Document Directory

09 Dec 00 - CJD - Professor is cleared over CJD remark
09 Dec 00 - CJD - Ukraine Records 2 Mad Cow Cases
08 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow panic of water buffalo
08 Dec 00 - CJD - Swedes Snub Imported Beef As Mad Cow Scare Spreads
08 Dec 00 - CJD - Northern Ireland beef market 'will recover'
08 Dec 00 - CJD - Home help for BSE study
08 Dec 00 - CJD - Leaders reject extra financial aid for farmers hit by BSE
07 Dec 00 - CJD - Definitive list of EU BSE measures
07 Dec 00 - CJD - First BSE deaths in Ukraine
07 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE fears put New Forest ponies on menu
07 Dec 00 - CJD - EU admits BSE test is to increase confidence, not safety
07 Dec 00 - CJD - Spain Confirms Second Case of Mad Cow Disease
06 Dec 00 - CJD - EU beef pledge based on 'flawed' BSE test
06 Dec 00 - CJD - FSA press release on EU BSE measures
06 Dec 00 - CJD - Girl 'was wrongly diagnosed with CJD' on television
06 Dec 00 - CJD - Professor 'betrayed girl patient on TV'
05 Dec 00 - CJD - Brown welcomes BSE action plan
05 Dec 00 - CJD - EU divided over BSE moves
05 Dec 00 - CJD - Finnie hails BSE controls
05 Dec 00 - CJD - France reveals new Mad Cow tally
05 Dec 00 - CJD - Animal feed ban as Europe acts on BSE
05 Dec 00 - CJD - Mass slaughter of cattle agreed by EU ministers
05 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE: EU ministers vote for feed ban
05 Dec 00 - CJD - New measures 'will restore faith in beef'
05 Dec 00 - CJD - Meat-based feed is banned by EU
05 Dec 00 - CJD - EU ministers broaden ban on animal feeds
04 Dec 00 - CJD - Emergency Euro talks on BSE
04 Dec 00 - CJD - Emergency talks on BSE
04 Dec 00 - CJD - EU agrees anti-BSE action
04 Dec 00 - CJD - EU Takes Major Steps Vs. 'Mad Cow'
04 Dec 00 - CJD - Euro farm ministers meet for BSE crisis talks
04 Dec 00 - CJD - Ministers urged to act swiftly on BSE
04 Dec 00 - CJD - EU bans animal meal to fight BSE



09 Dec 00 - CJD - Professor is cleared over CJD remark

Staff Reporter

Telegraph ... Saturday 9 December 2000


A Professor who unwittingly made a girl suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease front page news by discussing her case on television was cleared yesterday of serious professional misconduct.

Prof Peter Behan, who worked as a consultant neurologist at the Southern General NHS Trust Hospital, Glasgow, told Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight that he was treating a girl for the human form of Mad Cow disease, although the girl had not been told. He gave enough detail to allow the teenager to be identified by journalists and her family were then left "under siege" for weeks in June 1996.

The professional conduct committee of the General Medical Council ruled that while the 64-year-old professor's actions were "regrettable", he was not guilty of serious professional misconduct.


09 Dec 00 - CJD - Ukraine Records 2 Mad Cow Cases

By Yuliya Polyakova

Moscow Times ... Saturday 9 December 2000


Vedomosti. With jitters over Mad Cow disease sweeping Europe, Russians were jarred this week when the fatal disease appeared to have struck close to home.

Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry announced Thursday that two cows infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, had died in the village of Simonov in the Rovno region.

Ukraine is Russia's main supplier of beef , providing about 70 percent of the market, according to the Russian Meat Union.

An employee with the Rovno regional headquarters of the Emergency Situations Ministry, Colonel Viktor Simonyuk, said that it was unclear how the cows became infected.

"We are currently trying to find a reason for what happened," said Simonyuk. "We must introduce quarantines, vaccines and screen all cows for the presence of the dangerous disease."

However, other Ukrainian authorities questioned the Emergency Situations Ministry's assessment, saying the region did not even have the resources needed to detect the disease.

"Our Emergency Situations Ministry has got something wrong," said Alexander Kostuk, the head doctor at the Rovno veterinarian department.

"Two cows did indeed die from a form of rabies , but this was the normal kind, the kind that affects foxes and dogs," said Valentina Titorenko, a deputy head at the Agriculture Ministry.

While fears about Mad Cow disease have wreaked havoc on European food markets, there have been no recorded cases of it in Russia. A ban has been slapped on imports of beef from Britain, Portugal and Switzerland and parts of France and Ireland.

Russian officials said that it is very difficult to find out whether the disease has crossed into Russia.

"It's just that many Russian and Ukrainian vets do not have the means to diagnose BSE," said Viktor Yatskin at the Russian Meat Union.

European experts believe that there is a link between the disease and the use of ground bone in animal feed , of which Russia imported 117,967 tons last year, according to State Customs Committee data.

Russian Meat Union chairman Musheg Mamikonyan said the feed is mostly used for pigs, while cattle are fed hay or pasture grass.

Yatskin disagreed. "In Russia, bone powder has traditionally been used to feed all animals," he said.


08 Dec 00 - CJD - Mad Cow panic of water buffalo

By Scott Morrison in Toronto

Financial Times ... Friday 8 December 2000


The international panic over Mad Cow disease may be about to claim an unlikely victim: a Canadian farmer trying to raise a herd of water buffalo.

Darrel Archer imported 19 water buffalo from Denmark at the beginning of this year at a cost of C$200,000 (US$130,320) to set up a dairy operation on his Vancouver Island farm.

However, initial import approval from Canada's federal food inspection agency was subsequently reversed after a case of BSE, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow disease, was detected in Denmark this year.

Authorities then ordered Mr Archer to remove or destroy the herd. They have refused to compensate him, in accordance with federal policy. But the 52-year-old farmer, who says he faces financial ruin, has gone to court to force the government to withdraw its order.

"There has never been a case anywhere in the world of a water buffalo having BSE. It's totally unreasonable what they are saying. If these were cattle I'd agree with them but these are water buffalo," he argues.

Canadian officials acknowledge that they are not aware of any reported cases of BSE-infected water buffalo but say that the animals could pose a risk by harbouring the disease. "Water buffalo are genetically close to cattle and there is no reason to believe that water buffalo are not susceptible to BSE," says one official.

The government maintains that its order is consistent with its zero-tolerance policy on BSE. Canada has banned imports of susceptible animals or animal products from any countries in which BSE has been detected. Another official at the federal food inspection agency says the possibility that the water buffalo could be infected must be dealt with in order to protect Canada's domestic livestock herd and its cattle, beef and dairy products export industry.

"We ban imports from BSE-designated countries, so other countries would look at us in the same way. There is a lot of money at stake," the official says.

Canada has already had one brush with BSE, when an infected cow was discovered in 1993. That case, involving an animal imported from the UK in 1987, prompted authorities to order the slaughter or return of all cattle imported from the UK since 1982.

The discovery of a probable link between BSE in the UK and a fatal human brain disease in 1996 provoked an international health scare and a worldwide ban on British beef exports, lifted only last year. There are no tests to detect BSE in live animals.

Canada now permits imports of cattle or beef from five countries that the government has determined to be free of BSE: the US, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Finland.


08 Dec 00 - CJD - Swedes Snub Imported Beef As Mad Cow Scare Spreads

Reuters

Yahoo ... Friday 8 December 2000


STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Demand in Sweden for imported beef has fallen sharply in the past week amid growing fears of Mad Cow disease in a country with no known cases so far, the meat industry said on Friday.

