Document Directory

08 Mar 01 - CJD - Scots meat firm in BSE scare
08 Mar 01 - CJD - Haemonetics sees EPS growth on blood shortages
08 Mar 01 - CJD - Court rules USDA can seize, kill Vt. sheep
08 Mar 01 - CJD - Moratorium Suggested on Livestock
08 Mar 01 - CJD - German, EU Officials at Loggerheads Over BSE
08 Mar 01 - CJD - Germany places restrictions on slaughterhouses in import row
08 Mar 01 - CJD - Poland to Test 15,000 Cattle for Mad Cow Disease in 2001
08 Mar 01 - CJD - Germany ordered to give details of 'suspect BSE shipments to Britain'
08 Mar 01 - CJD - Why BSE Does Not Exist in the United States
08 Mar 01 - CJD - New Clues on Mad Cow Disease
07 Mar 01 - CJD - Russia bans Spanish meat over Mad Cow fears
07 Mar 01 - CJD - McDonald's says CFO Conley to retire
07 Mar 01 - CJD - Dutch and German slaughterhouses suspended
07 Mar 01 - CJD - Banned spinal cord found in imported beef
06 Mar 01 - CJD - Swedish ostrich farmers see rising demand
06 Mar 01 - CJD - Beef Sales Plummet 70 Percent in Poland Over Mad Cow Fears
06 Mar 01 - CJD - German authorities suspend licences of two abattoirs for BSE rule breaches
06 Mar 01 - CJD - Spinal cord abattoirs have licences suspended
06 Mar 01 - CJD - Franz Fischler: 'BSE is the Biggest Crisis'
06 Mar 01 - CJD - Quick to diversify menu after Mad Cow scares
06 Mar 01 - CJD - Muslims Across Mideast Mark Holiday
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Who's mad now?
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Britain finds banned spinal cord in imported meat
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Britons Still Sweet on Roast Beef And a Pint
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Meat Crises Boost Crocodile Exports
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow, Foot-and-Mouth, hurt markets and strain ties
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Chile slaughters cows from Denmark as precaution
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow expert to address local risks
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Commission presents special market measures for beef
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Germany signals that EU farm policy must change
05 Mar 01 - CJD - Banned spinal cord found in beef imports



08 Mar 01 - CJD - Scots meat firm in BSE scare

Staff Reporter

BBC--Thursday 8 March 2001


A meat cutting plant in Dundee is at the centre of a BSE scare after it received a consignment of beef from Spain which contained spinal cord remnants.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said two forequarters of imported beef, weighing 147.8kg, were found to be contaminated with the material which it classifies as carrying "the greatest risk of BSE infectivity".

The beef was part of a consignment weighing more than 21,000kg from the Spanish plant Giresa Palencia.

A spokesman for the FSA said Spanish authorities had been alerted.

He added: "Spinal cord is included in the list of specified risk material which is thought to be at greatest risk of carrying BSE infectivity.

"Under EU rules, it must be removed when the animal is slaughtered."

The Food Standards Agency said it had provided details of the abattoirs which have breached the BSE controls to the Meat Hygiene Service and local authorities.

On Tuesday the FSA suspended the licences of two German abattoirs who were alleged to have exported beef into Britain containing spinal cord remnants.

The abattoirs, which were named by the FSA on Friday, also had their licences suspended by the European Commission after the alleged breach of EU-wide BSE controls.

Since January this year six remnants of spinal cord have been found in beef exported from Germany.

This latest BSE scare puts more strain on the UK meat industry which is already reeling from the effects of foot-and-mouth disease.


08 Mar 01 - CJD - Haemonetics sees EPS growth on blood shortages

Reuters

YAHOO--Thursday 8 March 2001


BRAINTREE, Mass., March 8 (Reuters) - Blood collection firm Haemonetics Corp. (NYSE:HAE - news) on Thursday reaffirmed targets for the remainder of fiscal 2001 and said it expects continued growth in 2002, partly because of blood shortages worsened by bad weather and fear of Mad Cow disease.

The company projects earnings per share of 26 cents for the fourth quarter ending March 31, bringing total fiscal 2001 earnings per share to $1.13, an 18 percent increase over the prior year.

The fourth-quarter revenue growth rate is expected to be in the high single digits, reflecting accelerated sales in the company's red cell collection disposable kits, which are used by the American Red Cross and other organizations to collect the red cells from donors.

For fiscal 2002, the company is expecting annual top-line growth reaching low double digits in constant currency. Earnings per share are targeted at $1.30.

Haemonetics said demand for blood collection is expected to increase as inventories are pressured by tighter donation criteria stemming from fears of nvCJD, the human variant of Mad Cow disease theorized to be transmissible by blood. This week, shortages were aggravated by weather-related blood drive cancellations in the eastern U.S.


08 Mar 01 - CJD - Court rules USDA can seize, kill Vt. sheep

By Stacey Chase, The Boston Globe

YAHOO--Thursday 8 March 2001


BURLINGTON, Vt. - A federal appeals court ruling handed down yesterday clears the way for 355 sheep feared infected with a variant of Mad Cow disease to be seized and destroyed.

The 2d US Circuit Court of Appeals denied a stay sought by the shepherds, and the USDA could now take the sheep within days. The three-judge panel also agreed to expedite the farmers' appeal based on the case's merits, but by the time that could happen the sheep might already have been killed.

''What the current decision means is that the USDA has within its power the right to avoid judicial review by seizing and destroying the sheep instead of confronting the serious legal challenges before the [court],'' said Davis Buckley, the lawyer for sheep farmers Larry and Linda Faillace.

US Attorney David Kirby declined to say when or exactly how the USDA will proceed.


08 Mar 01 - CJD - Moratorium Suggested on Livestock

By Philip Brasher, AP Farm Writer

YAHOO--Thursday 8 March 2001


WASHINGTON (AP) - The government should ban all imports of livestock until it can assure the public that there are adequate controls to prevent diseases now ravaging European livestock from reaching the United States, the Senate's top Democrat said Wednesday.

``We've been fortunate so far, but we should not take the health of our domestic livestock herds for granted,'' said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

He said the Bush administration should appoint a commission to study controls for foot-and-mouth and mad-cow diseases. Daschle also said it was time to require labeling of imported meat, an action long sought by cattle producers in northern Plains states to stem U.S. purchases of Canadian cattle.

``We're continuing to review the situation to ensure that we're keeping the borders free'' of the diseases,'' Agriculture Department spokesman Kevin Herglotz said.

Chuck Lambert, chief economist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said a moratorium was unnecessary and suggested Daschle's motives were political.

``This is a welcoming call to a new administration from a minority leader,'' Lambert said.

Foot-and-mouth disease is not harmful to humans but it spreads so quickly that entire herds and flocks must be destroyed to prevent its spread. The virus also can be spread by human and vehicular traffic.

The United States recently banned the import of British meat products, and travelers who have been in the British countryside are being required to have their footwear disinfected before entering the United States.

The United States already prohibited the import of cattle from Britain and selected European countries because of mad-cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. It does not spread as easily as foot-and-mouth, but is linked to a similar brain-wasting disease in humans.

Mad Cow has never been found in the United States. The last known U.S. outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease was in 1929, but the Agriculture Department says an unchecked U.S. epidemic would cost producers billions of dollars in the first year alone.


08 Mar 01 - CJD - German, EU Officials at Loggerheads Over BSE

Staff Reporter

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung--Thursday 8 March 2001


F.A.Z. BRUSSELS. Germany is coming under increasing pressure -- while applying some pressure of its own -- in the continuing dispute about measures for detecting and checking the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

At a meeting of the European Union's Permanent Veterinary Committee on Wednesday, both the European Commission and governments of several member states took the German government to task for failing to take tougher action against violations of the EU-wide ban on BSE risk material.

"Anyone who wants to enforce the regulation will have to impose draconian penalties," said a close adviser to the European commissioner for health and consumer protection, David Byrne.

After beef containing BSE risk material was exported from the Netherlands, Dutch authorities closed the slaughterhouse concerned, not only for exports but also for the domestic market, and the European Union now expects the German government to take similar action against two slaughterhouses in North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg.

But officials in those two states say that under existing legislation, it is doubtful whether they have the legal power to shut down the facilities.

North Rhine-Westphalia has said it only wants to suspend the export license of the offending slaughterhouse in that state, but officials said no action had yet been taken. In Baden-Württemberg, meanwhile, the state managed only to persuade the management of a slaughterhouse to halt all meat exports to other EU countries until the facility has been modernized.

