceptic, Sir Teddy Taylor, said: "Now that Fischler has admitted that he made a horrendous mistake and did it for all the wrong reasons, I hope other members of the EU Commission will listen to his abject, penitent and pathetic words of apology and remove the ban forthwith." Sir Gerard Vaughan, Tory MP for Reading East, said: "This is an absolutely astonishing situation. Here is the man who has made Britain a scapegoat ... now conceding that all this has been done just for the convenience of Europe." Edward McMillan-Scott, Euro-MP for York, called for an urgent review of the export ban. "This is a very encouraging message from a key figure. If he had said this earlier ... a lot of damage to the British and European beef sectors might have been avoided."

In Brussels Herr Fischler's press spokesman insisted the commissioner had disclosed nothing new: "If we really thought British beef was unsafe its sale would have been banned in Britain as well as everywhere else in the world. Besides, it was not Herr Fischler who closed the borders but ministers." The rumpus over Herr Fischler's confession came as the Ministry of Agriculture was finalising details of a plan to keep all cattle older than 30 months out of the food chain. These animals are considered more likely to be infected with BSE.

Supermarkets say further improvement in beef sales; now running at about 80 per cent of their pre-scare level; will depend on the credibility of guarantees given to shoppers that all the meat now on offer comes from young animals. But the British Veterinary Association warned against the "needless destruction" of thousands of healthy animals, and the NFU appealed for fair compensation for farmers who stand to lose prime beef cattle.

Ian Gardiner, the NFU's director of policy, said: "We accept the need to destroy old cows and the proposed basic compensation of 86p per kilo liveweight is fair. But we are pressing for top-up payments for owners of prime beef stock over 30 months old." Abattoirs and meat proces sors also want the Government to compensate them for stockpiles of beef worth some163 pounds ;80 million which they cannot sell because of the export ban and the age limit on the cattle from which the meat comes.

Mark Ashworth, finance director of Midland Meat Packers, one of Britain's biggest beef exporters, said. "We have had to make 90 of our 530 employees redundant and lay off more than 300 others. The only solution is for the Government to buy up these stores of unwanted beef and destroy them."


Mad Cow Disease and the Decline of UK Beef

April 8, 1996

Following are several news items related to the current developments regarding 'Mad Cow Disease'.'


Several EU countries have banned the import of British beef products and live animals. These countries include France, which makes up 50 per cent of the British export market.

The price of cattle at England's biggest cattle auction suffered a severe drop today. Many British schools have declared beef "off the menu" until further notice. Public confidence in the beef industry, in the UK, is said to be "hanging by a thread."

Despite the admission that a connection between CJD and BSE is likely, the government is STILL claiming that British beef is safe to eat because since 1989 cows diagnosed as having BSE have been destroyed and all specified bovine offals, thought to contain the infective agent, have been removed and not passed into the human food chain.

Previous independent studies have shown that for every one infected cow discovered and removed from the slaughter house, at least two more infected cows get passed as safe and do enter the food chain. Scientists have also begun to say that the infective agent is not limited to the specified bovine offals but is found throughout the carcass. The number of countries which have joined a boycott of British beef products has now risen to 11.

A meeting, being held in Britain, will decide whether or not parents should stop feeding beef products to children -- there are fears that the new strain of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is more prevalent in younger people.

To date 158,882 cattle, from 33,292 farms, have been killed due to being suspected of having BSE. The scientific panel which advises the British government on BSE are expected to decide this weekend whether or not to recommend the slaughter of all 12 million cattle in Britain.

Amongst the human deaths were Michelle Brown, a 29 year-old who was pregnant with her third child at the time she began displaying symptoms of the disease, and Peter Hall, a 20 year-old student who had become vegetarian some time before dying of the disease. There have been reports of similar diseases showing up in cats, dogs, mink and other animals.

In the meantime, feed manufacturers have been ordered not to use any mammal meat or bone meal in agricultural feedstuffs.

There is a possibility that Canadian and US consumers could be at risk, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's president, Dr. Neal Barnard. Barnard points out that the feed given to North American cattle includes the remains of other animals.

In another report, British farmers are complaining that the Government is doing little or nothing to help them with the drop in value of cattle, or on what to do with thousands of cattle that are now ready for market.

Some are also complaining that it is costing 450 pounds per day to feed grain to the cattle, that it is too soon to put them out to grass, and that there is a severe shortage of hay due to last summer's drought in Britain. They say that they cannot continue to go on doing this for much longer without emergency funding from the Government.

Paul Temple, a farmer in Driffield, East Yorkshire stated, in an interview with the Telegraph, that farmers suspected that BSE was more widespread throughout Europe than is admitted. He claims that in France, cattle with BSE were being diagnosed as suffering from magnesium deficiency which, at a certain stage, makes cattle unable to stand.

CBC radio reports that the British Government, acting on the advice of their scientific advisory committee, has decided that there is no need to order any extermination of the British cattle herd. They also decided that no other further action, apart from what they announced last week, is necesary. In the same report, it was revealed that a herd of cattle in France has been destroyed following the detection of one cow in the herd with BSE.

The EU today decided on a total ban of all British beef, beef products and the import of live cattle and semen. Burger King and Wimpey burger restaurants have banned the use of British beef in their burgers together with McDonalds. Also in Britain, it is reported that all cattle auctions were closed today, as the price of beef was thought to be too low to make a sale justified.

In an interview with CBC Newsworld's Early Edition, Franz Fichler, the EU Agriculture Commissioner, also attacked the British Government for their statements over the weekend suggesting the possible slaughter of part, or all, of the cattle herd, then making a statement today stating that they would not be doing so. Fichler, in response to a question about the slaughter of a herd in France, stated that all cases of BSE in France and other EU countries were directly linked to the United Kingdom, either because they were imported from the UK, or were fed on food manufactured in the UK.

In another interview Professor Richard Lacey, a microbiologist at Leeds University, stated that he believed the Government had been misleading the public since BSE first emerged, and that all the measures that are now in place should have been taken at the start of the outbreak.

"They seem to be banning cows one bit at a time," said Lacey. "First you can't eat the brain, then the internal organs and now the head, minus the tongue. What is next?", asked Lacey.

World Health Organization

For further information, please contact Health Communication and Public Relations, WHO, Geneva, Telephone (41 22) 791 2535. Fax (41 22) 791 4858.