A Temo poll in the daily Dagens Nyheter suggested 62 percent of Swedes would now avoid imported beef.

The poll showed 72 percent think bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) could break out in Sweden, too, but consumption of domestic beef remained almost unchanged , Ake Rutegard, managing director of the Swedish Meat Industry Association, told Reuters.

Demand for imported red meat, which at an annual 50,000 tons accounts for roughly 25 percent of Swedish consumption, was in decline, he said, but figures were not yet available.

Most of Sweden's beef imports originate in Ireland, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Mad Cow disease has ravaged farms in Britain and France. On Monday, European Union (news - web sites) farm ministers imposed a six-month ban on meat and bone meal regarded as the probable transmitter of BSE.

Three of four Swedes said all cows slaughtered in Sweden should be tested for the brain-wasting cattle disorder, which some scientists say may cause people who eat meat from infected animals to fall prey to the incurable Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Public opinion appeared to contradict the view of Swedish Agriculture Minister Margareta Winberg, who argues that Sweden due to its EU-designated status as a ``preliminary BSE-free country'' should get by with testing only 20,000 animals.

Were Sweden to carry out BSE checks on an equal footing with its European Union partners, the testing program -- currently dimensioned for 6,000 animals per year -- would have to cover 200,000 cows, or 42 percent of all cattle slaughtered annually.

Lars Jonsson, head of the food and environment department at the Swedish Consumers' Association, said Winberg's reasoning no longer held water after it emerged last week that animal feeds given to Swedish cows had contained meat and bone meal, which experts regard as the likely transmitter of BSE.

``Many people are calling. They are mainly concerned about meat their children eat at school. Most would now prefer that their children ate Swedish meat rather than German or Irish,'' Jonsson said.

The Swedish Board of Agriculture has set up a BSE task force, which will seek to remedy the lack of testing capacity and track down animal feeds containing meat and bone meal.

Other urgent tasks are to decide how to destroy existing meat and bone meal feeds and what to do with slaughter waste no longer converted into this product, which Sweden sells as animal feed to mink and fox farms in Finland and the Baltic republics.


08 Dec 00 - CJD - Northern Ireland beef market 'will recover'

Ananova

PA News ... Friday 8 December 2000


Northern Ireland will recover its beef export markets once the current storm over BSE in Europe dies down, according to Stormont Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers.

She told members of the Assembly Agriculture Committee that she could not press for low incidence BSE status for the province's beef exports at this stage.

She argued: "I do honestly believe because of the present furore in Europe that, when the dust settles, it might not be quite as difficult to regain our markets when people realise how strong our case is."

Mrs Rodgers told committee chairman the Rev Ian Paisley (DUP, North Antrim) she did not believe that, with concern mounting over the incidence of the disease in France and other EU member states, the political climate existed for a relaxation of restrictions on Northern Ireland beef.

She also resisted calls from several committee members for her to push for a ban on French and other beef until their production standards matched those in Northern Ireland.

It was "not feasible," she said, to make such an argument if Northern Ireland was trying to seek those countries' support for a relaxation of the ban on the province.


08 Dec 00 - CJD - Home help for BSE study

By Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent

Times ... Friday 8 December 2000


Idle home computers are being harnessed to help researchers to work out how BSE and its human form, CreutzfeldtJakob disease, are caused.

American researchers have signed up more than 10,000 people around the world with a personal computer to their study of how proteins fold into three-dimensional shapes.

Protein-folding is the complex process by which proteins form themselves into shapes in which they can go to work effectively in the body. The prions that cause BSE and CJD are one example of a protein that is folded in the wrong way.

The program, Folding@home, links the PCs to form a vast supercomputer. Rather like a screensaver, the software - which can be downloaded from the Internet - starts to run every time that a home computer is left idle, sending it a small parcel of data to decode. When that segment of the puzzle is completed, the home computer sends it back and, if it is still unused, gets a new piece of work in return.

The network has allowed researchers at Stanford University in California to make steady progress on the vital biological study that otherwise would need a computer more powerful than any in existence, the journal Science reported.


08 Dec 00 - CJD - Leaders reject extra financial aid for farmers hit by BSE

By Stephen Castle

Independent ... Friday 8 December 2000


EU leaders rejected pressure yesterday for more financial aid for farmers hit by the BSE crisis, as the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, demanded that the new six-month ban on meat and bonemeal in animal feed should be made permanent .

"No one could imagine lifting the animal-feed ban in six months' time. There must and there will be a permanent ban ," Mr Schröder said as yesterday's summit began in Nice.

Mr Schröeder said EU leaders had agreed on a proposal from Tony Blair that any additional financial aid from Brussels to farmers hit by the BSE crisis must fall within the existing EU budget. That is a blow to the French President, Jacques Chirac, who had been hoping for a new package of assistance.

Germany feared a new aid package that EU sources have suggested summit hosts France might propose could break an accord reached last year capping the EU's farm spending at 40bn euros (£24bn).

But from early yesterday it became clear that Germany and Britain were digging in. "If they want to spend more money on cows they must spend less on pigs," said one German official, underlining the determination to keep within financial limits.

Germany already has the highest net payments to Brussels in the EU and is anxious not to extend them further.

Jonathan Faull, spokesman for the European Commission president, Romano Prodi, described the measures agreed by farm ministers as financable.

In addition to the ban on meat and bonemeal, Europe's agriculture ministers agreed this week to take all animals older than 30 months out of the food chain unless they were tested first.

The EU has set aside 42.8bn euros a year up to 2006 for agricultural spending, almost half the bloc's annual budget. Contingency funds amount to 1.23bn euros, of which 60m euros have already been earmarked for a private storage programme for unsold beef and 50m euros to bolster export subsidies for the beef trade.


07 Dec 00 - CJD - Definitive list of EU BSE measures

Mad Cow correspondent

Mad Cow ... Thursday 7 December 2000


The EU package consists of 3 elements (taken from the Food Safety Agency press release (also published):

1 - the ban on cattle over thirty months old entering the food chain unless they have tested negative for BSE;

See also two articles published from the Independent immediately following this article:

firstly alleging that the test to be used is unproven and only detects BSE just before clinical symptons show, and

secondly documenting an admission from the EU Comission that this is the case and that the test is primarily for consumer confidence!*!*!*!*!*!

2 - a temporary ban on the feeding of meat and bonemeal (MBM) to farm animals from 1 January 2001;

But only for 6 months, by when hopefully public atttention will have diminished and it can be revoked. Note that feeding MBM to pets, horses, or even human beings is still permitted.

3 - all bovine intestines to be classified as specified risk material (SRM) and therefore removed at slaughter.

Good

and

Member states also agreed to speed up moves to implement comprehensive labelling for beef and beef products.

About time.

The admission that the BSE test is not sensitive enough to detect most sub-clinical cases supports the import bans imposed on French beef by other EU countries and would justify the UK imposing a an on the import of all European beef (not just French). As Switzerland and Ireland routinely test slaughtered cattle with the same tests, their beef is now suspect as well.

Note that no mention is made of meat and bonemeal fertiliser or the use of bovine products by the drugs industry.

Sadly, the UK Labour administration is willing to sacrifice British lives by allowing continental beef in order to keep the French onside in the upcoming EU negotiations in Nice.


07 Dec 00 - CJD - First BSE deaths in Ukraine

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Thursday 7 December 2000


The Ukrainian government says two cows have died of Mad Cow disease in the Rivne region in the west of the country.

