Document Directory

07 Apr 01 - CJD - Blood fear over CJD
07 Apr 01 - CJD - Study Points to 'Mad Cow' Blood Risk for Humans
07 Apr 01 - CJD - Canadian and US firms to develop CJD blood test
07 Apr 01 - CJD - Cashing in on mad-cow fears
07 Apr 01 - CJD - Hatch's Mad Cow Bill Gathering Support
07 Apr 01 - CJD - Off your chops? Tune in to TV's "Pig Brother"
07 Apr 01 - CJD - Frequently asked questions about BSE
07 Apr 01 - CJD - Senate authorizes ncx disease commission
06 Apr 01 - CJD - EU Scientists Class Eastern Europe at Risk of BSE
06 Apr 01 - CJD - Hungary Protests EU Import Ban Due to Mad Cow Disease
06 Apr 01 - CJD - Czechs Angered at Being on List of Countries With High BSE Risk
06 Apr 01 - CJD - EU Warns Mad Cow Disease Highly Probable in Czech Republic
06 Apr 01 - CJD - Project on compensation in case BSE is ascertained submitted to government
06 Apr 01 - CJD - CJD Anguish Of Student's Family
06 Apr 01 - CJD - New committee to assess BSE risk
06 Apr 01 - CJD - Student is latest victim of CJD amid figures shock
06 Apr 01 - CJD - U.S. precautions against Mad Cow disease debated
06 Apr 01 - CJD - China in Bid to Stave off Mad Cow Disease, XINHUA
06 Apr 01 - CJD - Emu and ostrich farmers overwhelmed by European demand
06 Apr 01 - CJD - East Europe 'must tighten BSE rules'
06 Apr 01 - CJD - U.S. Mad Cow Risk Eases But More Research Needed
03 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow virus in Australians, says top doctor
03 Apr 01 - CJD - New technology destroys sheep that may have Mad Cow disease
03 Apr 01 - CJD - Farmers demand ban on german beef imports
01 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad-cow fears spread veil of public mistrust
01 Apr 01 - CJD - Tuscans mourn passing of famous T-bone steak
01 Apr 01 - CJD - Burying slaughtered cows 'will not affect water supply'
01 Apr 01 - CJD - Business booms for firm that gets rid of the bodies
01 Apr 01 - CJD - Burial to replace burning of cattle
31 Mar 01 - CJD - Scientists Delay Onset of Mad Cow
31 Mar 01 - CJD - Venom treatment delays onset of form of Mad Cow disease, study finds
31 Mar 01 - CJD - EU planned BSE lies to protect beef industry
31 Mar 01 - CJD - Promotion of kangaroo meat is condemned
31 Mar 01 - CJD - Scots worst hit by CJD in the UK



07 Apr 01 - CJD - Blood fear over CJD

By Tom Peterkin Health Correspondent

Scotland on Sunday--Saturday 7 April 2001


Tens of thousands of people could have been infected with the human form of Mad Cow disease after receiving transfusions of infected blood, according to new research.

Scottish and French scientists have uncovered the first hard evidence that new variant CJD can be passed from person to person, most likely by blood transfusions.

In the past, experts have said there is a theoretical risk of vCJD being passed in this manner, and as a result UK blood supplies have been filtered since the late 1990s to reduce the risk of contamination.

But new experiments on monkeys have proved vCJD can be transmitted from primate to primate. The study also showed that prions - the infectious agents that cause the disease - become more virulent when they jump from animal to animal, and lie dormant for less time once they are transferred.

This opens the chilling prospect that thousands of people who received vCJD-contaminated blood before screening began in 1998 will develop a worse form of the disease in less time.

Dr Jean-Phillipe Deslys, of the Departement de Recherche Medicale, Recherches du Service de Sante des Armees, said they had proved the BSE agent believed to cause vCJD could be passed between primates.

He said: "This study means that the risk from transfusions is high and we also think that it means that infection through surgical instruments is possible. It is impossible to calculate how many people may have been infected through these means."

The scientists found that the behaviour of the BSE agent in monkeys was almost exactly the same as in humans, making the experiments, carried out in France, as close as possible to a human model. Previous studies investigating the transmission of vCJD have concentrated on mice and sheep.

The process of blood transfusion was recreated by injecting a type of monkey known as a macaque with brain tissue from a BSE-infected cow.

Brain tissue from the monkey was then injected into the blood stream of other macaques. Within just 25 months the monkeys were showing the deadly symptoms of the disease. Brain tissue was used to speed up the experiment although it has the same ultimate effect as blood.

Dr Moira Bruce of the Institute for Animal Health in Edinburgh, who collaborated on the project, said: "Intravenous transmission between primates is really quite quick. This possibility has been examined from a public health point of view and there have been measures recently introduced to substantially reduce the risk of the spread of the disease."

In July 1998 the government's expert panel on BSE and vCJD, the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee, predicted that there was a risk the agent could be transmitted in white blood cells.

A screening programme was introduced to filter out white blood cells before transfusion. New variant CJD has claimed 80 lives since it was first detected in 1996, but its incubation period has kept its incidence shrouded in uncertainty.

Operations to remove tonsils have also been banned in many hospitals throughout the UK because of the risk that the disease can be transmitted by the re-use of scalpels.

It is known that at least 13 of the British victims of variant CJD have been blood donors and authorities have been struggling over the ethical problem of whether people who have received blood transfusions or vaccinations including donations from these should be informed of the potential risk. General guidance is that recipients should not be informed since there is no test, no cure and no treatment for vCJD.


07 Apr 01 - CJD - Study Points to 'Mad Cow' Blood Risk for Humans

By Greg Frost

YAHOO--Saturday 7 April 2001


PARIS (Reuters) - Monkeys can contract Mad Cow disease if it is injected into their bloodstream, underscoring that infected tissue risks transmitting the braIndependentwasting illness to humans, researchers said on Friday.

French scientist Corinne Ida Lasmezas said that she and a team of French and British scientists proved that the agent that causes Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), can be passed from one primate to another intravenously.

She warned, however, that the study had not proven that vCJD can be passed to humans through the blood supply.

``Everything depends on the amount of the infectious agent in blood -- we don't know if there is enough in human blood to infect another human,'' she said.

The team's research, published last week in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, dealt with the behavior of prions -- the distorted proteins blamed for causing BSE and its human equivalent, new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) -- in primates.

``We wanted to better understand the behavior of the BSE agent in primates to have an idea of the risk that vCJD poses in humans,'' Lasmezas told Reuters in a telephone interview.

``Effectively, this is the first time BSE has been passed between primates via blood,'' she said.

She said the study had also shown that the BSE prions become more virulent to primates after they have replicated in primates. They would lie dormant for less time when passed from one primate to another than when they cross from cattle to primates.

Sick Monkeys

In the study, Lasmezas and her team first infected macaque monkeys by taking concentrated samples of the Mad Cow agent from brains of infected humans and cattle and injecting them directly into the monkeys' brains.

They then took samples from the infected monkeys' brains and injected them into the brains of healthy monkeys. They also took samples from the brains of sick monkeys and injected them into the veins of other, healthy monkeys.

The researchers found that all monkeys that were injected with the agent -- either into the bloodstream or into the brain directly -- became sick with the fatal disease.

More importantly, however, the scientists found that the BSE agent lies dormant for a shorter period of time once it adapts to primates. ``This means that once the agent has adapted to primates, it's more virulent for another primate,'' she said.

Prions have puzzled scientists since they were discovered. Normally present in the brain and other tissue of mammals, they can take on an abnormally folded form that causes the brain to become spongy and eventually wither.

It is generally thought that prions can propagate, clump up and cause disease without the use of any kind of genetic material at all, unlike viruses, bacteria and parasites.

They are blamed for a range of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies that include BSE in cattle and vCJD in humans.

At least 85 people in Britain and two in France have died from vCJD.

Because neither the incubation period for vCJD in humans nor the dose required to infect humans is known, scientists do not know how many more people may be infected by the agent.


07 Apr 01 - CJD - Canadian and US firms to develop CJD blood test

Ananova

PA News--Saturday 7 April 2001


A Canadian firm has joined forces with a US company to develop a blood test to detect the human form of Mad Cow disease.

Caprion Pharmaceuticals Inc, a small firm based in Montreal, is working with Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics of New Jersey to develop the test to spot Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease.

The test would be designed to screen donated blood.

"Right now, there's simply no blood test for Mad Cow disease, for cows or for humans," said Caprion president Lloyd Segal in The Globe and Mail.


07 Apr 01 - CJD - Cashing in on mad-cow fears

Francois Shalom

Montral Gazette--Saturday 7 April 2001


Biotech firm links with U.S. giant to find test for human version of deadly disease

Caprion Pharmaceuticals Inc., a small Montreal biotech firm, announced yesterday a research collaboration with Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics of New Jersey to develop a blood test to detect the human equivalent of mad-cow disease.

More than 90 people in Britain and France have died of variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (vCJD), a neurodegenerative disease that is always fatal.

Caprion president Lloyd Segal said that "right now, there's simply no blood test for mad-cow disease, for cows or for humans."

The signs are detectable through observation of people affected and in autopsies. People carrying the illness initially have clinical symptoms similar to Alzheimer's: trembling and forgetfulness. But they soon degenerate and act very much like the animals affected: they're unable to stand, their whole body trembles and they're incoherent or entirely speechless.

But what's "particularly scary," Segal said, is that in humans, the disease can incubate for up to 30 years.

The test is primarily designed to screen donated blood.

