Document Directory

07 Feb 01 - CJD - Poland Bans Import of beef Gelatin Over Mad Cow Fears
07 Feb 01 - CJD - EU vets back T-bone ban
07 Feb 01 - CJD - EU Veterinary Committee to consider BSE protection measures today
07 Feb 01 - CJD - At least 100 states at Risk from BSE, U.N. says
07 Feb 01 - CJD - U.S. Scientists Stand Guard Against Mad Cow Disease
07 Feb 01 - CJD - Commission approves further protection measures against BSE
07 Feb 01 - CJD - Why Mad Cow disease is spreading across Europe...
07 Feb 01 - CJD - Farm leaders urge beef import ban
06 Feb 01 - CJD - EU's Mad Cow Plan Must Not Become Protectionism -WTO
06 Feb 01 - CJD - beefing up support for British farmers
06 Feb 01 - CJD - Nation told not to panic despite proven BSE Risk
06 Feb 01 - CJD - Brazil demands Canada lift ban on beef
06 Feb 01 - CJD - Turks say British blood may be tainted
06 Feb 01 - CJD - Koreans Buy Less beef for Fear of Mad Cow Disease
06 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease: Could it come here? Should we worry?
06 Feb 01 - CJD - Leftovers Not Related to Mad Cow Disease: Ministry
06 Feb 01 - CJD - UK, Italy Urge Clear Meat, Animal Foodstuff Labels
05 Feb 01 - CJD - CJD link to exported blood
05 Feb 01 - CJD - beef Seized In Breaches Of BSE Controls
05 Feb 01 - CJD - Monsanto beanfeast as BSE crisis bites
05 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Scare Lingers in S. Korea
05 Feb 01 - CJD - A Mad Cow chronology
05 Feb 01 - CJD - Supplements Raise Mad Cow Concerns
05 Feb 01 - CJD - Companies Race to Develop Better Mad Cow Test



07 Feb 01 - CJD - Poland Bans Import of beef Gelatin Over Mad Cow Fears

Agence France Presse

Central Europe Online- Wednesday 7 February 2001


WARSAW, Feb 6, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) Polish authorities have decided to ban the import and transit of beef gelatin and related products to prevent possible human contamination from Mad Cow disease, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

The ban which goes into effect Thursday should "prevent the danger of the transmission of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)," the ministry said in a statement.

beef gelatin is often used in yogurt and candy, and in some medicines.

BSE, or Mad Cow disease, is believed to be transmissible to humans as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a deadly brain-wasting condition.

Poland has blocked the import of cattle and beef products from a dozen countries which have reported cases of BSE -- Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

Health inspectors have visited more than 40,000 of the country's 200,000 shops and removed from shelves tons of goods containing beef products from countries reporting BSE cases.

Poland has also banned imports and transit of meat and bone meal through Poland. The meal, which contains the ground remains of animals, has been identified as one of the main vehicles of the spread of BSE in cattle.

Poland has no reported cases of BSE or vCJD. ((c) 2001 Agence France Presse)


07 Feb 01 - CJD - EU vets back T-bone ban

Staff Reporter

CNN- Wednesday 7 February 2001


BRUSSELS, Belgium -- European Union veterinary chiefs have endorsed plans to curb sales of T-bone steaks amid fears of Mad Cow disease.

The ban on beef containing vertebral column - affecting popular cuts such as T-bone and rib eye steaks -- will apply in all 15 member states except Sweden, Finland, Austria, Britain and Portugal.

These countries have either had no known native cases of Mad Cow disease or have introduced extra safety checks.

An EU official said the proposal, presented by the European Commission, was adopted by the powerful Standing Veterinary Committee meaning controls will come into force on April 1.

The official said a decision on a separate proposal to subject ruminant fats, or tallow, to pressure-cooking before their use in animal feed was postponed.

The bovine spinal cord, the primary nerve tissue along with the brain, has long been seen as the breeding and transmission ground for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease.

Eating BSE-infected meat has been linked to the brain-wasting human new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Last week EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler told European agriculture ministers that beef sales in the 15 member states were down by an average of 27 percent and still falling.

Many non-EU countries are banning imports from the EU, threatening to create a huge market surplus with no foreseeable outlet, he added.

The ministers were told that the BSE crisis is having a much worse effect than previously thought and could stretch the union's agriculture budget to breaking point.

The cost of the BSE crisis sweeping Europe has been put at three billion euros ($2.75 billion) for 2001 alone, while the surplus available in the EU budget to deal with such crises is just 1.2 billion euros, and already accounted for.


07 Feb 01 - CJD - EU Veterinary Committee to consider BSE protection measures today

Ananova

PA News- Wednesday 7 February 2001


BRUSSELS (AFX) - The EU's Standing Veterinary Committee will today consider three proposals put forward by the European Commission to protect against exposure to BSE, the commission said.

If the proposals are accepted, the vertebral column will be removed from all cattle over 12 months and mechanically recovered meat will be forbidden from all bones of ruminants, it said.

Animal fats rendered from ruminants for food and feed will be required to be pressure-cooked, while certain hydrolysed proteins from fish and feathers will be authorised, it said.


07 Feb 01 - CJD - At least 100 states at Risk from BSE, U.N. says

By David Brough

Phoenixaz.com- Wednesday 7 February 2001


ROME, Feb 7 (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Wednesday that at least 100 countries were at risk from Mad Cow disease and urged them to take tough action including a ban on feeding meat-based meal to cattle, sheep and goats.

``FAO estimates that between 1986-96 up to today, meat and bone meal (MBM) from Europe was exported to more than 100 countries,'' Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told Reuters.

``Around 100 countries imported live cattle. Some countries also re-exported MBM to third countries,'' Diouf said in a written answer to Reuters questions on Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

``All countries which have imported cattle or meat and bone meal which originated from Western Europe, during and since the 1980s, can therefore be considered at risk from the disease,'' Diouf added.

``Regions which have imported sizeable quantities of meat meal from the UK during and since the 1980s include the Near East, Eastern Europe and Asia,'' said the director-general, whose organisation is best known for its drive to reduce world hunger.

BSE was first found in British herds in 1986.

Many scientists believe the use of MBM in cattle feed triggers the brain-wasting disease. The EU has banned the use of MBM in animal feed for six months from January 1.

Diouf advised countries at risk from Mad Cow disease to ban feeding MBM to cattle, sheep and goats.

The director-general was asked by Reuters what advice he would give to countries outside Western Europe which are concerned about the possible threat of BSE.

``For countries which have imported animals and MBM from BSE-infected trading partners, FAO advises the adoption of a precautionary approach,'' he replied in a written response.

MEAL BAN

``A ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal to cattle, sheep and goats. To reduce the risk of infection even further, countries could consider a ban on the feeding of MBM to all animals.

- Active surveillance measures for the detection, control and eradication of BSE.

- The requirement to remove specified high-risk materials (like spinal cord, brain, eyes, tonsils, parts of the intestines) from cattle, sheep and goats from the human and animal food chains. These materials account for over 95 percent of infectivity.

- The prohibition of dead animals not fit for human consumption being used for feed production.

- Improved risk management and communication on food safety issues.''

So far Switzerland is the only nation outside the 15-nation EU to report the appearance of BSE. All EU states have reported BSE cases except Finland, Sweden, Austria and Greece.

Meanwhile in Brussels, the European Commission on Wednesday proposed a ban on the use of the vertebral column from cattle aged over 12 months in 10 EU countries, effectively curbing the sale of T-bone steaks there.

Many scientists believe humans may catch an equivalent form of Mad Cow disease, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), through eating infected beef.

At least 80 people in Britain and two in France have so far died of vCJD.

``From the information presently available, FAO has no reason to believe that milk is not safe,'' Diouf said.

FAO believed that the United States and Canada were unlikely to have cases of Mad Cow disease, but this possibility could not be ruled out, Diouf said.

He said his organisation endorsed a European Commission risk assessment study into BSE.

``According to this study, it is 'highly unlikely that the BSE agent is present' in Argentina, Australia, Chile, Norway, New Zealand and Paraguay,'' Diouf said.

``Canada and the USA are unlikely to have BSE in their herds but it cannot be excluded,'' he said.


07 Feb 01 - CJD - U.S. Scientists Stand Guard Against Mad Cow Disease

Staff Reporter

Oregon's 12- Wednesday 7 February 2001


AMES, Iowa - Cow brains pickling in preservative arrive in Ames by Federal Express almost daily.

Technicians carve out nickel-size sections from the brain stem medulla. They chill them, bake them and treat them with a series of chemicals. Encased in wax, sliced onion-skin thin and dyed shades of violet, the samples are placed under high-powered microscopes by pathologists such as S. Mark Hall.

There, peering at close-ups of brain cells, the scientist in his lab coat stands lookout for a killer.

