Document Directory

24 Feb 01 - CJD - Huge BSE claims planned
24 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE scare for Sweden
24 Feb 01 - CJD - Sweden Detects First Mad Cow Case
24 Feb 01 - CJD - Canada, U.S. Lifts Brazil beef Ban
24 Feb 01 - CJD - President eats beef in bid to ease Mad Cow disease fears
24 Feb 01 - CJD - New Mad Cow case found in Spain
23 Feb 01 - CJD - First Swedish suspected Mad Cow case found
23 Feb 01 - CJD - Dutch find 13th case of Mad Cow disease
23 Feb 01 - CJD - Irish BSE payments brought forward
23 Feb 01 - CJD - U.S. Feed Makers Pledge New Anti-Mad Cow Measures
23 Feb 01 - CJD - Farmers throw eggs at French prime minister
23 Feb 01 - CJD - Governments sued over BSE
23 Feb 01 - CJD - US Appeals Court Confers on Vermont Sheep
23 Feb 01 - CJD - Holocaust Lawyers May Sue Over Mad Cow Disease
23 Feb 01 - CJD - Wider 'Mad Cow' Blood Ban Urged
23 Feb 01 - CJD - Farmers say BSE plans could ruin them
22 Feb 01 - CJD - Canada needs more testing for Mad Cow disease: scientists
22 Feb 01 - CJD - New BSE cases in Spain
22 Feb 01 - CJD - Burger King unveils campaign to win back customers
22 Feb 01 - CJD - 700,000 Ulster cattle culled in BSE battle
22 Feb 01 - CJD - French farmers pelt premier with eggs
22 Feb 01 - CJD - No Mad Cow disease in China
22 Feb 01 - CJD - Australia to exploit Mad Cow saga in Europe
22 Feb 01 - CJD - Spanish Scientists Devise Feed Test for beef, Cows
21 Feb 01 - CJD - 'Mad Cow' Risk in U.S. Tiny but Real, Experts Say
21 Feb 01 - CJD - Countries Warned On Risk Of Mad Cow Disease
21 Feb 01 - CJD - Farmers voice BSE anger



24 Feb 01 - CJD - Huge BSE claims planned

Staff Reporter

Times--Saturday 24 February 2001


Berlin: Two lawyers who helped to win a settlement for Nazi-era slave labourers have taken up the cause of European farmers hit by the BSE crisis (Roger Boyes writes). One of them, Michael Witti, said in Munich that a claim for hundreds of millions of pounds would be lodged against the French and German Governments, the EU and the animal feed industry by the end of April.

Class action suits may be lodged in American courts against feed companies by the US advocate, Ed Fagan.

Germany and France knew of the dangers of BSE after the first cases in Britain, yet repeatedly reassured farmers, Herr Witti said. He hopes to have the claims against Germany and France ready by the end of April. A hotline has been set up to inform farmers of their legal rights.


24 Feb 01 - CJD - BSE scare for Sweden

Staff Reporter

BBC--Saturday 24 February 2001


Sweden's Agriculture Ministry says it's discovered what could be the country's first case of Mad Cow Disease, or BSE.

In a statement, the Ministry said a routine test for the disease on a young milk cow had returned a positive result, although the probability of it being a genuine BSE case was small.

The Agriculture Minister, Margareta Winberg, said all meat from the farm the animal came from had been withdrawn.

She said until a conclusive result was available, full precautions were being taken.

The BSE test will be repeated in a British laboratory in two weeks time. Sweden -- together with Finland and Austria -- have less rigorous testing than other European Union countries because of their clean track record on BSE.


24 Feb 01 - CJD - Sweden Detects First Mad Cow Case

By Kim Gamel, Associated Press Writer

YAHOO--Saturday 24 February 2001


STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Sweden detected its first possible case of Mad Cow disease late Friday in a heifer from the southwestern part of the country, but officials said they were confident that further testing would show the animal was free of the disease.

The Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that a routine test done on a slaughtered 28-month-old milk cow that had suffered damage to its spine determined that it was possibly infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, as Mad Cow disease formally is known.

brain tissue samples from the cow will be sent to a British laboratory for further testing, with results expected in about two weeks, the ministry said. Sweden also was repeating its own tests to double-check them.

Government officials expressed confidence that the final results would show the animal was not infected with BSE but said they would treat it as a real case in the meantime.

``It will be a couple of weeks before we will know with certainty,'' Agriculture Minister Margareta Winberg said in a statement. ``Until then, we will handle things as if the test was positive.''

The Scandinavian country has been considered at low risk for the disease due to restrictions imposed by the agriculture industry.

Some 80 people have died of the human form of the disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.

Winberg also said she had asked the National Food Administration to remove all meat from the originating farm from the stores. The National Veterinary Institute also started an epidemiological examination to determine where the animal had been, what it ate and if other animals had eaten the same fodder, among other things.

The farm also was barred from dispatching any animals, agriculture officials said.


24 Feb 01 - CJD - Canada, U.S. Lifts Brazil beef Ban

By Tom Cohen, Associated Press Writer

YAHOO--Saturday 24 February 2001


TORONTO (AP) - Facing a deadline for a possible trade war, Canada announced it was lifting a three-week ban on Brazilian beef products that had forced the United States and Mexico to follow suit.

The announcement Friday by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency came after the U.S. Agriculture Department confirmed it was lifting the U.S. ban, which Canada had initially imposed because Brazil failed to provide information that would prove its beef was free of Mad Cow disease.

No cases of Mad Cow disease have ever occurred in Brazil, and the Brazilian government accused Canada of imposing the ban on Feb. 2 to punish Brazil over a trade dispute involving government subsidies to Embraer, an aircraft manufacturer that competes with Bombardier of Canada.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States and Mexico were required to join the Canadian ban. In Brazil, the ban sparked public protests against Canada, with people refusing to sell Canadian goods and dockhands leaving cargo from Canada unloaded.

A team of experts from Canada, the United States and Mexico went to Brazil last week to assess the situation. Canadian officials said Friday they were satisfied that Brazil had taken sufficient measures to prevent BSE, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, commonly known as Mad Cow disease.

Mad Cow disease has caused widespread concern in Europe, where scientists have linked it to the human version of a fatal brain-wasting ailment, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The Canadian statement was similar to a U.S. Department of Agriculture statement issued earlier Friday that said Brazil ``has taken sound measures'' to prevent Mad Cow disease.

Imports from Brazil will have to meet several conditions, the U.S. statement said. The meat must be certified as coming from cattle that were born and raised in Brazil and exclusively grass-fed, and the cattle also must have been born after a 1996 ban on feeding beef or sheep meal to cattle.

