Mad-cow threat just 'BS', Klein says - Alberta Premier ... quipped yesterday
(Note: The United States Department of Agriculture continues to go along with the global agenda, continuing to insist that the American / Canadian border be opened on March 7th to a flood of Canadian beef and beef products. What do you think about this Pandora's Box nightmare? Contact the USDA and let them know what you think about this!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?navid=FEEDBACK_FORM (General Feedback webform) or USDA's 'Meat & Poultry Hotline: 800-535-4555; and/or The Food & Drug Administration's 'Consumer Hotline': 800-532-4440; Centers for Disease Control madcow numbers: 800-311-3435 and 404-639-3091; . This is an enormous organisation and to find the people that are actually involved with the BSE side is quite difficult. Try APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238 when looking for the people involved in the regulations.  Try Dr. Karen James-Preston, Director, Technical Trade Services, National Center for Import and Export, VS, APHIS, Riverdale, Maryland; 301-734-4356 or 609-259-5825.)
January 15, 2005

Alberta Premier Ralph Klein speaks earlier this week in Toronto.

By Miro Cernitig, Quebec bureau chief
The Toronto Star
One Yonge Street
Toronto, Canada M5E 1E6
Fax: 416-865-3999
To submit a Letter to the Editor:
By Daniel Goldstein in Washington at; Christopher Donville in Vancouver at
Montreal, Canada - The Canadian public's fear of mad cow disease, or BSE, is overblown, according to Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, who quipped yesterday the illness should be renamed BS.


Klein defended the safety of Canadian beef at a speech in Montreal, saying the risks to human beings from contaminated Alberta cattle are infinitesimal.


"We're dealing with an affliction that has cost the industry billions of dollars," Klein said of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. "And the risk to humans is so minimal compared to other afflictions."


After the speech, he said he'd been told, anecdotally, "you have to eat 10 billion -- billion -- meals of brains, ganglia, spinal cords, eyeballs and tonsils to get the disease."


He said [that] even though a fourth case of mad cow has been traced to Alberta's cattle herd in recent days, Canada does not face the sort of public health threat Britain has confronted. "Certainly there was a problem in England back in the '80s, when they allowed literally hundreds of thousands of cows to get into the human feed chain, and humans were infected," Klein said. Since then, he said, "stringent testing" has made the risk to humans "absolutely minimal."


BSE is a fatal brain-wasting disease in cattle that was found in the United Kingdom in the 1980s. If people eat infected cattle parts, they can be at risk of contracting new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, leading to brain damage and death. There have been about 150 cases of this worldwide, mainly in Britain.
Copyright 2005, The Toronto Star.
Additional related reading:
Canada's Chief Veterinarian Opposes Mad Cow Slaughter (Update4)
January 13, 2005
Steve Stroth, editor:
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Canada's chief veterinarian said a proposal to slaughter an estimated 960,000 cows, born before August 1997, wasn't a "scientifically valid'' response to the discovery of two cases of mad cow disease this year. 
"To jump into a massive cull at this point would not be consistent with the information we have out there,'' the veterinarian, Brian Evans, told reporters at a briefing today at the Canadian Embassy in Washington. 
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein yesterday said Canada may have to kill older cattle to restore confidence in the country's beef industry after the two latest cases followed one in May 2003, the Canadian Press reported. 
Such a slaughter would involve cattle born before the mid- 1997 ban on feed containing ground-up parts of ruminants, which is how scientists say the disease is spread. About 6 percent of the 16 million head of cattle in Canada were born before the ban, said Bernard Etzinger, an embassy spokesman. That amount would be worth more than C$350 million ($291 million), the Globe and Mail reported. 
Erik Butters, vice chairman of Alberta Beef Producers, said killing older animals would be wasteful, expensive and provide few benefits in terms of food safety. 
'Capitulation to Paranoia' 
"It would be capitulation to paranoia with no scientific justification,'' Butters said in a telephone interview from his ranch west of Cochrane, Alberta. He estimated a slaughter of cows born before August 1997 would involve more than 1 million animals. "It would be a terrible waste,'' he said. 
Mad cow disease is formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. Alberta's three infected animals were born before the feed ban took effect in both countries. 
The most recent case, disclosed January 11, involved an 8-year-old animal born just after the ban. Wilhelm Vohs, the owner of the animal, said in Innisfail, Alberta, today that a supplement that may have been responsible for the infection might have been given to more than 100 other cattle, the Globe and Mail said on its Web site. 
Vohs, who said he normally fed his herd grain, bought the supplement in early 1998. About 104 animals would have had access to the feed, he said. Most of those animals have since been sent to feedlots, though some are still alive on his farm, he said, according to the Globe and Mail. 
Scientists have said humans who eat certain parts of animals infected with mad cow may contract variant Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a similar brain-wasting ailment that has been blamed for over 140 human deaths in the U.K. since 1990. There has been one U.S. case in a cow traced to Canada. 
Evans, the Canadian official, is in Washington, D.C., to brief U.S. lawmakers and industry officials on his country's efforts to prevent the spread of mad cow disease. 
"We believe in the system that we have in place in Canada'' to manage the risks of mad cow disease, Evans said. "We feel we can firmly demonstrate to everybody's satisfaction that the system is doing what it is designed to do.'' 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said it will review plans to ease its ban on cattle imports from Canada as early as March following the recent mad cow cases. The U.S. suspended imports of cattle and beef from Canada in May 2003. 
Evans blamed "misinformation'' about the effectiveness of Canada's feed ban for speculation that the U.S. would rescind its plan to restore live cattle trade. 
U.S. Congress 
U.S. Senators Conrad Burns, Republican of Montana, and Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, along with Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, last week urged the Agriculture Department to delay its decision about resuming cattle imports, citing alleged lax enforcement by Canada of its feed rule. 
Evans said examples cited recently of animal protein found in Canadian feed may have been from insects or rodents swept up in the grain harvest, and not necessarily from cattle. He also said it wouldn't be unusual for an animal born shortly after the feed ban to contract BSE because as feed that may have contained infected animal parts was still circulating in Canada. 
"One does not publish a rule and within one minute of that rule entering the public domain ... cause all feed previously produced to vaporize and disappear,'' Evans said. 
Evans said it is unlikely that Canada will find enough new BSE cases in the next two months to prompt the U.S. to rescind its classification of Canada as a "minimal risk'' region for BSE. The U.S. has said that Canada may find as many as 12 infected animals and still be a minimal-risk country. 
Evans said tests found no evidence of mad cow disease in the nine animals that investigators traced from the birth herd of the cow whose BSE infection was disclosed January 2.   
Copyright 2005, Bloomberg.
Canadian farmer at center of mad cow maelstrom
January 13, 2005
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - Canadian farmer Wilhem Vohs tried a different kind of feed for his calves in the spring of 1998, and now that feed is at the center of a probe into Canada's latest case of mad cow disease.


