Report criticises French handling of mad cow crisis

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Related tags: Mad cow, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy

A report on the handling of risk factors in the outbreak of mad cow
disease criticices France's Agriculture Ministry for dragging its
feet in forbidding...

A report on the handling of risk factors in the outbreak of mad cow disease criticices France's Agriculture Ministry for dragging its feet in forbidding meat-based animal feed and keeping quiet about suspicions. The report by a Senate commission, released Thursday, predicts that France will see 300 cases of what is thought to be the human form of the disease in the next 60 years, a length of time that accounts for the decades-long incubation period of variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. Three people have died in France so far. Interministerial reports from 1994-2000 "show that the Agriculture Ministry constantly tried to hinder or delay precautionary measures, which later proved to be security measures, under the motive that they had no scientific bases,"​ the report said. Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany denounced the report as "completely false"​ and said it amounted to a "political manoeuvre."​ Among the evidence, the report cites an official in the Agriculture Ministry, Regis Lesueur, saying that "some partial information" showed as early as 1994 a possible link between mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and the human brain-wasting illness. The report said there was sufficient reason before 1996 to ban livestock feed made from animal carcasses that could carry the malady. Animal feed made from meat and bone was banned for cows in 1990, but not for pigs and sheep, the report points out. Mix-ups could have occurred in factories, in trucks or at farms where both types of animals are raised, the report suggested. Such "cross contamination seems to constitute the most plausible explanation of the second phase of bovine contamination,"​ after 1996, the report said. A National Assembly commission is to release a report on the issue in June. Source: Associated Press

Related topics: Cattle - beef, Europe, Safety, Regulation

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