Document Directory

04 Mar 01 - CJD - 'The Slow, Deadly Spread of Mad Cow Disease'
04 Mar 01 - CJD - Cannibals to cows - the path of a deadly disease
04 Mar 01 - CJD - EU govts to vote on new beef purchase
03 Mar 01 - CJD - FDA Weighs `Minimal' Potential for BSE Risk in Allergy Shots
03 Mar 01 - CJD - Anger as Germany breaks BSE law
03 Mar 01 - CJD - Protein decline may be clue to Mad Cow diagnosis
03 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease research sees progress
03 Mar 01 - CJD - European Commission may ban German beef exports
03 Mar 01 - CJD - Import flood poses new BSE risk, says Tory
03 Mar 01 - CJD - EU Commission presents details of beef purchasing plan
03 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE fears spark blood donor ban
03 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE fears amid meat shortage
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Ukraine Bans Ferret, Giraffe Imports Over BSE Fears
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Europe gripped by BSE fears
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Breaches detected in imported BSE
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Aid Package for Mad Cow Disease OKd
02 Mar 01 - CJD - BASF to patent genes used in animal feed
02 Mar 01 - CJD - EU beef market support runs into opposition
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Colombia to sacrifice German cows to prevent "Mad Cow"
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Netherlands confirms new case; 14th to date
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Protein decline may be clue to Mad Cow diagnosis
02 Mar 01 - CJD - European Parliament approves emergency aid for Mad Cow measures
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease research sees progress
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Possible New Test Finds Mad Cow Disease in Blood
02 Mar 01 - CJD - France Offers $200M in Mad Cow Aid
02 Mar 01 - CJD - New Zealand in joint approach on extending BSE ban
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Fearing BSE, Latvia bans import of cattle feed
02 Mar 01 - CJD - European Commission may ban German beef exports
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Japan curbs blood donations from Europeans
02 Mar 01 - CJD - EU Commission presents details of beef purchasing plan
02 Mar 01 - CJD - Spain BSE cases estimated at 250 this yr
02 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE checks stepped up to cope with meat imports surge



04 Mar 01 - CJD - 'The Slow, Deadly Spread of Mad Cow Disease'

PRN Newswire

YAHOO--Sunday 4 March 2001


U.S. Still Allows Sale of High-Risk Tissues Which Could Carry Disease; Dietary Supplements with 'raw Brain Concentrate (Bovine)' Risk

NEW YORK, March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Although most experts believe the U.S. has the safeguards in place to prevent widespread outbreaks of Mad Cow Disease, U.S. law still permits the sale of high-risk tissues, such as meat torn from a cow's spinal column (unless the tissue comes from a high-risk country), Newsweek reports in the current issue's cover story on the disease. Studies show that ``prions'' -- normal protein molecules that become infectious when folded into abnormal shapes -- are more likely to show up in meat torn from a cow's spinal column than, say, a rump roast. An American hot dog, for example, can contain up to 20 percent ``mechanically separated meat,'' which the government describes as ``a paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones with attached edible meat under high pressure through a sieve ...''

Other high-risk substances are dietary supplements that have ``raw brain concentrate (bovine),'' and others that contain raw bovine lung, heart, kidney, spleen and brain, all in one caplet . Such supplements remain largely unregulated in the U.S., Newsweek reports in the March 12 cover story, ``The Slow, Deadly Spread of Mad Cow Disease,'' (on newsstands Monday, March 5). Senior Editor Geoffrey Cowley breaks down the disease from its roots to how it spreads through processed cattle feed -- ground up cattle remains -- and examines how much of a threat it is to beef eaters in the U.S. The cover package also includes a checklist for consumers who want to know if they're at risk and which cuts of meat pose a more serious health risk than others. For example, European health agencies believe the greatest dangers come from burgers, sausages and meat still attached to the bone, such as a T-bone steak. Flank steak and filet mignon are presumably safer.

So far, the human variant of Mad Cow Disease -- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) -- has claimed 94 lives worldwide, since it appeared on a farm in England in 1994. But the condition can progress silently for a decade or more, causing no symptoms until it has all but destroyed the brain. Newsweek reports that while it's possible that the worse is already behind us, it's also conceivable that tens of thousands of Britons -- and millions of people worldwide -- are still silently incubating the disease. ``We have no idea how many deaths we're going to see in the coming years,'' says Dr. Frederic Saldmann, a French physician who has recently seen both cows and people stricken in his country. ``We've been checkmated.''


04 Mar 01 - CJD - Cannibals to cows - the path of a deadly disease

Staff Reporters

Newsweek--Sunday 4 March 2001


With Anne Underwood in New York, Adam Rogers in Washington, Andrew Murrin Los Angeles, Karen Springen in Chicago, William Underhill and Michelle Chan in London and Scott Johnson in Paris

When the vet came to investigate, the animal was acting completely crazy-drooling, arching its back, waving its head, threatening its peers. And by the time it died six weeks later, Stent was seeing the same symptoms in other cows. Nine were soon dead, and no one could explain why. The vet dubbed the strange malady Pitsham Farm syndrome, since it didn't seem to exist anywhere else. Little did he know.

Alison Williams was 20 years old at the time, and living in the coastal village of Caernarfon, in north Wales. She was bright and outgoing, a business student who loved to sail and swim in the nearby mountain lakes. But her personality changed suddenly when she was 22. She lost interest in other people, her father recalls, and quit school to live at home with her parents and her brother. She still enjoyed the outdoors, but she took to sitting alone on her bed, staring out the window for hours at a time.

By 1992, Alison was having what her doctors diagnosed as nervous breakdowns, and by 1995 she had grown paranoid and incontinent. "A month before she died, she went blind and lost use of her tongue," her dad recalls. "She spent her last five days in a coma."

SOMETHING BIGGER?

Anyone with a television has heard such stories, maybe even sussed out the connection between them. Mad-cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), has killed nearly 200,000 British and European cattle since it cropped up on Pitsham Farm. The human variant that Alison Williams contracted has claimed 94 lives as well. What few of us realize is that these tolls could mark the beginning of something vastly bigger.

No one knows just how BSE first emerged. But once a few cattle contracted it, 20th-century farming practices guaranteed that millions more would follow. For 11 years following the Pitsham Farm episode, British exporters shipped the remains of BSE-infected cows all over the world, as cattle feed. The potentially tainted gruel reached more than 80 countries. And millions of people-not only in Europe but throughout Russia and Southeast Asia-have eaten cattle that were raised on it.

It's possible, of course, that the worst is already behind us. After dithering for a decade, governments in the United Kingdom and Europe have lately taken bold steps to control BSE. The number of bovine cases is now falling in Britain-and the United States has yet to even report one. American officials banned British cattle feed in 1988, as soon as scientists implicated it in BSE, and later barred the recycling of domestic cows as well. The U.S. government, the cattle industry and many experts now voice confidence in the nation's fire wall and say the risk to consumers is slight.

In truth, however, America's safeguards and surveillance efforts are far weaker than most people realize. And in many of the developing countries that now face the greatest risk, such efforts are nonexistent. How many of the world's cattle are now silently incubating BSE? How many people are contracting it? The truth is, we don't know. "We have no idea how many deaths we're going to see in the coming years," says Dr. Frederic Saldmann, a French physician who has recently seen both cows and people stricken in his country. "We've been checkmated."

Mad Cow is the creepiest in a family of disorders that can make Ebola look like chickenpox. Scientists are only beginning to understand these afflictions. Known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs, they arise spontaneously in species as varied as sheep, cattle, mink, deer and people. And once they take hold they can spread. Some TSEs stick to a single species, while others ignore such boundaries. But each of them is fatal and untreatable, and they all ravage the brain-usually after long latency periods-causing symptoms that can range from dementia to psychosis and paralysis.

If the prevailing theory is right, they're caused not by germs but by "prions"-normal protein molecules that become infectious when folded into abnormal shapes. Prions are invisible to the immune system, yet tough enough to survive harsh solvents and extreme temperatures. You can freeze them, boil them, soak them in formaldehyde or carbolic acid or chloroform, and most will emerge no less deadly than they were.

ILL-TEMPERED SHEEP

The prion story starts in the 1730s, when shepherds in Britain and Europe described the disease we call scrapie. Like Peter Stent's cows, afflicted sheep would grow ill-tempered and wobbly. Then, over three to six months, they would suffer seizures, paralysis, blindness and death. Scrapie is still common in sheep, but doesn't seem to strike people. As far as we know, no one has ever gotten sick by eating infected mutton.

Dr. Carleton Gajdusek knew nothing of scrapie when he landed in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s. But Gajdusek, an American pediatrician and virologist employed by the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, soon encountered something similar. A strange neurological disease was killing the Fore people of the country's Eastern Highlands-especially the women and children. The Fore called the condition "kuru," which means shaking or shivering, and they knew its 16-month progression well: tremors and an unsteady gait, followed by slurred speech, joyless laughter and, finally, stupor and death.

The Fore knew kuru as a curse cast by sorcerers. Like most outsiders, Gajdusek suspected it was an epidemic disease, somehow related to the tribe's eating habits. Fore men supplemented their bean-and-sweet-potato diets with small game, but women and children lacked protein. The women had recently created a ritual to fill the gap. Instead of burying dead loved ones, they ate them. As Richard Rhodes recounts in his 1997 book, "Deadly Feasts," "They did not eat lepers or those who died of diarrhea, but the flesh of women killed by [kuru] they considered clean."

KURU AND CANNIBALISM

The link between kuru and cannibalism seemed clear enough. But as he examined living patients, Gajdusek saw no outward signs of infection-no fever, no inflammation-and culture tests turned up nothing suspicious in their spinal fluid. By sending autopsy samples to his colleagues back in Maryland, Gajdusek did learn that the patients' brains resembled those of people with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a rare and fatal brain condition that German researchers had discovered in the 1920s. Both conditions filled the brain with "vacuoles," small cavities resembling the holes in a sponge. And despite some differences, they ran essentially the same course. But that only deepened the mystery. As far as anyone knew, CJD was just a biochemical fluke, a disease that strikes randomly and infrequently all over the world. Kuru was spreading like a plague.

Gajdusek published several reports on kuru over the next couple of years, and one of them caught the attention of Dr. William Hadlow, a scrapie expert. Hadlow noticed that the vacuoles in Gajdusek's kuru brains resembled those he'd seen in sheep. The symptoms sounded familiar, as well. In a letter to The Lancet, Hadlow listed the parallels between kuru and scrapie, and posed a tantalizing question. Studies had shown that healthy animals developed scrapie when injected with a sheep's diseased brain tissue. What would happen, he wondered, if you injected a healthy animal with brain tissue from a kuru victim? Would this disease spread in the same way?

To find out, Gajdusek and a colleague started injecting chimps and monkeys with the ground brains of Fore tribeswomen. By 1965 they had shown that kuru was transmissible. Gajdusek then repeated the experiment with brain tissue from an American CJD victim and got the same result. These astonishing discoveries helped control kuru in New Guinea. They also won Gajdusek a Nobel Prize. He had shown that scrapie, kuru and CJD could all spread and kill in the same manner. Unfortunately, the responsible pathogens were still unknown. And as it turned out, eating one's relatives was not the only way to contract them.

GLAND HARVESTING

While Gajdusek and his colleagues were investigating kuru, other scientists were pursuing the secrets of growth and maturation-and making equally thrilling discoveries. Endocrinologists had found a rich store of hormones in the pituitary, a pea-sized gland near the front of the brain. And by the early 1960s they had shown that one of these substances-human growth hormone-could help dwarves reach more normal heights. Human cadavers were the only known source of hGH, and demand was intense. So in 1963, the federal government created a National Pituitary Agency to harvest and distribute the glands. Over the next two decades, roughly 8,200 kids got hGH through the agency, and similar programs cropped up throughout Europe.

All seemed well until 1984, when a troubling pattern emerged. In its common "sporadic" form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is rare in people under 50. Yet patients who'd received growth-hormone injections were getting the disease in their 20s. By spring 1985 there were four such cases on record, and the implication was obvious: the medical establishment had created the high-tech equivalent of a Fore funerary feast.

No one knew how many pituitary donors had been silently incubating CJD, or how many recipients were now set to die from it. But 27,000 of the world's children had received injections when the practice was stopped on April 20. As Dr. Paul Brown of the NIH wrote later that year, America now faced the "ominous possibility of a burgeoning [CJD] epidemic." (Twenty-two cases have now been recorded in U.S. hormone recipients, and new ones are still turning up each year.)

Britain faced an epidemic as well, and hormone recipients were not the only ones at risk. Peter Stent had just lost those nine cows when the hGH crisis came to light, and other English farmers were soon having similar experiences. In 1986, pathologists discovered that Pitsham Farm syndrome was yet another variation on scrapie, kuru and CJD-a Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE. And when the toll continued to rise, health officials started considering defensive measures. In 1988, they mandated the destruction of stricken cows and halted the use of cows, sheep and other ruminant animals in cattle feed. Unfortunately, they underestimated the threat they faced.

TAINTED FEED

BSE was by now so rampant that existing feed supplies were infecting hundreds of cattle every week. But because most of the infected cows were still healthy, the epidemic appeared small. Instead of seizing all potentially tainted feed, the government gave farmers and feedlots five weeks to use up their inventories. And instead of barring cow and sheep offal from all feed products, the new rules focused narrowly on feed intended for British cows.

Beef by-products continued to circulate in pig and chicken feed, which proved impossible to segregate from cattle feed on farms and in factories. And because the new rules said nothing about exports, Britain's banned cattle feed flooded other countries for another eight years. From 1988 to 1996, Asian nations alone bought nearly a million tons.

Meanwhile, people continued to eat as much beef as ever. The British government dismissed concerns about the food supply, but there were soon clear signs that BSE could spread beyond cattle. The disease started cropping up in zoo animals and domestic cats, which were receiving beef byproducts in their feed. Then researchers succeeded at transmitting BSE from a cow to a pig through injections of brain tissue.

Each finding caused a new wave of public concern, forcing the government to adopt new precautions. By late 1990, health officials had banned a list of highly infectious cow parts-the brain, spinal cord, spleen, thymus, tonsils and intestines-from all food products, human or animal. Yet the government continued to insist that people had no cause to worry.

Britain's chief medical officer was still denying any risk in 1993 as Alison Williams, the young Welsh woman, drifted into a stupor. But everything changed two years later, when pathologists examined the brains of Williams and several other young adults who had died of what looked like CJD. In addition to the spongiform vacuoles that are the hallmark of the disease, their brains were littered with large, flower-shaped plaques. And their lesions were concentrated not in the cerebral cortex (the usual locus of CJD damage) but in the cerebellum, a globular structure perched near the base of the brain. In short, their tissue samples had BSE written all over them.

In 1996, Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell went before Parliament to announce that BSE had spawned a new human disease: a "variant of CJD," or vCJD. "Beef is one of the great unifying symbols of our culture," The Guardian lamented in an editorial. "The Roast Beef of Old England is a fetish, a household god, which has suddenly been revealed as a Trojan horse for our destruction."

FEWER CASES REPORTED

Finally, almost a decade after the first cow got sick , Britain banned any recycling of farm animals and stopped exporting meat-based cattle feed. The country has since spent billions destroying cows more than 30 months old, regardless of their apparent health, and disposing of the remains. Some 500,000 tons of ground carcass are now stored at 13 sites around the country. Sealed tankers transport the stuff to high-temperature incinerators. The ashes are then buried. Thanks to these belated efforts, British farmers are now reporting only 30 BSE cases a week, down from 1,000 or more in the early '90s.

For the rest of the world, the worst almost surely lies ahead. A dozen European countries have now reported BSE in native-born cows. Spain and Germany recently saw their first cases, after years of insisting that their herds had been spared. And the United Nations is urging non-European countries that imported British offal during the 1980s and '90s to consider themselves "at risk" for BSE and its human variant.

vCJD is still concentrated overwhelmingly in the United Kingdom, home to 89 of the 94 the known cases. But the epidemic is young. France's first victim, Arnaud Eboli, was a 17-year-old martial-arts enthusiast when he fell ill three years ago. His mother, Dominique, recalls how he grew ever more agitated and irritable, often crying and sometimes screaming at her, "I'm going crazy! I have mad-cow disease!" He stopped walking or talking last May and lost consciousness in August, but his frail shell still occupies a bed at home. "I don't even remember what he was like anymore," his mother says.

The United States, to its credit, has shown foresight. Most experts believe we now have the safeguards in place to prevent widespread outbreaks. In the years since BSE was first recognized, the federal government has banned feed imports from affected countries, barred the use of domestic ruminants in cattle feed, even outlawed blood donations by people who spent more than six months in Britain between 1980 and 1996. Not a single Mad Cow has been reported in this country, and consumers seem confident that the meat they're eating is safe. "We have no indication that consumption is falling," says Alisa Harrison of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "Actually, beef demand is on the increase."

NOT LOOKING HARD ENOUGH?

But it's a bit early to conclude that America is prion-proof. Spongiform encephalopathies have turned up in American sheep, deer, elk, mink and people in recent decades. And though BSE has not been seen in U.S. cattle, some experts suspect we're just not looking hard enough to find it. Over the past decade, animal-health officials have examined brain tissue from 12,000 "downer" (nonambulatory) cattle without finding any BSE. Some 2,300 downers tested negative last year-proving, says Gary Weber of the Beef Association, that the U.S. infection rate is fewer than one cow in a million. Other experts say he's wrongly assuming that only downer cattle can have BSE, when infected cows may look healthy for five years. Germany appeared BSE-free when it tested only downers, says Marcus Doherr, an epidemiologist who helped design Switzerland's testing program. "Now, with very intensive screening, they have found over 30 cases within two months."

If BSE did show up in this country, could we keep the disease from spreading? Agriculture officials say the ban on bovine cannibalism would prevent the kind of explosion Britain experienced early on. Perhaps, but this country's feed rules are neither as strict nor as well enforced as you might think. Since cows and sheep are prone to TSEs, the government bars the use of cow and sheep byproducts in their feed. But since pigs and poultry don't exhibit TSEs outside the laboratory, they can eat anything. That's not a problem in itself, unless pigs are more susceptible than we realize.

The trouble is, it's nearly impossible to keep the different products apart-and a feed kernel the size of a peppercorn can transmit BSE. From 1988 until 1996, Britain used the current U.S. standard. There was so much cross-contamination-in rendering plants, in feedlots and in barnyards-that an estimated 60,000 cattle were infected as a result. Would that system work any better here? The record isn't encouraging. Just six weeks ago a Purina outlet in Gonzales, Texas, called a feedlot in Floresville to explain that an employee had inadvertently spiked a recent shipment of cattle feed with offal intended only for other animals. More than 1,200 cattle were already munching the stuff when the call came.

There is no evidence that the feed was tainted. Even so, Purina purchased the affected cattle and pledged to keep them out of the food chain (presumably by destroying them). Purina has also announced that it will stop using sheep or cattle in any of its products. And the American Feed Industry Association is now pushing its members to create separate "production lines" within their factories to prevent such commingling. But these reforms are voluntary, and the feed companies' past record doesn't inspire confidence. In a study published last fall, the General Accounting Office found that 20 percent of the 1,700 U.S. companies handling both restricted and unrestricted offal "did not have a system... to prevent commingling and cross contamination."

TOXIC TONICS?

The United States lags in other areas as well. Studies (and common sense) suggest that brain-destroying prions are more likely to show up in meat torn from a cow's spinal column than, say, a rump roast. Though Britain now bars the sale of such high-risk tissues, U.S. law still permits it (unless the tissue comes from a high-risk country).

An American hot dog, for example, can contain up to 20 percent "mechanically separated meat," which the government describes as "a paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones with attached edible meat under high pressure through a sieve..." And because dietary supplements remain largely unregulated in this country, their manufacturers can peddle the most potentially dangerous tissues as tonics. Atrium Inc.'s Brain 360 promises 360mg of "raw brain concentrate (bovine)." Atrium's Pituitary Whole provides 40mg of raw pituitary, also from cows. And PhytoPharmica's Adrenal-Cortex Fractions include raw bovine lung, heart, kidney, spleen and brain, all in one caplet

Grotesque oddities or public-health threats? It's impossible to say. We tend to assume the best until confronted with evidence to the contrary. But if the story of BSE teaches us anything, it's that paranoia pays. Who would have worried about eating a cheap British burger in 1985? Who would have deprived a stunted child of a chance to grow tall in the 1960s or '70s? Wendy Nofi reached nearly five feet with the help of human growth hormone.

She married, had three kids and lived happily in Bethpage, N.Y., until 1995, when she started losing her balance. "She always felt like she was on a boat, kind of rocking," her husband, Michael, recalls. You know the rest of the story. Her vision blurred. She stopped walking and swallowing and lost all bowel and bladder control. By the time she died in 1998, she had spent two years on a feeding tube. "There were absolutely no guidelines for screening the pituitaries," her husband now marvels. "Really, they didn't screen anything." Of course not. No one had gotten sick.


04 Mar 01 - CJD - EU govts to vote on new beef purchase

By Tim King, BridgeNews

FWN Financial---Sunday 4 March 2001


Mar 02, 2001 (FWN Financial via COMTEX) -- Brussels--March 2--The European Commission formally presented to EU member states Friday with its proposal for a special purchase scheme to buy up beef, so as to reduce over-supply and support prices in the wake of the crisis over Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). A Commission spokesman said the proposal would probably be put to the vote at the next meeting of the EU's beef management committee, foreseen for March 16.

The details of the proposal were the same as outlined earlier in the week by EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler. The scheme would apply to carcasses of animals that are not eligible for public intervention purchase, that are more than 30 months of age and that have tested negative for BSE.

The scheme would only be open to EU states that have the capacity to test all cattle over 30 months for BSE. It would be applied only in states where cow meat prices are weak, going into effect when prices are below the trigger price for more than two weeks. There would be no limit on the quantity of meat that would be accepted into the scheme. The compensation would be paid 70% by the EU and 30% by the member states. Member states would have a choice of whether to destroy the meat or store it. The measures would apply until the end of 2001.

The proposal is intended to replace the existing purchase-for-destruction scheme, which provides for destruction of meat but not storage and has been heavily criticized in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark.

Fischler said Friday: "These special measures address the ethical concerns voiced by some member states....The decision to slaughter his cow is up to the farmer. We just make an offer to buy his unsellable meat. No one will be forced to destroy BSE-tested beef.

"According to our proposal, member states will now have the choice. They can decide either to store the beef purchased or to provide for its destruction, with or without prior storage. Following approval of the Commission, the member state may decide to give the meat away for free or sell it.

"To be clear," he added "There are beef mountains building up. We need short-term emergency measures to help EU farmers. Obviously, storing unsellable beef is not my farm policy vision for the future."


03 Mar 01 - CJD - FDA Weighs `Minimal' Potential for BSE Risk in Allergy Shots

By Kristin Reed

Bloomberg--Saturday 3 March 2001


Washington, March 3 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials want to ask makers of the allergen extracts used in allergy shots to take steps to further reduce any possible risk of ``Mad Cow'' disease.

The FDA's expert advisory committee on allergy and vaccine products will meet Monday to discuss allergy-shot safety. The advisers will consider an FDA proposal that asks companies to replace manufacturing components that may contain material from cattle raised in countries at risk for the brain-wasting disease.

There's no evidence that allergen extracts transmit the disease, and FDA officials described the theoretical risks as ``minimal'' in documents prepared for Monday's meeting. The agency is weighing whether to push for added safety measures as it tries to keep the U.S. free of Mad Cow disease, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE.

``We are bringing this issue up because the FDA wants to minimize any possible risk of BSE from these and all FDA-regulated products -- however remote that risk might be,'' said FDA spokeswoman Lenore Gelb.

Allergen extracts are used to treat people with allergies to dust mites, cockroaches, and pollen, and are mainly produced by small, closely held laboratories.

Most extracts don't contain any cattle-derived material. Extracts for certain molds, though, are stored and grown in cultures that may contain bovine components.

Material in those cultures generally comes from countries certified to have no BSE risk, but in a few instances the country of origin is unknown, and that's what the FDA would like manufacturers to replace. The agency has taken similar steps with traditional vaccine makers.

BSE has ravaged Europe and the U.K., where the disease was first identified in 1986 and where almost 1,000 new cases of the disease were reported each week at the height of the U.K. epidemic in 1993.

BSE's ties to a new form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain-wasting condition that affects humans, have raised alarm in the U.S. and Europe about the safety of beef and beef- related products. Nearly 100 cases of nvCJD have been reported in Europe and the U.K.


03 Mar 01 - CJD - Anger as Germany breaks BSE law

From Martin Fletcher, European Correspondent

Times--Saturday 3 March 2001


The European Commission reacted with anger yesterday to news that Germany has sent unsafe beef to Britain, and prepared to remove the export licences of the abattoirs responsible. David Byrne, the commissioner responsible for consumer protection, contacted the German Government to demand an explanation.

British inspectors yesterday claimed they had intercepted five consignments of German beef containing bits of spinal cord, which is banned under EU law because it can harbour Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

His spokesman described the removal of such high-risk material as "the single most important protection measure we can take against BSE".