"The blood agencies already screen plasma for infections like the HIV virus, hepatitis A and C and sexually transmitted diseases, and our intention is that this would be an additional screen," Segal added. "Initially, the story was about cows, but now, the next wave is going to be humans.

"People are starting to develop the disease."

Caprion's partner, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, is a division of multinational Johnson & Johnson, with about 4,000 employees worldwide, company spokesman Jeffrey Leebaw said from Raritan, N.J.

Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics has an option to license the test to blood agencies and others.

Segal said his company has "done the R and Ortho-Clinical is going to do the D."

Caprion has conducted enough research so far that "we've proven the principle (of the test) with human tissue."

The livestock herds of British and French farmers have been devastated by the spread of mad-cow disease, and cases have begun springing up worldwide, including Argentina, the U.S. and Canada.

Segal said that, with the help of the British government, his firm was able to do the research by importing human tissue from British citizens who have died of the illness.

Caprion has spent the last four years developing the antibody whose purpose would be to attach itself to the specific protein containing the disease, thereby unlocking the key to an antidote.

Segal said the global market for screening human blood is worth between $250 million and $300 million.

"Even 10 per cent of that market would be big for us," although he conceded that taking that for granted would be "a dangerous assumption."

Steering a new test of this type through regulatory channels would normally take three to four years, but Segal said that given the urgency of the issue, "we may be able to accelerate the process."

Leebaw said it was too soon to speculate on the financial windfall a successful test would reap.


07 Apr 01 - CJD - Hatch's Mad Cow Bill Gathering Support

By Shawn Foster

Salt Lake City Tribune--Saturday 7 April 2001


Sometimes it takes the threat of pestilence or war to bring Republicans and Democrats together. This time it's appears to be disease's turn.

U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the aisle seem ready to agree on a bill sponsored by Utah's Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, that would require federal agencies to research ways to prevent Mad Cow disease from reaching America's shores.

"This bill is about getting the facts out to the American public about the potential risks of both Mad Cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease as soon as possible," Hatch said. "Once we have all the facts, we will be in better position to plan the best methods for keeping these diseases out of the country. The bottom line is that we want to ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe."

Mad Cow disease, formally known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, first appeared in England.

It soon became clear that the malady could be transmitted to humans, as new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The disease, which introduces collapsing proteins into an organism, eventually creating spongy islands around the brain, has killed 90 people in Britain since 1996.

Hatch's bill would also require the Department of Agriculture to coordinate federal efforts to prevent an outbreak of the unrelated hoof-and-mouth disease. That virus strikes cloven-hoofed animals and is spread by infected animals or other carriers, including humans. It is not harmful to people and has been absent from the United States since 1929.

Mad Cow disease has never appeared in the United States, but the European outbreak has ranchers, consumer advocates and animal researchers worried.

Experts at Utah State University, the state's land grant university specializing in animal and agricultural sciences, are keeping tabs on the progress of both diseases in Europe.

In the past decade, laboratory technicians have examined 10,000 cows, said Clell Bagley, a USU veterinarian who works on animal health issues. But more needs to be done, scientists say.

Bagley applauds Hatch's efforts to better fund investigation of the disease.

"It is about time our government wakes up and realizes the seriousness of these diseases," Bagley said. "Those who have done research have made some heroic efforts. It would help if they didn't have to spend so much research time searching for grants."

But better research is only one of Bagley's concerns.

He and others fear lax regulation of nutritional supplements, some of which contain bovine tissues suspected of harboring Mad Cow disease.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration asked nutritional supplement makers to identify the source of bovine-derived products, which are not covered by the regulations that protect Americans from infected beef.

Trade groups representing the industry said they have not been able to trace the source of every product and may not be able to do so. Supplement makers are not required, as drug companies are, to maintain records on ingredient sources or meet federal manufacturing standards.

Mad Cow disease has not been linked to dietary supplements. Industry officials consider the possibility of contracting the disease through supplements remote.

But some experts such as Bagley are not convinced.

"It's a wide-open loophole," Bagley said. "It opens the door for disease to enter the United States."

It was Hatch who sponsored the 1994 legislation that limited the FDA's authority to regulate nutritional supplements.

At the time, Hatch was criticized for sponsoring the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act because he owned 71,843 shares of stock worth up to $50,000 in a Utah real estate company and vitamin wholesale distributor.

But a Hatch spokesman said the issue will be resolved by the research the state's senior senator is asking for.

"There is a concern that some dietary supplements could contain cow products from overseas and that there could be some danger," said spokesman Christopher Rosche. "The study will address that. They will be looking at everything from hamburger to dietary supplements."


07 Apr 01 - CJD - Off your chops? Tune in to TV's "Pig Brother"

Reuters

YAHOO--Saturday 7 April 2001


VIENNA (Reuters) - Tired of "Big Brother" and its countless imitators? Bored with endless hours of live small talk as ordinary people expose their minds and bodies on reality TV?

Then maybe "Pig Brother" is for you.

A 24-hour webcam broadcasting live and uncut from the depths of an Austrian pig-sty, www.pig-brother.at is the Austrian Young Farmers' Association's riposte to consumer fears over BSE and foot-and-mouth disease which have badly dented sales of pork.

"The market's collapsed and the animal rights people have been saying everything's totally horrible on farms," said general secretary Alois Leidwein. "We have nothing to hide."

While Juri, Lulu and the piglet Junior besport themselves at one site, Chantal, Samantha and their girlfriends can be seen at www.girls-camp.at, another play on reality television titles featuring a webcam broadcasting from a cowshed.

Along with the video images, both sites are packed with information on the whys and hows of livestock rearing for an urban audience shocked by outbreaks of Mad Cow disease (BSE) and foot-and-mouth across Europe -- though not yet in Austria.

Surfers can learn of the under-floor central heating, of why it is better for male piglets to be castrated without anaesthetic and of the fate that awaits a pig called Schnitzel.

Not to be missed is the Young Farmers' collection of animal proverbs. One example: "You can't have your pig and eat it."


07 Apr 01 - CJD - Frequently asked questions about BSE

European Commission

European Commission--Saturday 7 April 2001


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DN: MEMO/01/122 Date: 2001-04-06

TXT: FR EN DE NL SW PDF: FR EN DE NL SW Word Processed: FR EN DE NL SW

MEMO/01/122

Brussels, 6 April 2001

Frequently asked questions about BSE

What is the current state of play on BSE in the EU?

The overall incidence of BSE in the European Union is falling, led by the improvement in the situation in the UK where over 99% of all cases to date have been registered. However, the incidence is rising in some Member States, notably due to the introduction of more systematic testing on a compulsory basis as of 1 January 2001.

There is an extensive range of Community measures in place to protect the public against the risks from BSE. Member States must ensure full implementation of all Community measures relating to BSE. They must also improve their communication efforts to the public on BSE and on the protective measures in place. If these measures are strictly implemented, consumers can have confidence in the safety of beef.

Key European Commission food safety proposals currently before the Council and European Parliament aim to further strengthen food safety legislation in general for example the proposal for a general food law and establishing a European Food Authority, as well as legislation to manage the risk of BSE, such as the proposal for a Regulation on Animal by-Products, and the proposal for a Regulation on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies.

BSE and vCJD

What is the origin of BSE and what is its incidence in the EU?


Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is a disease of the brain in cattle. It was first diagnosed in the UK in 1986. It reached epidemic proportions due to the inclusion in cattle feed of meat and bone meal produced from animal carcasses. Up to 28 February 2001, there have been 180,903 cases in the UK and 1,924 cases elsewhere in the European Union. While the incidence of BSE has been decreasing in the UK, it is actually rising in a number of other Member States as a result of the introduction of more systematic testing for BSE. Nonetheless the total number of BSE cases remains extremely low in other Member States in comparison with the UK.

What about its human equivalent vCJD?

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (vCJD) was first diagnosed in 1996. It is now generally assumed to be caused by the transmission of BSE to humans. There are 99 confirmed or suspected cases in the EU to date, mostly in young people. All cases have occurred in the UK with the exception of France (3) and Ireland (1)).

Estimates of the future number of vCJD cases vary widely as too little is known about the incubation period between exposure to the infective agent and the emergence of symptoms. However, it is clear that future cases will be overwhelmingly due to past exposure to infective material before the strengthening of controls in recent years.

What is the incidence of BSE by Member State?

Currently, the overall BSE incidence in the Community is falling, mainly as a result of the decline in BSE cases as observed in the UK. In Great Britain the incidence has fallen sharply from over 36.000 cases in 1992 at the peak of the epidemic to 1348 in 2000. The BSE incidence trend is stable in Portugal, where 159 cases were recorded in 1999 compared to 150 cases in 2000.

The number of detected BSE cases has on the other hand shown an increase in other Member States, such as France (31 cases in 1999, 162 in 2000) and in Ireland (95 cases in 1999, 149 in 2000) as a result of reinforced surveillance programmes. The introduction of active surveillance in Germany, Spain and Italy in December 2000 also led to the discovery of the first ever 'native' BSE cases in those Member States.

What are the results of the new testing programmes since 1 January 2001?

In addition to the compulsory examination of all animals showing signs suggestive of BSE, rapid post mortem testing for BSE must, as of 1 January 2001, be carried out on:

- all cattle over 30 months of age slaughtered as emergencies or showing signs of any kind of illness at the ante mortem inspection in the slaughterhouse;

- a random sample of cattle that have died on the farm;

- healthy animals over 30 months destined for human consumption (with the exception of Austria, Sweden and Finland, where a scientific assessment shows that the risk of BSE is lower).

