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1. CANADA MULLS KILLING 500,000 COWS DUE TO BSE CRISIS
discovery of BSE in Alberta in May 2003 and subsequent US beef import
bans created a "backlog" of more than 500,000 older cows in
Canada's beef industry. According to the Edmonton Journal, the Canadian
government is considering slaughtering all of the cows to decrease inventory,
although government officials have indicated that culling would be a last
resort. Alberta's agriculture minister said the government has two
years to decide how to handle the excess, suggesting that a compensation
program may be an alternative. Lifting the ban on Canadian beef imports
could also alleviate the country's surplus of cows, but US and Canadian
officials have been quiet about the possibility of lifting the ban.
According to an Alberta government auditor, the province has tested only
900 cows so far this year, compared with the 2,700 tests that were mandated
by the international body that oversees global BSE testing (OIE, or Office
International des Epizooties). The auditor's report suggests that
the small number of BSE tests conducted this year stems from reluctance
by farmers to give up their cows for testing and thereby risk finding
another case of BSE. Some farmers are opting instead to kill the animals
themselves or leave them to be killed by wild predators. According to
one Alberta farmer, "There are lots of dead animals just lying around
"Officials Downplay Possibility of Cattle Cull," CTV, Deborah
Shiry, August 8 2004
"Ranchers Thwart BSE Tests," Calgary Sun, Kristen Enevold,
August 5, 2004
"BSE Still Affecting Canada," Farmers Weekly Interactive,
August 6, 2004
2. USDA WILL NO LONGER ANNOUNCE INITIAL INCONCLUSIVE BSE TESTS
US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service (APHIS) will now wait for a second round of inconclusive rapid
BSE tests before announcing the results publicly, rather than making announcement
following only a single test. Of an estimated 28,000 rapid BSE tests conducted
in the US since June 1, two samples were declared inconclusive using the
rapid tests and announced publicly. Both samples later tested negative
for BSE using the more accurate immunohistochemistry method considered
the "gold standard" for BSE testing. APHIS Chief Veterinarian
John Clifford made the announcement on August 4, 2004, following a 60-day
review of the USDA's expanded BSE testing program. Another APHIS
official said of the earlier inconclusive test announcements, "We
were doing that in the beginning to be cautious." The change is
being applauded by US beef industry groups.
"APHIS Changes Policy on Announcing Inconclusive BSE Tests,"
Meatingplace.com, Brendan O'Neill, August 5, 2004
"USDA Changes Mad Cow Testing System," Reuters, Charles Abbott,
August 4, 2004
John Clifford's statement, APHIS, August 4, 2004
USDA BSE Test Results (updated daily)
3. VCJD POSSIBLY MORE WIDESPREAD THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of BSE or "mad
cow disease," may be more widespread than previously believed and
may appear in a weaker, non-lethal form. A new research study from the
UK's national CJD surveillance center and published in The Lancet
medical journal indicates that vCJD can affect people whose genetic signatures
are shared by about 50% of all Caucasians. The study demonstrates that
the disease can affect many more people than previously thought; until
recently scientists estimated that only 35% of Caucasians shared the at-risk
genetic profile. Projections of future vCJD cases vary widely, from a
handful to hundreds of thousands, but scientists say the new research
will significantly increase those projections. More than 150 people have
died of vCJD so far, most of whom were living in the UK. The new research
is based on an autopsy of an elderly person who died of unrelated causes,
but who had contracted vCJD from a blood transfusion five years prior.
The transmission of vCJD via blood transfusions had only been theoretical
prior to this recent finding.
"Research Shows vCJD Could Affect More People than Previously Thought,"
Meatingplace.com, Ann Bagel, August 9, 2004
"More People May be Incubating Mad-Cow Disease," Associated
Press, Emma Ross, August 6, 2004
4. FOOD SAFETY: NEW OUTREACH EFFORTS AND SALMONELLA RESEARCH
OUTREACH: The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on August
3 that it would establish the Food Safety Institute of the Americas (FSIA)
to promote food safety education and outreach in the western hemisphere.
FSIA "will become a forum for scientific discussion and educational
opportunities for government and industry in all countries to improve
the safety of imported meat, poultry and egg products," according
to food safety administrator Dr. Elsa Murano. To be located in Miami,
Florida, FSIA will be managed by Linda Swacina, currently deputy administrator
for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
SALMONELLA RESEARCH: A new FSIS study of Salmonella contamination found
an overall decline in meat and "poultry" products that tested
positive for the bacteria. Random samples of seven product types yielded
a salmonella contamination rate of 3.8% in 2003, compared to 4.3% in 2002
and 5% in 2001. However, while overall contamination was down for the
year, salmonella presence in the sampled chicken and turkey products increased
slightly from 2002 to 2003.
