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Press intimidated -- NY Times
Scientists no closer to effective CJD screening
BSE Inquiry report delayed until next year
The rest of the cow
More dialysis centers reporting problems, says FDA
Northern Ireland beef exports suspended
Guideline for preventing transmission of prion diseases.
Wales and Scotland move to scrap UK beef ban
Jay Whitlock, 27, deer hunter
NEJM: meat products linked to CJD
Smuggling of fetal bovine serum BSE Inquiry gives in to lawyerly delays

Farmers' Right to Sue Grows, Raising Debate on Food Safety

June 1, 1999 front page NY Times By MELODY PETERSEN
Every week, it seems, brings a new food scare. And each scare, whether valid or dead wrong, has the potential to jolt the nation's diet. But ever since apple sales plummeted a decade ago, after a report by CBS News demonized the chemical Alar, food producers, crying foul, have been fighting back.

At their urging, 13 states passed laws to help protect farmers and food companies from criticism that could lead consumers to shun their products. One such law was used, unsuccessfully, by a group of Texas cattlemen to seek damages from Oprah Winfrey, the talk-show host, after she made disparaging remarks about beef.

Now, though, critics say those laws are putting a chill on the continuing debate about what the public should eat.

Though some publishers and broadcasters continue to put out new reports on food, other media companies, especially smaller ones worried about the high cost of defending a lawsuit, have stricken information from manuscripts, avoided certain food issues or, in one case, dropped a book project that was already at the printer.

Food producers say they need protection against irresponsible claims, but critics say the laws cut off debate on evolving health issues.

"It's like the Catholic Church telling Galileo in the 1620s that he was not allowed to trumpet a new viewpoint," said Bruce E.H. Johnson, a Seattle lawyer who represented CBS in the apple growers' suit. "These laws are designed to lock orthodoxy in place."

If the laws had been in place in the 1960s, Johnson said, Rachel Carson might not have found a publisher willing to print "Silent Spring," her groundbreaking book on the dangers of pesticides.

"If society wants to continue to have safe food," he said, "you need to have free and open discussion of the risks."

The laws, which are aimed at plugging holes in existing libel laws, differ in each state. But because books and television shows must play to a national audience, the statutes in effect are reaching across state borders, causing consumers everywhere to get less information about food safety.

Alec Baldwin, the actor, said he had recently approached several television channels with a proposal for a documentary called "The History of Food." Baldwin contended that one executive at the Discovery Channel balked when he explained that a part of the four-hour show would be devoted to pesticides, herbicides and some disputed practices used to raise beef.

"He said, 'Oh no, we could never do that,"' Baldwin said. "You could see that these program people that we pitched this to did not want these things discussed."

Karen Baratz, publicity director for the Discovery Channel, which is a unit of Discovery Communications, said the executive recalled the discussion with Baldwin differently. The executive said he had not made a decision about the project because he had not received a written proposal.

Last year, editors at Renaissance Books in Los Angeles called J. Robert Hatherill, a research scientist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, to tell him they had cut long passages from the manuscript of his book "Eat to Beat Cancer." Gone was information on growth hormones administered to dairy cows, Hatherill said, as well as facts from a study showing the amounts of lead found in over-the-counter calcium supplements.

"The book is a very watered-down version of what I intended," he said. Renaissance, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

And a year ago, Vital Health Publishing of Bloomingdale, Ill., canceled a book, "Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food," after the manuscript had been sent to the printers. The publisher had received a letter from a lawyer at Monsanto Co. who said he believed the manuscript, which he had not seen, included false statements that would disparage a herbicide called Roundup, made by Monsanto.

Marc Lappe, a toxicologist and co-author of the book, said the manuscript had already been approved by the publisher's lawyer. But Monsanto's letter changed the lawyer's mind, Lappe said, because of concerns that the publisher could be sued under the food libel laws in other states. Lawmakers in Illinois have defeated efforts to enact a similar law.

David Richard, the owner of Vital Health, said he had been trying to get insurance to protect against libel actions when he received Monsanto's letter.

"I was scared," Richard said. "As soon as I told my insurance agent about the letter, he would not return any of my calls. I had no choice. I had to let go of the book."

Lisa Drake, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, said the company did not intend to suppress publication. She said Monsanto lawyers had worried that the book would contain errors after they read a magazine article written by its two authors that, she said, included inaccuracies. The company was asking only that those errors be corrected, she said.

"We're respectful of differing points of view," Ms. Drake said.

Lappe and his co-author, Britt Bailey, later took their manuscript to another publisher, Common Courage Press, which published the book in November -- and has not heard from Monsanto.

Many people have brushed off the state laws as silly, so absurd that they could have gotten former President George Bush in trouble for shunning broccoli. And many lawyers who have studied the 13 laws say they believe many will eventually be overturned as unconstitutional.

Floyd Abrams, a lawyer who is an expert on First Amendment issues, said many of his clients, which include large media companies, did not view the state laws as a threat because they appear to be unconstitutional. But other media companies, those that cannot afford hefty legal fees, may feel differently, he said.

"A lot of smaller publishers do not want to be sued," Abrams said. "They do not want to be part of some test case."

The agriculture groups that have been lobbying to have many other states approve similar laws say the measures are doing just what they were intended to do: causing people to think twice before they make damaging comments that are exaggerated or untrue.

"Farmers are tired of being victimized," said Steven L. Kopperud, senior vice president at the American Feed Industry Association, which first had the idea for the special laws to protect food producers.

"The laws don't inhibit anyone from stating their opinion," Kopperud said, "as long as, if they are challenged, they can prove it."

In the early 1990s, the association, which is based in Alexandria, Va., sent a model law drafted by a Washington law firm to state agricultural groups, many of which were angry after the 1989 report by the CBS News program "60 Minutes" about the Alar sprayed on apple trees. The program cited scientific studies that had concluded that Alar, used in large quantities, was probably a carcinogen.

After the report, many consumers panicked, schools pulled apples off lunch menus, and apple prices sank. Even though most apple trees were not sprayed with Alar, all apple farmers lost money, and some farms went bankrupt.

Apple farmers in Washington state sued CBS, but a judge dismissed the case in 1993, saying the farmers had not proved that the report was false. If the new laws had been on the books, the farmers might have had an easier time, though that is far from clear.

In statehouses around the country, farmers pointed to the apple growers' losses when lobbying for the laws. Between 1991 and 1997, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas passed different versions of the model law.

State Rep. Robert Turner of Texas, a sheep rancher who helped write the Texas law, said farmers need protection because often they cannot sue under normal libel laws that prohibit false, damaging statements about a product. Under those laws, a company or person must be named by the party making the false statements to be able to recover damages.

But if someone, say, questions the safety of melons, Turner said, all melon farmers, named or not, may lose money. "Individual farmers were falling through the cracks," he said.

In early May, Turner helped defeat an attempt by media companies and civil liberties groups to repeal the Texas law. Three lawsuits have been filed under that law, including the high-profile case against Ms. Winfrey.