As expected, this more systematic testing has resulted in an increase in the number of detected BSE cases in most Member States but it is notable that most cases 85% - are still detected through surveillance of suspect or at risk animals. A table showing the results is enclosed. These results are still preliminary, but they confirm the Commission's initial hypothesis that systematic testing would reveal more BSE cases than passive surveillance alone, and that the likelihood to find positive cases is greater when examining specific target populations, such as dead-on-farm animals and casualty slaughters. A more Independentdepth analysis can be made when more results become available.

When will the testing of all bovine animals over 30 months become obligatory throughout the EU ?

At present, all bovines aged over 30 months destined for human consumption are tested. By 1 June 2001, the Commission is due to submit a proposal to the Standing Veterinary Committee with a view, if appropriate, to modify the present BSE testing program. This proposal will take into account the results of the testing obtained from compulsory testing.

What is the expected future evolution of the disease?

Up until the middle of 2000, the majority of BSE cases detected were found by means of traditional passive surveillance, i.e. through the examination and mandatory reporting of animals suspected of showing signs or clinical symptoms of BSE. Since rapid post mortem testing started, it has become evident that additional cases can be picked up by testing. Thus animals with non-typical signs, such as kicking, lameness, loss of weight and reduced milk yield will not escape detection. Such conditions are so common that it would not be practicable to treat all those animals as BSE suspects. BSE cases have also been found in slaughtered animals without any previous signs of illness.

For the above reasons it was expected that systematic rapid test monitoring would increase the number of detected BSE cases and the early results confirm this assumption. To date, such testing has accounted for 15% of BSE cases.

On the other hand, the age structure of the positive BSE cases is shifting towards older animals in those Member States, where BSE has been reported in previous years. This is a positive signal as it shows that the measures taken from 1996 onwards are having some effect.

Since the average incubation period of BSE is 4-5 years, the effect of the newly introduced measures over the past months will only be seen in 2005-2006.

Community measures to tackle BSE

What has the EU done to protect the public?


The European Commission has put in place a comprehensive set of Community measures in relation to BSE:

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

- higher processing standards for the treatment of animal waste (133 degrees, 3 bars of pressure for twenty minutes) to reduce infectivity to a minimum, as of 1 April 1997;

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

- the requirement to remove specified risk materials (SRMs like spinal cord, brain, eyes, tonsils, parts of the intestines) from cattle, sheep and goats throughout the EU from 1 October 2000 from the human and animal food chains. The obligation is also mandatory for imports of meat and meat products from third countries into the EU except Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Namibia, Nicaragua, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Singapore, Swaziland and Uruguay since 1 April 2001;

- the introduction of targeted testing for BSE, with a focus on high risk animal categories, from 1 January 2001;

- the prohibition to use dead animals not fit for human consumption in feed production from 1 March 2001 onwards.

In response to the crisis in consumer confidence that followed the introduction of the rapid BSE tests, and the confirmation of the first native cases in countries that had not yet detected BSE cases until then, and following more recent scientific advice, the Commission has taken a series of additional measures:

- a ban on the use of ruminant meat and bone meal and certain other animal proteins in feedstuffs for all farm animals, to avoid risks of cross-contamination, at least until end of June 2001;

- the testing of all cattle aged over 30 months destined for human consumption;

- the extension of the list of specified risk materials to include the entire intestine of bovines and the vertebral column;

- a ban on the use of mechanically recovered meat derived from bones of cattle, sheep and goats in feed and food.

A proposal to tighten-up treatment standards for ruminant fats is expected after the relevant scientific advice will have been updated.

All Community measures are based on the opinions of the independent scientific committees advising the European Commission. New scientific evidence is regularly reviewed by the EU Scientific Steering Committee and other specialised scientific committees. What does the Commission do to check the implementation of BSE measures by the Member States?

The Commission's Food and Veterinary Office carries out inspections to verify the correct implementation, enforcement and controls of Community legislation by the competent national authorities Its inspection reports are published on the Commission's website at :

http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/inspections/vi/reports/index_en.html

The FVO inspections have been stepped up and particular attention is given to a correct implementation of the feed ban and the recently adopted measures on SRMs and testing.

What other measures are proposed to protect the public from BSE?

In addition to the measures outlined above, a number of other important Commission proposals are currently under examination for adoption by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament:

- A proposal for a Regulation on the prevention, eradication and control of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/bse/bse17_en.pdf

- A proposal for a Regulation on Animal By-products which will ensure that only material from animals fit for human consumption can be used in animal feed. http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/bse/bse18_en.pdf

- A proposal for a general food law and establishing a European Food Safety Authority. http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/intro/efa_prop_en.pdf

The European Commission has in the White Paper on Food Safety (see IP/00/20) set out a comprehensive range of proposals aimed at ensuring that food is safe from the farm to the table.

http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/intro/index_en.html

What is being done to tackle the risk of BSE cases entering the food chain?

All bovine animals over 30 months of age entering the food chain must be tested for BSE and the carcass may not be released before a negative test results has been obtained. Austria, Finland and Sweden may derogate from the requirement to test healthy cattle pursuant to a scientific assessment showing that the BSE risk in those Member States is lower.

specified risk materials (SRMs) are removed at slaughter from all cattle aged over 12 months and destroyed. This reduces the level of potential exposure from animals which might be in the early stages of the disease to an extremely low level.

Annex:

BSE testing - Cumulative table from January - February 2001

Suspects: Cattle which are identified as suspect case through passive surveillance.

Risk Animals : Cattle which die on a farm, are slaughtered in an emergency or are sent for normal slaughter but are found sick in the pre-slaughter inspection.

Healthy Animals : Cattle sent for normal slaughter.

BSE Eradication : Cattle which are killed because they are epidemiologically linked to a BSE case (birth cohorts, rearing cohorts, feed cohorts, offspring and animals from herds with BSE) in their herd.


07 Apr 01 - CJD - Senate authorizes ncx disease commission

Associated Press

USA Today--Saturday 7 April 2001


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has authorized a commission of high-ranking officials to coordinate efforts to keep mad-cow and foot-and-mouth diseases out of the United States.

A bill passed Thursday night would bring together agriculture, health and safety officials to ensure that the government is doing everything it can to keep the bovine diseases out of the country, said Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the bill's co-sponsors.

"Fortunately, we have an animal and public health system that has successfully prevented either of these diseases from entering our country," Harkin said. "We must make doubly sure there are no gaps in our defenses."

Added Hatch: "The bottom line is that we want to ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe."

The bill now goes to the House.

Mad-cow, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is linked to a human braIndependentwasting disease that has killed some 80 Europeans since the mid-1990s, mostly in Britain. Cases have been reported in France, Portugal, Germany, Spain and Ireland.

Foot-and-mouth disease is harmless to humans but is highly destructive to herds.

"The United States has been free of foot-and-mouth since 1929, and our goal is to keep it that way," Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman told President Bush on Wednesday.

The commission proposed by the Senate would be made up of high-ranking officials such as the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, health and human services and treasury departments, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner and the directors of the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

After the commission is created, it would submit a report to Congress saying what steps are being taken to keep the diseases out of the country and what legislative steps still need to be taken.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - EU Scientists Class Eastern Europe at Risk of BSE

Reuters

Europe Internet.com--Friday 6 April 2001


BRUSSELS, Apr 2, 2001 -- (Reuters) The European Commission said on Monday its scientific advisers believed certain east European countries including Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were likely to have Mad Cow disease in their cattle herds.

The opinion, issued by the scientists on a range of non-European Union countries, forms part of the Commission's assessment of the Mad Cow or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) risk presented by those wishing to export beef to the EU.

Albania, Cyprus, Estonia, the Slovak Republic, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania and Switzerland were classed "category III", meaning "likely to present a BSE risk, even if not confirmed, or presenting a low level of confirmed BSE risk".

All those countries not in "category I" -- BSE highly unlikely -- have to remove potentially dangerous cattle tissues, known as specified risk material, such as spinal cords, at the slaughterhouse from meat they intend to export to the EU.

The Commission said the countries in category III had imported significant amounts of live cattle and meat and bonemeal from EU countries where BSE has been confirmed.

"Therefore it is regarded likely that their cattle herds were exposed to potentially BSE contaminated feed and subsequently infected," the Commission said in a statement.

Switzerland remains the only country outside the EU to have confirmed the presence of native cases of Mad Cow disease.

The category II country list, where a BSE risk is deemed to be unlikely but not be excluded, contained the United States, Canada, India, Pakistan and Colombia.

Category I countries include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Norway and New Zealand.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - Hungary Protests EU Import Ban Due to Mad Cow Disease

AFP

Europe Internet.com--Friday 6 April 2001


BUDAPEST, Apr 3, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) Hungary protested Tuesday over an EU decision to ban imports of some of its meat products due to a perceived risk from Mad Cow disease, arguing that that deadly illness was non-existent in the country.

"We are going to lodge an official protest," Hungary's chief veterinary official Antal Nemeth told AFP a day after the 15-nation European Union slapped the import restrictions on several European countries, including Hungary.

The ban covers certain cuts of beef believed to transmit the prions that cause Mad Cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), including brain or spinal cord tissue.

The EU justified the measure by saying the targeted nations were "likely to present a BSE risk, even if not confirmed, or presenting a low level of confirmed BSE risk."

Nemeth insisted Hungary was free of BSE. "We shall ask for a modification of Hungary's listing," he told AFP.

"Part of our protest will be a professional list of the facts from the past 10 years, as well as the results of the more than 160 tests we have carried out since March 1, and the changes we carried out in the past in slaughterhouses," he said.

