business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that US and Canadian investigators are trying to track down a cow that was born on the same farm from which a cow diagnosed with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), better known as mad cow disease, and that was exported to the US in 2002.

Because cows contract BSE from eating contaminated feed, health officials are concerned that the two cows could have shared a meal – or at least a trough.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says that the two cows were born within a year of each other, and that the cow shipped to the US was scheduled to be slaughtered. Canadian officials are saying that “at least” one such cow was exported to the US, leaving open the possibility, it seems, that there could be more.

While US officials are saying that it is “extremely unlikely” the exported cow would have been infected, Canadian officials are saying that a risk to human health cannot be ruled out.

All live cattle imports from Canada have been banned since May 2003, when Canada discovered its first indigenous case of mad-cow disease, but the USDA has announced plans to reduce those restrictions later this year.

In related news, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) has sued the US government, looking to block the resumption of live cattle imports from Canada, saying that officials haven’t done enough to prevent the spread of mad cow disease. The plan “will expose U.S. consumers to increased risk of a fatal disease associated with BSE contaminated meat and will increase the risk of BSE infection in U.S. cattle,'' said R-CALF President Leo McDonnell in a statement.
KC's View:
Tell us again how the existing US regulations are enough.

Tell us again how our tracking systems are sufficient. Tell us how it makes sense to relax restrictions on Canadian cattle despite these new revelations.

Tell us one more time how this is a scientific determination, not a political one linked to the fact that the government wants to get Japan to accept US meat, and has trouble making that argument while it is banning Canadian cattle.

Tell us a story. We’re all ears.