Prion disease
Mad Cow Home ... Best Links ... Search this site

Homicide charges for officials in French blood scandal
Red Cross politics: Elizabeth Dole's PR machine vs. reality
Mad Cowboy by Howard Lyman
Renderers flout S.E.A.C. ban on liquid waste dumping
BSE Inquiry: draft factual accounts
Ministers unveil recipe for food safety watchdog
Another 6 months of bone ban
EU Inspectors await overdue invitation
6 members quit SEAC

Mad Cowboy $16.10, 192 pages

Reviews and Book Description

"When former cattle rancher Howard Lyman appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1996 to share his insider view of the danger of Mad Cow Disease spreading to this country, his revelations about the beef industry prompted a group of Texas cattlemen to file a lawsuit charging Lyman and the talk show host with "food disparagement." That wasn't enough to silence Howard Lyman, and in this stirring account of his journey from meat-loving cowboy to vegetarian environmental activist, he tells the whole truth about the catastrophic consequences of an animal-based diet.

"Lyman is well aware of what goes into our livestock -- high doses of pesticides, growth hormone, and the ground-up remains of other animals. A fourth-generation Montana farmer, he regularly doused his cattle and soil with chemicals. It was only when he narrowly escaped paralysis from a spinal tumor that Lyman began to question his vocation and the effect it was having on people and on the land he loved. The questions he raised and the answers he found led him, surprisingly, to adopt a vegetarian diet. As a result, he lost 130 pounds and lowered his cholesterol by more than 150 points. He is now one of America's leading spokesmen for vegetarianism.

"Along the way, Lyman learned even more about the alarming dangers associated with eating meat. Here he blasts through the propaganda of the beef and dairy industries (and the government agencies that often protect them) and exposes an animal-based diet as the primary cause of cancer, heart disease, and obesity in this country. In a powerful and original voice, he warns that our livestock industry has repeated the mistakes that led to Mad Cow Disease in England while it simultaneously visits frightful, lasting damage on our environment.

"Persuasive, straightforward, and full of the down-home good humor and optimism of a son of the soil, Mad Cowboy is both an inspirational story of personal transformation and a convincing call to action for a plant-based diet -- for the good of the planet and the health of us all.

"Synopsis: This impassioned, no-nonsense account of the dangerous and potentially fatal practices of the cattle and dairy industries is told by a man uniquely qualified to blow the whistle--a former cattle rancher who has become a high-profile advocate for vegetarianism. Author signings.

"The publisher , June 18, 1998 Seattle Times book review (June 7, 1998) "A stunning example of a true insider--in this case, a fourth-generation Montana cattle rancher--turning the tables on a bloated industry he once embraced. In no-nonsense style, he chips away at the meat monolith: the loss of topsoil from cattle grazing, the spread of 'mad cow' disease, the clearing of rainforests for ranch land, the use of pesticides, hormones and ground-up animals in raising livestock. Aside from the ethical and ecological ramifications is Lyman's own remarkable physical transformation: On a plant-based diet, he shed 130 pounds and lowered his cholesterol by more than 150 points."

" from Fairfax, Va. , January 11, 1999 This Book Opened My Eyes and Changed My Life Before reading "Mad Cowboy," I was a confirmed meat eater, although I did want to cut back on or eliminate more and more meat from my diet for health reasons. The book confirmed the wisdom in doing that, but it also opened my eyes to the cruelty done to animals and the destruction done to the planet all for the sake of my taste buds. Now I'm committed to doing my part to alter that by becoming a vegan.

"Do yourself and the planet a good turn: Spread the word about how important it is to read this book and take its warnings to heart. Bless you, Howard Lyman!

":Kris Schamp ( from Portland, OR , December 9, 1998 The most inspiring book I read in years! A few weeks ago I bought the book and the astonishing facts and figures listed throughout the whole book convinced both me and my wife (who is a biology teacher) to shift from a low-meat diet to a strict vegetarian diet. So far, we both enjoy our decision and we only complain that we didn't find out earlier about the convincing ecological and health arguments in favor of vegetarianism, veganism and organic agriculture. Just buy it!

"Michael Plociniak ( from New York City , October 24, 1998 The BULL Stops Here!!! You might not be a biologist like me, privy to scientific journals and cutting edge research in neurology. But I bet you are a human (hey, some dogs can read) that has to eat and is susceptible to the various diseases that are being spread right now by the practices of mass-producing animals for human consumption. Like me, you should READ HOWARD'S BOOK to learn about what you are exposing yourself and your loved ones to with every bite of hamburger,etc. If you want to eat meat, great. Just don't dig in like a fool thinking that "USDA approved" means that your food doesn't contain deadly microorganisms of too many types to mention here. Don't depend on Oprah to fight for your life, because even she has been intimidated by greedy monopolies to surrender her freedom of speech.

"A reader from Landover Hills, MD , September 6, 1998 a real life changer This is a book that will shake up your complacency about how we carry on our daily lives. Darwin may be right. Adapt and survive. The alternatives that are presented in this book are too appalling to accept. I became a vegetarian at the same time I became serious about becoming Buddhist. After reading this book, I'm becoming a vegan.

" from Atlanta, GA , August 23, 1998 If you're the slightest bit curious, it's worth it. A friend of mine gave me this book to read, and to make sure the author got paid for all I got out of my borrowed copy, I bought one for a friend. This book is a real eye opener. I had never seriously considered myself a candidate for a meatless diet, but reading this book changed my mind. Within three days of finishing the book, I started experimenting with meatless meals, which turned into meatless days, and meatless grocery shopping trips. Now I have not had any meat or meat products in four weeks. I have not had any real cravings or misgivings. I do not feel deprived. I have lost fifteen pounds without trying or thinking about it. Highly recommended.

"A reader from Bristol, Pennsylvania , July 24, 1998 An Excellent Book - Buy it NOW! Finally, we have a book to share with people who can't understand why meat is poison. I've been a vegetarian for 13 years and my 5 year old son has never eaten animal corpses (and he's never been sick!). Mr. Lyman has provided us with some heavy-duty ammo in our quest for good health. Someday, the burger comglomerations will wake up and put some meatless items on their menus (besides salads) for those of us who don't wish to poison themselves. Mr. Lyman's book was an excellent read and I hope there's a follow up. He presents some totally convincing arguments as to why one should NOT consume animals. Buy it now and educate yourself!

" from Northridge, CA , July 19, 1998 Absolutely Stunning!!!!!! I have known Howard for the last few years and all I can say is that Howard Lyman is the greatest educator of informing people about the dangers of eating a meat based diet. I grew up in the mid- west and concur that everything that Howard speaks about in "Mad Cowboy" is the absolute truth about what goes on in the meat industry. My father worked in a packing plant for 34 years. It seems a little strange that the leading killer in America, heart disease, is rarely talked about in the media, except when the pharmaceutical industry introduces more drugs to lower your cholesterol, when the reality of the situation is that if we totally eliminate animal products from our diets, we would'nt need to be toxifing ourselves with unneeded drugs that are bankrupting us morally and financially. Howard's book is the bible to anyone who wants to turn their live around and feel good about themselves. Howard has no vested interest in changing your diet, it's all up to yo! u.