The cattlemen sued her after her 1996 television show on the possible threat of "mad cow" disease to the American beef supply. During the show, after listening to comments by an anti-meat activist, Ms. Winfrey exclaimed: "It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger!" The cattlemen said the show caused cattle prices to drop, costing them millions of dollars.

But during the trial of their suit, a federal judge ruled that live cattle were not a perishable agricultural product and that the cattlemen could not sue under the Texas law, known as the False Disparagement of Perishable Food Products Act of 1995. Instead, the cattlemen faced the higher burden of proving malice, under regular product disparagement laws.

In February 1998, a jury in Amarillo, Texas, ruled in Ms. Winfrey's favor. The cattlemen have appealed. Ms. Winfrey has so far spent more than $1 million on legal fees, her lawyer said.

Some people who have studied the laws say they believe they are having a greater effect than can readily be seen.

"These laws make people wary about what they say," said Rodney A. Smolla, a law professor at the University of Richmond who specializes in First Amendment issues and has criticized the laws. "It is very hard to document people who don't speak. You're documenting silence."

Some agriculture groups have used the laws to try to quiet food critics. In 1997, the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association sent a letter from its law firm to an environmental group in Vermont called Food and Water that insisted that Food and Water stop distributing reports questioning the safety of irradiating fruits and vegetables.

"As you are no doubt aware, nearly 30 state legislatures have passed or are considering legislation which codifies a cause of action against persons who disseminate false statements regarding agricultural products," the letter warned. "We must advise you that Food and Water's actions will be closely scrutinized."

Thomas E. Stenzel, president of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, said his group did not want to cut off debate but questioned the accuracy of Food and Water's statements.

And in Ohio, where lawmakers passed a food libel law in 1996, some people who have spoken out on food issues in the past say they now hesitate.

"When I give speeches, I look around and think, 'Does someone have a tape recorder?"' said Laurel Hopwood, a nurse and volunteer at the Ohio Sierra Club who speaks to groups about genetically engineered food. "I'm even afraid to say, 'This might be unsafe,"' she said, "because I'm fearful I could get sued."

Ms. Hopwood said she recently spent hours fretting over the words in a brochure she wrote about genetically modified food. On April 22, Earth Day, she asked other volunteers to help her hand out the pamphlet. "They were afraid," she said. "They kept asking, 'Can we get sued?

Lancet: Health risks of GM foods

 Tue, 1 Jun 1999 The Lancet  Volume 353, Number 9167, 29 May 1999
"Crops genetically modified to have reduced susceptibility to pests are promoted as a solution to low food yields in developing countries. The motive of these promoters is profit, not altruism. Monsanto, one of the largest developers of genetically modified crops, has developed a grain that gives an improved crop and is sterile, so instead of keeping back some seeds for the next year's sowing, farmers must return to the supplier for more.

In view of this unbridled commercial approach to genetic modification, it is perhaps not surprising that companies have paid little evident attention to the potential hazards to health of genetically modified foods. But it is astounding that the US Food and Drug Administration has not changed their stance on genetically modified food adopted in 1992.

They announced in January this year, "FDA has not found it necessary to conduct comprehensive scientific reviews of foods derived from bioengineered plants . . . consistent with its 1992 policy". The policy is that genetically modified crops will receive the same consideration for potential health risks as any other new crop plant. This stance is taken despite good reasons to believe that specific risks may exist.

For instance, antibiotic-resistance genes are used in some genetically modified plants as a marker of genetic transformation. Despite repeated assurances that the resistance genes cannot spread from the plant, many commentators believe this could happen. Of greater concern is the effect of the genetic modification itself on the food. Potatoes have been engineered with a gene from the snowdrop to produce an agglutinin which may reduce susceptibility to insects.

In April last year, a scientist, Arpad Pusztai, from the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, UK, unwisely announced on television that experiments had shown intestinal changes in rats caused by eating genetically engineered potatoes. He said he would not eat such modified foods himself and that it was "very, very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guineapigs".

A storm of publicity overtook Pusztai. He was removed from his job, a sacrifice that did not quell public alarm in the UK or in Europe. Last week (May 22, p1769 ) we reported that the Royal Society had reviewed what it could of Pusztai and colleagues' evidence and found it flawed, a gesture of breathtaking impertinence to the Rowett Institute scientists who should be judged only on the full and final publication of their work. The British Medical Association called for a moratorium on planting genetically modified crops. The UK Government, in accordance with national tradition, vacillated. Finally, on May 21 the Government came out with proposals for research into possible health risks of genetically modified foods.

Shoppers across Europe had already voted with their feet. By the end of the first week in May, seven European supermarket chains had announced they would not sell genetically modified foods. Three large food multinationals, Unilever, Nestle, and Cadburys-Schweppes followed suit. The Supreme Court in India has upheld a ban on testing genetically modified crops. Activists in India have set fire to fields of crops suspected of being used for testing. The population of the USA, where up to 60% of processed foods have genetically modified ingredients, seem, as yet, unconcerned.

The issue of genetically modified foods has been badly mishandled by everyone involved. Governments should never have allowed these products into the food chain without insisting on rigorous testing for effects on health. The companies should have paid greater attention to the possible risks to health and of the public's perception of this risk; they are now paying the price of this neglect. And scientists involved in research into the risks of genetically modified foods should have published the results in the scientific press, not through the popular media; their colleagues, meanwhile, should also have avoided passing judgments on the issue without the full facts before them.

Scientists no closer to effective CJD screening

PA News Fri, May 21, 1999 By Nick Meo 
Scientists are no nearer to finding an effective way of screening for the human form of mad cow disease in blood, a conference heard today. The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh conference examined the risk of catching the disease from blood transfusions, attracting 300 experts.

Dr Marc Turner, senior lecturer in transfusion medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: "It is impossible to say how long it may take to develop a screening process to detect the disease in humans. "There is a lot of research being done and hopefully we will get there, but we don't know when and it won't be the next couple of years."

The NHS currently spends around 95 million pounds per year on precautions to stop the disease being transmitted through blood transfusions, even though scientists are not sure whether it can be spread that way. A process of filtering out white cells from blood components costs 70 million per year and 25 million annually is spent on importing blood plasma from Germany and America, which have had no cases.

New variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease has been identified in 40 people in the UK and was first described in 1996. Dr Turner said it was possible hundreds of millions of pounds could be wasted if it is found that the disease cannot be transmitted by blood transfusion. But he said: "I personally don't think we are going too far. It could take five years or more to establish concrete proof and a lot of people could be exposed by that time. There is huge moral pressure."

Asked what the risk of transmission is, he said: "We simply don't know". He added that there has been an increase in deaths from new variant CJD in the last few months. He said: "I personally believe we will see more cases in the future. Whether this increase in deaths is simply going to represent the peak and will die away or is the beginning of a longer slow climb, I don't know."

Other scientists say there is evidence which suggests nv-CJD can in theory be passed to humans via blood and blood products.

