Document Directory

09 Feb 01 - CJD - Government knew of dangers six months before warning public
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Thailand issues Mad Cow disease alert after identifying two cases
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease alert in Thailand
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Cases May Exist Outside Europe-OIE Chief
09 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE 'more widespread' in NI
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Drastic steps needed after BSE, minister admits
09 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE Fears Lead To Cosmetics Ban
09 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE-free cattle in EU spotlight
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Customer Confidence Hit By BSE Scandal
09 Feb 01 - CJD - The Commission policy on the health aspects of BSE
09 Feb 01 - CJD - China tests for Mad Cow disease
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Britain responds to BSE report
09 Feb 01 - CJD - UK condemns BSE secrecy
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Canada defends Brazilian beef ban
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Polish Company Offering Insurance Against Mad Cow Disease in Humans
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Canada Faces Backlash From Brazil Over Mad Cow Dispute
09 Feb 01 - CJD - China to test its cattle for Mad Cow disease
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Fears Boosting beef Sales
09 Feb 01 - CJD - beefing about freedom of information
09 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE report highlights food fears
09 Feb 01 - CJD - No more BSE secrets, ministers say
09 Feb 01 - CJD - Officials who ignored BSE escape censure
08 Feb 01 - CJD - Holland finds eleventh case of Mad Cow disease
08 Feb 01 - CJD - Drug Companies ignored warnings about BSE Risk in vaccines - U.S. FDA
08 Feb 01 - CJD - beef ban sets off anti-Canada campaign
08 Feb 01 - CJD - New BSE tests
08 Feb 01 - CJD - SNU Team Hopes to Make Cows BSE Resistant in Five Years
08 Feb 01 - CJD - Vaccines Replace Cow Ingredients
08 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE Fears Lead to Cosmetics Ban
08 Feb 01 - CJD - Vaccines reformulated over fears of Mad Cow disease
08 Feb 01 - CJD - Unfit German beef found in Ireland
08 Feb 01 - CJD - ECB says 'unclear' if BSE crisis caused food prices rise



09 Feb 01 - CJD - Government knew of dangers six months before warning public

Staff Reporter

Independent- Friday 9 February 2001


The British government said today that "institutional failure" led to the crisis over Mad Cow disease, and vowed to be more open about future health scares.

"There isn't one person who is to blame for this. It was an institutional failure and a political failure right across government," Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said.

The brain-wasting illness Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, devastated Britain's cattle industry in the mid-1990s. Some 80 people have died from the human form of the disease, which scientists believe is contracted through eating contaminated beef.

A 16-volume independent report into the crisis, released in October, criticized the previous Conservative government under Prime Minister John Major for being slow to respond to scientific warnings about the risks associated with BSE.

The report said government scientists had identified the disease in late 1995, but waited six months to inform the public because of fears of causing anxiety and damaging British trade.

(Mad Cow Correspondent's note: the real reason for the delay in informing the public was revealed in a document the UK Government prepared for the EU, which it was forced to make public.

At the time the disease was identified as dangerous to humans MAFF did not believe that BSE could transfer to humans and consequently had only carried out token enforcement of the BSE abattoir rules, with the result that 49% of abattoirs were non-compliant.

An emergency programme of enforcement was undertaken and in 6 months all abattoirs were conformant, at which point the news about the danger of BSE to humans was released together with the comforting news that all abattoirs were monitored and compliant.

Leaving the British public at risk of BSE for 6 months was judged a worthwhile price to pay to save MAFF embarrasment and loss of face)


Brown acknowledged that government must be quicker in responding to scientific advice. He said the government was taking steps to shore up public confidence in food safety in the wake of the crisis.

"There has been a significant loss of public confidence in the arrangements for handling food safety and standards, due in large part to the events surrounding BSE," said a government report presented to Parliament by Brown.

"The government recognizes that its efforts to build and sustain trust through openness cannot succeed unless it is fully prepared to acknowledge uncertainty in its assessments of risk," it added.

Brown said the Food Standards Agency, set up by the Labor Party government last April, was a step toward restoring public confidence in Britain's food supply.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Thailand issues Mad Cow disease alert after identifying two cases

Ananova

PA News- Friday 9 February 2001


Thailand's Public Health Ministry has reportedly issued a BSE alert after two hospital patients were found to be infected with the human variant of the disease.

The identification of the country's first cases raises concern that Thailand may not have escaped the brain-wasting illness despite a ban on beef imported from Britain.

The Thai News Agency did not identify the patients or the hospital.

"It's no longer a novel disease. It's here," said Somwang Darnchaiwichit, vice president for research at the Mahidol University.

The findings may come as a surprise to Western scientists who had earlier predicted that the disease would not surface in Thailand for another three or four years.

Concerned by the outbreak of the disease in Europe, Thailand banned the import of beef from seven European countries two weeks ago - Portugal, France, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Last week, the Thai Food and Drug Administration also released lists of imported beef products that it says consumers should avoid buying from supermarkets.

The ban, however, doesn't include dairy products and beef by-product, gelatin, which are provided with certificates confirming the products are free from the disease.

Mad Cow disease - formally known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE - is believed to spread through cows that eat infected feed. The human form is called Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease.

Meanwhile, the Thai Red Cross Society has decided to stop accepting blood donations from people who have lived or stayed in Europe during the past 20 years to ensure that the country's blood banks will be safe, the Thai News Agency said.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease alert in Thailand

Associated Press

The Star- Friday 9 February 2001


BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)--Thailand's Public Health Ministry Friday issued a Mad Cow disease alert after two hospitalized patients were found to be infected with the disease, the Thai News Agency said.

The identification of the country's first Mad Cow disease cases sends a warning that Thailand may not have escaped from the brain-wasting illness despite a ban on beef imported from Britain, where the disease started in 1996.

"It's no longer a novel disease. It's here,'' Somwang Darnchaiwichit, vice president for research at the Mahidol University, was quoted as saying.

The Thai News Agency did not identify the patients or the hospital. It said Somwang declined to give any details, and has called a news conference on Monday.

Somwang was not immediately available for comment Friday. His cellular phone was turned off. A Public Health Ministry spokesman said he had no information on the cases. The cellular phones of other Public Health Ministry officials were also turned off.

The findings might come as a surprise even to Western scientists who had earlier predicted that the disease would not surface in Thailand for another three or four years.

Concerned by the outbreak of the disease in Europe, Thailand banned the import of beef from seven European countries two weeks ago -- Portugal, France, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Last week, the Thai Food and Drug Administration also released lists of imported beef products that it said consumers should avoid buying from supermarkets.

The ban, however, doesn't include dairy products and beef byproduct, gelatin, which are provided with certificates confirming that the products are free from the disease.

Mad wow disease--formally known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE--is believed to spread through cows that eat infected feed.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Cases May Exist Outside Europe-OIE Chief

By Greg Frost

NorthJersey.com- Friday 9 February 2001


PARIS (Reuters) - Mad Cow disease may already exist outside Europe, but a lack of significant surveillance and testing could mean that cases are sometimes going undetected, the head of world animal health organization OIE said on Friday.

OIE Director-General Bernard Vallat said it was ``not impossible'' that countries that had imported contaminated meat-and-bone meal (MBM) from Europe had already developed cases of Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

``It takes a large investment on behalf of governments to find this disease. If a country does not make such an investment, it could have the disease at a small level and not know it,'' he told Reuters in an interview.

So far, the fatal, brain-wasting disease has only been detected in cattle that originated in Europe.

Many scientists believe that feeding cattle meat-and-bone meal infected with the BSE agent was the main way the disease spread throughout Britain and then to mainland Europe.

Earlier this week, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told Reuters that at least 100 countries are at risk from Mad Cow disease because they imported cattle or MBM from Europe in the 1980s and 1990s.

Britain, where the disease is believed to have originated, banned the feeding of crushed animal carcasses to cattle in 1986 but continued to export thousands of tonnes of the possibly infectious feedstuffs until a decade later.

Vallat said he was not sure how the FAO had determined there were at least 100 countries at risk of BSE, but he agreed the possibility of the disease being found outside Europe is real.

``Certainly, a large number of countries imported MBM from the United Kingdom, mainly in the 1980s,'' Vallat said.

He said that OIE (Office International des Epizooties) was not yet authorised to determine the risk of BSE in individual countries.