Germany has some criticisms of its own toward the EU, however, with relations beginning to appear increasingly strained between the federal minister for consumer protection, food and agriculture, Renate Künast, on the one hand, and Mr. Byrne and the European commissioner for agriculture, Franz Fischler, on the other.

In a letter to Mr. Byrne reported on Tuesday evening, Ms. Künast suggested that the EU's information and communication processes -- which she said sometimes resulted in days-long delays before German officials were informed of BSE-related problems -- were hampering German efforts to tackle the crisis over Mad Cow disease more effectively.

Ms. Künast said the German government had been told "too late and only incompletely" about German beef exports to the United Kingdom found to contain so-called risk material -- cattle parts such as brain and spinal cord that are considered most likely to harbor high concentrations of the prions which cause BSE.

Ms. Künast's spokeswoman, Sigrin Neuwerth, said the minister took the delays "very seriously."

A spokesman for Mr. Byrne, however, rejected the German minister's assertion that the European Commission had failed to fully and promptly inform the German government about the questionable meat exports.

"When it is a matter of consumer health, we cannot wait to do things through official channels," the spokesman said. He declined to give details of a telephone conversation between his boss and Ms. Künast.

Mr. Fischler joined in the criticisms of the German government. Food safety is not guaranteed by BSE tests but by strict compliance with EU rules requiring the careful removal of risk material such as spinal cord and brain, he told dpa, the German news agency.

He also said the EU would proceed with its planned program to purchase more old milk cows, despite German objections.

The "jungle of jurisdictions" between the national government and the federal states might be an explanation but is no excuse, said Mr. Fischler, of Austria. He strongly suggested that the European Commission was prepared to slap an export ban on German beef if Germany failed to make improvements.

On a related matter, Mr. Byrne's staff rejected criticism from the German meat industry that Britain was abusing BSE controls to protect its market against rising imports from Germany. Mr. Fischer's office agreed, with one official saying there was absolutely no proof of "hidden protectionism."

Also on Wednesday, in Bonn, the BSE expert council assigned to find ways to better protect consumers met for the first time. No results were announced. The day also saw confirmation of the first case of BSE in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Officials in the state capital, Mainz, said the infection had been found in a 5-year-old cow. The slaughterhouse has since been disinfected, and the bodies of all the animals from the same herd that were slaughtered at the same time have been seized.

It was the 10th of Germany's 16 states where BSE has been discovered.


08 Mar 01 - CJD - Germany places restrictions on slaughterhouses in import row

Ananova

PA News--Thursday 8 March 2001


Germany has placed sharp restrictions on two slaughterhouses that included parts of beef carrying a higher risk of transmitting Mad Cow disease in deliveries to Britain.

Agriculture Minister Renate Kuenast has sent a letter to European Union Commissioner David Byrne informing him of the move.

The slaughter of cattle at North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wuerttemberg will be stopped, says deputy Agriculture Minister Alexander Mueller.

He said stronger controls will be put in place and staff educated to prevent risk material - such as brain and spinal cord - from entering the meat supply.

Government inspectors are also being called on to increase their checks.

Mr Byrne and Mr Kuenast had clashed over how the government learned about the suspect beef from the slaughterhouses, which the ministry said it first heard about in newspaper reports last week. The EU has since promised to improve the exchange of information.

Meanwhile, government officials have said they would use 23 slaughterhouses for the nationwide campaign to subsidise the killings of 400,000 cattle, part of an EU initiative. Slaughterhouses have until March 20 to submit bids to participate in the program.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Kuenast met with state representatives on Thursday to discuss how to divide the costs of the Mad Cow crisis, but failed to reach an agreement.

Officials are to meet again next month.


08 Mar 01 - CJD - Poland to Test 15,000 Cattle for Mad Cow Disease in 2001

Agence France Presse

Central Europe Online--Thursday 8 March 2001


WARSAW, Mar 7, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) Poland intends to test 15,000 cattle for Mad Cow disease in 2001, the spokesman for an intergovernmental team tasked with the problem said Wednesday.

"The screening program with Prionics tests was launched at the end of February and by the end of the year we should test 15,000 cows before they are slaughtered," Jacek Szymanowski told AFP.

Only about 100 cattle have been tested for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow disease, using the fast Prionics test so far.

Another 600 cattle have been tested to date using a slower test.

"So far we have not detected a single case of BSE," he added.

Poland has imposed strict bans on the import of beef products to prevent the spread of BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a deadly brain-wasting condition in humans believed to be caused by eating infected meat.

About 500,000 cattle are slaughtered each year in Poland out of its total herd of six million, including dairy cows.

Poland has requested assistance from the European Union to cover the 100 million euros (93 million dollars) cost of expanding its screening program to all cattle older than 30 months.

The government has also begun preparations to test all cattle before they are slaughtered in the case BSE is detected in Poland.

"Five laboratories have been prepared in Poland to handle that eventuality," said Szymanowski.

Preparations to incinerate large numbers of cattle carcasses have also begun.

Poland has banned the import of cattle and beef products from a dozen European countries that have had cases of Mad Cow disease.

Tons of goods containing foreign beef products have been removed from shelves in Polish stores.


08 Mar 01 - CJD - Germany ordered to give details of 'suspect BSE shipments to Britain'

Ananova

PA News--Thursday 8 March 2001


The European Commission has demanded details from Germany about slaughterhouses allegedly defying a ban on selling beef to Britain suspected of containing mad-cow disease.

Michael Scannell, a senior public health official with the European Commission, says the German authorities have been asked to take urgent action.

Meanwhile, the Commission is still waiting for confirmation from Britain of reports similar banned material had been found in a shipment of beef from Spain.

The Commission has also praised Dutch authorities for swift action to shut down an abattoir found to have twice exported risk material to the UK.

EU Health Commissioner David Byrne has sent off a second letter to Germany's Agriculture Minister Renate Kuenast to find out if the authorities have shut down the two abattoirs.

The EU authorities are annoyed that delays between the German federal authorities and state governments have prevented swift action against the suspected slaughterhouses.

The Commission says it has received complaints of banned material being found in six different shipments of beef from Germany to Britain since January.

It has threatened to ban some or all German beef exports if controls are not tightened.

A German newspaper reported that Ms Kuenast retorted by claiming she had been informed "too late and only incompletely" by the Commission that German beef exports had been found to contain so-called risk material - parts of cattle such as brain and spinal cord deemed to be most likely to harbour mad-cow disease.

"I feel it's problematic when you demand the responsible German agencies to energetically pursue complaints, but give out concrete information only days later," she wrote to Mr Byrne, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

Mr Byrne's spokesman Thorsten Muench says the Commission has still not been informed if the two slaughterhouses had been shut down, or had export licenses removed.


08 Mar 01 - CJD - Why BSE Does Not Exist in the United States

OFBF

YAHOO--Thursday 8 March 2001


COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- (OFBF) -- ``There's a reason why BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) does not exist in the United States,'' according to John C. (Jack) Fisher, executive vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, and that's because of vigilant cooperation at all levels of the food chain.

Sound, science-based measures and rigid regulations have protected America's livestock from BSE, also known as ``Mad Cow Disease.'' BSE has been confirmed in the United Kingdom and other European countries. It has never occurred in the U.S. thanks to rules that guard against the import of animals and animal by-products from Europe.

Ohio livestock producers, meat packers, retail businesses, restaurateurs, grocers, and state and federal agencies were represented at a meeting last week to discuss measures currently in place that ensure BSE doesn't make its way into the U.S. The gathering was co-sponsored by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) and the Ohio Cattlemen's Association (OCA).

``Ohio farmers want to make sure we protect our cattle herds from ever having to fight this foreign disease,'' Fisher said.

The meeting was a way for groups to ``get our heads together and provide each other with information so we all know the latest,'' said Elizabeth Harsh, executive director of the OCA.

Providing much of the information at last week's gathering was Dr. Gary Weber, executive director of regulatory affairs with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Those attending developed strategic plans to ensure the safety of Ohio's beef herd. Those included recommendations to:

* Continue to prevent BSE from occurring in the U.S. and Ohio.

* Assure that our livestock herds are healthy, safe and disease-free.

One action being taken by OFBF and OCA is to contact Ohio's two U.S. senators and 19 congressional representatives to emphasize the importance of maintaining vigilance at points of entry into the United States for imported live animals and by-products.

``The best way we can make sure we never see a case of BSE in the U.S. and Ohio is to strictly enforce the laws currently on the books and to educate everyone -- from regulators to the port authority to producers to retailers to grocers to consumers -- that these laws are in place for a reason,'' Fisher emphasized. ``I think the fact that all aspects of the food industry are cooperating to be proactive and preventative is sign enough how serious we are about this issue.''