A quarantine has been imposed on the farm where the cows died.

Ukrainian television, which reported the deaths, said the cases are the first to be identified in the countries of the former Soviet Union.


07 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE fears put New Forest ponies on menu

Ananova

PA News ... Thursday 7 December 2000


More and more New Forest ponies are being slaughtered for continental dinner tables as diners turn away from eating beef because of the European BSE crisis.

Hundreds of wild ponies are rounded up in the Hampshire forest at the end of the tourist season and slaughtered for export to dinner tables in France and Belgium.

Animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming says the number of New Forest Ponies being shipped for meat is alarmingly high and is calling for breeding to be restricted to cut the number of the popular ponies meeting a gruesome end.

CIWF spokesman Justin Wilkes said: "Families with young children come from all over the country to stroke, feed and take pictures of ponies in idyllic surroundings every summer. These holidaymakers have no idea of the gruesome fate that awaits these animals as soon as the season is over."

At the end of the summer, more than 1,500 ponies are herded into pens and sold at horse markets for as little as £1 per animal with many ending up at slaughterhouses and heading to foreign dinner tables, the New Forest Post reports.

More than 12,000 horse and pony carcases were exported from Britain to France and Belgium in 1999, and CIWFbelieves more and more will be exported due to the latest fears over BSE.

Mr Wilkes said: "Demand for horse meat is increasing as a result of the BSE crisis on the continent and the trade in New Forest ponies is bound to increase with French beef off the menu.

"It's not only cattle and people who are suffering because of BSE. The government must stop this tragic trade or more ponies will end up on dinner plates abroad."


07 Dec 00 - CJD - EU admits BSE test is to increase confidence, not safety

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Independent ... Thursday 7 December 2000


The European Commission has admitted that the BSE test it hopes to introduce throughout Europe cannot be used to reassure the public over the safety of continental beef.

The admission follows yesterday's report in The Independent that the test for "Mad Cow" disease has never been properly validated .

A spokeswoman for David Byrne, the European commissioner for health and consumer protection, said a negative test result on its own did not mean that beef from cattle older than 30 months was safe to eat. "We've never sold it [the test] as a safety measure," Bette Gwinder said. "We sell it as a measure to enhance consumer confidence. A negative result does not mean beef is negative."

The Commission has proposed that the BSE test is used on all animals older than 30 months, and that only those that test negative should enter the food chain. Mr Byrne said last week: "If animals aged over 30 months are not tested, they would have to be destroyed... By testing all animals over 30 months we are taking an ultra-precautionary approach."

But none of the three tests approved by the Commission has been validated on animals that are apparently healthy but incubating the disease , so scientists have no idea how reliable a negative result is. Andrea Dahmen, a Commission spokeswoman, said that although the validation of the BSE tests was incomplete , the Commission would still introduce them rather than take the even more precautionary approach of the UK and ban all beef from cattle older than 30 months. "According to member states the tests are now good enough to reassure the public ," Ms Dahmen said.

However, Richard Kimberlin, an authority on BSE-like diseases and former member of the UK's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (Seac), said the tests had limited value in excluding infected animals from the food chain.

"To use a test for which you don't really know the sensitivity in order to reassure the public is downright dishonest ," he said."There isn't a problem using tests provided you know what they are capable of."

Professor Peter Smith, the acting chairman of Seac, said the present BSE tests were only capable of confirming a case in the very late stages of the incubation period. "On the basis of these tests I think I would not take a negative result as reassurance that the animal is negative ," he said.

Robert Sturdy, the Conservative agriculture spokesmanin the European Parliament, said he was asking Mr Byrne to clarify the Commission's position on how the tests are to be used. "The tests haven't proved to be accurate and there's considerable confusion as to how they are going to be introduced. The only to guarantee safety is to have a slaughter policy for cattle over 30 months similar to in Britain," he said.

* The mother of the UK's youngest CJD victim is to give Channel 4's Alternative Christmas Message. Helen Jeffries, whose daughter, Zoe, died earlier this year, will talk about the handling of the public health crisis and the sympathetic response she has had from the nation.


07 Dec 00 - CJD - Spain Confirms Second Case of Mad Cow Disease

Reuters

Altavista ... Thursday 7 December 2000


Madrid, Spain (Reuters) - Spain's Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Canete said Thursday Spain has confirmed a second case of Mad Cow disease, showing that the infection it announced last month was not an isolated case .

Two weeks ago, Spain detected its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the northwestern region of Galicia. At the time Arias said a second case in Galicia was suspected, and the case was confirmed Thursday.

Monday, the 15 European Union countries decided to impose a blanket ban on using meat and bone meal in animal feeds, which are suspected of spreading the brain-wasting disease. The human form -- believed to be contracted from eating tainted beef -- has killed more than 80 people in Britain and two in France.


06 Dec 00 - CJD - EU beef pledge based on 'flawed' BSE test

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Independent ... Wednesday 6 December 2000


The BSE test that is supposed to protect the public against "Mad Cow" disease has never been properly validated , an investigation by The Independent has discovered.

A reliable cattle-testing programme is one of the main anti-BSE measures proposed by the European Commission to reassure the public over the safety of beef, yet scientists have never been able to determine how reliable the test is at detecting the disease in animals harbouring the early stages of BSE.

The Commission has said that testing cattle more than 30 months old is central to its fight against BSE, and will be one of three new proposals it intends to introduce in the new year to ensure that European beef is safe to eat. However, scientists are unable to say how good the tests are at detecting BSE in cattle that have no symptoms. In effect, they do not know whether a cow that tests "negative" really is free of BSE .

In Britain, all cattle aged more than 30 months are banned from entering the human food chain, but for the rest of Europe the Commission has taken the cheaper approach of allowing older cattle to be eaten, provided they test negative with one of the three tests it has "validated".

However, the validation carried out by the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Geel, Belgium, has not included an assessment of how well the tests perform on apparently healthy cattle which are incubating the disease.

The only validation the JRC has published was carried out using samples from cattle that had obvious symptoms of BSE - animals that would never in any case be slaughtered for food.

Dr Heinz Schimmel, who carried out the validation exercise at the JRC's institute for reference materials and measurements, said a negative result would not necessarily mean an animal was safe to eat , as the Commission insists.

"The conclusion that a negative test result would mean that the cow has never been infected with BSE was never drawn, but it is obvious that the more sensitive the tests are, the earlier BSE infection can be detected," Dr Schimmel said.

Asked what scientific evidence he could give to reassure the public that a negative BSE test result was not a "false negative" , Dr Schimmel replied: "Nobody can do that."

It is usual for all biochemical tests used in medicine or animal welfare to be assessed against hundreds or even thousands of different samples to test how sensitive they are at detecting "true" negatives, and how specific they are at determining "true" positives.

However, this has not been done with any of the Commission-approved BSE tests, used in the context of assessing whether an apparently healthy animal is incubating the disease.

Bruno Oesch, the executive director of Prionics, the Swiss maker of the most widely used BSE test, said his company did not have the resources to conduct such elaborate research.

After the "validation" by the JRC last year, Prionics issued a press statement saying its test had a "100 per cent success rate". However, Dr Oesch said this only referred to tests on animals with obvious signs of BSE. "No test ever can give a guarantee . It's biochemically impossible to reach 100 per cent," he said.

When samples from 4,000 British cattle over 30 months old were analysed by the Prionics test, it emerged that it was only capable of spotting cases of BSE just before symptoms appear , according to Professor John Wilesmith of the Government's Central Veterinary Laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey. "What is being proposed by the Commission is really quite worrying. The tests only pull out animals in the very late stages of incubation," Professor Wilesmith said.

