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New book: "Mad Cow U.S.A. Could the Nightmare Happen Here?"
EU Scientists: No Guarantee US is BSE-Free
Time for beef irradiation?
USDA to send investigators to slaughterhouses
U.S. hopes Europe mad cow plan does not hurt exports
Proposals to partially ease UK beef ban approved
Government urged to allow pig transplants

Mad Cow U.S.A. Could the Nightmare Happen Here?

Wed, 17 Sep 1997 ... Publication date: November 1, 1997 
For Review Copies and Author Interviews 
Contact Greg Bates of Common Courage Press
Phone: 207-525-0900
Dr. Timothy B. McCall, M.D.
author of Examining Your Doctor: A Patient's Guide to Avoiding Harmful Medical Care:
"This first-rate work of investigative journalism is the real story of mad cow disease. Reads like a detective story."
Nicols Fox
author of Spoiled: The Dangerous Truth about a Food Chain Gone Haywire
"This looming disaster is no Sci-Fi scenario. A fabulous and urgently needed warning."
Jeremy Rifkin
author of Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture
"Chilling and revealing food for thought. Every American family ought to read this book."
Bill McKibben
author of The End of Nature
"This book may turn your stomach, but it will turn your head as well. Eye opening and long overdue."
The November 1st publication of Mad Cow U.S.A.: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? will shatter the belief that government and industry would 'never let it happen here.' This is the true and terrifying tale that agribusiness wants to censor.

Authors Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber reveal a world of brilliant scientists, callous industry, courageous victims and cowardly bureaucrats. All are united by a mysterious new killer disease threatening a global epidemic - unless we heed this book's warning.

In Britain the meat industry's feeding practice of 'animal cannibalism' has unleashed a fatal Alzheimers-like dementia that is killing a growing number of young victims who ate contaminated beef from mad cows. Some experts predict hundreds of thousands of Britons may die in the decades ahead due to the long and invisible incubation period of this brain-destroying illness, called 'new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.'

Mad Cow U.S.A. explains how mad cow disease and nvCJD have emerged as a result of modern, intensive factory farming. Europe has banned the feeding practices that spread this emerging disease. However, here in the U.S. the dangerous practice of 'animal cannibalism' continues with government approval.

Mad Cow U.S.A. exposes the deadly game of 'dementia roulette' being played with our food supply, demonstrating how previously unknown risks can become catastrophic. The U.S. already has its own versions of the brain-wasting disease killing cows and people in Britain. The threat of a U.S. epidemic persists as each year billions of pounds of rendered fat, offal, meat and bone meal are fed back to cows, pigs, chickens and pets.

Rather than invoking a 'precautionary principle' to protect human health, the powerful U.S. food lobby is waging war against free speech by legislating 'food disparagement laws' in more than a dozen states, criminalizing those who speak out for food safety. The first lawsuit is currently proceeding against Oprah Winfrey for her show examining U.S. mad cow risks.

Government cover-up in Britain and industry and bureaucratic collusion in the U.S. have kept these threats hidden from American view. Until now, when Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber answer the question of Mad Cow U.S.A.: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?

The authors:

Sheldon Rampton is a Princeton graduate and investigative journalist; this is his third book. John Stauber is founder of the Center for Media & Democracy, a non-profit organization dedicated to reporting on the 'propaganda-for-hire' industry of public relations. Stauber and Rampton write and edit the quarterly PR Watch.

They are also co-authors of the recent acclaimed book Toxic Sludge Is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, now in its fourth printing from Common Courage Press. The authors live in Madison, Wisconsin.

Time for beef irradiation?

September 17, 1997  Nando News
WASHINGTON -- Following the nation's biggest food recall over an E. coli scare, some members of Congress say it's time the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of irradiation to destroy harmful microbes in beef.
"There is ample evidence that it kills pathogens and promotes health," said Rep. Greg Ganske, R-Iowa, who is a surgeon.
Ganske introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at forcing the FDA to approve use of irradiation in red meat, which the agency has been mulling since 1994.

The recall of 25 million pounds of Hudson Foods Co. ground beef last month because of potential E. coli contamination has renewed interest in irradiation, which the FDA has already approved for poultry, pork, spices and seasonings. It is of particular importance to the food industry, which opposes Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman's proposal for authority to make mandatory recalls of food products suspected of contamination and to issue more civil fines.