Disease outbreaks reported

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)

A WHO Consultation on public health issues related to human and animal spongiform encephalopathies was held in Geneva on 2-3 April 1996. The consultation made recommendations, based on the latest scientific information, to minimize transmission of BSE among animals and to reduce as completely as possible any exposure of humans to the BSE agent. See also the 4.3.96 Press Release on Variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

In the light of the 10 human cases of a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease reported by the United Kingdom on 20 March 1996, a WHO meeting of international experts in neurology, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, epidemiology, veterinary science and public health is being organized on 2-3 April 1996 to review the present situation and to make further technical and public health recommendations as required. In particular, the meeting will identify those technical and scientific issues which must be addressed in developing best practices that will protect the consumer. WHO recommends that if similar disease is identified in any other countries, the national health authorities should be immediately notified. The conclusions of the meeting will be published in the Weekly Epidemiological Record.

The UK has analyzed cases of CJD that have occurred in 10 adults below 42 years of age during the past year. The disease in these cases differs from classical CJD in several respects:

There is no direct evidence of a link between these cases and bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE). However, in the absence of any apparent cause, the most likely explanation at present is that these cases are linked to exposure to BSE before control measures were instituted in the UK in 1989. The measures now in force in the UK are considered to have minimized any possible risk from eating beef.

No similar pattern of disease has been recognized in humans in any other country although BSE has also occurred in animals in Ireland, France, Portugal, and Switzerland. Precautions have been taken in these countries to avoid any possible risk to people from beef consumption.

WHO recommends that national health authorities be notified if any unusual occurrence of CJD is recognized in any other country.

Click here for older WHO bulletins


WHO Press Release ... 3 April 1996

MEASURES TO LIMIT SPREAD OF BSE AND REDUCE HUMAN HEALTH RISKS

At a consultation organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva on 2-3 April 1996, a group of international experts reviewed the public health issues related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and the emergence of a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

Appearance of Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (V-CJD):

The group reviewed the clinical and pathological data from the 10 cases in the UK. The disease has occurred at younger ages than is usual for classical CJD and shows several clinical and pathological differences. Based on findings in these 10 cases, the group established a case definition to facilitate better surveillance, which is necessary to determine the incidence and distribution of this syndrome.

The group concluded that there is no definite link between BSE and V-CJD, but that circumstantial evidence suggests exposure to BSE may be the most likely hypothesis. Further research on both diseases is urgently required.

Exposure to BSE has already been greatly reduced by measures taken in the UK. Implementation of the recommendations by this consultation should further reduce risk from exposure to BSE to minimal levels.

Variant CJD Recommendations

1 The geographic distribution of V-CJD, although reported at present only in the UK, needs to be further investigated.

2 While the most likely hypothesis at present for this newly recognized variant is exposure to the BSE agent, further data from scientific studies on these variant cases are urgently required to establish a link. More monitoring and surveillance studies on all forms of CJD are required throughout the world, modelled on current European collaborative studies.

3 Exposure to BSE from beef and beef products has already been substantially reduced by the measures taken in the UK. Exposure to BSE has always been lower in other countries. The group considered that implementation of their recommendations will ensure that any continuing risk of exposure to BSE in beef and beef products will be reduced to a minimum.

As surveillance worldwide is increased for both BSE and V-CJD, more information will become available in the coming months. WHO will keep these developments under review and update the recommendations as appropriate.


TSE-Infected Meat Recommendations

1. No part of any animal which has shown signs of TSE should enter any food chain, human or animal. All countries must ensure the slaughter and safe disposal of TSE-affected animals so that TSE infectivity cannot enter any food chain. All countries should review their rendering procedures to ensure that they effectively inactivate TSE agents.

2. All countries should establish continuous surveillance and compulsory notification for BSE according to recommendations established by the Office International des Epizooties in Paris. In the absence of surveillance data, the BSE status of a country must be considered as unknown.

3. Countries where BSE exists in native cattle should not permit tissues that are likely to contain the BSE agent to enter any food chain, human or animal.

4. All countries should ban the use of ruminant [cow, sheep, goats] tissues in ruminant feed.

5. With respect to specific products:

  • Tallow is likewise considered safe if effective rendering procedures are in place. 6. With respect to medicinal products, which differ from food in that they can be injected as well as taken orally, measures to minimize the risk of transmitting the BSE agent were developed at a previous WHO consultation in 1991 and continue to be applicable.

    7. Research on TSE should be promoted, especially on rapid diagnosis, agent characterization, and epidemiology of TSEs in humans and animals.


  • For further Information, please contact Philippe Stroot, Media Relations, Health Communications and Public Relations, WHO, Geneva, tel. (41 22) 791 2535, fax (41 22) 791 4858, E-mail strootp@who.ch or Dr David Heymann, Director, Division of Emerging and other Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Control, WHO, Geneva. Tel. (41 22) 791 2660. Fax (41 22) 791 4198. E-mail heymannd@who.ch

    U.N.'s WHO Seeks Barriers Against Mad-Cow Disease

    By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN ... April 4, 1996

    NEW YORK -- Reacting to the epidemic of mad-cow disease in Britain, the World Health Organization on Wednesday recommended a worldwide ban on feeding sheep, goat, cattle, and other animal tissues to livestock. The aim is to prevent the infectious agent that causes mad-cow disease from expanding further in the animal or human food chain.

    The health agency also urged all countries to intensify efforts to monitor for mad-cow disease and its human version, a fatal malady known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It destroys memory and many motor functions, like maintaining balance.

    Sweeping action is needed because "a new disease is frightening" and the uncertainty it has created "is very worrisome," Dr. David L. Heymann, an agency official, said in an interview.

    Because the geographic extent of mad-cow disease is not known, the health organization urged every country to set up "continuous surveillance and compulsory notification" of cases. WHO also urged each country to conduct scientific studies to determine more accurately how often Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease affects humans. Earlier studies and surveillance have found the incidence to be one case per million people in the world.

    One aim is to detect additional cases of a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease that British officials have reported in 10 young people and tentatively linked to mad-cow disease. The malady in cattle is believed to have resulted from feed containing an agent that causes a disease in sheep known as scrapie.

    Application of the recommendations is up to each member country of WHO, an agency of the United Nations. Although WHO has no powers to enforce its recommendations, its scientific advice is widely followed.

    On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it would expedite regulations prohibiting all protein from cud-chewing animals, or ruminants, in ruminant feeds. Anticipating the move, the livestock industry and veterinary groups established a voluntary ban on the use of such feeds.

    In 1994, the FDA proposed banning use of sheep tissue in animal feed. But it took no action because of opposition from some elements of the livestock industry and for lack of inspectors to enforce such a ban.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is responsible for tracking communicable diseases in this country, said that it supported moves to step up surveillance for Creutzfeldt-Jakob and related diseases. Such measures could mean adding Creutzfeldt-Jakob to those diseases that doctors must report to health departments, said Bob Howard, a spokesman for the federal agency in Atlanta. However, only state health officials, and not CDC, can make such a decision, he said.