"A reader from Alabama , July 13, 1998 Howard Lyman is telling the truth I too inherited land in the West from my grandparents. I have seen what has happened over the last 50 years. I know personally men who are living what Lyman is writing about. Lyman's book is true. (The abuse of our environment and our land is beyond rape. After all, the victim usually survives a rape. This is more like murder.) This will all come to an end the day the Midwest/West runs out of water, and this day is coming. Our family farm, which used to pump water with a windmill, now can no longer "get water." I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a return to the Dust Bowl, which my father lived through. We need to use sustainable farming. And the practice of making herbivores eat other animals needs to be stopped immediately, until modern science has a better handle on CJ disease. Pesticides, herbicides--nobody knows the results of using these agents over 50 or 100 years. But you can believe Howard Lyman. I wish he would address the concentrated hog feeding issue. This is going to be worse than the (cattle) feedlots. Keep telling the truth, Howard. It's not just Montana. The future of our nation is at stake.

Recent departures from SEAC

BSE Enforcement Bulletin No 30 (January 1999)
"At the end of 1998, six members left the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) for a variety of reasons.

Professor Anne Ferguson, gastroenterologist, who had joined the Committee in February 1998, was forced to resign because of serious illness and unfortunately, has subsequently died.

Professor Fred Brown, virologist and chemist, Dr Richard Kimberlin, consultant on scrapie and related diseases, and Dr William Watson, retired Director of MAFF's Central Veterinary Laboratory, retired at the end of extended terms of membership. They had all served on the Committee since its inception in 1990.

Professor Robert Will, consultant neurologist and Director of the National CJD Surveillance Unit, had also been a member of SEAC since its inception, and had been the Committee's deputy Chairman since 1994. He resigned his appointment due to pressure of work at the Surveillance Unit. Arrangements are in hand to ensure the continued presence of the Unit on the Committee.

Professor Jeffrey Almond, virologist, who had completed a three year term on the Committee, declined to accept an offer of a second three year appointment because he had accepted a new post in France. He considered that his obligations to his new job would not enable him to devote enough time to fulfil the commitments a re-appointment to SEAC would require.

An open competition to recruit new members is currently underway. This follows advertisements in the journal 'Nature' inviting applications from suitably qualified scientists. Applications were requested by 27 November 1998. Appointments will be made in accordance with the code of practice produced by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

There are currently 12 members serving on the Committee. A report to MAFF and Department of Health Ministers published on 15 September 1997 recommended that membership should not normally exceed 15."

Red Cross politics: Elizabeth Dole's PR machine vs. reality

5 Feb 98   By Lorraine Woellert, with Paula Dwyer, in Washington DC
It was vintage Elizabeth Dole. A day before announcing her resignation as president of the American Red Cross, aides leaked word that she was weighing a Presidential bid. Naturally, camera crews and a crowd of cheering employees were on hand as Dole turned her valedictory into a media event. ''We have never been in better financial health,'' she said in her soft North Carolina drawl. ''The Red Cross is solid as a rock.''

It is crucial for Dole, 62, perhaps the Republican Party's best-known woman, to trumpet her experience as head of the $2 billion Red Cross and two Cabinet departments. She has never held elective office, so she needs to establish her bona fides as a top executive before she jumps into the race.

But just how good a manager is she? Political adviser Mari Maseng Will insists that Dole's stint at the Red Cross ''was nothing short of a transformation,'' as she turned a troubled charity in-to a streamlined organization. Part of Dole's magic touch: tapping her connections to pull in $3.4 billion since 1991.

Like any proud executive, Dole stresses the sunny side. Reality is more complex. Since 1993, the Red Cross's blood operation has been under a court order, requested by the Food & Drug Administration, to meet rules assuring the purity of its blood supply. And for all Dole's claims to have restored the Red Cross's bottom line, the charity's finances remain rocky. ''She's wonderful, she's captivating and charming, but she is not a good manager,'' says one top Red Cross exec who resigned over Dole's policies. ''Her focus is almost 100% on image.''

RED INK. Among Dole's proudest accomplishments is her record as a fund-raiser. But since fiscal 1990, the year before Dole joined the charity, public support has increased only 10%. The Red Cross took in $520 million in 1990; seven years later, its collections totaled $572 million and fund-raising costs had climbed by 91%. During the same period, expenses grew faster than income. The charity is in the black overall, but the unit that handles blood collection and distribution will show a $35 million loss in fiscal 1998--red ink for the seventh year in a row. The division has run up a $330 million debt.

One reason for the loss is the costly overhaul that the FDA demanded in 1993 when it found that the Red Cross was not moving fast enough to protect the blood supply from deadly infections such as HIV. Brian McDonough, who oversees the blood unit, credits Dole for making the blood supply safer by consolidating testing centers and upgrading information systems. The unit is on track to break even next year, he says. ''She has been a significant catalyst to move [us] from the Dark Ages of blood banking to the modern age,'' he adds.

But Dole, who declined to comment, moved aggressively and alienated many community blood banks. Their complaint: The Red Cross is so intent on expanding its grip on the blood supply that it has forgotten its charitable mission. Indeed, Dole is pushing to boost market share from the current 47% to 60% by 2002 as a way to increase income and put the division back in the pink.

CAMPAIGN CRONIES. That could eliminate the locals. ''The Red Cross has taken actions that are inconsistent with our organizations' humanitarian mission,'' says Jim MacPherson, head of America's Blood Centers, a group of community blood centers. ''A monopoly of the blood supply is not in the best interest of anyone.''

In late 1997, Dole signed an exclusive contract with V.I. Technologies in Melville, N.Y.--and gave it a $3 million loan interest-free for three years. The Red Cross also agreed to pay V.I. to clean a certain amount of blood. In return, it obtained a market advantage over rival blood banks because it now can offer ultrapure blood--a value-added product that it can sell for about twice the cost of a ''regular'' unit of blood. V.I.'s blood-purifying technology was coveted by not only the Red Cross and community blood banks but also by the military. Early on, V.I. signaled that it would share its knowhow with everyone. So the exclusive Red Cross agreement brought howls of complaints from competitors--and triggered an ongoing Justice Dept. antitrust investigation.

Critics also take aim at Dole's tendency to name major GOP donors to the Red Cross board. Four of the 11 at-large governors gave the maximum allowable to the Bob Dole Presidential campaign; seven board members and their corporations gave nearly $900,000 to Republicans during the 1996 campaign cycle. Among the donors was D. Inez Andreas, wife of Bob Dole chum Dwayne O. Andreas, ex-CEO of Archer Daniels Midland Co. Andreas interests gave more than $3 million to the Red Cross after Dole took the helm and more than $400,000 to the GOP in 1995-96. While a senator, Bob Dole had championed ethanol tax breaks crucial to ADM's profitability.