"The makers of America's leading brands of food products strongly support the use of best available science and technology in the ongoing battle for food safety," said Mary Sophos, senior vice president for government affairs at the Grocery Manufacturers of America.
Since 1994, the FDA has been considering a petition from Isomedix Inc. of Whippany, N.J., to market a method of low-dose irradiation for use on red meat. The process involves use of gamma rays to kill unwanted microbes and has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and World Health Organization. There is no evidence that the process makes food radioactive.
"It is the highest priority that we're working on," said George Pauli, director of product policy at the FDA.
Before irradiation can be approved for red meats, Pauli said, the FDA must be convinced that any chemical changes made by the technique are not themselves harmful and it won't somehow bolster growth of new microbes by killing the old ones.
"The question is, are you setting up a situation where you could actually cause a problem?" Pauli said.
Irradiation is seen by backers as the answer to a food inspection system that cannot guarantee meats are free of E. coli, salmonella or other organisms that cause human illness. The only way consumers can be sure the meat is safe now is to cook it thoroughly. Irradiation would likely boost the cost of ground beef about 1 percent, but supporters say it would offer consumers concerned about safety a choice.
"I'd prefer to know my meat's safe," said Rep. Sue Kelly, R-N.Y.
Ganske's bill would force approval of the Isomedix petition, allowing other companies to market irradiation to beef processors. Use of the procedure would be voluntary. At a beef plant, irradiation could be used as the meat is moved along conveyor belts or sitting on pallets. It could also be used at the retail level, said Dennis Olson, food and nutrition professor at Iowa State University.

Proposals to ease beef ban approved

September 18 1997  The Times     CHARLES BREMNER IN BRUSSELS
EUROPEAN scientists yesterday approved British proposals for a partial easing of the worldwide ban on beef exports. The scientific veterinary committee broadly accepted a scheme to allow the export of beef from herds certified free of BSE for eight years, provided they are subject to a stringent computerised tracing system. This condition effectively limits any easing to cattle from Northern Ireland, the only region with such a system. There, central computer records are kept of cattle movements from farm to farm and abattoirs also have computer terminals.

British officials were guarded about the prospects of an eventual easing of the embargo, which was imposed in March last year. With emotion still running high on the Continent against any readmission of British beef to shops on the European mainland, the consent of the rest of the EU could still be hard to win. "This is about the first of six steps along the way to getting the ban lifted," a British official said. The next step is for the Commission to produce a proposal and seek the opinion of the committee of national veterinary representatives.

Scottish farmers said that the committee's recommendations were a disproportionate response to the problem. Sandy Mole, president of the National Farmers Union in Scotland, said that farmers in Northern Ireland would be given a free rein to capture markets built up by their Scottish colleagues. The Government is reviewing the committee's opinion. One option will be to make a formal request to the Commission to have the ban eased, officials said.

The committee's decision is the first positive EU action over British beef since the Commission forced through a decision in mid-1996 to allow the export of gelatine, a move that was later suspended. The Florence agreement of June 1996 stipulates that the ban can be progressively eased once Britain satisfies purely scientific conditions.

USDA to send investigators to slaughterhouses

Associated Press September 11, 1997 
LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Department of Agriculture will send investigators to slaughterhouses next week to search for the source of contaminated beef that led to the nation's largest meat recall, officials announced Thursday. Investigators have yet to find who supplied the Hudson Foods plant in Columbus, Neb., with beef tainted with the E. coli bacteria that sickened people in Colorado and led to a recall of 25 million pounds of ground beef because of possible contamination.

Agriculture Department spokeswoman Jacque Knight said Thursday that investigators will examine slaughter plant production, shipping records and records of testing for the E. coli bacteria. Investigators have said that the meat supplied to Hudson was contaminated before it ever reached the plant. The suppliers' names have not been released.

The investigation will focus on those companies that supplied Hudson with beef on June 5, one of the days the contaminated beef was believed to have been processed, Knight said. She did not know how many plants would be checked. Hudson's plant in Columbus, 75 miles northwest of Lincoln, shut down Aug. 21 after the company and the Agriculture Department recalled the 25 million pounds of hamburger.

The Columbus plant was a major supplier to Burger King restaurants, and a quarter of the nation's second-largest fast-food chain was left without meat for a day or two. Burger King canceled its contract with Hudson and the company, left without a major customer for the plant, decided to sell the plant to Dakota City, Neb.-based IBP. Earlier this month, it was announced that Tyson Foods was purchasing Hudson. Company officials have said that will not affect the sale of the Columbus plant to IBP.