    Although some countries have a surveillance system for such diseases, most do not.

    Wednesday's recommendations were made by a committee of experts that WHO convened in Geneva to deal with widespread alarm over the safety of eating beef. The alarm resulted from an announcement on March 20 by the British government that an expert committee had said for the first time that the two diseases may be linked.

    The WHO committee agreed with the British committee's conclusion that a link to the mad-cow cases was the most logical explanation for the 10 cases, though scientific proof is lacking.

    WHO also said that milk is safe to drink, even in countries where mad-cow disease is found. The agency endorsed the safety of gelatin, which is derived from bovine tissue, saying that the manufacturing process destroys any possible infectivity of such material.

    Because the 10 British cases affected people younger than 42 years, many people are concerned about the possible dangers of feeding infected material to children. But Dr. Joseph Gibbs, an expert at the National Institutes of Health, who headed the WHO committee, said that "there is no evidence that children are at a greater risk than adults."

    WHO said there was an urgent need for scientists to develop a rapid diagnostic test to detect the diseases in animals and humans. The only way doctors can now diagnose the bovine or human disease with certainty is to use special chemical stains in examining under a microscope brain tissue obtained in a post-mortem examination.

    The only laboratory test now available is to inject material from a suspect animal into mice or other laboratory animals in experiments that take a long time to complete.

    Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company

    Mad Cow Epidemic Puts Spotlight on Puzzling Human Brain Disease

    By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN, M.D. .... April 2, 1996

    The epidemic of mad cow disease in England has focused worldwide attention on the human version of the ailment, the fatal malady known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It is one of a small group of obscure diseases called spongiform encephalopathies because they produce holes in various areas of the brain, giving it a pitted appearance like Swiss cheese.

    Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease affects on average about one person in a million worldwide each year. Now that an expert British committee has tentatively linked it to mad cow disease, a question is raised: how many, if any, of these cases are caused by something in the diet or environment.

    The natural history of the mysterious malady may shed light on its cause, and may also help clarify the nature of other brain-destroying diseases like Alzheimer's, to which Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease seems related by symptoms and pathology. With both diseases, waxy deposits known as amyloid plaques are seen under the microscope in stricken nerve cells.

    Until now, the best known of the spongiform diseases has been kuru, believed to result from ritualistic cannibalism among the Fore group in the Highlands of Papua-New Guinea. It has largely disappeared now that such practices have ceased.

    Dr. D. Carleton Gajdusek's Nobel Prize-winning research proving that kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease were transmissible to animals opened a new era in the investigation of what had been previously thought chronic degenerative diseases.

    Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease usually strikes people in their 50s and 60s, after taking years or even decades to develop. But once symptoms begin, the course is swift and relentless. Destruction of brain cells impairs an individual's ability to think, see, speak and move. Muscles go into spasm, becoming rigid and jerky. Balance is lost. The dementia that develops mimics Alzheimer's disease, a related disorder that is not classified as a spongiform disease.

    Doctors have found Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease everywhere in the world they have looked. Among its most famous victims was George Balanchine, the choreographer, who died in New York City in 1983.

    Dr. Paul Brown, an expert in spongiform diseases at the National Institutes of Health, has cited two age-related riddles that, if solved, could help point to when the disease is acquired: Why is middle age the most common time for symptoms to develop? And why does the incidence of the disease suddenly drop around the age of 75? In contrast, the incidence of a more common dementing disorder, Alzheimer's disease, continues to increase with advancing age.

    Researchers ask another question: Does some seemingly trivial event that occurs at a young age herald Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease much later in life?

    Like Alzheimer's, the spongiform diseases can be diagnosed with certainty only after death by pathologists who peer through a microscope to detect the distinctive pattern of brain damage. Such tests have created the latest mystery about spongiform diseases.

    An expert British committee has identified a cluster of 10 cases of a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in people younger than 42, some in their teen-age years. The committee concluded it was dealing with a variant form because of the unusual microscopic appearance of diseased neurons. The committee said that although scientific proof was lacking, it was tentatively linking the cluster to mad cow disease.

    But many scientists are confused about the strength and importance of the link, and they have criticized the committee and the British government for failing to immediately disclose all the scientific details they have about the cases.

    One undoubted mode of transmission is through exchange of tissues. Over the last 20 years, doctors have documented transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease through injections and transplants of tissue like corneas and the dura that covers human brain.

    Worldwide, at least 62 cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have been traced to injections of growth hormone once derived from pituitary glands obtained from thousands of human cadavers. Sixteen of those cases resulted from human growth hormone distributed to more than 6,200 people in a program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The lengthy incubation period suggests that the number may grow with time.

    Additional cases have resulted from re-use of chemically disinfected electrodes that had been implanted to record the brain wave patterns of patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. All transmissions in these and other surgical procedures have apparently involved contamination of human tissues from or near the brain and central nervous system.

    Officials of the Food and Drug Administration and blood banks have recently expressed concern at the possibility that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease might be transmitted through the blood supply, although there has been no documented case so far. The concern in part reflects potential litigation and wariness over criticism of the way these organizations handled the issue of transfusions of blood contaminated with the AIDS virus in the early 1980s. Last year, an advisory panel to the drug agency recommended notification of recipients of blood that had been donated by someone before they developed Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

    A few medical personnel who work with brain tissue have developed Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Although such cases raise questions about occupational hazards, experts say the number reported is within the range of what would be expected by chance alone.

    Other cases of Creutzfeldt-Jacob seem to be clearly hereditary in nature. For example, the disease is 60 times more common than usual among inhabitants of a certain region of Slovakia, and 40 times higher among Libyans who emigrated to Israel many years ago. There is also a high incidence among Sephardic Jews who immigrated to France from Tunisia and Algeria.

    These cases, thought to be hereditary, account for up to 10 percent of all Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is named after two German doctors, Hans G. Creutzfeldt and Alfons Jakob, who independently reported the first cases 75 years ago. Many hereditary cases can be traced to a mutant gene on chromosome 20. In the hereditary group, each child born to an affected parent has a 50:50 chance of developing the disease. But it is not known whether diet and other environmental factors are important co-factors in producing the disease.

    The overwhelming majority of Creutzfeldt-Jakob cases occur sporadically and with no clue as to how they are transmitted.

    A better understanding of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has been hampered by the lack of a central registry and the reluctance of many pathologists and clinicians to handle patients with the disease, Dr. Frank O. Bastian, a pathologist at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, said. "Many possible cases have been buried without" a correct diagnosis, said Dr. Bastian, who has written a book on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

    The prevailing belief is that spongiform diseases are caused by rogue proteins known as prions that are thought to be abnormal variants of the prion proteins normally present on the surface of nerve cells. The disease-causing prions are believed to convert their normal counterpart protein into the abnormal form. Normal prion protein is produced by a gene that is widely found in nature. But its function is unknown. Prions lack the DNA and RNA that are the hereditary material of other transmissible disease agents.