The consignments are believed to have come from two German abattoirs, one in the province of North Rhine-Westphalia which has been slaughtering animals imported from Britain in fear of foot-and-mouth. The National Farmers' Union demanded the Commission close them down. Once the facts are established Mr abattoirs or he will do so himself. "This is a matter of urgency and the commissioner is very concerned," his spokesman said.

Mr Byrne was angry because he had written to Renate KŁnast, the German Agriculture Minister, on February 7, after the discovery of the first consignment of German beef to Britain that breached the EU's strict safeguards against Mad Cow disease. She replied to assure him that her Government had put all the proper controls in place.

British inspectors have also discovered a consignment of unsafe beef from The Netherlands.


03 Mar 01 - CJD - Protein decline may be clue to Mad Cow diagnosis

Staff Reporter

CBC--Saturday 3 March 2001


ROSLIN, SCOTLAND - Scientists in Scotland say they're one step closer to finding a way to diagnose Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE, or Mad Cow disease, in its early stages.

Both BSE, and its human form, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, have long dormant stages where the victim shows no external signs of infection.

At the moment, there is no way to diagnose a cow or a person during these early, "invisible" stages of the disease. This makes it difficult to stop the spread of these fatal conditions.

Now a team of researchers think they might have found a clue. Michael Clinton and Gino Miele of the Roslin Institute in Scotland found a protein called EDRF is noticeably reduced in the blood of mice and sheep and the bone marrow of cows infected with BSE.

They say it's not clear how or why the presence of the brain-wasting disease causes this reduction, but if their findings prove consistent, it could provide the first easily identifiable marker for the infection.

BSE and its variants are thought to be caused by a prion, a type of protein that can adopt an abnormal shape, accumulate in the brain, and cause damage.

At present, the method of determining if an animal has BSE is to study tissue samples from its brain.


03 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease research sees progress

Staff Reporter

News Asia--Saturday 3 March 2001


Progress has been made towards a simple and non-invasive test for identifying the agent that causes Mad Cow disease and its fatal human form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

In the March issue of the monthly journal Nature Medicine, researchers at Scotland's Roslin Institute wrote that they have found a protein which seems to give indications of early infection.

One of the pressing issues in the mad-cow scare is trying to determine how many people may be incubating its variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) which turns the human brain spongey.

Currently, the only way of knowing for sure is to conduct a biopsy on brain tissue after death, or tonsil tissue, if available, to look for the presence of a rogue protein called a prion.

Post-mortem tests are also the only method of knowing whether cattle has been infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease.

In such an uncertain climate, the European Union has launched a massive and costly programme to slaughter 1.5 million cattle as a preventative measure.


03 Mar 01 - CJD - European Commission may ban German beef exports

Ananova

PA News--Saturday 3 March 2001


The European Commission says it will stop exports of some German beef products if the authorities there do not prevent further shipments including banned material like spinal cord.

A commission spokesman has made these comments following the discovery that two German abattoirs have exported meat products containing spinal cord to the UK.

Spinal cord is a "specified risk material", which the EU has ruled must be removed in the fight against Mad Cow disease and its human form Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease.

The spokesman says the Commission is particularly concerned as Germany has already been warned about such practices.

He says the German agriculture minister had immediately responded with a "very reassuring letter".

The spokesman says: "We have to be sure Germany can efficiently control it. Otherwise, the commission will have to take safeguard measures against Germany like, for example, banning certain beef products."

He says that, as a minimum, it could block the granting of export licences to certain abattoirs.

The spokesman denies that the commission is giving Germany a second chance, arguing the need for the information about the illegal exports to be confirmed and adding "some days are necessary to check what's happened on the spot."

He also says the commission is awaiting a reply from the Dutch government about a similar case there.

Asked at what stage the UK Government would be justified in banning beef imports from Germany, he says it will not be necessary for such action as the commission would do so any way: "If the Germans do not act properly now, we will ban it."


03 Mar 01 - CJD - Import flood poses new BSE risk, says Tory

Conservative Party

News Wales--Saturday 3 March 2001


Welsh Tory Agriculture Spokesman, Peter Rogers AM, has renewed his call for an import ban on foreign meat entering Wales. Since last year Mr Rogers has been calling for strict import controls to protect the Welsh public from exposure to the risk of BSE. The call comes as Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency conceded that meat is illegally entering Britain, some of which could be contaminated with BSE. Speaking from his Anglesey farm, Peter Rogers said:

"The government is failing to protect Wales from the risk of BSE in imported foreign meat. The risks of contamination are even greater now that foreign meat is flooding into the supermarkets because of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

I have long argued that current import controls are wholly inadequate, and unfairly penalise Welsh farmers. We've seen too many cases of spinal cord being found in consignments bound for our supermarkets - these are just the ones we've managed to catch. It does not bear thinking about how many cases have slipped through the net.

Europe's slack control methods should be stamped out - the Commission has failed in this task so Britain must act to protect public health.

The Cardiff coalition should stop passing the buck on this issue and explain what its doing to protect the Welsh public from this increased risk from foreign imports. Assembly Ministers must explain what they are doing to protect Welsh consumers from this new risk - and I intend to pursue them on this very important issue."

Author: Welsh Conservative Party


03 Mar 01 - CJD - EU Commission presents details of beef purchasing plan

Ananova

PA News--Saturday 3 March 2001


BRUSSELS (AFX) - The European Commission said it presented to the EU states' agriculture officials details of its proposed special purchasing scheme to help prop up beef prices through the end of the year.

The plan covers carcasses of cattle not eligible for normal intervention purchases, which are over 30 months of age and which have been tested negatively for BSE.

It will only be available in states which are capable of running a full testing programme for BSE. For others the "purchase for destruction scheme" remains in force until June 30, by when they have to be able to test, it said.

The buying in can be for storage or for destruction, but no quantities have been fixed in advance for each member state.

The scheme will only apply in states where the market price is below a "trigger" price, to be fixed for each country, for two weeks.

The commission proposes that 70% of the cost of buying in the carcasses should be paid by the EU with 30% paid by the member state.

One delegate said today's meeting had seen several countries arguing for the EU to cover a higher proportion of the costs.

The proposals will be put in legal form and submitted to the beef market management committee in two weeks time, a commission spokesman said. There it will be approved unless a qualified majority of states vote against the Commission.

The delegate said it is hard to judge its chances of being approved.

Agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler said the scheme addresses the "ethical" concerns of some member states.

Denmark and Germany had said they opposed destroying perfectly good meat.

"The decision to slaughter his cow is up to the farmer. We just make an offer to buy his unsellable meat. Even less cattle are slaughtered than before the BSE-crisis. No-one will be forced to destroy BSE-tested beef," Fischler said.

Member states can now choose either to store the beef purchased or to provide for its destruction, with or without prior storage, he said.

Following approval from the Commission states "may decide to give the meat away for free or sell it. To be clear. There are beef mountains building up. We need short term emergency measures to help EU farmers. Obviously, storing unsellable beef is not my farm policy vision for the future," he said.


03 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE fears spark blood donor ban

Staff Reporter

BBC--Saturday 3 March 2001


Japan is to restrict blood donations from people who have lived in Europe in an attempt to prevent the spread of the human form of Mad Cow disease. The ban will apply to anyone who has been resident in Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain or Switzerland for more than six months since 1980.

These are areas where reports of Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), have been prominent or are on the rise, Japan's health ministry said.

Consumption of infected meat is thought to cause the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, which has killed dozens of people in Britain.

Health ministry official Mitsuhiro Nishida said the ban would be introduced very soon, but did not give a precise date.

"There has never been a reported case of a human being contracting the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease through a blood transfusion," he added. "But we wanted to ensure the safety of our blood supplies."

Mr Nishida said anyone who had lived in Britain between 1980 and 1996 had already been barred from donating blood for the past year.

The United States and New Zealand have imposed similar bans .

Six million donor s

Reports say six million people in Japan currently donate 1.96 million litres of blood every year.

The proposed measure would cut the number of blood donors by 0.1% to 0.3%, according to the health ministry.

BSE first broke out in British cattle herds in 1986 and resulted in wholesale herd slaughtering.

Scientists identified a link between it and CJD a decade later.

The disease, which can lie unnoticed for 20 years, causes dementia, loss of muscle control, coma and eventual death.


03 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE fears amid meat shortage

Staff Reporter

BBC--Saturday 3 March 2001


Farmers are calling for the closure of European abattoirs exporting BSE-risk meat to the UK, amid domestic meat shortages caused by foot-and-mouth disease precautions.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) call comes after consignments of beef from Germany and The Netherlands were found to contain the remnants of banned spinal cord material.