Dr James Ironside, a consultant neuropathologist at the CJD Surveillance Centre in Edinburgh, said the differences between CJD and the newly-discovered nv-CJD were giving cause for concern. New variant CJD first came to light in 1996, and to date, 40 cases have been confirmed in the UK. Human brain tissue In original CJD, the agent thought to carry the infection, the prion, was found only in the brain and central nervous system of patients.

However, in nv-CJD there is evidence that it may have travelled widely around the body into areas like the tonsils and spleen, increasing the risk that it may be carried in blood or blood plasma.

Dr Ironside said: "It's this difference that is focusing concerns on the risks or additional risks to blood and blood products. "We don't have any direct evidence to say blood is infectious - we are waiting for the results of animal experiments, but these take time. "So the question is, do we wait, or do we do something in the meantime?"

The rest of the Cow

SafeSurf Rated All Ages.   Family-Friendly Site  20 May 99 
Did you know that 99% of cows are used? Beef by-products are used for food, household items, medicine, and transportation. Here are some ways that you might use cattle without even knowing it:


Collagen-based -- Sausage casings Blood -- Blood sausage, Protein Extracts Fatty acid-based -- Oleo margarine, Oleo shortening, Chewing Gum Gelatin -- Ice cream, Yogurt, Candies, Flavorings, Marshmallows, Mayonnaise Plasma Protein -- Cake mixes, Pasta, Imitation Seafood, Deep-fry batters Even parts of the cattle that humans can't digest are used to feed poultry, pork, dairy cattle and domesticated fish.


From fats/fatty acids & protein meals -- Candles, Cellophane, Ceramics, Cosmetics, Crayons, Deodorants, Detergents, Insecticides, Insulation, Linoleum, Perfumes, Paints, Plastics, Shoe cream, Shaving Cream, Soaps, Textiles, Pet foods, Floor wax, Horse and livestock feeds From hide -- Leather sporting goods, Luggage, Boots & shoes From collagen-based adhesives -- Bandages, Wallpaper, Sheet rock, Emery boards, Glues From hair -- Artist's paint brushes From hooves & horns -- Tortoise shell, Combs, Imitation ivory, Piano keys From gelatin -- Photographic film, Phonographic records


From the pancreas -- Insulin for diabetes, Pancreatin to aid degestion, Glucagon to treat hypoglycemia, Trypsin and Chymotrypsin for burns, wounds and to promote healing From the blood -- Blood plasma: Fraction I for hemophilia, Fraction V to kill viruses, Blood albumin for RH factor types, Thrombin for a blood coagulant, Iron for anemia From the bone -- Bone marrow for blood disorderes, Soft cartilage for plasic surgery, Bone meal for calcium and phosphorous sources From the Spinal cord -- Cholesterol for hormone products From the intestines -- Medical sutures From the pituitary gland -- Prolactin which promotes lactation, Pressor hormone to regulate blood pressure, Vasopressin which controls intestinal and renal functions, ACTH for arthritis and allergies From the liver -- Heparin which is an anti-coagulant, Liver extract for treatment of anemia, Vitamin B12 for the prevention of B-Complex deficiencies


Glycerol derived from fatty acids is used in Anitfreeze to keep your car running. Stearic acid in Tires help the rubber hold its shape under continuous surface friction. Colloidal proteins have been used in the Glue of automobile bodies. A binding agent in fat is used in the Asphalt on our roadways. Other products comprised partly of cattle by-products include Hydraulic brake fluid, Airplane lubricants and runway foam, Various machine oils and viscous fluids, Steel ball bearings containing bone charcoal, Car polishes and waxes, and Textiles for car upholstery.

This information was obtained from the American National CattleWomen, Inc who were assisted by the following:
The University of Arizona Department of Animal Sciences Tuscon, Arizona. Eli Lilly & Company Indianapolis, Indiana Iowa State University Meat Export Research Center Ames, Iowa National Renderers Association Washington, D.C.

Oregon Beef Ambassador

Hello. My name is Ramirose Attebury. I am an 19 year old college student in La Grande, Oregon. What is a Beef Ambassador? Well, basically, they inform the public about the benefits of beef and the cattle industry. And believe me - there are a lot of benefits! If YOU are interested in becoming a Beef Ambassador and will still be younger than 19 by January 1st, there's more info at the bottom of the page to help you get started. If you'd like to become involved in promoting the cattle industry in general, I urge you to visit some of the links I have posted below. Or you can contact your local Cattlewomen or Cattlemen's association or your local extension service. If you have other questions don't hesitate to e-mail me. Have a nice day!

Beef Why Is It So Great?

Beef is packed with nutrition! One three ounce serving provides 42% of your RDA for protien which builds, mantains, and repairs your body's tissues. Beef is also loaded with iron which your body needs to move oxygen around your body. Studies show many women, children, and athletes don't consume an adequate amount of iron in their diets. And everyone is concerned about fat. Beef sold today has 21% less trimable fat than in the 1980's, and 40% of all beef cuts have no external fat. In a typical 2000 calorie diet, the American Heart Association suggests a daily fat intake of 67 grams. The average 3oz serving of trimmed beef contains only 6.3 grams of fat.

Beef plays a major role in America's economy. American agricultural products generate more than $100 billion in business activity each year, and the cattle industry directly employs more than one million people and creates an additional two million related jobs. The cattle business is the largest job provider in agriculture, and every year consumers spend an average of $195 per person on beef.

Recently, a study performed at the University of Minnesota showed that sediment and phosphorus losses in soil could be reduced by applying cattle manure to farm fields. By using various farms' methods researchers first applied the quivalent of 25 tons of steer manure per acre. When runoff was collected, it was discovered that sediment loss was only half as great as in uncovered soil. Phoshorus losses were also cut. Soil scientist, John Moncrief, suggests that the organic compounds in manure cement small particals together, forming larger ones which are less likely to erode.

Beef is convenient! Cooking a beef patty only takes about 7-10 minutes on the grill, stove top or broiler and only 4 minutes in the microwave. So as you can see, cooking something like a hamburger is as simple as cooking your meat in a matter of minutes, throwing it on a bun with some lettuce and tomatos, and you've got a great tasting American meal in minutes. Safety is important when cooking meat, though. For extra saftey tips check out this Guide to Safe Handling and Preparation.

There are common misconceptions about the cattle business. One is that too much land is being taken up by cattle grazing when it could be used for growing crops to feed hungry people. Actually, ninety-two percent of land in the United States classified as grazing land is not suitable for growing crops. If it weren't for the cattle on the land, it would have no food value whatsoever. Plus over two-thirds of the feed fed to animals is undesireable or unedible to humans. And, also, ruminants, animals with four stomachs, create more edible protein than they consume by converting non-protein nitrogen sources, like urea, into high quality protein food for humans.

The National Beef Ambassador Contest

This contest consists of giving a 5-8 minute speech about any aspect of the cattle industry. The Cattlewomen will even give you a packet with all of the information needed already in it. Information must be factual. It is really very easy, and there are so many perks!