In 1996, Dole took leave to stump for her husband. On her return, she hired a handful of top advisers from his campaign as consultants. While they worked on specific projects, some received six-figure fees. A KPMG LLP study later warned that consulting fees were running close to half the total payroll of $926 million. Dole also added two former Bob Dole advisers to her personal staff, including Will, the communications chief for the Dole '96 campaign. Meanwhile, the charity laid off more than 100 rank-and-file staff in 1997 to cut costs.

Is Elizabeth Dole more polished pol than hands-on manager? Over the next year, as Dole weighs a run for the GOP nomination, she'll have plenty of opportunities to convince voters that substance will triumph over style in a Dole Presidency. But she may find it hard to lean on her record at the Red Cross.

Renderers flout S.E.A.C. ban on liquid waste dumping on grazing land. MAFF yet to act.

Sat, 6 Feb 1999  Staffordshire correspondent
"Condensate is a liquid waste from the rendering industry ,which contains along with minerals,organic chemicals and protein, most of the water contained in animal wastes flowing from Slaughterhouses,the meat industry. knackers yards and hunt kennels to the rendering industry for processing. As over 50% of the weight of these wastes are water the industry must dispose of millions of tons of condensate each year. By no means all of this is treated to the standardv of Water Companies.It continues to be dumped on pasture despite a ban being recommended by S.E.A.C. at their meeting on 9 November 1998.

The recommendation followed consideration› of a report detailing the presence of ruminant protein in each of a series of samples submitted to leading U.K. laboratories. MAFF reported the ban in a news release on the 30 November 1998, but House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 14 January 1999 reveal that MAFF have yet to advise the rendering industry that such dumping contravenes the Fertilisers (Mammalian Meat and Bone Meal) Regulations 1998.

MAFF also have duties under Article 4 of E.U. Directive 90/667 on Animal Wastes, to ensure that rendering plants have hygeinic waste water disposal systems,but are some what circumspect as the State Veterinary Service endorsed many of the existing arrangements when they gave Ministerial approval to each of the U.K.plants 1993 onwards.

Meanwhile, legal proceedings commenced by U.K. Environmental Regulatory Agencies which aim to apply a uniform regulation across the industry are tied up in proceedural delays.The situation highlights lack of co-ordination between the agricultural and environmental regulatory regimes in the U.K., in this case when interpreting the requirements of a key directive which aims to protect the interests of both the industry and the public."

BSE Inquiry: draft factual accounts

BSE Inquiry site has important summaries by topic of their proceedings.
February 1999 comment deadlines: opportunity to add or correct
Compare a recent journalistic account [Emily Green, NY Times] to what actually happened according the the BSE Inquiry testimony. NY Times version:

"Bee ruled out several possible causes: lead and mercury poisoning, fungal contamination of the feed container, kidney parasites. After six more cows on the farm died, the farm owners agreed to allow another sick animal, No. 142, to be killed so that an autopsy could be performed by the government. The report came in on Sept. 19, 1985. The cow's brain was riddled with spongelike holes, a pathologist at the government's Central Veterinary Laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey, said. Cow 142 had a "spongiform encephalopathy."

"But it took pathologists more than a year to realize that the spongy-brain disorder was a disease in itself, and not the result of something else, such as poisoning."

[Rubbish -- as noted at the time by other reporters, it was was recognized for exactly what it was. An actual scan of the memo written by the veterinarian pathologist is furnished below. Is the supervisor's signature supposed to be a forgery? Ludicrous. The notion that the CVL does not know what scrapie looks like after 2 centuries is equally ludicrous. Moira Bruce later testified that it would have taken her lab a single afternoon to confirm the diagnosis with immunochemistry. But CVL supervisors refused to investigate further and covered it up -- it's that simple. And that tragic: millions of people were unnecessarily exposed to tainted beef. -- webmaster]

Chronological account of the work of CVL in relation to BSE

Examination of a case of BSE:

20.›››› On 10 September 1985 specimens from a cow owned by Mr Stent of Pitsham Farm were referred to the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL) by Mr Watkin-Jones at the Winchester VIC for histopathological examination.(18) This was the fourth Stent cow to be referred to the CVL. Referrals from the VICs were dealt with on a rota system by the CPU.

21.›››› Ms Richardson examined the sections on 13 September 1985.(19) The history of the Stent cases was that seven out of a herd of 130 cows had been showing nervous symptoms over the previous five months; most had gone for casualty slaughter and no gross abnormality had been seen in the viscera.(20) The Pathology Department had examined pieces of liver, kidney, heart and lung from three previous cases (2 adults and 1 calf) from this farm.(21) Among the samples from the three cattle they had found chronic mild hepatitis, acute hepatic necrosis, moderate pulmonary oedema and chronic mild interstitial nephritis. Ms Richardson described her examination of the sections in the following terms:

I examined the frontal cerebrum first and progressed caudally scanning each section from dorsal to ventral surface. In this case there seemed to be a mild vacuolation of the cerebral neuropil. At this time Gerald Wells had been investigating the possibility that prolonged exposure of nervous tissue to 70% alcohol could produce neuropil vacuolation. Such prolonged exposure would occur over the week-end but I checked with the technician to ensure that such exposure had not occurred in this case before resuming my examination. I noted finding a mild multifocal non-suppurative peri-vascular infiltration with some eosinophils and in the caudal cerebrum mild focal gliosis. No abnormality was found in the thalamus (cranial midbrain) but mild neuropil vacuolation of the reticular formation in the colliculi. The medulla (a pathognomic site for scrapie in sheep) showed moderate neuronal and neuropil vacuolation. I found no abnormality in the cerebellum but the section of lumbar spinal cord showed mild neuropil vacuolation of the dorsal horns. There were two types of lesion in the section of kidney; a chronic mild /moderate non-suppurative interstitial reaction with tubular regeneration and fibrosis; a peracute reaction of a mild multifocal tubular necrosis with hydropic change (protein reabsorption). š Although I had never seen this type of lesion before in a cow I had frequently seen the combination of neuronal and neuropil vacuolation with this distribution in scrapie. To me, this was scrapie in a cow.(22)

Conflict of Evidence

22.›››› Ms Richardson said that she sought Dr Martin Jeffrey's opinion before writing the report. She explained how she left the slides and a request for a re-examination on Dr Jeffrey's unattended work-bench and when she returned she found a note that said 'bovine scrapie'.(23) On her way out of Dr Jeffrey's room Ms Richardson said that she met Dr Jeffrey who said to her that Gerald Wells had examined two cases and was expecting another two.(24) Dr Jeffrey does not remember this discussion.(25)

