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CJD blood products given to 3,000 patients
Downing Street rib joint (151 lbs) ends in dustbin
Retaliation: Britain puts health ban on EU beef
Doctors planning CJD screening test
CJD research chief denies screening plan report
Screening already funded and started
Maff interference with scientific investigations
Irish blood product withdrawn after 250 injected
Ireland starts to track down patients in new mad cow scare
Portugal to screen blood to reduce CJD risk
U.S. limits livestock, product imports in BSE rule
E.U. Commission 'Seriously Regrets' U.S. Beef Import Move
USDA: Live ruminant imports from Europe restricted
What we have been fed

CJD blood products given to 3,000 patients

December 16 1997  BY AUDREY MAGEE AND IAN MURRAY 
UP TO 3,000 people treated in 100 British hospitals may have been injected with blood products taken from a donor who died six weeks ago from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of BSE. None of them is to be told because the Health Department believes the risk of them developing the disease is so slight that there is no reason to cause alarm.

Although hospitals have been advised to return the product, used in X-ray screenings to detect lung disease, so far only 15 per cent has been recovered. There is no order obliging hospitals to return it and some clinicians may go on using up stocks on the basis that patients are far more likely to die from infections or cancer that can be diagnosed with the product than from CJD.

Another 268 patients in Ireland are known to have been given injections from the same batch of the product. The Irish Health Ministry has decided to notify all the patients concerned.

Even though the identity of all those who have been given an injection of the product is known, it was decided not to tell them because there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted through the blood or the serum derived from it to make the product and the risk of developing CJD is regarded as negligible.

"You are putting an enormous burden on people by telling them they have a remote risk of contracting the disease," the department said last night. "The ethics committee which advises us on these matters decided it was just not appropriate to tell them."
The blood from the donor was sent 18 months ago to the National Blood Authority laboratory, where it was split into a number of different products. The donor's plasma was mixed with some taken from 49,000 other donors to make 8,174 bottles of albumin, the water-soluble protein found in blood.

Many were exported but 210 of the 50ml bottles remained in Britain and were sent to eight different hospitals and companies. Some of the bottles were used intravenously to rehydrate burn victims.

One bottle was sent to Nycomed Amersham which used it to produce 14,000 vials of Amerscan Pulmonate II, an agent which is injected into the lungs so that infections and cancer show up under X-ray. The company sent almost 3,700 vials to 100 British hospitals.

At the end of October the European Committee on Proprietary Medicinal Products called for the withdrawal of blood products derived from donors who were confirmed CJD cases. On November 1 the Blood Transfusion Service was notified that one of its donors had died from the disease so the Amersham company was told.

In turn the company got in touch with the Medicines Control Agency which informed the Health Department and it recommended withdrawal of the product on November 17.

Despite regular alarms, there has never been any convincing evidence that blood or blood products can transmit CJD (Nigel Hawkes writes). Unless new variant CJD, the human form of "mad cow" disease, is more easily transmitted than classic CJD via blood or blood products, there does not appear to be any cause for concern. [This is no medical basis for this statement -- webmaster]

For classic CJD the risk seems negligible. About 50 people a year die of the disease, so it is certain that every year some of them give blood after they have the infection but before its symptoms appear. Studies show that classic CJD can be passed on in human tissue, but not - so far as we know - in blood. [This is not an accurate summary of current scientific knowledge -- webmaster]

Downing Street rib joint ends in bin

December 16 1997  BY ADRIAN LEE
Farewell Dinner for the Roast Beef of Olde England A 15lb rib of beef was delivered to 10 Downing Street yesterday - and was destined to go straight into the dustbin. The joint was taken to the doors of No 10 in protest at the ban on the sale of beef on the bone, which took effect at midnight. The National Cattle Association said it wanted the Prime Minister to experience the "excellence of the product" first-hand, and presented it to a policeman.

It was taken inside, but a Downing Street spokesman said that it would be thrown away, in line with government advice that it was not safe to eat.