LESS CONCERNED OVER PIGS, CHICKENS

Vallat said banning MBM in all animal feed was not scientifically justifiable, although it could make sense from a practical standpoint.

``It's not worth banning these meals in all animal feed as long as you're certain they don't contaminate feed destined for cattle during processing, transport or on farms,'' he said.

The European Union, which banned the use of MBM in cattle feed years ago, in January suspended using the meals in all animal feed for six months in a bid to halt the spread of BSE.

Vallat noted that it has never been proven that BSE poses a risk to non-ruminant animals like chickens or pigs.

The EU had suspended the substances from being used in animal feed more out of concerns that MBM was still making its way into cattle feed because of cross-contamination.

Vallat confirmed that his organization was working with the FAO and the World Health Organization on hosting a BSE scientific conference in June.

``We will invite scientists from around the world that are competent in this disease in the hopes that they are able reach a consensus on BSE,'' he said, noting it will take place at the headquarters of one of the three organizations.

``We hope this conference will be able to make recommendations to governments concerned by BSE,'' he said.

He added the OIE will use the conference to update international animal health guidelines to combat the disease.

The OIE, or world organization for animal health, is an intergovernmental body, created by international agreement in 1924, which had 155 member countries in December 2000.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE 'more widespread' in NI

Staff Reporter

BBC- Friday 9 February 2001


A new mass cattle screening programme for BSE has uncovered a much higher level than had been thought to exist in Northern Ireland.

Department of Agriculture vets have detected 54 cases out of 2,500 animals tested on farms for the brain-wasting disease.

Last year there were 22 reported cases in Northern Ireland.

The previous year, when experts had thought the epidemic was coming to an end in the province, there were just six cases.

The vets were using a new type of test which allowed them to test large numbers of animals.

Cattle, which were identified as being high risk, because they were showing signs of becoming sick, were tested on farms.

A animal which was developing BSE, might typically have had a fall and broken a leg, for example.

The tests found that the infected animals were older. They could have been fed mammalian meat and bonemeal in their younger life, before the ban on this kind of feed.

Younger cattle were found to be clear.

However, officials from Northern Ireland's agriculture department have had to inform the EU in Brussels that the province has many more cases of BSE than was previously thought.

Northern Ireland agriculture minister Brid Rodgers has said that the discovery should not give rise to new consumer concerns, as the animals were not destined for the food chain.

However, she said farmers and the local meat industry would be disappointed.

Findings

Meanwhile, Douglas Rowe of the Ulster Farmers' Union said: "It is a bit of a setback but it's not a serious setback.

"We expected figures with these new tests that more BSE cases would appear.

"Let's not forget, these are all older animals, older animals that would never have been going to the food chain."

In the UK, more than 170,000 cattle have been diagnosed with BSE, compared to around 1,400 in other European countries such as France, Ireland, Portugal and Germany.

But the Northern Ireland agriculture department had been pushing for the relaxation of beef export restrictions for the province, because it was believed to have "low incidence" status within the UK.

The findings are likely to undermine farmers' hopes of a relaxation of beef export restrictions.

Concern about imports of European beef into Northern Ireland has been growing as more information is known about the scale of BSE incidence, particularly in Germany.

This increased following the discovery of consignments of German beef imported into the province which appeared to breach safety standards because it still had spinal cord attached.

Government response

The discovery of more BSE cases in Northern Ireland has been made public on the day the UK government has admitted that there was a lack of openness in its dealing with the public over the possible risks of BSE.

In its first formal response to Lord Phillips' report into the crisis, it says that public confidence in food safety has plummeted in the wake of the BSE scandal and only drastic steps can restore it.

The 102-page response sets out plans to change the "culture of secrecy in Whitehall" and to rebuild faith in food safety.

It also confirms that no serving officials are to face disciplinary action over their handling of the BSE crisis.

Lord Phillips' 17-volume report, published last October, criticised ministers and civil servants for failing to be open about the possibility of BSE spreading to humans.

The government says major moves are being made to ensure lessons are learnt from the scandal, but accepts that further training is needed and that changes in behaviour among civil servants are still required.

More than 94 families in the UK have been affected by variant CJD, the human form of Mad Cow disease, and the government has agreed interim compensation for them.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Drastic steps needed after BSE, minister admits

Ananova

PA News- Friday 9 February 2001


The Government says drastic steps are needed to restore public confidence in food safety after the BSE scandal.

In its interim response to Lord Phillips's critical BSE report, it pledged ministers will be more open in handling health scares.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown also outlined far-reaching measures to keep people better informed about future crises.

"There has been a significant loss of public confidence in the arrangements for handling food safety and standards, due in large part to the events surrounding BSE," the response due to be presented to Parliament today, said.

"The Government recognises that its efforts to build and sustain trust through openness cannot succeed unless it is fully prepared to acknowledge uncertainty in its assessments of risk."

Lord Phillips's 16-volume report highlighted a desire to avoid an unjustified health scare, poor departmental communication and bureaucratic delays in responding to scientific warnings about BSE risks.

Published last October, it criticised ministers and civil servants for failing to be open about the possibility of BSE spreading to humans.

Today's 102-page response sets out plans to ensure lessons are learnt from the scandals and to rebuild faith in food safety.

It said: "A balance needs to be struck between intervening too much, forgoing benefits and stifling people's freedom of action, and failing to help protect them sufficiently from actual or potential hazards."

But the Government added that it had already taken steps to improve the situation, such as setting up the Food Standards Agency in April 2000.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE Fears Lead To Cosmetics Ban

By Sofia Wu

CNA - Friday 9 February 2001


Taipei, Feb. 8 (CNA) The Department of Health (DOH) will formally announce a ban on cosmetics made of cattle and sheep tissue from 13 European countries in the next few days amid public fears over BSE, or Mad Cow disease, government sources said Thursday.

After the announcement, DOH officials said, local importers or distributors must recall all those products from market shelves within six months.

The 13 BSE-affected European countries are Britain, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Spain, Germany and Italy, the officials said.

The DOH decided to ban the cosmetic and skin care products after British authorities confirmed that BSE-contaminated cattle bone products had been exported to 70-plus countries around the world, including Taiwan.

Hu You-fu, director of the DOH's Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs, said the Republic of China is the second Asian country to ban animal tissue-containing cosmetics from the Mad Cow disease-affected areas. Japan took the lead by imposing a ban last year.

Hu said the DOH has sorted out at least 26 batches of skin and hair care products and lip gloss that contain placenta or collagen made of cattle and sheep tissue from the BSE-affected areas.

Among those products, Hu said, 12 came from the United Kingdom, one from Switzerland, two from Germany, four from Italy and seven from France.

Under current cosmetics health regulations, the DOH is authorized to ban imports and sales of cosmetics harmful to human health. Hu said local distributors who fail to take banned cosmetics off store shelves before the DOH-set deadline will face up to one year in jail or a maximum fine of NT$150,000 (US$4,659).

As cosmetics makers in BSE-affected areas may use animal tissue from non-affected regions, Hu said that in six months' time, local cosmetics importers and manufacturers of products made of placenta and collagen must produce certificates proving that their raw materials come from non-affected areas.

Hu said there is still no direct evidence proving that the BSE prion that causes the brain-wasting cattle disease is linked to an equally fatal human ailment -- new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has killed some 80 Europeans since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.

But Hu said the possible spread of the BSE prion from cattle or sheep to humans has caused alarm in Europe and the United States and that the World Health Organization has suggested a ban on meat and other products from BSE-infected cattle and sheep.

Hu also urged local consumers to avoid applying animal tissue-containing skin care products to their skin wounds, eyes and mucous membranes to reduce the risk of infection.

Meanwhile, Hu said the DOH will check to find out how many of the 260,000 kinds of medical products available in the local market contain animal tissue from BSE-affected areas. According to Hu, current Taiwan law bans the use of human and animal placenta in the production of any such products.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE-free cattle in EU spotlight

By Tamás S Kiss

Budapest Sun- Friday 9 February 2001


Major international baby food producers are turning to prize Hungarian cattle in an attempt to guarantee their products stay 100% BSE-free .

Countries in the European Union are currently stepping up cattle testing as the spectre of BSE, or Mad Cow disease, spreads. The UK has had by far the biggest number of BSE cases in Europe, but the disease has also struck in France, Ireland, Portugal and Germany.

