The Cow Connection
Testing 1 - 2 - 3, Testing
BSE Surveillance in Canada
BSE Surveillance in the US
BSE Testing vs Herd Count
BSE Surveillance in Australia
Signs of Trouble
No Perfect Test
CJD and Alzheimer's -
Downers and Stetsonville
Mad Cows, Englishmen
and The BSE Inquiry
Scientists Also at Fault
Countries at Highest Risk
This is Now. . .
Misery Hates Company
The Moo Heard Round the World
Where was Brit Beef Shipped?
Greed, Slackness, Loopholes
Our Own Country's Greed
MAD COW and CJD FROM 1988 - SEPTEMBER 20, 2001 Of 347 FDA-licensed feed mills that handle the risky MBM feed Between 6,000 and 8,000 feed mills are so small they aren't required
to have FDA licenses, but they are required to abide by the same federal regulations. Of 1,593 small feed
producers Of all companies inspected, big or small, less than 10% flunked
record-keeping for the regulations.30 Taco: "Hey Seis, what're ya thinking?" Stan and Holly Deyo Sources:
COUNTRIES AT HIGHEST RISK FOR BSE
July 6, 2000 the European Union's Scientific Steering Committee released their Final Opinion GBR (Geographic Bovine Risk) Report. The 60-page document looked at 23 countries and divided them into four levels of risk. Level 1 countries were they least likely to become infected with Mad Cow on through Level 4 which already had established cases of BSE. This graphic was updated Sept. 2002 to include current data beyond what the Steering Committee projected.
Canada (only 1 case)
After looking at the BSE risk map above, some of us - depending on where we live - might start to feel safe and think, "whew! thank goodness it's not here!" Before we get too comfy in a warm blanket of denial, let's remember that:
1) New information on BSE and CJD comes to the forefront nearly daily.
2) This report focuses on BSE, not the strains found in species other than cows or the five human forms.... and
3) That was six months ago. . .
This is September 2002. . .
Source: BSE in Europe: http://ourworld.cs.com/_ht_a/j1braakman/BSE.htm
NOTE: These countries also have seen cases of BSE
Poland - 2; Slovakia - 11; Japan - 5; Slovenia - 2; Liechtenstein - 2; Oman - 2; Canada, Israel, the Falkland Islands, and the Azores have each reported one case. Most of these animals were all imported from either Germany of the UK.
Austrian officials reported its first case of BSE on January 14th. Later, the health ministry spokesman, Gerald Grosz, said test results couldn't be trusted because there were part of the same batch showing 64 false positives for Germany last week. New testing has been ordered. If this analysis shows positive, it will be the first for a country previously thought fairly unlikely to get BSE.19 In formation just released today, Austria has been pronounced Mad Cow-free and is breathing a great sigh of relief. It is one of the few European Union countries besides Sweden and Finland.19.5
MISERY HATES COMPANY
The BSE mess couldn't have arrived at a worse time while Europe is trying to cohere into a more solid union and incorporate yet another 13 member states. During the recent EU conference in Nice, debates flashed over voting, taxation, defense and a myriad of other issues bent ruffled feathers into a contorted shape. The last notoriety Great Britain needed was to be the focal point of a deadly disease. The ensuing mess has severely shaken member and nonmember states alike.
France's Agriculture Minister, Jean Glavany, told a Spanish newspaper El Mundo, "It's our English friends who exported this disease. Morally, one day they will have to be judged for that, because they granted themselves the luxury of banning the use of these feeds at home while allowing them to be exported. From a moral point of view this is indefensible."20
While Minister Glavany issued this statement, angry meat workers blocked freeways around Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Lyon, creating gigantic traffic jams, in protest at the government's handling of the crisis. The 500 lorries and 1,000 demonstrators threatened to close all abattoirs (slaughterhouses) this week unless their demands for compensation for losses are met.
Anger erupted throughout Europe resulting in much finger pointing and blame assessment. Denial and head-stuck-in-sand maladies are at the root of problems costing scientists and politicians lost credibility and people their lives. For a continent whose identity is closely tied with cuisine, BSE is the ultimate blow to the ego. It's not just the UK; there's plenty of blame to go around.
Germany had refused to consider they might harbor the deadly disease. Yet inspectors' evidence found evidence that 75% of food samples on Bavarian farms contained traces of meat and bonemeal, some of which had been exported from Britain. Brussels is livid that for many months Germany blocked EU attempts to ban the use of beef "risk materials", such as the spine, arguing it was unnecessary.21 Fury over complacency and misinformation led to the resignation of two German cabinets members. Agriculture minister Karl-Heinz Funke and health minister, Andrea Fischer both resigned January 9, 2001 each accepting little blame for their country's BSE mess with Fischer pointing the finger at Funke.