Hungary introduced in March the same kind of tests for BSE in its livestock as are used in the European Union and so far, all tests have been negative, Nemeth said.

"I can say nothing else than that this disease is non-existent in Hungary," he said.

Nemeth said the form of Hungary's protest to the EU would be decided in consultation with the foreign ministry, which is also responsible for foreign trade. The ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Nemeth had complained last week that an earlier EU decision to list Hungary as a "category III" risk for BSE had "deteriorated Hungary's market position without cause."

Apart from Hungary, the European Commission slapped BSE bans on eight other "category III" countries: Albania, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - Czechs Angered at Being on List of Countries With High BSE Risk

CNA

Europe Internet.com--Friday 6 April 2001


BRUSSELS, Apr 4, 2001 -- (CTK - Czech News Agency) The Czech Republic is the first EU candidate country to sharply protest against being included by the EU in a list of countries where there is a very high probability of BSE occurring.

Czech Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl wrote a letter to the European Commissioner for food and consumer protection David Byrne calling for a reassessment of the Czech Republic's BSE risk rating. Fencl wrote that he disagreed with the Czech Republic being included in the third of four groups into which the EU divided countries according to risk of BSE.

He said that the Czech Republic should be in the second group, in which it is highly unlikely that BSE will be found. Fencl said also that the EU scientific committee which made the assessments had not taken into account the information which the Czech Republic had sent it. The committee said that the Czech Republic had imported cattle from Germany, France and Switzerland. Spokesman for the Czech chief veterinary office Josef Duben claimed however that none of the cattle were found to have BSE.

"Between 1998 and 2000 we imported two bulls and 24 cows from Scotland and five bulls and 11 cows from Switzerland. Of them, 28 are still alive and the others are being observed," he said. A copy of Fencl's letter was also received by commissioner for EU enlargement Guenter Verheugen and the commissioner for agriculture Franz Fischler. Czech ambassador to the EU Libor Secka said that Czech Premier Milos Zeman will raise the rating with European Commission chairman Romano Prodi when the latter visits Prague on Thursday. Head of the Czech chief veterinary office Josef Holejsovsky sent a similar letter to the secretary of the EU scientific committee Joachim Kreysa.

The letter criticizes the fact that the Czech Republic is in the same group as Switzerland which imported 6,000 tons of meat and bone meal from Britain between 1985 and 1990. The Czech Republic has never imported meat and bone meal from Britain, said Holejsovsky, adding that there have been strict conditions for preparing Czech meat and bone meal since 1962, conditions which the EU did not adopt until 1994. "It is a political decision...the sad thing is that the position was announced by a scientific committee," he said.

The committee's report said that there had been no checks for BSE in the Czech Republic until 1997 and those between then and 2001 had been insufficient. "It is badly explained because BSE checks have been going on here since 1991 of animals in which some clinical signs of nervous illness were registered," said Duben. Since February 1 the Czech Republic has been carrying out the same tests as are done in the EU.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - EU Warns Mad Cow Disease Highly Probable in Czech Republic

CNA

Europe Internet.com--Friday 6 April 2001


BRUSSELS, Apr 3, 2001 -- (CTK - Czech News Agency) The European Union has as expected assessed the Czech Republic as a country where the occurrence of BSE is very probable, though no Czech case of the cattle disease, which can cause fatal CJD in humans, has yet been confirmed, it was announced today by the European Commission.

According to the Commission's spokeswoman Beate Gminder, the scientific committee based its finding on the fact that the Czech Republic, just as Albania, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland, which all have been included in the same group of countries, had imported large quantities of live cattle and bone meal from EU countries in which BSE was later discovered.

Of these countries, BSE has up to now only been discovered in Switzerland. The Czech Republic had been hoping it would be ranked as among the countries where outbreak of BSE is currently considered unlikely, but cannot be entirely ruled out - Canada, Colombia, India, Maritius, Pakistan and the United States. Czech ambassador to the EU Libor Secka today reacted negatively to the EU's announcement. Secka expressed his opinion that the EU should have differentiated with regard to the Czech Republic, and he also accused the EU of not making use of information that he said the Czech side had tried to give it.

"We wanted for the EU to differentiate, and we tried to give information, but it remained unused," Secka told CTK. He went on to say that the Czech State Veterinary Administration would now likely present an analysis of its own about the level of BSE risk in the Czech Republic and that the Czech Agriculture Ministry would also probably take steps.

The EU will now require that Albania, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland remove from any beef to be exported to the EU all material considered to pose a risk of BSE or CJD, such as eyes, brains, intestines, vertebrae and meat separated from cattle spinal cords by machines. "Economically, this will not have any impact. It only will as far as prestige is concerned," Zdenka Peskova from the Czech Republic's permanent mission to the EU said in reaction to the announcement.

Peskova added that for the time being talks among Czech and EU veterinary experts had been concluded and that another round of talks was not being planned. BSE causes destruction of the brains of cattle when deformed proteins called prions cause normal brain proteins to change, and the cattle disease has been found to cause the similar usually fatal braIndependentdestroying disease CJD in humans, if they consume food from infected cattle.

BSE in cattle is believed to be caused by feeding cattle, which are naturally herbivores, with feed containing cattle products. The EU is to continue its assessment of BSE risks in third countries on May 11.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - Project on compensation in case BSE is ascertained submitted to government

Indra Sprance

LETA--Friday 6 April 2001


RIGA, April 4 (LETA) - Draft regulations on compensation in case BSE or Mad Cow disease is ascertained have been submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for review, LETA was told by Ziedone Berzina, director of the Agricultural Sectors and Processing Development Department at the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to Berzina, already at the end of last week, the government's chancellery was submitted draft regulations that were to be reviewed as urgent, however, review of the matter was postponed.

According to the draft regulations worked out by the Ministry of Agriculture, compensation can only be paid for those herds that are destroyed under the guidance of the State Veterinary Service. Animals in the herd must also be registered and branded.

The regulations provide for two options for compensations. The first option is to compensate 80 percent of the value of liquidated animals - LVL 160 to LVL 240 for one cow, LVL 400 for one breeding bull, and LVL 80 for animals below 1 year of age.

The second version of the compensation project, which would be more advantageous to farmers, stipulates that compensation for one cow is LVL 120, and also 80 percent of the money that the farmer would gain from the animal are compensated.

Earlier decisions stipulate that in case one cow infected with BSE is ascertained in a herd, the entire herd will have to be destroyed. According to Agriculture Ministry's estimates, there are about 600 imported animals in Latvia, the so-called risk livestock.

According to Berzina, the Agriculture Ministry has not designated the possible source of funding, the government is to make this decision.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - CJD Anguish Of Student's Family

Staff Reporter

Portsmouth News--Friday 6 April 2001


When student Kate Richer began to lose her memory, hearing and then her ability to walk, her family had to face up to a terrible truth.

Today they were facing up to life without Kate after the 22-year-old became one of just a handful of people in Britain to die of variant CJD - the human form of Mad Cow disease.

Kate Richer grew up in Gosport. She was a talented musician who played piano, clarinet and saxophone and was hoping for a career in music journalism.

Although doctors do not know how Kate contracted vCJD - she was not given growth hormone or was a particularly big beef eater - they say it could have been incubating from the age of eight.

Despite her growing illness, Kate began a degree in music and literature at Glasgow University in October 1999.

But she began to lose her hearing and fall over a lot and her parents brought her back to their home at Sandown on the Isle of Wight where she was diagnosed with CJD in July 2000.

She died on February 18, after being in a coma for five days.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - New committee to assess BSE risk

Staff Reporter

ABC News Australia--Friday 6 April 2001


The nation's food watchdog has set up a scientific committee to assess the risk of BSE or Mad Cow disease occurring in food sold in Australia.

The Australia New Zealand Food Authority says international and domestic experts will examine the risk posed to human health by exposure to BSE through beef and beef products.

The group will look at current scientific evidence which shows there's little risk of exposure to BSE from milk and dairy products, while also advising on whether the disease can be transmitted to sheep and goats.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - Student is latest victim of CJD amid figures shock

Alastair Jamieson and Jill Stevenson

Scotsman--Friday 6 April 2001


A Glasgow University student has become the 85th victim of vCJD - as new figures show Scotland has more than double the number of cases of the human form of Mad Cow disease than many other parts of the UK.

Kate Richer, 22, died from the disease last February. Her parents, Derek and June Richer, last night told how they were forced to watch their "beautiful and intelligent" daughter deteriorate to such an extent she could not even swallow her medication.

The couple made the decision to stop doctors feeding their daughter intravenously after she began to suffer hallucinations and nightmares.

"No-one should have to live like that," said Mrs Richer, 58. "If Kate could have spoken she would have told us that was what she wanted. She might have lived a little longer but she had no quality of life. It was the hardest decision we have had to make." The couple, from Hampshire, have four other children. Kate was their youngest. The first sign there was anything wrong with Kate was when she began to feel numbness and pins and needles down her leFinancial Timeshand side.

Shortly afterwards, her hearing began to fail and in April she left her course. Two months later her co-ordination and concentration had gone. In July she was diagnosed with the illness by doctors at Edinburgh's CJD surveillance unit.

Mr Richer, 64, said: "She would cry in frustration at not being able to do the things she wanted despite her determination. We had to watch our daughter deteriorate day by day."

Meanwhile, the new report reveals that of 85 victims of variant CJD in the UK, a noticeably higher number were from the north of the UK, with Scotland the worst-affected.