Around 90 UK citizens are known to have died from the brain-wasting human form of the disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Mihály Boda, Deputy Director of State-run non-profit organization Hortobágy Temészetvédelmi és Génmegôrzô Kht, which owns the ancient primitive Hungarian Grey long-horn cattle, said that interest from the baby food sector had increased "threefold" since the extent of the BSE problem was revealed. He said inquiries were primarily from Germany and Austria.

"We already have a contract with Hip Kft in Hanságliget (western Hungary), the local subsidiary of the German bio-baby food producer," said Boda. "And last week a delegation of the baby food division of Nestlé, from Zurich, was here to see our stock."

László Józsa, sales manager at Hip Kft, confirmed his company was purchasing Greys from Hortobágy for baby food.

"The ancient primitive Hungarian Grey long-horn cattle is definitely 100% free from BSE," said Péter Szemzô, agricultural officer at the Kiskunság national park in Kecskemét. "These cattle are raised in the open all year round and receive no supplementary feed."

The Greys have roamed the puszta (plain) since the Hungarian conquest in 895 and have never mixed or interbred. Breeders claim the cattle have never eaten anything other than the wild grass and herbs of the Puszta. In Medieval times, Greys were second only to Tokaj wines on Hungary's export list.

The Kiskunság national park is the base of the local Grey breeders' association Magyar Szürkemarhát Tenyésztôk Egyesülete, which was established about 10 years ago to protect the Greys.

In 1895 there were more than 1.3 million Greys registered, but by 1911 this number had fallen to 657,000. Some independent Hungarian farmers continued breeding them until the early 1960s.

"Currently there are only about 1,300 head of Grey cattle still grazing on the Puszta. These can mainly be found in the Kiskunság and Hortobágy National Parks," said Szemzô.

He added, "Kiskunság sold four bulls and 50 cows this year to private breeders, but the Government should work out a strategy to boost marketing.

"There's enough protected grazing land to boost the stock when demand increases."

Greys take about three years to mature for breeding and a cow can fetch as much as Ft150,000 ($520).

Szeged-based salami maker Pick Szeged Rt is also cashing in on the Grey steers.

"For about a year-and-a-half we've been producing Hortobágyi Pick Bio Szalami, a special 'bio-salami', for the domestic market," said László Hevesi, product manager at Pick. "As awareness of organic food increases, there will definitely be a niche market."

The European Union reacted to the growing anxiety earlier this month by ordering a blanket six-month ban on meat and bone meal in all animal feed, and calling for tests on all cattle older than 30 months from July.

Krisztina Suhajda, spokesman for Nestlé Hungária Kft, said Nestlé in Hungary did not produce any baby food (yet) and could not comment further.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Customer Confidence Hit By BSE Scandal

Staff Reporter

Sky- Friday 9 February 2001


Drastic measures are needed to restore public confidence in food safety, the Government has admitted.

It said the BSE crisis was a "national tragedy" and more must be done to ensure greater openness during future health scares.

The findings were published in the Government's long-awaited interim response to Lord Phillip's 16-volume report.

Published last October it criticised the then Tory Government for failing to inform the public about the risk of BSE spreading to humans. More than 80 people have now died of the human form of Mad Cow disease, vCJD.

Standards

Outlining the Government's findings Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said: "There has been a significant loss of public confidence in the arrangements for handling food safety and standards, due in large part to the events surrounding BSE.

"The Government recognises that its efforts to build and sustain trust through openness cannot succeed unless it is fully prepared to acknowledge uncertainty in its assessments of risk."

Despite its admission that change is needed the Government insisted that it has already introduced improvements, including setting up the Food Standards Agency in April 2000.

'Uncertainty'

The interim report identified a number of key areas for improvement, including the way ministers seek scientific advice and use it to make policy decisions.

Highlighting a need to improve risk assessment it said there must be less "uncertainty in public policy making".

But it added: "The Government does not believe there are any serious gaps in its powers to take proportionate emergency action against hazards to human or animal health."

"There isn't one person who is to blame for this. It was an institutional failure and a political failure right across government", added Mr Brown.

Lessons

The report won a mixed response from the Consumers' Association, which said other EU governments must also learn lessons from the Phillips report.

Senior public affairs officer Mona Patel said: "It is crucial the same mistakes are not reported across the EU."


09 Feb 01 - CJD - The Commission policy on the health aspects of BSE

David Byrne

European Commission- Friday 9 February 2001


David BYRNE European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection The Commission policy on the health aspects of BSE Address to COPA Brussels, 9 February 2001

DN: SPEECH/01/60 Date: 2001-02-09

TXT: EN PDF: EN Word Processed: EN

SPEECH/01/60

David BYRNE

European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection

The Commission policy on the health aspects of BSE

Address to COPA

Brussels, 9 February 2001

Ladies and gentlemen

I greatly look forward to the next occasion on which I can speak to a gathering of farmers and their representatives on an issue other than BSE. But no other single issue is of greater concern to your industry. I was glad to accept the invitation, therefore, to update you on the current situation in relation to BSE and in particular on the health aspects.

It is less than three months since the current crisis broke out. You are very aware of the huge damage which has occurred over this period. consumer confidence and beef consumption have both fallen sharply. Export markets to third countries have seized up. Producer prices have fallen to levels close to or even below safety net intervention levels.

I am acutely aware that this has been hugely painful to your members. I need no reminding that we are talking about your livelihoods. About farmers who have worked long and hard to produce a quality product which can be sold with pride. But who now find that consumers have in many cases lost confidence in their product.

The irony is, however, that never before have there been so many and so comprehensive safeguards in place to ensure that beef is safe. Prior to the present crisis, there were already a wide range of Community measures. Let me briefly remind you of these measures:

A ban on the feeding of mammalian meat and bone meal (MBM) to cattle, sheep and goats, as of July 1994;

Higher processing standards for the treatment of mammalian waste (133 degrees, 3 bars of pressure for twenty minutes), as of 1 April 1997;

Active surveillance measures for the detection, control and eradication of BSE, as of 1 May 1998;

The requirement to remove specified high-risk materials (SRMs) from cattle, sheep and goats from 1 October 2000 from the human and animal food chains. Only a few months ago, I was satisfied that these measures were sufficient to ensure that beef was safe. I was not of course alone in this assessment. It was a view supported by the scientific community, by the farming industry and by the Member States. Consumers were also confident in the safety of beef and consumption was returning to close to pre-1996 levels.

What has happened, therefore, to require the introduction of a wide range of new and expensive measures? The answer lies in a loss of confidence in the safety of beef. Why this loss in confidence?

Is it because consumers in some Member States, who were reassured that "their" national herds were free of BSE, consider they were misled? Or, because partly due to the new diagnostic tests, the incidence of BSE was found to be higher than previously thought in some Member States? Or because of press and media stories raising the prospect of an epidemic of variant CJD? I leave you to draw your own conclusions on these particular factors.

But, for me, the most important factor was a loss of consumer confidence that the authorities were taking the necessary measures to protect them from the risk of BSE. They, the public, felt very badly left down. This required even greater efforts to restore the credibility of measures to tackle BSE.

Is this public reaction justified? I am often confronted with evidence, a lot of it very convincing, that the risk from BSE is extremely small. It is pointed out to me that less than 100 people have died from variant CJD in the EU. Compared to half a million each year from smoking. And over forty thousand each year in car accidents.

In is also pointed out to me that the measures in place ensure that the risk of exposure to BSE is tiny compared to the past. I do not dispute these arguments. But the ongoing scientific uncertainties over many aspects of BSE and variant CJD call for a very prudent approach. We have to be very, very, cautious.

These arguments also miss another very important point. Consumers are not necessarily reassured by the very low level of BSE. Italy has had only one case to date. Germany and Spain also have a very low incidence, although there is a clear risk that it will continue to rise. But consumption in these countries has fallen very sharply.

In contrast in the UK, where there have been over 170.000 cases, the situation is stable: consumption has even been rising. What explains these different trends. The answers are relatively clear. In the UK and indeed in several other Member States consumer confidence is in a better condition.