"Obviously this is part of a publicity campaign by farmers and they are perfectly entitled to make their case. But clearly the beef on the bone cannot be eaten and it will be disposed of."
The demonstration outside No 10 was one of a series of protests and rallies opposing the ban, while customers were rushing to buy T-bone steaks, ribs and oxtails before the midnight deadline. And last night pubs and restaurants held defiant farewell celebrations to traditional favourites. At Butchers' Hall, near Smithfield meat market, fifty guests of the City caterers Chester Boyd feasted on oxtail soup and baron of beef washed down with bullshot, a drink made from vodka and beef consomm╗.

At Westminster, butchers in working aprons paraded with a forerib of beef outside the House of Commons and presented the Conservative MP Bill Cash with a petition signed by 106,000 members of the public requesting that they be allowed to make up their own minds.

"To get so many signatures in just four days shows that the public is overwhelmingly against this ban, which was a kneejerk, panic measure," Mr Cash said. "The British public do not want a nanny state telling them what to eat."
Trading standards officers have also written to the Government complaining that the new law is confusing and could be impossible to enforce, and a black market is expected to flourish. Gordon Gresty, head of trading standards in North Yorkshire, expected butchers with regular customers in small communities to flout the ban.
"It is going to be extremely difficult to police. I am certain we will see under-the-counter deals which will be virtually impossible to stop."
Bob Dove, a butchers in Battersea, southwest London, also believed that a black market might thrive, but said: "I suspect the Government will soon stop us buying beef on the bone if they suspect butchers of breaking the law." That would play into the hands of the supermarkets and send scores of independent butchers under.

Both Mr Dove and Danny Hepburn, a butcher from Mountnessing, Essex, reported that customers had been stockpiling beef. Mr Hepburn said: "They are disgusted by this. One man came in at the weekend and filled his boot with foreribs and oxtail. I have sold more oxtails in the last week than I would normally sell in a year."

By last night, however, most restaurants had reluctantly removed beef on the bone from their menus. Michel Bourdin, head chef at the Connaught Grill in London, said he felt like committing suicide, but added: "I will adapt, what can I do? I don't want to go to jail for trying to save British gastronomy."

Farewell Dinner for the Roast Beef of Olde England

                    Oxtail Soup with Chestnuts 

                   Roast Baron of Beef on the bone

                       Horseradish Relish

               Pommes Boulang└re (with Beef Stock)

                        M╗lange of Beans 

              Treacle Pudding with Traditional Custard 

                       Croque Cunningham 

              Rich Roast Arabica Coffee and Sweetmeats

BRITAIN

Retaliation: Britain puts health ban on EU beef

December 16 1997 Times BY CHARLES BREMNER, PHILIP WEBSTER AND MICHAEL HORNSBY BRITAIN plunged into a new confrontation with Europe over beef yesterday when Jack Cunningham imposed a unilateral ban on imports that do not meet the safety standards required of British meat. The Agriculture Minister announced his decision after the EU voted 14-1 to delay the introduction of such checks throughout the Community until next April.

In language reminiscent of John Major's "beef war" in the summer of 1996, he attacked "fraudulent" arguments being put forward in Brussels and claimed that his EU counterparts had "prevaricated and obfuscated" to avoid new anti-BSE health controls.

There were legal doubts over Britain's move last night, and suspicions in Brussels that Dr Cunningham was seeking to distract attention from his ban on the sale of beef on the bone, which came into force at midnight in spite of protests and demonstrations by farmers, butchers and consumers. No other European state has imposed such a restriction.

It was clear also that the impact of his gesture would be limited. Meat from Ireland, the main importer to Britain with 54,000 tonnes last year, France and The Netherlands already conforms to the planned code on the removal of the brain, spinal cord and eyes from cattle, sheep and goats. However, there was an obvious risk of the "war" being resumed, with the possibility of action against Britain in the European Court.

The strongest objection to the new British rules could be expected from Germany, which claims that it has no BSE and so its producers should not be burdened with costly processing requirements.