``We haven't diagnosed it in this country yet,'' said Hall, head of pathology at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service laboratory.

While more than 180,000 cases of Mad Cow disease have been diagnosed in Great Britain since 1984, no case has been detected yet in the United States. American hamburgers remain as safe as ever.

That may be luck. It may be because of that moat known as the Atlantic Ocean. It may be thanks to the humble and plentiful soybean.

Still, scientists note that what was for years just a British disaster has in recent months sent panic across Europe. Although the consensus holds that an arrival in America is unlikely soon, scientists insist that keeping Mad Cow disease at bay demands vigilance.

That's why a Texas herd of 1,200 cattle wound up in quarantine late last month. Never mind that not a single cow appeared mad and not even one bovine had been exposed to the disease. Rather, the livestock merely ate from a batch of feed supplement that included the remains of cattle - none of which had any known exposure to the disease.

Such is the fear of Mad Cow disease, known scientifically as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, for the way it leaves a cow's brain full of microscopic, spongelike holes.

The curious ailment that has bedeviled English cattle and killed more than 80 Britons, and that has moved into continental Europe and killed a few more people, remains largely a puzzle.

``For us to develop a situation like Europe is unlikely,'' said Linda Detwiler, a USDA veterinarian who heads the Mad Cow surveillance.

``But there's stuff we don't know about the disease. For instance, we don't know its origin.''

No experts will guarantee America is mad-cow-proof. Nor can they pinpoint with certainty what can stop the terror at the country's borders.

Conventional wisdom holds that cows get the disease from eating parts of other animals ground up in feed - specifically the brains and spinal cords of infected cows. Most researchers think humans contract a variation of the disease by eating the same thing.

Yet that's still only a well-educated guess. The disease is linked to an altered or abnormal form of the prion protein usually found in animals. The prions work their way into the central nervous system before riddling the brain with holes.

It's unclear what causes the unusual and unwelcome prions to show up. It could start out as an unpredictable and spontaneous activity in one animal that is passed on to others. A minority of researchers suspect a virus. Theories of bacterial causes circulate as well.

In humans, the disease becomes new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also known as CJD. Its name gives no hint of its horrors.

Typically hiding undetected in the body for years or decades, it first infects lymph nodes, then nerves. From there it goes to the spinal column, and finally the brain.

The disease leaves its victims in a demented fog of hallucinations and with such an inexorable erosion of muscle control that people sometimes die of starvation because they can no longer swallow.

In his 1997 book, ``Deadly Feasts,'' Richard Rhodes described the durability of the disease agent as ``the mistake of protein'':

``Assault with pressurized, superheated steam in autoclaves that hospitals use to sterilize instruments for surgery barely slows it. It remains deadly after hours of intense bombardment with hard radiation, months of soaking in formaldehyde, years of burial, decades of freezing. It survives the fiery furnace of a 700-degree oven.''

His book traced the discovery of the always-fatal, never-curable brain-wasting ``kuru'' that afflicted the Fore tribe of New Guinea in the 1950s. Researchers traced the cause of kuru to the practice of eating the brains of relatives.

Its symptoms are like the related classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a killer that occurs, from causes still unknown, in one in every 1 million persons in the United States. It is not, researchers are nearly certain, the result of eating tainted animal products.

Sometimes the diseases' similarities leave people wondering which has invaded their lives. Beverly Rhoades of Ottawa, Kan., thinks her husband, Dusty, who was diagnosed with classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, might actually have died in July of the human variant of Mad Cow.

The couple had taken a vacation trip to England in the summer of 1993 and eaten hamburgers and roast beef on many occasions.

But doctors at the University of Kansas Medical Center determined Rhoades died of classic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, said medical center spokesman Bob Hallinan.

In his book, Richard Rhodes closed with an ominous conversation between the author and a pioneer in the study of Mad Cow disease and its human variant.

``Do you use bone meal on your roses?'' the scientist asked.

Yes, replied Rhodes.

The scientist responded: ``I wouldn't if I were you.''

The years since he wrote the book have left Rhodes both more optimistic and more worried than when he wrote it. He notes that some British authorities have projected the number of slowly incubating mad-cow-related CJD cases at anywhere between a few hundred and more than 100,000 .

On the other hand, Americans remain spared entirely of the horrors of the killer.

``The United States moved pretty quickly to protect itself,'' Rhodes said. That's partly because scientists at the National Institutes of Health have been pioneers in studying transmissible spongiform encephalopathies such as Mad Cow and its human CJD varieties, he said.

``And just think about it,'' Rhodes added. ``If it was a disaster to the British, imagine what a disaster it would be to the huge cattle industry in this country.''

Consider that average beef consumption in Europe has dropped by about a fourth. In Spain it has fallen by half in the last year, in France and Italy by 70 percent. All told, worries about the spread of the disease have led to the destruction of nearly 5 million cattle in Europe.

There are nearly 100 million cattle in the United States.

This country has some built-in advantages that have, so far, guarded it against a BSE outbreak.

For starters, Mad Cow disease typically takes years to manifest itself. And during its early incubation, researchers think, the malady is far less likely to pass from one animal to another in the food chain.

Cattle in the United States don't live long. Here, the industry raises them to a plump young adulthood and slaughters them, usually before their second birthday. European cattle typically live longer before heading to slaughter, increasing their chances of advanced infection.

What is probably more important is America's abundance. For generations the United States has exported far more beef than it has imported. In 1989, shortly after British cattle first showed signs of Mad Cow infection, the United States banned the import of live ruminants - cud-chewing animals such as cattle, sheep and goats. The ban was expanded to ruminants from all of Europe in 1997.

Then there's the soybean. Generally speaking, the oil squeezed from it is used in all number of products for human consumption. The remaining husks, along with plentiful supplies of alfalfa, corn and molasses, make for a cattle diet of plentiful protein.

Europeans, in contrast, have not had the same grain surpluses and have traditionally turned to rendering plant leftovers - those parts of livestock that people tend not to find appetizing - to supplement their cattle feed with protein.

American feedlots used animal protein far less often, and the Food and Drug Administration banned the practice in cattle feed in 1997. Now that material has been diverted to chicken and pig feed and pet food.

Try as they might in experiments with tainted feed, researchers have been unable to transmit the killer brain diseases to hogs and poultry. Likewise, dogs seem immune to infection from chow. (There have been, however, outbreaks of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy in British cats.)

As another safeguard, the FDA in 1999 banned blood donations from anyone who lived six months or more in Britain over the last 20 years. The agency is on course to broaden that ban to one-time residents of France and other European countries newly vexed by Mad Cow disease.

Taken to an extreme, consumption of beef products is nearly inescapable in a modern world - even for vegetarians. Bone meal is ground into gelatin that ends up in everything from candy to the easy-to-swallow coatings of cold capsules.

To better protect the country's dinner tables, candy jars and medicine cabinets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has commissioned a study of the systems aimed at keeping Mad Cow disease out of American cattle pens. The Center for risk Analysis at the Harvard University School of Public Health expects to issue its report this spring.

In search of weak links in the chain, biologist George Gray has traveled to Great Britain to observe Mad Cows firsthand.

``I tell people it looks more like `sad cow disease,' '' Gray said. ``The skin twitches, and the animal's coordination is gone.''

He has crisscrossed this country to see how cattle are grazed, fattened in feedlots and screened at rendering plants.

Gray said that while no country so big is immune to infection, the United States is braced to keep out the largest threats and contain any that might slip onshore. A network of the USDA, the FDA, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has contingencies in place if the killer shows up in the United States.

``With a threat like this, you have to enforce all the rules,'' he said. ----


07 Feb 01 - CJD - Commission approves further protection measures against BSE

EU

European Commission- Wednesday 7 February 2001


DN: IP/01/174 Date: 2001-02-07

IP/01/174

Brussels, 7 February 2001

Commission approves further protection measures against BSE

The European Commission has today agreed 3 proposals for Commission Decisions to further combat any risk related to exposure to BSE. The first one obliges the removal of the vertebral column from all cattle over 12 months. In addition, mechanically recovered meat will be forbidden from all bones of ruminants. The second concerns new requirements to pressure-cook rendered animal fats from ruminants for food and feed. The third one authorises certain hydrolysed proteins from fish and feathers. The proposals of the Commission take into account the Opinion of the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) of 12 January and follow the political orientation expressed at the Agriculture Council of 29 January. The proposals will be put forward to the Standing Veterinary Committee today.

"With today's proposals we add an additional layer of protection for consumers", said David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection. "What is vitally important now in our efforts to combat BSE is that Member States are being vigilant in ensuring that all existing safety laws are being fully applied. If the ban on feeding mammalian meat- and bonemeal (MMBM) to ruminants is fully effective, if specific risk materials are being completely removed from carcasses and destroyed, if surveillance through testing is carried out effectively, than BSE can be brought under control as has been demonstrated."

