- Another case of mad-cow disease has turned up in Alberta,
this time in an animal born after feeding restrictions designed to halt
the spread of BSE were introduced.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Tuesday that
it believes that the animal "most likely" became infected by
eating feed produced before the ban went into effect.
- Confronted with the news during a major speech unrelated
to agriculture, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said that the ability of inspectors
to find infected animals such as these is good news, in that it shows that
the surveillance program is working properly.
- Mr. Klein conceded, though, that feeding regulations
can easily be circumvented and he pleaded with farmers to obey the law.
- "You can't stop people from, you know, not playing
by the rules unfortunately," said Mr. Klein, who was widely criticized
late in 2003 when he said that any "self-respecting" rancher
would shoot and secretly bury a sick animal
- "I would say to farmers and ranchers, for god's
sakes, this is so serious now, and it has ... cost the industry so much
money, play by the rules."
- The federal government on Tuesday asked its regulators
to launch an urgent investigation into feed restrictions, hoping to demonstrate
the strength of the system before the United States relaxes import restrictions
in early March.
- "We continue to have confidence in the integrity
of our current feed ban and that it protects animal an human health,"
Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell told a televised press conference from
- "However, it is important to demonstrate this to
Canadians and others. I have asked the CFIA to undertake a review of our
feed controls involving experts from interested third countries to clearly
demonstrate to Canadians and the world the strength of the ban and the
job it is intended to do."
- The Alberta beef cow was born in March, 1998, about seven
months after the ban on feeding protein made from cattle and other ruminants
to Canadian herds went into effect. The 1997 Ruminant Ingredient Feed Ban
prohibited feeding a ruminant animal with material that originated from
a mink or ruminant. Milk, blood, gelatin, rendered fats and their products
- Charlie Angus, the New Democratic agriculture critic,
attacked the government Tuesday, saying that the latest case raises his
suspicions about the ability of the federal government to deal with BSE.
- "Canada continues to lag behind the standards set
in other regions that have dealt with BSE," Mr. Angus said in a statement.
"Still, the Agriculture Minister is scrambling to prove that the status
quo is good enough."
- The case represents the third known incidence of the
brain-wasting disease found in Canada in two years. The first case occurred
in the spring of 2003 and caused a crisis in the cattle industry, with
borders slamming shut and markets drying up. The more recent case was confirmed
barely a week ago.
- Both of the other cows were born before the feed ban.
- The CFIA said after the previous cow was diagnosed that
a small number of new cases were possible and should not affect export
- The United States recently announced that remaining beef
import restrictions would be relaxed as early as March. They maintained
that position even after news emerged several weeks ago of the second cow,
noting that a cattle industry as big as Canada's could have up to a dozen
cases annually and still keep it's so-called "minimal risk" status.
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