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Mad Cow Politics in the U.S. and Japan [3 articles]; 5.42% w/"central nervous disorder"

Do you care to make a wager?

3 articles


"RISK. IT'S WHAT'S FOR DINNER."
1.

Records Contradict USDA's Mad Cow Decision
By Steve Mitchell
United Press International
4-20-4

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He added that he agreed there was a double standard in the USDA's position that Creekstone cannot test younger animals when the agency has done so itself. "There's so many inconsistencies with what they're saying," Fielding said. "I think that's why there's such a public outcry to what they're doing. We were getting hundreds of e-mails and letters, it's now up to thousands ... from people who can't believe what the government is doing."

In addition, USDA records indicate the majority of animals younger than 30 months were classified as downers -- animals unable to walk -- which can happen for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with central nervous system disorders, such as a broken leg or a birthing injury. Only 57 out of the 1,052 young animals tested in 2003, for example, were classified as having signs of a central nervous system disorder.

[That's 5.42%. Do you wish to make a wager?

Scientists believe people who eat beef from cows infected with mad cow disease can contract variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, a fatal brain-wasting disease that has [officially] killed about 150 people worldwide. [though there is the question of how other diseases with similar symptoms like Alsheimers are being used to falsify the prevalence of it to secure the beef industry prices.]

The Japanese government says it wants all imported cattle tested for mad-cow disease, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The USDA says 100 percent testing is unnecessary, particularly since it banned [merely] cows unable to walk from entering the food supply. [And ALL US meet factories/processors are basically self-regulating and jurisdictionally autonomous, so this is a useless and empty symbolic gesture; Bush has even cut back on USDA staffing budgets.]

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WASHINGTON (UPI) -- A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture decision ***to block a private*** company from testing all its cattle under 30 months of age for mad cow disease runs contrary to its own records that show ***it has tested more than 2,000 animals in that age range, United Press International has learned.*** [i.e., "Don't let anyone else learn!"]

The USDA rejected the Creekstone Farms testing plan on the grounds it was scientifically unsound. The Arkansas City, Kan., Black Angus beef producer wanted to test all its cattle for mad cow disease voluntarily so it could export its beef to Japan.

The Asian nation has insisted U.S. firms test all their cattle for mad cow before it will reopen its borders, which were shut to U.S. beef following the detection of a Holstein infected with the disease in Washington state last December.

In announcing the decision to reject Creekstone's proposal, Bill Hawks, USDA's undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said, "There is no scientific justification for 100 percent testing because the disease does not appear in younger animals" under the age of 30 months. [Er, the issue would be the INCUBATION period and the degree of INFESTATION instead of simply the visual appearance mere seconds before it is slaughtered.]

A more sound approach scientifically, Hawks said, would be USDA's expanded [expanded?] surveillance plan, which calls for testing 200,000 or more cows in U.S. herds that are 30 months of age or older. ["As the USDA is aware, only about 1 percent of our animals are over 30 months, so testing them does nothing for our business and is not what our customers are asking for," Fielding told UPI. Plus, about 35 million cattle are slaughtered annually, most of them younger than 30 months...do you see a pattern of obfuscation here? Are we to assume that this disease is without an incubation period? A period in which they have tested themselves though they refuse to let anyone else know about?]


The department's mad cow testing records, however, which were obtained by UPI via the Freedom of Information Act, show over the past two years the agency tested 2,051 animals -- and possibly more -- that were under the age of 30 months.


"That's so hypocritical," said Michael Hansen, senior research associate with Consumers Union, the advocacy group in Yonkers, N.Y. "It makes it difficult for the USDA to argue to Creekstone, 'We only test animals above 30 months,' when USDA itself tests animals as young as 3 months old."

In 2002, the agency tested 999 animals under 30 months old, including one as young as 3 months. The bulk, 841, were 24 months old, but 40 were 20 months, 31 were 18 months, 52 were 12 months and there were single cases of cows as young as 9, 8, 6 and 3 months old.

In addition, in 2002, of the approximately 20,000 cows tested, 111 animals have no age listed at all and more than 11,000 are classified only as adults with no specific age given.

The testing of young cows appears to have increased in 2003. USDA only supplied UPI with records through July of last year, which leaves out the final two months of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. During that 10-month period, however, the agency tested 1,052 animals under 30 months old. If this rate was maintained for the final two months of the year, the USDA would have tested about 200 more animals under 30 months in 2003 than it did in 2002.