``USDA has pledged to work expeditiously to resolve this issue,'' Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said. ``The Brazilian government has been very cooperative in this effort and we are pleased to announce this decision today.''

Brazilian Agriculture Minister Marcus Pratini de Moraes thanked Veneman.

Wearing a tie depicting smiling, dancing cows that has become his trademark through the dispute, Pratini de Moraes said Mexico would also lift the ban Monday, albeit as a formality, because it imports no Brazilian beef anyway.

``We are sure Brazil has no BSE and we can certify this for products we export around the whole world,'' he told reporters.

A Canadian foreign affairs spokesman said there was no message in the timing of the announcements by Washington and Ottawa. The U.S. government generally gets its announcements out more quickly than the Canadian government, said the spokesman, Andre Lemay.

``Are we following the U.S. lead on this? No. It's the time it takes,'' he said.

In imposing the ban on Brazilian corned beef and beef extract, Canada claimed Brazil had failed to provide sufficient paperwork on several thousand animals imported from Europe.

Canada imports about dlrs 6 million a year worth of corned beef from Brazil and about dlrs 667,000 worth of extract, used as a flavoring by the food industry. It has never imported fresh or frozen beef or cattle from Brazil.

The United States imported dlrs 82 million in Brazilian beef products last year, and Brazilian officials said the ban automatically cost the country 10 percent of its beef export markets.

The Brazilian government gave Canada three weeks to lift the ban or face a major trade war. The deadline was Friday.

The Canadian ban came as the trade dispute with Brazil over export subsidies for the aerospace industry remained unresolved. Canada has permission from the World Trade Organization to impose trade sanctions on Brazilian products, but has yet to implement them.


24 Feb 01 - CJD - President eats beef in bid to ease Mad Cow disease fears

Associated Press

Independent--Saturday 24 February 2001


South Korea's President Kim Dae-jung has tried to dispel public anxiety about Mad Cow disease by eating beef with Cabinet ministers and journalists.

"Our beef is safe from Mad Cow disease," Kim said during lunch that included bulgoki, a common Korean beef dish. "I hope people will consume more beef and ease the difficulties facing our livestock farmers."

The government has repeatedly assured that South Korea was free of Mad Cow disease since public fears spread after local media reported a suspected case late last month.

But beef sales in markets and restaurants remain depressed, said officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The officials could not offer estimates of the sales drops.

South Korea usually consumes 33,500 tons of beef a month. Nearly half the meet is imported from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

South Korea currently bans imports of cow-related products from 30 European nations, including the 15 European Union members.

The government acknowledged earlier this month that at least several hundred cattle were fed with food waste that included animal meat and bones. But it said tests showed no evidence of the fatal disease.

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

The government insisted that there was no chance that the cattle were infected because the meat in the food waste was from South Korea - which has had no reported cases of Mad Cow disease.


24 Feb 01 - CJD - New Mad Cow case found in Spain

Agence France-Presse

Nando Times--Saturday 24 February 2001


SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain (February 23, 2001 1:13 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - A new case of mad-cow disease has been found in northern Spain, bringing the total number of cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the country to 30, Basque regional authorities said Friday.

The 51-month-old animal came from a farm in the northern Navarra region. Twenty-nine of the 30 BSE cases recorded since Nov. 22 have been found in northern and northwest Spain.

BSE has been linked to the fatal brain-wasting illness in humans, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


23 Feb 01 - CJD - First Swedish suspected Mad Cow case found

Ananova

PA News--Friday 23 February 2001


Sweden has detected its first suspected case of Mad Cow disease in a heifer from a farm in the south-west of the country.

A routine test done on the 30-month-old milk cow determined that it was possibly infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The cow was immediately slaughtered and samples were sent to an EU laboratory in Britain for further testing, with results expected in about two weeks.

Swedes have shown little sign of the hysteria over the brain-wasting disease that has swept much of Europe since cases were discovered on the continent late last year.

The Scandinavian country has been considered at low risk for the disease due to protective measures taken long ago by the government and the agriculture industry.

Some 80 people have died of the human form of the disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.


23 Feb 01 - CJD - Dutch find 13th case of Mad Cow disease

Reuters

Pittsburgh First--Friday 23 February 2001


AMSTERDAM(Reuters) - The Dutch government said Friday it had discovered the nation's 13th case of Mad Cow disease, in the eastern village of Didam.

The cow was the fourth to be found positive in a program designed to test all cattle older than 30 months offered for slaughter. A total of 69,500 cattle have now been tested in the program.

The Dutch agricultural ministry said the cow had been slaughtered on February 15 and showed positive on February 18 in a quick test. A more extended examination confirmed the cow had been infected.

The farm that had delivered the cow was closed after the results of the quick test and its 12 head of livestock will be destroyed; so will all offspring of the infected cow and other cattle with which it may have come in contact.

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


23 Feb 01 - CJD - Irish BSE payments brought forward

Clare Champion

Clare Champion--Friday 23 February 2001


SPECIAL PAYMENT FOR BSE VALUATION DELAYS

Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh has agreed to make exceptional ex-gratia payments to a number of farmers affected by BSE who have experienced untoward delays in the period late-November - late January in the valuation of their herds for depopulation purposes.

The Minister said that while the increase in the number of BSE cases towards end-2000 combined with a limited number of available valuers had resulted in a backlog in valuations, the Department had now engaged the services of an additional 16 valuers, with the result that herd valuations are proceeding apace.

Most of the herds concerned had been valued at this stage and the few remaining cases would be valued next week.

Commenting on the situation, the Minister said that he fully appreciated the frustration experienced by the farmers affected, whose herds were restricted and who, while awaiting valuation and depopulation, had to bear for a protracted period all of the expenses normally associated with feeding and maintenance of a herd without income being generated from the livestock in question.

Dairy farmers were particularly affected as they could no longer supply milk to the creamery.

In view of this unique and unprecedented situation, the Minister said he had decided to make a once-off ex-gratia payment to the farmers concerned, in recognition of the difficulties caused by the untoward delays in valuation and as evidence of good faith in this matter.

The Minister stressed that this was confined to those affected by such delays over the period in question and could not be regarded as a precedent. The details of payments are being finalised and would be advised within days to those concerned.

The Minister indicated that he was satisfied that sufficient valuers were now available to ensure that untoward delays in herd valuations were avoided in the future.


23 Feb 01 - CJD - U.S. Feed Makers Pledge New Anti-Mad Cow Measures

By Lisa Richwine

YAHOO--Friday 23 February 2001


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. feed makers on Friday announced new steps to tighten safeguards against Mad Cow disease; measures that come one month after a widely publicized mix-up with cattle feed in Texas.

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), which represents more than 250 firms, said it was urging members to remove products containing cow or sheep byproducts from facilities that make feed for those animals.