Vohs and his wife Cheri stepped forward on Thursday to talk about a purebred Charolais cow they raised on their central Alberta farm that was confirmed as Canada's third home-grown case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy on Tuesday.


"That's probably the most intense news I've ever got," Vohs told a news conference broadcast live on CBC television.


The cow was born in the spring of 1998, six months after a ban on cattle feed containing protein from rendered cattle and other cud-chewing animals.
The ban -- which was also instituted in the United States -- was designed to prevent the spread of mad cow disease through contaminated feed.


The case has raised questions about how well the ban worked. Canadian farmers are worried those concerns could delay a U.S. plan to allow imports of young cattle to resume on March 7.


Farmers have lost an estimated C$5 billion ($4.2 billion) because of trade bans since the country's first native case was discovered in Alberta in May 2003.


The first U.S. case, found in December 2003, was traced to an Alberta-born cow.


Canada confirmed its second case on January 2, also in Alberta, just days before Vohs's cow turned up positive in preliminary screening tests.


Vohs started his operation, called "Valley of Hope Farms," at Innisfail, Alberta, after immigrating to Canada from Germany in 1979, according to his farm's Web site.


Just after Christmas, one of his cows slipped and injured herself, Vohs told reporters. He called his veterinarian, and together they decided to euthanize her.


The cow did not show signs of mad cow disease, Vohs said, but farmers are encouraged to turn in samples from old cattle for the country's stepped-up surveillance program.


Vohs would not provide a theory for how his cow got the disease, but told reporters he bought a calf starter feed from a local supplier in the spring of 1998.


"I bought that feed in good faith," he said, explaining he usually feeds his cattle home-grown hay and grain.


"It's just something I tried in '98, perhaps looking for some better performance in the calves."


He said his herd had 104 calves that year, 70 of which were sold to feedlots, and 34 that became breeding cows and bulls.


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said on Wednesday it had quarantined 22 cows on the farm that inspectors plan to kill and test for the disease.


Vohs said he sold his bulls to local farms and did not export them. His customers have been understanding, he said, but he worries about his farm's future.


"The thought is, who is going buy bulls from me?" he said. "Even though I don't think I did anything wrong, I haven't been accused of anything, either."


Farm group representatives stood beside Vohs on Thursday, calling him a model farmer.


"Will is a fine producer and I think he represents our industry very well," said Darcy Davis, chairman of Alberta Beef Producers.


The CFIA's head veterinarian for Western Canada praised the family's record-keeping and co-operation.


But George Luterbach declined to speculate how Vohs's cow got the disease.


"Our feed investigation is still ongoing and, as such, I think it would inappropriate and perhaps unprofessional to speculate on what our findings will find," Luterbach said.

($1=$1.20 Canadian)

Copyright 2005, Reuters.
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