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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mississippi meat sheep

Scrappie Farming Goes South

By Hembree Brandon

Farm Press Editorial Staff
Noxubee County, which borders the Alabama line in the rolling prairie land of north central Mississippi, is one of the state’s most agriculturally diverse counties.

There’s the usual row crop mix — corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat — to which is added cattle, catfish, poultry, dairy, tree farming, hunting/fishing operations … and sheep.

Sheep? In Mississippi?

Yes, thousands of ’em. But they’re not the downy animals that grow your winter sweaters; these are hair sheep, grown for meat to serve the appetites of an increasingly large Mideast and African population that favors lamb.

And while Steve Koehn laughs and says, “Anybody’s got to be a little nuts raising sheep in this part of the country,” he’s been doing it for five years now and admits to being “reasonably successful” at it.

There are several sheep herds in the county, and while he declines to give exact numbers for his own herds, which are spread out on hundreds of acres over three locations, he says they’re “in the thousands” and that he and his partner, Myron Unruh, “have the bulk of those in the county.

“Honestly,” he says, “I’m not sure sheep are a particularly good enterprise here, given the summer heat and humidity and the parasite and disease problems you have to contend with.

“This isn’t like turning cows on pastures and checking on them every few days. This is an everyday business; it’s a lot of work, and there’s hardly a day goes by I don’t encounter something new. When we’re lambing, it’s 24/7 for about three weeks.

“I grew up with cattle, but sheep are more difficult — more health issues, and they require daily attention.

Demanding business

“We’ve been able to make it work because we’re willing to put in the time and give the animals the attention that’s necessary, but it’s a very demanding business that not a lot of people want to do. And like anything involving livestock, we’re at the mercy of market prices. This past winter’s prices were excellent — but that’s not always the case.”

Koehn, who sports a cap with the message “Eat lamb,” is a native of Kansas, who had previous experience with cattle and sheep out west.

“We were living in Arizona and a cousin from Mississippi, who would come out for the winter, talked us into moving here. We’ve been here 15 or 16 years and really like it. We started in the sheep business because of a lack of acres to run a lot of cows. We could run more sheep per acre.

“There’s no realistic formula for animals per acre — it all depends on weather, grass, etc. We figure we can run two to three head of ewes to one cow/calf unit.”

Koehn also has a business seining catfish (Noxubee County is the second largest catfish-producing area in Mississippi outside the Delta).

“When I moved here, I initially worked for area catfish companies, and then later started my own business servicing producers. That’s pretty much a year-round thing.”

His sons, Jeremy and Douglas, help some with the operations, and he gets some additional help, as needed, at lambing time, rounding up the sheep, and other chores.

“We’ve just finished lambing,” Koehn says. “The lamb crop was about 150 percent, which is quite good; there were a lot of twin and triple births.

“Winter is the prime time to sell lambs, so we try and schedule our breeding program so we’ll be able to sell lambs during that period.”

But raising summer lambs in Mississippi is a challenge, he says.

“The problem is that on grass it takes five to six months to get a lamb to the desirable weight of 70 pounds to 80 pounds. So, we end up lambing in April, which then means these young animals are going to have to go through the high heat and humidity of our summers, when the grass goes to pot and the ewes aren’t producing milk as well.

“It’s rougher on them here than out in the western states, where herds can be moved to higher, cooler elevations for the summer.

“You can lamb in March, as we did this year, when you have the flush of spring grass, but then you’ve got lambs coming off in August/September, when the market’s poor and a lot of other producers have animals to sell at the same time.

“Ideally, we’d be lambing May 15-June 15, so we’d have lambs for market during the prime winter market period.”

He says there is a packing house in Memphis that handles huge numbers of both sheep and goats.

Hanging weight

“We rarely run our animals through sale barns; we have a relationship with a buyer, and work mostly through him. We’re paid on hanging weight (after the animal is slaughtered and on the rails) rather than live weight.”

The hair sheep are mostly crossbreeds, Dorper and Katahdin, with some straight Katahdin — and, unlike wool sheep, they shed their coats in the spring (fences and tree trunks are matted with great hunks of hair the animals have rubbed off).

Pastures are mostly fescue, clover, and native grasses. During winter, Koehn says, “We’ll feed some hay and straight whole corn. The last couple of winters, we had 500 lambs on full feed all winter long.

“Sheep will eat almost any grass, and some weeds, such as buttercup which blankets fields in spring. They love johnsongrass — if they got into somebody’s corn field, they’d eat the johnsongrass first.

“You can take not very good ground and do OK with sheep. This area has a lot of limestone soils that aren’t good for much of anything else, but they will grow grass. The sheep are particularly good for grazing land around catfish ponds.

“We save back a lot of ewes for breeding and buy some from Bill Mason, a Tennessee veterinarian, who has done a lot of work breeding sheep for parasite resistance. Parasites are a major problem in this part of the world. Mississippi heat, humidity, and a lot of rainfall — that’s a perfect combination for parasites. We had a bad round of liver flukes this winter and lost a lot of animals. That was a real bummer.

“We try not to deworm excessively, maybe three times a year. We vaccinate the ewes for multiple diseases — blackleg, rednose, etc. This is very important to herd health. We probably lose 3 percent to 5 percent of our herd to diseases, parasites, and predators.”

Predators are mostly coyotes and domestic dog packs. “Coyotes will usually go for the lambs,” Koehn says, “and those losses are relatively minor, but packs of domestic dogs can be absolutely devastating. We recently had a really bad dog kill and lost 13 lambs.”

He keeps guard dogs with the herds, but in one field there is what he laughingly calls his “guard horse.”

“It’s the craziest thing — this mare has bonded with the sheep. She’s better than any guard dog; she’s ferocious if she thinks anything is going to bother the sheep. You’d better not mess with her.”

The guard dogs are Anatolian shepherds and Anatolian/Pyrenees crosses.

“They’re really antisocial,” Koehn laughs, as he circles his pickup around a herd, trying to spot the dogs. “They’ll usually come up when I come out to feed them, but they live for the sheep.”

The Anatolian/Pyrenees cross, so shaggy he blends in with the herd, is “a really weird dog,” he says. “He’ll be right there with the sheep until he croaks. If his herd got out and roamed all the way to Louisiana, he’d be right there with them, protecting them.”

Border collies

For herding the sheep, Koehn relies on border collies. Tucker, the border collie riding in the pickup with him, is two and a half years old, and “has got a pedigree that’s out of this world — he’s a really fine dog.

“These dogs can do what men can’t. They demand respect from the sheep, and they get it. I can send one out to round up a herd, and he’ll bring ’em right to the corral.

“A sheep man without trained dogs would just be lost. These dogs will absolutely go until they drop. A good trained dog can cost several thousand dollars, and it’s a real blow when we lose one.”

But, he notes, they can be insured, just like people.

Bryce and Donald Allsup, who live in the area, “are really great sheep dog trainers,” Koehn says.

For breeding, Koehn says, they have one ram for every 30 to 35 ewes.

“We try to buy good registered rams. We use more Dorper rams and Dorper ewes because of the meat quality and to put bulk on the lambs. Meat from hair sheep is less strong than from wool sheep — it’s a really mild meat.”

Koehn cooperates with the Mississippi State University School of Veterinary Medicine in hosting students who want go get firsthand experience with sheep, and says Dr. Sherrill Fleming, associate professor of veterinary medicine, “is a great help when we have problems or need advice; it’s always a pleasure working with her and her students.”


Italys Mad Buffalo, Mozzarella Cheeze, the MOB and Illegal Dumping

Old but verrrrry interesting news;

March 26, 2008

Italy's 'Mad Buffalo' cheese disease

By Eric Reguly Globe and Mail Blog Post

Italy has its own version of Mad Cow disease. It hasn't got a name yet, but you could call it Mad Buffalo disease. Buffalo milk, not cow's milk, is used to make Italy's finest mozzarella, the rubbery, and expensive, porcelain-white cheese used in pizza and lasagna. Some of the buffalo milk is contaminated with dioxin and sales of mozzarella are down between 30 and 50 per cent. Japan and South Korea this week banned mozzarella imports.

No one I know is buying buffalo mozzarella, most of which comes from the Campania region around garbage-clogged Naples. The Italians are furious. Not only is mozzarella a dietary staple, it is a symbol of Italy's glorious food culture. Shame on mozzarella translates into shame on Italy.

The Italians blame the Neapolitan Mafia, known as the Camorra, for the mozzarella crisis. They are probably right. The run-off from the Camorra's illegal toxic dumps in Campania has no doubt contaminated the land and the water in some parts of the region. Dioxins are a known carcinogenic (though there are many types of dioxin, ranging from the relatively benign to the outright deadly). Dozens of buffalo herds have been quarantined because of higher-than-normal dioxin levels have been found in the animals' milk. Italy has some 250,000 buffalo whose milk is devoted to mozzarella production.

This being Italy, it's extremely hard for consumers to judge the true health risks. Unbiased opinions are rare and spin is rife. The Italian government today essentially told everyone to relax. Agriculture minister Paulo De Castro slammed what he called “the negative campaign that risks having an important economic and social impact on all products from Campania.”

Note that the minister didn't go so far as to say all buffalo mozzarella is safe. Meanwhile the Italian Confederation of Farmers said the mozzarella panic is not justified because the contamination affects only a tiny portion of the mozzarella farms. But the European Commission is erring on the side of caution. On Tuesday it asked for assurances from the Italian health and food authorities that the mozzarella is safe. It wants an answer by tomorrow.

The tragedy of the mozzarella mess is that everyone saw it coming and almost nothing was done about it. It's been an open secret for years that the Camorra hass been dumping thousands of truck loads of toxic waste on farms (some of which they probably own), in rivers and in caves in Campania. Two years ago Italian author Roberto Saviano wrote a book, called “Gomorra,” about the Camorra's stranglehold on the Neapolitan economy. Several chapters were devoted to the toxic waste racket.