Interested in becoming a Beef Ambassador?
If anyone is interested in this contest they should contact their local extension service, local cattlewomen or write to: Mary K. Tanner, National Beef Ambassador Coordinator 5420 S. Quebec

More dialysis centers reporting problems, says FDA

May 22, 1999 Associated Press By ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN
The number of dialysis centers around the nation reporting problems with the machines increased to 11 after a government alert that warned malfunctioning tubing could expose patients to each other's blood.

Some of the 11 centers and hospitals have alerted their patients to the equipment problems, including blood leaks inside dialysis machines, and said they'll conduct regular blood tests for exposure to hepatitis or HIV.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a nationwide safety alert last week to all dialysis centers because of the chance that malfunctioning equipment potentially exposed patients to contaminated blood. At the time, four centers had reported some problem with tubing used extensively in the dialysis process.

Since the FDA's alert, another seven centers have notified the agency of problems, and it is continuing to investigate to determine "the exact nature of the problem and what is causing it," spokeswoman Sharon Snider said Friday.

The machines are used to cleanse the blood of deadly toxins when the kidneys fail. There is concern because traces of blood were found in tubing inside the machines, Steven Niedelman, an enforcement director for the FDA's Center for Medical Devices and Radiological Health in Rockville, Md., said last week. Filters are supposed to prevent that from happening.

He said the risk that patients were exposed to blood-borne diseases was "extremely remote." Nipro Medical Corp., which manufactures the tubing, has voluntarily recalled 154,000 tubing sets.

St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson, one of the first centers identified, told its 121 dialysis patients about potential problems. Officials also told patients they would undergo blood tests for possible exposure to HIV, hepatitis or other blood-borne infections.

At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Lee Regional Hospital in Johnstown, Pa., spokeswoman Anne McGrath said no blood leaked within the dialysis machines and none of 67 patients was exposed. None of the other centers said anyone had been exposed to contaminated blood. Several did not return calls seeking comment, and some said blood testing would be offered.

The other centers are Bayonne Hospital in Bayonne, N.J.; Total Renal Care in Miami Lakes, Fla.; Dialysis Clinic of Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Maine General Medical Center in Waterville, Maine; Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa; Methodist Hospital in Houston; Cape County Regional Dialysis Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Bay Health Medical Center in Dover, Del.; and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Northern Ireland beef exports suspended

Mon, May 24, 1999 By Ian Graham, PA News
The export of Northern Ireland beef was suspended tonight by the Department of Agriculture in the province. The move, described as a "temporary halt", followed a visit from European inspectors after a failure in the cattle tracing system operated in Ulster which had led to the beef export ban being lifted last year ahead of the rest of the UK.

The fault in the system resulted in the export of meat from 19 cattle not eligible to be sent abroad. The problem was admitted as soon as it was discovered earlier this month and Brussels was informed. The European inspectors travelled to Belfast for three days last week to examine remedial measures put in place to prevent a repeat. After examining the computerised tracing system -- unique to Northern Ireland -- the inspectors are understood to have asked for new security measures, including the possible double tagging of cattle, which were due to have been introduced in September, to be implemented immediately and for no exports to be made until they had been.

The department is to respond to the European recommendations and has suspended exports in the meantime. A spokesman said they were negotiating with the European Commission over the bringing forward of the new measures to see if exports could continue while they were introduced. "If not it means there will be no exports of beef until September," he said. It could be a major blow to the Northern Ireland beef industry, which is just beginning to get back European markets.

Recently, a major Dutch supermarket chain, which used to be the province's largest single customer before the export ban was introduced, said it was ready to buy Ulster beef again. Albert Heijn had been buying some 40 million of Ulster beef before the introduction of the export ban brought in because of BSE, and there had been high hopes within the meat industry that supplies to the chain could climb back to that level again.

The beef industry, farmers, unions and processors were called to the Department of Agriculture today to be told of the suspension decision. It was explained to them that Government could only do so much and that they were responsible for introducing some of the safety measures Europe demanded were brought forward.

The industry was shocked by the decision. John Martin, vice-president of the European Young Farmers Committee, said his reaction to the temporary ban was "surprise and severe disappointment". He said the Department of Agriculture had possibly been "over cautious" in bringing in the ban.

New beef ban `to stay until July

Tue, May 25, 1999 By Dan McGinn, PA News 
The latest ban on Northern Ireland's beef exports may not be lifted until July at the very earliest, agriculture chiefs warned today. Northern Ireland's top civil servant in the Department of Agriculture, Peter Small, said the ban - reimposed last night because of an error in a computer system for tracing beef - may take weeks to lift.

European Union officials are demanding tougher consumer safety measures from the province's beef industry after it emerged that 19 cattle from a herd where BSE occurred were accidentally exported. The fault in the province's computer system, which traces beef from the farm to the supermarket shelf, was reported earlier this month to EU officials, who carried out an inspection last week.

The computer system, introduced in Northern Ireland ahead of other parts of the UK, played a key role last year in the region being first to get out of the ban on UK beef. But after consultations with the European Commission, Government officials last night "temporarily halted" beef exports to address concerns about beef exports. Department of Agriculture permanent secretary Peter Small accepted responsibility for the error, but refused to resign. He told BBC Radio Ulster:

"When the inspectors left us last Wednesday evening it was very much on the basis that they had been satisfied we had rectified the problem. "They had some suggestions about further tightening of the scheme which they put to us and we had good reason to believe that this would be nothing more than an minor glitch - which was all it was. "What appears to have happened when the inspectors reported back to their superiors in Brussels, where there remains great sensitivity over imports of beef from anywhere in the UK, those more senior people were more nervous and indicated they wanted some further action taken before they would be satisfied."

Mr Small said EU officials were asking for the double ear tagging of animals to improve their identification, farmers' herdbooks to be more accurate, more stringent recording of cattle movement into and out of herds and more accurate records on the birth dates of animals.

"Some of the improvements can be put in place within a matter of days, but it is impossible to put the entire package in place, we believe - and this is an early estimate - any earlier than July," he added. He said the Government would be putting forward its own proposals to satisfy European Commission officials and urging them to adopt a more pragmatic line.

Mr Small faced calls for an inquiry into how the ban was reimposed from Ulster Unionist agriculture spokesman William Thompson and DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley. Mr Paisley described the decision as a "very serious body blow" to the beef industry and demanded a recall of the Northern Ireland Assembly to debate the issue.

"I think that the united voice of the elected representatives of Northern Ireland meeting and debating an issue that is an issue which runs to the very heart of our economy would be a very good thing. "I cannot understand why the Secretary of State can't give us Standing Orders to cover such an emergency, so that in an emergency like this - the Assembly is there, the elected representatives are there and they should have an input," he said.

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said he believed other EU member states were applying political pressure to halt Northern Ireland exports. "We're all aware for many a long day that it (the ban) has been political as far as the rest of Europe is concerned.