    The prion theory is based on the work of Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner of the University of California at San Francisco. His studies were at first regarded as heretical because they invoked a bizarre concept that infection could be caused by an agent without genetic material. Many scientists are now convinced that prions cause spongiform diseases. The problem, Prusiner said, is that "we don't know how they cause disease."

    Partial evidence for the theory comes from experiments in which purified prions have caused a spongiform disease when injected into laboratory animals. Material in which the prion was destroyed and then injected were not infectious.

    "About 100 laboratories around the world are working on different aspects of these diseases," Prusiner said in an interview.

    The agents that cause spongiform diseases have unconventional biologic properties. They provoke none of the immune reactions in the body that result from other infections. So scientists have been unable to come up with a practical test to detect the agent in healthy but possibly infected humans or animals.

    Thus it is not known whether there are many more people in Britain who may be infected with the mad cow disease agent but have not yet developed symptoms. One known difference between the agents that cause spongiform diseases and conventional infectious agents is their prodigious resistance to heat, ultraviolet light, radiation and many chemical disinfectants. Thus there is no guarantee that food processing technologies like cooking, pasteurization, sterilization, freezing, drying and pickling will destroy the spongiform agent if it is present in foodstuffs.

    The new uncertainty about spongiform diseases is a reminder that some diseases affect many more people than their rarity implies.

    Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company


    Britain Asks Europe to Pay Most of Cost of Killing Cows

    By ALAN COWELL ... April 2, 1996

    LUXEMBOURG -- In an effort to rebuild its shattered beef industry, Britain pressed its European partners on Monday to finance 80 percent of the cost of destroying some 4 million cattle over the next five years.

    They have proposed the culling -- at a cost estimated at $700 million or more -- as part of a strategy to contain mad-cow disease, coax consumers back to British beef, and get the European Community to end the ban on British beef exports that it imposed last week.

    As the European Union's 15 agriculture ministers considered the British proposal into the night here, though, it was apparent that the export ban would not be lifted any time soon. That ban was imposed after British government ministers said mad-cow disease in cattle might be linked to cases of a similar, fatal degenerative brain disease in humans.

    The statement sent panic waves throughout Britain and Europe, and beef sales -- even those of non-British beef in countries including Germany and France -- plummeted as consumers suddenly perceived beef as a possible health hazard.

    The apparent determination of Europe to continue the ban for now reflected the widespread sentiment that radical measures were required both to sanitize Britain's 11 million cattle and to restore confidence in British and European beef around the world.

    "The ban is part of the effort to restore confidence," a European Commission official said.

    Britain has deeply resented the European imposition of the export ban, arguing that it was unjustified. Its European partners, seeking to limit damage to the cause of European unity, pledged at a summit meeting in Turin, Italy, on Friday to help Britain out of the morass.

    Britain's proposal was being debated late into the night here, and European officials indicated that in addition to negotiations about how much of the cost of the cattle-culling program Europe would share, Britain's European partners wanted stronger action, including much tighter controls in abattoirs and strict rules for the selective culling of herds in which the disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, had been detected.

    Britain's plan for culling would involve mainly older dairy cows, which would be incinerated rather than slaughtered for meat products as they reached the end of their milk production. Milk products have not been found to be potentially dangerous.

    Britain has also offered selective culling of younger cattle in herds suffering certain levels of the disease, but there has not been detailed discussion of its proposal or how many diseased cattle in a herd would trigger its total destruction, European officials said.

    "The mood is, we want radical action," a European official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    British officials said the total figure of 4 million older dairy cattle was derived from a proposal to cull and destroy some 15,000 head of cattle over 30 months old every week for the next five to six years, at a direct cost to farmers of $700 million a year.

    Officials said some European countries argued that 80 percent of the cost was far too much for the European Union to bear.

    The European Commission, the European Union's main executive body, had earlier suggested some $250 million a year as Europe's contribution. But British farm officials argued that the European Union had financed 70 percent of the costs of combatting swine fever in Germany several years ago.

    Additionally, other costs not mentioned in the British proposal on Monday would include compensation for British animals slaughtered elsewhere in Europe because of the mad-cow crisis, mainly the Netherlands, and most of all, the huge cost of buying up stocks of European beef and putting them into cold storage until the Continent has fully gotten over its fears of mad-cow disease.

    German farmers have complained that the crisis has halved the market value of their beef, and many European nations argue that it will now be necessary for Europe to build a "beef mountain" of stored beef until the market recovers from the mad-cow disease crisis.

    It was not clear from Monday's British proposal how many additional costs were likely to arise from the actual slaughtering and incineration of cattle, nor whether Britain has the facilities to destroy and dispose of so many cows without disrupting its production of beef for consumers.

    With its latest proposal, Britain is trying to secure European financial support for an approach already proposed by its own farmers: eventual destruction of cattle now over 30 months old, which are seen as most likely to have been exposed to mad-cow disease.

    Under the British proposal, dairy cattle now 30 months old or more would be slaughtered when they reach the end of their economic usefulness, when they are around 6 years old. Then the carcasses would be incinerated. Previously, older dairy cows were used to produce various meat and bone products.

    "These animals would normally be slaughtered anyway," the European official said. "The difference is that they will be taken out of the food chain."

    In addition, the Europeans have suggested that beef cattle destined for consumer markets all be slaughtered before the age of 30 months, which is already true in the vast majority of cases.

    European officials said Britain's partners were pressing for a broad package of measures that would include new regulations for butchering carcasses, the formal prohibition of meat sales from cattle now over 30 months old, and requirements that offal destined for use in other products be rendered at higher temperatures than at present.

    British officials told reporters that Britain's latest proposals went "far beyond what the veterinarians suggested."

    But Germany's agriculture minister, Jochen Borchert, said other European countries "are not prepared for half-hearted measures."

    Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company


    Beef Producers Blame Dairymen for Losses

    London Times ... 15 Apr 1996 ... by MICHAEL HORNSBY, agricultural correspondent

    BEEF farmers fear many of them could be ruined by plans for the cull and disposal of all cattle over 30 months old, which the Government is expected to announce this week. Tens of thousands of prime steers and heifers reared for the beef market have become virtually worthless because the animals happen to exceed this age limit and can no longer be used for food. Beef producers believe they are being asked to carry the can for dairy farmers whose herds account for 90 per cent of the nearly 160,000 confirmed cases of "mad cow" disease so far recorded.