Mr. Saviano said the problem began in earnest in the 1990s, when the Camorra cleverly solved northern Italy's shortage of dumps and incinerator capacity by trucking the waste south and stuffing it into already-packed landfills and unlicensed sites. One cavern was found brimming with the equivalent of 28,000 truckloads of trash.

Because the Mob charges close to market rates to pick up the waste but dumps it for next to nothing, the profits are lavish. "We're talking about six billion euros in two years," Mr. Saviano said in an interview by email in February (he lives under police protection because of the mob death threats against him and rarely gives face-to-face interviews). "Farmlands bought at extremely low prices are transformed into illegal dumping grounds. Putting their own men into the local administration, the Camorra enters the waste business at all levels. … The type of garbage dumped includes everything: barrels of paint, printer toner, human skeletons, cloths used for cleaning cow udders, zinc, arsenic and the residue of industrial chemicals."

The authorities finally caught on in 2002, when the first of the "eco-Mafia" trials began. But the problem persists. In a 2006 study of 196 municipalities in the region, the World Health Organization found "significant excesses" — up to 12 per cent higher than the national average — for stomach, liver, kidney, lung and pancreatic cancer. In the town of Acerra, about 20 kilometres northeast of Naples, sheep are dying because of high levels of toxicity found in the land. Many thousands of buffalo have been slaughtered.

In spite of the effort by the mozzarella makers and the government to remove some of the fear factor, the truth is the dioxin contamination could be widespread in Campania, thanks to the toxic dumps. If so the mozzarella crisis will take months, perhaps years, go go away. Fancy pizza with cheddar instead?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Scientists find prions in soil

Old but IMPORTANT News: In case you missed it the first time

April 14, 2006

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin have discovered that prions, which cause chronic wasting disease in deer, can live in the soil.

CWD is one of a family of neurological disorders known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies that also include "mad cow" disease, sheep scrapie and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans. The diseases are incurable.

The researchers found that certain types of soil serve as prion repositories, and the prions found there can remain dangerous. Because animals sometimes consume soil to meet their mineral needs, they could become infected.

"Prions most likely enter soil via excretion or from the carcasses of infected animals," said lead author Christopher Johnson, a doctoral student in the department of animal health and biomedical sciences. "Our results suggest that reducing the number of infected animals -- as has been done in the recent outbreak of CWD in Wisconsin -- could limit the potential for further spread."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Holbrook ball field dedicated to memory of eastern equine encephalitis victim

Sean Joyce died in 2004 of eastern equine encephalitis

By Gilbert Arbuckle, UK
Posted May 24, 2009 @ 10:52 PM
Last update May 24, 2009 @ 11:01 PM


About 300 well-wishers gathered around the pitcher’s mound of a newly created baseball field on Saturday as they dedicated the field to the memory of a 12-year-old boy.

Seventh-grader Sean Joyce died in the summer of 2004, days after being infected with eastern equine encephalitis. The impression the boy made on all who knew him was powerful.

“He was, said Town Administrator Michael D. Yunits, “a loving son and brother, a hard working student and ... caring friend.”

Shortly after his death his family and friends created the Sean Joyce Memorial Foundation to fund student scholarships. It attracted many donations from both businesses and residents.

When Hurley Funeral Home owner James Hurley was approached, however, he envisioned something more.

He proposed donating four acres of his property, which abutted the town’s playground, for an additional baseball field to be named in memory of Sean.

The work of transforming the raw woodland into a modern sports field drew a steady stream of volunteers, many with heavy equipment, but it proved a daunting enterprise.

It got a great boost, however, when selectmen Paul A. Currie and Richard B. McGaughey approached State Rep. Ron Mariano for help.

Mariano secured a $250,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

“I was impressed by the strength and dignity of the family,” said Mariano Saturday. “There is probably no greater loss that any family can suffer than the death of a child.”

Surveying the whole sports complex, which includes a regulation soccer field, he said “it’s a centerpiece for the whole town. It serves people of all ages.”

The half-mile walking track already gets constant use by joggers, walkers and even mothers with strollers.

State Sen. Michael Morrissey paid tribute on Saturday to the foundation’s scholarship activity which has already accounted for awards of $24,500 to 28 students.

Alluding to the $250,000 state grant, he said, “I’m not sure we could duplicate that effort today.”

Sean’s father, John, and mother, Deborah, expressed gratitude to the generosity of those who made it all possible.

“No words can say how wonderful it is to see this day actually happen,” said Deborah.

Thanking many known and unknown contributors Currie said, “you are good people, making good things happen.”

St. Joseph Church Pastor Edward M. Riley asked God “to bless this field” and grant that “all may benefit from this place, especially the young.”

Sean’s life was changed, not taken away and, he said, “from his place in heaven he sees us, and he is smiling.”

NASA Partners with USDA to Monitor Global Crop Production

NASA uses satellite to unearth innovation in crop forecasting

Soil moisture is essential for seeds to germinate and for crops to grow. But record droughts and scorching temperatures in certain parts of the globe in recent years have caused soil to dry up, crippling crop production. The falling food supply in some regions has forced prices upward, pushing staple foods out of reach for millions of poor people.

NASA researchers are using satellite data to deliver a kind of space-based humanitarian assistance. They are cultivating the most accurate estimates of soil moisture ? the main determinant of crop yield changes ? and improving global forecasts of how well food will grow at a time when the world is confronting shortages.

During a presentation this week at the the Joint Assembly of the American Geophysical Union in Toronto, NASA scientist John Bolten described a new modeling product that uses data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E) sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite to improve the accuracy of West African soil moisture. The group produced assessments of current soil moisture conditions, or "nowcasts," and improved estimates by 5 percent over previous methods. Though seemingly small and incremental, the increase can make a big difference in the precision of crop forecasts, Bolten said.

The modeling innovation comes at a time when crop analysts at agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working to meet the food shortage problem head on. They combine soil moisture estimates with weather trends to produce up-to-date forecasts of crop harvests. Those estimates help regional and national officials prepare for and prevent food crises.

"The USDA's estimates of global crop yields are an objective, timely benchmark of food availability and help drive international commodity markets," said Bolten, a physical scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "But crop estimates are only as good as the observations available to drive the models."

Crop analysts must estimate root-zone soil moisture, the amount of water beneath the surface available for plants to absorb. But estimating the amount of water in soil has posed challenges. Ground-level sensors for rainfall and temperature -- the two key elements for estimating soil moisture ? are often sparsely located in the developing nations that need them the most. Hard-to-reach terrain like mountains or desert, lack of local cooperation as well as high maintenance costs, can lead to sensors more than 500 miles apart.

Under a new NASA-USDA collaboration known as the Global Agriculture Monitoring Project, Bolten and colleagues from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service are using AMSR-E to fill the data gaps with daily soil moisture "snapshots." Since its launch in 2002, the instrument has "seen" through clouds, and light vegetation like crops and grasses to detect the amount of soil moisture beneath Earth's surface.

AMSR-E uses varying frequencies to detect the amount of emitted electromagnetic radiation from the Earth's surface. Within the microwave spectrum, this radiation is closely related to the amount of water that is in the soil, allowing researchers to remotely sense the amount of water in the soil across any geographic landscape.

Following a test of their system over the United States, Bolten's team tracked West African rainfall, temperature, and model assessments of soil moisture with and without the AMSR-E satellite sensor observations. They used West Africa as a model because the landscape provides varying cover, from desert and semi-arid landscape in the north to grasslands, lush forests, and crop land to the south. Rainfall in the region is highly variable yet sparsely monitored by ground-based sensors. They also targeted West Africa to demonstrate the possibility for improving the assessment of drought-caused food shortages on the region's dense population.

"Many developing countries are relying on limited and highly variable water resources," said Bolten. "And typically those same regions don't have adequate ground station data or crop-estimating agencies capable of making reliable production forecasts."

By definition, the severity of agricultural drought is determined by root-zone soil water content. So Bolten's satellite-driven boost to root-zone soil moisture prediction also directly improves drought monitoring. And Bolten says results from AMSR-E are just a precursor to dramatic new improvements in data and prediction accuracy researchers expect from the Soil Moisture Active and Passive satellite, slated to launch in 2013.

Food reserves are at their lowest level in 30 years, according to the United Nations World Food Program, putting the world's 1 billion poorest people most at risk. Prices for wheat, rice, and corn have more than doubled in the last 24 months, hitting countries like Haiti, Bangladesh, and Burkina Faso the hardest. And the U.S. is not unaffected -- drought in 2008 led to an estimated $1.1 billion in crop losses in Texas alone.

"This advance is making it possible for us to do our job in a more precise way," said Curt Reynolds, a crop analyst for the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington. "We plan to make NASA's soil moisture information available to commodity markets, traders, agricultural producers, and policymakers through our Crop Explorer Web site."

Written by:

Gretchen Cook-Anderson

NASA Earth Science News Team

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

October 1, 2004, Surgery patients at risk of brain disease

Turning once again to the Waaaaay Back Machine for some old but interesting and relevant news;

October 1, 2004
Surgery patients at risk of brain disease

Hundreds of patients at an Atlanta hospital may have been exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which causes brain degeneration, officials say.

Dr. Allan Levey, chairman of neurology at Emory University Hospital, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the chance of transmission from a patient who tested positive for Creutzfeldt-Jakob after a brain biopsy is very small. But he said the hospital cannot guarantee that it is zero.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a cousin of mad cow disease, is always fatal. The disease is believed to have been transmitted to four victims worldwide from contaminated surgical instruments.

The disease has not been confirmed in the original patient, pending more testing.