Meanwhile France's President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, political rivals, have taken pot shots at each other over how to respond to the problem. France tried to persuade other EU countries to support a total ban on MBM feed in November 2000, but found little support. A six month ban, which does not include fishmeal used in pig and poultry feed, was finally imposed throughout the EU effective January 1, 2001. Disagreements over the ban also arose with Germany saying the ban is too short. Opposing BSE-free Scandinavian countries argued bitterly this was "over the top" and "unjustified on scientific and moral grounds."22
The next issue argued was the eventual decision to test all cattle for BSE over 30 months intended for human consumption. After a nine-hour meeting, EU ministers came to a consensus, but the astronomical costs and losses involved provoked heated debate.
Photo: BSE Testing. There is no on-the-hoof test for the disease, but it may be close.
France further got its national nose out of joint when Ireland began advertising its beef as "BSE free". Many EU countries blocked France's beef when their BSE cases quintupled in 2000.
France and Britain have quarreled over beef blockades, Ireland tried to overturn an Egyptian boycott on its beef and the Czech Republic banned all beef from EU countries where mad cow disease has been detected.
Italian farmers blocked trucks at the borders to keep foreign cows out, but for all the good it did, they still ended up with BSE.
Spain entered the fray when cattle farmers began blockading slaughterhouses Monday to try to force the government to compensate them for the BSE crisis. They want the government to pay for the slaughter and disposal of infected animals and to fund a campaign to restore public confidence in beef. Javier Lopez, president of the cattle breeders' association, Asovac, said: "We're doing this out of despair. Our aim is not to leave people without meat but that may end up being the case."23
THE MOO HEARD 'ROUND THE WORLD
There is no way to sugar coat it, despite all the governments' checks and securities, on December 22, 2000, WHO (World Health Organization) expressed concern about what it called "exposure worldwide" to mad cow disease and the human form, nvCJD. Dr. Maura Ricketts, of WHO's animal and food-related public health risks division stated in a news conference, "Our concern is that there was sufficient international trade in meat and bone meal and live cattle that there actually has been exposure worldwide already.
"We know potentially contaminated materials were exported outside the European Community...We are trying to identify the countries that we should put our largest effort into. We are concerned some countries which received materials do not have surveillance systems to detect the disease in animals or the human population. Countries of the world need to be developing surveillance systems for these diseases.''24
Dr. Rickets makes a very important point that tracing possibly diseased beef and meat products is very difficult saying that they're often repackaged and relabeled before being re-exported. It's very easy for the trail to become cold.
While Dr. Rickets declined to specify countries outside Europe most at risk citing it could provoke consumer panic and economic upheaval. It's not hard to put the pieces together with these clues.
"Meal made from sheep that may have had scrapie has been fed legally to other animals until early 1997, raising the possibility that BSE has infiltrated American beef herds."25 British meats were not banned as an export until 1996."26 Though Dr. Rickets would not name countries at possible risk, the Campaign for Food Safety, a Minnesota-based national network funded by individuals and foundations interested in organic food, said the United States leads the world in "feeding animals to animals."27
WHERE WERE BRITISH BEEF FEED PRODUCTS EXPORTED?
Britain's bone meal was shipped primarily to France, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland in Europe. Some was exported to Dubai and other Mideast and African countries. Of the 3 million tons of meal produced by the European Union about one sixth, or 500,000 tons was exported mostly to Eastern Europe, Asia and the United States.28
GREED, SLACKNESS, LOOPHOLES AND UNKNOWNS
Despite all our testing, we still may have problems, some of our own making and others, and some due to government loopholes.
According to Dr. Ricketts, even though Britain and the US banned cow cannibalism in the early 1990's, some British renderers continued to make and ship contaminated meat and bone meal (MBM) around the world and some European farmers knowingly used these products until November, 2000 because they were cheap.
Public health officials suspect that infected meat was repackaged and resold as having come from countries presumed free of mad cow disease.
British export records show that 20 tons of "meals of meat or offal" that were "unfit for human consumption" and probably intended for animals were sent to the United States in 1989. Another 37 tons were exported to the U.S. in 1997 - after the ban of these product - and it has yet to be traced.
The government allowed into the country many health supplements which contain glandular material from animals whose health status can't be determined. The risk may be very small, but these tissues are more likely to carry the disease. Products must have labels listing ingredients like bovine pituitaries and adrenals, but manufacturers are not required to list the country of origin. So products with these glands may be safe from one country but not another, yet how does one know which it is?
It is still perfectly legal to import other beef by-products from European cattle including milk, blood, fat, gelatin, tallow, bone mineral extracts, collagen, semen, amniotic fluid and serum albumin. These ingredients are widely used in American products including vaccines, candles, food, cosmetics and medicines. Compliance is voluntary for supplement manufacturers to leave out neural and glandular material from domestic and foreign sheep flocks infected with scrapie. The FDA admits not enough testing has been conducted to say conclusively these items pose no danger.
