Home
Store
Newsletter
Veg FAQ
Parenting
Weight Loss
Recipes
VegSource TV
HomeSchooling
All Articles
   

SEARCH VEGSOURCE:
Custom Search

 


In the Vegetarian & Vegan News...
   NCBA Response | VegSource Interactive, Inc.

Response from National Cattlemen's Beef Association to Article About Mad Cow Testing

We received a response to our recent article entitled "USDA Mad Cow Strategy: Don't Look, Don't Find" from a representative of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), Mr. Gary Weber. 

VegSource very much wants to give the cattle industry the opportunity to make their views known on this subject. Anything the cattle industry wants to send us we are more than happy to share with the many many people who read our website each month.

Here is the unedited response from Gary Weber of the NCBA:

April 3, 2001

I rarely take time to comment on articles I see...but I must make an exception to one you recently published. I found your article quite off track and full of gross errors and obvious biased..

You extensive use of information and opinion provided by Moser is one example. 

"Dr. Markus Moser, a molecular biologist and guest researcher at Oxford University in England, heads the Swiss company Prionics, which developed a rapid-response test for BSE, called the Prionics Check Test. The Check Test costs about $40 per cow, and Moser says it has found cases of mad cow in tests of "healthy" cattle which otherwise would have entered the food chain."

Come on ..of course a guy who is set to make millions off selling "his" test...is going to bash what we do...here are the facts..

The IHC test being used by APHIS was the first such test fully tested and verified in the world. It is as sensitive as the prionics test...it just takes more time. In fact..it provides less false positives...an error that requires many more confirmatory steps..time and expense. Pit our IHC test against the prionics..side by side and the only difference will be lots of false positives..extra tests with Prionics...no difference in true ability to detect the prion protein. It seems you were victimized by a sales pitch.

Long before Moser even knew what BSE was...the U.S. had already started surveillance..already banned the importation of cattle and products that could carry the BSE agent.


 



You need to be more suspicious of the views of so called "European Experts." If they were so "smart" why did they continue to import live cattle and contaminated feed from the UK after we banned it in 1989..ask Moser that!

Why did Europe continue to sell BSE contaminated feed to 3rd world countries long after we banned the importation of cattle and all feeds that could carry BSE from ALL of Europe into the US in 1997?

Why was PCB/dioxin contaminated feed fed to pigs and chickens in Europe and why did the government cover it up??

Why did FMD [foot and mouth disease] spread across the UK and then Europe?

If you want to do a story that is objective...ask these questions.

What you will find is Europeans have lost sight of how to regulate agriculture... their arrogance and failure to invest in and apply science in agriculture is outrageous. It is even more outrageous that anyone from Europe would have the guts to criticize what we have done here. Dr. Moser and European officials should be embarrassed at their behavior and their consumer constituents outraged.

In the US we have never cut corners on BSE prevention..we have aggressively pursued prevention...LONG before Europe ever did.

You might say "sure Dr. Weber takes this position...he works for the cattle industry." The fact is, I eat beef, my wife and 4 children eat beef...my 107 year old great aunt eats it...neither I nor any of our members will tolerate anything other than strict regulations and enforcement of BSE prevention strategies.

The fact we ARE BSE FREE is no accident...the fact Europe is NOT is no surprise to any of us who know how they do business.

Gary Weber
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
1301 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite 300
Washington DC 20004-1701
202-347-0228
http://hill.beef.org


VegSource comments:

I would like to clarify one point in the article about the sensitivity of the Prionics and other rapid testing techniques, versus the Immunohistochemistry Test (IHC), used by the USDA to test for BSE.

No one I spoke with in researching my article said the IHC test was not highly accurate. As I noted, it is used by governments in Europe to confirm positive results when a positive is generated by the rapid BSE tests.

What I learned is that there are problems inherent to the IHC test, the principal one having to do with the interpretive nature of the test, which can be impacted by how hard the person doing the test actually works.