The United States bans the feeding of ground-up cow and sheep remains to cows and sheep because experts believe infected parts can spread Mad Cow disease. A deadly human form can be passed to people who eat tainted beef, scientists say.

But AFIA's measures would go a step further by separating any prohibited material from places that make cow and sheep feed. The purpose is to eliminate chances of cross-contamination or mix-ups with different types of feed, a situation that led regulators to quarantine 1,222 Texas cattle in January.

The industry group also said third-party inspectors would certify feed-mixing facilities that followed its suggestion as well as other rules put in place to keep Mad Cow disease, if it appears in the United States, from spreading through the food supply. Firms could boast certification on their products, tags and invoices.

``The U.S. already has the safest food production system in the world. This will make it even safer,'' AFIA President David Bossman said in a statement.

Mad Cow, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), moved through British herds in the 1980s and now is appearing in other European cattle. A human form, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), has killed more than 90 people in Britain, France and Ireland.

Lapses Raise Concerns

While the United States has remained free from the disease, recent news showing lapses by feed makers have raised concerns.

In January, regulators determined that 1,222 Texas cattle ate a small amount of banned meat and bone meal after a mill accidentally shipped the wrong feed. The cattle were unlikely to be infected and were removed from the food supply, but the incident highlighted the possibility of mix-ups.

Until a U.S. ban in 1997, it was standard practice to recycle slaughterhouse leftovers such as cattle brains, spinal cords, spleens and protein-rich bits into feed for cattle. Today, pigs, fish and fowl still eat rendered animal protein.

Separately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in January that inspections showed many feed mills were not fully complying with anti-Mad Cow rules. The agency promised to crack down, and industry groups quickly pledged to push for zero-tolerance of violations.

The National Cattlemen's beef Association, which represents cattle farmers and ranchers, also welcomed the feed group's efforts.

``Anything we can do to get the message out to folks that 100 percent compliance is mandatory we think is a positive step,'' spokeswoman Alisa Harrison said.


23 Feb 01 - CJD - Farmers throw eggs at French prime minister

Staff Reporter

CBC--Friday 23 February 2001


PARIS - The French prime minister should have egg on his face for the way he has handled the Mad Cow crisis in his country, or at least that's what beef farmers seemed to be saying on Thursday as they pelted him with eggs.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin wasn't hit by the eggs thrown at him as he appeared at an agricultural show in Paris.

The farmers want Jospin to resign over the government's actions when the Mad Cow crisis hit the country last fall. They say there hasn't been enough done to ease the crises that has seen prices plummet as consumer demand bottomed out.

But Jospin said more government money will be spent in direct aid to cattle farmers. It will be French money because the European Union says the Mad Cow scare will explode its farm spending.

And Jospin had a message for France's President Jacques Chirac: Mind your own business.

Chirac beat Jospin to the Agricultural Fair last weekend, and he used it as a venue to attack government-appointed scientists who've found a risk in sheep.

Chirac accused the experts of sowing more panic. But Jospin defended the scientists.

But Chirac and Jospin, political rivals, try to outdo each other on food safety and support for farmers, which some say exasperates the crisis.

Last week, farmers threw manure at police and burned tires in demonstrations.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is a brain-wasting disease in cows. Eating infected meat is linked to a fatal disease in humans, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

About 80 people have died of the disease in Europe since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.


23 Feb 01 - CJD - Governments sued over BSE

Staff Reporter

BBC--Friday 23 February 2001


Lawyers say governments failed to stop BSE spreading

Farmers are set to launch billion dollar law suits against the French and German Governments for failing to prevent the spread of Mad Cow disease.

They also plan to make claims against US-based animal feed manufacturers, whose contaminated products are blamed for helping to spread the disease.

The cases are being brought by German lawyer Michael Witti and his American colleague Ed Fagan, best known for their successful compensation actions for the victims of Nazi slave labour.

Mr Witti told journalists in Munich that governments must take more of the blame for the spread of BSE through Europe.

"The government told the farmers that there was no problem, you're safe. That was either stupid or lies," he said.

Time running out

Unlike the Holocaust claims, the suits will be filed individually and five farmers from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Poland have come forward to bring charges.

The first suits could be filed within two months.

Mr Witti said the cases had to be brought now, before regulations were changed.

"At the moment the people affected still have time to say something. Laws are being prepared which will take away any entitlement to compensation ," he said.

Other governments as well as the European Union could also be subject to law suits, he said.

Germany had believed itself to be BSE-free until November last year. The discovery that the German national herd had been affected sparked panic among consumers, and beef sales have plummeted.

German optimism

Farmers have been angered by a government policy which calls for an entire herd to be slaughtered if one infected animal is found.

While farmers in Britain, the European country worst affected by the disease, did not pursue legal action, because of the difficulty of pinning down where the blame for the outbreak lay, experts think the German action could be more successful.

By the time BSE crossed the English channel, much more was known about the disease, meaning more preventative action was possible.

French victims of CJD - the human form of Mad Cow disease - have already begun legal action against the French and British governments.


23 Feb 01 - CJD - US Appeals Court Confers on Vermont Sheep

Reuters

YAHOO--Friday 23 February 2001


EAST WARREN, Vt. (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday stayed the execution of 350 Vermont sheep, suspected of having a brain disorder distantly related to Mad Cow disease. The court said it would consider hearing arguments in the case next month.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals told lawyers for the US Department of Agriculture and shepherds involved in the case that it would confer on March 6 whether to hold a hearing on the matter, according to Linda Faillace, owner of one of the flocks.

The USDA moved last July to seize and kill two flocks as a health precaution after tests on four of the animals showed they were infected with scrapie.

Scrapie is a brain disorder affecting sheep and goats and is related to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease. Scrapie is fatal to sheep but poses no threat to humans.

The flock's owners have fought the slaughter of the animals, despite the government's offer of up to $4 million to pay for the loss of the livestock and income.

No cases of Mad Cow disease have ever been detected in the United States, but a fresh outbreak of the disease in Europe has raised new concerns about its spread.

A human variation of Mad Cow disease, known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, has killed more than 80 people in Britain and France. There is no cure for the deadly disease, which results in spongy holes forming in the brain.

The US government in 1997 closed its borders to all European meat imports to prevent the spread of the disease.

US District Judge Garvan Murtha ruled February 6 that the federal agency could seize the sheep. But the USDA has held off, expecting the shepherds to appeal.

Meanwhile, residents in East Warren, a hamlet in the middle of Vermont's Green Mountains that is home to the Faillaces' flock of 150 dairy sheep, are expected to join other sheep supporters in a protest on the steps of the state capitol in Montpelier on Thursday.


