DC, January 27, 2004 (ENS): Bush administration
officials have told their Japanese counterparts that
it is not necessary for U.S. federal inspectors to test
all slaughtered cattle for mad cow disease.
But the meeting failed to convince Japanese officials
to lift a ban on U.S. beef and neither side appeared
willing to budge on the issue.
Japan tests 100 percent of the cattle it slaughters
and wants to see other beef producing nations follow
suit. It is one of some 40 countries that have banned
U.S. beef in the wake of last month's discovery that
a Washington state dairy cow was infected with the deadly
brain wasting disease.
Mad cow disease, officially known as bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), spreads from one animal to another
by consumption of feed that has been contaminated by
protein - such as blood or meat meal - from an infected
Consuming beef from infected cattle is believed to
cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, which is always
fatal for humans.
In 2002 the U.S. beef industry exported $1 billion
- one third of its total exports - to Japan.
At a press briefing Friday following a meeting with
Japanese officials, U.S. Undersecretary of Agriculture
J.B. Penn said it is neither efficient nor effective
to do "massive testing" of younger cattle
in which BSE "is very unlikely to manifest itself."
"We did discuss the possibility of 100 percent
testing, and we have reviewed the scientific basis for
that," Penn said. "We think it not necessary
to do 100 percent testing."
In the past two years, U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) inspectors have tested approximately 20,000 of
the 40 million cows slaughtered annually in the United
States, about one in every 2,000 animals. This is 47
times the recommended international standard, according
to the USDA.
The U.S. agriculture official said the United States
concentrates its testing on "higher risk"
animals, including older cows and cows that have calved,
because the system provides the highest probability
of identifying animals that would exhibit the disease.
Penn said the meetings were "meaningful [and]
productive" but acknowledged there were "no
new proposals presented from either side."
Nine herds in three states have been quarantined by
U.S. officials because of the concerns about mad cow
DNA tests and agricultural records proved the infected
cow came from a dairy farm in the Canadian province
The USDA has 27 of the 81 cattle listed on the Canadian
health certificate definitely accounted for and is continuing
to try and trace back the origin and fate of the remaining