The European Commission sought the delay in the slaughterhouse code - agreed last July and due to come into effect on January 1 - after opposition from Germany and half a dozen other EU states, as well as the United States, whose pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries are affected. Last Saturday the Americans extended their own ban of European beef imports in what Brussels saw as retaliation for the proposed meat hygiene rules.

A unilateral ban on beef imports would certainly breach EU rules covering the single market, as Dr Cunningham accepted. "I cannot ban imports of beef - though I think farmers would like me to - that would be a matter that would have me straight into the European Court," he said. "But I can insist that it can only come in if it has had the specified risk materials removed and been treated the same as British beef."

That approach would break no rules, he said, because he was demanding only that meat sold in the shops should be subject to uniform safety checks. The Commission said it would form an opinion after considering the proposed ban in detail. Dr Cunningham added:

"I believe that people who have been opposed to the original decision have just been prevaricating and obfuscating and delaying. I am going to implement it unilaterally on behalf of the United Kingdom to make sure beef coming in is as safe as the beef we have at home. I can't believe that it is good for the reputation of the Commission or the EU that a decision properly taken in July has got to the point where it has failed to be implemented six months later."
He rejected the claims of eight nations that they did not need such measures because they had not suffered from BSE. If the EU were to operate a single market in beef, the same rules and regulations had to apply throughout.
"There is a single market in beef, it is traded around that single market and there is no guarantee that beef coming from any country in the EU is beef that has been raised in that country. You can purchase beef in one country where BSE exists and wholesale it from another country where BSE doesn't exist. So it is a completely fraudulent argument to suggest that somehow that provides a safeguard. It doesn't provide any safeguard at all."
Last year Britain imported 150,000 tonnes of beef worth ú363 million from all sources, of which 93,100 tonnes came from the rest of the European Union, according to the Meat and Livestock Commission.

The Ministry of Agriculture said last night that all non-EU suppliers, with the exception of New Zealand and Australia, would have to comply with the new regulations if their meat was to be marketable in Britain. Australia and New Zealand are considered to pose no threat from either BSE or scrapie, the related sheep disease. An aid package for hill farmers affected by the BSE crisis is expected to be announced later this week.

Doctors planning CJD screening test

Sun, Dec 14, 1997 PA News By Chris Barry
Doctors investigating the spread of CJD, the human form of mad cow disease, are planning to introduce a nationwide screening programme, it was reported today. Scientists at the CJD Surveillance Unit at the Western Infirmary, Edinburgh, want to test tonsils extracted from patients and brains from people killed in road accidents, The Sunday Telegraph claims.

The newspaper says the head of the unit, Dr Robert Will, suggested the move at a meeting of directors of the UK's haemophilia centres in which new variant CJD was discussed. Details of the programme are expected to be disclosed in the medical journal Lancet in the next few weeks.

Under the plan scientists the brain, lymph system and blood of road accident victims over the age of 16 would be tested for the prion protein associated with the new variant of the incurable disease. It is believed it would take between six months to a year of tests for doctors to gain an insight into how widespread the disease has become.

In the case of tonsils, tests would almost certainly be anonymous, in the same way that pregnant women are tested to determine the prevalence of HIV in the population. At present patients attending sexually transmitted disease clinics are also asked if they will give blood samples to test for the HIV virus, and are then given the choice of being told the results.

Scientists working at St Mary's medical school in London have already began to develop the tonsil test, and have apparently found evidence of the prion protein on tonsular tissue.

CJD research chief denies screening plan report

Sun, 14 Dec 1997 PA News By Chris Barry, PA News
The head of the scientific team researching CJD, the human form of mad cow disease, today denied there are plans to introduce a nationwide screening programme to discover how far the incurable condition has spread. Dr Robert Will, the director of the Edinburgh-based CJD Surveillance Unit, said newspaper reports that he wanted to set up a national programme to screen for new variant CJD were "misleading and inaccurate".

