(NaturalNews) At its 78th general session held in Paris from May 23-28, 2010, the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, denied the US`s application for `negligible risk` status. The OIE is an international and inter-governmental organization responsible for animal health throughout the world. `Negligible risk` is the most secure status for mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE).
Countries awarded `negligible risk` are considered to have a very low risk for BSE and can more readily sell meat products abroad and at home. Just thirteen countries enjoy `negligible risk` status. Those countries include India, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
The USDA-APHIS asked for a higher BSE status from the OIE but was given the lower category of `controlled risk` along with Britain, Switzerland, Canada, France, Germany and Japan. The US held this status at the outset of the general session.
OIE regulations permit three BSE risk categories: negligible, controlled and undetermined. Delegates at OIE annual general sessions decide member countries` BSE status.
Controlled risk status is given to countries that have adequate surveillance with measures in place to prevent an outbreak, with some cases of BSE occurring.
Mad cow disease was first diagnosed in cattle in the UK in 1986. Millions of cattle were slaughtered but the disease spread to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Then it appeared in Alberta, Canada. Eighteen farms were quarantined and no more sick cows were found.
The first reported case of BSE found in the US was announced by the USDA in December, 2003. The sick animal was found on a farm in Mabton, WA. A `downer` cow, it was found unable to stand at the slaughterhouse. USDA rules mandate testing of any animal unable to stand.
Current research indicates that BSE is not passed from cow to cow but contracted only from livestock feed containing contaminated ground up brain and spinal cord material. An animal may incubate the illness for six to eight years before showing symptoms.
However, critics insist there are many more cases of mad cow in the US than are being reported.
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