Moser explained that with the IHC test, you can take 100 sections of cow brain to examine for prions...or you can take only 2 or 3. How much effort goes into the actual test may determine whether or not an accurate result comes back. If you take 2 or 3 sections, and don't see BSE, you can conclude there is no BSE. But if a rapid test comes back positive, and you look at a few sections using IHC and see no prions, further sectioning may subsequently reveal prions are indeed present. This was what Mr. O'Connor also said occurs in Ireland with the IHC. In the US, there is no positive result from a rapid test which might prompt the IHC technician to continue looking in a given sample, where infection might otherwise be missed.

Also, in downer cows which die and lay there for a day, the prionics test WILL catch prions, while IHC never will -- because the brain has turned too liquidy if it hasn't been preserved properly. When they test on degraded downer cows in Switzerland and Germany and get a positive, the government lab doesn't even bother trying to do an IHC test to confirm it because they know they will never find prions in a watery brain sample of that condition, even when it's filled with them, according to Moser.

Moser also says that issues can be further complicated because prions are not necessarily evenly distributed across the brain or spinal material. This makes it possible for one test to get a positive result, signaling the presence of prions, but sending a different part of the same brain to another lab to for IHC confirmation testing may not find anything. Going back and sectioning more parts of the brain, if you're doing ICH, may reveal a positive BSE sample after all -- if the government examiners wish to go back and look again.

I thought it was interesting that Mr. Weber of the NCBA does not comment on many of the points in the article about the enormous disparity in testing between Europe and the US. The sheer number of BSE tests as well as the types of animals being tested as "fallen" is troubling.

Rather than discuss these points, Mr. Weber makes observations about what he believes are Dr. Moser's personal motivations for speaking with me. (This seems an ironic charge coming from Mr. Weber, who is paid a spokesman for the Cattlemen's Association.)

Mr. Weber also charges the European agricultural industry is highly inferior to that of the U.S. That may or may not be so, but that is not the issue I set out to examine. My article is about BSE-testing. Dr. Moser is an expert in this field.

While I am not Dr. Moser's defender, from all I have learned in speaking to various experts, he is someone to be praised for the role his company played in forcing BSE out into the open in Europe. I'm sure he is not any more popular with the European meat industry than he is with Mr. Weber.

Mr. Weber's suggestion that I should ask Dr. Moser questions about policy set by European governments seems at best a weak defense, at worst a deflection from the real issue. Moser did not control agricultural policy in Europe at any time that I am aware of.

It seems that Mr. Weber, as the NCBA's representative, is the one who should be answering some very critical questions: Why aren't we taking the same precautions as the Europeans who, when they took them, learned to their shock that they did have mad cow after all?

And if Weber's answer is "Because we don't have it here," it's obvious to anyone who has looked into this that this is far from being proven from a scientific standpoint.

It seems apparent Europe learned from their mistakes, including mistakes in testing. Why shouldn't the U.S. benefit from the expertise they acquired?

Mr. Weber of the NCBA says in his letter above,

"In the US we have never cut corners on BSE prvention..we have aggressively pursued prevention...LONG before Europe ever did."

However, Mr. Weber appeared on an episode of Oprah Winfrey in 1996 during which it was pointed out that the US was still feeding cattle to cattle, while the practice had been banned in the UK.

When Oprah Winfrey asked Mr. Weber if this was true, whether the cows were still being fed to cows in the US, Mr. Weber acknowledged it was, responding

"There is a limited amount of that done in the United States."

It wasn't until over a year later, in June of 1997, that the USDA actually issued a rule placing a ban on feeding cows to cows in the US, as had already been done in Europe.

According to a very recent GAO study, the rules set out in 1997 to help prevent the spread of mad cow in the US by changing feed practices -- have been largely ignored by over two-thirds of feed mills in the US -- several thousand -- during the past 4 years. Compliance is still far from being achieved as of mid-March 2001.

Additionally, in Europe it is illegal to feed chickens, pigs and cows' blood to cows, as recent research suggests it may be possible to recycle mad cow disease back into cattle this way. This practice, however, is still legal in the US, and widely done.