Experts at the CJD surveillance unit, who helped to compile the study, believe Scotland's poor diet of pies and burgers could be to blame. The study in medical journal the Lancet reveals that, in Scotland, the cumulative rate of vCJD was 2.98 per million, compared with 2.66 for north England, 2.38 for Yorkshire and Humberside and 1.4 for south-east England.

Regions in the north of England had the next highest numbers, particularly in the north-west area, Yorkshire and Cumbria. Researchers from the unit, including Professor Robert Will and experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, have ruled out better identification of cases as an explanation for the higher rate in Scotland.

But scientists found conflicting evidence on how diet may be linked to CJD incidence, with no clear differences in eating habits of meat products suspected to cause the illness between north and south despite the difference in case numbers. The scientists' report said: "Those items most likely to have contained mechanically recovered meator high-titre BSE agent [perceived high risk] material from the central nervous system [burgers, kebabs, sausages, meat pies and pastries and other meat products] showed no consistent pattern of higher consumption in northern regions."

Last night Professor Will said: "It is our hypothesis - and it is only a theory - that diet is the probable explanation.

"The researchers looked at the household diet of families in the northern parts of the UK and the southern parts and the differences might be the key to the higher incidences. In terms of diet, a greater consumption of meat products, rather than meat itself, might be a factor.

"These would include pies, burgers and kebabs.

"It is important to remember that we were looking at diet some 20 years ago, in the 1980s, because that is the period in which the disease appears to have come about."

He said there was still no proven link between BSE and CJD, and that it was proving difficult to suggest whether the number of cases was likely to continue rising.

"It's all very difficult to prove, although we are gradually eliminating some theories. Certainly, the original suggestion that the number of cases in the north of the UK was higher because of better identification and reporting of cases does not appear to be true."

Compensation and care package negotiations have been going on since last autumn after the government was spurred into action by the damning Lord Phillips' report into the handling of the BSE affair.

Alan Milburn, the health minister, also announced an extra million pounds for the surveillance unit in Edinburgh to "kickstart" a national fund for the care of victims.

Last November a study by the Government-commissioned surveillance unit at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh found no significant link between beef consumption and vCJD, the human form of BSE. It also failed to find any conclusive proof the type of job done by victims of vCJD, or medical treatment, caused them to develop the fatal condition.

Official figures on Monday are expected to reveal the number of UK cases is now nearing, prompting renewed calls for compensation for Scots CJD victims and their families.

David Body, the solicitor representing CJD victims and their relatives in the UK, said: "We are concerned that these numbers are rising. This makes it even more important that we get a suitable care package for still-living victims and compensation for families as soon as possible."


06 Apr 01 - CJD - U.S. precautions against Mad Cow disease debated

By Mara H. Gottfried

Dallas Morning News--Friday 6 April 2001


WASHINGTON - Because of mad-cow disease, travelers to London will probably never look at roast beef and Yorkshire pudding or beef Wellington the same way again.

Yet, one health specialist told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday that he continues to eat beef on his trips there.

"The danger of driving to the airport is probably greater than the danger of eating meat in Europe," Dr. Richard T. Johnson said.

While the odds cannot be precisely stated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that one case may arise in every 10 billion servings in the United Kingdom. The CDC has advised visitors abroad to avoid eating beef products or to select solid cuts of meat rather than hamburger or sausage, just to be safe.

Dr. Johnson, a special adviser to the National Institutes of Health, testified before a Senate subcommittee on consumer affairs, foreign commerce and tourism. Senators and witnesses debated whether U.S. precautions against mad-cow disease are adequate.

"Is the United States doing enough to detect the disease?" asked Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group. "I think that up to now, the answer was no."

Other health experts and senators said the government should not become complacent even though mad-cow disease has not been found in the United States. Many called for Congress to increase spending on research.

"It is naive to believe that we can ignore the serious food and livestock threats facing Europe," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who plans to introduce a bill designed to better protect the public from the disease. "Our food safety efforts must be effective from the farmyard to the dinner table."

Besides the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and other European countries have reported cases of mad-cow disease, officially called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). The United States has not reported a case of the disease.

Some sheep and deer in the United States have been diagnosed with a similar disease, but it is not transmittable to humans.

The United States uses a "triple firewall" approach to ensure that the meat Americans buy is safe, said James H. Hodge, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation.

- The first step, he said, is ensuring that U.S. cattle do not become infected, so the Department of Agriculture imposed a ban in 1989 against the import of cattle and beef products from countries with reports of mad-cow disease.

- Second, USDA inspectors check meatpacking plants and cattle for signs of the disease.

- The third step is controlling what cattle are fed. The use of animal byproducts for cattle feed is illegal because it has been linked with the spread of mad-cow disease.

Richard McDonald of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association said he was reassured to hear the testimony.

"We have controls in place and we're relieved that we do," said Mr. McDonald, the association's president and chief executive. "There needs to be increased funding to protect our ports of entry. That's where we need the most surveillance."


06 Apr 01 - CJD - China in Bid to Stave off Mad Cow Disease, XINHUA

Associated Press

Global Sources--Friday 6 April 2001


BEIJING, April 3 (Xinhua)--China is taking preventive measures to prevent the entry of Mad Cow disease into the country, according to a joint notice issued by the Ministry of Health and the State Administration for Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Tuesday.

From now on, China will prohibit direct and indirect import and trading of food made from cow meat, carcasses and entrails from countries plagued by the contagious disease. Dairy products are exempted from the list.

The list of banned products includes cattle brain, spinal cord, eye, meat, bone, bowels, placenta, as well as foods made from the above mentioned materials, such as hamburger and canned beef.

The notice orders all importers and traders of the above-mentioned products to immediately stop related processing and trading activities, retract and destroy all sold commodities, and make timely reports to local departments concerned.

The Ministry of Health also called on public health departments at various levels to publicize the knowledge on the disease and provide correct information for consumers.

Mad Cow disease was first found in Britain in 1985 and may cause a similar ailment in humans known as Creutzfeld-Jacob disease. According to a report released by China's Ministry of Agriculture on February 14, cattle in China are mostly fed with straw and soybean meal in farming areas so they do not have access to meat and bone meal (MBM) that is linked to the spread of the disease, officially known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

Besides, animal entrails are commonly used in Chinese dishes and their prices are sometimes higher than meat. For this reason there is not enough offal to be processed into animal feed, said the report.

A nationwide cattle investigation was launched in early 2000 and a survey on imported cattle and their descendants did not find any BSE cases.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - Emu and ostrich farmers overwhelmed by European demand

Ananova

PA News--Friday 6 April 2001


Australian emu and ostrich farmers say they're being overwhelmed by European demand for their meat.

Farmers say they're using all the birds they can find as demand outstrips supply.

Food safety scares in Europe has prompted the surge in demand.

Over the last five years, emu and ostrich farmers have been struggling - with many going out of business.

Australian Ostrich Association president Terry English said the demand for ostrich meat is easily outstripping supply.

He said: "The sad part for us is we are exporting about 700 tonnes and we're using up all the birds we can find. We had some enormous problems in the industry over the recent five years mainly due to investments and collapses."

Peter Thompson, who runs Tjuringa Emu Products in Queensland, told The Australian: "Every kilogramme of meat I could produce at the moment I could export to Europe because of the extent of the inquiries I'm getting.

"The interest has escalated hugely as a result of Mad Cow more than foot-and-mouth."

Demand for kangaroo, crocodile and wild boar meat are also markedly up, farmers say.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - East Europe 'must tighten BSE rules'

By Dan Bilefsky in Brussels

Financial Times--Friday 6 April 2001


The European Commission on Monday warned that the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and the Slovak Republic were at high risk of suffering mad-cow disease and could face a ban on their meat imports into the EU unless they tightened controls against the braIndependentwasting illness.

The Commission said its chief scientists had concluded that these central and eastern European countries were likely to have been exposed to BSE because of their past imports of cattle and potentially infected meat and bone meal (MBM) from the European Union.

It called on them to comply immediately with tough anTimesBSE regulations requiring removal of so-called risk materials - parts of cattle such as brain and spinal cord thought likely to harbour BSE - from their beef exports into the 15-member bloc.

However, the Commission's decision provoked a furious response from some of the named countries as Poland and the Czech Republic, both candidates for EU membership, challenged the scientist's conclusions, emphasising they had never had a case of BSE.

"This opinion is very unjustified and will have a psychological effect on the country," said Tadeusz Wijaszka, veterinary affairs counsellor at the Polish mission to the EU in Brussels.

While Poland has reported no cases of BSE, the Commission said it was included on the list of high risk countries due to past imports of EU-produced MBM, which until recently amounted to about 400,000 tonnes a year. But Mr Wijaszka said imported meal had only been used for pigs and poultry and posed no risk to cattle. Poland was likely to launch a formal appeal against the scientists' conclusions.

The Czech Republic, also a candidate for EU membership, said it too was likely to contest the conclusions. "We are not satisfied with the EU's conclusions and were surprised because we have had no case of BSE.

The controls will mean more labour and higher costs for beef producers and being labelled a high risk country could be very harmful for our trade with other countries," said Libor Secka, ambassador of the Czech Republic's mission to the EU.

Beate Gminder, spokeswoman for David Byrne, EU health commissioner, said the "high risk" designation would not have much of an impact on eastern and central European beef exports to the EU since most of the bloc's non-EU beef imports came from Brazil, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.


06 Apr 01 - CJD - U.S. Mad Cow Risk Eases But More Research Needed

By Randy Fabi

Iwon News--Friday 6 April 2001


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The risk of Mad Cow disease spreading to the United States is small, but Congress should increase spending on research to protect Americans, U.S. government officials and experts said on Wednesday.

