USDA covered up latest MAD COW CASE for seven months 
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 USDA covered up latest MAD COW CASE for seven months

Just when we thought is was all over--well of course, it was never
over, let's face it. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow) has
inevitably become embedded in North America, and more specifically to
the USA, because dead animals, excrement and diseased body parts
continue to constitute a routine part of domestic animal feed in
corporate America. and because, until recently, official policy was to
not look for it. The chilling part is the general level of official and
corporate denial--backed up by threats. This is getting very, very
crazy and very much like the pharmaceutical industry!


USDA Covered Up Latest Mad Cow Case for Seven Months

From: The New York Times
June 26, 2005 Sunday

For Months, Agriculture Department Delayed Announcing Result of Mad Cow


Although the Agriculture Department confirmed Friday that a cow that
died last year was infected with mad cow disease, a test the agency
conducted seven months ago indicated that the animal had the disease.
The result was never publicly disclosed.

The delay in confirming the United States' second case of mad cow
disease seems to underscore what critics of the agency have said for a
long time: that there are serious and systemic problems in the way the
Agriculture Department tests animals for mad cow.

Indeed, the lengthy delay occurred despite the intense national
interest in the disease and the fact that many countries have banned
shipments of beef from the United States because of what they consider
to be lax testing policies.

Until Friday, it was not public knowledge that an ''experimental'' test
had been performed last November by an Agriculture Department
laboratory on the brain of a cow suspected of having mad cow disease,
and that the test had come up positive.

For seven months, all that was known was that a test on the same cow
done at the same laboratory at roughly the same time had come up
negative. The negative result was obtained using a test that the
Agriculture Department refers to as its ''gold standard.'' The
explanation that the department gave late Friday, when the positive
test result came to light, was that there was no bad intention or
cover-up, and that the test in question was only experimental.

''The laboratory folks just never mentioned it to anyone higher up,''
said Ed Loyd, an Agriculture Department spokesman. ''They didn't know
if it was valid or not, so they didn't report it.'' On hearing that
Friday night, Dr. Michael K. Hansen, a senior research associate at
Consumers Union and frequent department critic, reacted skeptically.

''That seems hard to fathom,'' he said. ''If it's true, we have a
serious communication problem at the Department of Agriculture. How can
we be confident of anything they're saying?'' Mr. Loyd, reacting to a
reporter's question about the Agriculture Department's handling of the
issue, said, ''In hindsight, reporting it would have been the thing to
do.'' Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns briefly mentioned the positive
test result at a news conference on Friday. The primary focus of the
conference was to announce that British scientists had confirmed the
United States' second case of the disease.

The sequence of events started in November, when an Agriculture
Department laboratory in Ames, Iowa, performed two tests on the animal
in question. After the ''gold standard'' test came up negative, the
agency announced that the animal had not had mad cow disease. But at
the same time, the same lab also conducted the experimental test, with
different results.

Then two weeks ago, for reasons that are unclear, Phyllis K. Fong, the
Agriculture Department's inspector general, arranged for further tests
on specimens of the same cow. A test known as the Western blot, which
is widely used in England and Japan but not in the United States, came
up positive. Because this result conflicted with the ''gold standard''
result from November, a specimen from the same animal was sent to a
laboratory in Weybridge, England, that is considered pre-eminent in its
field. Several tests were conducted there, and all of them came up
positive; it was the results of those tests that Mr. Johanns announced
at the news conference on Friday afternoon.

The nation's mad cow testing system is now infuriating both ranchers
consumers. Consumer lobbyists say the flawed results show once again
that 15 years of testing has been dangerously inadequate. And now the
beef lobby, which has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the
Agriculture Department, is complaining that the testing system is
dangerously unpredictable.

Jim McAdams, president of the 25,000-member National Cattlemen's Beef
Association, has complained that unexpected testing creates ''great
anxiety within our industry,'' and leads to ''significant losses.''
Thirty-six countries have shut their doors to American beef, virtually
wiping out a $3 billion export market, which Australia happily moved

On Saturday, Taiwan reimposed a ban on American beef that it had lifted
just two months ago, Reuters reported.

The new case of mad cow appeared to be in a native-born animal, though
Mr. Johanns was vague about that. Testing also suggested that the
animal caught the disease from a new">food source, since the strain was
different from that of the Washington State cow that tested positive in

Mr. Johanns said that catching one positive in 388,000 recent tests
proved the system worked.

But critics said it did no such thing, because the system was designed
strictly for surveillance. One positive caught after a seven-month
delay was, at best, a stroke of luck, the critics said.

Other countries use food-safety standards: Japan tests every cow,
Europe tests about one in four.