The 2003 records also show more than 100 cows with no age listed and as many as 7,000 listed only as adults with no specific age.

Consumers Union, along with 12 other advocacy groups -- including Public Citizen and the Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease Foundation -- sent USDA a letter Monday urging it to reverse its position on the Creekstone proposal, as well as to expand its surveillance program to include animals under 30 months old.

Hansen said he would like to see the testing program amended to include animals as young as 20 months because infected animals of that age have been detected in Japan and two animals under the age of 30 months have tested positive for mad cow in Europe.

The concern with mad cow disease is it can produce a fatal, incurable brain disorder in humans called variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, which is contracted from eating meat infected with the mad-cow pathogen.

"It's amazing that USDA lives by a double standard," said Larry Bohlen of Friends of the Earth, an environmental advocacy group in Washington.

The USDA "offered a puny compromise to test older cattle for Creekstone farms when the agency itself has been testing some younger cattle for the last 2 years," Bohlen told UPI. His organization co-signed the letter to USDA and plans a demonstration Wednesday at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

Bohlen was referring to ***a compromise [how is this a compromise? it is more like a combination financial bribe and gatekeeping mechanism rolled into one] the agency offered Creekstone to test an unspecified number of its animals [only] older than 30 months at USDA-approved labs.***

Creekstone rejected the deal because it has invested $500,000 in building a state-of-the-art testing facility and nearly all of its animals are under that age at the time of slaughter. Bill Fielding, Creekstone's chief operating officer, said he would not classify USDA's offer as a compromise because it did not address the issues of concern to the company.

"As the USDA is aware, only about 1 percent of our animals are over 30 months, so testing them does nothing for our business and is not what our customers are asking for," Fielding told UPI.

He added that he agreed there was a double standard in the USDA's position that Creekstone cannot test younger animals when the agency has done so itself. "There's so many inconsistencies with what they're saying," Fielding said. "I think that's why there's such a public outcry to what they're doing. We were getting hundreds of e-mails and letters, it's now up to thousands ... from people who can't believe what the government is doing."

USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison told UPI the agency's rationale for prohibiting Creekstone from testing younger animals is "the scientific evidence is there that you can't find it (mad cow disease) in animals under 30 months."

Asked why the agency tested thousands of animals under that age, Harrison replied, "I don't know."

It could be the animals were showing severe signs of central nervous system disorders -- a possible indication of mad cow disease -- or perhaps there was some "confusion on the age of the animals," she said. "I'm sure there's a good reason."

Harrison said she would look into the agency's rationale for testing the young animals and including them in official statistics, but she did not respond by presstime.

Bill Bullard, chief executive officer of R-CALF USA, a non-profit association in Billings, Mont., which represents independent ranchers, noted a 3-month-old cow looks like a calf, so it is unlikely animals in this age range were confused for 30-month old adults.

In addition, USDA records indicate the majority of animals younger than 30 months were classified as downers -- animals unable to walk -- which can happen for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with central nervous system disorders, such as a broken leg or a birthing injury. Only 57 out of the 1,052 young animals tested in 2003, for example, were classified as having signs of a central nervous system disorder.

"To test that many young animals does not appear to reflect an agency that is actually after the high-risk population," Bullard told UPI.

R-CALF has written a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman urging the decision on Creekstone be reversed and also has appealed to several members of Congress on the issue.

"The USDA is just plain wrong in deciding against Creekstone," Bullard said. "I think their argument is extremely weak and unfortunately it is damaging the industry."

Bullard and Fielding said they know of other companies that would like to emulate Creekstone's plan and test all their cattle as a way of tapping into the export market. Creekstone plans to appeal USDA's decision, and the other companies may come forward as the debate continues, they said.

- Steve Mitchell is UPI's Medical Correspondent. E-mail  sciencemail@upi.com

Copyright 2001-2004 United Press International  http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20040420-052613-8197r


2.


Blood & Chicken Dung
Still Allowed In Cattle Feed
By Chris McGann
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
4-30-4


A mountain of chicken dung - among other things - is preventing the Food and Drug Administration from banning blood, chicken waste and restaurant leftovers from cattle feed, a top administration official said yesterday.

In the scramble to keep mad cow disease from spreading after a Holstein from Yakima County was diagnosed with the brain-wasting illness, the FDA recommended in January what seemed like simple and sensible restrictions on cattle feed.