Mad Cow disease, also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is believed to have spread from Britain to at least 12 European countries when the bones, spinal cord and other remains of diseased cattle were ground up for use in livestock feed.

Some 100 people in Europe have died from or been diagnosed with the human version, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

Mad Cow disease has never been detected in the United States.

The recent slaughter of some 1 million farm animals in Europe for the unrelated foot-and-mouth disease would help reduce the spread of Mad Cow to the rest of the world, the expert told a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing.

"The risk of BSE has been the lowest it has ever been," Will Hueston, professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Maryland, said. "The likelihood of BSE in the United States is very low, but not zero."

Despite the declining risk, Hueston said the United States does not spend enough on research into Mad Cow disease, a relatively new disease first diagnosed in the 1980s in Britain.

Alfonso Torres, deputy administrator of the U.S. Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said more USDA funding of university research would significantly increase the expertise on the disease.

None of the witnesses detailed how much more money was needed for Mad Cow research.

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has said there would be "substantial increases" in funding for animal and plant protection programs in President Bush's fiscal 2002 budget proposal, to be issued next week.

Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require imported foods to identify the origin of the animals and certify that no central nervous tissue was included.


03 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad Cow virus in Australians, says top doctor

By Mark Metherell

SMH---Tuesday 3 April 2001


The fatal human form of Mad Cow disease would almost certainly have infected a few Australians, says the Commonwealth's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dick Smallwood.

The statistical likelihood was that in the next few years there would be cases in Australia of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, he said.

The deadly brain disease would be already incubating in people who had lived in Britain when vCJD was believed to have spread, between 1980 and 1996.

Professor Smallwood said about 900,000 people in Australia lived in Britain for six months or more during those years.

How many ended up contracting vCJD would depend on how widespread the disease was in Britain. So far there have been 94 deaths from the disease, and estimates of the eventual toll range up to 136,000 .

Professor Smallwood said a communicable diseases control conference in Canberra yesterday heard about the latest British research on vCJD, which cautioned against fuelling public anxiety by relying on worst-case scenarios.

It would take another two or three years before scientists could confidently estimate about how many people were likely to be affected, he said.

The other possible routes of vCJD infection - blood donations and contaminated vaccines - were less likely as causes of infection in Australia.

About 25,000 people who lived in Britain between 1980 and 1996 were banned from giving blood last year.

Professor Smallwood said the risk of contamination from two therapeutic products, bovine insulin and oral polio vaccine, was tiny - about one case in 100 million years.


03 Apr 01 - CJD - New technology destroys sheep that may have Mad Cow disease

Staff Reporter

Waste News--Tuesday 3 April 2001


AMES, IOWA (March 30) -- The 350 sheep destroyed for fear of exposure to a form of Mad Cow disease has forced the U.S. Department of Agriculture to look at new technology for disposal.

The USDA transported the sheep late last month to its National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, for euthanization by lethal injection last week, USDA spokesman Ed Curlett said. Tissue samples were collected from the sheep for diagnostic testing.

The department will use a digester, a steel vat containing alkaline material, to break the carcasses down into liquid, which will be stored in tankers until tested to make sure the disease has been destroyed.

Once tested, an evaporator will pull the water out of the effluent leaving a powder form that likely will be incinerated on site, said Mark Muth, USDA biocontainment facilities manager in Laramie, Wyo. The digester reduces each sheep to a couple handfuls of powder.

The process breaks down any protein disease, Muth said.

Muth, who uses a digester to treat waste at a Wyoming USDA laboratory, suggested the technology for use at the Ames facility. Concerns about contamination were the overriding factor, he said.


03 Apr 01 - CJD - Farmers demand ban on german beef imports

Ananova

PA News---Tuesday 3 April 2001


Farmers are demanding a ban on exports of German beef after more meat containing spinal cord entered the UK.

It was the seventh time this year that spinal cord has been found in beef imported into the UK from Germany.

National Farmers' Union President Ben Gill says patience with Germany has run out.

He said: "We have well and truly reached the end of our tether - the European Commission must ban exports of German beef now. The time for words has gone - we need action now.

"The Commission had no compunction in placing a ban on British beef all those years ago and it should show the same vigour now. "

Mr Gill said he would be writing to European Food Safety Commissioner David Byrne about safety concerns over German beef.

In the latest discovery, two out of 203 forequarters of German beef unpacked at Anglo-Dutch Meats (ADM) in Eastbourne, Sussex, were found to contain spinal cord, a spokesman for the Food Standards Agency said. They will be destroyed.

Under EU rules, spinal cord must be removed immediately after animals are slaughtered and then disposed of safely.

But it is now thought to have been found more than a dozen times in meat imported into the UK since January 17 this year, with Germany the worst offender.

A Food Standards Authority spokesman said all German beef imported into the UK has been subject to 100% inspection since January 29 this year due to earlier lapses by German abattoirs in abiding by the BSE controls.


01 Apr 01 - CJD - Mad-cow fears spread veil of public mistrust

Mick Calder

New Zealand Herald--Sunday 1 April 2001


Food safety is now a global issue for meat producers because of mad-cow disease (BSE).

It has escalated consumer fears to an extent that even countries that claim to be free from the disease have been affected.

And foot-and-mouth disease, despite not infecting humans, will only add to the general food integrity concerns of consumers. Both have global trade implications as countries act to limit the effects.

In the United States, a 60 Minutes segment on the effects of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, BSE's human equivalent, has been described as 15 minutes from hell for viewers. Regaining consumer confidence will now be doubly difficult.

The disease has an extended incubation period, which makes it hard to know the extent of the problem.

As Steve Bjerklie noted in Meat News: "Consumer concerns with beef safety are justified. What could be scarier than a disease that lies dormant in your body for years and years, then awakes to eat your brain full of holes?"

The BSE problem started in Britain in 1986, but its cause and seriousness were not recognised for some time. It has since appeared in other countries by way of exports of contaminated meat and bone meal that were banned in Britain.

Up to 200,000 tonnes of contaminated feed may have been exported to some 70 countries, mainly in the Middle East and Asia, until the trade was banned in 1996. It was to be used as pig and poultry feed but may have been included in cattle feeds.

There are reports of BSE in Thailand. Some of the corrupted meal was discovered in Texas, and the affected herd was destroyed, despite showing no sign of the disease.

Consumer concerns are plainly evident. Franz Fischler, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, recently reported a 27 per cent drop in beef consumption in the EU and a similar drop in beef prices. Interest is switching to organic beef or other meats, including lamb and ostrich meat, or from meat altogether.

Unaffected countries, including New Zealand, have imposed bans on beef products from a number of European countries where BSE has been reported. Other countries will be under suspicion.

The bans have caused production backlogs that have carried over into this year. A production surplus of some 800,000 tonnes is likely and efforts are being made to alleviate the pressure.

A Purchase for Destruction scheme operates in some parts of Europe to reduce supply pressure and provide farmers with some income, but other measures will be necessary.

Unfortunately, one European answer is public intervention whereby the meat is frozen and put in cold storage. This postpones the supply problem, puts pressure on the market as stocks build, and leads to the temptation of subsidised exports of these intervention stocks.

Trade problems are beginning to surface in other regions such as the Middle East, Asia and Africa as importers seek alternative supplies.

The foot-and-mouth outbreak adds to these problems. Japan joined the US and Canada recently in halting all EU meat and dairy imports.

So far, New Zealand, Australia, the US and Canada are free from the diseases and have escaped these export-restricting measures. Our major export beef markets in North America are still open.

But North American consumers are alert to the scares in other countries and asking more questions about the origin of their beef. Further scares could profoundly affect the established patterns of demand and trade, and not only for beef.

We need to be continually alert to the dangers and take every action to ensure our disease-free status to be able to reassure our customers.

* Mick Calder is a company manager, agribusiness consultant and freelance writer


01 Apr 01 - CJD - Tuscans mourn passing of famous T-bone steak

Philip Pullella

YAHOO--Sunday 1 April 2001


PANZANO IN CHIANTI (Reuters) - Women wore black, threw flowers and cried mock tears as Tuscans mourned the Florentine beefsteak, their culinary glory which is to become illegal at midnight because of the Mad Cow scare.

"As we have written on the tombstone, March 31, 2001 will go down in history as the last day the 'Fiorentina' can be sold legally," said Dario Cecchini, known as the poet-butcher of Tuscany because he recites from Dante as he cuts meat.

"The Fiorentina has been reduced to an invalid and as such, she herself prefers death," he said as Tuscans counted down the hours to midnight, when Italy complies with an EU decision to ban the sale of beef on the bone.

"Without the bone it is just meat, not heaven."

The phone-book thick Fiorentina, as synonymous with Tuscany as rolling hills and Renaissance masterpieces, traditionally includes a piece of backbone, whose tissue is believed to harbour the agent that causes the braIndependentwasting disease.

Cecchini, 45, was speaking in the walk-in refrigerator of his shop in Tuscany's Chianti region, just before several thousand people attended the mock funeral and a benefit auction of some 200 Fiorentinas.

The town band played Chopin's funeral march as a metre (three foot) long slab of raw beef weighing 25 kg (55 lb) arrived in a walnut coffin in the back of a shiny black hearse.

CHARITY AUCTION

Angela Lotti wore a long black veil. Others threw flowers and touched the passing hearse or coffin and made the sign of the cross.