This is at odds with Mr. Weber's assertions that the US is keeping "ahead of Europe" or "never cutting corners on BSE prevention."

Another guest who appeared on the Oprah show with Mr. Weber in 1996 was former cattle rancher, Howard Lyman. At that time, Lyman was urging that the US adopt the kinds of measures Europe had embraced to help prevent BSE in the US

Lyman and Oprah were subsequently sued by cattle ranchers after this TV appearance, with the apparent support of Mr. Weber's organization, the NCBA. The cattlemen claimed Lyman was "disparaging" beef and telling lies when he spoke about possible safety problems vis-a-vis mad cow and American meat.

But the cattle industry lost their trial against Lyman and Oprah. And the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict, concluding that Lyman's statements and opinions about meat industry practices were "based on truthful, established fact." (The court further admonished the cattlemen saying, "Defamation law should not be used as a threat of force individuals to muzzle their truthful, reasonable opinions and beliefs.")

I keep this in mind when I read statements like the above from Mr. Weber and the NCBA smearing someone and claiming they are lying or uninformed. History shows the cattlemen's claims do not hold up under the scrutiny of a truth-finding setting of judge and jury.

There is nothing you can do in the slaughterhouse or kitchen to prevent the transmission of mad cow, says Dr. Philip Monk, a British epidemiologist who is leading a new investigation into the spread of mad cow. That's because the disease is untreatable and always fatal. "The only thing you can do is to make sure that you don't get exposed to it."

That is what makes the stakes so high in the mad cow debate.

Mr. Weber says above: " Pit our IHC test against the prionics..side by side and the only difference will be lots of false positives..extra tests with Prionics...no difference in true ability to detect the prion protein."

Is the cattle industry willing to pit the European testing system side by side with the current US testing system, and see what the difference is? Will the NCBA call for the same side by side measures taken here as were taken in what once were other "BSE-free" countries, and see if we can stand up?

I asked one of the BSE researchers consulted in the article if he wished to see the comments of Mr. Weber and possibly respond to the criticisms. Here is this researcher's response:

"Thank you, but I am not interested in the comments of Mr. Weber of the US cattle industry. He may attack Dr. Moser, me or European countries, but he can't change the facts. For me personally, it is only important that we in Germany now have the most complete feed ban against possibly spongiform disease infective materials, as well as the best BSE testing program worldwide. These measures only came as a reaction to the first BSE case in a German cow. You in the US are now in a situation very similar to what we had before our first BSE case."

Jeffrey Nelson
vegsource.com

VegSource Articles on Mad Cow:

 

Additional Background

Mr. Weber's background may be as a veterinarian from the USDA. On SwinePro, Dr. Gary Weber represented USDA Extension Service. Since 1997 at least he has been
Executive Director, Regulatory Affairs, National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "We've had BSE on our issues radar screen since 1986," said Dr. Gary Weber, NCBA's Director of Regulatory Affairs Feb. 28, 1997.

Mr. Weber wrote in his letter above:

"Long before Moser even knew what BSE was...the U.S. had already started surveillance.. already banned the importation of cattle and products that could carry the BSE agent."

Actually, this is typically misleading.

Below is what turned up for publications on Markus Moser and Bruno Oesch, the founders of Prionics. Their published work goes back to April 1985 on prions -- which in fact is a year before Weber, the USDA, or the Cattlemen's association even knew what BSE was.