23 Feb 01 - CJD - Holocaust Lawyers May Sue Over Mad Cow Disease

Reuters

YAHOO--Friday 23 February 2001


MUNICH (Reuters) - Two lawyers who secured substantial compensation from Germany for its use of Nazi-era slave workers said on Thursday they were preparing legal suits against European governments and industry over Mad Cow disease.

Munich-based lawyer Michael Witti and U.S. colleague Ed Fagan said they were acting on behalf of farmers whose businesses have in some cases been ruined by the collapse in demand for beef since the health scare.

They told reporters they would initially target the German and French governments over their failure to stop the spread of Mad Cow disease, or BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), with suits against other European countries possible. Separate action would be taken in the United States--where compensation awards tend to be higher--against feed suppliers found to have contravened rules banning the use of animal carcasses in fodder, seen as a possible transmission source.

The lawyers said total compensation claims could run into billions of dollars but declined to name which companies they would be targeting. Witti said the first suit would be launched within the next two months.

Germany has had some 30 cases of BSE in total, around one sixth of the figure in France. Both lie well behind Britain and its nearly 180,000 cases of the disease, which has been linked to a similar, fatal brain-wasting condition in humans.

Witti and Fagan were among around a dozen predominantly U.S. legal teams that launched class action suits demanding huge compensation payments from some of Germany's leading firms over their use of forced labor during the Third Reich.

The suits, together with threats by U.S. authorities that German firms could face trade boycotts, prompted the German state and industry to create a 10-billion mark ($4.7 billion) fund aimed at releasing payments to around one million surviving forced laborers around the world.

The first payments are hoped to go ahead in April, although they have been repeatedly held up because of delays in winding up outstanding legal action against some of the firms involved.


23 Feb 01 - CJD - Wider 'Mad Cow' Blood Ban Urged

By Adam Marcus, HealthScout Reporter

YAHOO--Friday 23 February 2001


FRIDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthScout) -- Citing the spread of "Mad Cow" disease into parts of Western Europe, a panel of U.S. infection experts has recommended people who've spent extended periods of time in France , Portugal and Ireland be banned from donating blood in this country.

The exclusion would apply to people who stayed at least a decade in those countries since 1980, and builds on an earlier ban covering prospective blood donors who had lived for six months or more in Great Britain between 1980 and 1996. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel Thursday declined to narrow that window to less than six months, or make it apply through the present.

The FDA usually follows panel recommendations, but isn't bound by them.

At least 91 people have died in Europe from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD), the human version of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. All but four were in England. Three were in France and one in Ireland, officials say.

So far, no one in America has been diagnosed with nvCJD, nor have any cattle been found with the brain-wasting ailment, which is believed to be caused by tiny rogue proteins called prions.

However, an unknown number of sheep in this country do carry and die from a similar disease called scrapie, and related infections have turned up in elk and deer herds.

The risk of contracting nvCJD through tainted blood is thought to be extremely small, and no case has yet been reported. Still, American health officials, anxious to keep the illness from getting a foothold in this country, have recently taken a number of regulatory steps.

The American Red Cross supports the extended ban and had urged the FDA panel to shorten the British exclusion to less than six months and to widen the period it covers from 1996 to the present.

Recommendation 'on target'

When the British exclusion was implemented in 1999, the Red Cross predicted that roughly 2 percent of its donors would fall under the rule, but officials say the actual number has been closer to 0.5 percent.

Theresa Wiegmann, general counsel for the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), says the proposed exclusions covering France, Portugal and Ireland will have a "significantly lower" impact on the nation's blood supply.

While the AABB favors the policy changes, Wiegmann says the group hopes regulators will not inadvertently discourage people who don't meet the exclusion criteria from donating blood "by making the process too complicated or confusing."

Dr. James Louie, vice president of the New York Blood Center, says his group is "very pleased" with the FDA panel's recommendation.

"We are very concerned about the safety of the blood supply. I think their recommendations are right on target in terms of being cautious about the spread of this disease," Louie says.

The ban on blood from donors potentially exposed to BSE resonates with the early failings of blood banks to respond quickly enough to the AIDS epidemic.

Most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 9,000 people contracted HIV through transfusions before blood supplies were tested for the virus starting in the spring of 1985, Haley says. Since then, only 41 cases from transfusions have occurred.

As of July 2000, more than 176,000 cases of mad-cow disease were confirmed in more than 34,000 herds of British cattle, the FDA reports. Tests of American cattle have turned up no cases of BSE.

However, U.S. regulators have expressed concern that many livestock feed producers in this country are not complying with rules designed to keep BSE out of animal food. Some animal food contains tissue from cows, including glands, collagen and other materials, that could possibly transmit the infection.

The FDA also has asked vaccine makers to stop producing human vaccines that rely on cattle tissue imported from countries where BSE has appeared. The agency notes that the risk of contracting nvCJD from a tainted dose of vaccine is on the order of one in many billions, so slim as to be negligible.

What To Do

To learn more about giving and receiving blood, try the American Red Cross or the AABB.

For more on mad-cow disease and related conditions try the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the U.K. Department of Health.


23 Feb 01 - CJD - Farmers say BSE plans could ruin them

Galloway News

Inside Scotland--Friday 23 February 2001


Stewartry farmers are warning that the beef industry in the country is facing ruin if new proposals from the EU Commission to tackle the BSE crisis are brought in.

They have condemned the Prime Minister, Agriculture minister and the Food Standards Agency for failing to do enough to support the struggling industry.

Members of the Stewartry Branch of the National Farmers Union say that unless the the Prime Minister and agriculture minister support their cause and reject the proposals, farmers will be ruined and and beef industry will collapse.

The Foods Standard Agency is also being called on to carry out rigorous inspections of foreign beef and a ban on countries that don't meet the stringent rules which govern British beef.

Stewartry NFU Branch president, David Austin of Boreland of Girthon, Gatehouse of Fleet, described the proposals announced last week as absolutely crazy and a recipe for disaster.

Members called for an immediate ban on German beef coming into Britain and any other countries that don't meet the stringent controls which are in place for British beef.

Mr Austin appealed for everyone to oppose the EU measures which included plans to cut suckler beef production in Scotland and reduce support to the sector. His members decided to write in the strongest possible to NFU headquarters and the Food Standards Agency for stricter controls on incoming beef and for immediate action to be taken to oppose the controversial measures which they say will devastate the British beef industry.

``The whole thing is crazy, it will remove the best quality beef from the market and turn existing support arrangements into a bureaucratic nightmare. They are trying to rush this through and I would appeal to you all to oppose these measures by every way possible,''he said and added that the measures were aimed directly at British farmers.

John Nelson of Cogarth, Parton, said Britain had taken all the rights steps and he did not see why they should suffer more pain now. ``They have ignored all the warnings and the problem and we should bring this to their attention,'' he said.