Both the OFBF and OCA belong to national organizations that, on Jan. 29, pledged their support to continued vigilance and commitment to BSE prevention in the U.S. The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Cattlemen's Beef Association have joined with 11 other farm, commodity and trade organizations to re-affirm their commitment to effective implementation and enforcement of sound, science-based measures to prevent BSE in the United States.


08 Mar 01 - CJD - New Clues on Mad Cow Disease

Carl T. Hall, Chronicle Science Writer

San Francisco Chronicle--Thursday 8 March 2001


Recycling dead animals into livestock feed may have amplified the virulence of proteins that can cause Mad Cow disease, creating infectious particles that could more easily jump from cattle into humans, new research suggests.

Scientists have suspected for years that the brain-wasting disease is caused by misshapen proteins, known as prions, and that livestock feeding practices spread the disease among cattle, first in Britain and later in Europe.

But because of the difficulty and danger of experimenting on animals, scientists could never be clear just how prions might have cleared the biological barriers that normally protect one species from the diseases of another.

New research, reported today in the journal Nature by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco, try to shed some light on this murky corner of biology by using prions that arise in fast-growing yeast.

The danger of prions all depends on the three-dimensional shape, or conformation. The experiments showed that prions of different shapes can occur in the same species, rapidly evolving into new forms when passing from host to host until a particularly dangerous prion emerges that can infect a new species.

The work was done by UCSF's Jonathan Weissman, associate professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology and also an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and graduate student Peter Chien.

Citing their results, they speculated that Britain's Mad Cow disease outbreak, linked to about 100 cases worldwide of a fatal human brain disease spread by eating contaminated beef, may have been shaped largely by human practices.

The disease spread on feedlots from cattle being fed rendered cattle meat and bone meal, a practice long since discontinued in Europe and the United States. Rendering does not destroy all the infectious prions, which also resist being broken down by enzymes when consumed.

Now it appears that recycling the dead animals into livestock feed may have made the danger worse by amplifying the more virulent prions.

"If you start off with a variety of prion strains, each with different conformations, feed it to a population of cows, and then harvest the cows at a relatively young age, those prion conformations that infect and grow most rapidly will become more abundant," Weissman said.

"If you now partially heat-inactivate the prions, only those conformations that are most robust will survive. So it is possible that after each cycle of infection, rendering and reinfection, the prions will become more virulent."

Experts said the results shed important new light on protein function, but cautioned against interpreting this as an indication that prions are a bigger threat than previously suspected.

As for the link between recycling of feed and the way prions can jump species, the researchers "are speculating about a process that has already occurred," said Stephen Sundlof, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

"We know that certain prions are capable of crossing species barriers," he added. "The interesting hypothesis here is that rendering processes may have helped to select for the strains more capable of jumping species."

Taken together with previous research, the new findings may help lead to better ways of protecting against prion diseases by sorting out how the proteins survive and grow.

"There still is a species barrier, and that ought to be reassuring to people," said Gary Web, executive director of regulatory affairs at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association in Washington, D.C. "Understanding how prions' structure can affect their ability to cause disease is exactly what we need to develop a cure."

However, scientists also said there are potential unknown dangers if certain "promiscuous prions" in animals can jump more readily to humans, depending on the physical form the particle takes.

"It may be time to consider the disturbing possibility that certain bovine prion forms have an enhanced ability to cross the species barrier to humans," concluded Susan W. Liebman, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in a separate commentary in Nature.

"More work needs to be done," Liebman said during a telephone interview, calling the latest results "very important" contributions to the understanding of protein function, including both healthy and disease-causing properties.

Prion specialists have long suspected the outbreak of Mad Cow disease can be traced back many years ago to a pronounced drop in tallow prices, which led to a change in the way rendering plants recycle animal carcasses.

The effect was to route more prions and other fat-soluble proteins into the food chain, said UCSF researcher Fred Cohen, an expert in mammalian prions.

"Instead of it going into candles and getting burned up that way, now the stuff was being left around and ultimately fed to livestock," he said.

Cohen maintains that it may still be "unwise" to feed recycled animals to any livestock, even pigs and poultry, a practice that continues to be allowed under U.S. rules because those animals are virtually immune to infection.

But Cohen also noted that pigs and chickens have never been known to contract a Mad Cow-like disease in this way, much less cause such a disease in humans eating poultry or pork.

Ending all feed recycling would pose a significant economic cost. Web said industry leaders have seriously considered whether they should move on their own to take the material out of the food chain, merely as a precaution, without waiting for government order.

But so far, the benefits have not seemed worth it.

"Of course," he added, "if as a result of our surveillance we were to pick up even a single case of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Cow disease) in this country in a domestic animal, things would change."

The Molecular Anatomy of a Killer

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain illness, has a form which is similar to Mad Cow disease. The agent behind it is widely believed to be a protein, called a prion, whose normal function has been altered.

Diseased prions induce healthy prion proteins to change their shape, and clusters of disease build, leaving holes in the brain. Scientists believe another, separate protein is involved in the conversion of normal prion proteins into the abnormal form.

The healthy prion protein folds itself into a series of corkscrew-like helixes.

The diseased prion rearranges a portion of itself into strands and sheets.

. Images courtesy of the Laboratory of Fred Cohen, University of California at San Francisco/New York Times.

Source: Dr. Fred E. Cohen, University of California at San Francisco


07 Mar 01 - CJD - Russia bans Spanish meat over Mad Cow fears

Reuters

Altavista--Wednesday 7 March 2001


MOSCOW, March 7 (Reuters) - Russia has banned imports of cattle and some meat and meat products from Spain due to fears of Mad Cow disease, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Ministry told Reuters on Wednesday.

``The ban became effective from March 7, that is from today,'' the spokeswoman said.

Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is believed to be linked to the spread of the deadly human brain disorder variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

The spokeswoman said that the ban would apply to imports of pedigree cattle, beef products, sheep and goat meat and products, processed bovine, sheep and goat proteins and some other products including gelatin.

Russia has already banned imports of live cattle from three German states, France and the Netherlands and restricted beef imports from Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland, France and Britain because of fears over BSE. No case of BSE has been discovered in Russia so far.


07 Mar 01 - CJD - McDonald's says CFO Conley to retire

By Deborah Cohen

YAHOO--Wednesday 7 March 2001


CHICAGO, March 7 (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp, the world's largest restaurant chain, said on Wednesday that Chief Financial Officer Michael Conley was retiring, and the company has begun a search for his replacement.

``This is a personal decision Mike made some time ago,'' spokesman Walt Riker said. ``After 26 great years with McDonald's, Mike has decided to retire. Meanwhile, Mike is continuing to actively serve as CFO as he will through the transition.''

Conley, 52, has served as McDonald's CFO for more than three years, according to regulatory filings. Riker said an executive search for his replacement is under way, but he declined to discuss the details.

``The process is moving along smoothly,'' he said.

Industry sources said Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's has hired executive search firm Korn/Ferry International to conduct the search. The firm's Chicago office beat out several other well-known executive search firms, the sources said.

Korn/Ferry executives declined to comment.

Whoever steps into Conley's shoes will likely face a tough job in the near term, as McDonald's continues to struggle with a host of financial concerns.

An outbreak of Mad Cow disease in Europe has dampened consumers' appetite for hamburgers. McDonald's fourth-quarter profits were down 7 percent, due in part to a 10 percent drop in European sales to $2.21 billion from $2.45 billion a year earlier. Conley recently told investors that sales in some countries continued to be pressured in the first quarter.

Last year a strong U.S. dollar, especially against a weakened euro, shaved 7 cents off McDonald's full-year results, which came in at $1.46 a share.

Conley's decision to retire follows another recent top-level change in McDonald's management. Last month, the company named Tom Ryan, its head of menu management, to its top U.S. marketing post, replacing Larry Zwain, who will now oversee part of the company's international business.

McDonald's shares fell 34 cents to $28.51 in early afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading. The shares have a 52-week trading range of $26.375 to $39.9375.


07 Mar 01 - CJD - Dutch and German slaughterhouses suspended

Ananova

PA News--Wednesday 7 March 2001


Leeuwarden (7 mar 01) - Dutch authoroties suspended the slaughterhouse Brada's Vleeschbedrijf in Leeuwarden, according to the Dutch agricultural daily Agrarisch Dagblad. The abattoir violated European regulations for the removal of specific risk materials, that are in force since october last year. The British Foods Standards Agency found parts of the spinal cord in two consignments, sent to different places in Britain.

Two German abattoirs alleged to have exported beef into Britain containing banned spinal cord remnants have had their licences suspended, the Food Standards Agency said today.

The two abattoirs named by the FSA last Friday have had their licences suspended by the European Commission after the alleged breach of EU-wide BSE controls.

The suspension comes after David Byrne, EC Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, asked the German authorities to either suspend the licences of the plants responsible or put corrective measures in place.

Spinal cord is included in the list of specified risk material (SRM) which is thought to be at greatest risk of carrying BSE infectivity.

Under EU rules, it must be removed when the animal is slaughtered.

Since January this year six remnants of spinal cord have been found in beef exported from Germany.

The ban follows Mr Byrne's warning last week that export of German beef could be suspended until they could prove the safety measures were being universally adhered to.

Sir John Krebs, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: "I am pleased that Commissioner Byrne has taken such decisive steps as a result of the Agency's policy of naming the abattoirs, and demanding swift corrective action.

"We expect an increase in imports of meat and will continue our 100% inspection of all German beef imported into licensed UK plants."

Commissioner Byrne has also written to the Dutch Agriculture Minister regarding two breaches of the BSE controls at an abattoir in Holland announced yesterday and on Friday.


07 Mar 01 - CJD - Banned spinal cord found in imported beef

Ananova

PA News--Wednesday 7 March 2001


Banned spinal cord remnants thought to be at the greatest risk of carrying BSE have been found in a consignment of imported beef from Spain.

The Food Standards Agency said the discovery was made at a cutting plant in Dundee in two forequarters of imported beef.

The 147.8kg meat was part of a consignment weighing more than 21,000kg from the Spanish plant Giresa Palencia. An FSA spokesman said the Spanish authorities had been alerted.

He added: "Spinal cord is included in the list of specified risk material (SRM) which is thought to be at greatest risk of carrying BSE infectivity. Under EU rules, it must be removed when the animal is slaughtered."

The Food Standards Agency has provided details of the abattoirs which have breached the BSE controls to the Meat Hygiene Service and local authorities.

Yesterday two German abattoirs alleged to have exported beef into Britain containing spinal cord remnants have had their licences suspended by the FSA.

The suspension came after David Byrne, EC Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, asked the German authorities to either suspend the licences of the plants responsible or put corrective measures in place.

Since January this year, six remnants of spinal cord have been found in beef exported from Germany.

The ban follows Mr Byrne's warning last week that export of German beef could be suspended until they could prove the safety measures were being universally adhered to.


06 Mar 01 - CJD - Swedish ostrich farmers see rising demand

Reuters

Altavista--Tuesday 6 March 2001


STOCKHOLM, March 5 (Reuters) - Ostrich farmers in Sweden report a surge in demand as Mad Cow and foot-and-mouth diseases reduce consumers' appetite for conventional meats.

``We see a big increase,'' Mats Ericsson, chairman of the Swedish Ostrich Association, told Reuters by telephone.

``We don't want to ride on anybody else's misfortunes but it is a fact that people are looking around for foods that are not linked to any of these diseases,'' he said.

Ericsson said Sweden's approximately 100 ostrich farmers expected to slaughter some 3,000 birds in 2001, up by more than 50 percent from 1999.

The association's annual meeting at the weekend predicted that the level could be raised to 30,000 within a year or two, he said.

Each ostrich is good for on average 30 kg of meat, which the farmer can sell for on average 150 Swedish crowns ($15.40) per kg. Consumers pay about 250-260 crowns per kg for ostrich meat.

Ostriches don't mind snow and are let outside every day of the year even in Nordic Sweden. The birds voluntarily move indoors to seek shelter from the wind. Egg production increases with the hours of daylight, he said


06 Mar 01 - CJD - Beef Sales Plummet 70 Percent in Poland Over Mad Cow Fears

Agence France Presse

Central Europe Online--Tuesday 6 March 2001


WARSAW, Mar 6, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) Sales of beef have plummeted by 70 percent since the beginning of the year in Poland due to fears over Mad Cow disease, meat producers said Tuesday.

Despite a poll released last week by the Demoskop agency, in which 60 percent of respondents said they were not afraid of Mad Cow disease, people are eating less meat, with processors of all types of meat registering a 20 percent overall drop in January sales from December, according an industry association.

"Breeders are going from slaughterhouse to slaughterhouse. But nobody is buying anymore," said Stanislaw Zieba, secretary general of the Polish Association of Meat Producers, Exporters and Importers.

The outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Britain "can only aggravate the situation," he said.

Poland has not registered any cases of so-called Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

But authorities have imposed strict bans on the import of beef products to prevent the spread of the disease in cattle and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a deadly brain-wasting condition in humans believed to be caused by eating infected meat.

Dozens of tons of food items containing foreign beef products have been removed from the shelves in Polish stores, with some manufacturers having been forced to add subtitles to television advertisements stressing that their goods contain no beef products in order to reassure scared consumers.

"We hope that the Polish government will introduce subsidies for the export of our meat, in particular to Russia, which could save the situation," said Zieba.

"We don't think we can increase exports to the European Union because our meat is much more expensive than that produced in EU countries with subsidies from Brussels," he added.


06 Mar 01 - CJD - German authorities suspend licences of two abattoirs for BSE rule breaches

Ananova

PA News--Tuesday 6 March 2001


LONDON (AFX) - German authorities have suspended the licences of two German abattoirs named by the UK's Food Standards Agency last week for breaching EU-wide BSE controls, the UK food regulator said.

"David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, spoke last night to Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, confirming that he had asked the German authorities to either suspend the licences of the plants responsible or put corrective measures in place," the UK agency said in a statement.

The regulator added it has also written to the Dutch Agriculture Minister about two recent breaches of BSE controls at an abattoir in Leeuwarden, Holland.


06 Mar 01 - CJD - Spinal cord abattoirs have licences suspended

Ananova

PA News--Tuesday 6 March 2001


Two German abattoirs alleged to have exported beef into Britain containing banned spinal cord remnants have had their licences suspended.

The two abattoirs named by the Food Standards Agency last Friday have had their licences suspended by the European Commission after the alleged breach of EU-wide BSE controls.

The suspension comes after David Byrne, EC Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, asked the German authorities to either suspend the licences of the plants responsible or put corrective measures in place.

Spinal cord is included in the list of specified risk material (SRM) which is thought to be at greatest risk of carrying BSE infectivity.

Under EU rules, it must be removed when the animal is slaughtered.

Since January this year six remnants of spinal cord have been found in beef exported from Germany.

The ban follows Mr Byrne's warning last week that export of German beef could be suspended until they could prove the safety measures were being universally adhered to.

Sir John Krebs, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: "I am pleased that Commissioner Byrne has taken such decisive steps as a result of the Agency's policy of naming the abattoirs, and demanding swift corrective action.

"We expect an increase in imports of meat and will continue our 100% inspection of all German beef imported into licensed UK plants."

Commissioner Byrne has also written to the Dutch Agriculture Minister regarding two breaches of the BSE controls at an abattoir in Holland announced yesterday and on Friday.


06 Mar 01 - CJD - Franz Fischler: 'BSE is the Biggest Crisis'

Helmut Bünder

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung--Tuesday 6 March 2001


Franz Fischler, the EU commissioner for agriculture, is currently at loggerheads with Germany's minister for consumer protection, food and agriculture, Renate Künast, over his plans to slaughter an additional 1.2 million cattle in an effort to stave off a further collapse of the beef market. Ms. Künast, a keen advocate of a new, more consumer-friendly farming policy, says the proposals are the wrong way forward. In this interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Mr. Fischler says the member states should follow the suggestions made by the European Commission.

F.A.Z.: Commissioner Fischler, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and foot-and-mouth disease are scaring consumers. Do recent events spell the end for modern farming methods?

Fischler: Our way forward is not a journey back in time. The era of the farmer with his three milk cows is over. We must use modern agricultural technology properly. That is not in conflict with environmental protection, but can, in fact, help the environment if we add fertilizers to the soil in a selective way to suit the market.

Is there room for biotechnology in "greener" farming?

European farmers will in the future use gene technology. The question is for what purposes and under what conditions. I see good prospects for it in the production of agricultural raw materials for industrial applications. Up to a certain level, gene technology will also be important in the production of food.

But the majority of member states have withdrawn their approval for the further use of genetically modified food.

A moratorium is not the solution. That only delays the decision for or against gene technology. We need clearly defined conditions and that means reliable approval procedures giving maximum possible safety for health and the environment. We should make our consumers a fair offer. But that includes a labeling system that provides freedom of choice and not just one compromise after another.

Why does the EU simply not intervene in the market, allowing lower prices to end the meat surpluses?

In many countries, beef is already too cheap. Making more price reductions is not a solution; meat would not be eaten then, either. The consumer is less interested in the price, more in food safety and quality. This is where we must start. And don't forget that the food retail sector also affects food pricing.