Cecchini was hoping to raise some 200 million lire ($91,060) for Florence's Anna Meyer children's hospital. The first Fiorentina on sale, weighing 2.3 kg (5 lb), went for 10 million lire, more than 100 times its normal price, to a man from Milan.

The crowd applauded a live telephone call from Elton John, who donated 7.5 million lire worth of meat to the charity auction, which will help children with AIDS.

Sold in Tuscan restaurants not by portion but by weight -- just like the jewellery hawked by goldsmiths on the River Arno in Florence -- a Fiorentina is as much a part of the local experience as crossing the city's Ponte Vecchio bridge.

Cecchini, whose family has been butchering since before the American Revolution, lauds the meat with the passion of a poet.

"When I eat a Fiorentina beefsteak I feel all of the Tuscan Renaissance flow through my veins. Eating a Fiorentina is like reading Dante's Inferno, looking at Giotto's belltower and Michelangelo's David. It is the pleasure of life," he said.

"Long live the fat of the Fiorentina beefsteak. The Fiorentina is dead. Long live the Fiorentina."

Cecchini's companion, Anne Marie Scichili, 41, an American from Dallas who has lived in Tuscany for 11 years, chipped in:

"For me, coming from Texas, where we have the T-bone steak, this is a great sadness. You can't take something so valuable and something so grand away from Florence. It's something that we're known for. It's really an incredible sadness."

The industry group Federcarni has estimated that the Tuscan economy could lose some 1.0 trillion lire from the ban, which is due to expire on December 31.


01 Apr 01 - CJD - Burying slaughtered cows 'will not affect water supply'

Ananova

PA News--Sunday 1 April 2001


Agriculture Minister Nick Brown says cattle less than five-years-old are to be buried, instead of burned, to speed up the disposal of foot-and-mouth slaughter carcasses.

The decision came, after a committee announced that burying cattle would not affect the water supply.

(Mad Cow Correspondent's note: this change of policy regarding burial of cattle is clearly based on short term expediancy. The risk of extending the BSE epidemic and incurring a few more human vCJD victims are a worthwhile price to pay to expedite a general election before the economy goes downhill)

The spread of disease has continued unabated, with the nationwide total number of cases rising to 846.

More than 910,000 animals have been earmarked for slaughter, with 340,000 waiting to be killed and 162,000 carcasses still waiting disposal.

The easing of the ban on burying cattle will help speed up that process.

The decision came after a meeting of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) - a group of high-ranking experts who advise the Government on BSE - or Mad Cow disease.

The committee presented its findings to ministers who concluded the burial of animals less than five-years-old would not harm water supplies.

It was feared that burying cattle was hazardous because of the risk that they were infected with BSE.

Independent research has estimated the risk of spreading BSE through burning cattle on funeral pyres is less than one in a million, MAFF said.

Mr Brown said: "We have the disease contained, we have real problems in dealing with areas of intense infectivity but we are bearing down on them and steadily eliminating the disease."


01 Apr 01 - CJD - Business booms for firm that gets rid of the bodies

By Helen Rumbelow

Times--Sunday 1 April 2001


A rendering firm is making up to 500,000 a week from disposing of animals killed because of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Prosper de Mulder (PDM) controls about two thirds of the meat rendering industry and the biggest two of the six plants that are being used to dispose of the sheep carcasses. Those six plants are working seven days a week to dispose of up to 300,000 sheep - earning 4 per sheep.

The PDM plant at Widnes, Cheshire, is processing about 4,000 tonnes of carcasses a week, about a third of the total, and its second plant in Exeter is processing 2,500 tonnes. The bodies are ground to a fine meal and then heat-treated to remove the virus before being buried in landfill sites.

However, supply is erratic and depends on how soon the backlog of dead animals lying on farms, particularly in Cumbria, can be cleared. At one stage the demand was so great that the cost of removing a lorry of blood rose from 250 to 1,650 overnight, according to the British Meat Federation. The Government's Intervention Board is paying the meat renderers 100 a tonne for their work, a little above the renderers' commercial fee and higher than they get from the Government for disposing of cattle who have to be killed under BSE regulations. This is because sheep are harder to dispose of than cows, the Intervention Board said.

The six plants used for foot-and-mouth were designed to dispose of cattle that are 30 months old, which cannot be sold for food since the BSE outbreak.

But controversy surrounds the profits made by PDM after the BSE outbreak. One independent report by the consultancy London Economics said that everyone bar renderers suffered. "PDM, in particular, has a reputation for aggressively protecting its market." When the Intervention Board scheme started in 1996 PDM had a bumper year, with pre-tax profits trebling to 17.2 million in 1996-97. However the company denies that this had any relation to the agricultural crisis. A spokeswoman for the UK Rendering Association, which represents PDM, said that no one was available from the company to comment, but she added: "My assessment of whether profits have gone up since foot-and-mouth would be no, because the overall volumes are down. The plants in question are running at around two thirds of the capacity they did under the BSE scheme, and as a whole the industry is only providing 50 to 60 per cent of its normal meat."

BSE renderers used to make their profits from turning the offcuts from abattoirs into fat for soap and bone meal for animal food. Now most of those uses are banned and the industry has become a waste disposal operation. Instead of paying for animal bodies they get paid to take them away.


01 Apr 01 - CJD - Burial to replace burning of cattle

Staff Reporter

BBC--Sunday 1 April 2001


Total confirmed cases 859 340,000 animals awaiting slaughter 570,000 already slaughtered 387,000 carcasses destroyed

Increased burials will speed up the disposal of carcasses All cattle less than five-years-old is to be buried rather than burned to speed up the disposal of foot-and-mouth slaughtered carcasses.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown announced the move as the result of new advice from the government's advisory committee on BSE.

As Downing Street said the Army was beginning to win the battle against the disease, the number of confirmed cases in the UK rose to 859 on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair is still considering the government's policy on whether or not to use mass vaccinations on animals.

The easing of the ban on burying cattle will help speed up the process of disposal - with more than 162,000 slaughtered carcasses waiting to be destroyed.

The decision came after a meeting of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) - a group of high-ranking experts who advise the government on BSE - or Mad Cow disease.

BSE risk ruled out

The committee presented its findings to ministers, who concluded the burial of animals less than five-years-old would not harm water supplies.

Mr Brown said: "Cattle born after the effective date of the Comprehensive Feed Ban, 1 August 1996, can be buried in Great Orton-style pits, rather than burned or rendered without constituting a risk of infection to the water table or surrounding land.

"Cattle born before this date must only be incinerated or rendered, not buried."

It was feared that burying cattle was hazardous because of the risk that they were infected with BSE.

162,000 carcasses are awaiting disposal

Independent research has estimated the risk of spreading BSE through burning cattle on funeral pyres is less than one in a million, according to the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (Maff).

Mr Brown said: "It means less fires and more burials. That will make the task easier."

On Saturday clashes took place between police and protesters in Wales fighting to stop preparations for the mass burial and burning of foot-and-mouth carcasses at an army range near Sennybridge.

The government has said it is winning the battle against foot and mouth disease.

Mr Brown added: "We are getting there but we are in for a long haul."

Disease contained

He claimed the disease has been contained, although admitted the government had real problems in dealing with areas of intense infectivity, but was surmounting them.

He said the target of slaughtering animals within 24 hours of discovery of the disease was being almost universally achieved.

NFU President Ben Gill said the announcement about the burial of cattle was very good news and hoped it would help bring the epidemic under control.

He said: "I'm not stupid enough to think we have solved it, it could spring up again, but I hope the combination of measures put in place are starting to improve things."

Mr Gill praised the efforts of the Army who, he said, had made enormous strides in the past week and he believed they could achieve even more during the next seven days.

Downing Street confirmed the efforts of the Army boosted by almost 200 extra soldiers, were beginning to show signs of success.

Plans to introduce animal vaccination were put on hold yesterday as Mr Blair gave the mass slaughter policy more time to show signs of success.

But the National Farmers' Union has warned that vaccinations are not the solution.

They would also end Britain's disease-free status and could mean 1bn lost in meat export revenues.


31 Mar 01 - CJD - Scientists Delay Onset of Mad Cow

Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press Writer

Austin360.com--Saturday 31 March 2001


WASHINGTON (AP)--Researchers were able to delay the onset of a form of Mad Cow disease by blocking a protein that usually assists the immune system.

In the end, scrapie, the form of the disease that affects sheep and is not transmittable to humans, did develop in the test mice, but the work may point the way for further research into battling the illness. The findings are reported in the April issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

The course of Mad Cow diseases is not fully understood, but victims appear to become infected by eating food contaminated with a rogue protein called a prion, which then reproduces in the lymph system before moving into the brain.

A team of researchers in the United Kingdom, led by Neil A. Mabbott of the Institute for Animal Health in Edinburgh, Scotland, was seeking to learn if complement factors--proteins in the immune system--had a role in the disease development.

They knew that cobra venom factor depletes some of these complement proteins, so they treated mice with it and then infected them with scrapie.

``In our study, treatment with cobra venom factor lead to a highly significant delay in the onset of scrapie in mice by delaying the spread of disease to the brain,'' Mabbott said.

The disease eventually did develop and the mice died, but the onset of symptoms was delayed by 24 days, he said.

``While we are not advocating that people or animals should be treated with cobra venom factor, our findings suggest that complement inhibitors may present an opportunity for early therapeutic intervention in these diseases, in the interval between exposure to infection'' and invasion of the brain, Mabbott said.

Mad Cow disease and scrapie are part of a family of diseases called transmittable spongiform encephalopathy. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans has been linked directly to eating meat from cattle infected with Mad Cow disease. Scrapie is not transmittable to humans.