The hospital notified 98 patients who had brain or nerve surgery in late September of the problem, along with 427 patients who had other types of surgery and are at lower risk.

Officials said the hospital has increased the length of time surgical instruments are sterilized from four to 14 minutes.

Jan. 2005: Mad Cow Disease found in Goats

A reminder, or, in case you missed it the first time;

January 28, 2005
Mad cow disease shows up in goat

European scientists have confirmed the first known case of mad cow disease in a goat, the BBC reported Friday.

The animal was first reported Nov. 17 by the World Organization for Animal Health. It represents the first time mad cow disease has been found in a goat in natural settings. The confirmation suggests the deadly agent, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, may be more widespread than previously thought.

Humans can contract a fatal brain illness from eating meat products contaminated with the mad cow pathogen, but European Commission officials said there is little risk of humans catching the incurable, always fatal disease, because for several years governments have imposed strict rules to keep contaminated animals out of the human food chain.

The WOAH, located in Paris and known by its French initials, OIE, said the goat was slaughtered in France in 2002 when it was 2 1/2 years old.

The goat appeared to be the only infected animal in a herd of 600, but all of the animals have been destroyed.

More than 100 people have died from the human form of BSE, presumably contracted by eating tainted meat.
*Today, Mad Cow in sheep is called "scrapie."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Another Beef Recall; E.coli, Valley Meats, Coal Valley, Ill.

Ground Beef Recalled due to Possibl E. Coli Contamination

Illness Reported in 3 States So Far

Valley Meats LLC, of Coal Valley, Ill., is recalling approximately 95,898 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. On May 13, 2009, FSIS was informed by the Ohio Department of Health of a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 infections. To date, illnesses have been reported in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

The recalled ground beef products were produced on March 10, 2009 and distributed nationwide. Each recalled product bears the establishment number "EST. 5712" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The (2-1), (3-1), (4-1), (5-1) and (6-1) markings refer to the number of portions per pound. A full list of recalled products is available at the USDA website, and through the link below.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

MAY-21-09: Ground Beef Recalled due to Possibl E. Coli Contamination [USDA: GROUND BEEF RECALLED BY ILLINOIS FIRM]

Legal Help
If you or a loved one has suffered illness from consuming this product, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to a lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.

Click here on title above for legal help and a free evaluation of your possible case;

Saturday, May 23, 2009

NY: Cornell's brew of liquefied cows to go into Cayuga Lake

Fri May 22, 2009 3:31 pm (PDT)

Cornell must disclose what's in its brew of liquefied cows

High above Cayuga's waters this weekend the minds of thousands of
parents and students will happily focus on graduation.

One thought that won't likely cross their minds is whether they
should drink from Cayuga's waters.

That could change for future Cornell graduations. What Cornell is
putting into Cayuga's waters and possibly ending up in the water
glasses at graduation dinners could become important table discussion.

Cornell plans to deliver a liquefied brew of animal carcasses and
veterinary medical waste to the Ithaca Wastewater Treatment plant.
There, the material would be treated and discharged into Cayuga Lake.
The lake is the source of drinking water for thousands of county
residents, businesses and visitors - like those Cornell families
staying in area hotels this weekend.

For more than a month, Cornell has refused to disclose the components
of its liquefied brew of dead animals and medical waste. In early
April, The Ithaca Journal requested under the New York Freedom of
Information Law that Cornell provide details on the chemical and
biological ingredients of the waste.

Cornell argues New York's FOIL does not apply to the university. Even
though New York taxpayers fund many of the university's programs and
several state schools are located on its campus, Cornell claims it is
a private institution and not subject to FOIL.

To its credit, Cornell has filed thousands of pages of analysis on
the waste project. These are available at the Tompkins County Public
Library. But, nowhere in those thick binders of analysis has Cornell
provided a simple detailed list of chemicals and pathogenic organisms
that might be in the veterinary waste.

Cornell's brew of animal carcasses and waste is generated by the
Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. That state college also houses
the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center and the New York
State Diagnostic Lab. Note the word "state" in the previous sentence.

Each of those Cornell operations is linked with New York state and
its taxpayers for financial support. Cornell's plan to dump its waste
into a public sewage treatment plant is linked to the health and
welfare of thousands who depend on Cayuga Lake for drinking water. The
Journal believes Cornell has both a legal and social responsibility to
disclose what might be in the liquefied waste and animal carcasses.

Click on title above for full story:

USDA "washing" our meat in hopes that the EU will "buy it"

USTR vows to expand meat trade by enforcing rules
Fri May 22, 2009 11:46am EDT

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government wants to boost meat trade by tougher enforcement of trade agreements, Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Friday, vowing to work to lift technical, standards-based barriers curbing U.S. meat exports.

The United States stands to gain more markets for beef and pork by working to ease restrictions on meat that are based on unjustified concerns about the H1N1 flu virus, mad cow disease, and other technical issues than it would by inking more small trade deals, Kirk told the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

"We can open up market access by stronger enforcement of our existing rules," Kirk said. "In this challenging economic climate, our partners simply have to play by the rules."

Last year, U.S. beef trade was worth more than $3.6 billion and pork trade more than $4.6 billion, Kirk noted.

But the U.S. meat trade has been hurt by high grain costs at a time when consumers around the world are cutting back on buying expensive cuts of meat.

The strength of the U.S. dollar compared with currencies in major importing nations like Mexico, South Korea and Russia has also priced U.S. meat out of some markets.

The industry also has been plagued by barriers based on sanitary and phytosanitary concerns about human and animal health, which scientists and trade bodies have called unjustified.

"It is absolutely a priority ... to make sure that our good, safe meat products are not frozen out of international markets because of myths, because of anything unrelated to sound science," Kirk said.

Bans on U.S. meat by more than a dozen countries following the outbreak of the new flu virus are unfair and have jeopardized as much as $900 million in annual U.S. exports, Kirk said.

Russia is restricting U.S. meat trade with measures not based on international standards, Kirk said, noting the "arbitrary delisting" of U.S. plants during the past year.

He also said too many countries continue to have restrictions on U.S. beef after the United States reported its first case of mad cow disease in 2003, pointing to Japan, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.

"Our administration is currently reviewing all of these trade-related measures that have been put in place by these governments, and seeing if we can't work with them to try to resolve some of those and open up some of those important markets" he said.

Kirk pointed to a recent agreement on beef trade with the European Union as an example of how the United States can work to pragmatically seek market access for farm goods.

The two trading partners have fought for more than 20 years about the safety of beef raised with growth hormones -- a common practice in the United States that is not accepted by the European Union.

The four-year beef deal sees the U.S. pulling back from a threat to apply new sanctions to EU products in exchange for a duty-free quota for beef raised without growth hormones.

Kirk acknowledged the agreement does not solve the outstanding disagreement about hormones, or the use of washes used by U.S. beef processors to reduce pathogens like e.coli -- another practice not approved by EU regulators.
But the deal gives the EU time to approve the washes and the United States time to make progress negotiating the long-term issue of beef hormones, Kirk said.

"If not, we always reserve the right to go back to the WTO," Kirk said, referring to the long-standing battle over the issue at the World Trade Organization.

Animal welfare web portal launched 22-05-2009

One-stop shop for policy-makers, farmers, scientists and animal welfare organizations

A vet in the DRC gives a goat anti-worming treatment.

22 May 2009, Rome - A new internet portal has been launched today by FAO that will serve as a one-stop-shop for individuals and organizations searching for the latest information about the welfare of livestock.

The Gateway to Farm Animal Welfare is designed to provide a reliable information conduit on legislation and research findings in the sector, as well as on animal welfare standards, practices and policies. Expected users are farmers and government officials, lawmakers, researchers, the livestock and food industry and non-governmental organizations.

Important forum

It will provide an important forum for animal welfare issues related to activities such as transport, slaughter and pre-slaughter management, animal husbandry and handling and the culling of animals for disease control.

Livestock production accounts for 40 percent of the value of world agricultural output and products of animal origin provide one-third of humanity’s protein intake. Animals also contribute income, social status and security to roughly one billion people, including many of the world’s poor.

Livestock moves south

Since the 1990s, the centre of gravity of livestock production has moved from north to south and a few developing countries have emerged as powerful new players on the global scene.

“Any development programme that improves animal health, increases livestock production and responds to natural disasters where animals are involved needs an animal welfare component in it,” said Samuel Jutzi, Director of FAO’s Animal Health and Production Division.

“This portal meets a real information need in this extremely important area.”

Compliance with standards

By giving less economically developed country governments, professionals and producers online access to the latest information and the opportunity to contribute information relevant to their own situation, the portal will help to improve livestock welfare, health and productivity worldwide.

Compliance with animal welfare standards can open access to international markets for products from less economically developed countries. The portal will also offer on-line conferences and seminars.

Key partner collaboration

FAO has developed the portal in collaboration with key international partners in animal welfare including: the European Commission, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Organisation for Animal Health, Compassion In World Farming, the Latin American Poultry Association, Humane Society International, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Brooke, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the International Dairy Federation, the International Federation of Agriculture Producers and the World Veterinary Association.

Click on title above to see the UN's new FAO website;

USDA to post commercial dealer inspection reports online!

Great news for anti-puppy mill advocates! Effective May 26th!
Cross post to interested parties.

Electronic Posting of Inspection (A, B, C, E, H & T) Reports
May 13, 2009

Good morning,

I would like to take this opportunity to update you about new information
on our Web site at In the last
several years, APHIS began posting to its Web site certain frequently
requested documents related to animal welfare, including facility inspection
reports. Our goal was to be as transparent as possible and eventually create
a system that would enable us to post all of our inspection reports online. I
am happy to announce that APHIS has achieved that goal and beginning
May 26, 2009, all inspection reports for Class A, B, and C licensees and
Class E, H, and T registrants (animal breeders, dealers, exhibitors, and
registered exhibitors, intermediate handlers, and carriers respectively) will
be available online.

