- WASHINGTON -- Cattle brains
and other remains that may carry the deadly mad cow disease would be turned
into biofuels under a plan announced on Monday by the U.S. Department of
- Cattle brains, skull, eyes, spinal column, small intestine
and other parts suspected of harboring mad cow disease were banned from
human consumption in December as a safety precaution, shortly after the
discovery of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States.
- Some consumer groups have called on the Bush administration
to go a step further and ban these "specified risk materials"
from swine, poultry and other animal feed made from ground-up cattle remains.
All cattle parts already are banned from cattle feed to protect against
the spread of mad cow disease.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering
tougher regulations on animal feed since finding the brain-wasting disease
in the United States. One month ago, an agency official said the FDA was
considering banning specified risk materials from poultry and swine feed.
- Under the new USDA program, a $50 million loan guarantee
program would be set up to help small businesses in rural areas develop
ways to turn cattle brains and other high-risk parts into a "bio-based
source of energy."
- Bill Hagy, a deputy administrator at USDA's rural development
agency, said the purpose of the pilot program was to gauge commercial interest
and to solicit ideas for alternate energy uses for the cattle parts.
- "There are incinerating facilities out there that
possibility could, with some retooling, be able to accommodate the need,"
- But Hagy said he did not know whether the pilot program
was aimed at finding new uses for the risky cattle parts if they are banned
from all animal feed.
- A spokeswoman for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association
said her organization supports the USDA pilot program.
- A wider ban on the high-risk cattle parts has been watched
closely by the U.S. soybean futures market. With tight soy supplies in
the United States, a significant change in animal feed rules could have
a big impact on products that could be used as a substitute in animal feeds,
such as soybean meal.
- Currently, the carcasses of cattle slaughtered at U.S.
packing plants are typically sent to a separate rendering plant to be made
into food for other animals, cosmetics or other materials. Last year, the
United States slaughtered more than 35 million cattle.
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