In a separate paper in the same issue of Nature Medicine a team led by Michael A. Klein of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, also reported that mice who were missing some complement factors in their immune systems were temporarily protected from scrapie, with development of the disease delayed.

But there are problems to be resolved.

The delayed but eventual development of the disease may indicate that there are multiple ways for the disease to move into the brain, noted Franco Cardone and Maurizio Pocchiari of the Virology Laboratory of the Instituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, Italy.

In addition, to delay the disease the complement inhibitor needs to be used before symptoms develop. That could be done in the lab because Mabbott's team knew when the mice would be injected with scrapie. But pursuing such treatment in other animals or people would depend on finding ways to diagnose the infection before symptoms develop, Pocchiari and Cardone wrote.


31 Mar 01 - CJD - Venom treatment delays onset of form of Mad Cow disease, study finds

Associated Press

MSN--Saturday 31 March 2001


March 30 - Researchers were able to delay the onset of a form of Mad Cow disease in mice by using cobra venom to block a protein that usually assists the immune system.

In the end, scrapie, the form of the disease that affects sheep and is not transmittable to humans, did develop in the test mice, but the work may point the way for further research into battling the illness. The findings are reported in the April issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

The course of Mad Cow diseases is not fully understood, but victims appear to become infected by eating food contaminated with a rogue protein called a prion, which then reproduces in the lymph system before moving into the brain.

A team of researchers in the United Kingdom, led by Neil A. Mabbott of the Institute for Animal Health in Edinburgh, Scotland, was seeking to learn if complement factors - proteins in the immune system - had a role in the disease development.

They knew that cobra venom factor depletes some of these complement proteins, so they treated mice with it and then infected them with scrapie. "In our study, treatment with cobra venom factor lead to a highly significant delay in the onset of scrapie in mice by delaying the spread of disease to the brain," Mabbott said.

The disease eventually did develop and the mice died, but the onset of symptoms was delayed by 24 days, he said.

"While we are not advocating that people or animals should be treated with cobra venom factor, our findings suggest that complement inhibitors may present an opportunity for early therapeutic intervention in these diseases, in the interval between exposure to infection" and invasion of the brain, Mabbott said.

Mad Cow disease and scrapie are part of a family of diseases called transmittable spongiform encephalopathy. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans has been linked directly to eating meat from cattle infected with Mad Cow disease. Scrapie is not transmittable to humans.

In a separate paper in the same issue of Nature Medicine a team led by Michael A. Klein of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, also reported that mice who were missing some complement factors in their immune systems were temporarily protected from scrapie, with development of the disease delayed.

But there are problems to be resolved.

The delayed but eventual development of the disease may indicate that there are multiple ways for the disease to move into the brain, noted Franco Cardone and Maurizio Pocchiari of the Virology Laboratory of the Instituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, Italy.

In addition, to delay the disease the complement inhibitor needs to be used before symptoms develop. That could be done in the lab because Mabbott's team knew when the mice would be injected with scrapie. But pursuing such treatment in other animals or people would depend on finding ways to diagnose the infection before symptoms develop, Pocchiari and Cardone wrote.


31 Mar 01 - CJD - EU planned BSE lies to protect beef industry

By Philip Pullella

Just Food--Saturday 31 March 2001


The European Union's Standing Veterinary Committee planned a deliberate disinformation campaign about BSE in order to protect the beef market. That has for the first time been proved by secret documents obtained by the Foodwire.net news agency.

As early as in 1990, there was a silent agreement in the then EC Standing Veterinary Committee to protect the market. In those days, many EC officials believed that the media spoke too much about BSE, and that it created problems for the meat industry. Unnecessary problems, the veterinary committee felt because evidence at the time from the scientific committees claimed that there was no risk that BSE could contaminate humans.

The UK pressed on to stop measures against the disease. The mood was sometimes fierce. For instance, three Commission officials who in 1990 suggested to the Council that British beef should only be allowed for exports with all bones removed. The reaction to this was uproar and the officials were thrown out of the meeting.

The EC yielded to the industry interests and did more or less nothing against BSE. Instead, it spent its time planning a campaign of lies. In October 1990, the Standing Veterinary Committee held a meeting where the member states' representatives decided to bring both the Top Secret stamp and the lying machine. The agreements on what information would be given out was secret, but Gilbert Castille, a Commission official, took notes on behalf of his superiors.

In the notes, it is clearly stated that the members of the Standing Veterinary Committee most of all wanted to sweep the BSE problem under the carpet. The market's interests were to be given priority. But Foodwire.net has obtained the document in a Swedish translation provided for a European Parliamentary inquiry, and here are a few quotes:

From the representative of the Commission: "One must keep cool not to trigger reactions which are unfavourable to the market. Stop talking about BSE. The item should not be on the agenda."

Unnamed participants: "We will make an official demand to the United Kingdom that they no longer should announce the results of their research into this matter".

One of the conclusions at the meeting: "Generally speaking, the BSE affair must be played down through disinformation. One could rather say that the press tends to exaggerate."

Among the recipients of this document was the Danish director-general of the Commission's department for consumer policy Kaj Barlebo-Larsen.

Today, the Commission denies the existence of any disinformation policy. That was the present Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler's stance before the EU Parliament in 1997. But several other traces of the campaign have also have emerged. For example:

* In September 1990, the Irish Agriculture Commissioner Ray MacSharry gave a clear order to his subordinate Mr Legras, director-general: "BSE: Stop all meetings".

* EU vets did not perform one single BSE test during their 37 inspection visits to the UK during 1990-1994.


31 Mar 01 - CJD - Promotion of kangaroo meat is condemned

Ananova

PA News--Saturday 31 March 2001


Animal welfare campaigners are condemning the Australian government's efforts to promote kangaroo meat in Europe as an alternative to beef and lamb.

The Canberra government has given 19,000 to the kangaroo processing industry to help it promote itself amid fears of foot-and-mouth and Mad Cow diseases sweeping Europe.

Halina Thompson, spokeswoman for the World League for the Protection of Animals, claims the kangaroo industry is seeking to cash in on the spread of the diseases.

She says if the kangaroo industry in Australia were to boom, it could eat itself out of existence.

"To produce the equivalent of 1,700,000 tons of cattle meat annually, the industry would have to kill the entire kangaroo population of Australia about 566 times a year," Ms Thompson says.

She also says that in 1996, vets in Victoria state deemed the killing of kangaroos for human consumption unhygienic.

But Tony Kelly, development officer with the Australian Kangaroo Association, denied that this is the case, saying kangaroo meat is subject to the same strict checks as mutton and beef.

Although kangaroos are not raised commercially in Australia, processing companies kill about three million of the animals each year for their meat.

Ms Thompson is calling on tourism minister Jackie Kelly to stop the promotion of kangaroo for consumption and instead highlight the distinctive marsupial as a tourist attraction.

"They need to be promoting kangaroos as a wildlife experience," Ms Thompson states.


31 Mar 01 - CJD - Scots worst hit by CJD in the UK

Julia Horton

Edinburgh News--Saturday 31 March 2001


Scotland has the highest incidences of the human form of Mad Cow disease, a shocking report confirms today - and rates are still rising.

Of 85 victims of new variant CJD in the UK identified by experts at the national CJD Surveillance Unit in Edinburgh last November, a noticeably higher number were from the north of the UK with Scotland the worst affected area.

Figures show that the nation has twice the number of cases than in some areas of England, highlighting a significant north-south divide in CJD cases.

Regions in the north of England had the next highest numbers, particularly in the north-west area, Yorkshire and Cumbria.

Scientists are undecided about whether people's diet is the cause of the greater number of cases - leaving the debate about whether eating beef puts people at risk of developing the disease still raging.

But with official figures due out on Monday expected to reveal that the number of UK cases is now nearing the 100-mark the news sparked renewed calls for compensation for Scots CJD victims and their families.

David Body, the solicitor representing CJD victims and their relatives in the UK, said: "We are concerned that these numbers are rising. This makes it even more important that we get a suitable care package for still-living victims and compensation for families as soon as possible."

Researchers from the unit including eminent Edinburgh unit Professor Robert Will and colleagues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have ruled out better identification of cases as an explanation for the higher rate north of the border.

In Scotland the cumulative rate of vCJD in the population was 2.98 per million, compared to 2.66 for North England, 2.38 for Yorkshire and Humberside and 1.4 for South East England.

But scientists found conflicting evidence on how diet may be linked to CJD incidence, with no clear differences in eating habits of meat products suspected to cause the illness between north and south despite the difference in case numbers.

The scientists' report in the latest issue of medical journal Lancet said: "Those items most likely to have contained mechanically recovered meat or high-titre BSE agent [perceived high risk] material from the central nervous system (burgers and kebabs, sausages, meat pies and pastries and other meat products) showed no consistent pattern of higher consumption in northern regions."

Compensation and care package negotiations have been going on since last autumn after the Government was spurred into action by the damning Lord Phillips' report into the handling of the BSE affair.

Health Minister Alan Milburn also announced an extra million pounds for the surveillance unit in Edinburgh to "kickstart" a national fund for the care of victims.

Last November a study by the Government-commissioned surveillance unit at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh found no significant link between beef consumption and vCJD, the human form of BSE.

It also failed to find any conclusive proof that the type of job done by victims of vCJD, or medical treatment they received, had caused them to develop the fatal condition. accurate small area census data by age became available in Britain. It was also likely to have been around the time of peak exposure to risk, following a ban on specified cattle offals in 1989.