In the future, we also plan to post inspection reports for Class R registrants
(research facilities); and those we do on a courtesy basis for Class F and
Class V entities (Federal agencies and Veteran's Administration facilities,
respectively). We will provide an update on our progress in that area soon.
In addition, we are looking closely at reestablishing our practice of sharing
information with stakeholders regarding enforcement actions taken under
the Animal Welfare Act. Again, we will share more details once we reach a
decision about how best to convey this information.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, APHIS issues licenses and registers certain
animal businesses and research facilities. Once licensed or registered, those
entities must undergo periodic inspections in which their recordkeeping
practices, housing structures, cleanliness, and handling of covered animals
is reviewed for compliance with the AWA.

During these inspections, reports are generated that notify a licensee or
registrant if anything needs to be improved in order to meet the Agency's
requirements. Inspection reports are currently available to the public
through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. For the past several
years, inspection reports have been the most

frequently requested document from APHIS with approximately 850
requests fulfilled each year.

To access the inspection reports, visit the APHIS homepage at and click on FOIA Reading Room, in the
right-hand portion of the screen. The inspection reports will be available
under the Animal Welfare heading in the Reading Room.

Choose the type of licensee or registrant you are interested in, and then
choose the State.

Once you choose the State, you will be able to scroll through the
alphabetical list of licensee or registrant names and make your selection.
The documents are available in PDF format and you can open, print, and/or
save as many as you like. Our list will be updated monthly.

Many of you may know that we maintain and make available lists of active
licensed and registered facilities on our Web site. Many people have used
these "active" lists to locate AWA-regulated facilities. For ease of reference
we will continue to provide these lists to help you cross reference with
the available inspection reports.

The posting of inspection reports to our Web site is a significant step in
our ongoing efforts to be as transparent as possible about how we enforce
animal welfare standards.

This effort is consistent with the direction of President Obama to Federal
agencies regarding openness and transparency. We have received positive
feedback from many interested parties on the information we make
available on the APHIS Web site, and we welcome continued feedback from
our partners as we make additional strides.

Dr. Chester Gipson
Deputy Administrator for Animal Care, APHIS

Forwarded message - for more info, click on title above;

Friday, May 22, 2009

Big Ag says Bacon "A" OK; Buy Baby Buy

You couldn’t make up this kind of nonsense, but here it is.
_http://www.facesofahttp:_ (

From the TV interview: “No matter how you refer to it, H1N1 influenza has
unfairly devastated the livelihood of the American pork producer, and that
puts at risk the health of the American public," said Faces of Agriculture
spokesperson Trent Loos.”

From the FOA website: “The moral of the story is Bacon is a health food.”
Of course the REAL moral of the story is “Follow the money.”

Click on title above to go to the Ag Website;

Ranchers tell USDA why they oppose animal ID plan

By SHANNON DININNY Associated Press Writer
Just 36 percent of ranchers are taking part in a federal program started five years ago to trace livestock in the event of a disease outbreak.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials found out why Monday, when 75 Western livestock producers gave them an earful during a meeting. The "listening session" was one of seven scheduled around the country in May and June to hear ranchers' concerns, with the goal of increasing participation in the program.

Those concerns haven't changed much in five years: The cost is too high for small farmers. The regulations amount to bureaucratic suffocation. The program neither prevents nor controls disease. And what's in a farmer's pasture is nobody's business.

"This is the last of your freedom, boys. Freedom restricted is freedom lost," said Bert Smith, a cattleman from Layton, Utah, who owns Ox Ranch in Ruby Valley, Nev.

The nationwide tracking system started in 2004 is intended to pinpoint an animal's location within 48 hours after a disease is discovered. Farmers were to have voluntarily registered their properties with their states by January 2008. Mandatory reporting of livestock movements was to begin one year later.

But just 36 percent of the nation's estimated 1.4 million farm "premises," which includes farms' multiple locations, are registered for the program.

As of March 31, 2009, the USDA has put $119.4 million toward the program, which it says will help ensure the safety of the food supply, particularly for export markets that may refuse to accept U.S. beef, pork or poultry during a disease outbreak.

During the recent swine flu epidemic, several countries banned U.S. pork products, even though there is no evidence the virus is spread by food.

The proposed system does nothing to prevent disease, and animal tracking would be better left for states to handle themselves, said Wade King, president of the Cattle Producers of Washington.

"USDA should be focused on preventing the disease instead of tracing it," he said. "The feds shouldn't be getting into this program."

Carol Osterman of Akyla Farms in LaConner, Wash., said her small farm of cattle, goats, pigs, llamas, poultry and horses would be forced to close if the suggested "regulatory burden" becomes a reality.

She recommended the program be eliminated, or at best, applied only to large, confined-animal feeding operations.

Electronic tracking systems might not work in the cold, snow and rain that cattlemen and their herds must endure, said Will Wolf, who raises up to 300 head of cattle at his ranch south of Spokane, Wash. and markets 25,000 cattle each year from the region.

"It has to be a system that works at the speed of commerce or close to it," he said. "There are way too many problems to do it. It just won't work."

The ability to trace animals from birth to slaughter became crucial following the discovery of mad cow disease in a Mabton, Wash., dairy cow in December 2003. That cow's origins were later traced to Canada, but federal authorities were never able to trace all the animal's herdmates, which may have eaten the same feed.

The only way cattle are known to get the disease is by eating feed containing certain tissues from infected animals.

So far, the level of participation varies by livestock species, though no data was immediately available. USDA spokeswoman Joelle Schelhaus said the opportunity for improving participation in the cattle industry is highest due to its sheer size.

Separate surveillance programs for brucellosis and tuberculosis track fewer than 20 percent of cattle, while 90 percent of sheep are tracked under a similar surveillance program for scrapie.

Only two people spoke out strongly in favor of the program, one of them a representative for a company that supplies animal identification tags.

Michael Coe of Global Animal Management said his family started the program at its dairy farm without significant hardship. He urged ranchers to participate in developing a program they can work with.

"If we just fight it, we may be handed something we will not like," he said.


USDA Agricultural Research Service:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Belgium: City Counsel Mandates "Veggie Day"

The world’s first vegetarian city

by David Masters
May 19, 2009

In an effort to prove that the United Nations is not completely ignored by
everybody, city councillors in Belgium have decided to follow UN advice on
food habits and impose a vegetarian diet on residents for one day per week.

According to the UN, livestock is responsible for a fifth of global
greenhouse gas emissions, and the world must reduce its meat consumption if it is
to have any chance of fighting global warming.

Last year, the head of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC), Dr Rajendra Pachauri, said the world’s population must cut back on
eating meat and move towards vegetarianism.

Pachauri suggests starting by eating vegetarian food for one day per week –
and this is the action being taken by Ghent city council to reduce its
carbon footprint and tackle obesity in the city.

Civil servants and elected council officials at Ghent City Council will not
be fed meat at their workplace eateries on Thursdays.

City residents will be encouraged to follow their lead, and from September,
school children will find meat taken off the canteen menu on Thursdays.
Local restaurants are being urged to replace their Thursday menu with
meatfree dishes, and to only offer meat that day as part of a special smaller

In addition, 90,000 vegetarian street maps are being printed to help
residents and visitors find the best places in the city for veggie food.
Announcing the veggie day, city councillor Tom Balthazar told Ghent
residents that the move will be “good for the climate, your health, and your

According to research by the University of Southampton, children with a
high IQ are more likely to become vegetarian as an adult.

_www.societyofpeace.www_ (
"Promoting peace & compassion for ALL living beings"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: 15 May 2009
Source: Canadian Cattlemen Magazine [edited]

Eight cattle herds in eastern Manitoba are under federal quarantine
in what may mean a temporary end to Canada's status as free of
anaplasmosis, the Manitoba Co-operator reported Thursday [14 May 2009].

Dr. Lynn Bates, a veterinary program officer with the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (CFIA) in Winnipeg, told the Co-operator's Ron
Friesen the herds are in an area west of the Winnipeg River in the
rural municipalities of Lac du Bonnet and Alexander.

Within the 8 herds are a total of 305 infected cattle, or "reactors,"
detected through a periodically conducted national bovine serological
survey, Bates said.

Anaplasmosis is a reportable livestock disease in Canada, caused by a
parasite of red blood cells. It affects domestic and wild ruminants
but only cattle show clinical signs.

The disease can be transmitted in infected red blood cells by biting
insects and through contaminated instruments such as hypodermic
needles and dehorning equipment.

Since anaplasmosis is blood-borne and it's not possible to avoid
insects, changing needles frequently and disinfecting dehorning
equipment in between use are the best ways to limit exposure to the
disease, said Dr. Wayne Lees, Manitoba's chief veterinarian.

"If you're in an endemic area or an area where you think anaplasmosis
is an issue, it's probably a worthwhile expense," Lees told the Co-operator.

The cause of the outbreak is not certain, but the disease was most
likely brought into the area by infected livestock imported from the
U.S., Bates said.

Anaplasmosis, endemic in much of the lower continental U.S., is not a
regulated disease in that country but costs the U.S. cattle industry
an estimated USD 300 million per year.

Canada is considered anaplasmosis-free, but the Manitoba cases, the
province's 1st since 1970, may change that status. CFIA was obliged
to report the case to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE),
Bates told the Co-operator.

Canada, until 2004, required anaplasmosis testing of live cattle
imported from the U.S. during the biting insect season. But new rules
in 2004 allowed U.S. feeder cattle from 39 states considered
"low-risk" for the disease into Canada without testing at any time of year.