The Sunday Telegraph reported that brain tissue of road accident victims and extracted tonsils would be tested for the protein, prion, which is associated with the disease. But Dr Will, who leads the 10-strong research team at Edinburgh's Western General hospital, said from his home in the city: "The reports are incorrect, there are no plans for a national programme as far as I am aware." He said he had been invited to attend a meeting of the directors of the UK's haemophilia centres, in which the "theoretical possibility" of testing was raised.

"One small component of the meeting involved discussing CJD. Someone raised the possibility of studying the number of people incubating the disease, but this was only on a theoretical basis. "A national programme was not mentioned. There are no plans for this as far as I am aware, and I have not agreed to write a letter to the Lancet advising doctors and coroners." "I have just discussed the matter with the chairman of the meeting and he has confirmed my interpretation of the events," Dr Will added.
Dr Will said the State-funded unit was investigating the possibility that brain tissue and tonsils could be tested for CJD, but said there were no firm plans to do this. The Surveillance Unit currently performs post mortem examinations on the bodies of people who may have died from the new variant of the wasting disease. At present the only way of identifying the condition is to study brain tissue after death.

The Sunday Telegraph also reported that scientists working at St Mary's medical school in London have already began to develop the tonsil test, and have apparently found evidence of prions -- the form of protein thought to be responsible for the development of CJD -- on tonsular tissue.

Sunday Telegraph

14.12.97 Dealler summary
"Health chiefs laungh mass CJD screening:his is a programme of investigating anonymously the brains of any people that have died of specific causes in the UK. e.g. road accidents. The aim of this would be to look for prevalence data for nvCJD in the population. It is to be announced in the Lancet in a letter. Rob Will, who is supposed to be doing it says that the experiments would involve the histopathological methods associated with tonsil biopsy.

The Department of Health, from whom the funding is expected to be coming, has denied being asked for the money so far. The tonsil test is actually a very difficult thing to do simply because the histopathological changes that may be seen are almost the last changes before clinical symptoms appear. Western blotting or the Narang test using electron microscopy may be a better method to be using. Obviously the most efficient would be the inoculation of transgenic mice but this was turned down by the Medical Research Council in 1996" - SD

Blood product withdrawn after CJD scare

Sun, 14 Dec 1997  PA News By Chris Parkin, PA News
The manufacturers of a blood product at the centre of a CJD scare tonight stressed there was no evidence of contamination. The product Amerscan Pulmonate Two had been used in treatment for nearly 270 patients in nine Irish hospitals. It was withdrawn when it was discovered that its manufacture had involved plasma from a donor who subsequently died from new variant CJD, the human equivalent of BSE.

The product is an agent used to diagnose lung disease, and 320 doses from three batches were sent to Ireland, with 268 used before the recall.

Alan Huw Smith, corporate director for the company involved, Nycomed Amersham, said nothing had happened to indicate evidence of contamination in their product. He said the withdrawal was made as a precautionary measure and not because of any clinical event to show contamination. The Irish Department of Health confirmed the recall had been directed as a precaution, following confirmation that a blood donor, whose plasma had been used, subsequently developed CJD. A statement said:

"While there is no evidence that CJD has been transmitted by blood products, this particular donor had the new variant of the condition and against this background, recall of the product was seen as a sensible precaution." The department said arrangements were being made for the recipients of the product to be informed "in the most sensitive, prudent and sympathetic way possible."
It was understood tonight that the donor involved gave the blood in 1993, and later developed new variant CJD.

A spokesman for the Department of Health in London said the Medicines Control Agency had advised the manufacturers of Amerscan Pulmonate Two to withdraw the relevant batch of its product last month. He added:

"This purely precautionary measure was in line with the advice of the European expert body, the Committee on Proprietary Medicine Products."
The department tonight also pointed to a statement about CJD issued by the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Kenneth Calman, on October 6. It said that the safety of blood and blood products had been considered on several occasions by a number of international bodies, and all had concluded "that any risk of contracting CJD through blood or blood derivatives is negligible".

