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Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), along with government and beef industry officials from her home state, has accused the Bush administration of delaying without reason the implementation of new regulations that would prohibit cattle from being fed cow blood, restaurant scraps and chicken litter, as well as banning the use of the same equipment to process both ruminant and non-ruminant feed – rules designed to help stop the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), better known as mad cow disease.

Cantwell said that while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had promised to begin enforcing the new rules immediately after they were announced, three months have passed and enforcement has not yet begun. “Consumers deserve to be protected and the Bush administration continues to drag its heels on new rules to prevent the spread of mad cow disease,” Cantwell told the Associated Press. “They made a promise and I expect them to keep it.”

The first case of mad cow disease discovered on US soil was identified last December in Washington State, resulting in the banning of US beef exports by some 50 nations. Mad cow is believed to be transmitted when animals eat feed containing BSE's infectious protein; since 1997, the FDA has banned the use of cattle tissue in feed for other cattle.

Scientists believe that people who eat beef from infected cows can contract variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob, a fatal brain-wasting disease.

FDA officials responded that the implementation of new rules is a “complicated process” that takes time.

Cantwell also used the press conference to push for her Animal Feed Protection Act, which she said would impose a comprehensive ban on all animal feed containing potentially risky materials that could cause the fatal brain-wasting bovine illness.

She was backed at the session by representatives of her state’s Agriculture Department as well as a statewide group of cattle producers.
KC's View:
We know it sounds alarmist, but we can’t help thinking that the other shoe is going to drop and it is going to make all the bureaucratic meandering look pretty awful.