"I think it is rather ironic that at a time when Northern Ireland beef is about to go back into Europe that all of a sudden the European Commission is coming down with a heavy hand on a very small detail," he added.

EU to carry out Northern Ireland mad cow checks

Reuters World Report Tue, May 25, 1999 
BRUSSELS - European Commission inspectors are likely to carry out checks in Northern Ireland this week to ensure there are no more "weaknesses" in its system for ensuring its beef exports are BSE-free, EU officials said on Tuesday. The move follows Northern Ireland's decision on Monday to temporarily suspend its beef exports after its computer system for proving cattle have not been in contact with herds known to have mad cow disease allowed 19 cattle to slip through the net.

"They couldn't confirm the animals had not passed through herds where BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) had been present," Commission spokesman Gerry Kiely told a Brussels news conference on Tuesday. An EU inspection visit last week prompted the Commission to send a letter to the British-ruled province recommending a temporary export ban and a series of checks, Kiely added.

The EU imposed a worldwide ban on British beef exports in 1996 following an admission by the British government of a possible link between BSE and a new variant of the human brainwasting disorder Creutzfeld-Jakobs Disease (nvCJD).

Northern Ireland began exporting beef again in June last year on the strength of the province's supposedly error-free system of computer records. The Commission is expected to set a date for beef exports to recommence from the rest of Britain in the near future.

Prion diseases--an evidence-based protocol for infection control.

 AORN J 1999 May;69(5):946-54, 956-67 passim; quiz 968-76
 Steelman VM
Intensive and Surgical Services, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, USA. 
Prion diseases are fatal, infectious, neurodegenerative disorders with special implications for infection control in the OR. The causative agent is highly resistant to disinfection and sterilization processes and has been transmitted during health care interactions. It is important to use evidence gained through research and case reports to minimize risk of infection. This article describes an infection control protocol developed for identifying high-risk patients, providing perioperative care, decontaminating the OR, and protecting health care personnel. This protocol provides multidisciplinary team members with a guideline for preventing transmission of these fatal diseases.

Wales and Scotland move to scrap UK beef ban

Reuters World Report  Tue, May 25, 1999 By David Luhnow
Nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland pledged on Tuesday to lift Britain's controversial ban on sales of beef on the bone, signalling that the two new parliaments are starting to flex their political muscles. The Scottish and Welsh opposition nationalist parties, supported by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, said they would put forward motions to reverse the ban once the new parliaments officially start work on July 1.

Britain's Labour government extended the beef ban in February by at least another six months, but since the Labour party does not have an outright majority in either of the new parliaments it looks set to fall in Scotland and Wales. "I'm confident the ban will be lifted in the next few months," Chris Lines, the chief executive of the Liberal Democrats in Wales, told Reuters.

At least 40 people have died in Britain from the brain wasting new variant of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, the human equivalent of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), since officials began tracking it in 1995. Since the disease is found in the cow's bones, the government fears beef next to the bone could be infected. But Britain's livestock industry, which has been hurt by a worldwide ban on British beef exports, say there is no scientific basis for the ban and argues that the chances of catching the disease are minuscule. Some British scientists have said the chance is roughly one in a billion.

"The ban is a nonsense, which has no public support, and is impeding the return of Scottish beef to its vital export markets," John Swinney, deputy leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), said at a news conference on Tuesday. The chief medical officer at Britain's Health Department is reviewing the ban and may announce his findings in the next few weeks, a department spokeswoman told Reuters. The beef issue could mark the first time that the new parliaments, which have limited powers, take the lead over Westminster and Prime Minister Tony Blair's government on issues affecting all of Britain.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats said they predicted Blair would push through a national lifting of the ban quickly to avoid being upstaged by Wales and Scotland. "I wouldn't doubt the government is planning to move quickly on this," Lines said. Signs are already emerging that Scotland and Wales could create different laws in a host of areas. Scottish lawmakers also said on Tuesday they would consider crafting more far-reaching "freedom of information" laws than those proposed by Home Secretary (interior minister) Jack Straw on Monday.

BSE Inquiry report delayed until next year

Tue, May 25, 1999  By Martin Hickman, Parliamentary Staff, PA News
The BSE inquiry will not report until the new Millennium after Agriculture Minister Nick Brown today delayed its deadline for a further nine months. Mr Brown said in a Commons written reply that following a request from the inquiry, he had agreed to its report being delivered by March 31 2000 rather than June 30 this year.

The long-standing inquiry, which is investigating how BSE was allowed to devastate farming, was originally intended to report at the end of 1998. Mr Brown told MPs: "At the request of the inquiry, my predecessor Jack Cunningham announced on March 9 1998 that the original terms of reference would be revised to allow the inquiry until June 30 1999.

"The inquiry has now requested a further extension and, following discussions with the committee about the time needed to complete their task, the Government has agreed that the report shall be delivered by March 31 2000."

Jay Whitlock, 27, deer hunter

NEW YORK CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.  25 May 99
-- Mad Cow Disease In The U.S.?
-- Debilitating Illness Usually Found In Britain
-- Officials Fear New Strains May Appear In U.S.
-- One Man Fights Ailment Possibly Spread By Deer

Family photo of Jay Whitlock with a deer he shot on a hunting trip. Julie Whitlock says its hard to plan her daily schedule, having to juggle taking her two sons to school, then visiting her husband, Jay.

Jay, at age 27, is dying of Creutzfeld Jakobs disease, a terminal illness that destroys the brain.

"They know that daddy's sick, and Zach, our youngest, that's about the extent that he understands," Julie says. "Garrett knows that daddy's having trouble with memory. He knows there's no medicine to make his daddy better now. He prays for the medicine to make him better."

It took two months and a half-dozen specialists for doctors to make a diagnosis.

"He's incontinent, incomprehensive of questions, and he goes in an d out of being disoriented. They said he has less than a year to live," Julie says.

Jay's case is very unusual. Creutzfeld Jakobs disease usually affects people twice his age. Now, researchers are worried that his illness is evidence that a new strain of so-called "mad cow disease" has surfa ced in the United States. It was in Great Britain that mad cow disease appeared in humans for t he first time. The illness has killed 40 people there since 1994, 10 in the past nine months. People become ill after eating infected meat.

"They slowly affect the brain and spinal cord of the person who has it," says Dr. Linda Detwiler, a veterinarian for the U.S.D.A. Detwiler insists the U.S. meat supply is safe. "By protecting our cattle, our livestock population, we in turn protect the human population," she says. Julie kneels as she talks to her husband, Jay. But if the U.S. meat supply is safe, doctors want to know how Jay - previously active and healthy - became sick.

One possible answer may be that he ate the meat of deer he sometimes hunted. Scientists suspect a form of mad cow disease may be transmitted i n the U.S. through deer and elk in parts of the western states.

"It's going past the stage of emerging public health issue, it's a current public health issue," says Dr. Abid Rahmin.