23.›››› The report was sent to Mr Watkin-Jones on 19 September 1985.(26) Ms Richardson's diagnosis was 'Moderate spongiform encephalopathy - acute' and 'Mild renal nephrosis - peracute'. In the section of the pathology report for remarks she wrote: 'These acute changes suggest a toxicity of some description. The non-suppurative reactions are far more chronic, mild and non specific.' Ms Richardson asked a technician to cross-reference the case with the two cases that Mr Wells had seen.(27) She recalled the technician telling her that Mr Wells had not reported any cases.(28) Ms Richardson said she heard nothing further about the case. When Mr Watkin-Jones forwarded the report to Mr David Bee, Mr Stent's vet, he wrote:

I enclose a histological report carried out by my colleague Carol Richardson. I have discussed her findings with her at some length and she comments that the pathological changes found would be consistent with bacterial toxin.(29)

24.›››› Ms Richardson did not remember having a conversation about the case with Mr Watkin-Jones.(30)

25.›››› Mr Wells re-examined the case at Ms Richardson's request.(31) His re-examination of the sections was generally consistent with Ms Richardson's original diagnosis in that he agreed with her overall observations and that the observations on the sections were not artefactual i.e. caused as a result of post-mortem changes or in the preparation of sections. Mr Wells concluded that this was not a case of a specific disease but could possibly be the result of chronic bacteraemia or endotoxaemia.(32) Ms Richardson said in her evidence to the BSE Inquiry that she would not have agreed with this assessment: bacteraemia would be 'either the production of bacterial toxins within the bacteria that we call endotoxins or actual production of toxins, exotoxins' and the clinical signs were not similar.(33)

26.›››› Mr Wells reviewed the cases from Stent Farm following a telephone conversation with Mr Watkin-Jones on 26 September 1985.(34) None of the samples for the three earlier cases included brain tissue and the main post-mortem finding in these cases was internal bleeding. Mr Wells said in his statement to the BSE Inquiry that in the light of the history of the Stent herd, which indicated the occurrence of complex metabolic problems, the September case did not suggest that a new disease had been identified, though with hindsight, this was the case.(35) He believed that the fact that seven out of 130 cows were nervous, did not equate necessarily to the occurrence of a specific neurological disorder.

27.›››› In his statement to the BSE Inquiry Mr Wells noted: "Had Carol Richardson felt strongly that the observations she originally made were those of scrapie in cattle, I would have expected that she should have come back to me to discuss the matter subsequently or take the matter further herself."(36)


28.›››› On 28 June 1986 Dr Jeffrey examined tissue sections taken from the brain of a nyala which had been kept at Marwell Zoo.(37) The nyala had shown unusual nervous symptoms two weeks prior to being put down on welfare grounds. These symptoms included 'weaving with the head and neck, holding the head on its side and frequent nibbling near the tailbone.'(38) The sections were originally necropsied by Mr Geoff Holmes at the Winchester VIC.(39) The nyala (tragelaphus angasi) is not an antelope but belongs to the same family (species group) as cattle.

29.›››› Dr Jeffrey observed that the brain showed taxonomic lesions of spongiform encephalopathy and that the similarity of the lesions to natural sheep scrapie was striking, and indeed he thought that in comparison to natural sheep scrapie the lesions were particularly florid.(40) The sites (neuroanatomical location) and cellular location (grey matter neuropil and neuronal cytoplasmic vacuolation) were distinctive and characteristic of the TSEs. Dr Jeffrey sent a slide of the nyala brain to Dr Richard Kimberlin at the NPU in the latter quarter of 1986 who 'vividly recollect[ed] seeing the results down the microscope because the pathology was so striking'.(41)

Ministers unveil recipe for food safety watchdog

Wed, Jan 27, 1999  By Eileen Murphy, Consumer Affairs Correspondent, PA News
Plans for Britain's first independent food safety watchdog will finally take shape today as draft legislation for the Food Standards Agency is published amid on-going argument about its funding and powers. The idea of establishing a Food Standards Agency (FSA) emerged in the aftermath of a series of damaging food safety crises including salmonella in eggs, the Scottish E.coli outbreak and the BSE outbreak.

The new agency, the details for which will be revealed in a draft Bill by Agriculture Minister Nick Brown and Health Secretary Frank Dobson, faces a huge task bringing together the work of various Government departments on food safety, hygiene, labelling, genetically-modified foods and nutrition. The agency, which was a Labour manifesto pledge, has had a rough ride so far with lack of Parliamentary time and a row with the food industry over funding its work among the main obstacles it has faced.

There is likely to be a new battle over whether or not the FSA should reach back beyond the farm gate and have powers to intervene and act if it believes food safety is being compromised on farms. Currently this is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), but critics claim that its alleged failure to act early in the BSE crisis proves that the new agency must have powers to act on behalf of public health.

Jeanette Longfield of the National Food Alliance, an umbrella group of more than 90 food campaign organisations, said that the FSA must not be "pushed around" by the Ministry of Agriculture.

She said: "Obviously we realise that the FSA faces a massive task and can't do everything, but if they are going to leave farms in the care of MAFF the agency must have very chunky powers to rap them very hard if they are not behaving themselves. "These powers must be sufficiently robust. The early days of the agency are going to be absolutely crucial, including who is going to be on its governing body. "It is going to have to show that it is not going to be pushed about by MAFF or be on the bottom of the Department of Health's in-tray because they are busy with waiting lists."

The NFA predicts that one of the first jobs facing the FSA will be ensuring that any recommendations resulting from the BSE inquiry, which is due to report back this summer, are properly implemented. The agency is also likely find itself embroiled in the on going debate concerning the introduction of genetically-modified `Frankenstein foods'.

Nick Brown and Prime Minister Tony Blair have always remained loyal to the concept of a FSA, backing claims from consumer groups and the food industry itself that a fully independent body is the only practical way of trying to minimise bureaucracy and tackle any future risks to public health. Today the draft Bill will be put out to consultation almost a year after former Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham announced plans for the FSA.

It is expected that the proposals will include plans for an annual levy of 100pounds a year on all food premises such as shops and restaurants to fund the 100 million annual costs of the agency. This will help provide for a team of food inspectors, research projects and public information programmes on hygiene and nutrition. But food industry bodies such as the Food and Drink Federation argue that such costs will only be passed on to consumers.

A spokeswoman said that although they welcomed the draft Bill, the proposed levy would be costly to collect from around 600,000 businesses and added: "The costs would have to be passed on to the consumer and this would affect people on low incomes." Liberal Democrats warned the Government against compelling farmers to bear the costs of funding the Food Standards Agency. They said that this would lead to "a regressive food tax" foisted upon consumers via the supermarkets.

Charles Kennedy, the party's spokesman on agriculture and rural affairs, said: "We welcome the fact that long overdue parliamentary progress is now to be made towards the setting up of a Food Standards Agency. "We believe that the Agency should be funded by the Government. It would be unacceptable for the farming community to bear any additional costs. "Equally, consumers must not have a regressive food tax foisted upon them via the supermarkets."