Communicated by:

[Anaplasmosis, formerly known as gall sickness, traditionally refers
to a disease of ruminants caused by obligate intraerythrocytic
bacteria of the order Rickettsiales, family Anaplasmataceae, genus
_Anaplasma_ . Cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, and some wild ruminants
can be infected with the erythrocytic _Anaplasma_ . Anaplasmosis
occurs in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide (around 40o N to
32o S), including South and Central America, the USA, southern
Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Clinical bovine anaplasmosis is usually caused by _A marginale_.
Cattle are also infected with _A centrale_, which generally results
in mild disease. _A ovis_ may cause mild to severe disease in sheep,
deer, and goats.

Anaplasmosis is not contagious. Numerous species of tick vectors
(_Boophilus_, _Dermacentor_, _Rhipicephalus_, _Ixodes_, _Hyalomma_,
and _Ornithodoros_) can transmit _Anaplasma_ spp. Not all of these
are likely significant vectors in the field, and it has been shown
that strains of _A. marginale _also co-evolve with particular tick
strains. _Boophilus_ spp. are major vectors in Australia and Africa,
and _Dermacentor_ spp. have been incriminated as the main vectors in
the USA. After feeding on an infected animal, intrastadial or
trans-stadial transmission may occur. Transovarial transmission may
also occur, although this is rare, even in the single-host
_Boophilus_ spp. A replicative cycle occurs in the infected tick.
Mechanical transmission via biting dipterans occurs in some regions.
Transplacental transmission has been reported and is usually
associated with acute infection of the dam in the 2nd or 3rd
trimester of gestation. Anaplasmosis may also be spread through the
use of contaminated needles or dehorning or other surgical instruments.

Animals with peracute infections succumb within a few hours of the
onset of clinical signs. Acutely infected animals lose condition
rapidly. Milk production falls. Inappetence, loss of coordination,
breathlessness when exerted, and a rapid bounding pulse are usually
evident in the late stages. The urine may be brown, but, in contrast
to babesiosis, hemoglobinuria does not occur. A transient febrile
response, with the body temperature rarely exceeding 106 F (41 C)
occurs at about the time of peak rickettsemia. Mucous membranes
appear pale and then yellow. Pregnant cows may abort. Surviving
cattle convalesce over several weeks, during which hematologic
parameters gradually return to normal.

Many states do not regulate anaplasmosis because it is not contagious
from animal to animal but is transmitted through vectors. It does
result in a decrease of production and some animal loss, which these
latter 2 are the reason for concern.

Portions of this comment have been extracted from:
- Mod.TG]

[see also:
Anaplasmosis, cattle - Canada (MB) 20090503.1662]

Agriculture Amnesty Bailout Bill (AgJOBS) Reintroduced in Congress

Bloggers Note: BigAg & The Horse Racing Industry are behind this push!
Last Thursday, May 14, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Adam Putnam (R-FL) reintroduced the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security (AgJOBS) Act. AgJOBS would grant amnesty to at least 2 million illegal alien agricultural workers and "reform" the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to allow employers easier access to cheap foreign labor. While actual text of the bill hasn't yet been made public, it appears that the bill will be equivalent to versions Congress has debated in the past. (See FAIR's Legislative Analysis of the 2007 Version of AgJOBS ;

Feinstein gave an extensive speech on the Senate floor last Thursday morning in support of AgJOBS, claiming that Congress needs to pass her amnesty bill because of "a farm emergency in this country" brought about by "the absence of farm labor." These claims ignore numerous, recent news reports that California agriculture is suffering from severe drought, financial downturn and unemployment. (See e.g. The New York Times, Feb. 21, 2009;

Nevertheless, Senator Feinstein used her floor time to resurrect previously told stories about farmers hurt by worker shortages, including Lake County, California pear farmer Toni Scully. (Senator Feinstein's Floor Speech, May 14, 2009;

Scully's story was first told in 2006, and Feinstein "used a three-year-old photo of Scully to help make her case." (The Miami Herald, May 14, 2009;

Media reports noted that special interest farm groups are already lining up to support AgJOBS, including the United Farm Workers of America and the California Farm Bureau Federation. (Id.). It is unclear as to whether Congressional leadership intends to move the legislation. In the past, Senator Feinstein has pushed Congressional Leadership to include AgJOBS in any "comprehensive" immigration reform package. (Senator Feinstein Press Release, May 17, 2007;


Sunday, May 17, 2009


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an 80-month-old dairy cow from Alberta. No part of the animal's carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems.

The animal's birth farm has been identified, and an investigation is underway. The age and location of the infected animal are consistent with previous cases detected in Canada.

This case was detected through the national BSE surveillance program, which continues to play an important role in Canada's strategy to manage BSE.

Canada remains a Controlled Risk country for BSE, as recognized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Accordingly, this case should not affect exports of Canadian cattle or beef.

- 30 -

For information:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Media relations: 613-773-6600

The Tamiflu / Rumsfeld Connection

A conspiratorial connection between the worldwide alarm over a possible flu pandemic and Donald Rumsfeld's financial interest in the company that patented the antiviral drug Tamiflu?

Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: April 2006
Status: Partly true
Email example contributed by Jennie R., April 28, 2006:


"Bird Flu"

Do you know that 'bird flu' was discovered in Vietnam 9 years ago?

Do you know that barely 100 people have died in the whole world in all that time?

Do you know that it was the Americans who alerted us to the efficacy of the human antiviral TAMIFLU as a preventative.

Do you know that TAMIFLU barely alleviates some symptoms of the common flu?

Do you know that its efficacy against the common flu is questioned by a great part of the scientific community?

Do you know that against a SUPPOSED mutant virus such as H5N1, TAMIFLU barely alleviates the illness?

Do you know that to date Avian Flu affects birds only?

Do you know who markets TAMIFLU?


Do you know who bought the patent for TAMIFLU from ROCHE LABORATORIES in 1996?


Do you know who was the then president of GILEAD SCIENCES INC. and remains a major shareholder?

DONALD RUMSFELD, the present Secretary of Defence of the USA.

Do you know that the base of TAMIFLU is crushed aniseed?

Do you know who controls 90% of the world's production of this tree?


Do you know that sales of TAMIFLU were over $254 million in 2004 and more than $1000 million in 2005?

Do you know how many more millions ROCHE can earn in the coming months if the business of fear continues?

So the summary of the story is as follows:

Bush's friends decide that the medicine TAMIFLU is the solution for a pandemic that has not yet occurred and that has caused a hundred deaths worldwide in 9 years.

This medicine doesn't so much as cure the common flu.

In normal conditions the virus does not affect humans.

Rumsfeld sells the patent for TAMIFLU to ROCHE for which they pay him a fortune. Roche acquires 90% of the global production of crushed aniseed, the base for the antivirus.

The governments of the entire world threaten a pandemic and then buy industrial quantities of the product from Roche.

So we end up paying for medicine while Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush get richer, thank the RED STATES!

Comments: Is U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally profiting from fears that a worldwide bird flu pandemic may occur? Yes. Rumsfeld once served as chairman of Gilead Sciences, Inc., the company that holds the patent on the antiviral drug Tamiflu, currently regarded as the world's best hope for the prevention and treatment of avian influenza. He still owns Gilead stock valued at between $5 million and $25 million.

Is it true that no one really knows whether avian influenza will mutate and take hold in the human population, let alone reach pandemic proportions? Yes. For now, the disease remains mostly confined to the bird population, and the number of cases of bird-to-human transmission remains relatively small.

About Poll
Do you believe there's a conspiracy afoot to spread fear of a bird flu pandemic so members of the Bush administration can profit?
Not sure.

Current Results

Must we therefore conclude that the alarm raised over a possible pandemic and the rush to stockpile Tamiflu amount to a conspiracy to line the pockets of G.W. Bush's cronies? Not necessarily. One strain of the bird flu virus, H5N1, has demonstrated a high mortality rate in both birds and people, and the concern is that it could mutate into much more contagious form in humans. The World Health Organization considers the risk of a pandemic "serious."
Bird flu threat overestimated?

Granted, there are well-informed skeptics in the scientific community who argue that public health officials have overestimated the threat of a pandemic - and the skeptics could be right - but the "better safe than sorry" approach is too widespread to be discounted as an aberration of the Bush administration. The World Health Organization, the health ministries of China, Japan and other Asian countries, and the health commissioner of the European Union have all called for bird flu preparedness plans that include the stockpiling of Tamiflu.

Sorting fact from error

The forwarded text advancing these claims was paraphrased from an editorial that appeared in the April 2006 issue of the Spanish health magazine Discovery DSalud. Albeit in much briefer form, the email captures the spirit and message of the orginal column. There are factual errors, however, some of which can be found in the original, some of which may be due to mistranslation, and some of which probably crept into the text during transmission:

CLAIM: Bird flu was discovered in Vietnam nine years ago.
NOT EXACTLY. Avian flu strain H5N1 was first isolated in human beings nine years ago - in Hong Kong, not Vietnam. The first reported cases in Vietnam occurred in 2003.

CLAIM: Barely 100 people have died in the whole world in all that time.
TRUE. As of this writing, the official human death toll from bird flu since 2003 is 115. Counting the six who died in Hong Kong in 1997, the nine-year total is 121.

CLAIM: " was the Americans who alerted us to the efficacy of the human antiviral Tamiflu as a preventative."
PROBABLY TRUE. The Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced as early as 2004 that the antiviral drug oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu), already proven successful in the prevention and treatment of the common flu, was likely to prove similarly effective against the avian influenza virus.

CLAIM: Tamiflu barely alleviates some symptoms of the common flu.
MISLEADING. Antiviral medications like Tamiflu attack the flu virus itself, not specific symptoms. Even so, Tamiflu has been shown in clinical trials to reduce the severity of common flu symptoms, shorten the duration of the illness by an average of 37 percent, and reduce the number of complications in otherwise healthy individuals.