    Under the cull plan, agreed with Britain's EU partners, farmers will be compensated at a rate of 86p per kilogram liveweight, which will average at about £480 per animal destroyed. The EU will pay 70 per cent. This is roughly the market price dairy farmers would have got for the 15,000 barren old cows sent for slaughter every week at the end of their working lives. The carcasses will now be burnt.

    Dairy farmers can sell milk from their cows. Their steers and heifers are eligible for sale as beef provided the animals are slaughtered before 30 months, which they normally would be. By contrast, beef farmers are estimated to have up to 100,000 prime steers and heifers for which there is now no market because the animals are older than 30 months. Many would go under if they were paid no more for these high-quality animals than the going rate for a worn-out dairy cow.

    James Burnett, one of the biggest cattle farmers, has never had a case of BSE in the 1,400-strong herd of pedigree Charolais and Belgian Blue cattle he and his brother rear at Burridge Farm, near Newark, Nottinghamshire. In normal times, they kill up to 5,000 steers a year at between 33 and 34 months, the slaughter age for these Continental breeds, to supply beef to France and Italy. Since March 26, exports have been banned by the EU and the cattle are now too old to be sold for beef here.

    "The cattle would normally fetch up to £1,100 each," Mr Burnett said. "If we are compensated at the same rate as for old dairy cows we would lose up to £400 per animal. As our profit margin is only £30 a head, we would be ruined. All our cattle are fed on vegetable waste and have never been given the kind of rations that caused BSE."


    EU Countries May Have to Eat it

    FROM CHARLES BREMNER IN STRASBOURG AND MICHAEL HORNSBY, AGRICULTURE CORRESPONDENT

    THE European Commission brushed off Britain's legal challenge to the beef export ban yesterday but Brussels officials privately admitted that aspects of their case might not stand up in court.

    The French Government is to pay compensation to the owners of 76,000 calves of British origin quarantined on French farms in the wake of the "mad cow" scare. The animals are to be destroyed over the next two or three months.

    John Major is expected to press demands for an early lifting of the ban with Jacques Santer, the President of the European Commission, when they meet in Moscow this week at the G7 nuclear safety summit. A Commission spokesman said: "Mr Major will be heard by Mr Santer, but the position has been made very clear. We have a ban for which there is a legal basis and it will be for the European Court of Justice to deal with that matter."

    In London, Welsh farmers said they would take up arms to protect their herds if further culling was Europe's price for removing the ban. Leading a delegation to lobby MPs at Westminster, Bob Parry, the president of the Farmers' Union of Wales, said: "The Commissioner has said British beef is safe to eat, so why are we suffering? Our farmers are willing to protect animals by getting guns if necessary." Franz Fischler, the European Agriculture Commissioner, precipitated the British legal challenge by his statement last weekend that he would have no hesitation in eating British beef and his admission that the ban had been imposed in response to consumer panic.

    Article 129 of the Maastricht Treaty allows for "action which supports and supplements the policy pursued by the member states to protect the health, safety and economic interests of consumers." The Commission said yesterday that public health was the central issue.

    Legal experts were also combing the EU's founding treaties to justify a ban on exports to non-EU countries. Officials repeated that this was to protect consumers from re-imports of suspect beef.


    Supermarket beef sales draw poor

    BY MICHAEL HORNSBY ... April 10 1996 ... London Times

    BEEF sales are rising as fears of catching Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease subside, traders said yesterday. In Brussels today, European Union veterinary experts may approve a partial lifting of the global ban on British beef products, an EU spokesman said. The move is expected to be limited to declaring beef-derived gelatine safe.

    Supermarket sales were strong during a week-long promotion of prime cuts of beef at one-third off the usual price. "We have been surprised by the strength of demand, especially for prime joints and steaks," a spokesman said. "Sales of sausages and mince, which many people associate with BSE [bovine spongiform encephalopathy], have been much slower. Customers seem to be reassured by our guarantees that all our beef comes from animals under 30 months of age."

    Under a deal struck with other European Union countries in Luxembourg last week, no meat can be sold for human consumption from animals older than 30 months. Hardly any animals younger than this have ever developed BSE, which has been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

    Gelatine, used in a variety of products, was affected by the total ban on British beef exports imposed by the EU last month. Aspects of that ban are to be considered by the EU's Scientific Veterinary Committee. The World Health Organisation insists that gelatine poses no risk to people.

    However, at the Smithfield wholesale market, Tony Riley, of the superintendent's office, said: "Beef sales are still so low that at the moment we are not even bothering to quote prices." About 31,500 tonnes, worth £79 million, is being held in abattoir chiller-rooms and warehouses both here and abroad and on ships at sea because there is now no market for it, according to a survey by the Meat and Livestock Commission.

    Tighter Curbs on Mad Cow Disease (BSE)

    by David Fletcher 4.16.96 Electronic Telegraph

    New controls to prevent meat contaminated with mad cow disease getting through to consumers are expected to be imposed today.

    The move follows a disclosure by Douglas Hogg, Minister of Agriculture, yesterday that he was considering tighter safeguards on abattoirs after 17 incidents in which traces of spinal cord -- a material banned from the human food chain -- were found on beef carcasses in slaughterhouses. Several breaches of the rules had been uncovered by state veterinary surgeons since Mr. Hogg summoned abattoir operators to his office in Whitehall three weeks ago for a dressing down. He demanded 100 per cent compliance with the rules to protect public confidence on the safety of beef.

    Mr. Hogg told farmers yesterday at Smithfield FarmTech, the new-look London winter agriculture show, that he would be considering further measures to tighten abattoir controls. He repeated, on the eve of Budget Day, that the Government would not pay a penny to abattoirs to help with the cost of complying with the strict hygiene controls to keep beef safe.

    Mr. Hogg said he could not give a "100 per cent categorical guarantee" that mad cow disease could not spread to people. But, he added, the scientific evidence suggested that BSE could not be transmitted to humans. The evidence suggested, he said, that Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) was not the result of "the ingestion of beef and related material".

    As part of the Government's controls against BSE, which has caused the deaths of more than 155,000 cattle in Britain since 1986, specified offal -- including the spinal cord, brain, thymus and spleen -- are banned from the human food chain and must be destroyed. These materials are deemed the most likely areas where the deadly BSE agent is found. BSE has never been found in beef itself. But with beef sales now showing signs of damage from a string of TV programmes and newspaper articles about increasing CJD victims, ministers and farmers are dismayed about abattoir lapses which threaten to undermine consumer confidence. The state veterinary service recently made surprise visits to 193 abattoirs and in 92 found failings in the handling of the high risk offal, While most breaches were "comparatively mild" -- such as inefficient staining of discarded offal to keep them out of the food chain -- there were 17 more serious breaches. In one case, a third of an animal spinal cord was found attached to the beef carcass after it had been dressed by slaughtermen.