Nevertheless, David Byrne, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said the introduction of testing for cattle more than 30 months old was essential to Europe's war on BSE outside Britain.


06 Dec 00 - CJD - FSA press release on EU BSE measures



Food Safety Agency ... Wednesday 6 December 2000


2000/0071

Tuesday 5th December 2000

FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY WELCOMES EUROPEAN MOVES TO PROTECT CONSUMERS FROM BSE

The Food Standards Agency welcomes todays Agriculture Council decision to step up protection measures across Europe for consumers against BSE.

The measures include:

- the ban on cattle over thirty months old entering the food chain unless they have tested negative for BSE;

- a temporary ban on the feeding of meat and bonemeal to farm animals from 1 January 2001;

- all bovine intestines to be classified as specified risk material (SRM) and therefore removed at slaughter.

Member states also agreed to speed up moves to implement comprehensive labelling for beef and beef products.

Commenting on the Council's decision, Food Standards Agency Chairman, Sir John Krebs, said today:

"The Agriculture Council's decision to introduce further controls against BSE across Europe is an important step in improving protection for the UK consumer. It is essential that these measures are implemented as quickly as possible and that they are fully and effectively enforced.

"These moves bring other member states closer to the consumer protection measures in place in the UK and to the Agency's recommendations arising from our current review of BSE controls.

"The UK ban on meat from cattle over thirty months entering the food chain needs to be maintained as an extra measure of protection for the UK consumer. Initial findings from increased local authority enforcement activity on imports show an encouraging level of compliance."

France has deferred implementing its unilateral ban on sale of beef on the backbone - T-bone steak - pending further assessment of the risk by the EU's Scientific Steering Committee. Following a meeting with French officials and the new measures agreed by the Agriculture Council, the Food Standards Agency has decided that no additional measures are currently needed in the UK to protect consumers from beef imports from France and other European countries.

A SEAC sub-group met today to look at risk assessment on imported beef and beef products. The group will report back to the whole SEAC committee.


06 Dec 00 - CJD - Girl 'was wrongly diagnosed with CJD' on television

By Charles Arthur, Technology Editor

Independent ... Wednesday 6 December 2000


A professor was accused yesterday of disclosing confidential details about a teenage patient by telling a national news programme that the girl had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), even before he told her.

The General Medical Council is hearing a charge of serious professional misconduct against Professor Peter Behan, a neurologist at the University of Glasgow since October 1989, after allegations that he revealed the girl's identity in an interview on BBC's Newsnight programme and in a High Court case in April 1996.

He is also accused of using misleading information in an article he published about chronic fatigue syndrome, in which information relating to "control groups" appeared to be identical to information published in another doctor's PhD thesis. Prof Behan denies the charges.

Among those giving evidence to the GMC yesterday was the girl, now 19, who wept as she told how she had found out about the CJD diagnosis when she read the newspapers herself. Identified as "Miss A", the former patient said: "I started to feel a bit depressed around November and December 1995. I was prescribed anti-depressants." Miss A was later referred to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

She added: "I was suffering from hallucinations originally and then started to get physical symptoms. I suffered from dizziness, sore heads and became unsteady on my feet."

When the symptoms worsened, she was admitted to hospital for a second round of tests in March 1996 but was not given any diagnosis.

Miss A continued: "The first thing I knew of press interest in the case was when my mum woke me up and told me I was on the front page of the papers."

She sobbed as she recounted how journalists camped out on the family's doorstep in June 1996. But the symptoms subsided, which has never happened with any case of CJD, and by September she started to "get a bit better", she said.

Her mother, referred to as Mrs A, said she at first regarded her daughter's symptoms as "teenage panic or stress". Her symptoms, she said, had included clumsiness and strange sensations on one side of her body.

The family GP referred her daughter immediately for tests, which brought Miss A under Prof Behan's care.

Mrs A said: "He said that because of her symptoms and because they could not find what the cause was, it was possible that she could have CJD. We were told they had to investigate that - and that tests would be done. He said that my daughter must not be told that she was being investigated for that condition."

When the mother and daughter went to collect her results from Prof Behan, he told them the news, Mrs A said: "He said the tests were positive. He said the outlook was grim and that my daughter had only a few months to live. He also said that the press were already at the hospital. He told me he had disclosed, in a High Court case, that he had a 15-year-old female patient suffering from CJD."

Miss A stayed with her aunt amid the press interest, which continued unabated for more than six weeks. Mrs A said restrictions on her daughter's movements made her psychiatric symptoms worse and that even today, her daughter was still mentioned when reports about CJD surfaced.

Mrs A explained how Prof Behan's interview on Newsnight was seen by her son: "That made me telephone to try and change my consultant," she said. "I was very angry and felt very let down."

She added: "I would never have agreed to any publicity."

In further questioning from the GMC's professional conduct committee, Mrs A insisted that the professor told her that he was "100 per cent certain that her daughter had CJD".


06 Dec 00 - CJD - Professor 'betrayed girl patient on TV'

By Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor

Times ... Wednesday 6 December 2000


A Professor told a television programme that a teenage patient was suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) before she knew the diagnosis, a disciplinary hearing was told yesterday.

Professor Peter Behan, 64, a neurologist at Glasgow University since 1989, faces charges of serious professional misconduct before the General Medical Council.

He told BBC2's Newsnight in April 1996 that the patient, then 15, was suffering from the disease after disclosing the details at an unrelated High Court action that month.

The details led to the teenager being identified by the media, the hearing was told.

Professor Behan is accused of a breach of confidentiality about the teenager, referred to as Miss A.

He faces separate charges over the alleged use of misleading information in an article he published about chronic fatigue syndrome and over claims that he gave "deliberately misleading" evidence in a High Court case during which he referred to the article. He denies serious professional misconduct.

Counsel for the GMC, Andrew Collinder, said that on April 23 and April 24, 1996, Professor Behan appeared as an expert witness before the High Court in London in a case concerned with the development of CJD after growth hormone treatment.

"He stated he had treated a 15-year-old girl suffering from CJD," Mr Collinder said. In his evidence he disclosed "significant facts" which helped to lead to the media's eventual identification of the girl.

"In April 1996 he was interviewed on BBC Newsnight," Mr Collinder said. "Professor Behan again revealed details of a 15-year-old patient suspected to be suffering from a new strain of CJD. He described the patient's symptoms and prognosis."

He made those details known to the public the same day the girl's parents found out that she had the disease. The parents were "utterly devastated" by the news.

Professor Behan, of Bearsden, Glasgow, told the programme that the girl still did not know she had CJD. "The professor disclosed unnecessary information about Miss A without her consent or that of her parents," Mr Collinder said.

That information enabled the media to find Miss A and reporters besieged the family home and stories appeared in the national press, he said.

In fact the diagnosis was wrong. Miss A told the GMC yesterday: "I started to feel a bit depressed around November and December 1995. I was prescribed antidepressants." She was then referred to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

"I was suffering from hallucinations originally and then started to get physical symptoms. I suffered from dizziness, sore heads and became unsteady on my feet," she said.

At no stage, she added, did she have a discussion with the professor over whether her case could be discussed in public. "The symptoms started to get worse. They were happening more often," she added.

She was admitted to hospital for a second round of tests in March 1996 but was not given any diagnosis.

"The first thing I knew of press interest was when my mum woke me up and told me I was on the front page of the papers," Miss A said.