He added: "Had our recommendations on these matters been listened to years ago, then some of the recent huge setbacks could have been avoided." Paul Tyler, the Liberal Democrats' food spokesman, commented: "There is now no excuse for further delay, or further dilution of the agency's role, whatever the multinational food-processing giants say. "Both producers and consumers have an interest in reining in the over-mighty middlemen. "And since the whole objective of the Agency is to restore public confidence and protect public health, it is right that it should be funded by Government," Mr Tyler added.

Mr Brown said the FSA's start-up costs and some of the running costs would be met by a 90 a year levy on every food outlet. Asked why a corner shop should pay the same as a branch of a supermarket chain, he said: "Because the level of risk could be the same." The money would be collected by local councils and part of it would go towards boosting local authority environmental health departments, he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

The FSA would report to the Department of Health, transferring responsibility for food safety away from the Ministry of Agriculture, he said. "In any event, the agency can put its proposals in the public domain, which is a very powerful weapon." He hoped the Bill establishing the agency would be passed by the Commons by the summer.

Today's draft Bill published would be followed by an eight-week consultation period, which would include scrutiny by a special Commons select committee. "We would then move to second reading if parliamentary time becomes available after Easter, and have completed Commons consideration of the Bill we hope by the end of the summer." But completion depended on the passage of other Bills, he said.

Tim Lang, Professor of Food Safety at Thames Valley University, warned that on its own the FSA could achieve little. "There's no point having an agency making recommendations unless they are implemented," he told the programme.

Official Accused in Blood Scandal

Wed, Feb 3, 1999 By NICOLAS MARMIE  Associated Press Writer
[The US and Canada have just approved injection of blood products from a known CJD donor 
-- will CDC officials face similar homicide charges someday? --webmaster]
PARIS -- A week before three former ministers go on trial for their roles in an AIDS-tainted blood scandal, the parents of a young woman who died of AIDS have filed a complaint against a fourth former official, judicial sources said Wednesday. The complaint, also brought by an association representing victims of tainted blood transfusions, charges former Health Minister Claude Evin with non-assistance to a person in danger, concealing crimes and hindering the judicial process, said the sources on condition of anonymity.

Evin, health minister from 1988 to 1991 under Prime Minister Michel Rocard, allegedly failed to contact all those who risked AIDS contamination from tainted blood transfusions. The victims were not alerted to the danger until 1993. He is also alleged to have proposed compensating victims in order to dissuade them from filing charges.

Evin countered the allegations, saying, "There was no hindrance of justice." "It seemed much more effective to educate doctors," about the dangers of AIDS-tainted blood than to send out a warning to all those who had had blood transfusions, Evin said on French radio.

The three ministers whose trial starts Tuesday are charged with involuntary homicide in connection with the deaths of seven people who received blood contaminated with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Some 1,000 hemophiliacs were infected by the virus through transfusions. About half of them are known to have died. Those set to stand trial are: former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, former Health Minister Edmond Herve and Georgina Dufoix, former Social Affairs Minister. All served from 1984-86 in the Socialist government during the presidency of Francois Mitterrand.

The trial is the culmination of a six-year saga that shook France's public health system. It will be held before a special Court of Justice of the Republic that judges officials for crimes in office. It will be the first time it sits to judge ministers. The complaint against Evin must be studied by a special commission of the special court to see whether it would be admissible.

France-Tainted Blood

AP US & World Feb 4, 1999
PARIS -- More than 80 percent of French citizens polled see nothing wrong with putting a former prime minister and two Cabinet ministers on trial for their roles in an AIDS-tainted blood scandal, a poll published Thursday said. The trial, which starts Tuesday, will be the first time former ministers appear before the Court of Justice of the Republic, which tries government officials.

Those set to stand trial are: former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, former Health Minister Edmond Herve and Georgina Dufoix, former Social Affairs Minister. All served from 1984-86 in the Socialist government during the presidency of Francois Mitterrand. The three are charged with involuntary homicide in the deaths of seven people who received blood contaminated with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

The prosecution contends the ministers kept a U.S.-made AIDS test off the French market while the France-based Pasteur Institute was perfecting its own test and knowingly provided hemophiliacs with blood products tainted with AIDS. If convicted, the three face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $130,000 in fines.

In the poll by the IFOP firm, published in the daily France-Soir, 84 percent of those question found it "normal" that politicians can be pursued for possible crimes in office. It found that 63 percent of those polled thought it justifiable to try officials before a special court. But it also showed that only 56 percent thought the trial will allow the nation to better understand the events at the time that led to the scandal. The polling firm questioned 802 people 18 years of age and older. A margin of error was not made available but would be plus or minus two percent with a sampling of that size.

French ministers face trial over tainted blood scandal

February 7, 1999 By CLAIRE ROSEMBERG Reuters PARIS - An emotionally charged trial focused on blood and politics opens Tuesday when a former premier and two of his ministers appear before a special court facing manslaughter charges over AIDS-tainted blood transfusions. A full 14 years after the fact, Socialist ex-prime minister Laurent Fabius and his then-social affairs and health ministers, Georgina Dufoix and Edmond Herve, will step into the dock to answer for the contamination of 3,846 people given the transfusions.

The affair took place in 1984 and 1985, a controversial era in the history of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which had only just been discovered and remained uncharted ground for much of the world's medical profession. Fabius, then France's youngest premier and the great political hope of the country's left, is accused of conspiring to delay the introduction of a U.S. test screening donors' blood for the AIDS virus, to give French scientists time to develop their own commercially lucrative test.

Some 600 people given the poisonous blood have since died; hundreds of others are under treatment. The victims claim that swift government action in screening blood donors and blood donations would have saved lives and avoided years of torment and tragedy. Now 52 and speaker of the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, Fabius' political aura has dimmed over the past decade due to the scandal, and his future hangs in the balance in the trial, which is due to last three to four weeks.

He and his two former aides face three to five years jail if convicted by the Court of Justice of the Republic, a court composed of 12 parliamentarians and three professional judges specifically set up to try politicians for crimes committed during their tenure, and which is sitting for the first time ever.

According to the prosecution case, though AIDS experts in late 1984 still remained divided over whether or not AIDS-carriers would automatically contract the deadly disease, it had been clearly established worldwide that the virus, HIV, was transmitted through the blood. In December 1984, hospital tests showed that in the Paris region alone 50 people per week were being contaminated after receiving AIDS-tainted transfusions.

Yet according to notes among the 70,000 items of evidence produced by the prosecution, ministry officials, blood bank managers and government advisors gathered at a crucial meeting on May 9, 1985, decided to withhold authorization to use the U.S. Abbott laboratory blood screening test.

At the time, France's prestigious Pasteur Institute -- whose Luc Montagnier, discoverer of the HIV virus, was battling rival claims of discovery by U.S. researcher Bob Gallo -- was busy putting the finishing touches to its own blood screening test. But there were hitches with the French test at Pasteur, doubts about the reliability of the Abbott test, continuing scientific queries over the gravity of AIDS itself, dissension within the gay community which at the time was most vulnerable to AIDS, and squabbling over how to finance the testing.

