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From: TSS ()
Subject: USDA BSE KEYSTONE COPS DO IT AGAIN (got caught trying to cover up another USA MAD COW)
Date: June 15, 2005 at 7:15 am PST

Today 6/14/2005 7:59:00 PM

Jolley Cattle: Whoops, They Did It Again - USDA Conducts Third BSE Test On Same Animal

June 9: Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns led a roundtable panel discussion entitled, "The Safety of North American Beef and the Economic Effect of BSE on the U.S. Beef Industry," at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus.

June 10, 5:00 PM: Transcript of Tele-News Conference with Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Dr. John Clifford, Chief Veterinary Officer, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service Regarding Further Analysis Of BSE Inconclusive Test Results Washington, D.C.

The USDA did an abrupt about face late Friday, creating a Keystone cops scenario with too many organizations suddenly bumping into each other on the most critical issue ever to hit the North America beef industry. Coming the day after their carefully orchestrated St. Paul panel discussion on the safety of North American beef, it raised a lot of questions about the politics of BSE.

Day one: an unapologetic cheer-leading effort attended by most of the stake holders in the beef industry. Johanns hosted a mostly friendly roundtable featuring Carl Kuehne, CEO of American Foods Group who attended on behalf of the American Meat Institute, Mike Johns of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and John Nalivka of the National Meat Association.

Day two: an event that should qualify as one of the industries worst nightmares. After long negotiations about resuming trade with the Japanese, it looked like we were finally in step. A government delegation from Tokyo was scheduled to visit plants and feed yards in Colorado within the next two weeks. After a similar visit earlier this year, Taiwan reopened their border, an event trumpeted by Phil Seng and the USMEF staff during their recent Washington Convention. The Middle East was slowly coming around, too, with Egypt leading the way.

Then, after the regular close-of-business on Friday, a time and day infamous inside the beltway as perfect for throwing away news that you don’t particularly care to be published, Johanns and company unleashed the news. The “Texas” cow that had previously been tested as a weak positive then retested at the Ames, Iowa lab and shown to be negative, was tested yet again using the western blot method. And it was positive.

Lest panic ensue immediately, the USDA said a sample was being sent to Weybridge, England for a definitive third party test. Maybe panic would wait the two weeks needed to complete the test.

The immediate question was, “Why did the USDA decide to retest long after the animal was cleared by the Ames lab?” Claiming at least part of the responsibility for pushing the Department of Agriculture to make the politically dangerous decision was Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, a magazine with over 4 million subscribers. Big numbers always catch the attention of Washingtonians.

C.U. has been pressing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt the Western blot test from the beginning, citing its greater reliability. Consumers Union is also urging the government to rapidly complete the process of tracing the origins of the animal, as well as other animals in the herd. Expect the Union to join a growing list of organizations gathering around the traceability issue, too.

“We have been urging the USDA since February to retest the November suspect animal using the more sensitive Western blot test, and we commend USDA for taking this extra step to protect the safety of America’s beef,” stated Michael Hansen, Ph.D., a biologist and a spokesman for Consumers Union’s www.NotInMyFood.org project.

”This latest U.S. mad cow case demonstrates how the USDA has been effectively covering up the disease by failing to use the Western Blot test and by failing to test millions of cattle a year,” said John Stauber, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy and co-author with Sheldon Hampton of Mad Cow USA, a controversial book published in 1997, that predicted the emergence of the disease in the United States.

Stauber maintains testing less than 375,000 animals out of the giant U.S. herd is simply not enough to safeguard the beef supply, especially if younger animals can carry the disease for years without exhibiting symptoms. In an interview with CattleNetwork on Tuesday, he called for a total ban of all ruminant protein materials, including blood and animal fat, from all feed as a first necessary step in preventing the spread of the disease.

His position is four-square behind the science-based attitude of groups like the American Meat Institute. He wants to take it much further than most people in the cattle industry believe is necessary, dropping the minimum age of tested animals to 20 months and greatly increasing the number of tests, at least until the effects of his more ambitious feed ban are felt.

Stauber said, “The Bush administration is putting the livestock industry’s desire to keep feeding cheap slaughterhouse waste to cattle above the urgent need to protect human health and the human blood supply. All feeding of slaughterhouse waste to livestock must be banned. In addition, the USDA must allow private meat companies and producers to test their cattle for mad cow disease. Private testing would rescue foreign beef sales, give foreign and domestic consumers the choice of buying meat tested free of mad cow disease, and would help determine the real number of U.S. mad cow cases.”

Consumers Union issued a press release that claimed the FDA had “stated more than a year ago that it would prohibit cows’ blood, chicken coop floor wastes, and restaurant plate wastes, in cattle feed but has not done so.” It urged that these materials, as well as pig and chicken slaughterhouse wastes, be eliminated from cattle feed.

http://www.cattlenetwork.com/content.asp?contentid=5306

TSS




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