Will the change of direction in farming policy cost yet more money?

An interim review of farming policy is due next year. But there won't be any more money available then either. So we must make sure that the money that is available is used more wisely. BSE is the biggest crisis that European farming has ever had to face. It drastically changed the prospects for the farming market that we envisioned in 1999.

What does that actually mean?

Until now we have been paying out 90 percent of the farming budget in income subsidies and market support, but only 10 percent for improving the rural environment. This ratio must change dramatically. Diversification in agriculture and rural development -- those are the real challenges. We talk about environmental protection, about assisting disadvantaged regions and the social dimension in farming. These are all issues which must be tackled in a policy for the rural environment.

Many countries are using their own funds to help farmers. Is that allowed?

In principle, support from national governments is allowed in a crisis, but there are no clear rules. Any subsidies must be reported to the Commission and the money is not to be paid out until we have approved it. Some compensation for loss of income beyond the normal fluctuations is allowed, but overcompensation is not permitted. That would upset competition in the internal market. But there are no objections to a degree of flexibility with subsidies. There are, after all, varying tax systems for agriculture in the member states.

The German minister for consumer protection, food and agriculture, Renate Künast, wants a high-ranking working group to work out viable proposals for the beef market. What do you think of that?

That is absolutely unacceptable. That would amount to direct interference in the European Commission's right to take initiatives. We must play by the institution's rules. First the Commission makes proposals and then it is the turn of the member states. Of course, we're always willing to listen to sensible ideas.

The primary aim of the Common Agricultural Policy, according to the EU Treaty, is to boost agricultural productivity and to safeguard farmers' incomes. There is no mention of environmental and consumer protection. Is the treaty's farming policy still right for the times?

It is true that the articles relating to farming policy in the treaty make no direct reference to environmental protection. But you must see the treaty as a whole. And then it becomes very clear that agricultural policy includes a commitment to environmental protection. Even so, the specific treaty articles relating to agriculture do not make a particularly good basis for forward-looking farming policies.

The interview was conducted by Helmut Bünder.Mar. 5, 2001


06 Mar 01 - CJD - Quick to diversify menu after Mad Cow scares

Reuters

Altavista--Tuesday 6 March 2001


BRUSSELS, March 6 (Reuters) - Belgian fast-food chain Quick Restaurants will broaden its menu as it seeks to reverse a slump in 2000 profit caused by consumer concerns over the safety of beef, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

CEO Chris Van Steenbergen said adding more chicken, fish, salad and vegetarian meals did not mean the hamburger was dead.

``Hamburgers will always remain part of the business,'' Van Steenbergen said in an interview. ``It's part of our heritage. (But) we cannot continue with past strategies.''

Beef sales in Europe have been hit hard hit by a scare over the spread of the so-called ``Mad Cow'' disease of cattle, which is linked to a fatal brain condition in humans.

Quick's decision to diversify its menu coincided with the release on Monday of its worst full-year results in three years .

It reported zero net profit in 2000 compared to a 1999 profit of 6.0 million euros, and a pre-tax loss of 2.0 million euros against a profit of 9.0 million euros in 1999. Sales were flat at 945.0 million euros.

Van Steenbergen said Quick, which began a review of its business in early 2000, felt its one-concept brand was too vulnerable.

``If we have another Mad Cow scare we'll be in big trouble.''

Quick, which weathered a ``Mad Cow'' disease scare in 1996 and Belgium's dioxin-in-food crisis in 1999, warned of a fall in profit in December as its important French market was hit by a fresh wave of consumer fears over the safety of beef.

COFFEE SHOPS

Quick has also started trials of coffee shops in its restaurant as part of its drive to boost profit. Van Steenbergen said up to four more coffee shops would be opened this year.

The company would close loss-making restaurants, most of which are company-owned sites in France, he said.

Van Steenbergen declined to give further details, but added: ``The first impact of our plans should be visible in the second-half of 2001, with the full effect in 2002.''

Quick said in its results statement that it planned to open more than 30 new restaurants in France, Belgium and Hungary in 2001.

Van Steenbergen said Quick had entered into franchisee agreements in Morocco where it hoped to open 20 restaurants in three to four years, while the former French Caribbean colonies of Guadeloupe and Martinique were also targeted for expansion.

Quick shares were up 1.86 percent at 16.40 euros at 1350 GMT -- above an all time low of 16.10 euros reached on March 2.

The share has underperformed the benchmark Bel-20 index by 78 percent over the past year as food safety concerns and fading hopes the chain will find a partner weigh.

Majority shareholder GIB, which has a 56.7 percent stake in Quick, announced its search for a partner or buyer for the restaurant chain last June.

``Let's say the search is still on,'' Van Steenbergen said.


06 Mar 01 - CJD - Muslims Across Mideast Mark Holiday

Ward Pincus, Associated Press Writer

YAHOO--Tuesday 6 March 2001


Millions Make Haj Pilgrimage - (Reuters) CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Muslims across the Middle East marked one of Islam's most important holy days with celebrations, commemorations of Palestinian deaths and some worries over mad-cow disease in cattle slaughtered for the feast.

Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, commemorates a sacrificial slaughter by the biblical Abraham. Tradition common to Islam, Judaism and Christianity says that in a test of Abraham's faith, God ordered him to sacrifice his son - then supplied him with a ram at the last minute.

Muslims around the region marked the Eid on Monday in traditional fashion by attending early morning services at mosques, followed by the slaughter of sheep, cows and camels. The meat was then distributed to family, neighbors and the poor.

But politics also entered the holiday. From Lebanon to Egypt, sermons touched in particular on the five-month Palestinian uprising. In Israeli-Palestinian violence that began in September, more than 360 Arabs have been killed, as well as 57 Israeli Jews.

Lebanon's top Sunni Muslim cleric, Grand Mufti Sheik Mohammed Kabbani, called for Arab solidarity in the face of Israel's new government headed by Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon.

``The region may be confronting new dangers and challenges. The important thing is not to surrender, because that means death; not to despair, because that means loss; and not to be afraid, because that means collapse,'' he said in his sermon at the al-Omari mosque in downtown Beirut.

In Jordan, more than 1,000 members of the Islamist and leftist Professionals Association gathered for morning prayers to show solidarity with the Palestinians. King Abdullah II had ordered that celebrations be low-key in light of the Palestinian uprising. In Egypt, Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, the top Islamic authority in the country, called on Arabs and Muslims to aid their ``Palestinian brothers... with whatever support until they obtain their full rights and until they get their independent country.''

In the al-Hussein neighborhood of Old Cairo, some young Egyptian men wore caps reading ``Jerusalem belongs to us.''

``The youth of Palestine and the youth of Egypt are one nation,'' said Hassan Ahmed Hassan, a 66-year-old butcher whose son wore the hat.

In Yemen, Islamic cleric Akram Abd el-Razik said in a sermon attended by President Ali Abdullah Saleh that Arab and Islamic countries should ``support our brothers in Iraq'' to win the end of sanctions, the official Yemeni news agency reported.

In Egypt, men slaughtered animals in the streets, and parents gave gifts of candy and money to their children.

In south Lebanon, Hezbollah guerrillas distributed sweets and flowers outside cemeteries and mosques. They also collected donations for their resistance against Israeli control of the southern border.

In some Arab countries, fear of mad-cow disease led to substitutions in the traditional feast meal - though no cases of the disease that has caused a crisis in Europe have been uncovered in the region.

Hoda Hariri, a mother of two in south Lebanon, said she was cooking rice and chicken instead. ``I don't bring meat to the house any more. It's too dangerous,'' she said.

Egyptians, however, said they were unworried. A government newspaper ran cartoons poking fun at the disease.

``The government is strong in stopping any bad products from entering the country,'' said shopkeeper Mohammed Ahmed, 25, his pants splashed with the blood of a cow being slaughtered in an Old Cairo street.


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Who's mad now?

Simon Hattenstone

Guardian--Monday 5 March 2001


Ten years ago, he was rubbished for warning that BSE could be transmitted to humans. We now know how right he was. So what does Richard Lacey think of the latest farming crisis?

It's freezing cold. Professor Richard Lacey is standing outside the front door of his grand, dishevelled manor house. He's waiting for me, with a warm smile. The snow is falling off his purple pants and sloppy tie and haggard sports jacket. They could have been bought from Oxfam. He looks different from those pictures the papers were so fond of printing in the 90s. Older and healthier.

Lacey became a household name 10 years ago when he warned the world against BSE and variant CJD. The government adviser announced that half the herds in Britain should be destroyed and, at very worst, the disease could wipe out a generation. This was at the time that the government was denying its existence. Lacey became the scourge of the very establishment he was a prominent member of. He was vilified by the politicians, the civil servants, the food industry, you name it. The very people who had called on his expertise denounced him as a self-publicising scaremonger.