There's also concern the disease could be transmitted through blood products. U.S. officials are even considering banning all blood products f rom Great Britain and barring anyone who's been to the U.K. since 1980 fr om donating blood.

"Based on current estimates, as much as 10 percent of the U.S. blood supply will be affected," says Dr. Rahmin.

With so many unknowns about emerging strains of mad cow disease, how much is already in the U.S. and how it's transmitted, regulators are stru ggling with a dilemma -- clamp down on the blood supply, possibly unnecessarily, or wait for more evidence and risk a potential epidemic.

To Julie Whitlock, it doesn't much matter how her husband got sick. She's just focused on taking care of her boys and Jay, who senses the change in himself and says, "It's strange." "I know it's strange, isn't it? It's not the same anymore, is it?" she answers her husband.

As of now, there is no blood-screening test for mad cow disease. The FDA will try to decide in two weeks whether to take new steps to protect the blood supply.

NEJM: meat products linked to CJD

26 May 1999 New England Journal of Medicine May 27, 1999 -- Vol. 340, No. 21
To the Editor:

The article on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease by Johnson and Gibbs (Dec. 31 issue) (1) gives the impression that case-control epidemiologic studies have been numerous and have found no link to "dietary eccentricities." We are aware of only a small number of case-control studies, but several of these found a link between consumption of meat products and an increased risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. One study from the United States that involved 26 patients with the disease found that nine individual food items were statistically linked to an increased risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. (2) Of these foods, six came from pigs. Furthermore, with four of the pork products there was a positive association between increased consumption of the products and increased risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

A second study that is by far the largest case-control study to date, involving over 400 European patients and published just last year, found a significantly increased risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease associated with the consumption of raw meat or brains. (3) The same study also found a significant increase in the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease with increasing consumption of pork.

A third case-control study of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United Kingdom, involving 206 cases, found a significant increase in the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease associated with increasing consumption of beef, veal, venison, or brains. (4)

Finally, Johnson and Gibbs point out that laboratory studies provide strong evidence that bovine spongiform encephalopathy and new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have a common origin but conclude that the mode of transmission is not necessarily consumption of meat from cattle infected with the agent responsible for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. But many scientists would disagree with them. The fact that the same studies show that various exotic ungulate species in zoos, as well as domestic house cats, all in the United Kingdom, have died of a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy caused by an agent that appears identical to the agent that causes bovine spongiform encephalopathy strongly suggests that these animals, as well as the persons with new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, contracted the disease from something they ate. Given these findings, and given the fact that all three case-control studies of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease show a significant correlation between the disease and consumption of various animal products, it would make sense to conduct more detailed studies to pursue this connection.

Michael Hansen, Ph.D. Consumers Union Yonkers, NY 10703


1. Johnson RT, Gibbs CJ Jr. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and related transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. N Engl J Med 1998;339:1994-2004. Return to Text

2. Davanipour Z, Alter M, Sobel E, Asher DM, Gajdusek DC. A case-control study of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: dietary risk factors. Am J Epidemiol 1985;122:433-51. Return to Text

3. van Duijn CM, Delasnerie-Laupretre N, Masullo C, et al. Case-control study of risk factors of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in Europe during 1993-95. Lancet 1998;351:1081-5. Return to Text

4. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease surveillance in the UK: sixth annual report 1997. Edinburgh, Scotland: National CJD Surveillance Unit, 1998.
To the Editor:

In the article by Johnson and Gibbs on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, it is implied that the decline in cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Britain after 1991 is attributable to the preceding withdrawal of animal products from cattle feed. The authors also suggest that the four-to-five-year delay between the ban on animal products in cattle feed and the decline in the number of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy is consistent with the incubation period for the disease. However, they do not note that there was extensive slaughter of potentially infected animals, particularly in herds containing cattle with diagnosed bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Thus, much of the decline in the incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy after 1991 is due to a reduction in the population of cattle at risk for the disease.

One cannot make valid assessments of trends over time in the number of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or of the duration of the incubation period without considering changes in the number of animals at risk for the disease. It would be more appropriate to express the number of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy as an annual rate of incidence per 1000 cattle at risk.

Ronald H. Gray, M.D. Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health Baltimore, MD 21205-2179

To the Editor:

In the article by Johnson and Gibbs on prion diseases, there is only passing mention of "suspected" transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in 1974 through a corneal transplant. The authors state further that "human transmission was more... convincingly demonstrated... after... surgery to excise epileptic foci."

However, in the case of the corneal transplant, specimens from both the donor and the recipient were later reviewed by knowledgeable neuropathologists, and the diagnosis was reconfirmed. (1) Furthermore, inoculation of brain tissue from the donor produced clinical Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in primates after extended incubation, and secondary transmission was pathologically confirmed. (2) Recently, two additional cases of probable and possible transmission have also been reported in the literature from Japan and Germany. (3)

The most important new case of the transmission of prion disease through corneal transplants [no transission has occurred to date -- webmaster], however, occurred recently in Great Britain. In February 1997, a 53-year-old woman died of lung cancer. For several weeks before her death, she was described by one of her daughters as "falling over," having a "staggering gait," and "acting like a senile old lady" (4); symptoms were attributed to presumed metastasis of the cancer to the central nervous system. In early March 1997, both of the woman's corneas were transplanted to two recipients; a third received sclera from the donor.

In November 1997, the donor's brain was examined, revealing a spongiform encephalopathy typical of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, later confirmed by neuropathologists at the United Kingdom Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit. The transplant recipients were notified, the transplanted tissues were removed, and surveillance continues. (3) These three cases arouse particular concern, since the infectivity (expressed as the median infective dose) of corneal tissue in scrapie, the prototypic prion disease of animals, was reported as 5.4 log units per milliliter, as compared with 8.9 log units per milliliter for brain and 8.4 log units per milliliter for retinal tissue. (3) Other animal studies have also shown that corneal tissue harbors the agent and can transmit disease. (5)

The possibility of a recent increase in iatrogenic cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease resulting from the transplantation of prion-infected corneas has created heightened medical and public sensitivity regarding U.S. donor-screening practices for the more than 40,000 corneas transplanted annually. On the basis of recent events, additional measures for tightening inclusion criteria with respect to the medical history have been proposed for potential donors of ocular tissue. (3) Fortunately, the criteria introduced in the 1980s have been adequate, and with additional safeguards in place, they should ensure the best possibility of continued safety. Because of the large numbers of patients involved, however, we hope that a reliable and specific laboratory screening method will become available in the near future and will eliminate these issues of concern.