This was not an easy process and it took a lot of time, effort and resources. But, the evidence is there that it is working. Consumers are aware of the risks, but they are equally aware that strict measures are being taken to ensure that they are being protected from these risks. I would warn against any complacency, however, even in these countries. There have been too many twists and turns in the BSE story to conclude that any Member State is clear of the crisis.

The process of rebuilding confidence throughout the Community will also time, effort and resources. You can describe this approach as irrational, exaggerated and disproportionate. But it is the reality. And if we are to restore confidence in beef, we have to face up to that reality. This largely explains the range of new measures which have been introduced in recent weeks, including those which came into force from 1 January:

The suspension on the use of meat and bone meal in feedingstuffs for farm animals;

The testing of all animals aged over 30 months destined for human consumption;

The extension of the list of specified risk materials to include the entire intestine of bovines. Since then the Commission has put a number of additional proposals to the Standing Veterinary Committee. Yesterday, for example, the SVC gave a favourable opinion on the Commission proposal to ban mechanically recovered meat. Another proposal to tighten-up treatment standards for ruminant fats remains under discussion.

The SVC also gave a favourable opinion on the proposal to remove vertebral column from bovines aged over 12 months, with derogations for some Member States.

You may wish to know the rationale for these derogations for five Member States, falling into two distinct categories. The first category, three Member States, consists of Sweden, Finland and Austria. All of these Member States currently fall within category 2 of the geographical risk assessment carried out by the Scientific Steering Committee. In order words, they are unlikely to have BSE in their cattle herds, although it is not excluded.

There are, however, some conditions attached to this derogation. They will be required to carry out a higher level of testing than at present to ensure that their current BSE status is fully justified and not a case of good luck or poor surveillance.

Turning to the UK and Portugal, the situation is different. Both are clearly high incidence countries. However, we need to be careful not to confuse high incidence with high risk. The fact is that in the UK, for example, no animals aged over 30 months enter the food chain they are all systematically destroyed.

The UK is also considered by the Scientific Steering Committee to have a very effective ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal in place since August 1996. It is on this basis that the SSC was able to conclude that the requirement to remove vertebral column need not apply in the UK.

It is equally important to note, however, that the current Community ban on British exports of bone-in beef remains in place. In practice, therefore, the UK derogation will only apply to domestically consumed beef. In addition, the UK will also be required to carry out additional testing, aimed in particular at evaluating the full effectiveness of the meat and bone meal ban. The derogation will be kept under review in the light of outcome of this testing.

The situation in Portugal is not dissimilar to the UK. Using the same criteria and methodology as applied to the UK, the Commission services have assessed the effectiveness of these controls and concluded that an effective ban on meat and bone meal is in place since 1 July 1999. Until the Commission takes a decision to lift the current ban on exports of Portuguese beef and beef products, the derogation would only apply to domestically consumed beef.

The measure does provide for other Member States to apply for derogations. The Commission approach towards any such applications will be largely decided by three factors. First, the incidence and age profile of BSE cases. Second, an assessment of the effectiveness of the past implementation of the ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal to ruminants.

And third, the perception of risk in the Member State concerned. I accept that the risk from vertebral column, T-bones, is extremely remote. This is especially the case in animals aged under 30 months. Nonetheless, it is a measure considered by many Member States as necessary to restore consumer confidence. France and Germany are examples.

In other Member States, on the contrary, such a measure would be seen as a blow to confidence. The UK, where vertebral column was first banned and subsequently this ban was lifted, is an example in this respect. This factor also has to be borne in mind.

This series of measures is extraordinarily complete. I am satisfied that it represents very, very close to what is reasonably practical to eliminate the risk of transmission of BSE. In fact, I have very great difficulty in thinking of what additional measures, if any, could be added to the present range. Consumers should take great reassurance that everything possible is now being done to ensure that they can eat beef with confidence.

There is one final point I would like to address. The Commission is sometimes accused of going too far and of not doing enough to restore calm. I reject this accusation out of hand. We have consistently acted on scientific advice. We have made our case to the Member States with rational arguments. And we have consistently won these arguments. Our policies have been carefully thought out and never pulled out of a hat.

I take comfort that all our recent proposals have been strongly supported in the Agriculture Council and in the European Parliament. Changes by the Member States, where they have been made, are details rather than substantive.

I have also avoided at all costs in entering into any competition on who is prepared to go the furthest to protect public health. This is too serious an issue, with too much at stake, to score cheap political points. Your livelihoods and incomes are at stake. And consumers confidence in the food that they eat is equally at stake.

Yet, it disappoints me that every time the crisis takes a new turn, the response is to immediately look to some magic solution or some new measure which will impress the public. If the same effort was given to the implementation of the measures already in place, I am convinced that the situation would now be far less serious.

Unfortunately, again and again, the Commission has found that BSE is only taken seriously when the damage is already done. Left to account for past mistakes, the reaction is far too often to call for new measures rather than acknowledge past failures.

This approach has to stop. It is irresponsible and leaves the consumer confused. I remain convinced that the best and only way out of this crisis is for all Member States to accept that there is a Community framework of measures which ensures that beef is safe. That framework is now in place.

It is now time for everybody, Member States, Community institutions, farmers and the food industry to concentrate on the full implementation of these measures. I am convinced that if we can do this, that this crisis can eventually become a bad memory.

Thank you for your attention.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - China tests for Mad Cow disease

Staff Reporter

BBC- Friday 9 February 2001


China has announced that cattle fed on meat and bone meal from abroad will be tested for Mad Cow disease.

An agriculture ministry official, quoted by state media, refused to say how many animals were involved, but made clear that the proportion given imported feed was low.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, a doctor said by the national news agency to have reported the country's first outbreak of Mad Cow disease now says he was misquoted.

The doctor at Mahidol University said the two patients concerned were suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is not the same as the human form of Mad Cow disease variant CJD.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Britain responds to BSE report

Staff Reporter

BBC- Friday 9 February 2001


The British government has promised to be more open about public health scares, following the crisis over Mad Cow disease or BSE.

In its response to a report into the BSE scandal, the government said its whole approach had to change so that public confidence in food safety could be restored.

It said it had already taken steps to improve the situation, such as setting up the Food Standards Agency last year.

The report into the Mad Cow crisis accused ministers from the previous Conservative government of misleading the public about the link between BSE and its fatal human form, variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - UK condemns BSE secrecy

Staff Reporter

BBC- Friday 9 February 2001


Major steps are being taken to improve the handling of health scares, the government has said after admitting a lack of openness over the possible risks of BSE. In its first formal response to Lord Phillips' report into the crisis, it said public confidence in food safety had plummeted in the wake of the scandal and only drastic steps could restore it.

The 102-page response sets out plans to change the "culture of secrecy in Whitehall" and rebuild faith in food safety.

It also confirms that no serving officials are to face disciplinary action over their handling of the crisis.

Lord Phillips' 17-volume report, published last October, criticised ministers and civil servants for failing to be open about the possibility of BSE spreading to humans.

The government says major moves are being made to ensure lessons are learnt from the scandal, but accepts that further training is needed and that changes in behaviour among civil servants are still required.

"The whole approach and behaviour of departments and individuals will need to change to ensure that the lessons identified by the inquiry are properly absorbed and implemented," the reports says.

Lessons learned

"A balance needs to be struck between intervening too much, forgoing benefits and stifling people's freedom of action, and failing to help protect them sufficiently from actual or potential hazards."

It says the new Food Standards Agency (FSA) is now giving the public independent and straight forward advice about BSE.

Commenting on the response, Agriculture Minister Nick Brown told the BBC that public health advice will be given to the public in a different way in the future.

"Firstly, we must trust the public," he said.

"If there is scientific advice available to the government on which decisions are to be made, that scientific advice must be put into the public domain.

'Culture of openness'

"We are going to set out to explain risk better, but keeping secrets is not the way to do it. We need to have a culture of openness and the advice that comes to government has to be assessed independently.

"That is the purpose of the independent scientific advice committees and the FSA, which not only meets in public but gives its advice to the government in public."

The official response focuses on a number of key areas for improvement, including science and governments, and examines the way ministers obtain scientific advice and how it is used in taking policy decisions.

It also looks at openness and what the government is doing "to generate greater public trust in its handling of food safety and related issues".

It is not the government's final word on the lessons learned - it is an interim response being released for public discussion, ahead of a Commons debate on BSE next week.