CLAIM: Tamiflu's efficacy against the common flu is questioned by a great part of the scientific community.
FALSE. A search of the available medical literature on Tamiflu yielded no evidence of significant controversy regarding its efficacy against the common flu.

CLAIM: "...against a SUPPOSED mutant virus such as H5N1, Tamiflu barely alleviates the illness."
UNSUBSTANTIATED. While the efficacy of Tamiflu against H5N1, the most pathogenic strain of bird flu, has yet to be assessed in clinical trials, its effectiveness has been sufficiently verified in animal and in vitro studies to earn the recommendation of the World Health Organization for the treatment and prevention of H5N1.

CLAIM: To date, avian flu affects birds only.
FALSE. Not to mention self-contradictory and nonsensical. As confirmed above, over 100 human beings worldwide have died of avian flu in the past three years. Clearly it doesn't affect birds only.

CLAIM: "Do you know who markets Tamiflu? ROCHE LABORATORIES."
TRUE. Roche is a pharmaceutical manufacturer based in Switzerland.

CLAIM: "Do you know who bought the patent for Tamiflu from ROCHE LABORATORIES in 1996? GILEAD SCIENCES INC."
GARBLED. Gilead Sciences, Inc. discovered Tamiflu in the early 1990s and still holds the patent. Gilead licensed development and marketing rights to Roche in 1996.

CLAIM: "Do you know who was the then president of GILEAD SCIENCES INC. and remains a major shareholder? DONALD RUMSFELD, the present Secretary of Defence of the USA."
TRUE. According to Fortune magazine, Rumsfeld was Gilead's chairman from 1997 to 2001. It's unknown exactly how many shares he still owns in the company, but the value of his holdings is estimated at between $5 million and $25 million.

CLAIM: the "base" of Tamiflu is crushed aniseed.
TRUE. One of the basic ingredients of Tamiflu is shikimic acid, the main source of which is currently star anise, a spice grown in China. However, there are other methods of making shikimic acid, and Roche is already looking at ways to reduce its dependence on the star anise supply.

CLAIM: "Do you know who controls 90% of the world's production of this tree? ROCHE."
FALSE. According to a November 2005 report in the Washington Post, only about half of China's entire stock of star anise goes to pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Roche.

CLAIM: Sales of Tamiflu were over $254 million in 2004 and more than $1 billion in 2005?
ROUGHLY ACCURATE. According to Forbes magazine, Tamiflu sales totalled $258 million in 2004 and were projected to exceed $1 billion in 2005.

No E. Coli or Mad Cow Disease in Grass-Fed Beef

Forage-Fed Beef Abundant in Nutrients and Conjugated Linoleic Acid
© Brad Dunevitz

May 16, 2009

Studies show that grass-fed cattle have dramatically fewer E. coli - a large and diverse group of bacteria - in their intestines than their grain-fed counterparts.

About 50-plus years ago, we started fattening cattle on grain instead of grass.However, grain-fed cattle develop abnormally high stomach acidity, which allows for the development of acid-resistant E. coli. If E. coli gets into a human digestive system, it can wreak havoc on it.

Conversely, grass-fed cattle have a healthy stomach acidity, which means that even if by rare chance you are exposed to E. coli, their stomach’s natural acidity will kill the bacteria. Furthermore, since grass-fed cattle are kept apart from any grain-fed cattle at harvest time, there is no chance that they will be contaminated once they leave the pasture.

Grass-fed beef also is safe from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow Disease (MCD). For instance, Missouri-based U.S. Wellness Beef, for instance, guarantees it because:

Their animals never have access to contaminated animal byproduct feed, since they are grass-fed throughout their lives. Also, because the United States banned animal byproducts in feed in 1997, most supermarket meat is unlikely to be contaminated.
They raise their animals from the day they are born, ensuring that the cattle are never exposed to any animal contaminants during their lifetimes. Plus, their animals are isolated during the entire harvest and fabrication process.
They make their hamburger meat from whole muscles, which are entirely safe. In addition, their processor does not use machinery that scrapes every last piece of meat from the spinal area, a practice used only in industrial meat processing plants that harvest thousands of animals every day. Additionally, for the last several years, U.S. Wellness Meats has employed a procedure that removes the spinal fluid sack from the backbone immediately after harvest, which removes all risk before the cattle are processed.

Grass-Fed Rich in Nutrients and Conjugated Linoleic Acid
All beef is a great source of iron, B vitamins, and zinc — three nutrients many Americans might be insufficient in.

It’s also a source of Vitamin A, which is essential to proper nutrition, a key to healthy vision and bone growth, and an crucial antioxidant. Our most common source of Vitamin A is the beta-carotene that occurs naturally in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables and is converted into Vitamin A by our bodies. Cattle that are raised on grass consume significantly larger amounts of beta-carotene than do those raised on grain.

Read more: "No E. Coli or Mad Cow Disease in Grass-Fed Beef: Forage-Fed Beef Abundant in Nutrients and Conjugated Linoleic Acid |" -

UK News: 802 haemophilia patients at risk from vCJD

More than 800 haemophilia patients have received blood from donors who developed the human form of mad cow disease, the Government has admitted.

Last Updated: 4:56PM BST 16 May 2009

Figures released by the Department of Health state that 802 haemophiliacs received blood from patients who went on to develop variant Creutzfeldt-Jackob Disease (vCJD).

It comes after a haemophiliac in his 70s was found to be infected with vCJD after his death. Although the infection was not the cause of his death, he had been treated with blood from a donor who later died from vCJD.

The Haemophilia Society has now called on the Government to test the patients at risk as soon as possible to determine whether they had contracted the disease.

Health officials released the figures in response to calls from Lord Morris of Manchester, who demanded to know whether the Government had revised its assessment of the risk presented by contaminated blood following the death of the haemophiliac who was found to be infected with vCJD.

Lord Darzi, Labour's health minister in the Lords, stated in a written answer to Lord Morris: "To date, 802 haemophilia patients are registered on the UK Haemophilia Centre Doctors' Organisation database as receiving clotting factors made from UK plasma pools containing a donation from a donor who went on to develop vCJD."

The Department of Health also revealed that 66 people who are not haemophiliacs have received blood components from donors who later went onto develop vCJD. Of these, 22 are still living, three died after contracting vCJD, and the others died from unrelated causes.

Chris James, chief executive of the Haemophilia Society, said: "We now know a much larger number of people have been exposed to higher-risk blood and blood product than was previously thought. vCJD remains an illness for which there is no test and no cure.

"It is just the latest in an increasingly long line of infections that people affected by bleeding disorders have been exposed to."

Haemophilia is a blood condition in which an essential clotting factor is missing and sufferers bleed for longer than normal. Around 6,000 people are affected by the condition within the UK.

Almost 4,700 haemophilia patients were infected with hepatitis C after receiving contaminated blood products that were given during the 1970s and 1980s. Campaigners have been fighting for compensation from the Government over the scandal.

The brain-wasting disease vCJD was first detected in the mid 1990s and since then most vCJD patients are thought to have been infected after eating BSE-contaminated meat.

The number of vCJD deaths peaked in 2000, when there were 28. That number has dropped to about five a year since 2005.

The epidemic of BSE in the 1980s and 1990s was caused by cattle being fed the remains of other cattle in the form of meat and bone meal, causing an infectious agent to spread.

More than four million cattle were slaughtered after almost 200,000 were infected with the fatal neurodegenerative disease.

Scientists recently warned that Britain could see a second wave of vCJD, affecting as many as 300 people, after discovering that genetic differences can affect how long it takes a person to incubate the disease.

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USDA Suddenly Caring About Cows?

Nah. Not really. With them, its all about human health. Well its supposed to be, anyway.

USDA looks to organic supply welfare in new dairy study
Publicado por admin
16 Mayo, 2009

By Neil Merrett

A study is underway is in the US to offer what researchers claim will be the most comprehensive insight yet into the impacts of organic farming on the health of livestock in attempts to ensure better practices for suppliers.

Professor Pamela Ruegg of the University of Wisconsin will head the research, which forms part of a US department of Agriculture (USDA) focus on wider organic production, to identify key areas related to cattle management and livestock health.

Ruegg says that the entire organic dairy industry is cooperating with the research, which is currently focused solely on farm level factors and not on the process side of the industry.

“The most important focus is to identify practices that help farmers optimise animal health and well being,” she states. “Control of mastitis, production of high quality milk and management practices that contribute to enhanced animal well being are all of interest to us.”

As part of its research remit, the USDA funded study reflects growing interest into how not using antibiotics and hormones may impact on the welfare of livestock.

Research targets

Ruegg said that over the next 18 months, the research team is expected to perform 300 visits to farms to study current production techniques. The researchers say they have already completed three farm visits in Wisconsin, with similar testing beginning across New York and Oregon in the coming weeks.

“We don’t expect to influence legislation but do hope to be able to help address issues that many farmers care about,” states Ruegg.

Researchers on the report suggest that little previous study has been undertaken on cattle management and animal welfare currently.

Ruegg says that with US Organic standards related to production already in place, her team will look to determine general farmer practice in ensuring dairy animal health.

She adds that the USDA remained the sole backer for the study currently, but suggests other backers may possibly contribute in the future.

Food Safety Left to Consumers, Report Says

May 16, 2009

Kill step and an adequate lethality. We can’t be talking about food.

Filed under: Food Safety, Food labeling, Food poisoning, Government & corporate wrong-doing, Risks to children, USDA — Andrew Schneider @ 07:39

Why would words like “kill step” and “adequate lethality” be in the lexicon of the USDA, the Food and Drug Administration and major manufacturers of heat-to-eat food?

