- Hello, Jeff - An assortment of articles regarding the
coverup of mad cow disease. A former USDA inspector claims that the US
covered up cases of Mad Cow going back 8 years.
- There is also a possibility that brains and tissues of
people who died of CJD as well as experimental animal samples may be destroyed.
- The US wants Japan to exclude cows age 30 months and
younger from BSE testing. Perhaps the US knows that BSE might be found
in younger cattle as well?
- As some things change, BSE remains the same. The best
way to manage mad cow is to not find it and deny, deny, deny. We can always
bury our "mistakes." Who's to know?
- Patricia Doyle
- U.S. Accused Of Hiding Mad Cow Cases
- CBC News
- OTTAWA - The United States has covered up cases of mad
cow disease in the past eight years, a former U.S. agriculture inspector
said Tuesday at a House of Commons committee
- Leslie Friedlander repeated a claim he has made before
that cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy surfaced in the U.S. long
before the disease showed up in Canada, devastating this country's beef
- Friedlander, who was fired from his job as head of inspections
at a meat-packing plant in Philadelphia in 1995 after criticizing what
he called unsafe practices, says he's willing to take a lie detector test
to prove he is telling the truth.
- Washington has denied the allegations.
- But the testimony raises a question that has been asked
many times: how the U.S. industry has been able to essentially escape BSE
when Canada's much smaller industry, observing almost identical safety
and testing practices, has had four cases.
- CBC investigation probes case in New York
- Part of the answer could be in a slaughterhouse in Oriskany
Falls, N.Y., which eight years ago may have become the home of the first
American case of mad cow.
- Bobby Godfrey, who worked at the plant, remembers a cow
that arrived one day.
- "I thought it was a mad dog, to tell you the truth,"
he told CBC's Investigative Unit. "Didn't know what the hell it was.
Never seen a cow act like that in all the cows I saw go through there.
There was definitely something wrong with it."
- The suspect cow, which was recorded on video obtained
by CBC News, was suspected of being the first American case of BSE.
- Dr. Masuo Doi was the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) veterinarian in charge of investigating the cow.
- "Me and my vet, including our inspector, they thought
it [the cow] was quite different. They thought it was the BSE," he
- Doi, who recently retired from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, says he's haunted by fears the right tests were not done and
that the case was not properly investigated by his own department.
- "I don't want to carry on off to my retirement.
I want to hand it over to someone to continue, to find out. I think it's
very, very important," said Doi, who has never spoken out publicly
about his concerns, until now.
- Validity of tests called into question
- Documents obtained by CBC News show that the U.S. government
was preparing for the worst. Initial signs pointed to mad cow disease.
But further tests were negative.
- The final conclusion from an independent university lab:
a rare brain disorder never reported in that breed of cattle either before
or since, but not BSE.
- But CBC News has learned that key areas of the brain
were never tested. The most important samples somehow went missing.
- It's all in a USDA lab report that was left out of the
documents officially released by the department. It proves the scientist
in charge knew his investigation of the case was limited.
- Without the samples, the question remains: Could scientists
really rule out mad cow disease?
- Dr. Karl Langheindrich was the chief scientist at a USDA
lab in Athens, Ga., the lab that ran some of the early tests on the cow.
Now retired, he too never spoke publicly about this case before being interviewed
- Without the missing brain tissue, he says, the USDA will
never be able to say for sure what was wrong with the cow.
- "Based on the clinical symptoms and the description
given by the veterinarian you can verify, yes this animal had CNS, central
nervous system disease, but you can't specify it in your findings further
than that," he said.
- Second suspected case surfaces at same plant
- With questions about the first cow still lingering, three
months later at the same meat plant there was a second American cow with
- The second cow's brain was sent for testing and officials
were told verbally the tests were negative.
- Doi made repeated requests for documentary proof of the
negative tests. To this day, he's seen nothing.
- "How many are buried?" he wonders. "Can
you really trust our inspection [system?]
- For weeks, the USDA told CBC that it had no records for
the second cow. Then just a few days ago, it suddenly produced documents
that it says proves that a cow was tested and that the tests were negative
for mad cow disease.
- But the documents also prove, once again, there were
problems with the testing. This time, so much brain tissue was missing
it compromised the examination.
- The problems were so severe that one USDA scientist wrote
that his own examination was of "questionable validity" because
he couldn't tell what part of the cow's brain he was looking at.
- NIH Sends Mixed Signals On CJD Brains
- By Steve Mitchell
- UPI Medical Correspondent
- WASHINGTON -- A National Institutes of Health official
who told United Press International the agency might destroy its collection
of brains from human patients afflicted with a condition similar to mad
cow disease reportedly has told the head of a patient-advocate group the
collection would be preserved.
- The official, Eugene Major, acting director of the
basic neuroscience program at the NIH, has not responded to e-mail or a
phone call from UPI seeking clarification of his remarks, and the official
status of the collection remains unknown.
- As reported by UPI on March 24, the collection is
stored in freezers by the NIH's National Institute for Neurological Disorders
and Stroke in Bethesda, Md. It contains brains and other tissue samples
from hundreds of people who died from the brain-wasting illness Creutzfeldt
Jakob disease, as well as tissues from an untold number of experimental
- The consensus of scientists in this field is the collection,
which dates back to 1963, is invaluable for research 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.