Tainted feed from a Canadian mill is believed to have infected the Yakima County Holstein cow that set off the U.S. mad cow crisis in December.

But just days after the agency recommended bans on the widespread practice of adding such things as blood, chicken excrement and restaurant table scraps to feed, it was deluged with troubling feedback, according to Stephen Sundlof, the director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Three months later, the agency is still struggling to reconcile the need to strengthen safeguards against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, and the concerns that the new rules could generate serious unintended consequences.

But with major export markets still refusing to buy U.S. beef, calls to enact the new rules are getting louder. On Monday, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Washington cattlemen and the director of the state's Department of Agriculture urged the FDA officials to quit "dragging their feet."

In an interview yesterday, Sundlof provided no likely deadline for the new bans, only assurances that progress was being made.

But Sundlof did offer some explanations for the delays.

He said, for example, that the proposed ban on adding chicken litter (fecal matter, dead birds, feathers and spilled feed) generated huge concern from chicken producers.

Sundlof said adding chicken litter to cattle feed is one of the primary methods of waste disposal for the chicken growers, especially in the Southeast.

"From an environmental standpoint, what are people going to do with the poultry litter?" he asked. "One of the benefits of doing this was that it was an environmentally sound way of recycling the material." [HA HA HA HA HA, FEEDING IT TO COWS AND PEOPLE!]

If the point is to keep the chicken waste away from cattle, then alternative methods of disposing it such as spreading it in pastures as fertilizer are problematic because the cattle can still come in contact with it. Also, there are limits on how much nitrogen and phosphorous the pastures can handle. Those chemicals are concentrated in the chicken waste.


Sundlof added: "As disgusting as this may sound, poultry litter is really utilizable in cattle feed because it contains high nitrogen content that cattle can convert back into protein."

Cattle are fed urea, a chemical found in urine and also synthetically produced, because the ruminants can convert it to high- quality protein. Chicken litter is high in those kinds of nitrogenous compounds and that's why it's used in cattle feed, he said.

The ban on adding cattle blood to cattle feed is problematic, Sundlof said, because the agency is looking at some exceptions for certain cattle blood products, specifically fetal calf serum.

The blood from unborn calves is used in the production of cattle vaccines and products for use by humans.

"The question is, `How risky would fetal calf serum be?' We think that that it's not very risky because it's from cattle that are not even born yet so they haven't reached the age when they could be infected," Sundlof said.

"We are trying to sort out the uses that would be a greater risk if they weren't around."

As for the restaurant scraps: "Plate waste doesn't seem to have many issues related to it," he said.

The FDA plans on issuing new rules about cattle feed all at once, so that ban will likely be tabled until issues in other areas are resolved.

Scientists believe people who eat beef from cows infected with mad cow disease can contract variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, a fatal brain-wasting disease that has [officially] killed about 150 people worldwide. [though there is the question of how other diseases with similar symptoms like Alsheimers are being used to falsify the prevalence of it to secure the beef industry prices.]

(C) 2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

 http://www.mycattle.com/news/dsp_topstories_article.cfm?storyid=13563


3.


NOTE THE COMPARATIVELY DIFFERENT POLITICAL ISSUES IN JAPAN'S REACTION

Mad-Cow Question Lingers -
Was Animal A 'Downer' Cow?
By Alex Fryer
Seattle Times
Washington bureau
4-24-4

The public may never know whether the Yakima County Holstein infected with mad-cow disease was truly a "downer" cow, congressional investigators said yesterday.

The revelation comes as U.S. Department of Agriculture officials meet with Japanese counterparts in the next few days to try to negotiate an end to the Japanese ban on U.S. beef.

Japan had been the largest importer of U.S. beef before the infected cow was discovered in December.

The Japanese government says it wants all imported cattle tested for mad-cow disease, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The USDA says 100 percent testing is unnecessary, particularly since it banned [only] cows unable to walk from entering the food supply. [And ALL US meet factories/processors are basically self-regulating and jurisdictionally autonomous; Bush has even cut back on USDA staffing budgets.]

The USDA maintains the cow processed at a Moses Lake slaughterhouse Dec. 9 wasn't ambulatory, and the agency made such "downer" animals -- thought to be most at risk of having BSE -- the focus of its response to the crisis. The workers at the facility say the cow was relatively healthy.