1. Removal of the vertebral column of bovines

There are small residual risks associated with the vertebral column of cattle which might be incubating BSE, largely due to the presence of dorsal root ganglia. The age structure of confirmed BSE cases further reduces the risk in animals less than 30 months of age. Past experience showed that 99,95 % of the over 180.000 BSE cases in Europe occurred in animals over 30 months of age. The SSC opinion points therefore towards their removal in bovines aged over 12 months where there are question marks over the effectiveness of the ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal and "whenever it cannot be demonstrated that the animal is unlikely to be incubating BSE....". It is therefore proposed to designate vertebral column as a specified risk material to be removed and destroyed for cattle over 12 months. This removal can take place at the place of sale to the consumer.

Where it can be clearly demonstrated that existing control measures (Ban on MMBM, removal of SRM and effective surveillance) are effective, it is also proposed to exempt certain Member States from this requirement. Thus Sweden, Finland and Austria may be exempted because they have not, to date, registered any native cases of BSE and are considered to be countries where BSE is unlikely. This rationale has already been used to exempt these Member States from the requirement to test all bovines aged over 30 months for BSE, except in relation to exports.

The UK will be exempted on the basis of the opinion of the SSC of 12 January and an additional testing programme (see below). While the SSC advised in this opinion that vertebral column should be removed, it accepted that the control measures in the UK, in particular the ban on any cattle aged over 30 months from entering the food chain, ensured that the number of animals that could be possibly infected was very small and decreasing. The SSC quantified this number at 0.8 animals of all cattle under 30 months in 2001. This derogation will not, however, lead to any exports of bone-in beef from the UK as these will continue to be banned under the Date Based Export Scheme. The practical impact of the derogation will, therefore, be to allow the continued consumption on beef on the bone in the UK itself.

Finally, the derogation in respect of Portugal is, like in the UK, based on the evaluation of the national measures in force to eradicate BSE and an additional testing programme of all fallen stock. Following several inspection visits by the Food and Veterinary Office, the Commission services have concluded that an effective meat and bone meal ban is in place in Portugal since 1 July 1999. The derogation would only apply to cattle born after this date and below 30 months. However, unless and until the Commission proposes a separate decision to lift the current ban on the export of beef and beef products from Portugal, the derogation would only apply to domestically consumed beef.

All the above derogations will be conditional on continued and improved surveillance for the presence of BSE. In this respect, increased testing of certain categories of animals will be required in all these Member States to provide added re-assurance on their situation with regard to BSE. In particular, the UK will be required to test an estimated 65.000 cattle born in the year following the effective feed ban (from 1 August 1996 to 1 August 1997). While these will not enter the food chain due to the ban on human consumption of animals aged over 30 months, the tests will provide invaluable epidemiological information.

Sweden, Finland and Austria will be requested to test all cattle over 30 months slaughtered for human consumption and all cattle which die on a farm. At the moment these countries are only obliged to test the cattle over 30 months which are at risk (emergency slaughtered or showing neurological symptoms), the ones whose meat is exported for human consumption and a certain percentage of animals which die on a farm.

Finally there is provision for other Member States to also apply for derogation on the basis of their epidemiological situation in relation to BSE and especially the effectiveness of the ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal to ruminants.

This proposal shall be implemented through an amendment to Commission Decision 2000/418/EC (the specified risk material decision) and is intended to take effect from 31 March 2001.

2. A ban on mechanically recovered meat (MRM) from the bones of bovines

There is already a ban on MRM from the skull and vertebral column of ruminants. However, there are control problems in ensuring that this distinction can be made. In the circumstances it is proposed to extend the ban to MRM from all bovine, ovine and caprine bones. The SSC opinion supports this orientation. The measure is also supported by consumers and the meat processing industry.

This proposal shall be implemented through a technical amendment to Commission Decision 2000/418 (the specified risk material decision) and is to take effect from 31 March 2001.

3. Heat treatment of rendered ruminant fats (tallow) used in ruminant feeds

Tallow for animal feedingstuff is currently filtered to remove proteins and impurities. The SSC recommends, however, that it should also be heat treated to the same standards as apply to ruminant meat and bone meal (133 degrees, 3 bars of pressure, 20 minutes). The SSC also recommends in addition that tallow for calf milk replacers should only be sourced from discrete adipose tissues (i.e. not from bones). The Commission proposes to introduce these requirements and that the same measures should also apply to tallow intended for food for human consumption. Tallow is extensively used in human food and it would be inappropriate to apply lesser standards to human food than applies to animal feed.

Some Member States would prefer the measure to extend to a total ban on the inclusion of all animal fats in animal feed or to all ruminant fats. The currently available scientific evidence does not, however, require such a measure. Nonetheless, the Commission services are continuing to review if control measures are adequate to ensure that ruminant fats can be safely used in ruminant food. The scientific advice on the safety of fats is also under continual review.

This proposal shall be implemented through an amendment to the Council Decision 1999/534/EC on processing of certain animal waste and is to take into effect from 1 March 2001.

4. Hydrolysed Proteins

The suspension on the use of certain animal proteins, largely meat and bone meal, in animal feed from 1 January 2001 provides for certain exceptions. These exceptions include hydrolysed proteins. However, clarification from the SSC was necessary on certain of the conditions which should apply to this exception. This proposal will be implemented through a technical adjustment to Council Decision 2001/9/EC to authorise for animals other than ruminants hydrolysed proteins from fish and from feathers and will come into effect on 1 March 2001


07 Feb 01 - CJD - Why Mad Cow disease is spreading across Europe...

By George Johnson

Postnet.com- Wednesday 7 February 2001


The countries of Europe are at war with Mad Cow disease. Last week, the German government ordered the destruction of 400,000 cattle in a draconian attempt to halt the outbreak there. Two weeks ago, a program to destroy 25,000 cattle a week began in Ireland. The Irish expect to destroy 300,000 by June. infected cows have also been reported this winter in herds in France, Denmark, Poland, Spain and Italy. Entire herds are slaughtered when one member is found to be infected with Mad Cow disease. Overall, the European Union plans to eliminate 2 million potentially infected cattle by summer, at an estimated cost this year of $1 billion.

Why does the specter of Mad Cow disease still loom over Europe? It has been more than 15 years since the outbreak of Mad Cow disease in Britain led to the slaughter of fully a third of all the cows in Britain, 3.7 million animals. While warnings of the danger posed by infected cows came too late for British consumers , the other countries of Europe had not felt themselves at risk, because all of these countries had banned the import of British beef. In the 1990s, as British citizens began to die of the disease, the rest of Europe watched horrified, glad to have dodged the bullet. Only they hadn't.

What happened? How did Mad Cow disease spread to Germany and the other countries of Europe? Europeans fixated on the infected British cows, and ignored the disease agent. The disease initially spread in Britain because cows were fed protein-supplemented feed -- meat and bone meal (MBM) prepared from animals infected with Mad Cow disease. But although there is a thriving international trade in MBM, nothing was done by Europe to restrict its exposure to meal prepared from cattle that had died of Mad Cow disease. The European Union has only this month imposed a six-month ban on MBM, extending its more limited ban on protein supplements.

If we are to prevent Mad Cow disease from reaching our shores, it is important that we not make the same mistake that doomed Europe to today's epidemic. Regulations should focus not only on cows, but also on the agent that gave them the disease. The prion proteins that cause Mad Cow disease are present primarily in nervous tissue. Because the skull and spine that make up a large portion of bone meal are easily contaminated with brain and spinal tissue during "rendering," bone meal prepared from cattle is a real source of danger. Hence the danger of MBM.

As in Europe, regulations in the United States focused first on live cows. In 1989, as the Mad Cow epidemic surged in Britain, the United States banned imports of live cattle from Britain or other "Mad Cow" countries. Then, like Europe, we sat back and watched what happened in Britain. It was not until 1997 that the United States banned the supplementing of livestock feed with MBM prepared from cows -- nine years after the same ban had been enacted in Britain.

The 1997 USDA regulations still allowed the importing of bone meal prepared from pigs and other animals raised on feed supplemented with cow MBM. This was tempting fate, as it is quite possible (even likely) that the prions that cause Mad Cow disease can pass from cow to pig and back. It was not until last December -- less than two months ago -- the USDA banned imports from Europe or other Mad Cow countries of all rendered animal protein products like MBM, whether from cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep or any other animal.

Thus our comprehensive ban of the agents that transmit Mad Cow disease has been in place for less than two months. We are lucky indeed to have escaped, so far, the devastating outbreak of Mad Cow disease that imported MBM has brought to European countries. The 1,200 Texas cattle that were found to have been fed prohibited bone meal, quarantined last week, have proved to be clear of Mad Cow disease.