Hundreds of people received blood contaminated with mad cow disease

December 14, 1997  Agence France-Presse 
DUBLIN - Nearly 270 people in Ireland have received blood from a British donor who was infected with the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease virus, the human form of "mad cow" disease, the Irish health ministry said Sunday. Blood products from the donor were transfused into patients in nine Irish hospitals before it was learnt that the donor had died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). The products were immediately withdrawn from the market on November 26 and destroyed, the ministry said.

A department of health spokesman said that there was no evidence CJD could be transmitted by blood or blood products but the product was withdrawn as "a precautionary measure."

"This is an injectable agent used by radiology departments in lung scans. The department understands that approximately 270 people were involved," the spokesman added.
The product -- three batches of Amerscam Pulmonate II agent, which is used to diagnose lung disease -- was withdrawn following confirmation that "one of the blood donors in the U.K. whose plasma was used to manufacture the product subsequently developed new variant CJD." "This product is manufactured in the U.K. and is purchased by hospitals (in Ireland) through an Irish distributor of the U.K. company." In its statement, the department of health said it would make arrangements for those who had been given the blood to be informed "in the most sensitive, prudent and sympathetic way possible." Earlier this month, a British daily reported that Britain might have exported the blood of a CJD victim to 46 countries. The new form of CJD, the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease), has killed 22 people in Britain.

Ireland starts to track down patients in new mad cow scare

December 15, 1997 Agence France-Presse 
DUBLIN - Ireland's health authorities Monday began tracking down 270 people who received transfusions using blood products from a British company sold in more than 50 countries and which could have been contaminated by Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of "mad cow" disease. The Irish government tried to play down the latest scare, saying there was only a very small risk for the patients involved and promised to inform them in a "prudent and sensitive" way. It announced Sunday that 268 people were treated with the suspect product, Amerscam Pulmonate, an injectible agent used in lung scans in radiology departments.

Opposition parties accused the government of waiting too long before alerting the public when it knew of the risks from Nov. 26.

The maker of the product, Britain's Nycomed Amersham, said Monday that the batch of suspect products -- made with the blood of a British donor who later died of CJD -- could have been sold in 52 countries altogether, where the company has clients. The laboratory, outside London, says it sold more than 10,000 product units between June and October this year, and has issued a warning to all its clients.

Alan Huw-Smith, the company's corporate affairs director who had originally estimated that the suspect consignments had been sold in 40 countries, said checks were being made with the countries concerned Monday. A provisional list included 13 countries -- Belgium, Britain, Colombia, Denmark Finland, Germany, Ireland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Spain and Sweden. Of the 10,000 units sold only "15 percent have been sent back so far," he said. That did not mean that the remaining 85 percent had been used.

The company, alerted by British health authorities in November, said the withdrawal was a precautionary measure. There was no proof that CJD could be transmitted through blood. Huw-Smith said:

"There is no evidence that the blood was contaminated, no evidence that the serum was contaminated and no evidence that this particular batch of our product was contaminated."
He said it was understood the blood donation was made in the early 1990s. "There is a considerable delay between the time when this donation was given and the time when the donor was diagnosed as having contracted CJD."

There is no proof at present of a possible transmission between humans through blood transfusions, but the risk is not excluded by scentists. The British government recently envisaged treating systematically all blood donations and blood products to eliminate any possible infections. An inquiry is currently under way in Britain after eye tissue from a woman who died of CJD were used for corneal grafts on three patients.