Food Standards Agency (FSA) officials have sent out a hit list to local authorities and meat hygiene inspectors of the offending abattoirs in mainland Europe.

Spinal cord is banned under strict European Union rules, as there is a risk it may carry the prion proteins thought to spread BSE.

It must be removed from cattle aged over 12 months immediately after slaughter and destroyed.

More meat is being imported from abroad because of the meat shortages caused by the current ban on livestock movement in the UK.

NFU president Ben Gill said he was "extremely angry" that the message about the dangers of BSE was not getting through in some countries.

'Unacceptable'

He called on the European Commission, which has the authority to check all European abattoirs, to shut down any found guilty of not properly implementing regulations.

"They should close the abattoirs down today until they show they are behaving responsibly and properly," he said.

Mr Gill said he was holding urgent talks on Monday with EU Health Commissioner David Byrne.

The FSA has now ordered greater BSE-related checks on meat imports.

FSA chairman Sir John Krebbs said seven carcasses in a consignment of meat from Holland had been found to have spinal cord in them, and another five in a consignment from Germany.

"This is totally unacceptable," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The German and Dutch suppliers must put their houses in order as soon as possible.

"In the meantime, to ensure the British public is protected, we've stepped up our checks particularly to target a hit list of suppliers that have produced this material with spinal cord in it."

He said the UK did not have the authority to ensure abattoirs in other countries abided by BSE laws, but added that the issue has been taken up with the EC and the German and Dutch authorities.

So far 32 cases of foot-and-mouth have been confirmed in the UK, with outbreaks identified in all parts of the UK.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Ukraine Bans Ferret, Giraffe Imports Over BSE Fears

Reuters

Russia Today--Friday 2 March 2001


KIEV, Feb 28, 2001 -- (Reuters) Ukraine's government said on Wednesday it had banned imports of ferrets, giraffes and other zoo animals for fear of spreading Mad Cow disease.

The former Soviet state had already banned imports of beef and beef products from 16 countries affected by Mad Cow disease, but government spokeswoman Natalya Zarudna said it had decided to take further measures.

The government resolution said the ban covered purchases of mink, ferrets, bison, yaks, buffalo, antelopes, giraffes, deer and big cats from countries affected by the disease, known officially as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

The ban also covered purchases of animals more traditionally associated with food scares, including cattle, sheep and goats and the sperm and ova of livestock, and other animal products.

The move was not Ukraine's first unorthodox measure to combat BSE. The veterinary inspectorate said last month it would enlist the SBU (ex-KGB) interior security service to fight illicit beef imports.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Europe gripped by BSE fears

Staff Reporter

Scotsman--Friday 2 March 2001


Despite fears foot-and-mouth disease may now be present in mainland Europe due to the importing of sheep from the UK, BSE still remains the number one concern among both farmers and consumers.

The incidence of the disease continues to grow, with Bavaria now reporting its ninth case last week bringing the total in Germany so far to 29. This escalation is having a dramatic effect on the consumption of all meats, and not just beef.

A recent survey reveals that during December German consumers purchased 25 per cent less of all meats compared to the corresponding period in 1999. Beef sales have suffered most with a catastrophic decline of 70 per cent in the last five weeks of 2000. Prior to that consumption had been falling at the relatively modest rate of 1.8 per cent per year.

Veal has also suffered with a fall of 64.7 per cent. The belief that sheep farmers would benefit from the swing from beef is not borne out by the survey which shows in December consumption of lamb in Germany fell by almost 30 per cent.

Even pork and other pig meats have been losers with a fall of 4 per cent. The trend from all red meats in Germany is confirmed by figures which show that during the first 11 months of last year consumption of poultry meat increased by 22.4 per cent with a further boost of 8.7 per cent in December.

The only glimmer of hope for the German beef industry is a possible deal with famine-stricken North Korea.

Discussions are ongoing with the prospect of 40,000 cows, which would otherwise have been slaughtered, being processed and shipped to North Korea. The understanding is that this beef would be part of a food aid programme.

The Netherlands is also experiencing problems with exports. The Russian authorities recently rejected a consignment of 7,000 tonnes of beef on the grounds it could not be proved that it had all been born, reared and processed in the Netherlands.

Switzerland has reported a further two cases of BSE, taking this year's total to five. The Swiss government is planning to spend the equivalent of just over £1 million in a bid to restore consumer confidence.

In Ireland the export market for live cattle has all but disappeared. The result is that 20,000 prime cattle are being processed each week and removed from the food chain.

Despite this Bord Bia, equivalent to the Meat and Livestock Commission, reckons there is a backlog of 100,000 head. But trade sources in Ireland suggest that if the ban on livestock movements in Great Britain persists, Irish meat plants will be eager to supply the major supermarkets at highly competitive rates.

At last week's EU beef management committee, 68,474 tonnes of young bull beef was offered for intervention with 30,129 tonnes being accepted. France was the leading player with 13,332 tonnes accepted.

The next round of tenders will be considered tomorrow where it seems certain further large quantities will be offered.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Breaches detected in imported BSE

FSA

Food Standards Agency--Friday 2 March 2001


2001/0090

Thursday 1st March 2001

BSE BREACHES DETECTED IN IMPORTED BEEF

New checks on imported meat

Meat inspectors have detected remnants of spinal ord ntwo consignments of beef quarters imported into Eastbourne from Germany and Holland, breaching EU rules.

Spinal cord is on the list of specified risk material (SRM) which, under EU law, must be removed from cattle aged over 12 months immediately after slaughter. EU-wide SRM controls came into force throughout Europe on 1st October last year.

The discovery was made today (1 March) in two consignments of imported beef. Both consignments have been detained by the Meat Hygiene Service and the affected material will be destroyed. They consisted of:

19,212 kgs - 216 quarters - from Fleischverkaufsstelk, Kalkar, Germany. Five quarters were found to contain spinal cord.

18,051 kgs - 188 quarters - from Brada's Vleeschbedigf B.V., Leevwarden, Netherlands. Seven quarters were found to contain spinal cord.

Certification states that the carcases were under 30 months of age, and therefore abided by the UK rules which prohibits the entry into the food chain of cattle over 30 months of age (the OTM rule).

Suzi Leather, Deputy Chair of the FSA said:

" None of this meat will get anywhere near the food chain and shows the importance of robust inspection stems. Both the MHS and local authorities have been vigilant in ensuring that BSE controls are being enforced."

" We are investigating the abattoirs that are the source of these breaches and will be informing the relevant enforcement authorities to ensure 100% targeting of these abattoirs until we can be sure they are abiding by EU rules."

" There is likely to be an increase in imported meat because of the foot and mouth outbreak and we need to ensure continued consumer protection from potential health risks, particularly those associated with BSE. That is why, earlier today, the FSA issued instructions for increased checks on imported meat. This stepped up action will apply to imported meat as an emergency measure and is a sensible precaution."

The Food Standards Agency issued instructions last night to local authorities and this morning to the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) to step up checks on imported meat arriving at licensed meat cutting plants in England, Scotland and Wales.

This action is in anticipation of a possible increase in imported beef because of the current foot and mouth outbreak. Much of the increase is expected to come from countries affected by BSE, particularly those that have experienced a recent drop in demand and a steep fall in prices.

The MHS, an Executive Agency of the Food Standards Agency, is responsible for enforcing meat hygiene regulations and BSE controls in licensed abattoirs and meat cutting plants. It has been instructed by the Agency to review the inspection needs that may ar ise in meat plants from any increase in imported fresh beef.

MHS staff will check:

* that BSE controls are being applied * that the meat is properly health marked * that the accompanying documents are correctly completed * that any seals on packaging are intact.

German beef will continue to be subject to 100% inspection in licensed cutting plants.

In addition to the instructions to the MHS, local authorities are also being asked to step up their work. In particular, they are being asked to target additional Over Thirty Month and SRM checks in businesses on a risk-assessed basis.

All beaches of SRM controls on imported meat from the EU are reported to the European Commission who have responsbility for ensuring the control measures are enforced. In addition, the breaches are reported to the appropriate government authorities in the relevant countries.

Up to date information on BSE from the FSA is available from www.bsereview.org.uk.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. It is illegal to sell meat from cattle over the age of 30 months for human consumption.

2. specified risk material (SRM) consists of the parts of cattle, sheep and goats that are most closely connected with the central nervous system and therefore most likely to contain BSE. All SRM must be removed and safely destroyed. The SRM Regulations apply throughout the EU. For cattle, they are slightly different for the UK and Portugal because of their histories of BSE.

3. The checks made by the Meat Hygiene Service and by local authorities on behalf of the Food Standards Agency are designed to maintain food safety by ensuring that imported beef abides by the regulations relating to human consumption.