The lesson we need to learn is that no magic barrier keeps the disease out of the United States. What will keep it out is a stout barrier of regulation -- rules and inspections to protect our cattle industry from importing animals or feed bearing the disease. Our current regulatory barrier is well-thought-out, if tardy. I have little doubt it can be effective.

However, a rule is only as effective as its enforcement. Disturbingly, recent checks have shown the barrier of regulations meant to protect us is often ignored. The Food and Drug Administration reported last month that a quarter of the 180 large American companies involved in manufacturing animal feed are not complying with regulations meant to prevent the spread of Mad Cow disease in this country.

This lack of compliance is scary. Marianne Elvander of the Swedish National Veterinary Institute is quoted by Reuters as saying, "Negligent compliance with the meat and bone meal ban is the main reason for the spread of BSE in Europe." FDA veterinary chief Dr. Stephen Sundlof issued a statement two weeks ago agreeing: Europe's Mad Cow crisis "is not a result of them not having adequate regulations in place -- it was a problem of enforcement."

These FDA regulations are our only firewall against American Mad Cow disease. The FDA has warned that continued violations will prompt company shutdowns and prosecutions. Exactly right. I'd sleep better if the FDA immediately announced a plan to dramatically increase its surveillance of compliance with those regulations. They need more inspectors, if a quarter of the feed companies are not following the rules.

Should we stop eating meat, as many are doing in Europe? Not me. There is no evidence of a problem here now, only a nagging worry. If our government does its regulatory job, then I will be able to eat the steaks I love with no worry, and hamburgers too.


07 Feb 01 - CJD - Farm leaders urge beef import ban

Staff Reporter

BBC- Wednesday 7 February 2001


Farmers' leaders have urged the government to ban imports of German beef if they fail safety checks.

National Farmers' Union President Ben Gill said a tough stand was needed if the British public is to be protected against the "real risk of BSE".

His comments follow the discovery of banned spinal cord in recent imports of German beef in breach of EU BSE controls.

Mr Gill also told the NFU annual conference in London that farming issues and the rural vote must be a core part of the forthcoming general election campaign.

Safety checks

But Mr Gill told farmers that there was an urgent need for the European Commission to carry out checks on German beef.

"I am calling on the European Commission to undertake a full and immediate - and I mean immediate - audit of German BSE control procedures and, if they are not totally satisfied, to stop German beef exports."

He added: "We must have fair play - I am not prepared to let what we have gone through over four years count for nothing."

Shadow agriculture minister Tim Yeo told the conference that the risk of BSE was not confined to Germany but also included other countries such as France.

Election challenge

At its conference the NFU has also set an election challenge for MPs and candidates in rural constituencies to take farming issues more seriously.

It has called for urgent action on rural crime and improved funding for community-based policing.

It also wants the political parties to deliver full protection for farmers from eco-activists and animal welfare campaigners.

Highlighting the law and order issues faced in rural areas a Norfolk farmer cited the case of convicted murderer Tony Martin who shot an intruder on his land, telling the conference it happened because Martin "panicked".

He said more help was needed to police the countryside.

Rural vote crucial

Farming and the rural vote are set to be a core part of the general election campaign, with 180 rural constituencies and more than 300 seats with a strong rural interest.

Key issues that the NFU want ministers to address in the run-up to the next general election include:

- Prompt payment of support cash to farmers

- Cutting red tape so that issues such as meat hygiene regulations and environmental measures on pollution control can be addressed immediately

- Further action on bovine TB in cattle in terms of testing in more areas and compensation

- Green taxes such as the climate change levy and the proposed pesticides tax should be withdrawn

The NFU challenge sets out 14 key areas which prospective candidates will be asked to support, and it will be distributed to farmers and growers across the country to enable them to challenge their local candidates.

Mr Gill told the conference: "For many farmers and growers this will be the most important general election of their lives."

He added: "Over the coming months, farmers and growers have the opportunity to press home their concerns to both sitting MPs and the candidates who are standing against them.

"Rural issues will be crucial in many constituencies. With the general election 'Challenge', we aim to ensure our voice is listened to."


06 Feb 01 - CJD - EU's Mad Cow Plan Must Not Become Protectionism -WTO

Staff Reporter

YAHOO- Tuesday 6 February 2001


CANBERRA (Reuters) - WTO chief Mike Moore said on Tuesday governments were discussing ways of ensuring an EU plan for isolating Mad Cow disease did not become a new form of protectionism.

The European Union's Mad Cow crisis had made it essential for food safety and related issues to be built in to any future trade deal, the EU said on Monday in presenting its trade negotiating position at the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva.

``The issue of food safety is a huge issue in Europe,'' Moore said in Canberra during a visit to Australia.

``Ministers are talking about this, about how you do something here without creating an opportunity for a new form of protectionism,'' he added in comments to reporters.

Britain's Mad Cow scare has swept through the rest of Europe as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy is increasingly identified in continental cattle. Experts say it could also affect the rest of the world because of industrial foodstock and cattle exports.

Moore was in Australia as part of a world tour ahead of the next round of world trade talks, due to take place in Qatar in November.

The last round of talks floundered in Seattle in late 1999 as the United States and the EU clashed over farm trade and farming subsidies, and as developing nations fought off attempts to get minimum labor standards on the agenda.

The United States has rejected the EU proposal on food safety as a poorly disguised attempt to maintain trade-distorting subsidies, which Washington wants outlawed.


06 Feb 01 - CJD - beefing up support for British farmers

Staff Reporter

Evening Standard - Tuesday 6 February 2001


British farmers will soon be benefiting from a sales drive powered by a little red tractor logo.

The farm standard is being used on frozen foods for the first time and 3p from the sale of every item in the British Made range will be ploughed into a National Farmers' Union fund.

These "frozen assets" will initially be used to provide marketing support for NFU members on British beef and sheep farms, and smaller producers in particular will be targeted by the initiative.

The union said the money will be used to help livestock farmers meet more closely and efficiently the specifications of buyers to achieve the best price for their goods.

The project also plans to include free benchmarking guides for producers, advice and training days.

The farm standard seal will appear on Perkins Frozen Foods' new British Made quality pork sausages, beef quarter pounders and beef grillsteaks made from meat reared to red tractor specifications.

Bill Sibbett, the company's UK sales director, said: "There has never been a better time to celebrate British produce and we are proud to be associated with the continuing success of the British Farm Standard little red tractor.

"It's a genuine stamp of assurance that we believe British shoppers will take confidence in.

"The 3p contribution from each pack will go directly into the NFU fund to develop initiatives.

The range of British Made products will be on sale at Asda and Farm Foods stores and may also soon be extended to include home-produced poultry.

Supermarket giant Tesco could also have the products in their freezer section by the end of March.

Ben Gill, NFU president, said: "The NFU wishes to thank Perkins. We hope the initiative will win widescale support from the public."


06 Feb 01 - CJD - Nation told not to panic despite proven BSE Risk

Lara Sukhtian

Daily Star - Tuesday 6 February 2001


Lebanese news

Lara Sukhtian reports on preventative measures in place

This is the first in a two-part series onthe latest issue to grab the attention of theLebanese public: bovine spongiformencephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease, and its potential consequences to human health.

Governments in some West European countries are still trying to figure out how to efficiently incinerate the 2 million head of cattle that have been sentenced to death because they could be infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow disease.

In the past three weeks alone, 30,000 cattle have been destroyed in France. And Ireland is debating whether or not to construct its first large animal incinerator.

In a Time article published last week, headlines read "German beef imports unsafe" due to the discovery of spinal-chord remnants (considered "specified risk material" under EU law) in 59,000 tons of beef imported by Northern Ireland and Britain.

Meanwhile, Lebanon continues to import cattle from Ireland, Germany and France.

According to Mansour Kassab, head of the animal resource directorate at the Ministry of Agriculture and president of the Order of Lebanese Veterinarians, it is safe to import cattle from these countries because they "are carrying out epidemiological programs for BSE eradication and surveillance in accordance with Animal Health International's recommendations."

It is widely believed that cattle became infected with BSE because they were fed meat and bone meal (MBM) from animals that were already infected with the disease. Current surveillance regulations ensure that European cattle are inspected for BSE on a regular basis and those herds in which cases of BSE are found are destroyed.

All cattle imported to Lebanon arrive with 10-digit tags pinned to their ears, Kassab explained. The tags allow officials from the agriculture and health ministries to trace where and when a cow was born, which herd it came from, and from what farm.

Once checked by government-employed veterinarians at the port, the cows are then immediately released to merchants, who in turn are supposed to have them slaughtered in slaughterhouses supervised by government officials. The carcasses are then distributed to butcher shops around the country.

While Lebanon has not imported cattle from Britain where the BSE scare first reared its ugly head since 1994, warnings in the latest Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report on BSE indicate that this is not something we should be tooting our horns about.