Late last year the Phillips report into BSE was released. By then, at least 80 people had died of vCJD in Britain. The politicians were duly criticised for their complacency and incompetence. If you search hard enough in one of the appendixes to the report you will also find a section that vindicates Lacey. Few newspapers bothered to report it.

Lacey took early retirement a couple of years ago, at 58. These days he potters and paints, he gardens quite brilliantly, he makes a small fortune from his antiques collection. He does so many things, fills his time so easily and happily. He says he's not given a big interview for five years. Why should he? That's an old life, the past.

When the Phillips report came out, he was on holiday in Switzerland. "Fortunately, so I avoided the media." Why fortunately? "Because I think I might have been tempted to say something that I might have regretted." Did he feel like gloating? "No. It's not a happy situation. There are no winners. Throughout I hoped I would be wrong. You can't gloat. It would be like people investigating the effects on radiation gloating. You know, it's dreadful."

Lacey is not vegetarian, but he stopped eating beef in 1988. His arguments were simple, and similar to those put forward by Tony Blair last week. By providing meat on the cheap we put our health at risk. "When you have these massive scales of operation from animal feed to large numbers of animals being reared, to the abattoir, to the processing, to the purchase by the retailers and the sell, if you have a developing problem the infective agent would spread very quickly." He says exactly the same is true for foot and mouth today, and that until we have a return to small scale local production there will always be a chance of national catastrophe.

The Tory government and its farming friends didn't like the message so they decided to destabilise the messenger. Lacey takes out a copy of one of his many books, and raises his vexed eyebrows into huge quotation marks. "The thing I got really angry about was that a group of MPs used parliamentary privilege to rubbish me at a press conference in the House of Commons." He reads from the book slowly and calmly. "This is what it said: 'That not all scientists bore equal authority was amply born out in our evidence. Professor Lacey in particular showed a tendency to extrapolate sensational conclusions from incomplete evidence in order to publicise his long-standing concerns about food safety. The result was a mixture of science and science fiction, a quite unsuitable basis for public policy. When he told us that if our worst fears are recognised we could virtually lose a generation of people he seemed to lose touch completely with the real world.' " He stops, appalled. The first he heard of the smear campaign was when reporters rang him for a comment.

But his conclusions were apocalyptic, weren't they? They did make for great headlines. "No," he says. "They sensationalised what I said, took it out of context. They didn't mention that I said it was a distinct possibility that no one was vulnerable. They deliberately focused on the worst-case scenario to discredit me."

Lacey has lost four stone since the 90s, when he came across as a lumbering beast. He's rather svelte now. When he talks food politics he sits still and serious, clutching his ankles. Suddenly he asks if I would like to see his cacti, and he's transformed.

He bounces off the sofa, and heads for the conservatory. He rushes over to a giant cactus, tells me it's an opuntia, and almost stabs himself with ants-in-the-pants enthusiasm. What does his love affair with cacti say about him? "A bit prickly?" He grins. "Cacti are naturally immune to most pests, so they grow quite well."

We're back in the lounge. He's clutching his ankles again, telling me how things went from bad to worse. Politicians suggested he wasn't qualified to talk about food because he was a professor of microbiology. He points to the mantelpiece. Alongside pictures of his two daughters and wife, there is a photo of Princess Diana presenting an award to him. "It was quite extraordinary that they said that. In fact that was a prize in 1989, the Evian Health Award, for my work on salmonella."

He says the government was well aware of his expertise. "After all, they asked me to advise something called the veterinary products committee for four years from January 1 1986 to December 31 1989." He can be very pedantic when defending himself. Lacey has learned the importance of detail.

He was also labelled a media tart. "I never went to the press though. They always came to me. Like you have done today." The first time a newspaper approached him, about salmonella, he refused to comment. In the end, he thought someone had to say something about the dangers, and at least his department wasn't sponsored by the food industry. He thought he was safe. But he wasn't.

Lacey seems a little restless. He asks me if I'd like to see jigsaws of the garden in bloom. He explains how he took photos, sent them to Scotland to be turned into 1,000-piece jigsaws, then spent a week making them and finally framed them. They are absolutely beautiful. At the end of the room there is row after row of vintage tea caddies. "The oldest is about 1760. There's a secret drawer there for the caddy spoon. Go on, you'll never find it." He lets me struggle. "D'you give in?" I give in. He's delighted. He tells me how he restored many of the caddies himself. The house is crammed with stuff he's nurtured or created.

Lacey is relaxed, and when he's relaxed he does tend to talk big. "I tell you the governments aren't going to recover from this for centuries ," he says of the various food crises. "They might be safe, but the trouble is you can't tell. And now any reassurance about GM foods will be dismissed." Lacey asks if he should put on his tie with the cows for the photograph.

It was in 1994 that things reached their nadir. His department at Leeds University was 60% funded by the health service. One morning a health service manager turned up for a surprise visit. "He said they were going to have a press conference in the afternoon, and they were going to announce all my staff's contracts would be transferred to another authority. It meant I couldn't do any work. I could be paid but do no work." The university, which remained loyal to him, worked out a package - the health service advanced his pension and agreed to reemploy him as a consultant in a small hospital for three years. "The total cost to the health service was half a million pounds."

But at least he was working as a consultant? "In theory. But I only had about 10 minutes work to do a day." So they paid you 500 grand to lie down? "Correct." He raises an eyebrow. "Anyway it didn't work." In March 1996, the government finally admitted the link between BSE and vCJD. "I was very prominent then, very vocal." When he finally retired in 1998, he was in for another shock. "They cancelled the transfer of my staff's contracts, and that's how it is today. I think it was a deliberate conspiracy."

Lacey says he was not a conspiracy theorist until BSE. In fact, he was what he calls a "hereditary Tory". He remembers his grandmother threatening to leave the country if Labour and the unions got into power. As an academic in the 80s he veered towards the Labour party because he believed his role was to challenge industry and society rather than appease it. These days, he says, he has given up on politics.

How badly did the rubbishing affect him? "Not really at all." Not at all? "Well it did slightly. I suppose it changed my personality a bit. I think I became withdrawn. They tried to damage me, but I don't think they've actually succeeded. I think many people would have settled for my life, don't you?"

He takes down one of his prized tea caddies and tells me it's made of marine turtle. I ask him whether he's an obsessive collector. "Yes, I am fairly obsessive," he says. "I am very determined. I keep at things."


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Britain finds banned spinal cord in imported meat

Reuters

Altavista--Monday 5 March 2001


LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) - Britain's food watchdog said on Monday it had found a potentially dangerous consignment of beef imported from Holland which breached rules in place to battle ``Mad Cow'' disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it found traces of spinal cord, which is included on a list of high-risk material the European Union says must be removed when an animal is slaughtered.

The discovery was the second involving banned spinal cord from the same Dutch company in a few days, the FSA said in a statement.

Spinal cord has also been found in meat from Germany in recent weeks, triggering calls from Britain's farmers for tighter controls on German beef imports and even a total ban.

Germany and other European states are just coming to terms with the devastating brain-wasting disease which brought Britain's beef industry to its knees in the 1990s.

Scientists suspect that the disease can be transmitted to humans and result in new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has killed more than 80 people in Britain.

British beef exports to Europe were banned for over three years because of the BSE scare before being lifted in 1999.


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Britons Still Sweet on Roast Beef And a Pint

By Sharman Esarey

YAHOO--Monday 5 March 2001


LONDON (Reuters) - Britons downed more beer, indulged a sweet tooth and shrugged aside Mad Cow disease's sweep through Europe last year, a government survey said.

Home beef and veal consumption jumped 12% in 2000 over 1999. Only alcoholic drinks and confectionery products found more favour, the National Food Survey said.

Beef buying recovered to exceed levels hit in 1995--just before Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), was linked to a human brain wasting disease that has killed more than 80 people in Britain and France.

The UK beef industry was devastated by the British crisis in the 1990s.

Consumption fears rippled out across Europe late last year when France said its supermarkets might have sold tainted beef and when Germany among other countries reported cases of BSE.

The beef and veal consumption gains suggest ``that the onset of the continental BSE crisis in the last quarter of 2000 had not adversely affected beef consumption in Great Britain,'' the study, conducted by National Statistics and the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, showed.

Poultry purchases rose 7% in 2000, while mutton and lamb fell by 3%. Pork consumption remained subdued though expenditure rose given price rises.

Tea won more favour as lower prices persuaded consumers to buy. Consumption rose six percent after a poor showing in 1999.