She sobbed as she recounted how journalists camped on the family's doorstep in June 1996. In September of that year she started to "get a bit better".

Her mother, referred to as Mrs A, said that her daughter had been referred to Professor Behan for tests by her GP.

"He said that because of her symptoms and because they could not find what the cause was it was possible that she could have CJD.

"We were told they had to investigate that and that tests would be done. He said that my daughter must not be told that she was being investigated for that condition."

When she went to collect the results, Professor Behan told Mrs A that the outlook was grim and that her daughter had only a few months to live.

The family had no idea that the professor would be talking on Newsnight, Mrs A said, adding that she became fearful that if her daughter returned to hospital she would be tracked down by the press.

She was also worried that knowledge of the diagnosis would upset her daughter, so refused to confirm it to her and tried to persuade her that the press had got it wrong.

Her daughter went to stay with an aunt to avoid the press and restrictions on her movements made her psychiatric symptoms worse. Asked how she was now, Mrs A responded: "She is very well."


05 Dec 00 - CJD - Brown welcomes BSE action plan

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


Agriculture Minister Nick Brown has welcomed a three -point plan to eradicate Mad Cow disease agreed on Monday by EU ministers.

EU agriculture ministers banned the use of meat and bone meal in feed for all livestock in the 15 countries of the European Union.

The decision was taken at an emergency session in Brussels to tackle the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Ministers also agreed a slaughter programme for all cattle over 30 months old - with 70% of the cost to be borne by the European Commission.

They will also extend a ban on the spinal cord, brains and spleen of cattle to include the whole intestine .

Mr Brown said the accord was "a comprehensive and very powerful public protection measure".

He said the aim was to "extinguish" Mad Cow disease and ensure that it never returned.

EU Health Commissioner David Byrne admitted that the proposals would be expensive.

"But it is the price which must be paid to restore public confidence in our commitment to protect public health," he said.

French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany, who chaired the meeting, argued the ban would "allow Europe to take a major step forward" in containing BSE.

National Farmers' Union president Ben Gill said the ban was "an encouraging step".

"It puts everyone on an even footing," he said.

But Mr Gill hit out at the fact that the new measures are not due to come into force until the start of next year.

"Consumers want assurances now," he said.

'Fault lies with Britain'

Mr Gill also called on the EU to increase aid for the production of peas and beans to replace meat and bonemeal and provide the necessary protein for farm animals.

The current crisis over the brain-wasting cattle disorder erupted in France in October where cases of BSE have more than tripled this year.

The first two cases have now been identified in Germany .

An agriculture expert in Bonn, Germany, has laid the blame for the BSE epidemic firmly at Britain's door.

Professor Gerhard Flachowsky, of the Federal Research Institute for Agriculture, said: "The fault for BSE lies with the careless behaviour of Great Britain starting 10 to 15 years ago.

"By 1988 Britain had stopped feeding animal meal in their own country but they carried on exporting it and this is the main source of the problem in Europe and worldwide," he said.

'Too costly'

The professor was one of a group of experts drawn from Germany's animal food industry, ecological groups and scientific research bodies, debating the BSE crisis.

Mr Brown said Britain was prepared to accept tougher action than its scientists recommended to ensure BSE was not only eradicated but that it never returned.

Britain banned meat and bonemeal in cattle feed in 1996.

However, the EU is not recommending a blockade on French beef exports, to the fury of some British beef traders.

John Absalom, deputy chairman of the Smithfield Tenants' Association, said French beef should be "totally banned".

"We've got the safest beef in the world now in this country. Why jeopardise that by bringing this other beef in?"

All the measures agreed on Monday night were due in force from 1 January.

BSE in Britain:

- First identified in 1986

- Number of BSE cases peaked at 37,000 in 1992

- 4.5m cattle slaughtered

- More than 80 people have died from vCJD


05 Dec 00 - CJD - EU divided over BSE moves

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


There's been a mixed reaction to tough new measures aimed at restoring public confidence in beef in Europe.

On Monday, European Union Agriculture Ministers banned all cattle over thirty months old from the food chain, unless they had been tested and found free of Mad Cow Disease, or BSE. The ministers also approved a ban on all meat and bonemeal in animal feed. Some member states have welcomed the moves, but others have called them unfair.

A member of the EU's Finnish Delegation Mikael Carpelan told the BBC that the ban was unjustified on scientific and moral grounds, as there had been no cases of BSE in Finland.

Seventy per cent of the cost of the new meaures, which come into force next month, will be funded by the European Union.

But the BBC's Brussels correspondent says it's now clear that national governments will have to pay for the recall and destruction of the meat and bonemeal in circulation .


05 Dec 00 - CJD - Finnie hails BSE controls

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


Scotland's Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie has welcomed moves to introduce Euro-wide BSE controls.

The decision was made on Tuesday by the European Agriculture Council.

Mr Finnie said: "This is excellent news and should allow Scotland to compete on a level playing field with our European counterparts.

"We have had strict controls in place in Scotland since 1996 and the rest of Europe will now have to follow our lead.

"Our beef is amongst the safest and most traceable in the world."


05 Dec 00 - CJD - France reveals new Mad Cow tally

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


The BSE crisis is hitting more and more farmers. France has revealed that four new cases of Mad Cow disease have been detected, taking the year's total to more than four times the 1999 figure.

Officials at the agriculture ministry said 125 cows suffering from the disease had now been found on farms across France since January .

Two new cases of the human form of the disease, vCJD, were also disclosed by health officials in the UK , taking the number to 87 .

The news came a day after European agriculture ministers agreed tough new measures aimed at restoring public confidence in beef in Europe.

After a nine-hour meeting, the ministers banned all cattle over 30 months old from entering the food chain, unless individually tested and proved free of BSE.

That means the slaughter of thousands of cattle until adequate BSE tests are introduced next year.

The ministers also approved a six-month ban on all meat and bonemeal in animal feed. Animal meat and bone meal is made in factories all over Europe.

Some BSE-free Scandinavian countries say that is over the top.

The Finnish delegation said the ban was unjustified on scientific and moral grounds.

But German Agriculture Minister Karl-Heinz Funke said the ban was too short. "It's not enough that the EU ban on meat-based feeds will initially last for six months," Mr Funke told WDR 2 radio.

Due to take effect in January, the ban does not include fishmeal used in pig and poultry feed, officials say.

The ban on cattle over 30 months old entering the food chain means that cattle can continue to be traded as usual, but once slaughtered the carcasses must be tested for BSE and cleared as fit for human consumption.

Failure will mean the carcasses being sent for incineration.

Panic

The cost of testing will be split between national authorities and Brussels, with the Commission picking up 70% of the bill.

The new scheme also involves extending the list of "specified risk materials" currently banned from human consumption - the brains, spinal cords and spleens of cattle - to include the whole intestine.

The ban, expected to cost $1.7bn, was approved by all 15 ministers.

The emergency Brussels meeting was in the wake of panic in France and Germany where BSE is on the increase.

National governments will get no EU help to pay for the recall and destruction of the meat and bonemeal in circulation.


05 Dec 00 - CJD - Animal feed ban as Europe acts on BSE

Andrew Osborn in Brussels

Guardian ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


The controversial practice of feeding ground animal remains to pigs and poultry is to be outlawed across the European Union from January as part of a continent-wide effort to stamp out a rising wave of consumer panic over Mad Cow disease.

In a move which brings the rest of Europe more into line with anti-BSE measures already taken in Britain, EU agriculture ministers yesterday agreed to ban the use of meat and bonemeal from animal feed, initially for six months only, from January 1.