The Jan. 26 FAO report stated that "all countries which have imported cattle or bone meal from Western Europe, especially the UK, during and since the 1980s, can be considered at risk from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) the human form of Mad Cow disease."

As a result, Lebanon is at risk because its only source of cattle imports has been Western Europe, including the UK, throughout and since the 1980s. And although today we have increasingly tighter regulations on the import of cattle, this was not always the case in the past.

Kassab argued, however, that "this does not mean we should go into a frenzied panic," maintaining that if there were any cases of BSE in Lebanon, "they would have appeared by now."

Kassab based his argument on the fact that Lebanon has, for a number of years, only imported cattle that are under 30 months of age, which is the point at which BSE develops in cattle. After the discovery of a case of BSE in Germany three months ago in a 28-month-old cow, the age limit for cattle imports has been brought down to 24 months.

"We haven't imported cattle over 30 months since 1996," said Maarouf Bekdache, executive president of the Syndicate of Butchers and Livestock Traders, "and now, to be on the safe side, we only import cattle under 24 months old. So really there is no reason for this panic that has gone out of control."

A sizable decrease of beef sales in the past few months, however, shows that consumers are less confident about the ability of the authorities to prevent an outbreak of BSE here.

The ministry also claims that serious precautions have been taken regarding MBM imports and their use. According to Kassab, cattle in Lebanon have never been fed MBM.

"We import MBM for use in poultry, never in cattle," said Kassab. But can the government be sure that the influx of MBM into Lebanon did not get into the hands of corrupt cattle merchants hoping to raise a stronger, tastier, and more plump set of cows by feeding them MBM?

"We have had inspection teams go out all over the country tracking cattle raisers, and we can safely say that none of them have illegally fed their cattle MBM," said Kassab. "And besides, MBM is far more expensive than natural feeds that are readily available so the incentive is not even there."

In Britain, where the first cases of BSE appeared as early as 1984, it took politicians and scientists years to admit to the existence of BSE in MBM and the dangers it posed to humans. Ten years of misleading reports, mismanagement of information and complete denial on behalf of the British government brought the meat industry to its knees and exposed people around the world to a new variant of vCJD, a fatal neurological disease.

While the ministry does not as yet have the means to test cattle for BSE, Kassab said the test would be made available within the next three months.

Official confidence that Lebanon has no reason to be concerned about BSE "now or in the future," said Kassab, is based on the fact that the government has taken the two most important precautions to prevent an outbreak of Mad Cow disease here: initially banning cattle imports from infected herds, and now from areas where cases of BSE have been proven to exist.

"Look, we are Lebanese before we're government officials," said Kassab. "We have families too, and we're doing everything we can to prevent Mad Cow disease from reaching Lebanon."

Girgi Maasri, an agricultural engineer and dairy specialist and one of the major cattle merchants in the country, returned just last week from a conference on BSE in Germany.

He is also confident that "strict regulations, over-exaggerated compensations to farmers in the EU whose herds have been affected, and endless efforts to eradicate BSE from cattle herds in Europe has significantly reduced the number of BSE-infected cattle."

In three years, out of 20 million cows, only 200 cases of BSE were found in France, indicating an average infection rate of 1 over a million.

"Given that we import about 15,000 heads of cattle out of those 20 million, with all the tight regulations, the chances of getting an infected cow in Lebanon is ridiculously minimal." said Maasri.

"Look, I'm not saying there is no risk at all, but there's risk in everything.

"Think of it this way," Maasri continued. "Sixty people in Britain die from bathroom accidents every year. Meanwhile, a mere total of 80 people around the world in the last 10 years have died of CJD."

That may be so, but the fact remains that although it's minimal, the risk of BSE in cattle here is there, perhaps not due to existing regulations, but rather due to the lack of regulations in the late 1980s and early '90s.

The government denies wrongdoing, and live stock and veterinary syndicates denies that the population is at risk. But UN warnings that anyone and everyone who imported cattle or MBM from Western Europe and the UK during and since the '80s is at risk puts Lebanon well within a group of countries that need to exercise vigilance.


06 Feb 01 - CJD - Brazil demands Canada lift ban on beef

Staff Reporter

CBC- Tuesday 6 February 2001


BRASILIA - The government of Brazil is threatening to take action against Canada unless it lifts its ban on Brazilian beef.

Brazil's foreign minister issued a strongly-worded statement on Monday, saying "If Canada persists in acts that effectively damage Brazil's foreign trade, Brazil's government reserves the right to take measures that it judges convenient."

Canada banned all beef products from Brazil on Friday, over concerns about Mad Cow disease. The United States and Mexico quickly followed suit.

There is no evidence of Mad Cow disease in Brazil. But Canada ordered the ban after Brazil admitted that until recently, it imported animal-based cattle feed from Europe.

Many scientists believe that's how the disease is spread.

But Brazil calls the ban unjustified. A presidential spokesman said Monday, "Brazil will fight energetically to defend its international trade interests."

Canada and Brazil are caught in a four-year trade dispute over subsidies to the aircraft industry. But Ottawa denies there is any link between the trade war and the beef ban.


06 Feb 01 - CJD - Turks say British blood may be tainted

Ananova

PA News- Tuesday 6 February 2001


Turkish health officials are investigating whether blood products imported from Britain could have been contaminated with the human form of Mad Cow disease.

The Health Ministry is looking into reports that 840 vials of immunoglobin by Britain's Bio Products Laboratory could have been contaminated.

Immunoglobin is a blood product used in medical treatments. The vials include blood taken from a British donor later diagnosed as suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Bio Products say.

In 1998, Bio Products switched to using blood donors from the United States.

The Turkish company which imported the blood products, Sodhan Medical Equipment, said they were not contaminated, the Hurriyet newspaper reports.

Health Minister Osman Durmus also insisted that no contaminated blood had been imported to Turkey, another newspaper, Radikal, reports.

Scientists say there is no proof that the disease can spread through blood transfusions, but add that it cannot be ruled out.

Bio Products said that blood products from the donor later diagnosed with the disease was included in shipments to 11 countries.

Health officials in Singapore, one of the 11, said they were trying to track down three vials of immunoglobin imported from Bio Products.


06 Feb 01 - CJD - Koreans Buy Less beef for Fear of Mad Cow Disease

Staff Reporter

Yonhap News- Tuesday 6 February 2001


Seoul, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- Koreans are reducing their beef consumption as fears of Mad Cow disease spread over the country, industry sources said Tuesday.

E-Mart, a leading discount store chain under the direct management of Shinsegae Department Store, said sales of imported beef dropped to the 50 million won (US$39,750) range Monday, down 20 million to 30 million won from the usual level. Sales of domestic beef also plummeted by 20 million won to 110 million won.


06 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease: Could it come here? Should we worry?

By Faye Flam, Inquirer Staff Writer

The Inquirer - Tuesday 6 February 2001


If you are worried about Mad Cow disease, you should:

(A) Not eat T-bones.

(B) Give up hot dogs.

(C) Skip steak on your next trip to London.

(D) Stop worrying about it.

The answer is any of the above.

There's no evidence of Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), in this country's food supply, and none of the 92 victims of the human variant have been in this hemisphere.

What are the chances that it could happen here?

"Almost none," said Paul Brown of the National Institutes of Health, an expert on this and related diseases.

But no one knows for sure. Scientists point out that Americans will remain safe only if we stop the dangerous cattle-feeding practice that fueled the epidemic in England - in particular, feeding the remains of cattle back to other cattle.

Experts are still trying to unravel many mysteries associated with the disease: How long it incubates, what determines who gets the disease, and whether it takes just one exposure or many.

Those unknowns make it impossible to predict whether hundreds, or perhaps even thousands more people will get sick in Britain and around Europe - and whether there's any risk of a problem in the United States.

Here's what is known so far:

What is Mad Cow?

Mad Cow disease is a fatal brain disorder caused by an abnormal form of protein known as a prion.

About 130,000 cattle have picked up the disease, most of them in Britain, with a few cases in other European countries. The disease causes them to become disoriented, clumsy and wasted.

Ninety-two people, most in Britain, are believed to have contracted a human form of the disease from eating the meat of infected cattle.

What are prions and how do they cause disease?

Unlike viruses or bacteria, prions are not life forms in themselves, but merely protein molecules that can become misshapen. brains are full of normal prions, but if abnormal prions appear in the brain, they can cause disease by converting normal protein molecules nearby into their deadly form. Deposits, called plaques, start to form in the brain. Eventually the brain becomes full of holes, like a sponge, and can no longer control vital functions.

Mad Cow is one of a family of prion diseases that strike humans and other animals. A closely related illness, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), strikes several hundred people in the United States every year, most of them over age 55. CJD was around long before Mad Cow disease appeared, and is not linked to beef consumption.

