|This article and documentation appears in the January 21, 2005 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Bush/USDA Mad Cow Malfeasance Exposed; Food Cartels Threaten Public Health
by Marcia Merry Baker
Even before Congress reconvened this month, several Senators and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) challenged the new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule announced Dec. 29, which would lift the U.S. ban on Canadian live cattle imports as of March 7, a ban imposed 19 months ago when a Canadian BSE case was found in May 2003. Congress has the right to modify or cancel such an administrative rule, and such actions are being pursued. Republican Sen. Conrad Burns (Montana) has called for the USDA to delay opening the U.S. border to Canadian cattle.
On Jan. 4, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Waxman demanded a review by the USDA, questioning its grounds for making its new rule; Waxman and Conrad contest the USDA assertion that Canada is containing BSE risk by controlling its cattle feed. On Dec. 30, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) called for decisions based on "science, not on politics." On Dec. 22, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) scored the USDA for its lax inspections of U.S. beef facilities. On Jan. 11, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) demanded a hearing on the new USDA rule.
Their point is underscored by two new cases of BSE just confirmed this month in Alberta, Canada. One case was announced Jan. 2, and the other Jan. 10; they are in different locations in Alberta, and unrelated, except that the common denominator is considered to be contaminated cattle feed, going back seven or eight years ago. The one BSE case found in the U.S. in December 2003, was likewise from an animal originating in Alberta, and attributed to tainted cattle feed in Canada. Meantime, cattle feed routinely comes into the United States from Canada.
A look at the epidemiological particulars involved in BSE in North America, and the pattern of public health inaction, and cover-up by the relevant agencies during the Bush Administrationin the USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and related institutionsshows the same "Go Flu Yourself" attitude that led to the sudden lack of 50% of the expected influenza doses for the U.S. this flu season.
Secondly, the insistence on re-opening the U.S. border to Canadian cattle, comes from the wing of the international synarchist financial and commodities cartels, which have positioned their operations (beef slaughtering, food processing, cattle feed, and so on) worldwide on extensive cross-border networks of facilities. The prominent names include Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Louis Dreyfus, Tysons, and others.
Even before the second Bush Administration was sworn in, this cartel demanded that the USDA get the Canadian border open again. The first week in January, Tysons, one of the largest meat processors in the U.S., made a big public relations announcement that they were being forced to close their West Point, Nebraska, beef plant, and furlough workers at some others, for lack of sufficient cattletranslated: because of the Canadian imports ban, 1 to 2 million cattle a year are not allowed into the U.S.
Cargill, the privately held mega-multinational, based in Minnesota, has slaughtering facilities in Alberta, which prior to May 2003, were exporting 60 percent of their beefto the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere, all of which stopped after May, 2003, when "Canadian" productread "Cargill" productwas banned. Also, Cargill is the world's largest cattle feed processor, producing in Canada under labels including Cargill, Agribrands, and Purina.
Cattle Feed Crucial
The cattle feed issue is pivotal, both politically, and also as far as what is known about BSE epidemiologically. On Jan. 4, the USDA released its 500-page "Minimal-Risk Nations" rule, and presented several rationalizations for why Canada showed minimal risk of BSE, and why the bans against imports into the U.S. should be lifted. The weakest "reasoning" is the statistical argument that not many BSE cows are being found, relative to the 5.5 million cows in Canada.
However, the foremost reason given by the USDA for re-opening the border is that Canada is exerting "effective" controls over what goes into its cattle feed.
In fact, this lie is double-headed. There has been inadequate enforcement of regulation of cattle feed not only in Canada, but also in the United States. Over the past 19 months, occasional samples of cattle feed entering the U.S. from Canada have been found to contain animal protein matter, barred under both Canadian and U.S. BSE health precautions. FDA "import alerts"just slaps on the wristhave been imposed on the processors, which have included some of the world's largest, such as ADM and Louis Dreyfus.
But first, consider the science issue involved, then the record.
Though much is not understood about the BSE category of diseases, called transmissable spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), it has been advocated since the 1970s that ruminant waste parts not be recycled back into the livestock feed chain, as a precaution of baseline sanitation in the case of TSEs. There was special concern in Britain in the 1970s, because of an extensive outbreak of sheep scrapie (the name for TSE in sheep), and the fear that the infective agentnot well understoodmight somehow make a species jump.
In 1979, it was the imperial refusal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to heed British veterinary and public health scientists on thisThatcher decreed that the British feed industry will "self-regulate"that allowed a vast flow of waste parts from infected sheep, and other animals, to be recycled back into the cattle feed chain. By the mid-1980s, the BSE outbreak occurred, eventuating in 180,000 U.K. cow cases, with 3.5 million animals culled. Under Lady Mad Cow Thatcher, the infection spread worldwide, through exports of live animals and feed.
Therefore, depending on a nation's trade relations for cattle and beef with Britain directly, or indirect connections, during the 1980s and subsequently, a nation may have a greater or lesser presence of the BSE problem. Significant numbers of cases showed up in Europe, a number in Japan, and elsewhere. The United States, with next to no imports of British cattle and beef, has not confirmed a native case of Mad Cow. Canada, with closer ties to Britain, found its first case of a BSE cow in 1993, but the animal had been imported from the U.K. in 1987. Then since May 2003, four animals born in Canada have been confirmed with BSE. The disease has a years-long gestation period before it becomes manifest.
France, Japan, Ireland, and other nations have imposed very stringent rules to attempt to reduce the disease, involving surveillance of healthy animals, individual identification for cows, and so on. Equally, there are strict measures to keep BSE out of the food chain. The jump of the bovine form of TSE to humans is called variant Creutzfeld Jacob Disease, or vCJD, and has been documented in Britain.
In Japan, every cow going to slaughter is tested. In France, every second cow is tested at the slaughter house. Last year, 54 cases of BSE were found in France. This follows a consistent decline since the compulsory screening at the slaughter houses, and national surveillance and testing were implemented. France had in 2001, 274 BSE cases; in 2002, 239 cases; in 2003, 137 cases; in 2004, 54 cases. The intention is to contain and fight the disease to its elimination.
In contrast, the regulatory record in North America has been slack and devious, from practices at slaughterhouses, to cattle feed, surveillance, and testing. On Dec. 22, 2004, Sen. Frank Lautenberg demanded an investigation by the USDA into the allegations by the National Joint Council of Food Inspection union, that "materials, including spinal cords which carry Mad Cow disease, are indeed making it into the human food supply."
On cattle feed, action has been slow to come, and not strongly enforced. In 1997, the U.S. and Canada passed laws to ban certain cow parts from being recycled back into feed. But no serious follow-up was implemented. Then, after the May, 2003, BSE cow in Canada, more stringent bans on risky parts from cattle carcasses were announced in Canada on July 18, 2003.
In the United States, following the BSE case in Washington state (which originated in Canada), the FDA announced on Jan. 26, 2004, a ban on the use of cattle blood as a protein supplement for calves, and also proscribed the use of chicken litter as cattle feed (because cow parts could still be added to chicken feed, and thus end up being cycled back into cattle feed).