So French officials postponed a decision to impose screening for blood donors or donations until Fabius on June 19, 1985, following criticism in the press, announced in Paris the compulsory testing screening of blood products. A further six weeks went by before screening began on August 1, 1985.

Fabius, attacked from some quarters at the time for spending public monies on "gay cancer", has said he was never informed by his aides of the danger and that France was one of the world's first five countries to impose tests on blood products. "Not only am I innocent but I saved hundreds of lives," he wrote in a book in 1995.

Dufoix, once the female darling of the French government, retired from public life after the blood transfusion scandal broke in 1990 and has turned to God and the Pentecostalist church for help. "I am responsible but not guilty," she said.

She and Herve, however, face additional charges for also failing to ban homosexuals, drug-users and convicts from donating blood and for failing to introduce blood-warming techniques known at the time to eradicate the HIV virus.

"The victims want the truth," said Edmond-Luc Henry, who heads an association of hemophiliacs and is one of the 1,300 hemophiliacs contaminated by tainted blood. "My message to the three ministers is -- recognize your guilt in favoring business over public health."

Four health and blood-bank officials have already been tried and sentenced in the scandal, including Michel Garretta, former head of the National Blood Transfusion Service, and one of his deputies, Jean-Pierre Allain. They were convicted for "fraudulent description of goods" but now face a new trial, possibly involving charges of poisoning against a total 32 people.

France's AIDS-tainted blood scandal goes back years

Reuters North America Sun, Feb 7, 1999   
PARIS - Years of legal manoeuvring have preceded the trial opening in Paris on Tuesday of three former cabinet ministers on manslaughter charges in connection with the death or illness of thousands of people from AIDS-tainted blood. Here is a chronology of major developments in the scandal:

-- 1981: U.S. researchers report on a deadly new ailment, later dubbed Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, that appears to destroy the body's disease-fighting immune system.

-- 1983: Researchers isolate the virus responsible for AIDS.

-- July 1984: First death in France attributed to AIDS.

-- November 1984: Dr Jean-Francois Brunet reports to the consultative commission on blood transfusions that heat-treating the blood products widely used by haemophiliacs destroys any contamination by the AIDS virus. France counts 221 cases of AIDS including three who have received blood transfusions and two haemophiliacs treated with blood products.

-- March 1985: U.S. drugmaker Abbott Laboratories says it is prepared to immediately begin screening donated blood in France for AIDS with a newly developed test. Test is not approved in France until July 1985.

-- April 1985: World Health Organisation recommends routine blood screening.

-- June 1985: Government approves rival screening test developed by France's own Pasteur Institute.

-- July 1985: France orders screening of all donated blood for AIDS, continues to reimburse haemophiliacs for the cost of blood products that are not heat-treated.

-- October 1985: France stops reimbursements for blood products that are not heat-treated.

-- May 1988: First judicial inquiry is opened into whether laws were broken in connection with the distribution of AIDS-tainted blood and blood products.

-- October 1992: Four senior public health officials are convicted of fraud and given prison sentences of up to four years in connection with the scandal.

-- April 1993: Parliamentary High Court rejects bringing charges against former Prime Minister Laurnet Fabius and former health ministers Edmond Herve and Georgina Dufoix. France's Council of State administrative court finds government responsible for AIDS infections transmitted via contaminated blood transfusions and blood products between November 1984 and October 1985.

-- November 1993: Constitutional reform results in creation of new Court of Justice of the Republic, set up to judge cabinet members accused of crimes committed in conduct of their official duties. With the AIDS-tainted blood scandal in mind, officials say new court will correct any impression that members of government are above the law.

-- September 1994: New court's investigative arm places the three ministers formally under investigation on suspicion of "complicity in poisoning."

-- July 1998: Court's investigative arm rejects "poisoning" charge but asks the court to try the three ministers on manslaughter charges.

New court to try French blood scandal case

Reuters World Report Sun, Feb 7, 1999
PARIS - A new French tribunal makes its debut this week when the Court of Justice of the Republic hears its first case, involving three former cabinet members accused of complicity in a scandal over AIDS-tainted blood. Though created in 1993, the court has never sat before as its sole role is to judge government ministers accused of wrongdoing in the conduct of their official duties.

In the trial opening on Tuesday, former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and one-time health ministers Georgina Dufoix and Edmond Herve are accused of manslaughter in connection with the state's management of its blood banking system in the mid-1980s. Despite mounting evidence that AIDS was transmitted via blood transfusions and the availability of a U.S.-made screening test, officials put off screening donated blood for several months until a French-made test became available.

French officials also kept distributing stocks of blood products to haemophiliacs despite information the stocks were probably contaminated with the AIDS virus, even after a new generation of heat-treated products came on the market that eliminated the risk of AIDS transmission.

The three ministers, all Socialists, will face a panel of 15 judges: three professional magistrates and a dozen members of parliament. Of the MPs, six are senators and six are members of the National Assembly. Because of the right's strong majority in the Senate, seven of the parliamentarians are rightists while five are leftists. During the trial, expected to last three to four weeks, the court, which has no official home of its own, will be meeting in a conference centre maintained by the Foreign Ministry. Presiding will be Christian Le Gunehec, former president of the French Supreme Court's criminal chamber.

A simple majority of the 15 judges is required to reach a verdict. While the court's rulings cannot be appealed, differences over points of law can be appealed to the Supreme Court. Officials said at the time the court was set up as part of a 1993 constitutional reform that it would correct any impression that cabinet officers were above the law. With the blood scandal in mind, the new court was specifically empowered to try cases that arose before its creation.

Before the reform, the only way ministers or former ministers could be tried was for both houses of parliament to convene a parliamentary High Court.

The three ministers accused in French AIDS scandal

Reuters North America Mon, Feb 8, 1999
PARIS - France's former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and two other ex-cabinet ministers go on trial on Tuesday on manslaughter charges stemming from the infection of thousands of people with AIDS-tainted blood in the 1980s. Fabius and ex-health ministers Edmond Herve and Georgina Dufoix are accused of negligence in regulating blood supplies as evidence piled up that AIDS could be spread by transfusions and the blood products hemophiliacs use to control bleeding.

At least 3,600 people were infected with the AIDS virus during 1984-85 as a result of the scandal and at least a thousand of these have since died, according to the AFT association of transfusion recipients.

Here is a guide to the accused ministers:

-- Laurent Fabius: Once considered one of France's best and brightest young politicians, the Socialist Fabius, 52, used to dream of the presidency but has seen his ambitions thwarted by the blood scandal. He was France's youngest prime minister when he took office in 1984 under the late President Francois Mitterrand. Two years later, the right won power and Fabius lost the job. Speaker of the National Assembly since June 1997, he has taken a leave from his parliamentary duties for the trial, which is expected to last three to four weeks.

In December 1992, when the Senate requested an investigation of Dufoix and Herve, Fabius demanded that he also be probed. Accused by victims of delaying routine screening of blood donations for the AIDS virus until a French-made test was ready for use, he insists he was unaware of the controversy.