- Florence Kranitz, president of the non-profit advocacy
group CJD Foundation, told UPI she had "a very long conversation"
with Major, in which he told her the remaining tissues in the collection
would not be destroyed.
- "He reassured me in no uncertain terms,"
Kranitz said, noting constituents of the foundation and other CJD advocacy
groups had been expressing concerns to her the tissues would be destroyed.
- Kranitz, who has personal reasons for wanting the
collection preserved -- her husband died of CJD in 2000 -- said she plans
to meet with Major at the end of April to discuss the issue further.
- CJD belongs to a group of diseases collectively known
as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or TSEs, that includes mad
cow disease in cows, chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, and scrapie
in sheep. All TSEs are incurable and fatal.
- Major previously told UPI some samples already have
been destroyed and others have been given to researchers at the Food and
Drug Administration and the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance
Center in Cleveland.
- Major said the remaining collection "has very
little remaining value" and could be destroyed if another entity does
not claim them.
- Bruce Johnson, a former NIH scientist who retired
at the end of 2003, said he had been told the collection would be destroyed
in two years if no one took the samples from the NIH.
- In response to hearing that Major had failed to confirm
to UPI the brain collection would not be destroyed, Patricia Ewanitz, who
lives in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., and is founder of the advocacy group
CJD Voice, said, "The brain tissue might not be indispensable to the
National Institutes of Health but it is absolutely necessary to the families
who thought enough of science to donate the brains, brain tissue and blood
in hopes of someday finding an answer to why their loved one died."
- Ewanitz, whose husband died of CJD in 1997, added,
"It now seems like such a joke."
- Terry Singeltary, whose mother passed away from a
type of CJD in 1997, said the NIH should use the samples for scientific
research, not just store them in freezers.
- Both Singeltary and Ewanitz said they would feel more
reassured if Major verified in writing the collection will not be destroyed.
- "I would go further and ask Major what he plans
to do with them," Singeltary said. "If the samples are just going
to sit up there and go bad, then they should give them out to researchers
looking for cause and cure."
- The revelation the NIH might destroy part or all of
the collection sparked an outcry from patient advocates, consumer groups
- Advocates have been contacting their members of Congress,
urging them to investigate and prevent the NIH from destroying the brains.
Consumer groups also have gotten involved and scientists have taken steps
to obtain the collection or have urged Major not to destroy the samples.
- Felicia Nestor, who serves as a consultant to Public
Citizen, told UPI she had contacted certain legislators and at least one
was considering looking into the situation. Nestor asked the legislator's
name be withheld.
- Kranitz said Major also told her he plans "to
advertise in professional neurological journals and by whatever means necessary
to make it known" to researchers in the field the tissues are available.
- Major previously said, however, that efforts to inform
researchers of the availability of the collection were already underway
and included informing NIH grantees. He added he had personally notified
researchers at scientific meetings, but no TSE researcher contacted by
UPI was aware of this.
- "I was never informed," said Laura Manuelidis,
an expert on these diseases and section chief of surgery in the neuropathology
department at Yale University. She said the first she had heard of the
situation was in UPI's March 24 report.
- Manuelidis also said she contacted Major, expressing
interest in the specimens, but so far has not received a response.
- "I sent a letter to (Major) on (March 25) about
our interest in these specimens, but he has not replied," she told
UPI in an e-mail.
- Neil Cashman, a TSE expert at the University of Toronto,
who said he was not aware the samples might be destroyed, has lobbied colleagues
at the University of British Columbia -- where Cashman is scheduled to
move to this summer -- to help draft a letter requesting the collection.
- 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, the United Kingdom
and France, requested the collection in January, 2004. So far, the institute
has not been informed of a decision by the NIH.
- Asked if Major had told him whether the collection
would be preserved, MIND Executive Director Harry Peery said, "We
have heard nothing further from Eugene Major or anyone else at the NIH
regarding the brain collection."
- U S Wants More Easing Of Japan Beef Test Rules
- TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States urged Japan on Tuesday
to exclude beef cattle under the age of 30 months from testing for mad
cow disease, the latest sign of U.S. pressure on Japan to ease its testing
standards, Kyodo news agency said
- Under intense pressure, Japan moved a step closer to
easing a ban on U.S. beef in March after the government won approval for
plans to drop its policy of testing all cattle for mad cow disease -- known
as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
- Japan's FSC concluded on March 28 a five-month discussion
on whether to allow the government to exclude cattle younger than 21 months
from mad cow testing, saying that relaxation of the testing regime would
hardly increase the risk of contamination.
- The request by the U.S. government was made in a letter
to Japan's Food Safety Commission (FSC), saying that it would "urge
Japan to move even further toward harmonisation with international practice
by raising the minimum age limit for BSE testing from 20 months to 30 months,"
- Approval of the easier policy by the food safety watchdog
is a precondition for Japan to implement an October 2004 agreement with
the United States to resume imports of American beef from cattle aged below
21 months without conducting mad cow testing.
- Cattle below the age of 21 months are considered to be
at low risk from the brain-wasting disease.
- Washington has expressed frustration with Japan's slowness
in carrying out the agreement to restart imports, prompting some U.S. lawmakers
to call for retaliatory sanctions against Japan.
- Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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