Haven't some people here contracted Mad Cow disease?

No. About one in a million people every year get CJD, which appears to be caused by a different abnormal prion. It can crop up spontaneously, be related to genetic disorders, and in rare cases be transmitted by brain surgery or corneal transplants. People often become confused by the terminology since the human form of Mad Cow disease found in Europe is called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are examining autopsy results from 40 percent of the American victims of the existing form of CJD, checking whether their brains show the characteristic pattern seen in new variant CJD.

Where has the disease occurred?

Nearly all cases of infection in cattle have occurred in Britain, though in the last several months, infected animals have turned up in France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

There have been 88 human cases in Britain, three in France and one in Ireland. Most have died.

Can cattle be tested for it?

Yes, animals can be tested by examining their brains after they are slaughtered. Those tests were important in recognizing that the disease had crept into other countries in Europe.

Tests done in the United States show no evidence of Mad Cow disease. The tests are not done on all cattle - just a sample that scientists say should be big enough to detect some cases if the disease exists here.

Can it be found in other animals?

In experiments, researchers have infected monkeys and mice with Mad Cow disease by feeding them brain tissue from infected cattle. That clued in the scientific community that there was a danger in Britain years before the government acknowledged it.

In the United States, there have been reports of related diseases in mink and deer. These are not Mad Cow disease, said prion researcher Judd Aiken of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, although all have been fatal. These animals did not get the disease from England, nor did they get it from eating beef. sheep can suffer from another prion disease called scrapie.

How the mink, deer and sheep acquire these prion diseases is not well understood. Nor is it known how easy it is to transmit the deer disease to humans who eat venison.

How is Mad Cow passed on to people?

Humans are thought to get new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease by eating meat from infected animals. The disease appears to incubate for years - perhaps as long as 30 years - before symptoms appear, although there is disagreement among scientists over when the 92 victims in Europe acquired the prions.

There is no evidence that a prion disease can be transmitted from person to person, unless they practice cannibalism. In New Guinea, people got a form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, called kuru, from eating the bodies, including the brains, of their dead relatives.

Is there a way to tell whether a human has it?

New variant CJD has often been mistaken for schizophrenia, anxiety or other psychiatric disorders. Most of the people who contracted it didn't realize they had a physical illness until they started to lose strength and coordination. Some were committed to psychiatric hospitals.

At autopsy, doctors can distinguish the disease from the existing breed of CJD or other neurologic conditions.

Is there a treatment?

There is no treatment for Mad Cow or either kind of CJD. Scientists are researching ways to stop prions from destroying the brain.

How big will the epidemic become?

That depends on the incubation time, which now is unknown. It also depends on how much infected beef actually entered European food, and how likely it is for a person who eats meat from an infected cow to get sick. Those factors aren't known, either.

Millions of people in Britain have eaten beef, and thousands may have consumed meat from diseased animals at some point. Of those, very few have gotten sick so far.

Because cattle are known to have gotten the disease in England since 1986 and the first human cases didn't begin to show up until nearly 10 years later, scientists believe the incubation time is quite long. If it follows the same pattern as kuru in New Guinea, it could take 20 to 30 years to appear.

In the best case, the disease would have an incubation time of about 10 years. If that is so, we may already be at the height of the "epidemic" with 92 cases, and should see very few more.

In the worst case, the incubation period would be very long. Then the 92 cases could represent the tip of a larger iceberg of thousands of cases that might peak as late as 2015, according to some estimates.

How much of a threat is it to Americans?

There are two ways the disease could break out here - both considered extremely unlikely. First, it could come from cattle feed shipped from the United Kingdom after the disease broke out. Britain exported tons of feed made from potentially infected cattle during the late 1980s and early 1990s. That feed has been blamed for the smaller outbreaks among cattle in France and other parts of Europe. There is no evidence that any such feed has gotten to the United States, however.

The second and more likely way we could get a Mad Cow epidemic here is if we caused our own. Until 1997, American meat producers followed the same practice blamed for the disease in England - feeding cattle back to cattle in the form of protein supplements. The cattle parts that are not sold to consumers go through a process called rendering, which turns them into something labeled "meat and bone meal." This was used as a protein supplement for animal feed.

The Food and Drug Administration banned the practice in 1997, but recent checks have shown that some rendering plants still are not in compliance. "I'm exceedingly disappointed that we're not following the FDA rules for rendering cattle," said the University of Wisconsin's Aiken. Since it takes about five years for the first signs of disease to appear in cattle, he said, even with full compliance, "it will take five years before we know whether we're truly clean in this country."

Did cattle that were quarantined in the United States have Mad Cow disease?

No. A herd was quarantined in Texas recently when it was learned the animals had been fed meat and bone meal with the protein supplement. There is no evidence that either the feed or these cattle are infected.

Are there other ways to get Mad Cow disease - from other animals, from chickens, from gelatin?

So far there have been no reported cases of Mad Cow transmitted to other food animals, although protein supplements made from beef are fed to pigs and chickens.

And while no link has been found between Mad Cow disease and drinking cow's milk, scientists can't say it is impossible.

Last week, a scare broke out over some imported candies that were made with gelatin derived from German cattle. beef hooves and hides normally are ground up to make gelatin, which is found in many popular cosmetics, candies, and in the coatings of some vitamin pills. But it appears unlikely that the disease could be transmitted through these parts of the animal. "It's a nonissue," said Brown, of the National Institutes of Health.

Nevertheless, scientists are reluctant to say it will never happen. "I've been told never to say never," said Aiken. But he didn't see it as a risk worth being concerned about.

Are there types of meat to avoid?

"If you're a worrier," said Brown, you might want to avoid European sausage, lunch meat, hot dogs, or other meat products that may incorporate brain and spinal-cord tissue. brains, obviously, would concern you as well.

The risk would appear to be lower for steak or for hamburger made of ground steak, though again, the scientists can't say for sure there is no risk: Nerves are threaded through the muscle, so it's possible that any cut of meat could contain prions.

How can prions be killed?

The short answer is that they can't be - at least not easily. Irradiation won't eliminate prions, and neither will freezing. Heat has no effect, although thorough cooking is still recommended to kill food-borne bacteria that can also be deadly.

What's the actual risk of contracting the disease in the United States?

No one knows for sure, although most independent experts say it's minuscule.

But for the sake of argument, let's ignore their assurances and say that Americans are just as much at risk as Britons, where the vast majority of cases have surfaced so far. In the United Kingdom, 88 people are known to have contracted the disease since its outbreak five years ago. Factoring in the difference in population between Britain and the United States, that would mean around 400 Americans could get the disease over five years - about a hundred more than the number who die in a typical five-year period of E. coli 0157:H7, another food-borne disease. (The CDC has estimated that 25,000 Americans die in a typical five-year period of all food-borne illnesses, including salmonella, listeria and toxoplasmosis.)

Well, how does Mad Cow compare to another exotic disease that came out of nowhere and got a lot of press - West Nile Virus?

Last year, West Nile made 21 people sick enough to see a doctor; 19 were hospitalized, and two died.

The flu, by contrast, puts 100,000 Americans in the hospital each year and kills 20,000 of them.


06 Feb 01 - CJD - Leftovers Not Related to Mad Cow Disease: Ministry



Yonhap News- Tuesday 6 February 2001


Seoul, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry announced Tuesday that cattle fed food scraps containing animal products are not susceptible to Mad Cow disease.

The ministry's panel, composed of quarantine experts, concluded cows fed food scraps are 'safe'.


06 Feb 01 - CJD - UK, Italy Urge Clear Meat, Animal Foodstuff Labels

Reuters

YAHOO- Tuesday 6 February 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - Britain and Italy on Tuesday joined forces to reiterate a call for clear labelling on meat for human consumption and on animal feed to combat the spread of Mad Cow disease.

``Vital to the control of BSE is the clear regulation of animal feed,'' British agriculture minister Nick Brown told a news conference held in London with his Italian counterpart, Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio.

After around 13,000 tests, Italy has so far found only one confirmed case of Mad Cow disease or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

In Britain the first case among thousands was detected in 1986 and then linked to the deadly human form, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a decade later.

The EU started this year to test cattle over 30 months old, which are higher-risk.

Pecoraro Scanio said animals raised purely on vegetable matter had never tested positive for BSE.

``So we will insist with even more force to remove any meat-and-bone meal from the food chain,'' Scanio said.

``We also want clear labelling on all meat for human consumption--showing not just the factory but the farm of origin--but also labels on animal foodstuffs, to make clear if the food given to the animals is genetically modified.''

The ministers said they would be taking their request to a February 26 meeting of the European Union farm council.

``I believe consumers have the right to choose--they need clear cut information on the origins of livestock products and the nature of the rearing system,'' Brown said.