Britain has outlawed the practice since 1996 but other countries have continued to feed meat and bonemeal to pigs and poultry believing it to be safe.

Late last night ministers were poised to adopt Europe's most drastic package of anti-BSE measures to date, including the effective banning of 7m older cattle from all food products from the same date.

Under the scheme cattle carcasses more than 30 months old which have not been tested for BSE will not be allowed to enter the food chain.

Countries such as Sweden and Finland - which are still able to boast BSE-free cattle herds - were, however, showing some signs of opposition to the deal, mainly because of the high costs involved. It could cost £3.4bn to implement.

But most countries were eager to clinch an agreement to avoid the issue spilling over into the crunch EU summit in Nice later this week.

Momentum for action over BSE has been building in recent weeks after the first cases of Mad Cow disease were discovered in Germany and Spain.

A rise in BSE incidence in France has also piled on the pressure and sales of beef have plunged around Europe as consumers have rushed to switch to chicken and pork.

Although there is scant scientific evidence to prove that feeding meat and bonemeal to pigs and poultry poses a risk to human health, the European commission suspects that many European farmers are illegally giving the feed to cattle, a practice known to be dangerous.

Spokeswoman Beate Gminder said: "We have serious doubts about whether the separation of feed is being done properly . The commission is very satisfied that this went through because it will give us a period of time to review our controls."

By taking meat-based feed out of the foodchain altogether the EU aims to choke off supplies so that unscrupulous farmers are not tempted to give the feed to their cows.

Germany and Finland opposed the ban. Germany thought the measures were not strict enough while Finland considered it was being unfairly forced to act in the light of the fact that its herds are supposedly BSE-free.

The entire package was supported by Nick Brown, Britain's agriculture minister, who argued that an EU-wide approach to the problem was the only option.

He is keen to discourage individual member states from taking unilateral action because he believes a continent-wide response to the disease increases Britain's chances of getting France to lift its own illegal ban on British beef.

"I think the French were wrong on their ban against British beef... they were wrong on science and they are wrong in law," Mr Brown told BBC radio.

"For the rest of the EU to replicate that would be a mistake. There aren't national solutions to this. The prion itself that causes the condition in cattle knows no boundaries."

Tim Yeo, the shadow agriculture minister, yesterday reiterated his call for a ban on French beef , accusing Mr Brown of being afraid to act for fear of offending the European commission.


05 Dec 00 - CJD - Mass slaughter of cattle agreed by EU ministers

By Stephen Castle in Brussels

Independent ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


Agriculture ministers in Europe agreed last night on the slaughter of all cattle over 30 months old in a move designed to "extinguish " BSE for good.

They agreed the slaughter programme after nine hours of talks representing the most far-reaching attempt to combat the consumer panic over the spread of the disease.

The programme was recommended by the European Commission, which is expected to pay 70 per cent of the cost. Nick Brown, the Minister of Agriculture, said the agreement by 15 ministers was "a comprehensive and powerful public protection measure". He said the aim was to "extinguish" so-called Mad Cow disease and ensure that it never returned.

The agreement comes after widespread alarm over BSE on the Continent due to more cases being revealed in France and the discovery of the disease in Germany and Spain.

Much of last night's discussion centred on the detail of the proposed "purchase for destruction" scheme, under which an estimated two million cattle could be taken out of the food chain. It will come into force on 1 January.

The UK is unaffected by proposals to take older cows out of the food chain as it is already illegal to sell British beef from cows over 30 months old for human consumption.

The ministers also agreed to extend a ban on the spinal cord, brains and spleen of cattle to include the whole intestine and to impose a ban on feeding meat and bonemeal to all animals, including pigs and poultry. The decision on meat and bonemeal, which also takes effect on 1 January, was taken despite the opposition of Germany, which argued that the ban should have included animal fats, and Finland, which has had no reported cases of the disease.

Contaminated animal feed is thought to be the main cause of the spread of BSE, and while there is no evidence that meat or bonemeal harms poultry or pigs, controls have been difficult to police.

Britain has already banned meat and bonemeal, but ministers decided last night that fish remains could still be fed to pigs, poultry and other non-ruminants. Brussels had wanted a ban on fishmeal as there have been cases of unscrupulous traders passing off bonemeal as fishmeal.

The agriculture ministers were also due to discuss a unilateral ban on French beef and live animal imports imposed by Spain and Italy.

Despite concern over the spread of the disease in France, the Commission is not supporting a worldwide blockade on French beef, which it did impose on Britain for more than three years.

The ban on meat and bonemeal feed, initially meant to last for six months, could mean that 3 million tons of cattle waste sold to animal feed firms annually in the EU will be destroyed, which could cost the taxpayer 3bn euros (£1.8bn), while the combined cost to farmers in lost revenues and to the food industry is estimated at 1.5bn euros .

The president of the National Farmers' Union, Ben Gill, described the meat and bonemeal ban as "an encouraging step". He added: "What we need now is... aid from Brussels for home-grown protein production - peas and beans - to provide the necessary nutrition for farm animals."


05 Dec 00 - CJD - BSE: EU ministers vote for feed ban

Ananova

PA News ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


A three-point plan designed to eradicate Mad Cow disease once and for all has been agreed by Europe's agriculture ministers in Brussels.

An intense nine hours of talks produced a ban on feeding meat and bonemeal to all animals, a ban on all cattle over 30 months entering the food chain unless tested for BSE, and a ban on the use of the whole intestine in food for human consumption.

The comprehensive meat and bonemeal ban and the 30-month age limit for carcasses which fail a BSE test have been in force in the UK for four years.

From January 1 they will apply throughout the EU in a bid to curb the rising incidence of BSE in France and to nip in the bud the first signs of the disease in Germany and Spain.

The ban on feeding meat and bonemeal to any animals, including pigs, poultry and even pets, applies for six months from the start of next year, and was approved by a 13-2 majority, with Germany and Finland opposed. Fishmeal can continue to be fed to fish, pigs and poultry.

The ban on all cattle over 30 months old entering the food chain means that cattle can continue to be traded as usual, but once slaughtered the carcass must be tested for BSE and cleared as fit for human consumption. Failure means the carcass goes for incineration.

The cost of testing will be split between national authorities and Brussels, with the Commission picking up 70% of the bill.

The third element of the new scheme involves extending the list of "specified risk materials" currently banned from human consumption - the brains, spinal cords and spleens of cattle - to include the whole intestine.

This will hit about £30 million a year of UK intestine exports which go largely for use on the continent as sausage casings.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown declared afterwards: "The most important element is the ban on the use of meat and bonemeal, backed up by the 30-month limit which is a very powerful and important public protection measure, designed not just to protect the public but also to restore public confidence in beef across Europe."


05 Dec 00 - CJD - New measures 'will restore faith in beef'

Ananova

PA News ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


Europe's health and consumer protection Commissioner David Byrne says that new measures designed to combat the spread of Mad Cow disease will finally restore public confidence in beef.

His colleague Franz Fischler, the EU's agriculture minister, described the new measures as "drastic - but there was no alternative ".

The latest action has been prompted by the spread of BSE in France and the emergence of cases in Spain and Germany - confirmation that a series of Commission-driven measures have so far failed to curb the spread of the disease.

Consumer confidence is plunging again as cases are reported in countries which until now proudly proclaimed themselves immune from the "British problem".

Five member states can still claim to be BSE-free - in other words they have not yet officially registered a native case of Mad Cow disease.

