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Mad cow disease

Mad Cow Disease in USA: Profits Take Priority, Part I

Wednesday, June 09, 2010 by: M.Thornley
Tags: mad cow disease, profits, health news

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(NewsTarget) On March 10, 2010, seventy-six organizations representing millions of Americans sent a letter to the USDA asking for greater protection against cows with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease entering the US from Canada. This letter was sent after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed, in February, the 18th case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, in a cow aged 72 months found dead on an Alberta farm.

BSE is a disease that causes a spongy degeneration of the brain and spinal cord. Humans can contract the disease by eating the tissues of an infected animal. The infectious agent is a protein that has changed shape named a prion.

The BSE cow was detected through Canada's national BSE surveillance program but was not posted on the CFIA website for two weeks.

USDA regulations permit Canadian cattle born after March 1, 1999 to be imported into the US with BSE testing. Under these guidelines, the BSE cow that died in Alberta could have entered the US while it was alive. Not only that, but this dead cow was one of 11 such animals with BSE that could have entered the US.

The USDA maintains that its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service determined that the risk of BSE with Canadian animal trade is negligible and that it is keeping with international standards established by the World Organization for Animal Health.

This is in stark contrast to the USDA response when BSE was first found in northern Alberta in 2003: Canadian cattle were banned.

However, severe economic repercussions in both the US and Canada followed. Canadian markets lost eight million dollars a day in sales as Japan and twenty other nations joined the US ban on Canadian beef.

The USDA loosened its policy in 2005 to allow the importation of cattle younger than 30 months and in 2007 to allow cattle older than 30 months. However, the US allows no cattle imports from the UK, Austria, Finland or any other nation where BSE has been found.

Scientists theorize that BSE originated in the United Kingdom due to livestock feeding practices where slaughterhouse wastes were rendered into high-protein meal and fed to cattle. In 1996 epidemiologists in the UK realized that consumption of contaminated beef products by people resulted in a human form of the disease called Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, or vCJD. The World Health Organization claims 190,493 confirmed cases of BSE in 21 nations in Europe, Japan, Israel, the USA and Canada as of June 2009.

But these numbers are open to question. CJD is sometimes misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's. In one study, a postmortem examination of 46 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's found 13% had CJD. With 4 million cases of Alzheimer's in the US, Consumers Union argues there could be a hidden epidemic of CJD.

http://gaia-health.com/articles101/000132-Va...
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/art...
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/art...


About the author

M. Thornley enjoys walking, writing and pursuing a raw vegan diet and lifestyle.

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