4. This is the fifth breach of SRM controls on meat imported from Germany detected by the Meat Hygiene Service this year. This is the first breach detected on meat imported from Holland.

5. Imports of bovine carcase meat from the Netherlands December 1999 to November 2000 were 8,409 tonnes. Over the same period there were 1,604 tonnes imported from Germany.

[ENDS]


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Aid Package for Mad Cow Disease OKd

Associated Press

YAHOO--Friday 2 March 2001


BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Thursday on a $900 million emergency aid package to help Europe's embattled beef farmers cope with the Mad Cow disease crisis.

The money will be used to support beef prices, help cover costs of testing for mad-cow disease and to buy up older cattle which have been taken off the market.

The money has already been approved by the 15 European Union governments and the EU's head office.

``This is an emergency measure, there is no alternative,'' said the EU's Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer, in a statement welcoming the Parliament's approval.

Meanwhile, the European Commission said it would quickly review France's $200 million national aid plan for farmers.

The French government announced the funding Wednesday after the EU head office said it did not have any more money to help the farmers beyond what was included in the annual budget.

EU rules allow temporary national handouts to crisis-hit farmers, but only if the Commission gives the green light.

Cattle farmers in European nations suffered severe losses after consumers began shunning beef because of fears human can contract a similar brain-wasting ailment from eating meat infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, commonly known as mad-cow disease.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - BASF to patent genes used in animal feed

Reuters

YAHOO--Friday 2 March 2001


FRANKFURT, March 1 (Reuters) - German chemicals giant BASF AG said on Thursday that it has deciphered the genetic code of a bacterium which should allow more efficient production of lysine, an amino acid used as protein in animal feed.

The company said it has applied for patent protection for its findings, achieved in partnership with U.S. biotech company Integrated Genomics Inc.

BASF, the world's third largest producer of lysine, has faced pressure on lysine prices recently, amid competition from Asia, particularly China.

``It has been a problem business for the company, anything that can lower production costs will help,'' said James Knight, an analyst at Merrill Lynch in London.

January's ban on meat and bonemeal feed in the European Union, in the wake of the detection of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or Mad Cow disease, has opened up possiblities for lysine.

The amino acid is essential in animal nutrition, and it can be added to corn and maize to provide an alternative to soy, which contains three percent lysine. Soy prices have soared after the ban on meat and bonemeal.

Demand for lysine is growing at a lower double digit rate, BASF said. Last year 460,000 metric tonnes worth about 660 million euros was sold worldwide. The company aims to protect the genes used to improve the lysine production.

``We have found about 1,500 unknown genes, determined their function and have filed patent applications for them,'' said Markus Pompejus, head of BASF's lysine research project in a statement.

BASF is the biggest chemicals company in Europe. In 1999 it posted full-year sales of 29.5 billion euros.

Its shares fell 0.12 percent to 48.89 euros at 1640 GMT, outperforming a 0.7 percent fall on the German Dax


02 Mar 01 - CJD - EU beef market support runs into opposition

Tim King, BridgeNews

FWN Financial---Friday 2 March 2001


Brussels--Feb. 28--The package of measures proposed by the European Commission Feb. 13 to support the beef market in the European Union has run into serious opposition from the EU national governments, a Commission spokesman said Wednesday. The Commission faces a daunting uphill struggle to push through measures that it regards as essential to engineer a recovery in beef prices in the wake of Europe's crisis over Mad Cow disease.

The Commission believes the 7-point package is necessary to prevent an over-supply of beef and the accumulation of "beef mountains". But the farmers and national governments have fiercely criticized several aspects of the package.

CONTROVERSIAL SPECIAL PURCHASE SCHEME

Gregor Kreuzhuber, spokesman for agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler, said Wednesday that the Commission would press ahead with presenting its special purchase scheme at a meeting of the EU's beef management committee Friday.

The technical details of the scheme are still not finalized but it has emerged this week that the Commission is effectively suggesting an intervention scheme for meat, which unlike meat from male animals is not eligible for the existing beef intervention market support.

The special purchase scheme is a significant modification of the purchase-for-destruction scheme, which was introduced in December when the EU ordained that no animal over the age of 30 months could enter the human food-chain unless it had been tested for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Farmers were given the option of selling their animals, perhaps untested, to be destroyed.

But in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark, there has been a strong reaction against the idea of simply destroying animals.

Neither the Netherlands and Germany have participated in the purchase-for-destruction scheme - but beef prices are so low there that the EU is obliged to buy all beef offered into intervention. Meanwhile, Ireland and France, the two countries that have made most use of the scheme, have called for participation to be obligatory. They accuse the likes of the Netherlands and Germany of not showing "solidarity" and leaving other countries to pay the price for their ethical hesitations. The refusal to take low-quality meat off the EU market has deflated the price of beef, they say.

Participation in the replacement special purchase scheme would be obligatory, according to the Commission proposal. In each state, there would be a trigger-price. If prices for meat fell below that level, Kreuzhuber explained, then the meat would have to be bought into the scheme. But national governments would have a choice as to whether to destroy the meat immediately or to put it into storage in the hope of being able to sell it later if the beef market recovered. This second option is a concession by the Commission to the ethical objectors, but the Commission remains unconvinced that markets will be found.

VOTE SEEN NEXT WEEK

Kreuzhuber said that a vote on the special purchase scheme would probably be taken at the following meeting of the beef management committee, foreseen for March 9.

There would have to be a majority of member states against the proposal, block it. The Commission appears confident that Germany and the Netherlands can be out-voted.

PACKAGE UNBUNDLED

But on the rest of the beef support package, the Commission has less freedom to take its own action and will find it less easy to overcome opposition from the national governments.

The proposal to allow organic farmers to use legumes grown on set-aside land for animal fodder is not contentious and will be approved, Kreuzhuber predicted.

The proposal to change the rules for payments for beef farmers by reducing permitted density of stock from 2 to 1.8 animals per hectare of forage area will also be approved, he predicted.

But the proposal to stop national governments from altering or waiving the 90-head limit on the number of animals per farm that are eligible for payments is much more contentious. Germany, which has, as a legacy of collective farming in east Germany, many very large farms, fiercely opposes the change. She is not alone. Kreuzhuber acknowledged that "We are going to have difficulty getting this through."

Similarly there is a backlash from national governments against the idea of tightening the rules on payments to farmers to place ceilings on individual farmers, instead of on regions.

The national governments are split on the idea of lifting the ceilings on the amount of beef that can be bought into intervention in 2001 and 2002. France and Spain are in favour. Germany fiercely opposes. The UK believes it sends "the wrong signal" because it might encourage buying into intervention.

They are also said to be divided over the proposal to change the rules on suckler cow payments, altering the proportion of eligible cows that may be heifers, i.e. females that have not calved.

A RECIPE FOR INACTION

The Commission is clearly worried that the upshot of all this disagreement will be delay and inaction. Kreuzhuber said: "The beef mountains are now looming." Another refrain that the Commission is frequently citing is that: "a 1% drop in beef prices costs 200 million euros in lost revenue for farmers". The Commission believes that unless steps are taken to remove incentives to supply beef then prices will not recover.

THE LONGER TERM

The Commission is also trying to keep the beef market support issue separate from the growing demands for a wide-ranging debate on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. The Commission line is that under the terms of the Agenda 2000 reforms agreed at Berlin in March 1999, there is already foreseen a mid-term review in 2002/3. That is the place, the Commission argues for a debate about the future of the CAP.

Kreuzhuber remarked earlier this week that the divisions that existed at the time of the Berlin agreement are resurfacing. The Netherlands and Germany see the BSE-crisis as a means to introduce earlier and greater "market-oriented" reforms. Both the French and Belgium farm minister's spoke out this week against such an approach. The Dutch and Germans seem set to lose the battle over the beef special purchase scheme but that will be only the first round of a much longer struggle.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Colombia to sacrifice German cows to prevent "Mad Cow"

Reuters

Reuters---Friday 2 March 2001


BOGOTA, Colombia, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Colombia said on Wednesday it had ordered the slaughter of 79 cows from Germany as a precaution against "Mad Cow" disease.

"Some 79 cows which came from Germany last November are going to be sacrificed this weekend," Alvaro Abisambra, director of the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) told reporters.

Abisambra said no cases of "Mad Cow" disease have been detected in Colombia, which has Latin America's fifth largest cattle herd.

"These animals were imported before Germany had been certified by the International Epizootic Office as free of the brain disease," he said. "We don't want to run any risks."

