The US point of
Ranchers are very concerned
Dale Gray – US correspondent of
To begin, let me say that I live in a county in Idaho
that derives about 90 percent of its income from the beef industry.
Ranchers around here are very concerned about mad cow disease. Most
track the news on the Internet as it becomes available and then send the news
around via e-mail (the old west has some new ways!). My family runs a
large ranch in Nebraska and this is the kind of thing that they follow on a daily
To my knowledge, no cases of mad cow have been
discovered in the US to- date. The use of bone meal is illegal here
(although that doesn't mean it doesn't happen due to accident or dishonesty).
When I was young, bone meal was a feed suppliment, but sometime since it
was outlawed. Instead, we tend to feed on the range (grass) then send the
cattle to feedlots where they are fattened on corn, beet pulp (by-product of
sugar beets) and starch (by product of potato industry). America's second
largest feedlot is about 6 miles from my house, so I know quite well what is
fed and am daily thankful that my house is up-wind!
The news media does cover the mad cow, but now that I
think about it, it is mostly the BBC late at night. We do get a couple of
"hits" on the major networks when something big happens.
My father is a veterinarian. We have
talked several times about mad cow. It is one of the things that every
large animal veterinarian in the country is constantly on the look out for.
Sale yards personnel and brand inspectors are also on the look-out.
I suppose everyone in the industry has seen what has happened in Europe
and is a little scared that the same thing can happen here. There are
probably some that think it could never happen here, but most realize the world
is getting to be a pretty small place these days.
The concerns at the moment are in the cattle industry.
They are working hard to make sure the public never has to worry about
it. To some extent, they have succeeded. There is no perceived fear
of eating beef because of the BSE. At the moment, there is much more of a
concern about harmful forms of e-coli (read an interesting article comparing
the different genomes of the "safe" and "harmful" forms
just this morning on www.sciencenews.com).
I do not know the attitude of the scientific community
on the subject. It is out of my area of knowledge. Perhaps
the attached article will help.
M. Gray – Historician
of the Frontiers
US public does not have any major concern about BSE, at the moment
Gregor – US correspondent of TdF
Thanks for your E-mail message
on BSE. Coincidentally, I was reading this week's Time magazine just
before your message came in. There is a two page article in Time about
BSE: TIME - Medicine Will Mad-Cow
Disease Strike Here? Also, I will try to answer the questions you
in the US are fed corn. My wife is from a farm family in Nebraska.
For generations, the families in that area have raised two major crops - corn
and soybeans. The corn that they raise is what we call "field
corn". That means the corn has been raised only to feed livestock
and is not for human consumption. (We do eat a lot of corn in the US as a
vegetable, but we call that "sweet corn". Sweet corn is a bit
differenct from field corn.) A lot of the farmers in Nebraska and
Iowa raise cattle. Those cattle are always fed field
corn. Of course, nowadays, cattle are given food supplements to fatten
them up. I have no idea what is in those supplemants.
cases of BSE in the US, at this time.
in the attached TIME's article is the following statement: "...the U.S.
Department of Agricuilture has an aggressive plan to find, quarantine, and
destroy" any cattle if BSE appears.
far as the media are concerned, in my opinion, the US media take the problem as a
serious one, but at the same time appear to see it as a "european
opinion, the US public does NOT have any major concern of BSE at this
time. And I have not read or heard anything about a decrease in the sale
Organic supply of meat
is available in this country
Devy Wolff – US correspondent of TdF
No BSE was discover
yet in the US that was made public, beef is still safe here to eat. They are making
sure that no contaminants are given to the cattle in the food supply.
The American Red
Cross are not accepting blood donation from any one that lived in the UK,
France and some other west European countries from 1985 to present time.
The alternatives are in organic supply of meat which
is available in this country.
BSE seen from Australia
Clements - Australian correspondent of TdF
Can't easily answer these questions; because i'm less
than 24hrs from flying out to Guangzhou/Canton in PRChina & my ability to
research while packing is fairly slender. If you wait with these responses
until my return (after 23 Feb), that's fine. But otherwise:
As far as i know, we don't use any meat derived
products in our livestock feed, largely because we don't have to (no freezing
winters to keep cattle indoors). No BSE either, according. Use of USAmerican
style artificial hormones to pad production is also avoided. Knowledge of BSE
amongst consumers is fairly high, though; & has played a major part in
creating a strong antiGM food consumer base here; distinctly to the frustration
of those scientists who have been convinced by USAmerican salesmen that they
can make a killing producing the stuff. The problem is blamed less on Europe
than the arrogance of the mass market food industry in general; & no real
differentiation between the three abovementioned problemes is made, as they all
seen as different symptoms of the same disease.