``Modern traceability systems now mean that such information can and should be provided,'' he said.

The ministers announced a link between the Italian and English farm ministries' Internet websites, to raise public awareness and share all scientific research and advice on BSE.

``Even if the scientific advice is open to more than one interpretation, the information should be open to the public and the public should be able to discuss it,'' Brown said.

Brown said Britain had 177,500 cases of BSE to date and 94 of vCJD--82 of those patients have already died while the remaining 12 were identified as probable cases.


05 Feb 01 - CJD - CJD link to exported blood

James Meikle and Alex Bellos in Rio de Janeiro

Guardian- Monday 5 February 2001


CJD link to blood Britain sold abroad

Blood products donated by three people who were later struck down with the human form of BSE have been sold to 11 countries , amid mounting concern that Britain could soon be blamed for exporting the fatal human condition as well as the cattle disease.

Thousands of patients worldwide, and an unknown number of haemophiliacs in Britain, might have received treatments with the products between 1996 and last year. The risk of infection - which health department officials insist is only theoretical - has now been closed off by restricting blood sources to the US.

But advisers fear some hospital trusts are still taking unjustifiable gambles by allowing old surgical instruments to be sent abroad to countries with shortages of equipment. One source said Britain should shut off such supplies and behave "like a village with the black death".

Cattle in scores of countries are already thought to have been exposed to the risk of BSE through exports of animal feed between 1988 and 1996. Last night Malcolm Tibbert, chairman of the Human BSE Foundation which represents the families of victims, said:"Lessons of the past have not been taken on board. It is bad enough we have vCJD in this country, and it is clear BSE was exported, but this would take it to another level."

It was now more than 12 years since concerns about spreading disease through blood or vaccine were raised, he added.

The number of vCJD victims in Britain could now have reached 94. Thirteen have been blood donors, and their blood has been used in transfusions for 23 people as well as in other products. The government is considering changing advice that doctors should not normally inform patients exposed to a theoretical risk of contamination because there is no test, no cure and no treatment.

The Irish authorities announced just before Christmas that polio vaccine administered in 1998-99 had included albumin from a British vCJD victim who had given blood in both 1996 and 1997. Babies and pre-school children received most of the 83,500 doses administered. The Irish government was informed by manufacturer Evans/Medeva.

Brazil received nearly 45,000 vials of albumin, used to restore and maintain blood volume in patients, but a senior official of the country's national agency for medical surveillance said she had never received any formal notification of problems.

There has been no response from the Brazilian company that sold the product on behalf on Bio Products Laboratory, part of the NHS's blood service, which sent products to Dubai, India, Turkey, Brunei, Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Singapore and Russia.

Immunoglobulin, which helps replace antibodies, and factor VIII, a clotting agent, were also exported. The blood service said it was impossible to say how many patients might be involved or treatments administered. One patient might receive a number of treatments from the same batch, and some batches were replaced in 1998-99 after the first two "risky" donors were identified. Some batches were discarded by hospitals and all had now passed three-year expiry dates.

Such plasma-derived products were made up from a large number of individual donations, a typical starting pool involving 24,000. "There is no scientific evidence to suggest that vCJD can be transmitted through plasma or plasma-related products, nor through blood donations in general," a spokesman said.

BPL had informed appropriate regulatory bodies abroad that vCJD patients had donated blood. It had also written to wholesalers in each country and had confirmation they had told their relevant ministries. "We have tried our very best," said a spokesman. Since 1998 most plasma used here has come from the US.

Concerns over donations of equipment were raised recently when it was discovered that an endoscope, used for examining internal organs, just sent to India might have been used on a vCJD patient. The patient was found subsequently not to have had vCJD.

The Department of Health said guidelines suggested such sales abroad should not take place. But individual trusts might choose to help hospitals in other countries.

Where it went:

Ireland polio vaccine 83,500 doses

Brazil albumin 44,864 vials, immunoglobulin 80 vials

Dubai albumin 2,400 vials

India albumin 953 vials

Turkey immunoglobulin 840 vials

Brunei albumin 400 vials

Egypt albumin 144 vials

Morocco albumin 100 vials

Oman immunoglobulin 100 vials

Russia factor VIII 23 vials

Singapore immunoglobulin three vials


05 Feb 01 - CJD - beef Seized In Breaches Of BSE Controls

FSA

Food Standards Agency - Monday 5 February 2001


2001/0086

Friday 2nd February 2001

beef Seized In Breaches Of BSE Controls

The Food Standards Agency is investigating two consignments of beef in Northern Ireland and Eastbourne in unrelated breaches of BSE controls.

Agency officials in Northern Ireland are today examining part of a consignment of fore and hind quarters of beef from the Republic of Ireland, which appears to contain spinal cord or residual spinal cord.

In Eastbourne, imported German beef was found to contain one hindquarter with spinal cord marked as fit for human consumption. The breach came to light yesterday (1st February) in one of 217 hindquarters imported into the UK through Dover. The consignment was exported from Germany by Fleisch-Versand Heinz Gausepohl from Bakum. Accompanying documentation stated that the beef was from animals under 30 months old.

The discovery was made at a meat cutting plant in Eastbourne, Sussex - the same plant which, on Monday this week, received a German hindquarter containing two inches of spinal cord. These two consignments were from different sources in Germany.

The Agency instituted 100% inspection of all imported German beef carcasses at licenced plants on Monday (29th January).

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. The decision to inspect all imported German beef carcasses is a temporary, risk-based measure which applies only to German imports.

2. UK imports of bovine carcass meat from Germany between September 1999 and August 2000 totalled 1,337 tonnes (excluding offal).

3. The UK's domestic Over Thirty Month rule, introduced in 1996, applies to imported beef as well as home-produced beef. It means that meat from cattle over the age of 30 months is prohibited from entering the human food chain (with the exception of cattle registered under the beef Assurance Scheme, and meat imports from 14 countries which are either BSE-free or at very low risk of BSE.

BREACHES OF BSE CONTROLS

DATE OF DISCOVERY PLACE OF DISCOVERY SOURCE

17th January 2001 Newry, County Down Landkreis Gustrow, Germany

17th January 2001 Newry, County Down Lubbecke, Germany

29th January 2001 Eastbourne, Sussex Oldenburg, Germany

1st February 2001 Eastbourne, Sussex Bakum, Germany

2nd February 2001 Northern Ireland Republic of Ireland

[ENDS]


05 Feb 01 - CJD - Monsanto beanfeast as BSE crisis bites

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor

Independent- Monday 5 February 2001


It is an ill wind, as they say. For the BSE crisis sweeping through Europe is transforming the hitherto gloomy prospects for Monsanto, the controversial GM giant.

The Europe-wide ban on feeding meat-and-bone meal to animals is leading to a huge increase in imported GM soya to take its place. The beleaguered company's share price is soaring, and analysts who once shunned its stock are advising investors to buy.

The ban on feeding animals to each other, imposed at the beginning of this year, has left farmers across Europe scrambling to find alternatives. Fish meal is also banned for cattle and other ruminants, because of fears that it may be contaminated by meat-and-bone meal. This leaves soya, and imports of the beans are expected to jump by about 3.5 million tons this year.

Virtually all of this will be genetically modified, says the UK Agricultural Trade Supply Association, because almost all unmodified soya has been bought up to meet demand following campaigns by environmental groups.

Prices of GM soya have jumped, and the future of Monsanto has been transformed. Its share price, which fell during the past two years when the stock market was booming, has leapt by 50 per cent over the past three-and-a-half months.

Eight of the ten leading analysts of its stock are advising investors to buy. The most bullish include Deutsche Bank, which 18 months ago advised selling, saying that GMO stock would be "perceived as a pariah" and that GM soya could become an "earnings nightmare" for Monsanto.


05 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Scare Lingers in S. Korea

Associated Press

Las Vegas Sun- Monday 5 February 2001


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Officials on Monday moved quickly to calm public fears about Mad Cow disease after announcing that 275 cattle were fed with leftover food that included animal meat and bones.

The government planned to test the cattle, but an official at the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry insisted there was no chance the animals had been infected, since the meat was from South Korea - which has had no reported cases of Mad Cow disease.

"Our country has been free of the Mad Cow disease, so simply feeding leftover food does not cause the disease," said Lee Sang-joon.

Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is believed to spread by recycling meat and bone meal from infected animals back into cattle feed. Humans who eat infected meat are feared at risk of getting an equally fatal variant of the brain-wasting disease.

The ministry said 275 cattle had been fed leftover food from local restaurants which included meat and bones for more than a year starting in 1999.

Seoul's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper had reported in its Monday edition that around 300 cattle had been fed meat and it quoted experts saying such cattle should be quarantined or slaughtered as a preventive measure.