The mystery of the cow's condition at Vern's Moses Lake Meats may continue, said Robert White, a spokesman for Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

"We've come to the conclusion that we're never going to know for sure whether this cow was a downer," he said.

Japan rejects U.S. criticism

There's plenty at stake in the U.S.-Japan trade discussions, for Washington state cattle producers and local meat consumers.

Washington state exported more than $191 million in beef to Japan last year, according to the state Department of Agriculture, and growers want to return to the market.

Japanese restaurants and consumers are scrambling to replace beef on their menus or increase imports from Australia, said Sato Tadashi, agricultural attache at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

He bristled at suggestions by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and others that Japanese standards for BSE testing were "unscientific."

USDA recently said it would test up to 268,000 cattle that are most at risk for the disease, mainly older animals. Mad-cow disease most often occurs in cows older than 30 months.

About 35 million cattle are slaughtered annually, most of them younger than 30 months.

The USDA claims that's enough of a statistical dragnet to catch sick animals.

Tadashi laughed when asked if that was sufficient testing: "Nobody can say it is enough."

Was Yakima find accidental?

After mad-cow disease was discovered in Japan in 2001, authorities there began comprehensive testing.

Ten additional cows were found infected with BSE; five were outwardly healthy, and five were nonambulatory but had no symptoms of BSE.

"If the U.S. introduced the same inspections, maybe the U.S. would find more," he said, adding: "Health and safety issues don't have to be sacrificed in the interest of big meat packers.

"We don't request U.S. consumers to have the same concerns we do. But we'd like them to understand our concerns."

Tadashi said the Japanese government and media were very interested whether the Yakima County cow was visibly sick or whether the USDA discovered the first case of BSE in the United States by chance.

"The U.S. government is saying only downer cattle are vulnerable, but we don't think so," he said.

'Downer' definition vague

On Feb. 17, the House Government Reform Committee sent a letter to Veneman that included affidavits from three workers at Vern's Moses Lake Meats who said the BSE-infected cow was not a downer.

The slaughterhouse owner, Thomas Ellestad, told investigators he tested the cow to receive a $10 payment as part of the BSE-surveillance program by the USDA.

The letter stated: "If the new information is accurate, USDA's surveillance program may need to be significantly expanded."

In response, the USDA sent the Government Reform Committee hundreds of pages of documents pertaining to BSE sampling at Vern's Moses Lake Meats.

After reading the material, the committee determined there is no consistent definition of a downer cow, said White, the spokesman.

A USDA veterinarian at the slaughterhouse noted in his paperwork at the time which cows were lying down, but Ellestad said the cattle later stood up.

"It was a relatively healthy cow," White said. "If it had been brought a day or two earlier or was not sternal (lying down), does that cow get into the food system?"

Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said he did not support comprehensive testing. "Nothing has shown me that we need to test every animal in the country in order to achieve a goal of safety."

While he said he approved of the USDA response so far, the Agricultural Committee will continue its oversight role.

A joint House Government Reform and Agriculture Committee hearing is set for June to examine whether the USDA's testing for BSE is adequate and to explore lingering questions about what happened that day at the Moses Lake slaughterhouse, White said.

"We want to look at everything," he said.

Copyright 2004 The Seattle Times Company  http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001910555_madcow23.html
the perversion known as corporatism... 02.May.2004 17:38

this thing here

>He added that he agreed there was a double standard in the USDA's position that Creekstone cannot test younger animals when the agency has done so itself. "There's so many inconsistencies with what they're saying," Fielding said. "I think that's why there's such a public outcry to what they're doing. We were getting hundreds of e-mails and letters, it's now up to thousands ... from people who can't believe what the government is doing."<

only in a country with a corporatist government would a meat producer be banned, BY THE GOVERNMENT, from ensuring the safety of their export product. only in a country with a corporatist government would a government agency tasked with ensuring food safety for consumers instead become an agent actively defending a food industry FROM consumers.

if it hasn't happened already, the same characteristic perversion will soon happen in the media, pharmaceutical, bio-tech, auto, technology, chemical, finance, insurance and defense industries.

"we give you c.e.o.'s, you give us politicians. we give you money, you protect us from the people. we give you money, you give us access." and you know that the two sides in this unspoken agreement absolutely love it to death sooo much that they're not about to give it up as much as lay down and die...