More than 94 families have been affected by vCJD, the human form of Mad Cow disease, and the government has agreed interim compensation for them.

In the UK, more than 170,000 cattle have been diagnosed with BSE, compared with about 1,400 in other European countries such as France, Ireland, Portugal and Germany.

Concern is now growing across Europe and the European Commission has been urged to launch an investigation into the discovery of German beef containing spinal cord in Northern Ireland.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Canada defends Brazilian beef ban



CBC- Friday 9 February 2001


OTTAWA - Federal officials are denying claims that the government's ban on Brazilian beef is based on trade politics and not health and safety.

Ottawa banned beef and beef product imports from Brazil on Feb. 2, citing concerns over Mad Cow disease.

But two senior officials with Health Canada, quoted anonymously in the Globe and Mail, say the ban is in retaliation for an ongoing trade dispute with Brazil over aircraft subsidies.

Three federal ministers and the head of the food inspection agency dismissed that report Friday.

"Our government cannot play with the public health and safety of Canadians," the international trade minister, Pierre Pettigrew, told CBC Radio. "This has nothing to do with trade."

The beef ban threatens to launch an all-out trade war. Some Brazilian politicians say the ban is unfair, and they've proposed blocking Canadian imports, such as wheat and paper, in protest.

The federal agriculture minister defended the ban as a safeguard against possible exposure to Mad Cow disease.

Also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, the disease attacks the central nervous system of cattle.

Ban arises from fears Brazil imported beef from mad-cow countries

Its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is a fatal brain illness.

There are no confirmed cases of BSE in Brazil but there's a possibility it imported beef from countries with infected cattle.

Lyle Vanclief confirmed Canadian food inspectors will travel to Brazil next week to review monitoring and enforcement procedures. The ban will be lifted if the results are positive.

"Until we're satisfied by the Brazilian authorities that (their beef is) BSE or mad-cow free we think it's in the interests and safety of Canadians to have that suspension in place," Health Minister Allan Rock told CBC Newsworld.

Health and safety concerns foremost

The head of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency called the allegations of a trade-fuelled ban "irresponsible."

Dr. Brian Evans stressed again that the ban is based on health and safety concerns to "provide the highest level of assurance possible to Canadian consumers that our food safety system in Canada is there to protect their interests."


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Polish Company Offering Insurance Against Mad Cow Disease in Humans

Staff Reporter

Central Europe Online- Friday 9 February 2001


WARSAW, Feb 9, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) A Polish insurance company has begun offering fearful clients policies against variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) which doctors have linked to eating meat from cattle infected with Mad Cow disease, the company said Thursday.

Warta Vita, a life insurance company owned by the Belgian banking and insurance group KBC, began offering the policies last week, according to products director Iwona Dabrowska.

"We are trying to respond to the demands of our clients who want protection for themselves and their loved ones against the disease," she told AFP.

Poland has banned the import of beef and its byproducts following the recent upswing across Europe of cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease.

Health inspectors have inspected tens of thousands of stores and removed tons of products from shelves containing beef byproducts.

"People are very interested in this insurance," she said. "We've received many dozens of calls in the past few days."

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


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Canada Faces Backlash From Brazil Over Mad Cow Dispute

By Stan Lehman

Fox News- Friday 9 February 2001


SAO PAULO, Brazil - Restaurant owners are dumping Canadian ducks in the trash. Protesters in the capital delivered a cow to the Canadian Embassy and offered to barbecue it. Politicians urged a ban on imports of Canadian goods.

Canada's ban on Brazilian beef, prompted by concerns about Mad Cow disease, has triggered a backlash so intense that the government warns that it could spell the end of the dream of a hemisphere-wide free-trade zone.

After Canada imposed the ban on Feb. 3, the United States and Mexico, Canada's partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement, were obliged to follow suit.

In a good-humored protest and to support Brazil's claim that its cattle are Mad Cow-free, a group of students delivered a 495-pound cow to the Canadian Embassy in Brasilia on Thursday and suggested it be barbecued.

The cow was graciously received by the embassy's business attache, Jose Herran-Lima, who said he would consider a barbecue once Canada is sure Brazil is free of Mad Cow disease.

In Sao Paulo, two nationwide trade associations representing 5,000 restaurants and bars started distributing stickers saying, "This establishment does not sell Canadian products."

The two associations kicked off their anti-Canada campaign Wednesday by dumping several bottles of Canadian whiskey and a couple of frozen Canadian ducks into a trash can.

The government may take more serious measures: The Foreign Trade Chamber said it may seek compensation for losses incurred because of the ban. O Globo news agency quoted the chamber's executive secretary, Roberto Gianetti as saying Brazil may take its case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

There have also been calls for Brazil to boycott the Summit of the Americas, to be held in Quebec in April. At the summit, chiefs-of-state from 34 nations will discuss the next steps toward creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a hemisphere-wide free trade zone.

"They have underestimated our capacity for indignation," said the president of the Brazilian Rural Society, Luiz Suplicy Hafers, who proposed that Brazil boycott the summit. The society is a powerful lobby representing landowners and cattle ranchers.

The ban "threatens" the creation of such a free trade zone, said Brazilian Agriculture Minister Vincius Pratini de Moraes.

"Whenever Brazil shows it can be competitive, someone comes along and tries to stop us," Moraes said. "It happened with footwear, orange juice, steel and now with beef."

Interviewed earlier by the Globo TV network, Moraes reiterated the government's position that Canada's fears are groundless because cattle in Brazil feeds mainly in pastures and not on ground-up cattle parts, which have been blamed for spreading Mad Cow disease in Europe.

Canada, meanwhile, has moved stop its dispute with Brazil from escalating into a full-fledged trade war.

In a note, the Canadian Embassy said the ban on beef imports was "due to the absence of information requested showing that the Brazilian herd is free of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy," the technical name for Mad Cow disease.

"Now that the Brazilian government has finally remitted the requested documentation, Canadian authorities will evaluate the information... and once it is determined that Brazil is BSE-free, the ban on beef imports will be lifted," the note said.

The note said Canada requested the information in 1998. Brazil maintains that all the necessary documentation was delivered to the Canadian government that year.

"We are working with the Brazilian Congress and ministries to accelerate the process to certify that Brazilian beef is free of Mad Cow disease," Herran-Lima said Thursday.

Mad Cow disease has been linked with a fatal human equivalent, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has killed some 80 Europeans since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - China to test its cattle for Mad Cow disease

AFP

YAHOO- Friday 9 February 2001


BEIJING, Feb 9 (AFP) - China will check imported cattle and domestic cows fed on meat and bone meal from abroad for Mad Cow disease, state media said Friday.

The investigation, to be carried out on hundreds of imported cattle, their offspring, and a "huge number" of domestic cows fed with foreign-made meat and bone meal, will ascertain whether these animals have Mad Cow disease symptoms, the China Daily said.

Ministry of agriculture official Zhao Weining told the paper that although there were no reported cases of Mad Cow disease or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and its human version, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, in China, a survey of cattle was still necessary to gauge the health of China's cows.

"There is a very slim chance that Mad Cow disease will become an epidemic in China," said Zhao, director of the ministry's animal quarantine management division, quoting the findings of a "Mad Cow disease risk analysis" conducted by the quarantine institute last year.

Zhao refused to say how many cows would be tested, but said the number of cows that were fed with imported feed were "not a lot" compared the total number of cows in China.

He said China had banned the use of ground-up cattle and sheep carcasses in cattle feed since 1992, saying only a few cows fed with such animal feed were still living.

Public concern and international research that linked the spread of the brain-wasting disease to cattle imports and bone meal convinced the government to conduct the investigation, he said.

"If any of the cows is found to have symptoms such as nervousness or twitching and is cleared of other diseases, the case will immediately be reported to the ministry," Zhao told China Daily.

China had banned imports of cattle and cattle products from BSE-infected countries since 1990 and stopped the imports of cattle and cattle products, including cattle feed made from ground-up carcasses, from all countries in the European Union on January 1.

A nationwide cattle survey carried out in line with international practice is necessary to get an accurate picture of the health situation of cows in China, said an expert from China's national BSE test center in Qingdao, northern Shandong province.

He said China might have imported cows, cattle products or bone meal from some countries before the disease was found there, the unidentified expert told China Daily.