1: Oesch B, Doherr M, Heim D, Fischer K, Egli S, Bolliger S, Biffiger K,
Schaller O, Vandevelde M, Moser M.
Application of Prionics Western blotting procedure to screen for BSE in cattle
regularly slaughtered at Swiss abattoirs.
Arch Virol Suppl. 2000;(16):189-95.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 11214922

2: Schaller O, Fatzer R, Stack M, Clark J, Cooley W, Biffiger K, Egli S, Doherr
M, Vandevelde M, Heim D, Oesch B, Moser M.
Validation of a western immunoblotting procedure for bovine PrP(Sc) detection
and its use as a rapid surveillance method for the diagnosis of bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Acta Neuropathol (Berl). 1999 Nov;98(5):437-43.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 10541864

3: Korth C, Stierli B, Streit P, Moser M, Schaller O, Fischer R,
Schulz-Schaeffer W, Kretzschmar H, Raeber A, Braun U, Ehrensperger F, Hornemann
S, Glockshuber R, Riek R, Billeter M, Wuthrich K, Oesch B.
Prion (PrPSc)-specific epitope defined by a monoclonal antibody.
Nature. 1997 Nov 6;390(6655):74-7.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 9363892

4: Tobler I, Gaus SE, Deboer T, Achermann P, Fischer M, Rulicke T, Moser M,
Oesch B, McBride PA, Manson JC.
Altered circadian activity rhythms and sleep in mice devoid of prion protein.
Nature. 1996 Apr 18;380(6575):639-42.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 8602267

5: Fischer M, Rulicke T, Raeber A, Sailer A, Moser M, Oesch B, Brandner S,
Aguzzi A, Weissmann C.
Prion protein (PrP) with amino-proximal deletions restoring susceptibility of
PrP knockout mice to scrapie.
EMBO J. 1996 Mar 15;15(6):1255-64.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 8635458

6: Moser M, Colello RJ, Pott U, Oesch B.
Developmental expression of the prion protein gene in glial cells.
Neuron. 1995 Mar;14(3):509-17.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 7695897

7: Moser M, Oesch B, Bueler H.
An anti-prion protein?
Nature. 1993 Mar 18;362(6417):213-4. No abstract available.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 8096326

-=-=-=-=-=-

1: Oesch B, Doherr M, Heim D, Fischer K, Egli S, Bolliger S, Biffiger K,
Schaller O, Vandevelde M, Moser M.
Application of Prionics Western blotting procedure to screen for BSE in cattle
regularly slaughtered at Swiss abattoirs.
Arch Virol Suppl. 2000;(16):189-95.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 11214922

2: Meyer RK, Lustig A, Oesch B, Fatzer R, Zurbriggen A, Vandevelde M.
A monomer-dimer equilibrium of a cellular prion protein (PrPC) not observed
with
recombinant PrP.
J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 1;275(48):38081-7.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 10967124

3: Lang NP, Hammerle C, Oesch B, Schenk RK.
Risk of transmission of agents associated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and
bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Plast Reconstr Surg. 2000 May;105(6):2273-5. No abstract available.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 10839438

4: Schaller O, Fatzer R, Stack M, Clark J, Cooley W, Biffiger K, Egli S, Doherr
M, Vandevelde M, Heim D, Oesch B, Moser M.
Validation of a western immunoblotting procedure for bovine PrP(Sc) detection
and its use as a rapid surveillance method for the diagnosis of bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Acta Neuropathol (Berl). 1999 Nov;98(5):437-43.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 10541864

5: Meyer RK, Oesch B, Fatzer R, Zurbriggen A, Vandevelde M.
Detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy-specific PrP(Sc) by treatment
with
heat and guanidine thiocyanate.
J Virol. 1999 Nov;73(11):9386-92.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 10516047

6: Korth C, Streit P, Oesch B.
Monoclonal antibodies specific for the native, disease-associated isoform
of the
prion protein.
Methods Enzymol. 1999;309:106-22.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 10507020

7: Korth C, Stierli B, Streit P, Moser M, Schaller O, Fischer R,
Schulz-Schaeffer W, Kretzschmar H, Raeber A, Braun U, Ehrensperger F, Hornemann
S, Glockshuber R, Riek R, Billeter M, Wuthrich K, Oesch B.
Prion (PrPSc)-specific epitope defined by a monoclonal antibody.
Nature. 1997 Nov 6;390(6655):74-7.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 9363892

