- The USDA's much ballyhooed new measures to address the
emergence of mad cow disease in the US are wholly inadequate. Until there
is a complete and total ban on all feeding of slaughterhouse waste to livestock,
coupled with the testing of millions of animals, mad cow disease will continue
to amplifying and spread in US animal feed and among livestock. Eventually
we will see cases of human mad cow disease emerging. It was a decade after
the recognition of the first mad cow in Britain that the human deaths,
continuing today, began appearing.
- We know now that in the US the so called "firewall,"
the FDA's 1997 feed regulation misnamed a "feed ban," has been
woefully ineffective, a farce. Sheldon Rampton and I exposed this in our
1997 book, Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?
- We waited to see what the FDA would do before we concluded
our book in the fall of 1997. The FDA wrote feed regulations that allowed
the livestock and animal feed industry to continue their dangerous practices
that are spreading mad cow disease in North America.
- The USDA knew way back in 1991, more than a decade ago,
that a feed ban was necessary to protect human and animal health, but sided
with the livestock industry. In a 1991 report I obtained under the Freedom
of Information Act USDA said, "the advantage of this option is that
it minimizes the risk of BSE. The disadvantage is that the cost to the
livestock and rendering industries would be substantial." (Mad Cow
USA, p. 149-150)
- The 1997 FDA feed regulation is not a feed ban, but a
labeling requirement that meat and bone meal from cattle and other ruminants
be labeled 'do not feed to ruminants.' (MCUSA, p. 215-218) Government investigators
have found that this rule has been widely ignored and poorly enforced.
Without offering proof, USDA officials now say there is 99% compliance
with this rule.
- However, even if that were true, it would mean little
since farmers, ranchers and cattle producers can buy properly labeled feed
and still feed it to cattle. There is no on-farm inspection of how even
properly labeled feed is actually used, and such inspection is impossible.
- As long as billions of pounds of rendered slaughterhouse
waste are being fed to livestock, labeling regulations and the sort of
partial requirements that USDA announced December 30, 2003, will not stop
mad cow disease from spreading.
- The 1997 feed labeling regulation is so bad that it even
allows animals known to be infected with mad cow and similar diseases to
be rendered into animal feed, despite the fact that the World Health Organization
has urged for a decade that no infected animals be fed to animals or people.
- Researchers have long shown that blood can transmit mad
cow type diseases, yet under the 1997 labeling regulations massive amounts
of cattle blood are today being fed to calves in milk replacer, calf starter
and feed supplements. Government and industry sources are telling reporters
that it is safe to feed cattle blood to calves and cattle, yet Dr. Stanley
Prusiner, the Nobel-prize wining mad cow researcher, says that feeding
cattle blood to calves is "stupid."
- Why was cattle blood exempted from the 1997 FDA regulation?
The politically powerful dairy industry wanted cheap blood protein in milk
formula for weaning calves. The 1997 FDA regulations were written for industry,
not to protect human or animal health.
- Also, under the 1997 FDA regulations, all parts of cattle
are rendered and fed to pigs and poultry, which are rendered and all parts
are fed back to themselves and to cattle. This feeding loop can spread
and amplify mad cow disease, and even create and spread new, never before
seen, strains of the disease.
- Unless and until the US follows the lead of the EU nations
by implementing a total ban on byproduct feeding, along with testing millions
of animals, the mad cow crisis will only worsen with time.
- In January, 1997, FDA projected that with no feed ban
in place, the appearance of a single mad cow in the US would mean that
over the next 11 years at least 299,000 additional mad cows cases would
emerge, because of the spread of the disease via infected feed and the
long invisible latency period in cattle. These 299,000 case would occur
even if an airtight, mandatory feed ban were put in place immediately after
the appearance of the first mad cow in the US. (MCUSA, page 211-212)
- Clearly, there is no effective livestock feed ban currently
in place in the US, and USDA and FDA have absolutely no plans to put one
in place. The so-called "firewall feed ban" of 1997 is a farce,
an ineffective labeling requirement and nothing more.
- The powerful livestock and animal feed industries continue
to call the shots at FDA and USDA. Apparently they believe that their current
crisis management PR campaign will fool the US news media and US consumers
into thinking that the right steps have all been taken. Apparently they
also believe that US trading partners can be bullied into buying US cattle
and beef. The longer that this industry and government deception continues,
the greater the US mad cow crisis will become. Eventually as in other countries
even the US government and the powerful US livestock industry will be forced
to adopt the only steps that work: a total ban on feeding rendered byproducts
to livestock, and the testing of animals before they are eaten.
- Today, however, the spin and obfuscation continues.