Confectionery purchases leapt some 20% year-on-year, while alcohol buying surged.

``Purchases of alcoholic drinks for consumption at home rose by 13% in 2000, mainly due to year-on-year increases of 22% and 26% in the third and fourth quarters, respectively,'' the survey showed.

For the year, beer purchases rose 10%, lagers and continental beers by 22% and wine by 9%.

Overall, the study, which from April 1 will share data collection with the Family Expenditure Survey, showed calorie intake on the rise.


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Meat Crises Boost Crocodile Exports

Reuters

YAHOO--Monday 5 March 2001


BANGKOK (Reuters) - Mad Cow and foot and mouth disease in Europe have given Thai crocodile farmers a boost, with demand for crocodile meat growing there. Kamthorn Temsiripong, marketing manager of the Sriracha crocodile farm, told Reuters his firm would export its first ton of crocodile meat to Germany later this month.

``Europeans are wary of pork and beef because of Mad Cow and foot and mouth disease, so they are looking for alternative meat to eat,'' said Kamthorn, whose farm is about 100 km (60 miles) east of Bangkok.

``Luckily, major meat importers from Germany and the Netherlands are coming to us to supply their European customers with Thai crocodile meat.''

Sriracha farm, which already exports to China and Taiwan, produced about five tonnes of crocodile meat a month, while monthly demand from Germany alone had reached 15 tonnes, Kamthorn said.


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow, Foot-and-Mouth, hurt markets and strain ties

By Mario Osava

Arabia.com--Monday 5 March 2001


Stockbreeders, already devastated by the Mad Cow disease are taking their fight to the diplomatic arena

RIO DE JANERO (IPS) - Mad Cow disease and foot-and-mouth have become a source of tension in international relations, above and beyond their impact on the global market for meat.

Just as the dispute between Brazil and Canada over Mad Cow disease or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was being left behind, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in Britain began to give rise to suspicions that the disease was brought in from the developing South.

British stockbreeders asked their government to suspend purchases of beef from outside the European Union (EU), charging that the virus which has dealt yet another blow to its stockbreeders, already devastated by BSE, came from outside the region, the London daily The Times reported Wednesday.

Brazil hit hardest

Brazil would be hit hardest by such a measure, as it provides 13 percent of Britain's beef imports, followed by Argentina, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana, other countries mentioned in the British stockbreeders' petition.

But health authorities in Brazil, as well as Enio Marques, executive director of the Brazilian Association of the Meat Exporting Industry, stress that there is no risk that Brazilian beef transmitted the virus.

Marques, who is also an expert in animal health, underlined that Brazil only exported processed beef, or boneless beef frozen at below two degrees celsius, conditions in which the FMD virus cannot survive.

Uruguay, meanwhile, was reinstated on the International Epizootics Office's (OIE) list of countries free of FMD without vaccination in late January.

The recent outbreak of FMD in Britain has already led several European countries to slaughter tens of thousands of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, for fear of contamination.

In Britain, the rural areas where FMD has broken out have been isolated, schools temporarily closed, and sports events cancelled.

The Brazilian government, in the meantime, is trying to convince the EU that this country presents no risk of BSE infection either, as concluded by a technical fact-finding mission sent here by Canada, the United States and Mexico, partners in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (NAFTA).

On Feb 23, the three members of NAFTA lifted a ban on imports of Brazilian beef that had been implemented by Canada on Feb 2 and automatically adopted by its two partners.

The ban was adopted due to Brazil's failure to provide all of the paperwork requested by Ottawa since 1998, mainly involving cattle imported from the EU, which could conceivably have been infected with BSE.

The measure was lifted after a NAFTA technical mission was sent to Brazil in the wake of an outcry by Brazilians and even protests by Canadian scientists against what they called an 'unfounded' ban.

But the incident could have a silver lining, since it led to a confirmation of the approval of Brazil's beef by the demanding US, Canadian and Mexican animal health agencies, said Agriculture Minister Marcus Pratini de Moraes.

He added that the mission's report that Brazilian beef was indeed free of BSE would boost exports.

Brasilia sent a delegation to Brussels to lobby the EU to list Brazil as a country that poses no risk of BSE. For now, Brazilian livestock, which has had no reported case of the disease, is considered to face only a hypothetical chance of contamination.

But distrust is the rule of thumb in the meat business, and it has also affected the Mercosur (Southern Common Market) trade bloc comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as the talks on the creation of the continentwide Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

The Canadian ban increased Brazil's resistance to the FTAA, as it came on top of the two countries' dispute over subsidies for their medium-sized jet industries.

The closing of Brazil's border to Argentine cattle, beef on bone and semen last week also triggered a row between the two biggest partners of Mercosur, which compete for the same international markets for beef.

Farm officials in Argentina say Brazil, Bolivia - a Mercosur associate member - and Paraguay pose a risk of FMD that threatens Argentina's exports, since animal health controls in those neighbouring countries are much more lax.

Rural associations in Argentina, meanwhile, confirmed reports of FMD outbreaks, which the government has not publicly acknowledged. Officials did announce, however, that they were preparing to create "an area free of FMD where vaccination is practiced." Due to the reintroduction of vaccination in parts of Argentina, the OIE removed the country from its list of FMD-free countries where vaccination is not practiced, to which it had been upgraded in May 2000.

International markets jitter

FMD and BSE are also shaking the international market for beef, which does some 10 billion dollars in trade a year.

The 30 percent reduction in beef consumption in the EU continues to frustrate exporters from other continents, which are keen to gain ground in the huge market in the face of the ruin of Europe's stockbreeders.

However, they are making headway in other markets which have stopped importing European beef due to fears of BSE. Brazil's beef exports, for example, were 80 percent up in January, compared to the same month of 2000.

The Middle East doubled its purchases, making it the top buyer for Brazilian beef. Exporters are now setting their sights on eastern Europe.


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Chile slaughters cows from Denmark as precaution

Associated Press

CNN--Monday 5 March 2001


SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- The government on Monday ordered 64 cows imported from Denmark slaughtered as a precaution against the Mad Cow disease.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Arturo Barrera said no signs of the disease were found in the cows imported in 1998, but the elimination was ordered "to dispel any possible doubts" after a case of the disease was reported in Denmark last month.

Barrera said the owners of the animals to be slaughtered will be compensated.

Mad-cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is believed to cause a brain-wasting illness in humans, known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The human form has killed some 80 Europeans since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain.


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Mad Cow expert to address local risks

By Donna Jackel

Rochester News--Monday 5 March 2001


(March 5, 2001) -- What are the chances that Mad Cow disease or its human counterpart will surface in the United States?

How did Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), as it is formally known, jump species from cows to humans?

Those are the kind of questions that Dr. Charles Weissmann of the Imperial College School of Medicine at St. Mary's, London, will field when he speaks Tuesday night at the Rochester Museum & Science Center's Eisenhart Auditorium, 657 East Ave.

Weissmann is an expert on prions, which researchers believe cause new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE. The degenerative disease attacks the central nervous system, causing death in about a year after the first symptom.

Disease-causing prions are abnormally-folded versions of a normal protein, known as PrP, the function of which is unknown. Just by direct contact, they cause PrP to also become misshapen, causing a chain reaction that devastates the brain.

Weissmann said it's possible a few cases of BSE may appear in the United States, but it will not result in the type of epidemic Britain had. Thousands of British cows became infected with BSE in the 1980s because they were given feed containing infected animal remains, which was not the case here.

British cattle feed has contained animal remains for decades, but in the early 1980s, solvents were removed from the manufacturing process, which scientists now believe allowed a resilient form of scrapie to enter the feed and re-emerge in a new form in cattle -- BSE. Cattle carcasses infected with BSE were then used in feed, worsening the epidemic. In 1988, the U.K banned the use of animal remains in feed. In 1996, a ban was imposed on British beef.

BSE was identified in 1985 when an illness resembling scrapie appeared in British cows. New variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was first diagnosed in 1996. Scrapie, which infects sheep, is another prion disease that attacks the central nervous system.

A person is unlikely to catch vCJD from eating a sirloin steak, Weissmann said. BSE lies in the animal's nervous system -- certain organs and the brain and spinal cord -- so it's much more likely to appear in products like sausage and meat pies.

Since 1996, nearly 100 Europeans have died from vCJD. Nearly 200,000 British cows have been infected with Mad Cow disease and there have been 1,500 confirmed cases elsewhere in Europe, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Most of the cases outside the U.K. were in France, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland.

The average length of vCJD's incubation period is unknown. The total number of cases could range from fewer than 100 to hundreds of thousands. If large numbers of infected persons are incubating the disease, the potential for human-to-human spread is possible. Weissmann said the shortest incubation period is now believed to be about 18 years.