    Mr. Hogg regretted the current dispute between farmers and abattoir operators who are trying to impose a 3.50 pound levy per animal on farmers to meet the cost of disposing of unwanted offals.

    webmaster@emerald.org

    CABI News Stories

    Daily Telegraph 10.4.96, p16

    In France it was reported that the brain of a 26-year-old man who died in January in Lyon showed signs of CJD similar to those in the 10 British cases [see below]. The Health Ministry said that CJD would become a classified illness that had to be declared to the authorities to aid future studies of the disease. In Portugal a parliamentary inquiry was called for into the incidence of BSE in the country after allegations were made of a cover up. It was feared that the incidence of BSE and CJD had been inaccurately reported. CJD was not a notifiable disease in Portugal until very recently. The Health Ministry released the names of 36 people who had died of CJD between 1980 and 1995. The figures were below the world average but contained cases among people aged 32 and 40 and 3 cases in the same area. A 66-year-old man was reported to have died in Italy from CJD, the first death from the disease in Italy for 3 years. It was not known how he contracted his disease but the case was not out of the ordinary for the population of the area, Verona.
    Guardian 6.4.96, p6/Daily Telegraph 6.4.96, p1/Financial Times 6-7.4.96, p1/European 4-10.4.96, pp1, 2/11-17.4.96, pp1, 2/International Herald Tribune 8.4.96, p5/Sunday Times 7.4.96, p1.5

    Seven lectures given at the 28th meeting of the Swiss Society of Food Hygiene in 23 November 1995 have been published for German readers. They include: the history and epidemiology of prion diseases; the molecular basis of prion diseases; CJD in Switzerland and its risk of transmission; and risk analysis and epidemiology of BSE in Switzerland. The first case of BSE was first diagnosed in Switzerland in November 1990 and the numbers of cases have risen each year (9 in 1991, 15 in 1992, 29 in 1993, 64 in 1994 and 64 up to 7 November 1995ó73 cases were estimated to occur in that year). A ban on animal-derived protein in feed was implemented in December 1990. The current peak of the epidemic and the incidence rate of the epidemic since the feed ban mirrored that seen in Britain and was in accordance with calculations made in 1991-92. No case of CJD acquired through treatment with growth hormone or gonadotrophins has been recorded and based on available epidemiological data the transmission of animal spongiform encephalopathies through meat consumption was of no importance in the aetiology of CJD either.

    B Hornlimann, Mitteilungen aus dem Gebiete der Lebensmitteluntersuchung und Hygiene, 1996, 87(1), 3-13/B Oesch, ibid 14-26/D Degrandchamps et al, ibid 27-37/U Kihm et al, ibid 38-47 [De]


    CJD report published

    The study by the National CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh the conclusions of which led to the BSE crisis in the UK has been published. The Unit identified 10 cases, out of 207 of CJD, that had neuropathological finding that clearly distinguished them from other cases [See Public Health News 1996 April pp53-58]. The report is accompanied in the same issue by 2 commentaries on prion diseases and a Grand Round discussion of CJD in a 28-year-old woman.

    R G Will et al, Lancet, 1996, 346(Apr 6), 921-925/J Collinge & M Rossor, ibid 916-917/J G Collee, ibid 917-918/S J Tabrizi; F Scaravilli; J Collinge; M N Rossor, ibid, 945-948


    Prevention of spread of BSE

    The World Health Organization has recommended a worldwide ban on feeding tissues from sheep, goats, cattle and other animals to livestock to prevent the further expansion within the animal or human food chain of the agent that causes BSE. WHO has also urged all countries to set up ìcontinuous surveillance and compulsory notification of cases of BSE and CJD and to conduct scientific studies to determine more accurately how CJD affects humansî. The detection of additional cases of the new variant of CJD was also a goal. The US Food and Drug Administration said that it would expedite regulations prohibiting all protein from ruminants in ruminant feeds.

    International Herald Tribune 5.4.96, p5

    The new Environmental Agency in the UK called on farmers to halt the practice of spreading blood and intestinal content from cattle on their land as fertiliser as there is the suspicion that any agent that causes BSE may enter the water supply through runoff into rivers, reservoirs and seepage into the water table. The urged a ban until the risks have been fully assessed. The ban was supported by an independent microbiologist and by the Institute of Waste Management. The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) said that it had considered the risks and thought the risk was low. The National Rivers Authority, like the EA, had been alerted by residents of local use of waste contaminating water courses. Failures in slaughtering processes might have allowed banned offals from being mixed with permitted waste.

    Sunday Times 31.3.96, p1.2

    A farmer in the UK who had falsely claimed that 4 cows sold at auction were from a BSE-free herd was fined £10,000 on 15 April.

    Independent 16 4 96, p2

    Robert Rohwer, who studies spongiform encephalopathies at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, said that MAFF scientistsí theory that a highly resistant strain of scrapie had escaped inactivation in rendering plants and caused BSE was plausible but criticized them for not having conducted experiments similar to those done in Iowa, USA, in which scrapie-infected tissue was injected into cattle. In the Iowa experiments conducted since 1990 cattle have consistently become sick but not with an illness recognizable as BSE. Dr Rohwer suggests that BSE is a new disease which arose in a few cows which with repeated recycling through cows being fed with rendered cattle carcasses built up from levels too low to cause symptoms finally to emerge as an epidemic. If his theory were correct the ministersí opinions on the risk to human health had been misguided. Other scientists have also expressed their view that the government had been too eager to accept the view that BSE was unlikely to affect humans, based on limited scientific understanding.

    Dr Sheila Gore of the Medical Research Councilís biostatistics unit at Cambridge warned that there was a serious need to quantify the risk of maternal infection now that cases of CJD were being seen in women of childbearing age. Such women might pass the disease on to their children before their symptoms manifested themselves. Dr John Wilesmith of the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Weybridge was conducting studies into the possibility of maternal transmission of BSE among calves born to cattle with BSE and to those without. Some 45 animals in the experiment had already died from BSE. Dr Gore called for the study to be unblinded and the results to date assessed.

    New Scientist 13.4.96, pp4, 5


    Despite the EC offer to buy British beef into storage the British Federation of Fresh Meat Wholesalers said that it made no sense to put top quality beef into storage and that it was banking on the revival of the home market. The EC offered to buy 50,000 tonnes of European beef in April but only 140 tonnes were offered by British meat traders, compared with 4000 tonnes from Germany.