--Georgina Dufoix: A member of the Socialist government from 1981 until 1986, she served as health and social affairs minister during 1984-86. She left politics five years ago and recently told an interviewer she had "found Jesus Christ" in 1988. Dufoix, who will turn 56 during the trial, said when implicated in the scandal that she fully assumed responsibility for having been part of "the long chain of men and women who underestimated this risk" of spreading AIDS via donated blood. "For that reason, I do not feel guilty," she said.

She headed the French Red Cross between 1989 and 1992 but was forced to leave after an uproar over her intervention with French authorities to let radical Palestinian guerrilla leader George Habash enter France for medical treatment.

-- Edmond Herve: The 56-year-old Socialist was secretary of state for health between 1984 and 1986 when the French bureaucracy so seriously underestimated the AIDS virus. He had earlier served as health minister in 1981 and remains a member of parliament and mayor of the western city of Rennes. A quiet man with a reputation as a workaholic, Herve was said by friends to have suffered deeply after becoming embroiled in the AIDS blood scandal.

He says the charges against him "respect neither the truth nor the law." In July 1993 he made a public appearance in Rennes to deny he had committed suicide or was contemplating it. "I have had the luck to be able to count on my family, my wife and my friends," he told reporters.

Blood scandal trio in Paris trial

8 Feb 98 L.Times by ADAM SAGE IN PARIS
LAURENT FABIUS, the former French Prime Minister, and two members of his Cabinet will be tried today for manslaughter for their role in the contaminated blood scandal that spread Aids to more than 4,000 people.

The case comes 15 years after haemophiliacs in France were allegedly infected because of the criminal negligence of M Fabius and the two former Health Ministers, Georgina Dufoix and Edmond Herv». The defendants, who face up to five years in prison if found guilty, stand as representatives of a French elite that will itself be on trial throughout the four-week hearing before the specially constituted Court of Justice of the Republic.

"In this country, where politics is at its lowest ebb, we must try the politicians," Laurent Joffrin, Editor of the newspaper Lib»ration, said yesterday. "It is their only chance to prove themselves innocent: it is their only chance to regain public confidence."

Victims say that the three eminent Socialists displayed the haughty nationalism that has brought the ruling Gallic caste into disrepute when they ignored warnings about the emerging Aids epidemic.

The prosecution says that in 1985 they had ultimate responsibility for a blood transfusion service that continued to seek donors in high-risk groups in prisons and red-light districts. Critics claim that the ministers refused to order officials to verify and sterilise blood products known to be at risk of contamination.

Le Monde newspaper said that they were suffering from a national delusion that Gallic blood was inherently pure. As a result, France has recorded 13 times more Aids cases among hospital patients than Britain and six times more than Germany. Of the 4,333 people who contracted Aids from contaminated blood, more than 1,000 have died.

M Fabius, 52, and the two former Health Ministers are accused of intervening to delay authorisation for an American-made HIV screening test that would have separated clean from contaminated blood. Prosecutors said that the three held up the process for several months to give the Pasteur Institute time to market its own test.

Mme Dufoix, 55, and M Herv», 56, are also accused of failing to stop the distribution to haemophiliacs and hospitals of contaminated blood and of failing to inform patients of the risks taken.

The defendants say that they reacted as soon as officials alerted them to the dangers, and point out that France began screening blood products before many other countries, including Britain. They deny all the charges. The case is based on actions brought by seven victims, five of whom have since died and all of whom were given contaminated blood between April and September 1985. The hearing follows the 1992 trial of four senior public health officials who were given prison sentences after being found guilty of fraud in connection with the scandal.

Widespread public revulsion at the absence from the defendants' box of M Fabius and his ministers forced the authorities to set up the Court of Justice of the Republic to hear the sequel to the case seven years ago. The court is made up of three magistrates and 12 MPs.

French officials on trial over HIV-tainted blood transfusions

February 9, 1999  Associated Press By ELAINE GANLEY 
PARIS - A former French prime minister appeared in court Tuesday as a trial began involving three ex-ministers linked to the use of AIDS-tainted blood in transfusions. The somber-looking former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, current speaker of parliament, entered the courtroom accompanied by his lawyers.

Fabius, former Health Minister Edmond Herve and former Social Affairs Minister Georgina Dufoix were all to appear before the special court, the first time since World War II that government ministers were being tried for their official acts. All three are charged with employing a "strategy of favoritism" that delayed systematic testing for AIDS with an American-made test until a French test was ready.

Nearly 4,000 people in France contracted AIDS from transfusions in the early 1980s. An experts' report in 1991 showed that about 300 contaminations were "avoidable." The three are accused in the deaths of five people from AIDS and the infection of two others in 1985. Before the trial began, representatives of people who have contracted AIDS from transfusions gathered outside the courtroom.

"The rules of the trial are completely unfair," said Olivier Duplessis, president of the French Association of Transfusion Victims, who complained that families of victims could not take part in the proceedings. Four health officials already have been convicted in previous trials, but the trial starting Tuesday is the first time courts will judge the accountability of top government officials. Three judges and 12 legislators are sitting in judgment of the ministers in the trial expected to last at least three weeks. The three all served under Socialist President Francois Mitterrand from 1984-86, when AIDS was surfacing as a modern-day plague.

The American test, manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, was available in March 1985. But it was not until Aug. 1, 1985 that systematic testing of blood donors went into effect in France - on Fabius' orders - using a French test by Diagnostics Pasteur. The defendants say they never knowingly approved the use of contaminated blood products in transfusions. "In my soul and conscience, in the deepest part of my being and before God, I do not feel guilty," Dufoix has said.

The ex-ministers are accused of involuntary homicide and "attacking the physical integrity of others." They face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $90,000 on the first count, and up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $55,000 on the second. Dufoix and Herve are accused of a delay in making available imported and costly heated blood products, cleansed of the virus, instead of allowing non-heated blood with "100 percent contamination" to circulate. Heating blood products to deactivate the virus was practiced in Germany and the United States by 1983.

The extent of the scandal was revealed in a government-ordered report released in September 1991 that showed ranking health officials knowingly allowed tainted blood products to be used in transfusions. Last year, the special court's investigative commission concluded authorities were aware of potential contamination of blood products by early 1985, "sufficient time for a rapid reaction."

Beef-on-bone ban to stay

Wed, Feb 3, 1999 By Gavin Cordon, Whitehall Editor, PA News
The controversial beef-on-the-bone ban is to remain in place for another six months, it emerged tonight. Agriculture Minister Nick Brown will announce the decision tomorrow following advice from the Government's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Liam Donaldson.

The move will come as a bitter blow to cattle farmers and butchers who had been hoping that the appointment of Mr Brown last summer would hasten the lifting of the ban, introduced by his predecessor, Dr Jack Cunningham. However Mr Brown will say that, according to the latest scientific advice received by the Government, it is still not safe to lift the ban even though the risk of BSE contamination has diminished.