(As you can see, i'm not particularly sympathetic to
any of these approaches. There's nothing more old fashioned than an obsession
with progress as a solution for all ills)
Only partially related to this, we have a very
multicultural society generating a big market for exotic, traditional
foodstuffs from Europe (the antipasto style of Italian cooking has always been
big here); Asia (particularly East Asian & the subcontinentals); Latin
America & increasingly Africa; the market for all military medium products
like pontiac potatos or large steaks is continuing to drop, not helping the
marketers of mass produced food at all.
More complete responses can only be offered on my
R. Clements -
Some notes from
Martin-Smith – Correspondent from UK and Educational Director of
As far as I know,
in the rest of the world, nobody uses such kind of animal flours to feed
the cows. And no case of BSE was yet discovered in extra-european countries. I
think, anyway, the USA may have started checks. There is much
nationalistic nonsense said about this, but the more serious newspapers do
treat it as a major problem for all consumers.
The main question, in the
scientists comments, is "How long does the human disease take to
incubate?!" Most scientists say 8-12 years. In this case if there is to be
a major epidemic the number of cases of human "BSE" should be showing
a vast increase in the past year or so. In the UK about 75 people have died of
the new BSE disease in the past 2 years; the next year should make the question
In Britain people are still
eating quite a lot of UK beef but there is reluctance to eat French or German
beef. For many people here alas the issue is confused with our well known
suspicion of other European countries and the EU.
I suspect that in the long
run the whole BSE story will increase the trend to vegetarianism. This again
has o be scientific- remember that vegetarian diets can meet human needs, but
people must put 2-3 times as much bulk on their plates to get the same
nutrition as from meat and many people forget this.
- Space Age Associates
Some US titles on BSE
Collected for TdF by Dale Gray
US Cattlemen Call
"Zero Tolerance'' Meeting on Mad Cow - Reuters (Jan 25, 2001)
Gov't Urged To Act
on Mad Cow Crisis - AP (Jan 25, 2001)
BSE Screening Test
Is Accurate, Study Says - Reuters (Jan 25, 2001)
First Herd Slaughter in Mad Cow Case - Reuters (Jan 25, 2001)
Commercial test for
mad-cow disease gets scientific OK - AFP (Jan 24, 2001)
BSE Inquiry -
official web site of the UK public inquiry into the emergence of BSE and nvCJD.
How Safe Is Our
Meat? - explores the issue of whether or not feeding livestock human waste
could be a health hazard. From the BBC, October 29, 1999.
Encephalopathy (BSE) Fact Sheet - inludes fact sheets on the transmissible
spongiform encephalopathies BSE and CJD. From the World Health Organization
Mad Cow/Mad Pig/CJD
Information - get news updates on the presence of the diseases in the U.S., U.S.
public policy, and more. From the Organic Consumers Association.
Official Mad Cow
Disease Home Page - includes news updates, and an information research and
health-related topics. A project of the Sperling Biomedical Foundation.
On mad cows and
bio-fears - Chicago Tribune (Jan 24, 2001)
Doctors Call for
Stronger Action against Mad Cow Disease - Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine (Jan 24, 2001)
On Mad Cows And
Bio-fears - Chicago Tribune (Jan 24, 2001)
Can It Happen Here?
- Time (Jan 23, 2001)
CJD: A Matter of
Life and Death - photo essay - Time Europe (Dec 5, 2000)
Good Cow, Bad Cow -
Time Europe (Dec 4, 2000)
Can U.S. prevent a
mad-cow medical crisis? - U.S. News (Jan 22, 2001)
Mad cow disease
causes Red Cross to ask for ban on blood donations from former European
residents - NPR (Jan 17, 2001)
industry struggles with mad cow disease - CBC.CA (Jan 12, 2001)
authorities feel they are in a difficult position - BBC (Nov 24, 2000)
In France, in
recent months, there have been cases of cows with BSE getting into the food
chain - BBC (Nov 24, 2000)