Kerr McConchie of Mossyard, Gatehouse of Fleet, said the beef industry in Britain had suffered since 1996 and if these proposal went through - even just 50 per cent of them - the whole beef industry would be knackered. We are on our knees now and we are not even supporting our local communities because of the stress in the rural areas due to the crisis in the beef industry. There are very few percentages of beef herds that have seen BSE but we are constantly suffering through the inadequacies of our Government and our Minister of Agriculture.

We adopted all the measures which were put forward from those who investigated BSE, just to make sure that the public had the safest beef in the world. But if, overnight, when they adopt proposals for Europe and don't use exactly the same measures as we adopted to make an industry safe, there is something far wrong.

``It means quite simply that our Prime Minister and our Minister of Agriculture are just horse-trading where our industry is concerned. There is no way we can sit down here and accept it and hope that it isn't adopted in Europe.'' Mr McConchie went on: ``I hope the NFU of Scotland is to join up the rest of the NFUs in the British Isles and just say `it is not going to be accepted' and we will not accept any more beef into Britain until all the proposals that were put on to our beef industry are adopted by Europe. These should have been put on at the beginning of January which would have meant that no imports of sub-standard beef.

``I'm quite sure the unions are doing everything that they can but I don't want them coming back this time and saying they haven't been successful or there will be no beef industry left and we will have to bring in beef from Argentine and Peru. We are scraping the barrel now and it's no joke.''

Alex Fergusson, the Tory MSP pledged to do what he could and said that there was unanimous opposition in the Scottish Parliament to the proposals. ``It seems to be almost as if the decision has already been taken. There is no division in the Scottish Parliament for we are all opposed to it. The proposals are devastating for the industry and it looks as if we are being asked to pay for Europe's ignorance and miscalculation of the problem.'' The president added: ``There is no room for horse-trading here for the whole thing must be thrown out. Europe now has the model, which we followed, to combat BSE and what they are now putting forward is a recipe for disaster. They are still burying their heads in the sand.''

Another member said Scotland was now producing more beef than ever before and Europe should be looking at Scotland as a centre of excellence. He said they should do it the Scottish way and should not be knocking the country whose imports were still banned from France and Germany.


22 Feb 01 - CJD - Canada needs more testing for Mad Cow disease: scientists

Staff Reporter

CBC--Thursday 22 February 2001


TORONTO - Canadian officials are confident the country's beef industry is safe from Mad Cow disease, but a United Nations report says the problem could have spread around the world.

As inspectors continue to pore over information they gathered last week in Brazil, working to see if a ban on that country's beef products can be lifted, some say a closer look needs to taken at Canada's cattle.

The practice of rendering dead animals into feed is blamed for spreading Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) throughout Britain - and possibly around the world.

A United Nations report warns that infected meat and bone meal has been sent to more than 100 countries.

But Canadian officials say it hasn't come here.

"As far as we know we have never had import practices which would have introduced that disease into Canada from Great Britain or other European countries," said Claude Lavigne, of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Canada did, in fact, import one infected cow in 1993. When that happened, more than 400 other British imports were destroyed. But according to a European Union scientific committee, 11 cattle got into the food or feed chains at the time.

Canada was also allowing cattle to be fed to cattle until 1997.

For those two reasons, the EU says that while unlikely, it's not impossible that some Canadian cattle are infected with BSE.

Canadian officials disagree. They say if Mad Cow disease were here, it would have shown up by now.

"If that disease was in a cattle population at this time, we would find it right now with the surveillance we're doing," said Lavigne.

But some critics say Canada isn't looking hard enough.

There is no way to screen for the disease in live animals. Scientists have to remove a dead animal's brain and examine the tissue for evidence of the disease.

Currently, Canada only tests cows that show signs of neurological disease. But scientists say animals can be infected without showing any signs.

"The nasty thing about the disease is the latency period is long," said David Westaway, a scientist at University of Toronto. "You have to factor this in to your policies."

Since 1992 when the testing began, more than 20 million cattle have been slaughtered. Scientists, however, have only looked at 4,500 brains.

Canadian officials say that's enough to prove the disease is not in the country.

But critics wonder why, with a problem that has so much potential to do harm, doesn't the government look harder just to make sure.


22 Feb 01 - CJD - New BSE cases in Spain

Staff Reporter

BBC--Thursday 22 February 2001


Five new cases of Mad Cow Disease, or BSE, have been detected in Spain, bringing the total to nearly thirty .

The Spanish authorities say it would be wrong to speak of an epidemic of the disease there.

The news comes after Spanish scientists said they'd developed a new test to determine whether a cow has eaten feed containing animal protein -- which is thought to be the cause of BSE.

The test uses techniques developed by archaeologists to investigate the diets of ancient humans and animals; it measures the levels of different forms of nitrogen in tissue samples, which indicate how much meat they've eaten. The test does not detect Mad Cow Disease itself -- only whether an animal has eaten meat; but its big advantage over existing BSE tests is that the animal need not not be killed before examination.


22 Feb 01 - CJD - Burger King unveils campaign to win back customers

Ananova

PA News--Thursday 22 February 2001


Burger King is to launch a campaign to win back its customers after profits fell by 6%.

Burger King's owner Diageo blames a cold winter and says the BSE crisis in Europe dented trading in its key US market.

The fast-food chain, which has 70% of its restaurants in the US, saw operating profits slip 6 million to 99 million during the six months to December 31.

Diageo says the decline is common across the fast-food sector, although it said it would respond with a major promotional drive this year.

It has hired two global advertising agencies and will enhance the image of its restaurants as it faces up to arch rival McDonald's.

The UK-based food and drinks giant, which was formed out of the merger of Grand Metropolitan and Guinness, needs to revive Burger King's fortunes before a planned 20% flotation of the burger business, expected in 2003.

Diageo wants to separate Burger King so it can concentrate on its more successful drinks business, which has grown strongly.

Paul Walsh, Diageo chief executive, says he's "determined" to improve the operating performance of Burger King.

Earlier in the week, he appointed former airlines boss John Dasburg as the fast-food chain's new chief executive.

The scale of Mr Dasburg's task is highlighted by updated trading figures from Burger King showing sales for January are down 3% on a year earlier.


22 Feb 01 - CJD - 700,000 Ulster cattle culled in BSE battle

By Michael Drake, Agriculture Editor

Belfast Telegraph--Thursday 22 February 2001


Plan set up to protect consumers

A staggering 700,000 cattle have been slaughtered in Northern Ireland in a bid to protect consumers from the human version of BSE, it emerged today.

The figure was revealed by Farm Minister Brid Rodgers in answer to a question at the Assembly by Ian Paisley Jnr.