In another development, the Beijing administration for exit-entry inspection and quarantine announced it was setting up China's first BSE control laboratory in the Chinese capital.

The laboratory will provide convincing proof to the world that Chinese cattle and beef are safe, making exports of Chinese animals and their products more attractive, he said.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was first detected in Britain in 1986 and has since claimed the lives of more than 100 people in several European countries.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Mad Cow Fears Boosting beef Sales

By Natasha Shanetskaya, Staff Writer

Moscow Times- Friday 9 February 2001


The Agriculture Ministry claims that the country's cattle population has avoided contracting BSE infection from Western Europe.

Mad Cow disease, which is causing panic in Western Europe, poses no threat to the Russian meat industry and could prove to be a blessing in disguise, Deputy Agriculture Minister Sergei Dankvert said.

Fears about the contaminated meat has led Russia to ban most imports from Europe which, in turn, is providing a boost for the domestic beef industry, Dankvert said in a telephone interview.

"Since we reduced cattle and beef imports from Europe, the mentality of our [agriculture] industry has changed," Dankvert said. "We are starting to realize we need to raise our own meat instead of looking to the West."

While Europe has recorded more than 180,000 cases of BSE over the past 15 years, lack of technological progress in Russia has prevented the disease from reaching its borders, Dankvert said.

It is believed that cattle catch the disease from feed containing ground bone.

"We have been feeding vegetable-derived proteins to our animals for the past 10 years," Dankvert said. "Local meat farmers run a low risk of exposure from BSE - most farmers have not used feed from bone meal since the late '80s because they had no money to buy expensive fodder from abroad."

Western officials, however, fail to share the Agriculture Ministry's optimism about Russia's immunity to Mad Cow disease. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization this week named Russia as one of up to 100 countries outside Western Europe at risk due to British shipments of infected meat and bone meal. Britain exported such products until 1996.

The World Health Organization lists Russia as a recipient of contaminated beef.

Dankvert said, however, that no cases have been recorded in Russia.

The Mad Cow scare led Russia to halt beef imports from Britain, Portugal and Switzerland and cut shipments from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland.

As a result, out of the more than 4 million tons of meat Russians consumed last year, less than 1.4 million tons came from abroad, according to the Agriculture Ministry. beef imports totaled about 320,000 tons.

But meat producers point out that Russians love their meat and the domestic sector cannot produce nearly enough to satisfy their appetites.

Moreover, the number of livestock has fallen from 57 million in the early 1990s to just over 27 million in 2000, according to the government's Center for Economic Analysis and Forecast. The number of cattle has dropped by almost half, from 21 million in 1990 to 12.7 million last year.

Some meat producers fear that the ban on beef imports will lead to an increase in beef prices and hurt sales.

In a bid to release some pressure, Russia sealed a $19 million deal with the German state of Bavaria on Wednesday to import 10,000 tons of beef with an option for another 10,000 tons, Reuters reported.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - beefing about freedom of information

David McKie

Guardian- Friday 9 February 2001


Lord Phillips' inquiry into the BSE crisis has reiterated that Labour has fallen prey to that most governmental of foibles, a love of secrecy.

The BSE crisis and the subsequent problems over CJD would have been grievous at any time, but one clear conclusion of Lord Phillips' inquiry into the issue was that characteristic Whitehall secrecy, the disposition to hide the truth and hope that the issue would go away, made things far worse.

That finding, on all past performance, will be warmly endorsed by both sides of the Commons. Whether it will have any lasting effect is an utterly different matter. Most oppositions come into office pledging themselves to end the culture of secrecy. Most governments, once their feet are under the table and they start accruing secrets they want to hide, begin backtracking.

John Major, to do him justice, did more than most, introducing a code of practice which, while falling well short of open government in the generally accepted sense, removed some at least of the wrappings in which ministers and civil servants like to shroud themselves.

Labour, in opposition, condemned the code as no more than a dipping of toes into a turbulent ocean. They echoed and endorsed the findings of the Scott report into arms sales to Iraq, which diagnosed the climate excessive secrecy as an essential part of the scandal.

As the party's 1997 manifesto put it: "Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogance in government and defective decisions. The Scott report to Iraq revealed Conservative abuses of power. We are pledged to a Freedom of Information Act leading to more open government."

But that, again, was before their feet were under the table. Once they were in, perceptions began to change. The first draft for their Freedom of Information bill was a disappointment; the bill itself was worse.

Maurice Frankel, director of the Freedom of Information Campaign, examined it in the light of the Scott report and concluded that John Major's code afforded a better defence against such clandestine malpractices than this bill would do.

Some Labour MPs, in line with Scott's specific recommendation that MPs should put up more of a fight for openness, attacked the bill and wrung concessions out of its progenitor, the home secretary, Jack Straw. But a wholesale battering down of old tradition-encrusted walls this legislation is not.

It fails an essential philosophical test. True freedom of information starts with the principle that the public has an inherent right to know what is being done in its name, which can only be curtailed when curtailment can be demonstrated to serve the public interest.

Labour's version works the other way round. It makes some gracious and not insubstantial concessions to make operations more open. But these in the end are sops from the great men's table - not the fruits of a principled conversion to openness as a right. The secrecy which the Phillips report identified belongs, like Scott, to the Tory years. The essential question to be asked as this government responds to the findings is whether things would have been all that different under Labour.

That is doubtful indeed. One only has to look at the way the Ministry of Defence initially handled the issues of depleted uranium to suggest that secrecy - coupled with obfuscation - remains an irresistible addiction to government.

Even though, as the MoD exercise shows, it is often counterproductive. So often it comes unstuck in the end; the effect on public opinion is more damaging when they finally have to own up than it would have been had they confessed in the first place.

Labour is hardly likely to pay an electoral price for defaulting on its commitment to tear down the walls of secrecy. But disillusion with government and with politics as a profession is deepened with every episode in this sad old story.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE report highlights food fears

Staff and agencies

Guardian- Friday 9 February 2001


Public confidence in food safety has plummeted in the wake of the BSE scandal and only drastic steps can restore it, the government admitted today.

In its long-awaited interim response to Lord Phillip's critical BSE report published last year, it pledged ministers will be more open in handling health scares.

The agriculture minister, Nick Brown, outlined far-reaching measures to keep people better informed about future crises.

"There has been a significant loss of public confidence in the arrangements for handling food safety and standards, due in large part to the events surrounding BSE," said the response, which is due to be presented to parliament today.

"The government recognises that its efforts to build and sustain trust through openness cannot succeed unless it is fully prepared to acknowledge uncertainty in its assessments of risk."

Lord Phillip's 16-volume report highlighted a desire to avoid an unjustified health scare, poor departmental communication and bureaucratic delays in responding to scientific warnings about BSE risks.

Published last October, it criticised ministers and civil servants for failing to be open about the possibility of BSE spreading to humans.

Today's 102-page response sets out plans to ensure lessons are learnt from the scandals and to rebuild faith in food safety.

It said: "The whole approach and behaviour of departments and individuals will need to change to ensure that the lessons identified by the inquiry are properly absorbed and implemented."

It continued: "A balance needs to be struck between intervening too much, forgoing benefits and stifling people's freedom of action, and failing to help protect them sufficiently from actual or potential hazards."

But the government added that it had already taken steps to improve the situation, such as setting up the food standards agency in April 2000 and improving arrangements for other departments to communicate with the public.

More than 80 people have died from vCJD, the human form of Mad Cow disease, and the government has agreed interim compensation for families.

Today's response said BSE was "a national tragedy", adding that it has had "damaging and far reaching effects."

It focused on a number of key areas for improvement, including science and governments, and examines the way ministers obtain scientific advice and how it is used in taking policy decisions.

The report also looks at openness and what the government is doing "to generate greater public trust in its handling of food safety and related issues."

The report added: "The government does not believe there any serious gaps in its powers to take proportionate emergency action against hazards to human or animal health."

But it added that, in general, the response recognises "the need for government departments to change the way they operate, with the emphasis in securing positive changes in behaviour rather than policy, structure or machinery."

The Consumers' Association said the EU must also learn the lessons from the Phillips inquiry. The consumer watchdog said there were still loopholes in current EU control measures that needed to be addressed.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - No more BSE secrets, ministers say

Staff Reporter

Times- Friday 9 February 2001


Public confidence in food safety has plummeted amid the BSE scandal and only drastic steps can restore it, the Government said today.