After putting aside all the complex government and scientific explanations, these war-like sounding phrases are steps that food producers hope and expect consumers will take to keep from being poisoned by salmonella.

I began chasing this issue a bit last year and when I spoke to food scientists at USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service. They told me that adequate lethality is a kill step, the point where the precise combination of temperature and cooking time will kill biological hazards in food.

They said that far too many consumers wrongly believe that when they pull a frozen meal from the freezer in the grocery it has already been treated to eliminate contamination to salmonella and other bacteria that can cause painful illness and sometimes death.

What most consumers don’t understand is that food packagers, especially those who manufacture frozen food, expect the consumer to take the kill step. The problem is that most shoppers have no clue that this safety burden has been dumped in their pot.

The Association of Food, Beverage and Consumer Products Companies issued guidelines last year for their food production members to pay special attention to instructions given to consumers when it came to foods “not-ready-to-eat.”

They documented that many consumers believe that food is heated for palatability or taste, but is not required for food safety. Because of this belief, people can and do become ill.

The association urged its members to develop instructions for preparing their frozen products that make it clear that the “food must be cooked at a time/temperature combination sufficient to reduce the number of pathogens that might be present . . . to a safe level.”

The key here is not heating, but cooking to the point required to “kill pathogenic microorganisms that may be present in many frozen entrees,” the guidelines cautioned.

A decade or more ago many food processors began labeling their products with phrases such as “Oven Ready,” “Cook and Serve,” and “Ready to Cook,” assuming that consumers would understand that cooking was necessary for safety, not just taste.

The FSIS safety specialists told me that among their greatest were frozen food that is microwaved since uneven heating of foods in microwave ovens has been implicated as a key factor in improperly cooked food products. This non-uniform heating leads to cold spots in the product, which may allow the survival of pathogens such as salmonella.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a national food safety advocacy group, explained that its researchers found that the most dangerous products to be cooked in a microwave are frozen uncooked, breaded chicken and turkey products, some breaded fish and frozen meat and poultry pot pies.

If you want more information on this battle of the bacteria, I urge you to read a fine, comprehensive piece of journalism by New York Times’ writer Michael Moss in Friday’s edition. It may shock you into cooking your foods long enough to make them safe to eat.

Click on title above to go to the original article where you can find a link to the New York Times article by Michael Moss;

Brown calls on USDA, FDA to address unsafe practices employed by food manufacturers

In Wake of Reports on Food Manufacturers Failing to Remove Hazards in Frozen Foods, Brown Calls for Evaluation of Labeling, Testing Practices

Published: Saturday, May 16, 2009 4:09 PM EDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. …#8220; U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrote to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and acting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Administrator Joshua Sharfstein today regarding reports of unsafe practices employed by food manufacturers. Brown asked the administration to evaluate testing and labeling practices of food manufacturers in order to better protect consumers.

“Consumers are not only being asked to bear the burden of ensuring the safety of the manufactured food they purchase, but that they are being given inadequate information to fulfill that misplaced responsibility,” Brown wrote in his letter to Vilsack and Sharfstein. “I am writing you to ask that you take action immediately to right this dangerously wrong situation.

Brown referenced an article appearing in today’s New York Times reporting how some food manufacturers are no longer requiring their suppliers to test for food pathogens and are no longer cooking their products sufficiently to kill any bacteria that may be present. Instead, these companies are relying on consumers to heat purchased food products to specified temperatures in order to avoid health hazards. Brown pointed out that consumers should not be responsible for making unsafe food safe.
Brown also pointed out the dangerous trend of outsourcing in food production. More elements of the supply chain for processed foods are being outsourced to countries with weak food safety standards. Brown has authored legislation that would give the federal government new authority to recall tainted foods and establish a federal program that would quickly and accurately trace the source of tainted food. Brown’s legislation would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to mandate recalls of the foods under their respective jurisdictions.

A full copy of Brown’s letter to Vilsack can be found below.

Dear Secretary Vilsack & Acting Commissioner Sharfstein,

In today’s New York Times, there was a disturbing article (attached) describing a trend in which consumers are not only being asked to bear the burden of ensuring the safety of the manufactured food they purchase, but that they are being given inadequate information to fulfill that misplaced responsibility. I am writing you to ask that you take action immediately to right this dangerously wrong situation.

According to the Times article, some food manufacturers are not requiring their suppliers to test for food pathogens, nor are they cooking their products sufficiently to kill any bacteria that may be present. Instead they are relying on consumers to heat purchased food products to specified temperatures in order to avoid health hazards. In some cases, the instructions are so vague or the heating procedure so involved that it is unrealistic to expect consumers to abide by it. More to the point, consumers should not be responsible for making unsafe food safe.

The article also pointed the problems involved in identifying the source of a food safety hazard, problems which are multiplying as the supply chain for processed foods diversifies and the processing itself is increasingly outsourced to other countries.

Secretary Vilsack and Acting Commissioner Sharfstein, I ask that your two agencies look into these issues and work together to resolve them. Specifically:

· What can be done to ensure that food manufacturers properly test and process their products to ensure that they are safe before they are sold to the public?

· To what extend should the rules around food labeling change to ensure proper and easily followed cooking instructions?

· What actions should FDA and USDA take to bolster food traceability and ensure suppliers properly test the ingredients they sell to food manufacturers? I have introduced legislation, the Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act (S. 425), that would establish a food traceability system at the Food and Drug Administration so that we can track foods from farm to fork. Would S. 425’s approach meet your needs?

· S. 425 would also give the FDA and USDA mandatory recall authority. I believe the food safety gaps highlighted in this article reinforce the need for this legislation. What are your thoughts on mandatory recall authority?

I appreciate your leadership and would be glad to discuss this request in more detail.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Human Brain Collection up for Grabs

March 24, 2005

NIH may destroy human brain collection

By STEVE MITCHELL Medical Correspondent

The National Institutes of Health may discard part or all of a rare collection that includes hundreds of human brain samples from patients that suffered from a disorder similar to mad cow disease -- unless another researcher or institution takes them on, United Press International has learned.

Several scientists said the collection, which is held by the NIH's National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Md. -- and includes brains and other tissue samples from people afflicted with the brain-wasting illness Creutzfeldt Jakob disease -- is irreplaceable and could even provide insight into treatments for the fatal disorder. Currently, there is no cure for CJD and patients typically die within a year after symptoms begin.

However, NIH officials in control of the collection's fate told UPI the remaining samples are of little scientific value and may be disposed of if researchers outside the agency do not claim it. That position stands in sharp contrast with CJD experts who thought the collection should be preserved.

"It's invaluable," said Dr. Paul Brown, former medical director of the NIH's Laboratory for Central Nervous System Studies, whose expertise is in CJD and mad cow disease (also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE).

The collection is badly in need of organization and no one is certain how many brains or other tissue samples it contains, said Brown, who worked with the collection since its inception in the 1960's until his retirement last year. There could be brains, blood, spinal fluid and various other tissues from 1,000 people or more, he said. Some of the specimens would be of scientific use today, he said.

"This collection has the unique value of stretching back to the beginning of when these diseases were discovered," Brown told UPI, noting that the first samples were obtained in 1963. "It would be as though you had in your hands the possibility of finding out when AIDS started."

Bruce Johnson, a former technician at the CNSS lab who worked extensively with the collection before he retired in 2003, told UPI he was told "in two years they (NIH officials)are going to destroy it, if nobody wants it."

Eugene Major, acting director of the basic neuroscience program at the NIH, said no specific timeframe had been established.

"We have not set a firm deadline date," Major told UPI. "We are working very hard with investigators that we know in order to be able to make sure that whatever we deem is valuable is potentially kept here." Some samples already have been determined not to have any research value and have been "removed and disposed of," he said.

Others samples have been given out to Dr. David Asher at the Food and Drug Administration and Pierluigi Gambetti at the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Major maintained the remaining collection was not particularly valuable for research. "Whatever had been collected here that has not already been distributed to responsible investigators who could use them really has very little remaining value," he said.

Neither Asher nor Gambetti returned phone calls from UPI, but Brown said he thought Asher had received only a dozen or two samples at most and Gambetti had not received much at all.

Neil Cashman, a brain-disease researcher at the University of Toronto's Center for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases -- who has tried to obtain the collection from the NIH -- said it was priceless.

"It would be like destroying an art museum," Cashman told UPI. "There's all this information and insight that's locked up in these tissues and if it's destroyed it will be lost forever."

The Memorial Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases Inc., a non-profit organization consisting of more than 40 university and institute researchers from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and France, also thinks the brain collection is invaluable.

"It is the opinion of the Board of Directors ... of The MIND Inc., that the ... brain bank should not be broken up nor destroyed," said Harry E. Peery, MIND's executive director, in a letter to UPI. "We believe that this collection is of inestimable research value and should be kept intact."

The institute, at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, applied for possession of the collection in early 2004, but received a letter from the NINDS indicating the fate of the collection had not yet been determined.

"We have heard nothing further since that time" and continue to be interested in acquiring the complete collection, Peery said.

CJD belongs to a group of rare, brain-wasting disorders that are little understood, incurable and fatal. This includes mad cow disease in cows, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. The most infamous of these illnesses in humans is variant CJD, which people can contract from eating beef products infected with the mad-cow pathogen.

Although vCJD has infected more than 154 people worldwide, only one case has ever been detected in the United States -- in a Florida woman who is thought to have contracted the disease while living in the United Kingdom. However, the NIH brain samples have never been screened for vCJD -- something Johnson thinks is critically important.

"No one has ever looked to see if any American (in the collection) in the past had variant CJD," Johnson said. "You think it would be required that they do that. You think it would be a Congressional mandate that they test these brains: 'Let's see if we've got this disease in our country.'"

Johnson noted at least one brain in the collection he personally had examined -- from a French woman collected in 1971 -- showed evidence of possible vCJD infection, but the sample needed further study to be sure.