H. Dwight Cavanagh, M.D., Ph.D. R. Nick Hogan, M.D., Ph.D. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Dallas, TX 75235-9057


1. Brown P, Cervenakova L, Goldfarb LG, et al. Iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: an example of the interplay between ancient genes and modern medicine. Neurology 1994;44:291-3. Return to Text

2. Brown P, Gibbs CJ Jr, Rodgers-Johnson P, et al. Human spongiform encephalopathy: the National Institutes of Health series of 300 cases of experimentally transmitted disease. Ann Neurol 1994;35:513-29. Return to Text

3. Hogan RN, Brown P, Heck E, Cavanagh HD. Risk of prion disease transmission from ocular donor tissue transplantation. Cornea 1999;18:2-11. Return to Text

4. CJD and the eye. Focus: Royal College of Ophthalmologists. Autumn 1998:1. Return to Text

5. Hogan RN, Cavanagh HD. Transplantation of corneal tissue from donors with diseases of the central nervous system. Cornea 1995;14:547-53. 

The authors reply:

To the Editor:

Dr. Hansen is correct that several studies have implicated a history of consumption of various meat products in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. In a disease in which patients frequently are demented or have died, dietary histories are limited and subject to bias. This problem is graphically demonstrated in a study cited by Hansen, the British Surveillance Report. This report contains an analysis of the dietary histories of 80 patients in whom the suspected diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was not subsequently confirmed. Comparison of these cases with confirmed cases of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease showed no differences in the consumption of beef or brains. The report concludes that dietary associations "may reflect recall bias rather than a real, underlying link." [No evidence for recall bias is presented in this paper -- webmaster.]

The absence of geographic differences in incidence is more convincing evidence against major dietary factors, since large populations eschew pork and some consume no meat or meat products. [Ethnic groups not eating pork typically eat large amounts of sheep. There is no surveillance whatsover for CJD in many parts of the world -- webmaster.] We are unaware of studies of the incidence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in populations of lifelong vegetarians; such a study would be of interest. In the meantime, we hold to our conclusion that, as yet, diet has not been convincingly linked to causation in sporadic cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The second issue raised by Dr. Hansen concerns the mode of transmission of new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The prions of the new human disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy are closely related, as demonstrated by several methods of comparison discussed in our review. They appear to have a common origin, which could be related to the consumption of contaminated beef, but it could also be due to common exposure of cattle and humans to the contaminated products of the rendering process. Cosmetics, soap, bonemeal-based food for roses, and myriad other products of rendering could lead to human exposure by different routes of inoculation. It is imprudent at this time to conclude that eating meat or even oral exposure is the mode of transmission of the new-variant disease.

Dr. Gray's point is well taken. The elimination of older animals in herds would decrease the incidence of disease, since animals under five years of age are rarely affected clinically. The selective slaughter of affected herds might have little effect, however, since there is no evidence of horizontal spread within herds. Nevertheless, figures expressed as annual cases per cattle at risk would be preferable.

Drs. Cavanagh and Hogan feel we gave short shrift to transmission by corneal transplantation. Such an oversight was not intended. Twenty-five years ago both of us were involved in the case and studies of the initial patient who acquired the disease through corneal transplantation. The very thought of human-to-human transmission of a degenerative disease by physicians was so unspeakable that some detractors suggested that the presence of disease in the donor and the recipient might have been coincidental. The report three years later of illness in two young persons implanted with the same electrode and the subsequent transmission to a nonhuman primate through the implantation of the same electrode convinced the doubters. The subsequent report of transmission through corneal transplantation added further confirmation. The report of additional cases by Cavanagh and Hogan (in a report published subsequent to our review) provides yet more documentation. We heartily endorse their advocacy of cautious screening of corneal donors.

Richard T. Johnson, M.D. Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore, MD 21287
Clarence J. Gibbs, Jr. National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD 20892

BSE Inquiry gives in to lawyerly delays

25 May 99 Press release, Inquiry site

BSE Inquiry report delayed until next year

Tue, May 25, 1999  By Martin Hickman, Parliamentary Staff, PA News
The BSE inquiry will not report until the new Millennium after Agriculture Minister Nick Brown today delayed its deadline for a further nine months. Mr Brown said in a Commons written reply that following a request from the inquiry, he had agreed to its report being delivered by March 31 2000 rather than June 30 this year.

The long-standing inquiry, which is investigating how BSE was allowed to devastate farming, was originally intended to report at the end of 1998. Mr Brown told MPs: "At the request of the inquiry, my predecessor Jack Cunningham announced on March 9 1998 that the original terms of reference would be revised to allow the inquiry until June 30 1999.

"The inquiry has now requested a further extension and, following discussions with the committee about the time needed to complete their task, the Government has agreed that the report shall be delivered by March 31 2000."

BSE inquiry announces new timetable

25 May 1999
The BSE Inquiry has today announced the details of its new timetable. The first hearings in the next phase of the Inquiry will start on Monday 21 June and the deadline for the Inquiry's report is now 31 March 2000.

Lord Phillips, Chairman of the Inquiry, said today:

"In February we announced that preparing for Phase Two was a more exacting process than we had anticipated and that the Inquiry needed more time to complete it's task fully and fairly.

"The preparation for the next Phase of hearings has been extremely intense. The Committee and Inquiry team have been busy evaluating the evidence from public and private sectors spanning a period of over ten years. This new timetable will allow us to carry out the full and rigorous investigation this Inquiry deserves.

"Phase Two hearings are to clarify the overall picture by way of further investigation of evidence. In some cases there may be a need to address potential criticisms during oral proceedings. Where this is the case the witness will be notified in advance."

Hearings will begin on Monday 21 June. A full witness timetable will be released prior to hearings. The Inquiry will also be publishing Revised Factual Accounts on topics likely to be dealt with in the hearings.

Phase One hearings, which dealt only with factual evidence, began in March 1998. The Inquiry took oral evidence on 95 hearing days from over 300 witnesses and has published over 400 written statements. Evidence has been taken from both the public and private sectors including former government ministers, senior civil servants, families of the nvCJD victims and independent scientists.

Comment (webmaster): This raises more than a few questions about what is going on. British friends wrote last year saying that the Inquiry head's midstream promotion last year meant the process was in effect dead; this didn't sound right yet here we are. MAFF lawyers later started hassling the judge about the draft factual accounts on the Web and indeed phase 2 'clarifications, conflicts of evidence and potential criticisms' sounds like nothing more than government lawyers arguing with the judge. The Inquiry was originally intended to finish by 31 December 1998. This got extended to 30 June 1999. On 16 Feb 98, the Inquiry said they couldn't make the June deadline.

And what is the reason for this bit of book-burning: "From the end of May, Draft Factual Accounts (DFAs) will no longer be available on the BSE Inquiry website."

It is a poor idea to take things down from the web even if they are someday more or less replaced by revised factual accounts, because people want to see and respond to what the lawyers were able to get altered. This site has archived all the draft factual accounts already and is prepared to mirror the lost data the day that these go down in Britain.

So now the report will be 15 months late. Though further hefty delays are already hinted at. Justice delayed is justice denied.