Portugal to screen blood to reduce CJD risk

Reuters Fri, Dec 12, 1997
LISBON - Portugal will start screening blood next year to reduce the risk of infection from the human equivalent of mad cow disease, a senior health official said on Friday. Portugal will be the first country in Europe to take steps to screen blood for an agent that causes Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (CJD), said Jose de Almeida Goncalves, president of the state-run Portuguese Blood Institute.
"From April 1, 1998 blood banks will use filters to extract white cells in order to eliminate any risk of infection with CJD," Almeida Goncalves told Reuters. "No one knows if a CJD epidemic is going to happen. Our action is purely precautionary," he added.
Doctors have said that Britain's national blood supply could be infected with a new strain of CJD. Britain is also considering removing white blood cells from donated blood and plasma. Eight cases of CJD have been reported in Portugal so far this year, up from five in 1996 and two in 1995. Better reporting may explain the sharp increase in the number of cases, Almeida Goncalves said.

U.S. limits livestock, product imports in BSE rule

Fri, Dec 12, 1997 Reuters World Report
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 19:30:58 -0500 WASHINGTON - The United States will restrict the import of cattle, sheep and some livestock products from 21 European nations until there is proof of no "mad cow" risk from them, the Agriculture Department said on Friday.

Similar restrictions are already in place for ruminant animals and some livestock products, such as fresh meat and meat and bone meal from Britain, France, Ireland, Oman, Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belguim and Luxembourg. "Mad cow" disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been detected in those nations.

The department said the restrictions would be lifted for countries that employ sufficiently strong surveillance systems. "We made this decision to protect human and animal health, to protect the security of our export markets, and to protect the safety and integrity of our food supply," Assistant Agriculture Secretary Mike Dunn said in a statement. Action followed discovery in Belgium and Luxembourg of infected cattle and research identifying BSE infectivity in bone marrow and other materials.

In addition, the United States has disputed a European Union plan to ban imports of some livestock products including tallow and gelatin. Washington has estimated the EU rule could disrupt $4.5 billion in cosmetic and pharmaceutical trade. The United States says, with no U.S. history of BSE, its products are safe.

The Agriculture Department said it stopped issuing import permits for animals and the specified products from Albania, Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

U.S. bans imports of European meat

December 13, 1997 The Washington Post/AP/ Reuter
The United States Friday banned imports of all cattle and sheep from Europe until the risk of spreading mad cow disease in this country is fully examined. Michael V. Dunn, assistant agriculture secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, was quoted as saying, "We made this decision to protect human and animal health, to protect the security of our export markets, and to protect the safety and integrity of our food supply." The stories add that previously, USDA had restricted imports of cattle, sheep and many products such as fresh meat and bone meal, from nine European countries where the disease was known to exist. The action announced late Friday expands that ban to most other European countries.

Dunn was also cited as saying that the decision to expand the import restrictions came after two animals diagnosed with mad cow disease in Belgium and Luxembourg went into the animal food processing system, adding, "This import policy is science-based and consistent" with international guidelines. The stories add that USDA will lift the import restrictions for any country that shows it has a mad cow surveillance program that conforms to international standards and contains adequate controls for import.

A USDA spokesman was cited as telling Reuters that the new restrictions were not related to the US-European Union dispute over tallow, cattle brains and related livestock products.

Health chiefs launch mass screening for CJD

Telegraph Sunday 14 December 1997 By Victoria Macdonald, Health Correspondent
A nationwide screening programme for hospital patients and accident victims is to be carried out to assess how far the human form of mad cow disease has spread. The CJD Surveillance Unit is to test the tonsils of patients who have them removed, and also the brains of people who die in road accidents. It has also emerged that doctors in Oxford have started taking samples from the brains of bodies sent for autopsy , to look for new variant CJD.

The Telegraph has learned that Dr Robert Will, director of the CJD unit, presented his plans to the directors of the UK haemophilia centres during a closed meeting on nvCJD. Dr Will was not available for comment, but a doctor who attended the meeting confirmed that Dr Will laid out a programme for testing living and deceased patients for the disease, which has been linked to BSE.

The programme is expected to be disclosed in a letter to the Lancet within the next few weeks from Dr Will and addressed to doctors and coroners. Under the plan, brain tissue, lymph system and blood of people killed in road accidents would be tested for the prion protein associated with nvCJD. Only the brains of people aged over 16 would be used. Permission would have to be obtained from relatives, as is also the case in the Oxford research. There were 3,600 road deaths in Britain last year and if even half the relatives agreed to a biopsy, doctors would gain a reasonable marker on how many people are infected.