"FSIS Establishes New Institute to Promote Food Safety Education,
Information, Communication and Outreach in the Americas," FSIS,
August 3, 2004
"USDA Food-Safety Department Expands," Pork Magazine, August
"FSIS Data Shows Decline in Meat and Poultry Testing Positive for
Salmonella," Meatingplace.com, Ann Bagel, August 6, 2004
"Progress Report on Salmonella Testing of Raw Meat & Poultry
Products, 1998-2003," FSIS, August 2004
PDF File, 185k: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Salmonella_Progress_Report_1998-2003.pdf
5. USDA TASK FORCE PROPOSES NEW INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
task force appointed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recommended
the formation of a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to
centralize agricultural research. The task force recommends a $1 billion
annual budget within five years for NIFA, which would primarily operate
as a grant-making entity for scientific research studies. NIFA would be
led by a director appointed by the US president and confirmed by the US
Senate, and it is recommended that the institute operate with "its
own culture and establish its own methods of operation" separate
from the USDA. The task force recommends that NIFA's primary objective
be to ensure the "technological superiority of American agriculture"
in part to keep domestic producers competitive in an increasingly internationalized
market. Other NIFA objectives include establishing the institute without
delay, providing grants for agricultural research, and supplementing the
work of other USDA research groups.
"USDA Task Force Announces Recommendations to Promote Agriculture
Research," MeatAMI.com, August 4, 2004
"USDA Research Economics and Education Task Force Makes Recommendations,"
WheatWorld.com July 30, 2004
6. U.S. CORPORATE FARMING DESTROYS WESTERN LAND AND LIVES
and sheep ranchers and concentrated farming operations are creating widespread
environmental degradation, human health issues, and animal welfare concerns.
According to a new book titled "Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized
Destruction of the American West," about 300 million acres in 11
western US states are leased to ranchers. The mostly federal lands are
leased at "notoriously" low prices, as much as 8-10 times
lower than comparable fees charged by private landowners for grazing.
As a result of widespread use of lands for ranching, western states are
increasingly faced with loss of wildlife habitat, soil erosion, invasion
of exotic plants, and water quality concerns. According to one of the
book's authors, "If you look at the cumulative effect of livestock
production, no other human activity has a larger negative impact on the
environment in the West."
Corporate control of farming and its impacts on consumers, animals and
the environment is the subject of another book titled "The Meat
You Eat: How Corporate Farming Has Endangered America's Food Supply."
Authored by Ken Midkiff, the Sierra Club's clean water campaign
director, the book criticizes concentrated US farming operations for "killing
the land, killing communities, and, very likely, killing us." The
book offers a critique of the corporate farming industry from perspectives
including consideration of animals, farm laborers, the natural environment,
and human health. One review says the book is "probably the best
collection of facts and figures about the sorry state of our meat supply."
"Wasting the West," Emagazine.com, Jack Rosenberger, July/August
(Subscription required for full story)
"'Big Meat,' Big Trouble," San Francisco Chronicle, Kim Severson,
August 8, 2004
7. SOUTH AFRICA: UP TO 30,000 OSTRICHES CULLED DUE TO AVIAN INFLUENZA
farms in South Africa were initially quarantined due to an outbreak of
avian influenza that has infected and killed at least 2,000 ostriches;
two farms are still covered by the quarantine. Another 6,000 ostriches
are being killed to contain the disease, while the South African government
considers killing 24,000 more as a preventive measure. Government officials
said that the strain of avian influenza is related to the Asian outbreaks
that occurred earlier this year and resulted in the deaths of millions
of birds. South African exports of ostrich meat and other "poultry"
products have been suspended awaiting further tests.
"SA Bird Flu Ostrich Cull Begins," BBC News, Richard
Hamilton, August 8, 2004
"Farms Quarantined After Bird Flu Outbreak," Agence France
Presse, August 6 2004
8. OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST
Cruelty 'is Worst on Farms,'" Cambridge News, July 28, 2004
UK: In the East of England, more than 22,000 complaints of animal cruelty
were submitted during the last year, including 3,464 cases concerning
sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs; other statistics also provided.
"Tyson Foods Launches New Campaign," Pork News, August 4,
On August 31, Tyson Foods will launch a $75 million advertising campaign
to promote the company's meat products as a "prime source
of protein" to 25 million shoppers.
"Vegan in the Henhouse," Washington Post, Don Oldenburg,
August 9, 2004
Profile of Wayne Pacelle, recently appointed Chief Executive Officers
of the Humane Society of the United States, including his goals relating
to farmed animals, cockfighting, and other issues.
"Egypt: 36,000 Chicks Die After Missing Flight," Planet Ark,
August 9, 2004
36,000 new-born chicks bound for Ethiopia died or were incinerated at
the Cairo airport after a late flight caused them to miss their connection.
"Rethink the Bird Trade," New York Times, Reader letter,
August 6, 2004
A bird advocate writes the NY Times: "Our penchant for international
trade in birds - whether for eggs, meat, live poultry or pets - that (threatens)
agriculture, wildlife and human health."
"State Proposal Aims to Curb Pollution from Factory Farms,"
Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Don Hopey, August 11, 2004
A state proposal would require the 118 factory farming operations in Pennsylvania
to limit manure-related odor and air and groundwater pollutants.
- Canada Mulls Killing
500,000 Cows Due to BSE Crisis
- USDA Will No Longer Announce Initial Inconclusive BSE Tests
- vCJD Possibly More Widespread than
- Food Safety: New Outreach Efforts and Salmonella Research
- USDA Task Force Proposes New Institute of Food and Agriculture
- US Corporate Farming Destroys Western Land
- South Africa: Up to 30,000 Ostriches Killed Due to Avian Influenza
- Other Items of Interest
Compiled and edited by Hedy Litke and Che Green, Farmed Animal Watch
is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed
animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and
mainstream media sources.
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