Mr Paisley had asked how many cattle had been slaughtered because of BSE and at what cost were they held in cold storage.

Mrs Rodgers told him no carcases were held in cold storage and no costs were involved.

The massive exercise has been carried out in the interests of public health and consumer protection.

Most of the animals killed - 695,609 - have gone into an Over Thirty Months Scheme which removes cattle consideded at risk from Bovine Spongiformencephalopathy from the food chain.

None of the thousands of animals processed under the scheme has gone for human consumption.

Another 2,295 BSE suspects were also slaughtered as were 65 offspring animals and 1,485 selective cull cattle.

Ulster Farmers Union spokesman Wesley Aston, director of commodities and food said whilst it was a large number of animals, many would have been slaughtered anyway under normal circumstances.

"I would think the cattle population in Northern Ireland is no lower than it was in 1996.

"Of course none of these animals has entered the food chain," he said.

"We see the OTMS as extremely helpful on two fronts.

"It has acted as a consumer safeguard and has also been a market support measure.

"Having said that it must be remembered farmers have only been receiving about 300 per animal slaughtered under the scheme.

"That's a low return against the possible 500 or 600 they could have received in different circumstances."He said BSE had cost Northern Ireland farmers millions of pounds in recent years.

A Department of Agriculture spokesman said: "The OTMS is an EU scheme and the Intervention Board has full control of it".

He said the animals involved had been rendered down as meat and bone meal which was now in secure storage awaiting incineration.


22 Feb 01 - CJD - French farmers pelt premier with eggs

Ananova

PA News--Thursday 22 February 2001


French beef farmers jeered and pelted eggs at Prime Minister Lionel Jospin when he visited an agriculture show in Paris.

They are furious at the government's handling of the Mad Cow crisis

A small group of farmers called for his resignation as bodyguards and police encircled the prime minister, who was not hit by the eggs.

Plummeting beef sales have dealt a blow to French cattle farmers, who say the government hasn't done enough to ease the crisis or their financial plight.

Last week, protesting farmers burned tyres and hurled manure at police during demonstrations for more aid.

President Jacques Chirac visited the agriculture show at the weekend and lashed out at France's food safety agency for casting suspicion on the safety of certain sheep and goat products amid fears over Mad Cow disease. Mr Chirac accused the agency of "inciting panic" among consumers.

Today, Mr Jospin defended the food safety agency, known by its French initials AFSSA, though he dodged a debate about his differences with Chirac.

The prime minister told scientists at the AFSSA booth that their role was "indispensable" in maintaining consumer confidence in French food products.

"We need independent scientific bodies to guide the decisions of those who have political responsibility," he said.


22 Feb 01 - CJD - No Mad Cow disease in China

Staff Reporter

China Online--Thursday 22 February 2001


(21 February 2001) Mad Cow disease does not exist in China and there are no vectors for the spread of the disease in the country, according to a report published on Feb. 14 by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).

There is, however, a small chance that the disease could enter the country via imports, said the report titled, "Analysis and Evaluation on the risk of Mad Cow Disease in China." Infection could only come from importing ruminant creatures, or their byproducts, from countries in which the disease already exists, reports the Feb. 15 Nongmin Ribao (Farmers' Daily).

Jia Youling, director of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau of the MOA, said that according to the International Animal hygiene Code, the report will be publicized at home and abroad in the form of a veterinary bulletin.

Alert from the beginning

Mad Cow disease is the common nickname for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a degenerative disease of the nervous system believed to be caused by prion infection. The pathology was first described in Britain in 1986 and is transmissible to humans who eat infected meats.

China has taken active measures since the discovery of Mad Cow disease to prevent its introduction to domestic ruminant populations. The MOA enforces regulations designed to prevent the entry of the disease at the borders and operates a strict internal monitoring system, the story said.

All cattle and sheep and their byproducts originating from countries in which BSE exists are banned. Similarly, no animal-fodder products shall be imported from any European Union nation because these feeds often contain ruminant remains, a possible source of infection, according to the report.

The MOA strictly controls any and all research into the disease, including that conducted by any organization or individual engaged in pathogenic research, animal experiments with pathogens or handling of contaminated materials, and the import of biological materials to be used in research.

The ministry is tightening existing regulations to forbid the production of ruminant fodder containing animal protein, except fish protein concentrate. Similarly, it is forbidden to feed ruminants with fodder containing any animal protein except fish protein concentrate, the story said.


22 Feb 01 - CJD - Australia to exploit Mad Cow saga in Europe

Staff Reporter

YAHOO--Thursday 22 February 2001


CANBERRA, Feb 22 (AFP) - Australian beef producers are targeting export markets from which European beef has been rejected because of fears that it may not be safe, trade officials said Thursday.

Australian trade officials told a government hearing here that European beef exports were being rejected increasingly by consumers around the world because of fears over Mad Cow disease.

Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is suspected of causing a rare but fatal disorder in humans called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Europe is currently assessing the damage done to its beef industry by the spread of Mad Cow disease across national borders.

A senate estimates committee here was told that opportunties existed for Australian beef exporters in both Europe and Asia.

However, the European Union is maintaining its 7,000 tonne import quota on Australian beef, and shows no sign of lifting it.

A Europe-based Australian trade official, Peter Amey, said Australian farmers could still exploit the situation to their advantage.

"In the last month, our offices in central Europe have received a considerably increased number of inquiries from importers," Amey said.

"We have secured already an order for Croatia and there are two more on the way for Romania. Last week we received an inquiry from the Poles.

"What they will come to is another matter. Certainly, the interest is very strong."

Senior trade official Peter Langhorne told the hearing opportunities were afforded by the refusal of some markets in North Africa and the Middle East to accept European beef.

"It may be that the unfortunate circumstance in Europe at this point in time in fact does provide some opportunities for Australia in the short to medium term," he said.


22 Feb 01 - CJD - Spanish Scientists Devise Feed Test for beef, Cows

By William Schomberg

YAHOO--Thursday 22 February 2001


MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish scientists said on Tuesday they had developed a way of detecting the use of animal-based feed in live cattle and in beef products, which could be an important step in the fight against Mad Cow disease.

Animal-based feed is widely believed to transmit Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease, which has spread across Europe. Eating infected beef products is believed to cause the fatal human variant of the disease.

The new testing system is likely to be launched commercially later this year, said Antonio Delgado, one of the two scientists from the Spanish government's Superior Council of Scientific Investigation who developed the method.

It seeks to determine the diet of cattle by examining samples of tissue for nitrogen isotopes, Delgado said.

A predominance of one type of isotope points to a non-meat diet, while higher levels of another type show consumption of animal products, he said.