Until the first of December 2000, many European farmers were still giving feed made from potentially infected cows to chickens and pigs and then feeding those chickens and pigs back to cows. Is this any different than cow cannibalism once removed? Now Agriculture Department officials are worried that European feed manufacturers will slash prices and try to dump their products on American farmers. Will people be greedy and buy this potential poison?
As late as Dec. 23, 2000, the FDA instructed American drug manufacturers to stop using bovine serum from countries where mad cow exists to make diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, flu and hepatitis A vaccines. This does not help people being vaccinated with existing stock though the FDA maintains it is safe.29
United States health officials are just now closing these many loopholes. In the meantime and dating back a good decade, to what have we been exposed?
OUR OWN COUNTRY'S GREED
In 1996, the U.S. livestock industry voluntarily banned sheep and certain other animal parts from U.S. animal feed. The next year, the FDA's formal regulations stated feed manufacturers, renderers and farmers/producers were to abide by four things:
1. A ban against feeding any proteins from cows, sheep, goats, deer or elk to other ruminants (cud-chewers) like cows, sheep or goats.
2. Poultry or pigs can still eat those proteins, but feed must be labeled "do not feed to cows or other ruminants".
3. Companies must have systems in place to prevent accidentally mixing up the feeds.
4. Feed manufacturers must keep records of where their products originated and where they were sold.
How tough is this to get? Pretty straightforward, nobody's speaking Latin here.
You'd think that fear for their own mortality or at least that of their loved ones would keep feed manufacturers on the straight and narrow. Oh no. Greed or laziness or both set in. FDA inspectors found literally hundreds of animal feed producers violating these regulations. In a report issued January 10, 2001, the FDA released the following:
Of 180 renderers -- companies which turn that vat of slaughtered animal parts into meat and bone meal (MBM) "protein concentrates":
Maybe these companies would like a little BSE atop their burgers! Sometimes people's greed, slackness and lack of ethics are simply quite unbelievable.
While the FDA is quick to assure that violations don't automatically equal tainted food, the FDA has issued warning letters to these companies and recalled some of their feed. The agency promises should companies continue ignoring safe manufacturing, they'll face seizures, shutdowns, and prosecution.
In the last of this series, we'll continue to examine our risk for BSE through what measures the governments of Australia, Canada and the US have in place. We'll take a close look at Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk, plus whether or not we might get CJD - the human form of this terrible disease through blood, milk and milk products and what you can do in your home to keep it BSE-free.
Stan and I want to thank Vicki Nelson, Steve Robinson and Judith Meyer for their contributions this week! We also need to give special thanks to a woman who wishes to keep her name confidential for her considerable information on BSE conditions in Europe. Her brother is a farmer in Italy and has only fed his livestock grains. She spoke with him last night and he shared that at that moment, over 20 tractors were blocking the exit of trucks from a farm near Brescia, Italy where a BSE cow was found. By law now, when a diseased cow is found, the whole herd must go and these farmers were protesting the pending cattle incinerations. Meanwhile, in Germany, farmers protested the proposed incineration of 400,000 head of cattle.
She wrote, "Government agencies claim that only cattle under 24 months of age are butchered for public use and that they are safe from BSE. They also claim that poultry, pigs and fish grown in fish farms are safe. However the public does not believe this."
This woman shared another interesting piece of information you won't read in the papers or see on the news. It seems in the last two weeks one death and one other person near death were both reported to have vCJD. Within a few days, retractions were made. She said the same thing had happened last summer. We may never know the truth of how severe the CJD death toll really is. Next week, we'll share some more of her inside information on the food industry. Thanks again everyone!
Holly and Stan
Seismo and Taco
Seismo: (rolls over lazily) "Nothin' special, just about that big earthquake in the salad bar, Ensalada, and about how I'm glad that little dog they rescued wasn't me!"
Taco: "What in the world are you talking about?"
Seismo: I heard Mom and Dad talking about that quake last night - Ensalada Bar - didn't you hear? And if you must know, "ensalada" means "salad" in Spanish. HA! So there! Betcha didn't know I knew that, didja!
Taco: "Seismo, you dumb dog, that was 'El Salvador', not Salad Bar! Don't you ever think about anything but your stomach? I swear you forget to pack your brain in the morning!"
Seismo: "Ugh! Don't mention brain, makes me think of BSE again.
Taco: "Yeah, and you'd still be trying to tell me that BSE stands for Bones, Steak and Everything!"
Seismo: "Gee Tac, couldn't you just forget that? Your memory must be a mile long except when The Parents tell you not to dig in the backyard!"
