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From: TSS (
Subject: U.S. and Canada may have given up on gaining access to overseas markets, Officials recognize mad cow disease may be here to stay
Date: December 31, 2004 at 3:15 pm PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Officials recognize mad cow disease may be here to stay
Date: Fri, 31 Dec 2004 17:07:25 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
Reply-To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

##################### Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy #####################

Friday, Dec 31, 2004

Officials recognize mad cow disease may be here to stay

Ottawa  Get used to it: mad cow disease is here to stay.

Government officials would never put it so bluntly, but that's the
message implicit in their low-key response to the latest suspected case
of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Even if the new case is confirmed, it's not expected to delay the
announced reopening of the U.S. border to Canadian cattle. That reflects
a big change in thinking since May 2003 when the discovery of a single
case closed the border.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was given advance warning of the
suspected case and proceeded with the reopening announcement anyway,
said Gary Little, a veterinarian with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

"I think it's always been recognized that . . . there would be a small
number of additional cases identified," Mr. Little said in an interview

But government comments in the past left the impression that the risk
was virtually nil.

"Risk assessments have consistently determined that the possible
presence of BSE could not be excluded, but is negligible," Former
Agriculture Minister Bob Speller said last December.

Prime Minister Paul Martin spoke to U.S. President George W. Bush early
Friday about the suspected case coming just as the border re-opening was

Mr. Martin sought assurances that the new potential case in Alberta
would not mean a re-closure of the U.S. border to Canadian beef imports.

Mr. Bush assured Mr. Martin that his administration is committed to
keeping the border open, a Canadian official said.

Michael Hansen, a scientist with the U.S. Consumers Union, says it
appears the United States and Canada have made a common decision that a
small number of BSE cases are acceptable.

"Normally when any country reports a single case of BSE the U.S. would
stop all imports. That's what the global rules of the game are. You
would think they would take more precautions not less."

Mr. Hansen said the U.S. commitment to label Canada a "minimal risk"
country even if another case is confirmed does not reflect the criteria
of the World Organization for Animal Health commonly known by its French
acronym OIE.

"They (U.S. officials) do not have a scientific rationale for opening
the border."

It appears that the U.S. and Canada may have given up on gaining access
to overseas markets, he suggested.

Little strongly denied this, saying talks are underway with Japan, an
important market that remains closed.

Mr. Hansen said there are still major loopholes in the U.S. and Canadian
precautions with respect to mad cow disease.

An internal CFIA study recently obtained by The Vancouver Sun found that
59 per cent of cattle feed samples labelled as vegetable-only were found
to contain "undeclared animal materials.

That raises questions about the effectiveness of the current ban on
feeding cattle remains to other cattle, considered one of the most
likely routes of disease transmission.

Mr. Hansen also noted that Canadian regulations permit calves to be
weaned on whole blood even though it has been demonstrated the disease
can be spread through blood.

Little of the CFIA said no cases of blood transmission have been reported.

The news release on the new suspected case was issued at 2:30 a.m. on
Thursday morning. Officials say there was no intention to bury the
story, the release was simply delayed.

Definitive word on test results is expected within days.

Meat from cattle infected with mad cow disease is considered the prime
route of transmission for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal
neurological disorder.


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