``The most important thing is that a vet can take a sample of bone or hair or other material containing proteins and know what it has been fed without having to destroy the animal,'' Delgado told Reuters.

``Supermarkets can also do the test on meat from their cold rooms,'' he said.

The method does not test for BSE itself. Existing tests for the disease require examination of an animal's brain once it has been killed. Hundreds of thousands of cows are due to be slaughtered across Europe in an attempt to control the disease, costing governments and taxpayers billions of euros.

Spain confirmed its first BSE cases last year, leading to a tightening of controls in the livestock industry. But police recently impounded 500 tons of illegal feed and arrested seven people.

During a test phase, the new diet-control system found traces of animal-based feed in 20% of several hundred samples of Spanish beef.

The technique has previously been used by archaeologists to determine the diet of ancient humans and animals. But its use to detect the consumption of animal feed by cattle represents a new application, Delgado said.

About 90 people in Europe have died from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE that is linked to eating meat contaminated with BSE. Most of the cases are in Britain. No cases of vCJD have been detected in Spain.

Patents for the new testing procedure were held by Delgado and his fellow CSIC scientist, Nicolas Garcia, as well as Spanish research company Fisintec Innovacion Tecnologica.


21 Feb 01 - CJD - 'Mad Cow' Risk in U.S. Tiny but Real, Experts Say

By Melinda Fulmer, Times Staff Writer

LA Times--Wednesday 21 February 2001


Health: Regulators believe that Americans are safe. However, gaps in food quality rules are raising questions.

Gaps in U.S. food safety regulations and enforcement and the dearth of information about how "Mad Cow" disease spreads have raised questions over whether American consumers really are insulated from the disease that has caused the deaths of 94 people across Europe.

While country after country in Europe has fallen prey to Britain's Mad Cow epidemic, U.S. regulators have stood firm on their assurances that Americans are safe, citing import bans, animal testing, curbs on blood donations and feed restrictions.

Although no cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy have yet been reported in the United States, and experts claim it is "highly unlikely" that BSE will become a problem here, the same experts concede that it is impossible to rule it out.

"I don't think that any country can say they are 100% sure that they are free of BSE," says Ralph Blanchfield of the independent Institute of Food Science and Technology based in Britain.

"I think it's reasonable that people are worried," says Stephen DeArmond, a UC San Francisco neuropathologist who collaborated on the 1997 Nobel Prize-winning research on the agent that causes BSE.

Many food safety advocates are wary of government assurances in the wake of the recent StarLink fiasco, in which a genetically modified animal feed corn not approved for human consumption wound up in everything from taco shells to corn chips.

Though the risks of a Mad Cow outbreak in the U.S. may be slim, there are concerns about gaps in these areas:

* Feed mills. If BSE does exist undiagnosed somewhere in the nation's cattle or dairy herds, there's a chance that it could be spread by mix-ups at feed mills, some of which have been lax in following regulations aimed at stopping BSE. The disease was spread in Europe through contaminated animal feed.

* Imports. American companies imported feed from Britain made of rendered animals for three years after BSE was diagnosed there in 1986. Moreover, over the past decade, 32 cows were shipped in from Britain that U.S. Department of Agriculture officials can't account for.

* Inadequate testing. Although 12,000 so-called downer cattle, or cattle that could not walk on their own when they were brought in for slaughter, were destroyed in the U.S. this decade and their brains tested for BSE, some industry observers believe that is not enough to guarantee that U.S. herds are free of the disease. There is no test that can detect the disease in live animals.

* Related diseases. sheep, deer, elk and mink in this country have contracted diseases in the same family as BSE known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs, which are not fully understood and carry some of the same neurological symptoms.

BSE affects the central nervous system of cattle and is known to cause a human version called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which bores holes into the brain, causing bodily dysfunction, dementia, hallucinations and death.

Worldwide there have been about 178,000 cows identified with the disease since it was diagnosed in Britain 15 years ago. The disease has spread from Britain to native-born cattle in other European countries, such as France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal, Ireland and Spain, through contaminated feed and been exported to areas such as the Falkland Islands and Canada.

It is believed to be spread by a mysterious particle called a prion, an infectious molecule in the membranes of cells that is neither a bacterium nor a virus and is largely found in the brain and spinal cord of an infected animal.

If BSE does exist undetected in this country's herds, the biggest threat to the food chain would come from lax practices at feed mills.

U.S. regulators have barred mills from selling cattle feed made from meat and bone meal from BSE-susceptible animals since 1997.

However, rendered dairy cows, sheep and goats are still used in feed for pigs, a point that concerns some scientists, who fear that the disease could spread to other species. They say the practice leaves the door wide open for mix-ups such as the one at Purina Mills in Gonzalez, Texas.

There, the company acknowledged selling cattle ranchers feed made from rendered cows, prompting a quarantine of 1,222 cattle. The animals, which were bought and taken out of the food chain by Purina, are not believed to have been infected with BSE.

However, the incident highlighted how easily a contamination could start and raised questions about the Food and Drug Administration's ability to effectively police the food chain.

It was cross-contamination like this that played a part in how the genetically modified and potentially allergenic feed corn called StarLink made its way into the food supply last year.

To ensure that it was operating at "zero-risk," Purina vowed to stop mixing meat and bone meal into all of its animal feeds.

However, some of the nation's largest feed companies, such as Land O'Lakes Farmland Feed and Cargill, still use meat and bone meal in feeds for animals other than cows.

And not all of them are using it responsibly, according to a report issued last month by the FDA. In its inspections of more than 1,000 U.S. feed mills, the FDA found that 20% did not have the proper precautionary statements on their labels. And 9% did not have a system in place to prevent commingling of cattle feed with feed meant for other animals. The report did not identify the violators.

Five recalls have been issued for improperly labeled feed since the 1997 ban, the FDA said.

There are probably many more companies not in compliance. The FDA has not yet finished its first inspection of all of the nation's feed mills and renderers. It has no system in place for regular inspections or sampling, says Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Critics say the agency will also need to take a tougher stance on enforcement to keep companies honest. Currently, offenders of the ban are given an oral warning and a letter asking for a recall before any product is subject to seizure.

"It doesn't do any good to have regulations if you have no enforcement," says Mark Ritchie, director of the Minnesota-based agricultural think tank Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. "These companies should be [temporarily] shut down if they are violating the rules."

Some food safety experts insist that because USDA officials acted early to restrict imports and close in on potential problems, current regulations should be sufficient to protect consumers and prevent the spread of the disease.

The U.S. has had a ban on live animals imported from Britain since 1989 and on animals, meat, bone meal and other products from affected European countries since 1997.