Other samples in the collection include the brains of patients who were only 16 years old when they were diagnosed with CJD. This would be unusual for sporadic CJD, because generally it strikes those over age 60. Variant CJD, on the other hand, typically occurs in patients in their 20s or younger.

"I thought it was absolutely vital (to test these brains)," Johnson said. "Maybe there's a dozen cases in there of variant CJD."

Major disagreed. "There's really no reason to do that," he said. "The effort it would take to screen those samples ... would not give us any new insights into variant CJD beyond what it is we already know."

Johnson said he was frustrated with the NIH administration's lack of interest in preserving the collection or testing for vCJD. "They don't understand," he said, "they honest-to-god don't understand what it's all about."

Patient advocates also objected to the possible destruction of the brains.

Terry Singeltary, whose mother died of a type of CJD called Heidenhain variant in 1997, said he is outraged and families of other CJD victims probably will be, too.

"A lot of these families went through a lot of heartache and a lot of trouble to get these brain samples to the NIH," Singeltary told UPI. "Now they're just going to discard them because they're not of scientific use? That's just asinine. That stuff is valuable information."

Graham Steel, vice-chair of the Human BSE Foundation in the United Kingdom, told UPI, "The potential loss of such important tissue samples would be a massive blow for TSE (the group of diseases that includes CJD and BSE) research in the United States. This should not be allowed to happen."

Singeltary noted there currently is no cure for these diseases. "If you don't have any answers yet, why would you throw these specimens away?" he asked.

He added that more sensitive tests are just becoming available and could help determine the origin of some of the CJD cases. "We've all been sitting around waiting for more sensitive tests to get validated because we want answers," he said.

"You know, it must be an embarrassment," Johnson said. "Some Senator is going to eventually say 'What is NIH doing about mad cow disease?' And people are going to scratch their heads and say 'not much'." He added, "What's going to happen (is) one of these senators or their wife is going to develop spontaneous CJD one day and ... there's going to be hell raised and they're going to ask, 'Why isn't NIH working on this?'"



Maine becomes 6th state to ban extreme confinement

Click on title above for full article and video;

Thursday, May 14, 2009


A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Tue 12 May 2009
Source: Farmers Weekly Interactive [edited]

Bovine TB in other species shows 4-fold increase
Cases of bovine tuberculosis in species other than cattle have shown a
dramatic increase, according to DEFRA figures. A total of 119 animals
across 8 species became infected with _Mycobacterium bovis_ in 2008 -- a
4-fold increase on 2007. The 2 previous years had fewer than 30 cases.

Of the species infected, the biggest rise was recorded in deer. From a
single deer found to be carrying the disease in 2007 to 34 deer recorded in
2008. Goats accounted for 33 cases compared with just 2 in 2007 and the
number of diseased pigs found doubled from 5 in 2007 to 10 animals in 2008.
Cats, dogs, alpacas, llamas, and sheep also showed increasing levels of

About half of the cases were found in the West Country with south Wales
accounting for a quarter of cases. The remainder were found in counties as
far north as Lancashire.

The National Beef Association blamed the spread on DEFRA's reluctance to
tackle the disease in wildlife. Jilly Greed NBA vice chairwoman in the
south west of England said the disease could pop up anywhere, spread
through contact with badgers and badger latrines. "How much more damage
does TB have to do before the politicians admit something has to be done to
protect the public, prevent animal suffering, and save the economy. If
DEFRA won't say something we should go public and warn other users of the
countryside that it is no longer safe to be out here without taking

But a DEFRA spokeswoman said that the increase in numbers found was due to
greater awareness of the disease in companion animals and better surveillance.

[byline: Jonathan Riley]

communicated by:
ProMED-mail rapporteur Susan Baekeland

[In order to assess the significance of the data, the number of
clusters/infected premises/outbreaks is to be considered rather than the
number of animals (such as, in how many units are the 34 infected deer
concentrated?) Having said this, one cannot ignore the recorded continued
spread of the disease in the UK, particularly in south west England and in
Wales. See also item 2. - Mod.AS]

Date: Thu 14 May 2009
Source: DEFRA (UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs),
Animal health & welfare [edited]

[Final Report of the Bovine TB Advisory Group, presented to the Minister
for Farming and the Environment, and the chief veterinary officer for
Defra. 8 Apr 2009, extracted, edited]

Bovine tuberculosis in England: towards eradication
a. Conclusions (page 4)
1. Bovine TB has been a difficult and demanding problem for many years.
There are reasons for believing that it can be controlled and finally
eradicated but this will require a long-term commitment by all stakeholders
and take at least 20 years.
2. Very many who are involved in battling this disease are becoming
disheartened with the lack of progress and with a widely held belief that
the failure to tackle the wildlife reservoir undermines their efforts.
3. There is a need for strong and committed leadership (both Government and
industry) to develop a clear consensus on tackling this disease. Renewed
vigour needs to be injected into this long campaign and we welcome the
establishment of the England TB Eradication Group.
4. Although control of the disease in cattle might be accomplished by
cattle measures alone the time scale is long and the cost to the farming
industry and the public purse will be considerable. There are not
sufficient additional practical cattle controls, which will result in the
eradication of TB in the absence of measures to address infection in the
wildlife reservoir.
5. The Secretary of State's decision has removed the option (preferred by
many in the farming industry) of culling badgers in England. However,
reducing the risk of transmission from the wildlife vector to cattle does
not solely mean the culling of badgers, but encompasses all practical
measures to break the cycle of transmission.
6. An injectable badger vaccine is due to be licensed by 2010 and an oral
vaccine is expected by 2014 at the earliest. The practical widespread
application of badger vaccines has the potential to contribute to
eradication of bovine TB. However, it is likely to take several years
before an effect in cattle is observed.
7. Vaccination of cattle is further away and will require the development
of a test to differentiate vaccinated from unvaccinated cattle (DIVA) as
well as a change in EU legislation before it can be used in the cattle
8. Given the current rate of spread of TB we are concerned there may be
over-reliance on a future vaccination programme (cattle and badgers) --
this should not negate the urgent need for measures to tackle the problem now.
9. The emphasis of the current TB testing programme (surveillance and
control) appears to be unbalanced that is, the same approach is used in
both high risk and low risk areas.
10. Further measures aimed at stopping the spread of the disease will cause
difficulties and costs to both the taxpayer and the farming industry. It is
in the public interest and in line with the responsibility and cost sharing
agenda that costs are shared.

b. Annex D: Bovine TB -- the facts
1. TB control/eradication (page 56)
Q43. Can TB be eradicated from cattle through extra cattle measures without
addressing the wildlife reservoir?
A43. In September 2005, the Wilsmore review concluded that the
international evidence shows clearly that bovine TB in cattle cannot be
eradicated by cattle controls alone when there is a secondary reservoir of
infection from wildlife. Thus, on the basis of this evidence, some form of
intervention in the wildlife domain is necessary if bovine TB in cattle is
to be eradicated. The ISG [Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB]
concluded that the elimination of infection in high risk areas can only be
achieved in the very long-term and that this problem is a consequence not
only of the failure to remove all infected cattle on some farms, but also
reintroduction of infection from wildlife (see also question 32).
2. Badgers and bovine TB (page 49)
Q32. Will TB in badgers die out if disease is controlled in cattle?
A32. We don't know for certain. Modelling suggests that if disease in
cattle is reduced then disease in badgers will also be reduced. On the
other hand, there is evidence that TB is a self-sustaining infection within
the badger population and once introduced, the infection persists within
that species without the need for input from other infected species such as

communicated by:

[Subscribers are encouraged to refer to the original report at the URL
above (69 pages), particularly to Annex D "Bovine TB -- the facts". The
annex includes, among others, background information to Q43 and Q32 cited
above. - Mod.AS]

[see also:
Bovine tuberculosis - UK, New Zealand: vaccination 20090325.1160
Bovine tuberculosis - UK (02): (Wales) 20090323.1143
Tuberculosis, bovine - UK: (02) 20090320.1121
Tuberculosis, bovine - UK: (Wales) 20090107.0066
Bovine tuberculosis, feline - UK (02) 20081126.3722
Bovine tuberculosis - UK: increased incidence 20081123.3696
Bovine tuberculosis, domestic animals - UK (03): 2005-2006 20081114.3594
Bovine tuberculosis, domestic animals - UK (02) 20081112.3565
Bovine tuberculosis, domestic animals - UK 20081111.3551
Bovine tuberculosis, feline - UK 20081005.3141
Bovine tuberculosis, human, canine - UK: (England) (02) 20080927.3054
Bovine tuberculosis, caprine - UK: (Wales) 20080723.2229
Bovine tuberculosis - UK, Ireland, Netherlands ex UK 20080718.2186
Tuberculosis, bovine - Netherlands ex UK: EU consultation 20080909.2813
Bovine tuberculosis - UK, Ireland 20070731.2473
Bovine tuberculosis, human - UK (England) (02) 20061015.2967
Bovine tuberculosis, human - UK (Gloucestershire) 20040714.1890
Tuberculosis, bovine, badgers - UK (03) 20061014.2945
Tuberculosis, bovine, badgers - UK (02) 20061011.2915
Tuberculosis, bovine, badgers - UK 20061005.2857
Tuberculosis, bovine - UK: badger vaccine trial 20060622.1724
Tuberculosis, bovine - UK (England) 20051209.3549
Tuberculosis, bovine, pigs - UK (England) 20050713.1996
Tuberculosis, bovine - UK (England): wildlife 20040717.1941
Tuberculosis, bovine - UK (England) 20040216.0513
Tuberculosis, bovine, badgers - UK 20031105.2745
Tuberculosis, bovine - UK (Scotland) 20031021.2647]