South Korea's government has obligated all traders importing animal feed and canned food stuffs to South Korea to attach a certificate guaranteeing that their product does not include any cow parts that came from European nations. South Korea currently bans importing cow-related products from 30 European nations, including the 15 European Union members.

South Koreans has been wary of Mad Cow disease after reports said last week that a 30-year-old man was suspected of suffering from the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Government doctors said that they found no evidence that the man suffered from it, but they said they must conduct further tests to be absolutely sure. The patient's family was refusing such tests, however.

Mad Cow disease was first detected in Britain in the late 1980s. A growing number of cases have been reported in European nations.

Since the mid-1990s, about 80 Europeans, most of them Britons, have died of the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, possibly after eating infected beef.


05 Feb 01 - CJD - A Mad Cow chronology



Cincinatti Now- Monday 5 February 2001


St. Louis Post-Dispatch

- - November 1986: First confirmed case of Mad Cow disease is reported in the United Kingdom.

- July 18, 1988: United Kingdom bans meat and bone meal from ruminant, or cud-chewing, animals as an ingredient in cattle feed.

- July 21, 1989: U.S. Department of Agriculture bans the importation of ruminant animals from countries with confirmed cases of Mad Cow disease.

- November 1989: USDA enacts emergency ban on the importation of ruminant products from countries with confirmed cases of Mad Cow disease.

- January 1993: Peak of Mad Cow disease in United Kingdom, with 1,000 new cases being reported each week.

- March 20, 1996: British government announces possible link between Mad Cow disease and 10 cases of a human variant of the disease.

- June-October 1997: U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans the use of ruminants and ruminant byproducts in feed for cattle.

- Dec. 12, 1997: USDA bans the import of all live ruminant animals and ruminant products from all of Europe.

- Dec. 7, 2000: USDA bans import of all animal protein products from Europe.

- Jan. 30, 2001: FDA confirms that more than 1,200 cattle in Texas could have eaten tainted feed made by Purina Mills Inc., the nation's largest maker of animal feed. The feed contained ruminant parts. The company says it will no longer use ruminant parts in any of its feed.

Source: National Cattlemen's beef Association and Cattlemen's beef Board


05 Feb 01 - CJD - Supplements Raise Mad Cow Concerns

By Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

NorthJersey.com- Monday 5 February 2001


WASHINGTON (AP) - Dr. Scott Norton was browsing through herbal supplements when he spotted bottles containing not just plants but some unexpected animal parts: brains, testicles, tracheas and glands from cows and other animals .

The Maryland physician sounded an alarm: How can Americans be sure those supplements, some imported from Europe, are made of tissue free from Mad Cow disease?

Norton's complaint has government scientists scrambling to investigate a possible hole in the nation's safety net against Mad Cow disease and its cousin that destroys human brains.

Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, has never been found in this country. Nor has the human ``new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease'' that people in Britain, France and Ireland caught apparently from eating BSE-infected beef. The government has taken steps to guard against BSE spreading here, such as banning the importation of European beef imports and the use of even domestic cow remains in U.S. cattle feed.

But critics are pointing to some loopholes far removed from beef: Just what dietary supplements or bulk ingredients containing cow brain or nerve tissue might be slipping from Europe through U.S. ports?

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration quietly cracked down on some vaccine manufacturers after discovering they improperly imported certain European animal-derived ingredients. Supplements are far less closely regulated, and the FDA inspects less than 1 percent of all imports under its jurisdiction.

``It would not be difficult for a manufacturer of a dietary supplement to obtain a cow brain in Britain, crush it up, dry it up, and then if they wished get it into this country,'' contends Dr. Peter Lurie, a physician and consumer advocate who is one of the FDA's independent scientific advisers on BSE.

As for FDA catching such imports, ``if they find anything, it's good luck.''

Adds Dr. Paul Brown, the FDA advisers' chairman and a BSE expert at the National Institutes of Health: ``The worry is not that we're getting all kinds of cow brain from Mad Cows into this country. The worry is that we could, without knowing it,'' because the FDA lacks resources or authority to strongly police supplements.

Nor are imports the only loophole worry. Animals other than cows get similar brain diseases, including ``chronic wasting disease'' that afflicts deer and elk in certain Western states and scrapie in sheep.

Yet Norton discovered supplement labels that don't reveal which animal the tissue came from, or the country of origin. Some don't even clearly label animal tissue, merely listing ``orchis,'' for example, as an ingredient few laymen would recognize means testicles.

But of most concern are spinal cord and brain tissue, including glands found in the brain. Brown reads from one supplement label that promised half a gram of imported raw cow brain.

FDA officials contend the issue isn't a huge concern. They note the majority of supplements are made from plants, not animals.

They also insist bovine-containing supplements mostly are made from safe U.S. cattle, citing an FDA prohibition on certain cow-derived imported ingredients - although they couldn't say how well inspectors enforced that import policy.

Still, the agency recently wrote supplement makers that it ``strongly recommends'' they take ``whatever steps are necessary'' to ensure products don't contain ingredients of concern.

``Our radar is on alert. We're actively reviewing'' the issue, said FDA supplement chief Christine Lewis, promising to make public her office's ultimate findings. So far, she said, ``we have minimal evidence there's a problem.''

The industry's Council for Responsible Nutrition also calls the worry exaggerated, saying gland-containing supplements account for less than 1 percent of sales. Officials are trying to determine how much is imported and plan to meet soon with FDA.

Meanwhile, what's a concerned consumer to think? The FDA's Robert Moore suggests calling supplement makers to ask their source of animal tissue. ``Just as if they're buying a car they need to be active participants in buying these things.''

Lurie is more blunt: ``I'm not taking any brain extracts, not a chance.''

EDITOR'S NOTE - Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.


05 Feb 01 - CJD - Companies Race to Develop Better Mad Cow Test

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

NorthJersey.com- Monday 5 February 2001


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As Mad Cow disease spreads from Britain and threatens the European cattle industry, scaring meat-eaters who fear they may catch the brain-wasting illness from eating beef, several companies are working to develop an easier test for the disease.

The only surefire way now to test for Mad Cow disease, known officially as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is to check an animal's brain after it has been killed.

The same goes for the human version of the disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and the new human strain, variant CJD (vCJD), caused by eating infected beef.

``Everyone is racing to get a blood test,'' Sandy Stewart, a vice president at Paradigm Genetics Inc., one company hoping to market a test, said in a recent telephone interview.

``It's a big issue. It was the same with HIV.''

And although vCJD has been detected in fewer than 90 people -- most in Britain and three in France -- a test could guide doctors who suspect a patient has the incurable illness.

``Unfortunately, at present the only way to diagnose Mad Cow disease in cattle or the human form of the disease... is after the symptoms have developed and the disease is entering its late stages,'' Dr. Robert Petersen, chief scientific adviser at Prion Developmental Laboratories, Inc., one of the companies hoping to develop a test, said in a statement.

``By then it's usually too late to ensure that infected meat or beef products have not entered the human food supply,'' Petersen, a pathologist at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, added.

``There is still no treatment for prion diseases, including BSE and vCJD, but a reliable and sensitive diagnostic would permit the testing not only of cattle, but also of human blood products and tissues before they are used in medical procedures.''

MAD COW CAUSE NOT EASY TO TEST FOR

But BSE is not caused by something easy to test for, such as bacteria. It is not even caused by a virus, which is somewhat easier to test using immune proteins called antibodies or by looking for its genetic material.

BSE, CJD and related diseases such as scrapie are caused by prions, nerve system proteins that are normally benign but which can take on a misshapen form that can cause holes to form in the brain.

Nonetheless, a few companies are forging ahead to develop tests that might find the prions in the blood or in an easily reached part of the body such as the back of the throat.

Privately owned German pharmaceuticals firm Boehringer Ingelheim said in December it had applied for a global patent for a blood test to detect BSE in living cattle.

The company has not detailed just what the test looks for, but says its animal health subsidiary Vetmedica GmbH had developed the test, which it hopes will be available later this year in Europe.

German biotech company GeneScan Europe AG, said earlier it hoped to test its assay for Mad Cow disease in January.

Paradigm, based in San Francisco, made a pact with Prionics AG, a private Swiss firm, to use Prionics' ``proprietary antibodies'' that can find rogue prions.

IDEXX Laboratories Inc. of Westbrook, Maine, and Caprion Pharmaceuticals of Canada said they were working to develop a blood test but declined to identify the ``novel agents'' that recognize the prion protein.

At least one company has been formed specifically to find a test for the disease. Dr. Robert Gallo, who helped discover the HIV virus that causes AIDS, has helped set up Prion Developmental Laboratories, Inc. to find a BSE test.

Working with BioLabs, Inc., the researchers hope to come up with a test that can be used on cattle at the slaughterhouse, and then later perhaps human blood.

In November, Swiss scientists reported discovery of a blood protein that attaches to the rogue prions.