To date, about 6 million pounds of meat have been returned. The other 19 million pounds have been consumed by customers or thrown away, Hudson and Agriculture Department officials said. No decision has been made on what will be done with the recalled meat, but Hudson officials have said it will not be reused for human consumption. It could be cooked at a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria and be used for pet food, Knight said.

Government urged to allow pig transplants

September 11 1997 Reuter
ORGAN transplants from pigs to human beings should go ahead despite fears that pig viruses might be transmitted to the recipients, a British expert said yesterday. The risk would be minimal if relatively few transplants were conducted at the start and recipients were carefully monitored, said David Onions of the Veterinary School at Glasgow University. He added:
"All new medical advances pose risks as well as benefits."
Professor Onions urged the public to become engaged in the debate over a technique which may become one of the most important additions to medical technology in the next century. A government committee under Ian Kennedy has advised delay because of the dangers of infection. Many dangerous pathogens, including HIV and the flu virus, originated in animals.

Professor Onions said that the dangers were great enough in the case of wild-caught or first-generation primates to preclude their use, even if ethical considerations were set aside, but there were steps that could be taken with pigs. Breeding programmes that involved producing piglets by hysterectomies, and then weaning them away from their mothers, eliminated virtually all known viruses if the process were repeated in a second generation, he said. What remains are unknown viruses, and a retrovirus which forms part of the pig's own genes and is passed down from generation to generation.

Careful study should be able to eliminate the currently unknown viruses, leaving only the retrovirus, which cannot be eliminated except by further genetic manipulation. That would take time, he said.

U.S. hopes Europe mad cow plan does not hurt exports

Reuters North America  Wed, Sep 10, 1997
WASHINGTON - Proposed European restrictions to prevent the spread of mad cow disease could affect U.S. pharmaceutical and tallow exports if American products are not cleared as free of the disease, a Commerce Department official said Wednesday.

A European Union scientific advisory committee said earlier this week that products derived from tallow should be made using specific manufacturing methods to avoid spreading the fatal brain disease Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) to humans. Tallow derivatives are used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

"We are BSE free, and it is a matter of working that through with the (European) Commission," Franklin Vargo, acting assistant Commerce secretary for international trade, told reporters after testifying at a congressional hearing. The United States hopes the European Commission finds "the U.S. is BSE free, the U.S. products are not harmful, and the U.S. products can continue to be sold in Europe unimpaired," Vargo said.
He urged U.S. lawmakers to discuss concerns about the proposed restrictions at meetings with a delegation from the European Parliament in Washington Sept. 22-23. The United States sends $20 billion in pharmaceutical exports and $100 million in tallow exports to Europe, he said. The EU scientific advisory committee's opinion will be considered by the European Commission.

However, the committee sent no clear signal on U.S. products, Vargo said. "We don't quite know what to make of it, maybe on closer study it will become clear," he added. The committee did not address whether the United States should be exempt from EU rules banning tallow derivatives unless they are free of cattle parts most likely to transmit BSE. The United States has threatened to take the EU to the World Trade Organization over the rules.

EU Scientists: No Guarantee US is BSE-Free

Reuters Online Service Thu, Sep 18, 1997
BRUSSELS - European Union scientists said Thursday the United States had probably been free of madcow disease in the past but there was no guarantee it would escape it in the future. The independent but influential Scientific Veterinary Committee issued a statement saying a U.S. BSE monitoring program
"has probably been effective in detecting BSE should it have is not an absolute guarantee for the present situation. At present the committee cannot guarantee that cattle from the United States have not been exposed to and thus do not carry BSE infectivity, though there is no positive evidence that they do so," it added.
The committee met for a two-day session ending Wednesday. The ruling is significant because it comes at a time when the United States is seeking an exemption from planned Brussels legislation banning certain imported beef products, including tallow -- a substance widely used in the cosmetics industry. The U.S. has said it is very concerned by the ban, due to take effect in January, which it says has no scientific basis and could affect billions of dollars' worth of exports to Europe.

Winning "BSE-free" status from the committee would have been a powerful weapon in their argument. The EU has imposed the restriction over fears that the products could carry bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and could transmit a similar fatal disease, Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (CJD), to humans. The veterinary committee also considered the situation in Australia, where it said there was no evidence for the occurrence of BSE and the risk of future occurrence was low.

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