The Commission says that with an average incubation period of four to five years the effectiveness of the current measures in place can only be fully assessed in 2004-2005.

In Britain, reported BSE cases have fallen sharply this year to 1,136 cases - 40% less than in 1999 and dramatically below the 1992 peak of more than 36,000 cases -

but it is still far higher than anywhere else in the EU.

In Ireland the number of cases has risen from 95 last year to 110 , while France has seen a rise from 31 to 103 , while in Holland a new case was reported recently, the first since early 1999.

In Portugal the incidence has been stable since mid 1999, but it is increasing in Belgium - from three cases last year to nine cases this year.

Denmark , Germany and Spain have now reported their first native BSE cases, while in Luxembourg no cases have been reported since 1997. Italy, Finland, Sweden, Greece and Austria remain - for the time being - the "BSE-free Five".


05 Dec 00 - CJD - Meat-based feed is banned by EU

By David Brown, Agriculture Editor

Telegraph ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


A temporary ban on feeding meat and bonemeal to any animals, including pigs, poultry and pets, was approved by EU agriculture ministers last night in the latest battle against BSE.

Ministers in Brussels voted by 13-2 for the ban, with only Germany and Finland claiming that they had never officially suffered an outbreak of BSE. The ban, which is already in force in Britain, will apply throughout the EU for six months from Jan 1. The use of such material in cattle rations has been blamed for the scale of the BSE epidemic in Britain.

Nick Brown, Minister of Agriculture, said precautions needed to be taken across the EU because the deadly agent blamed for BSE "knew no frontiers". In a concession that won the approval of British farmers' leaders, ministers agreed to retain fishmeal in rations for pigs and poultry.

Last night, they were wrangling over the urgency of imposing a Europe-wide ban on beef from cattle more than 30 months old in response to the beef crisis in France and Germany. The EU Commission proposed that such a ban, which has been in force in Britain since 1996, should take effect in all member states from Jan 1. But critics said it should be implemented immediately to halt the collapse of beef sales in Europe.

Meat from older cattle is deemed most at risk of harbouring the disease and Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers' Union of England and Wales, said the delay was "absolute nonsense". In contrast to plunging beef sales in Europe - down 60 per cent in France - consumption is increasing strongly in Britain.

The National Food Survey revealed that household consumption of beef and veal rose by nine per cent in the third quarter of this year, compared with last year. Consumption of poultry rose by nine per cent, but sales of pork remained steady and consumption of mutton and lamb fell nine per cent.


05 Dec 00 - CJD - EU ministers broaden ban on animal feeds

By Stephen Castle in Brussels

Independent ... Tuesday 5 December 2000


Agriculture ministers in Europe yesterday agreed to impose a total ban on feeding meat and bonemeal to all animals, including pigs and poultry, in the EU's most far-reaching attempt to combat the consumer panic over the spread of BSE.

The decision, which comes into effect on 1 January, follows widespread alarm over BSE on the Continent, after the emergence of more cases in France and the discovery of the disease in Germany and Spain.

Last night's decision was taken despite the opposition of Germany, which argued the ban should have included animal fats, and Finland, which has had no reported cases of the disease.

Contaminated animal feed is thought to be the main cause of the spread of Mad Cow disease and while there is no evidence that meat or bonemeal harms poultry or pigs, controls have been difficult to police.

Britain has already banned meat and bonemeal, but ministers decided last night that fish remains could still be fed to pigs poultry and other non- ruminants ; Brussels had wanted a ban on fishmeal as there have been cases of unscrupulous traders passing off bonemeal as fishmeal.

Despite the agreement on animal feed, 15 agriculture ministers were still locked in talks over the other main recommendations from the European Commission, which wants to ban cattle over 30 months old from the food chain unless they are tested for BSE and passed as fit for human consumption. Brussels also wants an extension of the list of banned animal parts to include the whole carcass.

Much of last night's discussion centred on the detail of the proposed "purchase for destruction" scheme, under which an estimated 2 million cattle could be taken out of the food chain; the UK would be unaffected by proposals to take older cows out of the food chain.

The agriculture ministers were also due to discuss a unilateral ban on French beef and live animal imports imposed by Spain and Italy.

Despite concern over the spread of the disease in France, the Commission is not supporting a worldwide blockade on French beef, which it did impose on Britain for more than three years following the first outbreak of BSE in the UK.

The ban on meat and bonemeal feed, initially meant to last for six months, could mean that 3 million tons of cattle waste sold to animal feed firms annually in the EU will be destroyed, which could cost the taxpayer 3bn euros (£1.8bn), while the combined cost to farmers in lost revenues and to the food industry is estimated at 1.5bn euros. The EU is expected to fund 70 per cent of the slaughter programme and to offer funds for BSE testing.

The President of the National Farmers' Union, Ben Gill, described the meat and bonemeal ban as "an encouraging step", adding: "What we need now is... aid from Brussels for home-grown protein production - peas and beans - to provide the necessary nutrition for farm animals."

But Mr Gill said the fact that the new rules will not come into force until next year was "absolute nonsense".

"Consumers want assurances now. If this is so important...restrictions should be coming into force with immediate effect," he said.


04 Dec 00 - CJD - Emergency Euro talks on BSE

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Monday 4 December 2000


Farm ministers of the European Union countries are meeting in Brussels today on how to stop the spread of the cattle disease, BSE.

The European Commission is presenting proposals including a ban on all meat and bone meal in animal feed -- believed to be a cause of what's called mad-cow disease -- and the removal from the food chain of all cattle over thirty-months old, unless they're first tested and found free of BSE.

The Commission says the measures are urgently needed to restore public confidence and harmonise national approaches to the problem.

A BBC correspondent says the proposals are expected to be approved but it's likely to be a long, difficult meeting .


04 Dec 00 - CJD - Emergency talks on BSE

By Janet Barrie in Brussels

BBC ... Monday 4 December 2000


Agriculture ministers from across the European Union are to meet in emergency session in Brussels on Monday to decide on measures to contain the spread of BSE.

The ministers will consider proposals put forward by the European Commission last week that include a ban on all meat and bonemeal in animal feed and the removal from the food chain of all cattle over 30 months unless first tested and found BSE-free.

The agriculture ministers are expected to agree these proposals, but it is likely to be a long, difficult meeting.

Countries such as Sweden and Finland, so far BSE-free, could argue that such severe measures will cost too much.

But the European Commission said last week the measures were urgently needed to restore public confidence, and that they are an attempt to harmonise a number of different national approaches to containing the problem.

Unilateral bans

France and Britain already ban meat-based animal feed, and Britain already stops cattle over 30 months old from entering the food chain.

Since the current crisis over BSE in France erupted two months ago, a number of countries have also imposed unilateral bans on importing French beef.

The European Commission has argued that such national measures have only confused consumers and may have added to the panic.

The Health Commissioner said the need for national bans on French beef may lapse once the new measures come into force.

The ministers are under a lot of pressure to come up with a solution at their meeting here.

There are concerns now that without an agreement , the BSE crisis may have to be discussed at the Nice summit at the end of the week, leaving less time for the urgent matter of reforming the EU's institutions ready for enlargement.


04 Dec 00 - CJD - EU agrees anti-BSE action

Staff Reporter

BBC ... Monday 4 December 2000


European agriculture ministers have approved a six-month ban on meat and bonemeal in fodder in a drive to halt the spread of Mad Cow disease (BSE).

The initial ban, due to take effect in January, does not include fishmeal used in pig and poultry feed , officials say.

The emergency Brussels meeting comes in the wake of panic in France where BSE - which is widely believed to cause the fatal brain illness variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans - is on the increase.

