Thursday, December 18


It's not a new question, but, ya think Mad Cow might be already in the USA? While the scourge continues to spread across Europe (no longer newsworthy, of course), and finds frightening ways to transfer, the orthodox answer to the question of BSE in our cattle is "no way!" - but the stonewall is starting to crumble. For one thing, a "US Beef Delegation" is now in Europe expressly studying "a post-BSE cattle industry" and visiting "directly with the international experts on BSE regarding the risks that such a disease poses to the US cattle industry." Interesting. Perhaps they've heard the news about the clusters of vCJD cases around the US that may or may not be Mad Cow.

A UPI story reports that our monitoring system for cases of CJD "could be missing tens of thousands of victims" by mistakenly considering "sporadic" CJD as unrelated to Mad Cow. "Clusters of CJD have been reported in various areas of the United States -- Pennsylvania in 1993, Florida in 1994, Oregon in 1996, New York in 1999-2000 and Texas in 1996. In addition, several people in New Jersey developed CJD in recent years, including a 56 year old woman who died on May 31, 2003. Although in some instances, a mad cow link was suspected, all of the cases ultimately were classified as sporadic." Here's the thing, though: "People who develop CJD from eating mad-cow-contaminated beef have been thought to develop a specific form of the disorder called variant CJD. But new research, released last December, indicates the mad cow pathogen can cause both sporadic CJD and the variant form."

It's not just scientists, but courts, who are beginning to question the assurance that there couldn't possibly be Mad Cow here. A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday revived Farm Sanctuary's lawsuit aimed at stopping the sale of "downed" animals for human food because of a fear of mad cow disease. The lower court had said the risk to the food supply was too hypothetical and speculative to allow Farm Sanctuary to sue the USDA. The appeals panel disagreed - in other words, the risk is no longer so "hypothetical and speculative" in legal terms.

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