In its long-awaited interim response to the critical BSE report by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, it pledged ministers will be more open in handling health scares.

Nick Brown, the Agriculture Minister, outlined far-reaching measures to keep people better informed about future crises.

The ministers responded: "There has been a significant loss of public confidence in the arrangements for handling food safety and standards, due in large part to the events surrounding BSE.

"The Government recognises that its efforts to build and sustain trust through openness cannot succeed unless it is fully prepared to acknowledge uncertainty in its assessments of risk."

The 16-volume BSE report highlighted a desire to avoid an unjustified health scare, poor departmental communication and bureaucratic delays in responding to scientific warnings about BSE risks.

Published last October, it criticised ministers and civil servants for failing to be open about the possibility of BSE spreading to humans.

Today's 102-page response sets out plans to ensure lessons are learnt from the scandals and to rebuild faith in food safety.

It said: "The whole approach and behaviour of departments and individuals will need to change to ensure that the lessons identified by the Inquiry are properly absorbed and implemented."

It continued: "A balance needs to be struck between intervening too much, forgoing benefits and stifling people's freedom of action, and failing to help protect them sufficiently from actual or potential hazards."

But the Government added that it had already taken steps to improve the situation, such as setting up the Food Standards Agency in April 2000 and improving arrangements for other departments to communicate with the public.


09 Feb 01 - CJD - Officials who ignored BSE escape censure

By Charles Arthur, Technology Editor

Independent- Friday 9 February 2001


No disciplinary action will be taken against any serving civil servants over the BSE disaster, the Government said yesterday in an interim response to last October's BSE Inquiry report.

Nick Brown, the Agriculture Minister, insisted the decision was the right one, despite the report's scathing criticisms of former ministers and civil servants who are still working.

"There isn't one person who is to blame for this," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme.

"It was an institutional failure and a political failure right across government."

He insisted, however, that it was wrong to believe nothing had changed since the crisis. "The first thing that has changed is the Government," he said. "They [the Tories] were thrown out of office, at least in part, because of the way they managed the BSE crisis."

Mr Brown said yesterday's first formal response to the BSE inquiry "takes the opportunity to set out how the Government is taking the lessons and comments of the report as a spur to developing the action already under way". He said the Government had become more open and receptive.

The 16-volume Phillips report said that while there had been no cover-up when BSE began, there had been an "embargo" on passing information in its first six months.

The report also named and criticised civil servants and ministers, generally for failing to act on warnings or reassuring the public about safety without scientific proof. Among those were Keith Meldrum, the former chief veterinary officer, and Douglas Hogg, the former agriculture minister.

Mr Brown admitted that public confidence in food safety had plummeted, and drastic steps were required to rebuild it. "The Government recognises that its efforts to build and sustain trust through openness cannot succeed unless it is fully prepared to acknowledge uncertainty in its assessments of risk."

The Phillips report was highly critical of repeated claims by the Government in the Eighties and Nineties that beef was "safe" to eat, without measuring safety.

The response is being released for public discussion before a Commons debate on BSE next week. It will go for internal discussion until the end of May.

Colin Breed, Liberal Democrat agriculture spokesman, called for increased transparency in Government dealings. He said: "An endemic culture of secrecy in Whitehall has hampered efforts to tackle public health issues. Government departments must learn to be more open."

The 102-page response, which is available on the internet, sets out plans to ensure lessons are learnt from the scandals and to rebuild faith in food safety.

It says: "The whole approach and behaviour of departments and individuals will need to change to ensure that the lessons identified by the inquiry are properly absorbed and implemented.

"A balance needs to be struck between intervening too much, forgoing benefits and stifling people's freedom of action, and failing to help protect them sufficiently from actual or potential hazards."

But the Government added that it had already taken steps to improve the situation, such as setting up the Food Standards Agency in April 2000 and improving arrangements for other departments to communicate with the public.

Consumer groups said other European countries now suffering from their own BSE crises should learn from the lessons in the report, which was produced by a team chaired by Lord Justice Phillips and took nearly three years to complete.

"The Government is again under pressure from the meat industry to deregulate," said a spokesperson for the Consumers' Association.

"A deregulated or self-regulated industry will not improve actual or perceived food safety in the UK. While producers need to have responsibility for safety, this must always be backed up by rigorous, independent enforcement."


08 Feb 01 - CJD - Holland finds eleventh case of Mad Cow disease

Reuters

NorthJersey.com- Thursday 8 February 2001


AMSTERDAM, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The Dutch government said Thursday it had discovered the eleventh case of Mad Cow disease in the central village of Lunteren.

The cow was the second to be found positive for BSE in a programme designed to test all cattle older than 30 months that are offered for slaughtering. A total of 50,000 cattle have now been tested in the programme.

The Dutch agricultural ministry said the cow was slaughtered on January 31 and found to be positive on February 2 in a quick test. A more extended test confirmed the cow had been infected.

The farm that had delivered the cow was closed after the results of the quick test, and all its livestock, numbering 200 cows, will be destroyed.

So will all cows and their offspring now on other farms that were born on the farm in question in the year before and after the infected cow was born.

The first case of BSE in the Netherlands was reported in March 1997.


08 Feb 01 - CJD - Drug Companies ignored warnings about BSE Risk in vaccines - U.S. FDA

Ananova

PA News- Thursday 8 February 2001


WASHINGTON (AFX) - GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Aventis and American Home Products Corp were among the companies that ignored health warnings issued by the Food and Drug Administration as early as 1993 and continued to make vaccines containing bovine-derived materials, according to the FDA.

The FDA said it had warned global drug companies as early as 1993 about the risk of Mad Cow disease from vaccines made from bovine materials from Europe, but that nevertheless the vaccines containing these ingredients will not be withdrawn until later this year.

Although the FDA emphasised that the risk of transmitting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD) disease, a fatal, brain-wasting disease in humans linked to Mad Cow disease, was "theoretical and remote", the agency added that it has requested that vaccines made with bovine materials from countries where Mad Cow disease has been detected be replaced.

The replacement process is likely to be completed in 2001.

Up to now, no case of Mad Cow disease or vCJD has been detected in the U.S. and the FDA said the change in the vaccines is "a precautionary measure" and that "the benefits of vaccination outweigh any remote risks for vCJD."


08 Feb 01 - CJD - beef ban sets off anti-Canada campaign

Staff Reporter

CBC- Thursday 8 February 2001


BRASILIA - Canada's import ban on Brazilian beef has triggered an intense backlash. Brazil's congress wants to suspend all trade agreements; restaurant owners dumped Canadian ducks in the trash; and protesters offered to barbecue a cow at the embassy.

Canada suspended imports on Feb. 3 because of concerns over Mad Cow disease, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE.

Under the free trade agreement, the United States and Mexico were also obliged to ban further imports.

Although there have been no cases of BSE in Brazil the Canadian government said Rio had not responded to requests to prove its herd was BSE-free.

Canada is currently embroiled in a trade dispute with Brazil over airline subsidies.

In presenting the resolution to suspend trade agreements with Canada, congressman Aloizio Mercadante said the country "must act firmly to defend its economy and not passively accept the aggression being committed against it.''

Brazil has unveiled a list of Canadian products that could be barred from the country, including wheat, sulfphur, fertilizers, paper and chemicals.

Anti-Canadian protests

To support Brazil's claim that its cattle don't have Mad Cow disease, a group of students delivered a 223-kilogram cow to the Canadian Embassy in Brasilia on Thursday and suggested it be barbecued.

In Sao Paulo, two trade associations representing 5,000 restaurants and bars distributed stickers saying, "This establishment does not sell Canadian products."

They kicked off their anti-Canada campaign Wednesday by dumping several bottles of Canadian whiskey and a couple of frozen Canadian ducks into a trash can.


08 Feb 01 - CJD - New BSE tests

Staff Reporter

Times- Thursday 8 February 2001


Britain has been told to test an extra 65,000 cattle for "Mad Cow" disease in the latest round of EU measures to investigate BSE's origins. Animals to be tested are those born in the 12 months from August 1, 1997 - the year after a total ban on meat and bonemeal in cattle feed.