Dr Will told the meeting that with this study, and that using tonsular tissue, it would take six to 12 months to determine the extent of the disease's spread. Testing would almost certainly be anonymous, with any patient carrying the disease unlikely to be told they are infected .

... The British Medical Association and the Royal College of Pathologists both expressed concerns at the ethical implications of the testing. The BMA said that as long as the tonsil testing was performed anonymously it would be acceptable, but a spokesman said the association had reservations about the testing of brains of accident victims.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "As far as I know, no proposal has been sent to the department ." However, at Oxford, research using brain tissue from autopsy cases is being paid for by the Department of Health. The work is led by Professor Margaret Esiri, a neuropathologist at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

"If there is anything going on in the general population, we would expect to pick it up, but so far there have been no nvCJD cases," she said. "It is only a tiny sample and we do not know how useful the testing will be."
There had been a mixed response from relatives, "just as there is in organ donation cases".

E.U. Commission 'Seriously Regrets' U.S. Beef Import Move

15 Dec 97 Dow Jones By Jonathan Stearns
BRUSSELS --The European Union Commission said Monday it 'seriously regrets' a U.S. decision to restrict imports of E.U. beef and to ban imports of all E.U. cattle, sheep and goats. Spokesman Gerard Kiely suggested the move is meant to pressure the Commission, the E.U. executive, into exempting the U.S. from a proposed ban on products deemed at risk of harboring 'mad cow' disease and into formally endorsing a transatlantic accord on animal products trade.

'We seriously regret this decision because it's not well founded and we had no prior warning of it,' Kiely said at a meeting with journalists. Saying the U.S. import restrictions won't have a 'major' economic consequence for the 15-member E.U., Kiely questioned whether the U.S. had an 'ulterior motive' for imposing them.

He noted strong U.S. opposition to a planned E.U. ban on pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other products considered at risk of harboring bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The U.S. has said the ban, due to take effect March 31, 1998, would disrupt billions of dollars a year in U.S. pharmaceuticals exports.

Kiely also cited U.S. criticism of the Commission's refusal in November to recommend that E.U. countries ratify a 'veterinary equivalency' agreement with the U.S. until the U.S. Agriculture Department offers more concessions on imports of animal products from E.U. countries where a disease has broken out. Kiely said the Commission will seek more information from the U.S. about the reasons for the import restrictions.

Meanwhile, E.U. agriculture ministers are likely to discuss the issue at a two-day meeting in Brussels beginning later Monday, Kiely said. The U.S. decided Friday to restrict imports of beef and to ban imports of live ruminants from across the E.U. and other European countries because of concerns about BSE. It cited recent evidence that animals infected with BSE in Belgium and Luxembourg had been used for animal feed in Europe as justifications for the move.

Until Friday, the U.S. had been restricting imports of beef from just seven E.U. countries - the U.K., France, Ireland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The restrictions, based on confirmed BSE cases in those countries, amounted to a ban on bone-in beef but not boneless beef.

In 1996, E.U. exports of beef and live cattle, sheep and goats to the U.S. were worth a total of about $3 million. Of that, E.U. beef exports amounted to about $2.6 million.

Sunday Telegraph

 14.12.97  Dealler
Americans Ban European beef and lamb announced by Michael Dunn, assistant agriculture secretary formarketing and regulatory programmes. The statement came after agriculture attaches from European embasies in the American capital were summoned to the USDA. A second cow with BSE has appeared in Belgium. 381,000 metric tonnes of of beef and veal were exported to the USA every year from Europe. UK will be little affected.

Britain welcomes U.S.'s Europe-wide beef curbs

December 13, 1997 Reuter
LONDON -- British Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham was quoted as saying in a statement Sat. that,
"The U.K. appears likely to be little affected by this U.S. action. We do not export beef to the U.S. and the market for sheep meat is small. I am interested that the U.S. is concerned about BSE in other (European Union) member states. The U.K. has similar concerns and is pressing for implementation from January 5 of EU-wide controls on the removal of some Specified Risk Material from beef and some sheep."