On Feb. 2, Colombia banned the entry of beef from European countries affected by "Mad Cow" disease, underscoring growing consumer worry throughout the Americas about the deadly, brain-wasting disease.

The Mad Cow disease, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, has hit meat markets hard in Europe as consumers switch to other foods.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Netherlands confirms new case; 14th to date

BridgeNews

FWN Financial---Friday 2 March 2001


Amsterdam--March 1--The Netherlands confirmed a new Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow disease case in the east of the country, the Dutch agriculture ministry said Thursday. The cow was part of a 62-strong herd in Losser in the Overijssel province and was born in December 1996. The new case is the 14th overall since the first reported case in March 1997, the ministry said.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Protein decline may be clue to Mad Cow diagnosis

Staff Reporter

CBC--Friday 2 March 2001


ROSLIN, SCOTLAND - Scientists in Scotland say they're one step closer to finding a way to diagnose Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE, or Mad Cow disease, in its early stages.

Both BSE, and its human form, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, have long dormant stages where the victim shows no external signs of infection.

At the moment, there is no way to diagnose a cow or a person during these early, "invisible" stages of the disease. This makes it difficult to stop the spread of these fatal conditions.

Now a team of researchers think they might have found a clue. Michael Clinton and Gino Miele of the Roslin Institute in Scotland found a protein called EDRF is noticeably reduced in the blood of mice and sheep and the bone marrow of cows infected with BSE.

They say it's not clear how or why the presence of the brain-wasting disease causes this reduction, but if their findings prove consistent, it could provide the first easily identifiable marker for the infection.

BSE and its variants are thought to be caused by a prion, a type of protein that can adopt an abnormal shape, accumulate in the brain, and cause damage.

At present, the method of determining if an animal has BSE is to study tissue samples from its brain.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - European Parliament approves emergency aid for Mad Cow measures

Associated Press

Fox News--Friday 2 March 2001


BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Thursday on a $900 million emergency aid package to help Europe's embattled beef farmers cope with the Mad Cow disease crisis.

The money will be used to support beef prices, help cover costs of testing for mad-cow disease and to buy up older cattle which have been taken off the market.

The money has already been approved by the 15 European Union governments and the EU's head office.

"This is an emergency measure, there is no alternative,'' said the EU's Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer, in a statement welcoming the Parliament's approval.

Meanwhile, the European Commission said it would quickly review France's $200 million national aid plan for farmers.

The French government announced the funding Wednesday after the EU head office said it did not have any more money to help the farmers beyond what was included in the annual budget.

EU rules allow temporary national handouts to crisis-hit farmers, but only if the Commission gives the green light.

Cattle farmers in European nations suffered severe losses after consumers began shunning beef because of fears human can contract a similar brain-wasting ailment from eating meat infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, commonly known as mad-cow disease.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow disease research sees progress

Staff Reporter

News Asia--Friday 2 March 2001


Progress has been made towards a simple and non-invasive test for identifying the agent that causes Mad Cow disease and its fatal human form, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

In the March issue of the monthly journal Nature Medicine, researchers at Scotland's Roslin Institute wrote that they have found a protein which seems to give indications of early infection.

One of the pressing issues in the mad-cow scare is trying to determine how many people may be incubating its variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) which turns the human brain spongey.

Currently, the only way of knowing for sure is to conduct a biopsy on brain tissue after death, or tonsil tissue, if available, to look for the presence of a rogue protein called a prion.

Post-mortem tests are also the only method of knowing whether cattle has been infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease.

In such an uncertain climate, the European Union has launched a massive and costly programme to slaughter 1.5 million cattle as a preventative measure.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Possible New Test Finds Mad Cow Disease in Blood

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

Lycos--Friday 2 March 2001


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - British researchers said on Wednesday they had found a surprising new effect of Mad Cow disease on the body and that it might lead to a blood test for the disease.

They found a gene that is strongly affected in animals stricken with Mad Cow disease, known formally as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or scrapie, the related disease in sheep.

Their findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, suggest the disease has a previously unknown effect on blood cells -- and might open up avenues for treating it.

BSE first swept through British herds in the 1980s, causing millions of animals to be slaughtered and burned and sparking a health scare when it was found people could get a related disease, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), from eating infected beef products.

It has now started turning up in herds elsewhere in Europe, again panicking the public and farmers alike. Tests for the brain-wasting disease are available, but they can only be performed on brain tissue or tonsils and are difficult and expensive.

Michael Clinton and colleagues at Britain's Roslin Institute knew the disease could be detected elsewhere, and looked for an easy marker, such as a protein, in lymph, spleen and other tissues.

They found their marker in an unexpected place -- immature red blood cells.

They wrote in Nature Medicine that tissues containing those cells, including bone marrow, showed lower-than-usual expression, or activity, of a gene known as erythroid differentiation-related factor (EDRF). Erythroid cells are red blood cells.

The first tests were done in BSE-infected mice, but they found the same effects in the bone marrow of cattle with BSE and in the blood of sheep with scrapie.

EDRF was also seen in humans, Clinton said. "It is definitely expressed in human blood in healthy humans," he said in a telephone interview.

NEXT STEP IS PEOPLE WITH MAD COW-LIKE DISEASE

The next step is to see if the gene is affected in people with CJD. "What we want to look at is vCJD, classical CJDs and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's," he said.

It might be that reduced EDRF was caused by damage to the brain or central nervous system, Clinton said, and it may not be specific to BSE-like diseases.

Another important step is finding out what EDRF does. The gene is expressed in red blood precursor cells, which are immature blood cells. They are found in the bone marrow and in circulating blood. Understanding this function may shed some light on this mysterious disease caused by deformed proteins known as prions.

It was also not quite clear what lower-than-usual expression of the EDRF gene might mean, Clinton said. It could be that cells are producing lower amounts of the EDRF protein, or it could mean those cells are being destroyed or are not maturing normally in the first place.

"We may just see less of it because there is less of the gene around," Clinton said.

But he hopes the finding can lead to a blood test. Nearly 90 people have died or are dying of vCJD in Britain and France, and so-called classical CJD, a brain disease of unknown cause, affects about one in a million of the population.

Adriano Aguzzi, a prion disease expert at the University of Zurich, said it was urgent that a test be developed.

"The fundamental question that underlies the BSE turmoil is: How can we be sure that the meat we are eating comes from BSE-free cattle?" Aguzzi wrote in a commentary.

"This question is reasonable, as most European countries, in a display of almost criminal incompetence, failed to ensure removal of bovine brains and spinal cords from meat prepared for human consumption -- the single most important measure in preventing transmission of prions."

Aguzzi said it looked like the test may well work for Mad Cow and related diseases, whether EDRF has anything to do with the diseases themselves or not. He suggested if it turned out the disease affected bone marrow cells, perhaps a bone marrow transplant could be used to treat CJD.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - France Offers $200M in Mad Cow Aid

Associated Press

Las Vegas Sun--Friday 2 March 2001


PARIS (AP) -- France has offered its cattle farmers $200 million in aid, a package that comes days after the European Union failed to deliver more funding for those hit by the Mad Cow crisis.

Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany said Wednesday that France's measure affects nearly 100,000 cattle farmers, mostly "the neediest" -- small or specialized beef producers or those who raise cows for export.

The fresh aid would only "partially relieve the distress" of farmers, said Luc Guyau, head of France's main farmers' union, FNSEA. He told LCI television he would seek to have the amount increased.

The new aid comes after the EU's failure Monday to agree on an aid package. The European Commission said it could not go beyond the EU's $36.8 billion farm budget this year without the agreement of all 15 EU nations. Germany, for one, opposed increases.

Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has taken the brunt of French farmers' anger, barely escaping an egg attack last week as he visited France's yearly agricultural show in Paris.

France is already proposing low-interest rate loans from a $65.8 million aid package.

The nation's farmers have suffered from plummeting meat sales, and some farmers have lost entire herds, killed as a precaution when one cow is found with Mad Cow disease, thought to be linked to a similar brain-wasting ailment in humans known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - New Zealand in joint approach on extending BSE ban

Tariana Turia

Otago Daily Times--Friday 2 March 2001


Wellington: New Zealand and Australian officials are working together on a joint approach to extend a ban on food imports from countries that have Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said yesterday.

A Government official said New Zealand and Australia were discussing implementing a regime which would mean all countries would have to be certified "BSE-free".

Since 1996, the importation of all beef and beef products from the United Kingdom had been banned. In January this year, New Zealand and Australia announced they had suspended imports of beef and beef food products from Europe, as well as a number of other countries considered to be at risk.

