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Food & Health : Biological Agents Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Canada Continues to Detect BSE in Younger Cattle
By news release
Jun 27, 2008 - 10:55:08 PM

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F ighting for the U.S. C attle P roducer”
R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America


For Immediate Release                                                                                  Contact: Shae Dodson, Communications Coordinator

June 27, 2008                                                                                              Phone:   406-672-8969; e-mail: [email protected]


Canada Continues to Detect BSE in Younger Cattle; New Case Makes 14 Animals Indigenous to Canada


Billings , Mont. Today, the Canadian Food Inspection Service (CFIA) announced the detection of yet another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Canadian cattle. CFIA reported that the infected animal was a 5-year-old Holstein cow from British Columbia, Canada, which would mean she was born in 2003.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) points to the reduction in the number of BSE-infected cattle born after the United Kingdom’s feed ban as evidence that BSE is under control in Europe. USDA also insists that Canada’s BSE problem has likewise been decreasing since implementation of its feed ban. In Canada, however, just the opposite is happening. This latest case – the 14th case detected in a Canadian-born cow and the 15th case when Canada’s 1993 imported case is included – also is the eighth case in an animal born after Canada implemented its 1997 ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban, and its seventh case in an animal born after the date of March 1, 1999, that USDA has set for eligibility for Canadian cattle to be exported to the United States.


Canada has detected more BSE cases in animals born after its feed ban than were born before. Additionally, these cases in cattle born after the feed ban are relatively young animals, suggesting they have been subjected to higher doses of infectivity, accounting for the shorter incubation period of the disease, which is known to extend beyond eight years.  Additionally, it is now clear that infectivity was circulating in Canadian cattle feed in at least the provinces of Alberta (11 cases), British Columbia (3 cases) and Manitoba (1 case).


“With a 2003 birth date, this latest case represents the most recent birth of a BSE-positive animal in Canada, and it is the second-youngest BSE case detected there as well. This cow was born the same year Canada first detected BSE in its herd,   May 20, 2003, which means that BSE-contaminated feed was still circulating in the Canadian feed system after Jan. 1 2003,” said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry, a Missouri veterinarian. “USDA is ignoring science by dismissing the mounting empirical evidence that shows Canada’s BSE problem has worsened well beyond anyone’s expectations, and Canada’s cattle herd represents a significant risk to the United States.”


Because this particular cow was born after March 1, 1999, USDA’s new OTM (over-30-month) Rule – put into effect by the agency on Nov. 19, 2007 – would have allowed this cow to be imported into the U.S. long before she began to exhibit clinical signs of BSE.


“It is a near certainty that the U.S. will import BSE-infected cattle from Canada under the OTM Rule, and that these cattle will continue to incubate the disease right here in our country,” Thornsberry pointed out. “To make matters worse, our government is not even testing these high-risk Canadian animals before they enter the U.S. food supply and won’t allow private packers to test them either. This is the epitome of government irresponsibility. ”


R-CALF USA , along with 10 other plaintiffs, believes the public deserves far more protection than that provided by USDA’s relaxed import policies and is challenging USDA’s OTM Rule in federal court. A hearing took place Feb. 19, 2008, regarding R-CALF USA’s request for a preliminary injunction to suspend the OTM Rule until the court can complete its review of the entire lawsuit. At that hearing, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol took the matter under advisement and a decision is still pending.


“After the incredibly long and complicated delay associated with the United States’ attempts to resume U.S. beef exports to South Korea due to that country’s BSE concerns, it is irrational for USDA to continue allowing Canadian cattle into the U.S. that were fed in Canada at the same time BSE was known to have circulated in the Canadian feed system,” Thornsberry said. “USDA has no justification for purposely exposing the United States to this unacceptable risk.”    


Thornsberry said that although Congress has failed to step up to provide needed protections against the introduction of BSE, R-CALF USA continues its request to Congress to take immediate measures to prevent the inevitable – the importation of BSE-infected cattle into the United States from Canada.


                                                                                                                # # #


R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit  or, call 406-252-2516.   


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