What have we been fed

Channel 4  11.12.97 Dispatches
''What have we been fed was the main idea of the program; showing that we have not just been fed bovine material from infected cattle but we have also been given deliberately misleading information by Government offices. It puts over how Iain McGill, a researcher at the centre of the BSE research was basically censored and prevented from given out scientific information to external groups. It shows how MAFF were determined that his findings and those of other researchers be stopped by higher authority.

It shows that research was prevented in foreign groups (and UK groups - Ed) by the refusal to give quantities of bovine brain tissue (or any other tissue from infected animals) to them by MAFF. The programs puts over the idea that specific working parties aimed at advising the UK Government were not adequate to decide on the advice that was given and that they were mislead by MAFF staff working with them.

It made it clear that before MAFF decisions were made they had to be agreed with the beef industry (i.e. is put over that public health was being put behind the industry when decisions were being made). McGill had quit because he could not take part in such misinformation but had been afraid to give the details out to external groups.

He said that research he had asked to do (to look for BSE infection in sheep) was not funded when it was needed in 1992 and is only now being started 5 years later. The program was completely damning of the MAFF as a protector of human health from food, and showed how science findings were manipulated to give the impression to the consumer that 'everything was fine' (e.g. the marmoset monkey that died of BSE was looked on as an important result before it died and was then almost ignored).

Various people (Collinge included) stated that they felt an inquiry was needed and that this should be a judicial one in order to bring the information forward. (My own opinion of the program was that far more could have been shown of how information was hidden from scientists, press, probably the House of Commons and certainly from foreign groups but probably there was not time to show it. It showed that the scientists themselves did their best but it was the higher officials that were determined that BSE would not affect the beef industry no matter what the findings were. An inquiry that can suboena witnesses is essential but this is not completely clear in the program - Steve Dealler, Editor)

USDA: Live ruminant imports from Europe restricted

OTC (COMTEX NewswireMon, Dec 15, 1997
Washington --USDA has announced in a formal statement restrictions on the importation of live ruminants and certain ruminant products from Europe until the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) can be further assessed. As reported by FWN last Friday, USDA on Dec. 11 stopped issuing import permits for all live ruminants, including cattle and sheep, and ruminant products such as meat and bone meal and fresh meat, from Europe until USDA scientists can assess the risk of BSE and evaluate surveillance activities in individual countries.

USDA has requested information from affected countries and will evaluate that information upon receipt, the statement said. USDA will lift import restrictions with respect to any country found to have a surveillance program that conforms to international standards and adequate import controls. "We made this decision to protect human and animal health, to protect the security of our export markets and to protect the safety and the integrity of our food supply," said Michael Dunn, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service assistant secretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

Such action was initiated at this time in part because of several recent developments related to BSE in Europe. A bovine animal native to Belgium was diagnosed as BSE positive and subsequently processed into the animal food chain, as was another bovine animal native to Luxembourg. Also, on Dec. 3, scientists in the United Kingdom identified BSE infectivity in dorsal root ganglion, trigeminal ganglion, and bone marrow, according to the statement.

Until now, USDA regulations restricted the importation of ruminants and ruminant products only from countries that have reported BSE diagnosed in native- born cattle. Countries known to be affected with BSE include the United Kingdom, France, the Republic of Ireland, Oman, Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Products presenting minimal risk of BSE transmission--including semen, milk and milk products, hides and skins, tallow and tallow derivatives, and certain blood products used in microbiologic media--are excluded from the new import restrictions. Products such as gelatin and collagen for human use are addressed through authority of the Food and Drug Administration.

"This import policy is science based and consistent with international guidelines set forth by the Office of International Epizootics," Dunn added.
The new restrictions apply to the following countries: Albania, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

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