The bans stem from fears that people could contract Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of BSE which is better known as Mad Cow disease, through imported meat and blood products.

Mrs Turia told Parliament yesterday the Government was planning to "extend" its food ban.

"New Zealand officials are working at this minute with Australian health and food officials to develop a co-ordinated approach," she said.

Green MP Sue Kedgley yesterday questioned why New Zealand was not extending its ban to other high-risk countries like Indonesia, saying there were Indonesian sweets containing beef gelatine on sale in New Zealand supermarkets.

Indonesia imported large quantities of animal feed containing potentially contaminated meat and bone meal from Britain in the early 1990s.

Mrs Turia said she did not have information on the Indonesia sweets. - NZPA


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Fearing BSE, Latvia bans import of cattle feed

Staff Reporter

LETA--Friday 2 March 2001


RIGA, Mar. 1 (LETA) - The State Revenue Service issued a decree yesterday that bans import of animal and fish protein and feed containing such protein, effective March 12. Such a decision was passed as a reaction to the growing concern about the possible spread of BSE or Mad Cow disease in those countries where no BSE cases have been ascertained so far, reports the newspaper "Diena" today.

Until now, the ban on import of feed concerned those 14 countries where BSE had been ascertained.

The State Revenue Service's head Vinets Veldre told "Diena" that the ban on import of feed has been imposed after consulting cattle breeders and meat producers. He stressed that such a transition requires certain re-organization from cattle breeders, as well as meat producers and importers, and cannot be carried out in one day.

The ban concerns feed meant for animals that are raised for meat - cows, pigs, sheep, goats, as well as fish flour and gelatin meant for ruminants.

According to "Diena", agricultural specialists say that such a decision can affect feed market in Latvia very much, since it is not easy to replace animal proteins with vegetable proteins in production of combined feed. Because of this, EU provided a half-year for introduction of the ban on use of animal proteins in feed - from January 1 to July 1 last year, in deciding on the matter last December.

Janis Kinna, head of the Sanitary Border Inspection, said that since the hearsay about a ban on import of animal protein appeared already a few months ago, feed makers increased their imports in past months. According to the Sanitary Border Inspection, more than 2,000 tons of animal and fish flour were imported into the country in January, December and February, that were later used in making feed. According to Kinna, replacing animal proteins with vegetable proteins is especially problematic in poultry farming.

According to the Latvian Sanitary Border Inspection, 828 tons were imported into Latvia from Estonia in the three past months, 581 tons from the U.S., 362 tons from Sweden, 105 tons from the Netherlands (where later BSE was ascertained), 62 tons form Finland, 44 tons form Denmark (here BSE was also ascertained later), 26 tons from Peru, and 0.6 tons from Germany (also a country where BSE was later ascertained).

Earlier, Latvia explained its hesitation about imposing stricter measures on import by free trade agreements and obligations to the World Trade Organization.

According to "Diena", the State Veterinary Service also banned import of livestock, meat or feed into Latvia in 1996 - the ban concerned Great Britain and Ireland, there was a ban on imports from Luxembourg and Netherlands in 1997, and on Liechtenstein in 1998. Last year, such bans were imposed five times - a ban on imports from Belgium, Denmark, France, Portugal, Switzerland on March 3, ban on imports from Spain on November 23, from Germany on November 27, from Kuwait on January 4, from Italy on January 19.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - European Commission may ban German beef exports

Ananova

PA News--Friday 2 March 2001


The European Commission says it will stop exports of some German beef products if the authorities there do not prevent further shipments including banned material like spinal cord.

A commission spokesman has made these comments following the discovery that two German abattoirs have exported meat products containing spinal cord to the UK.

Spinal cord is a "specified risk material", which the EU has ruled must be removed in the fight against Mad Cow disease and its human form Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease.

The spokesman says the Commission is particularly concerned as Germany has already been warned about such practices.

He says the German agriculture minister had immediately responded with a "very reassuring letter".

The spokesman says: "We have to be sure Germany can efficiently control it. Otherwise, the commission will have to take safeguard measures against Germany like, for example, banning certain beef products."

He says that, as a minimum, it could block the granting of export licences to certain abattoirs.

The spokesman denies that the commission is giving Germany a second chance, arguing the need for the information about the illegal exports to be confirmed and adding "some days are necessary to check what's happened on the spot."

He also says the commission is awaiting a reply from the Dutch government about a similar case there.

Asked at what stage the UK Government would be justified in banning beef imports from Germany, he says it will not be necessary for such action as the commission would do so any way: "If the Germans do not act properly now, we will ban it."


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Japan curbs blood donations from Europeans

Staff Reporter

PA---Friday 2 March 2001


Japan is to restrict blood donations from people who lived in some European countries for more than six months since 1980 in a move to keep out Mad Cow disease.

The measure will be imposed before the end of the month.

The restriction applies to people who have lived for more than six months in the last 21 years in Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

Michihiro Nishida, deputy director of the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry's blood and blood products division, said it was a preventive measure against the spread of BSE.

Japan has already restricted blood donations from people who have lived in Britain since 1980.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - EU Commission presents details of beef purchasing plan

Staff Reporter

PA---Friday 2 March 2001


BRUSSELS (AFX) - The European Commission said it presented to the EU states' agriculture officials details of its proposed special purchasing scheme to help prop up beef prices through the end of the year.

The plan covers carcasses of cattle not eligible for normal intervention purchases, which are over 30 months of age and which have been tested negatively for BSE.

It will only be available in states which are capable of running a full testing programme for BSE. For others the "purchase for destruction scheme" remains in force until June 30, by when they have to be able to test, it said.

The buying in can be for storage or for destruction, but no quantities have been fixed in advance for each member state.

The scheme will only apply in states where the market price is below a "trigger" price, to be fixed for each country, for two weeks.

The commission proposes that 70% of the cost of buying in the carcasses should be paid by the EU with 30% paid by the member state.

One delegate said today's meeting had seen several countries arguing for the EU to cover a higher proportion of the costs.

The proposals will be put in legal form and submitted to the beef market management committee in two weeks time, a commission spokesman said. There it will be approved unless a qualified majority of states vote against the Commission.

The delegate said it is hard to judge its chances of being approved.

Agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler said the scheme addresses the "ethical" concerns of some member states.

Denmark and Germany had said they opposed destroying perfectly good meat.

"The decision to slaughter his cow is up to the farmer. We just make an offer to buy his unsellable meat. Even less cattle are slaughtered than before the BSE-crisis. No-one will be forced to destroy BSE-tested beef," Fischler said.

Member states can now choose either to store the beef purchased or to provide for its destruction, with or without prior storage, he said.

Following approval from the Commission states "may decide to give the meat away for free or sell it. To be clear. There are beef mountains building up. We need short term emergency measures to help EU farmers. Obviously, storing unsellable beef is not my farm policy vision for the future," he said.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - Spain BSE cases estimated at 250 this yr

Staff Association

Press Association---Friday 2 March 2001


MADRID (AFX) - An estimated 250 cases of BSE are expected to be detected in Spain this year, Jose Badiola, director of a laboratory in Zaragoza specialising in BSE control, told El Pais daily.

Based on the number of cases reported since November, this is a "conservative" estimate and will depend on the results of further tests, he said.

The newspaper said it is estimated on the basis of the number of cases reported in the UK following the ban on the use of bonemeal in animal feed that this number will double in 2002 and 2003, stabilising at around 1,000 cases a year after that until 2005 when the number will decrease. By 2008, the disease should have practically disappeared, it said.

A total of 3,500 cases are expected to be discovered in Spain during the next eight years, the report said.


02 Mar 01 - CJD - BSE checks stepped up to cope with meat imports surge

Staff Reporter

Press Association---Friday 2 March 2001


The Food Standards Agency has ordered new health checks on imports of meat.

The decision has been made as imports are set to rise due to the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

However, the move comes just as remnants of spinal cord were found in beef imported from Germany and Holland.

Under EU law spinal cord must be removed from cattle aged over 12 months immediately after slaughter.

The discovery was made by meat inspectors in two consignments imported into Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Five beef quarters in a consignment from Kalkar, Germany and seven in a consignment from Leeuwarden, Holland were found to contain spinal cord.

It was the fifth time outlawed material has been found in meat imported from Germany this year, but the first breach detected in meat from Holland.

Both consignments have been detained by the Meat Hygiene Service and the affected material will be destroyed.

Suzi Leather, deputy chairman of the FSA, said: "None of this meat will get anywhere near the food chain and this shows the importance of robust inspection systems.

"Both the MHS and local authorities have been vigilant in ensuring that BSE controls are being enforced.