8: Hornemann S, Korth C, Oesch B, Riek R, Wider G, Wuthrich K, Glockshuber R.
Recombinant full-length murine prion protein, mPrP(23-231): purification and
spectroscopic characterization.
FEBS Lett. 1997 Aug 18;413(2):277-81.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 9280297

9: Tobler I, Gaus SE, Deboer T, Achermann P, Fischer M, Rulicke T, Moser M,
Oesch B, McBride PA, Manson JC.
Altered circadian activity rhythms and sleep in mice devoid of prion protein.
Nature. 1996 Apr 18;380(6575):639-42.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 8602267

10: Fischer M, Rulicke T, Raeber A, Sailer A, Moser M, Oesch B, Brandner S,
Aguzzi A, Weissmann C.
Prion protein (PrP) with amino-proximal deletions restoring susceptibility of
PrP knockout mice to scrapie.
EMBO J. 1996 Mar 15;15(6):1255-64.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 8635458

11: Moser M, Colello RJ, Pott U, Oesch B.
Developmental expression of the prion protein gene in glial cells.
Neuron. 1995 Mar;14(3):509-17.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 7695897

12: Oesch B, Jensen M, Nilsson P, Fogh J.
Properties of the scrapie prion protein: quantitative analysis of protease
resistance.
Biochemistry. 1994 May 17;33(19):5926-31.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 7910036

13: Oesch B.
Characterization of PrP binding proteins.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1994 Mar 29;343(1306):443-5.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 7913764

14: Moser M, Oesch B, Bueler H.
An anti-prion protein?
Nature. 1993 Mar 18;362(6417):213-4. No abstract available.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 8096326

15: Brenner HR, Herczeg A, Oesch B.
Normal development of nerve-muscle synapses in mice lacking the prion protein
gene.
Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1992 Nov 23;250(1328):151-5.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 1282260

16: Gabriel JM, Oesch B, Kretzschmar H, Scott M, Prusiner SB.
Molecular cloning of a candidate chicken prion protein.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Oct 1;89(19):9097-101.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 1409608

17: Carlson GA, Hsiao K, Oesch B, Westaway D, Prusiner SB.
Genetics of prion infections.
Trends Genet. 1991 Feb;7(2):61-5. Review.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 1903568

18: Oesch B, Westaway D, Prusiner SB.
Prion protein genes: evolutionary and functional aspects.
Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 1991;172:109-24. Review. No abstract available.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 1687379

19: Oesch B, Teplow DB, Stahl N, Serban D, Hood LE, Prusiner SB.
Identification of cellular proteins binding to the scrapie prion protein.
Biochemistry. 1990 Jun 19;29(24):5848-55.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 1974464

20: Oesch B, Groth DF, Prusiner SB, Weissmann C.
Search for a scrapie-specific nucleic acid: a progress report.
Ciba Found Symp. 1988;135:209-23. Review.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 3137001

21: Basler K, Oesch B, Scott M, Westaway D, Walchli M, Groth DF, McKinley MP,
Prusiner SB, Weissmann C.
Scrapie and cellular PrP isoforms are encoded by the same chromosomal gene.
Cell. 1986 Aug 1;46(3):417-28.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 2873895

22: Oesch B, Westaway D, Walchli M, McKinley MP, Kent SB, Aebersold R,
Barry RA,
Tempst P, Teplow DB, Hood LE, et al.
A cellular gene encodes scrapie PrP 27-30 protein.
Cell. 1985 Apr;40(4):735-46.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMID: 2859120

 

 

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to VegSource!

Every time we post a new video, we'll send you a notice by e-mail.

No spam ever and you can easily unsubscribe at anytime.

Enter your email address, your first name, and press Submit.


Your Email:
First Name:
Newsletter archive

 

 

Magazine
Archives

Past Articles
 

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to VegSource.

Every time we post a new video, we'll send you a notice by e-mail.

Enter your email address, your first name, and press Submit.

No spam ever and you can easily unsubscribe at anytime.  

Your Email:

Your First Name:

Newsletter archive
 
Legacy Films