No one has put forward any credible reason for the delays. Remember, in setting the Dec 98 deadline, the judge fully allowed for all the legalistic comments that would be coming in -- he has 40 years of experience with the legal system. Note too in the announcement that the schedule would not be kept if it was inconvenient for various parties to attend. That is a prescription for further delays. There where father and son attorneys took opposing sides in an estate settlement and it went on so long nothing was left in the estate for the widow. The bottom line is, no one will be held accountable, the Inquiry has simply become the the French AIDS trial done in the British way NOTES TO EDITORS 1. The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food today answered a Parliamentary Question from Kevin McNamara, MP for Kingston-upon-Hull North:

Question: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, if he will now make a statement on the progress of the BSE Inquiry.

Answer: The BSE Inquiry was originally intended to report on 31 December 1998. At the request of the Inquiry, my Right Hon Friend, the previous Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, announced on 9 March 1988 that the original terms of reference would be revised to allow the Inquiry until 30 June 1999 to report. The Inquiry has now requested a further extension and following discussions with the Committee about the time needed to complete their task, the Government has agreed that the Report shall be delivered by 31 March 2000.

2 A full Inquiry timetable is attached. 3.Phase One oral hearings were completed in December 1998. Since then the Inquiry has been in intensive preparation for Phase Two. This has involved analysis of the evidence obtained so far, identifying areas where additional evidence is needed and notifying witnesses in writing of any potential criticisms, giving them a fair opportunity to respond.

So far the Inquiry has taken oral evidence on 95 hearing days from over 300 witnesses and has published over 400 written statements. The Inquiry estimates that it has amassed over 3000 files of original evidence. Over 200, 000 documents have been accessed from the Inquiry website.

4. From the end of May, Draft Factual Accounts (DFAs) will no longer be available on the BSE Inquiry website. The Inquiry will be issuing Revised Factual Accounts on subjects likely to be covered in the Phase Two hearings. In June, July and August further factual accounts will be published. These will include a factual account covering the topic of medicines which will be published after the summer prior to the October to December hearings. 5.The terms of reference for the Inquiry are:

5. "To establish and review the history of the emergence and identification of BSE and new variant CJD in the United Kingdom, and of the action taken in response to it up to 20 March 1996; to reach conclusions on the adequacy of that response, taking into account the knowledge at the time; and to report on these matters by 31 March 2000 to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

6.The Inquiry was announced by Dr Jack Cunningham, former Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and Frank Dobson, Secretary of State for Health, on 22 December 1997.

7.The Inquiry Chairman is Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers. Lord Phillips was appointed as a Law Lord in January 1999...


This note outlines the proposed timetable for the Inquiry taking account of the revised deadline announced by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on Tuesday 25 May 1999.
All the timings shown here depend on the availability of witnesses and will be kept under review.

June wk beginning 21 June

Phase 2 hearings to deal with clarifications, conflicts of evidence and potential criticisms begin

July wks beginning 5, 12, 19 and 26 July further Phase 2 hearings to deal with clarifications, conflicts of evidence and potential criticisms

August wk beginning 2 August further Phase 2 hearings to deal with clarifications, conflicts of evidence and potential criticisms

September No oral hearings

October wks beginning 18 and 25 October Phase 2 hearings to deal with clarifications, conflicts of evidence and potential criticisms resume

November wks beginning 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 November further Phase 2 hearings to deal with clarifications, conflicts of evidence and potential criticisms

December  wks beginning 6 and 13 December further Phase 2 hearings to deal with clarifications, conflicts of evidence and potential criticisms 17 December: Phase 2 hearings concluded

January 2000 early Jan: final submissions in writing to be made by any who wish to do so

February/March Report finalised

31 March Report due to be delivered to MinistersSecretary to the Inquiry

Comments (others): "The draft factual accounts in their present form take up less than 2.5 MB (html). The other thing to do is index the 34 megs of complete data and make it keyword searchable. This is done as a routine system 8.5 service with Macintoshes at least, using sherlock. The Inquiry has put together a remarkable historical resource and scolars will be poking around in it for years to come. "

"Phase 1 was merely a "friendly" eliciting of information, as the Counsel was at pains to explain to every witness. Phase 2 is the real heart of the Inquiry, the part where witnesses who have made Statements and given evidence may be "grilled" about criticisms of their part in events, whether emerging from the evidence or from comments/criticisms sent in to the Inquiry by members of the public. Some of those who have been warned by the Inquiry that they will be called for Phase 2 have reportedly sought legal advice/help, as they are legally entitled to do. I would far rather see Phase 2 "grilling" conducted thoroughly and in great depth, and taking as long as it takes to do so, rather than hastily and superficially to meet some arbitrary date deadline."

Smuggling of bovine serum for vaccine manufacture and cell culture:

Hyclone (Logan, Utah) 'Art to Science in Tissue Culture'  vol 13#1 1994
(This document was found in USDA FOIA documents, ie, the agency was well aware of the problem)
"HyClone applauds the FDA's efforts to make traceability a key issue in selecting bovine derived products (BDP) for use. We have always believed that traceability is among the most critical selection parameters. It has been our sad experience, however, that consumers of BDP have taken traeability far too lightly, mfrequently making price a more important issue.

"Interestingly, the price is a good indicator of origin. On a world-wide basis BDP, particularly fetal bovine serum (FBS) fall into three categories primarily based on geographic origin...."

"HyClone is happy to provide complete traceability to its customers. It is for this reason that HyClone employees collect the fetal blood for our domestic US supply. For years, [this in-house journal] contained articles warning about smuggling and provided help to customers in determining the georaphic origins of serum for themselves. A list of these article sis given below. Reprints are available upon request."

Comment (webmaster): Is this a great company or what, they offer all these back issues online:

1.  Wilkinson, R   "BSE: A serum perspective.   Art to Science 12 #1 1993.pdf

3. HyClone Laboratories.  Smuggled Fetal Bovine Serum.  Art to Science 7 #2 1988.

4.  HyClone Laboratories.   HyClone's Position on Smuggled Fetal Bovine Serum.  Art to Science 7#4 1988.

5. HyClone Laboratories.  An importer's Response to smuggled Fetal Bovine Serum.  Art to Science 7#4  1988.

6. HyClone Laboratories.  USDA response to smuggled Fetal Bovine Serum.  Art to Science 7#4  1988.

7.  HyClone Laboratories.  More on Smuggled Fetal Bovine Serum .  Art to Science 8#1  1989.

8.   HyClone Laboratories.  Where did your serum come from?  .  Art to Science 10#4  1991.

9.  Hodgson, J.  Checking serum sources: the serum supply secret.  Bio/Technology vol 9 pg 1320-24 1991.

10.   Hodgson, J.  Fetal bovine serum revisited.  Bio/Technology vol 11 pg 49-53 1993.

Later on Medline:

Hodgson J.  Nat Biotechnol 1998 Jun;16(6):503 
       Net to help catch NZ serum forgers. 

Bohn B. Biotechnology (N Y). 1995 Sep;13(9):926-7. 
       Fatal bovine serum? 

Hodgson J.  Biotechnology (N Y). 1993 Jan;11(1):49-53.
       Fetal bovine serum revisited. A year ago serum regulations were a hodgepodge. Has
       anything changed? 

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