The ban, expected to cost $1.7 bn , was approved by all 15 ministers.

They are also expected to ban the sale of beef from cattle aged over 30 months, following the example of the UK.

That would entail the slaughter of thousands of animals pending comprehensive testing for BSE, and the EU Commission has agreed to contribute 70% of the compensation that would be required for farmers.

Price for public health

Commenting on the six-month ban, EU Health Commissioner David Byrne said it was "the price which must be paid to restore public confidence in our commitment to protect public health".

Germany and Spain have also recently reported their first cases of BSE.

The UK Agriculture Minister, Nick Brown, urged European Union countries to pull together on enforcing the proposed new restrictions.

He also demanded action against countries enforcing unilateral bans.

A number of countries have already imposed unilateral bans on importing French beef since the crisis in the country began two months ago and France is still enforcing a unilateral ban of British beef long.

"I think the French were wrong on their ban against British beef," Mr Brown told BBC radio.

"For the rest of the European Union to replicate that would be a mistake.

Fish and chicken meal is not thought to be a problem, but because factories across Europe make all types of meal, EU officials are afraid feed could be contaminated .

Unhappy

The UK and Scandinavian governments are unhappy about such proposals because they believe they have already taken the appropriate food safety measures.

Many member states with no confirmed cases of Mad Cow disease argue they will be burdened with extra costs.

But the European Commission said last week the measures were urgently needed to restore public confidence, and that they are an attempt to harmonise a number of different national approaches to containing the problem.


04 Dec 00 - CJD - EU Takes Major Steps Vs. 'Mad Cow'

Associated Press

Guardian ... Monday 4 December 2000


Brussels, Belgium (AP) - European Union farm ministers on Monday approved a six-month ban on animal products in fodder, part of an extraordinary plan to stem growing panic over Mad Cow disease.

The ban is expected to cost $1.3 billion , but the ministers hope it will return confidence in the beef industry. Fodder containing animal products is a key suspect in spreading the disease from Britain four years ago into ever wider swathes of the continent.

The moves were approved by the 15 farm ministers in an emergency session, despite misgivings by some countries that the moves would be too costly.

An EU farm official who asked not to be named said Germany and Finland voted against the ban, while Belgium abstained.

EU Health Commissioner David Byrne conceded the proposals would be expensive. ``But it is the price which must be paid to restore public confidence in our commitment to protect public health,'' he said before the final vote.

French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany, who chaired the crisis meeting, argued the ban would ``allow Europe to take a major step forward'' in containing Mad Cow.

A call to temporarily ban all livestock feed containing meat and bonemeal failed to find the necessary majority at the last EU farm meeting.

The ministers were also assessing proposals to keep untested animals that are more than 30 months old out of the food chain, measures which would further sap already stretched farm budgets and raise huge practical problems.

A purchase for destruction scheme proposed by EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fishler for older animals would add another $1 billion to the bill for European taxpayers.

``Unusual situations justify specific and, if need be, unusual answers,'' said Fischler.

Glavany said France wanted for its farmers ``compensations matching the traumas the sector is going through.''

Germany, where a first Mad Cow case was discovered two weeks ago, had other thoughts.

``We want to examine where help is needed,'' Finance Minister Hans Eichel said over the weekend. ``But you also have to see that agriculture is the sector of the economy with the highest subsidies.''

The Mad Cow crisis reappeared two months ago when an increase in French cases and a scandal that tainted beef might have made it to supermarket shelves heightened consumer anxiety. It was exacerbated when the first cases in Germany and Spain were recorded, further indications that current measures to contain the disease were inadequate.

At the heart of the scandal is the fear that the cattle disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, can spread to humans through the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Two people in France and 80 in Britain have died from the human form of the disease; 89 people across the EU have been infected.


04 Dec 00 - CJD - Euro farm ministers meet for BSE crisis talks

Ananova

PA News ... Monday 4 December 2000


European farm ministers are meeting in Brussels for crisis talks expected to result in tough new restrictions on cattle feed to control the spread of Mad Cow disease (BSE) throughout the continent.

The restrictions, set to be imposed throughout the European Union, are more stringent than those introduced by Britain in 1996 following the establishment of a probable link between BSE and the lethal human condition variant CJD.

The meeting comes after panic in France, where BSE cases are rising and four human victims of vCJD have been identified, and Germany, which has just reported its first infected cow.

The existing ban on meat and bonemeal (MBM) feed for cattle could be extended to all other animals including pigs, chickens and pets, and feed containing fish meal and chicken remains could also be banned.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown says that he is prepared to accept the proposed Europe-wide controls on beef production, which go further than British scientists have so far deemed necessary.

The Phillips Report into the previous government's handling of BSE has made clear that it is not enough for politicians to sit back and wait for firm scientific advice before taking precautions, he said.

The proposals were drawn up by a meeting of the EU's veterinary committee last week, and were passed on for approval by ministers to ensure that they enjoy full support from Governments around Europe.

As well as the extended MBM ban, the commission is proposing a ban on all cattle over 30 months' old from the food chain, unless previously tested for BSE and cleared.

A third proposal would extend the prohibited "specified risk material" (SRM) which should be removed from all cattle carcasses, to include the whole intestine as well as the brain, spleen and spinal cord.


04 Dec 00 - CJD - Ministers urged to act swiftly on BSE

Ananova

PA News ... Monday 4 December 2000


The European Commission has urged EU agriculture ministers to speed through new measures to fight Mad Cow disease without delay.

The plea came as the ministers gathered in Brussels to consider a temporary ban on feeding meat and bonemeal (MBM) to any animals, including pigs, poultry and even pets.

They are also under pressure to bring in a ban on all cattle over 30-months-old from the food chain unless previously tested for BSE and cleared as fit for human consumption.

Both moves already apply in the UK and a third Commission proposal to extend the list of banned animal parts to include the whole carcass presents no difficulty for Britain, the government says.

Health and consumer protection Commissioner David Byrne commented: "The Commission has brought forward a package of wide-ranging new proposals. We call on the farm ministers to agree on a European response to this European problem."

The difficulty was to get full agreement from the fifteen member states - even though technically the measures only require a majority decision.

"In reality we need a consensus - this is much too sensitive to force through by a slim majority in the face of an unhappy minority," said one EU official.

Countries which have so far not suffered from outbreaks of BSE, including Sweden and Finland, are holding out against implementing such costly measures. But the Commission has pointed out that the same misplaced confidence led to Germany and Spain resisting for almost four years the implementation of earlier Commission pressure to take action - and now both countries are affected.

The extra measures should help restore consumer confidence in beef, according to Mr Byrne.

One Commission incentive for agreeing the plan is that Brussels will help member states compensate farmers for destroying all cattle over 30-months-old - supplying 70% of the cost.


04 Dec 00 - CJD - EU bans animal meal to fight BSE

Staff Reporter

Times ... Monday 4 December 2000


EU farm ministers approved measures costing £1.2 billion in an attempt to stem the growing panic over "Mad Cow" disease, which has sapped consumer confidence in beef and badly hurt the agricultural industry.

In an emergency session, the 15 ministers approved for six months a ban on all animal products in fodder, the key suspect in spreading the disease from Britain four years ago.

An EU farm official said Germany and Finland voted against the ban, while Belgium abstained.

Britain and France, two countries at the centre of the BSE crisis, backed the measure.

The ministers were also assessing proposals to keep untested animals older than 30 months out of the food chain, measures which would further drain farm budgets.