    Guardian 13.4.96, p7/Daily Telegraph 13.4.96, p8/Financial Times 13-14.4.96, p4

    The UK Agriculture Minister, Douglas Hogg, told Members of Parliament that there might be a case for ìa tightly targeted selective culling policy to reduce the incidence of BSEî. The policy is likely to involve herds most at risk from BSE. Consultations with farming organizations were to be held to devise ìcost effectiveî proposals. The selective cull would be in addition to the cull of cattle aged over 30 monthsósome 15,000 of which, mainly dairy cows, are slaughtered each weekóthat may have been exposed to BSE. Mr Hogg said that there was no justification for wholesale slaughter of herds where there might have been some small degree of infection. However, the definition of which herds should be culled was a cause of deep concern to farmers. Owing to the structure of EU financing, some 66% of EU aid for compensation to farmers for the slaughter of cattle was likely to be deducted from the UKís rebate on it EU contribution in 1997, thus reducing overall Treasury receipts in 1997. Mr Hogg said that he was considering legal action against the EU over its continued ban on British beef exports.

    The UK government made up to £118 million of support available to livestock renderers following a call from the renderersí association for government funds to pay for the removal of bones, offal and fat from abattoirs. Abattoir waste was now banned from animal feed, leading to up to 20,000 tonnes of waste going uncollected. Mr Hogg said that without such aid there was a significant risk that animal carcasses would be dumped, leading to serious environmental risks. Initially the government had announced temporary assistance of only £1.5 million. According to the Meat and Livestock Commission around 4000 people, almost 50% of the workforce, had been laid off by the 90 largest abattoirs and processing plants. Many plants had stopped operations or switched to part-time working. The crisis has hit not only abattoirs but auctioneers, processors and meat hauliers.

    Rules designed to keep cattle aged over 30 months out of the food chain have been worded in such a way to cover both domestic and imported beefóthe UK is one of the main markets for Argentinean beefóand refer not to the specific age of the cattle but to the number and type of teeth which can roughly identify the age of a cow. This wording has led to the virtual ban of beef imported from Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. As one meat trader put it: ìThe meat we bring into this country from Argentina doesnít have teethî. Following complaints from farmers and butchers that the teeth pattern criteria were not working the ruling was redrawn.

    Daily Telegraph 4.4.96, p1/5.4.96, p15/Financial Times 2.4.96, p11/4.4.96, pp9, 20/Times 2.4.96, pp1, 2/MAFF News Release 9.4.96

    In France, as a preventive measure, the government banned all offal from cattle more than 5 years old. All offal products from cattle born before 31 July 1991 were to be withdrawn from sale. All French beef has been labelled as such. Two herds of cows were slaughtered in France after one case of BSE was found in each of them.

    International Herald Tribune 5.4.96, p1/Daily Telegraph 2.4.96, p20/it 6.4.96, p2


    On 28 March the UK government announced details of measures to keep the beef industry functioning:

    Mr Hogg, the Agriculture Minister, also announced that final livestock headage payments would be £35 million more this year than last. SEAC announced that meat and bone meal should not be used as fertilizer on land to which ruminants have access.

    MAFF News Release 29.3.96


    Cattle cull

    The British Veterinary Association warned the government that its members would refuse to take part in a mass cull of cattle in the attempt to eradicate BSE. It said that widespread killing of healthy cattle could not be justified scientifically or morally and was comparable to the ìburning of witchesî. The Association did not believe that the needless destruction of animals would accelerate the already fast decline in cases of BSE. Mr Bob Stevenson, the president of the Association said that ìWe cannot burn cows to convince European politicians that pubic health is safeguarded. The price of allaying public concern cannot be killing fieldsî. Individual farmers had responded to the possibility of culling of healthy cattle by warning that they would barricade their farms to prevent the slaughter taking place. The delay in any announcement by the government of what it proposed to do was blamed for causing confusion. Consumer organizations pointed out that mass slaughters as gestures to help public confidence do not work, citing the mass slaughter of chickens after the salmonella scareóafter the slaughter of 3.5 million chickens and the closure of 9800 poultry businesses, cases of salmonella had still increased.

    Sunday Telegraph 14.4.96, p5/television news reports/Independent Section Two 28.3.96, p4

    In March the owners of the less than 20 incinerators in the UK that are equipped to deal with the destruction of infected cattle met at a meeting of the Licensed Animal Slaughterers and Salvage Association to discuss what could be done if a cull were called. Any of the proposed options would put a strain on the system. Other suggested means of disposal such as burial in pits, burning in open fields or in power stations, or rendering and dumping at sea met objections from environmental groups. The government denied reports that it had considered dumping at sea but proposed the use of burial of minced possibly infected cattle parts in authorized pits.

    Guardian 26.3.96, p6/Sunday Telegraph 7.4.96, p1/Independent 8.4.96, p5/13.4.96, p1

    The National Farmers Union said that cattle farmers were considering suing animal feed companies for negligence in causing the BSE epidemic through contaminated feed. However, any legal action would be complicated not only by the need to prove the link between cattle feed and BSE but by major changes in the structure and ownership of animal feed companies since the identification of BSE in the 1980s. Suppliers deny that there is any proof that BSE was transmitted by animal feed. In early April bankers and agricultural accountants urged farmers not to panic and said that loans were still available for farmers.

    Financial Times 11.4.96, p8/Daily Telegraph 6.4.96, p10/Observer 14.4.96, p4

    A US scientist who has devised a test for CJD suggested that it may be of use in the diagnosis of BSE-infected cattle and aid in selective slaughter. The test involves the finding of indicator proteins in spinal fluid, thought to result from nerve cell damage. The test would have to work before symptoms appeared for it to be useful in this context.

    Daily Telegraph 10.4.96, p16

    The World Council of Hindus offered sanctuary in India for cows likely to be culled and suggested the mass transportation of 12 million animals. The former actress and animal rights spokesperson, Brigitte Bardot, appealed to the EU to rescue cattle stranded in ships off the coast of Egypt and Lebanon after the countries banned beef imports from Europe.

    Daily Telegraph 1.4.96, p4/6.4.96, p10


    The fast-food chain, McDonaldís, was accused of stoking public panic and causing job losses by its swift removal from sale of beefburgers containing British beef, despite its consistent declaration that it had ìcomplete confidenceî in British beef. Andrew Taylor, vice-president of McDonaldís, rejected the charges by the House of Commons all-party employment group. He insisted that the decision on 23 March to stop using British beef was market driven by a collapse in customer confidence. He said that as soon as customer confidence returned McDonaldís would resume buying British beef. Sir David Naish, the president of the National Farmersí Union, said that the BSE crisis had arisen from the drive for a cheap food policy dating back to the end of World War II. He expressed his regret that some parts of the industry had broken rules, including farmers who had allowed diseased cattle to enter the food chain.