Tory agriculture minister Tim Yeo said the decision was "disappointing". He told ITN: "The Government must listen to the scientific advice but in this case the risk to consumers of eating beef-on-the-bone is so small as to be scarcely measurable. "What we say is that consumers should decide for themselves whether they want to run that risk."

Food agency fee may be revised

February 4 1999 BY JILL SHERMAN, chief political correspondent
THE Prime Minister hinted yesterday at a climbdown over the Government's proposal to impose a £90 flat-rate levy for village shops and supermarkets to fund the food standards agency.

Last week the Government announced that the proposed agency would cost £29 million and made clear that it favoured a flat-rate levy, irrespective of the size of the business. Ministers argued that it would be easier to collect and cheaper to administer and Tony Blair even pointed out that the £1.73 weekly charge cost less than "a Big Mac".

But the plan provoked an outcry among small businesses and rural shopkeepers who complained that the proposals were unfair and that retailers should not pay the Government to do its work. Yesterday Mr Blair prompted cries of a "U-turn" when he signalled that he was prepared to reconsider the idea.

Challenged in the Commons over whether it was right to levy the same food tax on a small corner shop as a superstore, Mr Blair emphasised that the issue was out for "genuine consultation" and suggested that the levy could be set at different rates. "The question then is, is it best to do it by flat-rate charge across or is it better to graduate it?" said Mr Blair at Prime Minister's question time.

The issue would be considered by consultation, he said. "The reason we put it forward originally was that it was much more easy to administer than a graduated charge." Later a Downing Street spokesman again emphasised the need to look at all the possibilities and decide the best way forward.

The latest conciliatory tone is at odds with comments made by Jeff Rooker, the Food Standards Minister, on Tuesday when he underlined the need for a flat-rate levy, emphasising that a graduated fee would involve too much red tape with each firm having to submit complex returns on the size and turnover of business.

France reports one new case of mad cow disease

Reuters World Report Mon, Feb 8, 1999
PARIS - One new case of mad cow disease has been discovered in France, bringing to five the number of cattle found suffering from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the country this year, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday.

The case was the 54th to be detetected in France since health authorities began tracking the disease inn 1990, it said in a statement. The animal was born in February 1994 in the Ille-et-Villaine region in Britanny and was part of a herd of 85 cattle destroyed at the end of last week. France has a national livestock total of 21 million. Comment (Maurizio Ottaviani): The recent news are cause of concern. There were 15 case in 1998 and a total of 34 for all the previous years. This suggests an exponential growth given approximately by the formula

N(n) = 15 * (49/34)^{n-1998}, where N(n) is the number of cases in year n.

If this trend continues we can expect an average of 22 cases in 1999, with a (rounded) standard deviation of 5. The previous formula sets the year zero of the epidemics in France in 1991, which is approximately the right time (when the first case was detected.)

NZ Scientists Plan to Put Human Genes in Cows

 COMTEX Newswire Mon, Feb 8, 1999
WELLINGTON - New Zealand scientists plan to put human genes into dairy cattle to make cow milk more like human breast milk. Local media reported Monday that details of the plan of New Zealand crown research institute AgResearch are outlined in an application to the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA). The scientists plan to conduct their field test at the Ruakura Research Center in Hamilton, a city on North Island.

A summary of the AgResearch application to ERMA said the Ruakura Research Center has initiated a major program "to produce and field-test, in containment, genetically modified dairy cattle that will produce milk of altered and improved composition". The summary said a containment facility for the cattle has already been built and is enclosed with 2-meter perimeter fences.

According to the plan, three genetic modifications will occur, each resulting in transgenes being expressed in the animals' milk. Two of the modifications are designed to alter the protein content and composition of the milk. Those cattle carrying a "myelin basic protein" transgene will secrete it in their milk. It can be purified and used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The scientists also believe that if cow milk is more like human breast milk, it will be more palatable to consumers.

Inspectors await overdue invitation

By Eileen Murphy, Consumer Affairs Correspondent, PA News Tue, Feb 2, 1999
European inspectors are still awaiting a formal invitation to visit UK slaughterhouses to carry out final checks before exports of British beef can resume -- almost three months after they agreed to lift the ban -- it was revealed today.

As farmers' leaders gathered together in London to discuss the future of agriculture at the National Farmers Union's annual conference, European Commissioner Franz Fischler told them that his staff were still waiting for progress to be made on lifting the ban. Although the EU member states agreed to lift the worldwide ban on British beef exports last November, following its imposition in the wake of the BSE-crisis, they stressed that exports would not resume unless inspections were carried out by European agriculture staff.

Speaking at the conference, Commissioner Fischler said: "The procedure is the following -- it is up to the British Government to invite the inspection or inspectors and then they will come immediately and, depending on the results of the inspection, the final date will be fixed." The Ministry of Agriculture said it had not yet issued a formal invitation because work was still being carried out to ensure all aspects of the identification and traceability schemes for cattle agreed by Europe were fully operational.

A ministry spokesman said: "There are still things to be done at this end before the Government is in a position to invite them over. We are working hand-in-hand with the beef industry to get them done but there are IT issues and things like that which need to be in place. "Things can't be done overnight. We are looking at being ready towards the end of March."

But Tim Yeo, Shadow Agriculture Minister, said that he was amazed by the news that an invite had not been issued. Speaking after a meeting with Commissioner Fischler he said: "This morning I met with him to raise some of the key concerns facing British agriculture. "Our primary concern was the slow progress on the lifting of the beef export ban. I was amazed to learn from Commissioner Fischler that the Government hasn't yet invited the Commission to come and inspect our slaughter facilities and anti-BSE measures at work. "Nick Brown must state why this invitation has not been issued and when he does intend to allow the Commission to come to Britain to make the necessary checks."

Even when exports do finally resume only boneless beef from cattle aged between six and 30-months-old and born after August 1996 will be allowed into Europe. Commissioner Fischler said that new EU-wide labelling laws which would come into force next year would make exports more traceable and added that this would provide British beef with a good opportunity to regain its markets but stressed that European consumer confidence "remained shaky".

Addressing the imminent reform of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy he said reform should be bold enough to ensure a healthy future for European agriculture, despite a downturn in worldwide agricultural prices. "The cause for bold reform is thus stronger rather than weaker", Mr Fischler said and added that changes to CAP could result in consumers saving 1.2 billion a year on food prices by the year 2005. Agriculture ministers from all 15 member states will meet later this month for final negotiations on reform.

The CAP currently costs the European Union 30 billion -- more than half its annual budget -- and has come under increased criticism for encouraging farmers to produce surpluses by guaranteeing prices under subsidy. Food safety minister Jeff Rooker had earlier refused to give farmers' leaders any definitive timetable for the removal of the remaining beef-on-the-bone ban.

Mr Rooker said that was still "a degree of uncertainty" concerning the small risk of BSE-infection. Agriculture Minister Nick Brown will address the conference tomorrow and is likely to be questioned about moves towards lifting the ban which was introduced in December 1997.

Mad Cow Home ... Best Links ... Search this site