Taco: "Me! Me? Tell me not to d . . . " (Taco trotted after Seis, still chewing his tail.)
P.O. Box 7711, Pueblo West, CO 81007
© Text and Graphics, 2001 Stan and Holly Deyo, except where otherwise credited
1New Rules To Cut BSE Risk; January 1, 2001;
2"National Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies Surveillence Program";
From Animal Health Surveillance Quarterly; Volume 2, Number 4
3Animal Health in Australia;
4Scientist Says Mad Cow Tests Do Not Guarantee Infection Status; January 11, 2001; http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010111/ sc/madcow_tests_dc_1.html
4.5 CSU Rushing To Create Live Test for CWD; August 7, 2002; http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E11799%257E778502,00.html
5Cattle Mutilations; http://www.isur.com/archive/cattle/mutilation.html
6NOVA #2505: The Brain Eater; February 10, 1998; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2505braineater.html
7R.F. Marsh and others, "Epidemiological and Experimental Studies On A New Incident of Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy;" Journal of General Virology; Vol. 72, Part 3 (March 1991), pages 589-594.
8Official USDA Estimate Of BSE In Downer Cows; May 18, 1999;
9Official USDA Estimate Of BSE In Downer Cows; May 18, 1999;
10The Public Health Implications of Mad Cow Disease by Michael Greger; July 27, 1996; http://www.ivu.org/congress/wvc96/madcow.html
11The Public Health Implications of Mad Cow Disease by Michael Greger; http://www.ivu.org/congress/wvc96/madcow.html
12The Public Health Implications of Mad Cow Disease by Michael Greger; http://www.ivu.org/congress/wvc96/madcow.html
13Interview with Michael Greger; May 6, 1996; referring to British Journal of Psychiatry (1991) 158:457-70; http://www.mad-cow.org/~tom/greg.html
14How It Went So Horribly Wrong; Andy Coghlan; http://www.keysites.com/nsplus/insight/bse/howitwent.html
15 Finding Of No Significant Impact and Environmental Assessment For 21 Cfr 589.2000 Prohibition Of Protein Derived From Ruminant And Mink Tissues In Ruminant Feeds; center For Veterinary Medicine Food And Drug Administration; November 1996; page 78
16How It Went So Horribly Wrong; Andy Coghlan; http://www.keysites.com/nsplus/insight/bse/howitwent.html
17Stringent Steps Taken by U.S. on Cow Illness; January 14, 2001; http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/14/health/14COW.html?pagewanted=all
18Final Opinion of the Scientific Steering Committee on the Geographical Risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (GBR) Adopted on July 6, 2000; F. Joachim Kreysa; http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/ssc/out113_en.pdf; July 6, 2000
19Austria, Italy Hit By Mad Cow Fear; January 14, 2001;
19.5Mad Cow Frenzy Moves To Italy; Philip Pullella; January 18, 2001; http://www.mad-cow.org/UKCJD/CJD_news33.html
20 France Blames Britain For Its BSE; January 9, 2001; http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=003662531325865&rtmo=
21Warnings on BSE Were Ignored By Berlin; December 30, 2000; http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=003662531325865&rtmo=0xsbsKeq&atmo
22 France Reveals New Mad Cow Tally; December 5, 2000;
23 Letter From Brussels Fuels Panic Over BSE; January 16, 2000;
24FDA Prohibits Mammalian Protein In Sheep And Cattle Feed; June 3, 1997; http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/tpprotei.html
25Mad Cow May Have Spread Worldwide - World Health Organization; December 22, 2000; http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20001222/sc/madcow_who_dc_1.html
26Worldwide Meat Trade Might Have Spread Disease, WHO Warns; Elizabeth OlsonInternational Herald Tribune; December 23, 2000
28Beef Exports Raise Fears of Exposure To Mad Cow Elizabeth Olson International Herald Tribune;
Saturday, December 23, 2000; http://www.iht.com/articles/5261.htm
29Worldwide Meat Trade Might Have Spread Disease, WHO Warns; Elizabeth OlsonInternational Herald Tribune; December 23, 2000
30Makers Of Us Feed Fail To Heed Rules On Mad Cow Disease; January 11, 2001; NY Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/14/health/14COW.html
31El Salvador Buries Quake Victims; January 15, 2000;
MAD COW and CJD FROM 1988 - SEPTEMBER 20, 2001
Of 347 FDA-licensed feed mills that handle the risky MBM feed
Between 6,000 and 8,000 feed mills are so small they aren't required
to have FDA licenses, but they are required to abide by the same federal regulations. Of 1,593 small feed
Of all companies inspected, big or small, less than 10% flunked
record-keeping for the regulations.30
Taco: "Hey Seis, what're ya thinking?"
Stan and Holly Deyo