    Financial Times 2.4.96, p11/Guardian 2.4.96, p9

    The Farming Collaboration, an alliance between British and Irish beef farmers, called for ìaggressiveî action against BSE to restore consumer confidence. The alliance called for:

    The crisis had come at the worse time for farmers when they should be selling on their animals to the spring market.

    Financial Times 1.4.96, p9

    In Germany consumer mistrust was blamed for the 50-65% drop in sales of domestic beef. Sales of bratwurst sausage fell by 70%, even though only 0.1% of beef sold in Germany was imported from Britain before the ban. The newspaper, Die Welt, suggested that panic among German consumers was much more widespread than elsewhere in Europe, even compared with England.

    Daily Telegraph 2.4.96. p20

    Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan wrote to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph calling for a comprehensive review of live animal exports in the light of the BSE issue. He called for health education to include incitements to eat less, particularly the junk foods highlighted in the BSE scare. He said that consumers should be encouraged to pay a little more for welfare-friendly quality rather than cheap and unhealthy quantity and that such a policy would ìprovide the basis for a more tenable long-term future and a healthier one, in both the ethical and financial senseî.

    Daily Telegraph 30.3.96, p13


    Product safety

    A meeting of 30 international experts ruled that milk and gelatine were safe, even in countries with a high prevalence of BSE and that with adequate measures there was ìminimalî risk from meat and beef products. The European Commission accepted the World Health Organization advice that gelatine was safe but EU veterinary experts refused to ease the restrictions on gelatine and tallow. The standing veterinary committee did not vote on the issue when it became clear that there was no support for the lifting of the ban. When the ban was first imposed the chairman of the technical committee of the Gelatin Manufacturers of Europe said that he was ìstaggered and appalledî by the decision as there was ìa lot of scientific data to show that gelatine is perfectly safe. There has never been any scientific question of gelatine being related to BSEî.

    The Royal Horticultural Society reminded gardeners that they should wear gloves and dust-masks when handling blood and bonemeal. Bonemeal, widely used as a garden fertilizer, can still be used but not on agricultural or common land.

    The German Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industries tried to reassure the public that only a few drugs were to be removed from sale after panic ensued from the receipt of a fax by pharmacists from the Federal Pharmaceutical and Medical Institute in Berlin. The pharmacists were told to withdraw from sale and return to manufacturers medicines using marrow from cattle, connective tissue, mammary glands, kidneys, lives, testicles, gall bladders, blood, urine and fetal tissue. The products were to be banned until 30 September 1997.

    After meeting consumer activists and EC experts, the European cosmetics industry federation called for the recall of products using certain cattle ingredients as a precautionary measure, despite specific measures to avoid contamination having been in place since 1991.

    Daily Telegraph 30.3.96, p2/4.4.96, p16/10.4.96, p2/European 4-10.4.96, p7/Times 4.4.96, p1/Financial Times 27.3.96, p9/4.4.96, p9/11.4.96, p1/Wallingford Herald 28.3.96, p2/International Herald Tribune 1.4.96, p5


    Mad Cow Disease' and the Decline of UK BeefApril 8, 1996

    Several EU countries have banned the import of British beef products and live animals. These countries include France, which makes up 50 per cent of the British export market.

    The price of cattle at England's biggest cattle auction suffered a severe drop today. Many British schools have declared beef "off the menu" until further notice. Public confidence in the beef industry, in the UK, is said to be "hanging by a thread."

    Despite the admission that a connection between CJD and BSE is likely, the government is STILL claiming that British beef is safe to eat because since 1989 cows diagnosed as having BSE have been destroyed and all specified bovine offals, thought to contain the infective agent, have been removed and not passed into the human food chain.

    Previous independent studies have shown that for every one infected cow discovered and removed from the slaughter house, at least two more infected cows get passed as safe and do enter the food chain. Scientists have also begun to say that the infective agent is not limited to the specified bovine offals but is found throughout the carcass. The number of countries which have joined a boycott of British beef products has now risen to 11.

    A meeting, being held in Britain, will decide whether or not parents should stop feeding beef products to children -- there are fears that the new strain of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is more prevalent in younger people.

    To date 158,882 cattle, from 33,292 farms, have been killed due to being suspected of having BSE. The scientific panel which advises the British government on BSE are expected to decide this weekend whether or not to recommend the slaughter of all 12 million cattle in Britain.

    There have been reports of similar diseases showing up in cats, dogs, mink and other animals.

    In the meantime, feed manufacturers have been ordered not to use any mammal meat or bone meal in agricultural feedstuffs.

    There is a possibility that Canadian and US consumers could be at risk, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's president, Dr. Neal Barnard. Barnard points out that the feed given to North American cattle includes the remains of other animals.

    In another report, British farmers are complaining that the Government is doing little or nothing to help them with the drop in value of cattle, or on what to do with thousands of cattle that are now ready for market.

    Some are also complaining that it is costing 450 pounds per day to feed grain to the cattle, that it is too soon to put them out to grass, and that there is a severe shortage of hay due to last summer's drought in Britain. They say that they cannot continue to go on doing this for much longer without emergency funding from the Government.

    Paul Temple, a farmer in Driffield, East Yorkshire stated, in an interview with the Telegraph, that farmers suspected that BSE was more widespread throughout Europe than is admitted. He claims that in France, cattle with BSE were being diagnosed as suffering from magnesium deficiency which, at a certain stage, makes cattle unable to stand.

    CBC radio reports that the British Government, acting on the advice of their scientific advisory committee, has decided that there is no need to order any extermination of the British cattle herd. They also decided that no other further action, apart from what they announced last week, is necesary. In the same report, it was revealed that a herd of cattle in France has been destroyed following the detection of one cow in the herd with BSE.

    The EU today decided on a total ban of all British beef, beef products and the import of live cattle and semen. Burger King and Wimpey burger restaurants have banned the use of British beef in their burgers together with McDonalds. Also in Britain, it is reported that all cattle auctions were closed today, as the price of beef was thought to be too low to make a sale justified.

    In an interview with CBC Newsworld's Early Edition, Franz Fichler, the EU Agriculture Commissioner, also attacked the British Government for their statements over the weekend suggesting the possible slaughter of part, or all, of the cattle herd, then making a statement today stating that they would not be doing so. Fichler, in response to a question about the slaughter of a herd in France, stated that all cases of BSE in France and other EU countries were directly linked to the United Kingdom, either because they were imported from the UK, or were fed on food manufactured in the UK.

    In another interview Professor Richard Lacey, a microbiologist at Leeds University, stated that he believed the Government had been misleading the public since BSE first emerged, and that all the measures that are now in place should have been taken at the start of the outbreak.

    "They seem to be banning cows one bit at a time," said Lacey. "First you can't eat the brain, then the internal organs and now the head, minus the tongue. What is next?", asked Lacey.