08 Feb 01 - CJD - SNU Team Hopes to Make Cows BSE Resistant in Five Years

Staff Reporter

Yonhap News- Thursday 8 February 2001


Seoul, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul National University medical team recently detected the gene which causes Mad Cow disease and predicts its research into the gene's processes will lead to the eradication of the disease in five years.

'We hope to make cows immune to Mad Cow disease in three years, five years at the latest,' SNU Professor Hwang Woo-sok said. 'Production of a vaccine to fight Mad Cow disease is not a dream but a reality which will soon come.'


08 Feb 01 - CJD - Vaccines Replace Cow Ingredients

Associated Press

NorthJersey.com- Thursday 8 February 2001


WASHINGTON (AP) - Cow-derived ingredients from Mad Cow-infected countries are being replaced in certain vaccines as an extra precaution, even though the government's top Mad Cow experts call any risk theoretical.

The Food and Drug Administration discovered last February that a few makers of common childhood vaccines, from diphtheria to polio, had continued using the ingredients for seven years after the FDA told them to stop.

In July, the FDA's scientific advisers publicly debated the issue and ``we agreed any risk was very small,'' said panelist Dr. Peter Lurie, a physician and consumer advocate. ``It's not like they used cow cells in the final vaccines.... It's complicated.''

As The Associated Press reported this week, the vaccines are being reformulated as a precaution.

To ensure consumers understood the issue, FDA last year created an Internet page stressing the vaccines are safe to use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reiterated that in a December report recounting what happened.

One of the first steps in making vaccines involves growing bacterial or viral cultures. Certain animal-derived ingredients are added to help the cultures grow; some, for instance, are briefly bathed in blood from calves or sugars from cow's milk. The vaccine mix then undergoes repeated purification.

The FDA warned manufacturers starting in 1993 that as a precaution, they should not use cattle-derived ingredients from any country infected with Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

Companies caught in violation said they had used the same ingredients for decades and didn't realize FDA was concerned about culturing.

The FDA's scientific advisers determined the risk theoretical, noting many ingredients aren't made of BSE-infectious tissue, such as milk sugars. Last month, the same advisory panel warned that some dietary supplements - products containing raw cows' brains, the most infectious tissue, and other animal organs - are of far more concern but are not being properly checked by the FDA.


08 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE Fears Lead to Cosmetics Ban

CNA

China Times- Thursday 8 February 2001


Taipei, Feb. 8 (CNA) The Department of Health (DOH) will formally announce a ban on cosmetics made of cattle and sheep tissue from 13 European countries in the next few days amid public fears over BSE, or Mad Cow disease, government sources said Thursday.

After the announcement, DOH officials said, local importers or distributors must recall all those products from market shelves within six months.

The 13 BSE-affected European countries are Britain, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Spain, Germany and Italy, the officials said.

The DOH decided to ban the cosmetic and skin care products after British authorities confirmed that BSE-contaminated cattle bone products had been exported to 70-plus countries around the world, including Taiwan.

Hu You-fu, director of the DOH's Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs, said the Republic of China is the second Asian country to ban animal tissue-containing cosmetics from the Mad Cow disease-affected areas. Japan took the lead by imposing a ban last year.

Hu said the DOH has sorted out at least 26 batches of skin and hair care products and lip gloss that contain placenta or collagen made of cattle and sheep tissue from the BSE-affected areas.

Among those products, Hu said, 12 came from the United Kingdom, one from Switzerland, two from Germany, four from Italy and seven from France.

Under current cosmetics health regulations, the DOH is authorized to ban imports and sales of cosmetics harmful to human health. Hu said local distributors who fail to take banned cosmetics off store shelves before the DOH-set deadline will face up to one year in jail or a maximum fine of NT$150,000 (US$4,659).

As cosmetics makers in BSE-affected areas may use animal tissue from non-affected regions, Hu said that in six months' time, local cosmetics importers and manufacturers of products made of placenta and collagen must produce certificates proving that their raw materials come from non-affected areas.

Hu said there is still no direct evidence proving that the BSE prion that causes the brain-wasting cattle disease is linked to an equally fatal human ailment -- new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has killed some 80 Europeans since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.

But Hu said the possible spread of the BSE prion from cattle or sheep to humans has caused alarm in Europe and the United States and that the World Health Organization has suggested a ban on meat and other products from BSE-infected cattle and sheep.

Hu also urged local consumers to avoid applying animal tissue-containing skin care products to their skin wounds, eyes and mucous membranes to reduce the risk of infection.

Meanwhile, Hu said the DOH will check to find out how many of the 260,000 kinds of medical products available in the local market contain animal tissue from BSE-affected areas. According to Hu, current Taiwan law bans the use of human and animal placenta in the production of any such products.


08 Feb 01 - CJD - Vaccines reformulated over fears of Mad Cow disease

The Associated Press

Nando Times- Thursday 8 February 2001


WASHINGTON - Cow-derived ingredients from countries contending with Mad Cow disease are being replaced in certain vaccines as an extra precaution, even though the government's top Mad Cow experts call any risk theoretical.

The Food and Drug Administration discovered last February that a few makers of common childhood vaccines, from diphtheria to polio, had continued using the ingredients for seven years after the FDA told them to stop.

In July, the FDA's scientific advisers publicly debated the issue and "we agreed any risk was very small," said panelist Dr. Peter Lurie, a physician and consumer advocate. "It's not like they used cow cells in the final vaccines.... It's complicated."

As The Associated Press reported this week, the vaccines are being reformulated as a precaution.

To ensure consumers understood the issue, FDA last year created an Internet page stressing the vaccines are safe to use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reiterated that in a December report recounting what happened.

One of the first steps in making vaccines involves growing bacterial or viral cultures. Certain animal-derived ingredients are added to help the cultures grow; some, for instance, are briefly bathed in blood from calves or sugars from cow's milk. The vaccine mix then undergoes repeated purification.

The FDA warned manufacturers starting in 1993 that as a precaution, they should not use cattle-derived ingredients from any country infected with Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

Companies caught in violation said they had used the same ingredients for decades and didn't realize FDA was concerned about culturing.

The FDA's scientific advisers determined the risk theoretical, noting many ingredients aren't made of BSE-infectious tissue, such as milk sugars. Last month, the same advisory panel warned that some dietary supplements - products containing raw cows' brains, the most infectious tissue, and other animal organs - are of far more concern but are not being properly checked by the FDA.


08 Feb 01 - CJD - Unfit German beef found in Ireland

Ananova

PA News- Thursday 8 February 2001


The Irish government is taking up "as a matter of urgency" with the German authorities the discovery of spinal cord in a consignment of beef.

The Department of Agriculture in Dublin reported on Wednesday that the spinal cord had been detected during ongoing BSE control measures.

The beef involved had been imported from Germany for cutting and deboning by a firm at Carrickcacross, Co Monaghan.

The department said that after a detailed inspection prior to unloading, one quarter of beef had been found to contain around two inches of spinal cord.

The beef was condemned as unfit for human consumption and sent to a rendering plant for specified risk material.

The rest of the meat consignment was later released for commercial processing after being subjected to thorough examination.

An Irish government statement on the affair said: "This department takes extremely seriously any incident of non-compliance with EU rules in relation to control of specified risk material and is taking the incident up with the German authorities as a matter of urgency."


08 Feb 01 - CJD - ECB says 'unclear' if BSE crisis caused food prices rise

Ananova

PA News- Thursday 8 February 2001


FRANKFURT (AFX) - The European Central Bank said it is "not clear" whether recent rises in euro zone unprocessed food prices were caused by consumer concern about the safety of beef.

In December euro zone unprocessed food prices rose 3.8% year on year, the highest level in the year 2000, while incidences of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) increased throughout Europe.

At the ECB news conference earlier this month, ECB president Wim Duisenberg said food price rises caused by the "current health issues associated with beef consumption" could slow the decline of HICP inflation.

However in its February monthly bulletin the ECB said "the extent to which the latest increase (in food prices) is related to recent food safety concerns is still unclear".

It noted that meat prices had been showing an upward trend since mid 1999 and the unprocessed food components of HICP inflation are also made up of very volatile items.

"Although a further rise in unprocessed food prices in the months ahead cannot be ruled out... developments in unprocessed food prices should be treated with caution", it said.