However, because some animal products were shipped over after animals were diagnosed in Britain, the risk of BSE existing here cannot be ruled out, Blanchfield says. "The U.S. imported just under [44,000 pounds of British feed] in 1989, when the epidemic started to get going but was not at its peak."

In addition to feed, the USDA keeps tabs on more than two dozen cattle that were shipped in from Europe during the past decade and still live on farms in Texas, Minnesota, Illinois and Vermont, says the USDA's head veterinarian and Mad Cow expert, Linda Detwiler.

So far, none has exhibited symptoms of BSE, and they are believed to be too old to harbor the disease.

However, some observers worry about the 32 cows shipped in from Britain during the past decade that USDA officials still can't account for.

Academics say the risk to this nation's 98 million head of cattle from fewer than three dozen animals is too low to even calculate. "The risks of having a U.K.-like [situation] are infinitesimally small" because of the feed ban, says George Gray, researcher at the Harvard Center for risk Analysis, which has studied the subject for two years.

It was the continued sale of feed made from the meat and bone meal of contaminated animals that was responsible for BSE's rapid spread across Europe, and that practice was promptly stopped in the United States.

Still, skepticism is understandable, scientists say, given how much is not yet known about the disease. "We don't have the tests yet to verify that there is no problem [in our herds]," says DeArmond of UC San Francisco.

A number of companies are rushing to come out with a blood test that will detect the disease in live animals. Currently, the disease is diagnosed only by studying brain tissue after an animal dies or is killed.

During the past decade, the brains of 12,000 so-called downer cattle have been tested, and all tests have been negative, Detwiler says.

Contributing to the confusion and fear is the host of similar diseases affecting other animals in this country, such as deer, elk, sheep and mink.

Although these diseases have not been shown to jump species, scientists can't say they haven't. And the experts can't fully explain how the animals developed the cell abnormality to begin with.

Two hunters in this country who ate deer and elk, and one non-hunter who ate venison, have died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Detwiler says. There was no direct link established, however, because it is not known whether they ate animals infected with TSE.

Ritchie, the think tank director, argues that there hasn't been enough education for hunters and additional precautions taken to protect consumers.

"Why government hasn't acted on what it's known is a very big question," he says. "This is a direct threat, and it's not being dealt with."

So far, cases of so-called mad deer disease have been identified in wild animals in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, and on 13 elk farms in those states plus Montana, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Saskatchewan, Canada.

Regulators won their fight to wipe out the threat from the sheep version of BSE, also known as scrapie, which was found in four animals on a Vermont dairy farm.

A federal judge ruled that the USDA can seize and destroy these animals along with a second flock also imported from Belgium that may have eaten contaminated feed.

Scrapie-infected sheep ground up in feed are thought to be the initial cause of BSE in Britain. So far, scrapie does not appear to affect humans when ingested.

Experts say consumers would have to feast on the brains and backbones of cows to stand a significant risk of exposure to BSE.

The prions causing BSE aren't found in muscle. There is also no evidence that milk or blood pass on the disease.

"I probably wouldn't worry too much about eating beef in the U.K.," says Dean Cliver, a food safety professor at UC Davis. "And I certainly wouldn't worry about it here."


21 Feb 01 - CJD - Countries Warned On Risk Of Mad Cow Disease

Queeneth Opara

All Africa--Wednesday 21 February 2001


LAGOS. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned countries around the world of the risk of Mad Cow disease appearing in the food chain and entering the human population.

In a statement in Lagos through the Information Department of the Embassy of the United States, the FAO recommended adoption of surveillance and monitoring systems to detect the disease in cattle herds, meat industries, and animal feed operations.

Mad Cow disease is scientifically known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). This disease has been linked to a fatal brain disease in humans called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD). An epidemic of BSE in cattle herds in the United Kingdom has been followed by about 10-15 cases of (nvCJD) occurring annually. Little is known about the actual mechanism for transmission of the disease, but the currently held belief is that the disease agent jumps to humans who eat infected meat products.

Alarm about the disease's potential has been largely confined to Western Europe. Nevertheless, the FAO has issued a warning to all nations saying all countries which have imported cattle or meat and bone meal from Western Europe, especially the UK, during and since the 1980s, can be considered at risk.

FAO warned countries around the world, not just those in Western Europe, to be concerned about the risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and its human form, the new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD). It called for action to protect the human population, as well as the livestock, feed and meat industries.

The UN agency said there was an increasingly grave situation developing in the European Union, with BSE being identified in cattle in several member states of the EU which had, until recently, been regarded as free from the disease.

FAO also said that confirmed and suspected cases of nvCJD are occurring in people outside the UK, in various member states. Much remains unknown about the disease and the infective agent. "There is currently no method of diagnosis at early stages of infection and no cure for the disease, neither in animals nor in humans," the UN agency said.

FAO said it considers "that there is an urgent need to refine the risk assessment and to extend it to other countries and regions. Countries at risk should implement effective surveillance for BSE in cattle and controls on the animal feed and meat industries. At present, this means: laboratory testing of samples from slaughtered cattle, and correct disposal of fallen stock and improved processing of offals and by-products".

Within countries, FAO recommended applying the so-called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system (HACCP) which aims at identifying potential problems and taking corrective measures throughout the food chain. Some of the issues include the production of animal feed, the raw materials used, cross- contamination in the feed mill, labelling of manufactured feeds, the feed transport system, as well as monitoring imported live animals, slaughtering methods, the rendering industry and the disposal of waste materials.

"Strict controls have been implemented in the United Kingdom and are now being implemented in the rest of the EU," FAO said. "Countries outside the EU should adopt appropriate measures to protect their herds and to ensure the safety of meat and meat products. Legislation to control the industry and its effective implementation is required, including capacity building and the training of operatives and government officials."

FAO advised countries to adopt a precautionary approach. As an immediate measure, countries which have imported animals and meat products from BSE- infected trading partners should consider a precautionary ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal to ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats) or, to reduce the risk of infection even further, to all animals.

Attention should be paid to slaughtering procedures and to the processing and use of offal and byproduct parts, FAO said. The rendering industry should be scrutinised and appropriate procedures adopted everywhere.


21 Feb 01 - CJD - Farmers voice BSE anger

By Michael Drake

Belfast Telegraph--Wednesday 21 February 2001


beef farmers' patience over BSE in Northern Ireland is rapidly wearing thin it was warned today.

Co Down farmer John Carson, Northern Ireland chairman of the National beef Association said; "they are no longer confident they will enjoy early release from the restraints of the Date Based Export Scheme.""Back in 1999 when just six BSE cases were confirmed, beef farmers in Northern Ireland were beginning to think the end of the road was in sight," he added.

"But they increased to 22 last year and confirmation earlier this month that 54 cases were found in a casualty sample of just 2,500 cows was the final straw."