Weissmann, in experiments with mice, proved that once prions were removed from the animals, the mice were immune to scrapie. Because the mice survived without prions, the experiment also opened up possibilities to prevent BSE. For example, researchers could produce cattle and sheep without PrPs that would be resistant to the disease. Or, drugs could be developed to block prions.

Weissmann said the chance of Americans catching vCJD is "virtually nil."

Dr. Harris Gelbard, a pediatric neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical School, agreed, stating the odds were minuscule compared with the likelihood of contracting a highly transmissible disease, like tuberculosis.

"But it's (vCJD) a slow and agonizing death -- basically your brain is turning into Swiss cheese," he added. "It has brought the European economic market to its knees."

Globally, eliminating BSE has cost about $50 million, according to Dr. Frederick Murphy, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis.

No BSE cases have yet been reported in the U.S., but the American cattle industry is under increasing surveillance by the United States Department of Agriculture, Gelbard said.

Attending Weissmann's talk is a good way to prevent panic, he added.

"He will help you understand the rational risks versus the irrational," he said. "The point is not to get panicky, but to hear about something that crippled our neighbors, so it doesn't happened to us."


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Commission presents special market measures for beef

European Commission

European Commission--Monday 5 March 2001


DN: IP/01/302 Date: 2001-03-05

TXT: EN PDF: EN Word Processed: EN

IP/01/302

Brussels, 2 March 2001

BSE: Commission presents special market measures for beef

In today's management committee for beef and veal, the European Commission presented its proposal to introduce special market measures for cattle older than 30 months. Carcasses of animals which belong to categories not eligible for intervention purchases, which are more than 30 months of age and which have all been tested negatively for BSE shall be covered. The scheme can only apply in Member States which have demonstrated full testing capacity for cattle older than 30 months.

In addition, the regime would only be applicable in those Member States which are faced with a weak market for cow meat. Therefore purchases shall only be made in Member States where the price for cows is below the trigger price during a period of two weeks. This trigger-price should be fixed for each Member State. The financial compensation (70% EU, 30% Member States) paid to the farmers would be maintained. Be it for storage, be it for destruction, no fixed quantities per Member States would apply. The new measure presented today would enter into force following a vote in the management committee and following the formal adoption by the Commission.

The special measures under the new scheme shall apply until the end of 2001. For those Member States without full testing capacity, the provisions of the "purchase for destruction scheme" (see IP/00/1456) remains in force until 30 June 2000, when the compulsory testing comes into force. This is to avoid that non BSE-tested meat from cattle over 30 month enters into the food chain.

Commenting on the proposal, Commissioner Franz Fischler stated "These special measures address the ethical concerns voiced by some Member States. There will not be any pre-determined quantity per Member State or for the EU. 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. 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. 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."

The new scheme shall apply in Member States having demonstrated full testing capacity of normal throughput of over 30 month (OTM)-animals. So far, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Austria have formally presented sufficient proof. Other Member States shall apply the scheme once they provide that proof and at the latest on 1 July, which is the present date for obligatory testing of beef coming from cattle over 30 months. The United Kingdom should be exempted from the scheme as long as it applies its own OTM destruction scheme.

The current "purchase for destruction scheme" (Regulation N°2777/2000) shall continue until 1 July for Member States not participating in the new scheme. Germany and Luxembourg may continue to apply both the "destruction scheme " and the new scheme.

All Member States which have provided the proof for full test-capacity would be covered by the special market measures. However, the tendering should only be open in Member States having a specific weak market for cow beef. To this end, a trigger-mechanism should be determined, with a trigger price fixed for each Member State. Purchases shall only be made in Member States recording prices for cows below the trigger price during a period of two weeks. No purchase price shall be accepted which exceed the trigger-price plus the processing margin.

The EU financing of the scheme shall consist of a 70% co-financing of the purchase expenditures. All other costs related to the beef purchase scheme shall be borne by the Member State concerned.

Today the management committee also decided to buy into public intervention 34.612 tonnes of male beef, Belgium 40 t, Denmark 65 t, Spain 17.305 t, France 4.566 t, Italy 10.951 t, Austria 1.131 t, Germany 10 t)


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Germany signals that EU farm policy must change

By Hague Simonian in Berlin

Financial Times--Monday 5 March 2001


If torrents of words from politicians are enough to indicate a fundamental change of policy, then Germany's European Union partners had better pay attention to what is being said in Berlin on farm policy.

Since her appointment to the new food, farming and consumer protection portfolio in January in the wake of the crisis over BSE, or Mad Cow disease, Renate Kunast has intoned the need to move away from intensive farming towards organic products and natural animal rearing.

"The BSE scandal marks the end of agricultural policy of the old style," she told parliament last month. A leader of the environmentalist Greens, Ms Kunast declared that "national room for manoeuvre in agricultural subsidies must increase".

How far Germany is ready to strain its traditional alliance with France to seek reform of the EU's Common Agriculture Policy - which heavily limits national farm supports - remains unclear. But, at the very least, the government is signalling that previous assumptions may no longer apply.

"There is now a window of opportunity for some change in the CAP," says Stephan von Cramon, professor of agricultural policy at Gottingen University. "If you then add developments further ahead, like [EU] enlargement and the next World Trade Organisation round [of talks on global trade rules], it will make it much easier to introduce reforms."

To date France has indicated no enthusiasm for change. But last week in the UK, where the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has brought much of the agricultural industry to a standstill, UK prime minister Tony Blair echoed Ms Kunast's sentiments.

"The types of issues we have got to look at are to do with the type of agricultural production we want to encourage, are to do with issues about intensive farming or not, are to do with issues of diversification, and how we are going to market our own produce as well," Mr Blair said.

Ms Kunast certainly has plenty of domestic support. Wolfgang Clement, premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, has demanded the re-nationalisation of farm policy. Bemoaning the shift of power to the European Commission, he called for a restoration of responsibilities to national and regional governments.

Michaela Schreyer, EU budget commissioner, and, like Ms Kunast, a German Green, attacked a farm policy that massively subsidised production, only to propose spending even more to remove surpluses. Even Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has stepped in. At an election rally last week, he echoed Ms Schreyer's theme, calling it "a crazy way to do politics". Expressing strong support for farm reform, he declared: "We will manage it, because we have to, and because we want to."

But strip away the rhetoric, and how strong are the prospects for reform? Mr von Cramon argues the calls from Ms Kunast and Mr Clement - a close colleague of the chancellor's and a deputy chairman of his ruling Social Democratic party - say more about their own agendas than a co-ordinated government policy.

The prime concern of Mr Clement, like other states premiers, is to protect regional powers, rather than map out the future of the CAP, agrees Wilhelm Henrichsmeyer, professor of agricultural economics at the university of Bonn. And Ms Kunast, in spite of her strong start, has already had to back-pedal as she comes to grips with her fearsomely complex portfolio, he argues.

Ms Kunast has certainly changed tack. Her demand for less intensive agriculture has been somewhat revised after appreciating the consequences for the big farms of eastern Germany. Recently, she also pulled back from a collision course with Franz Fischler, the EU farm Commissioner, on BSE.

Many observers are convinced the Mad Cow crisis has triggered a genuine reassessment of farm policy in Berlin. But Mr Schröder has stopped noticeably short of demanding the re-opening of the long-term farm reform he failed to impose completely in 1999, when Germany held the EU's rotating presidency.

Progress appeared to have been made on the principle of co-financing - under which EU expenditure would have been cut by shifting part of the farm spending burden to member states. But in the end, the then still inexperienced chancellor ran up against the unyielding opposition of France's President Jacques Chirac at the March 1999 Berlin summit.

With Mr Chirac facing presidential elections next year, a change in France's position appears ruled out in the short term. The president last week rejected the idea of any upheavals before the agreed review in 2006.

But the chancellor and Ms Kunast may nudge German policy in a new direction, and see where that leads. "Germany's former role as a brake on reforms, in conjunction with the domestic farm lobby and France, will be reduced," reckons Mr Henrichsmeyer.


05 Mar 01 - CJD - Banned spinal cord found in beef imports

Ananova

PA News--Monday 5 March 2001


Banned spinal cord has been found in a consignment of imported beef from Holland.

The discovery was made at an abattoir in Blackpool.

An 8cm piece of spinal cord was discovered in a forequarter of beef, the Food Standards Agency says.

Spinal cord is included in the list of specified risk material which is thought to be at greatest risk of carrying BSE infectivity. Under EU rules, it must be removed when the animal is slaughtered.

Remnants of spinal cord were also found in forequarters of beef imported into the UK from Germany last week.