The United States instead uses statistical models that it says will let
a few tests detect the infection even in one cow in a million. It now
tests one in 90; when the first mad cow case was found in 2003, it was
testing one in 1,700.

With its statistical logic under regular attack, the United States has
increased the number of tests to 388,000 in the past year, from 40 in
1990. But until recently, Mr. Johanns was discussing cutting back to
40,000 tests. That system is ''bizarre, illogical and woefully
inadequate,'' said John Stauber, co-author of the book, ''Mad Cow
U.S.A.,'' which was first published in 1997.

''The bottom line,'' he said, ''is that the U.S. government is afraid
of putting in real food-safety testing because it would certainly find
additional cases.'' Mr. Loyd of the Agriculture Department replied that
surveillance testing assumed a few animals would be positive, and that
his department had nearly doubled its own goal of testing 220,000 cases
in a year.

''There is no scientific basis,'' he said, for doing what Japan and
many critics want: testing all animals or all those more than 20 months

But even a scientist who helped design the department's testing now
harbors doubts about it.

In an interview before the second case was found, Dr. Linda A.
Detwiler, who retired in 2002 as the chief of the mad cow testing
program and now teaches veterinary medicine at the University of
Maryland, said the department should be using the Western blot test it
was resisting.

''You need to put as many tools in your tool kit as possible,'' she

Mr. Loyd said Secretary Johanns now agreed. The beef industry now cites
its consumer-protecting ''firewalls.''

But it took many years to erect them: a ban on feeding ruminants to
cattle, a ban on using near-dead dairy cows as beef and a ban on using
the brains and spinal cords of older cattle in feed.

Other practices that many veterinarians dislike continue, such as
feeding poultry litter with spilled cattle meal in it back to cattle,
giving calves ''milk replacer'' made from cattle {*filter*} and letting cows
eat dried restaurant ''plate waste.'' Dr. Detwiler was adamant that
those practices should end, and that the brains and spines of all
cattle should be destroyed, not made into feed even for pigs or

''That's how you keep infectivity out of the">food chain,'' she said.
''If a farmer makes a mistake and gives pig feed to cattle by mistake,
the feed is safe.'' The beef lobby has opposed many changes, and
statements from the industry and the lobby often echo each other. When
Mr. Johanns held a sort of pep rally for beef in Minnesota recently, no
consumer groups were on a panel that declared American beef ''very,
very safe,'' but lobbyists were.

The industry casts a long shadow over the department. Ann M. Veneman, a
former agriculture secretary, had as her spokeswoman Alisa Harrison,
who, in 1996, accused a doctors' group of being an animal rights group
opposed to eating meat. The doctors' group had endorsed the ban on
feeding cattle or sheep to cattle.

Mr. Johanns, a former Nebraska governor who grew up on a dairy farm,
inherited two officials of the cattlemen's group, Charles Lambert and
Dale Moore, as deputies. His under secretary for farm and foreign
agriculture services, J.B. Penn, worked at a consulting firm serving
the industry.

Last week, according to the Kyodo news service in Japan, a group of
Japanese lawmakers who visited Mr. Penn in Washington accused him of
''threatening'' them with trade retaliation and saying that the United
States' patience was growing short and that they should simply accept
American beef.

Mr. Loyd denied that, saying the meeting was ''cordial.'' Such
connections to industry impede the department's duty to police it, said
Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat on the House
Appropriations Committee. (On Tuesday, the department announced $140
million in grants to advertise American">food overseas, including $12
million to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.)

She wants a new, separate">food safety agency, like the one Britain
created in 1999.

But the department's harshest critic has emerged from within -- it is
Ms. Fong, ...

read more »

Tue, 18 Dec 2007 01:24:32 GMT
 USDA covered up latest MAD COW CASE for seven months

"BSE is here to stay"--- Health Canada scientists.

Tue, 18 Dec 2007 09:26:31 GMT
 USDA covered up latest MAD COW CASE for seven months


>Just when we thought is was all over--well of course, it was never
>over, let's face it. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow) has
>inevitably become embedded in North America, and more specifically to
>the USA, because dead animals, excrement and diseased body parts
>continue to constitute a routine part of domestic animal feed in
>corporate America. and because, until recently, official policy was to
>not look for it. The chilling part is the general level of official and
>corporate denial--backed up by threats. This is getting very, very
>crazy and very much like the pharmaceutical industry!

No doubt the spongiform encephalopathies plaguing the deer and elk
populations of the central and western US are also the fault of the
FDA.  As soon as we figure out how to pin it on them.

  -- David Wright :: alphabeta at
     These are my opinions only, but they're almost always correct.
     "I believe The Battle of the Network Stars should be fought with guns."
                                        -- Steve Martin

Tue, 18 Dec 2007 11:12:58 GMT
 [ 3 post ] 

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