DC, January 7, 2004 -- CropChoice news -- Associated
Press: Genetic testing confirms that the cow
diagnosed with the first U.S. case of mad cow disease
was born in Canada, agriculture officials said Tuesday.
The finding puts new emphasis above the border in the
investigation of the North American outbreak of the
brain-wasting disease. The Holstein, slaughtered in
Washington state on Dec. 9, is the second cow born in
western Canada diagnosed with mad cow disease since
The test results mean investigators will intensify
their search for the source of infection, most likely
from contaminated feed, in Alberta, where the Holstein
was born in 1997.
The DNA tests on the cow, on one of its offspring and
on the semen from the cow's sire, as well as records
that show the cow came from a dairy farm in Alberta,
make "us confident in the accuracy of this traceback,"
said Dr. Ron DeHaven, the Agriculture Department's chief
Dr. Brian Evans, chief veterinary officer of the Canadian
Food Inspection Agency, said independent testing from
a Canadian lab agreed.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced the mad
cow diagnosis on Dec. 23, the first time the disease
has been found in the United States since its discovery
in Great Britain in the mid-1980s.
Canadian officials had announced last May that a cow
in Alberta, also born in 1997, had been diagnosed with
While no links have been found between the two cases,
investigators will now focus on looking for common sources
of feed, Evans said.
He added, "We have not got sufficient evidence
to make any feed link between the two farms."
Canadian and U.S. officials believe the cows were probably
infected as calves in Canada because they were born
before August 1997, when both countries banned the practice
of giving cattle feed that contained parts of cattle,
sheep or other cud-chewing animals.
"We now have a likely explanation and source for
their infection," DeHaven said.
The announcement prompted the U.S. beef industry to
renew its call for resumption of international trade
in American beef. More than 30 countries banned imports
of U.S. beef after the Dec. 23 announcement.
At the same time, the Canadian government said it would
begin an international marketing campaign for Canadian
beef, banned after the May discovery. "We believe
that we can go around the world and tell people we have
a safe commodity," Canadian Agriculture Minister
Bob Speller said.
Both countries have been pushing for a change in international
standards that would allow trade to continue after a
limited outbreak of the disease.
In Washington, however, some lawmakers said the DNA
test was evidence that the United States should keep
in place a ban on importing cattle from Canada that
was imposed after the Canadian mad cow case. U.S. officials
have been considering allowing the importation of younger
Canadian cattle — unlikely to have the disease
because of its long incubation period.
Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota
and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., also asked for speedy
implementation of "country-of-origin" labeling
on most meat and produce that would clearly identify
meat from animals that were born, raised and slaughtered
in the United States.
DeHaven, however, refused to say that the mad cow problem
belongs to Canada. The highly integrated cattle industries
in both countries produced cross-border sales of live
animals and animal products of more than $2 billion
"It's a North American issue. Has been. Continues
to be," DeHaven said.
Both countries are trying to locate the other animals
from the Canadian herd. Records indicate that about
80 dairy cows entered the United States with the sick
Holstein in 2001 and U.S. authorities have so far found
10 of her herdmates.
Evans also said Canadian records indicate that an additional
17 young cows were from the herd, including a calf by
the infected animal that entered the United States at
a later date. USDA officials said they are trying to
U.S. officials have placed three Washington state herds
under quarantine because of ties to the Holstein.
The Agriculture Department on Tuesday began killing
a herd of 449 calves in Sunnyside, Wash., because it
included one that was born to the Holstein.
Officials said that particular calf was not tagged
and could not be identified, necessitating the mass
killing. They have said they can't rule out the possibility
that mad cow disease can be transmitted from mother
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy,
eats holes in the brains of cattle. The disease is a
concern because humans can develop a brain-wasting illness,
variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (news - web sites),
from consuming contaminated beef products.
Agriculture Department BSE news: