US Mad Cow Disease Cover
Up Continues - Update

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
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 industry.
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 said.
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 by CBC.
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 suspicious symptoms.
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 animals.
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 and scientists.
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," Kyodo said.
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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