Chapter 11 : The Politics of Prions—BSE and World Trade

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By the end of 2004, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) had spread far beyond the United Kingdom, invading 20 European countries, Canada, the United States, and Japan. The first report of BSE in 1986 did not cause much of a stir outside Great Britain. But that began to change in December 1987, when it became clear that the disease had been transmitted in animal feed supplemented with ruminant meat and bone meal. The European Union (EU) also barred United Kingdom export of cattle born to cows that were either suspected or confirmed to be BSE positive. The two countries (United States and Canada) worked to coordinate their response to the threat of BSE from imported live cattle, beef, and animal feeds. It was not until May 16 that the regional lab completed its testing and reported finding evidence of BSE in the sample. On May 20, the international BSE reference laboratory in the United Kingdom confirmed the Canadian lab’s initial finding. Canada had identified its first homegrown BSE-positive cow. Much has been made of the need to control the spread of BSE and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The worldwide cost of surveillance and control of BSE internationally is in the billions of dollars. However, it has become increasingly evident that the risk of an individual contracting vCJD through having eaten BSE-affected beef is extremely low. Science-based policies, to be effective, must be based on the rational application of sound science.

Citation: Entis P. 2007. The Politics of Prions—BSE and World Trade, p 197-216. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch11

Key Concept Ranking

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
Food Safety Agencies
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107..United States Department of Agriculture. 23 November 2004. Release No. 0508.04. Statement by John Clifford, Deputy Administrator Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [Online.] http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2004/11/0508.xml. Accessed 25 June 2006.
108..United States Department of Agriculture. 5 May 2005. Release No. 0149.05. USDA unveils multi-year draft strategic plan for the national animal identification system. Requests input from industry. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [Online.] http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2005/05/0149.xml. Accessed 24 June 2006.
109..United States Department of Agriculture. 10 June 2005. Release No. 0206.05. Statement by Dr. John Clifford regarding further analysis of BSE inconclusive test results. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [Online.] http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB/.cmd/ad/.ar/sa.retrievecontent/.c/6_2_1UH/.ce/7_2_5JM/.p/5_2_4TQ/.d/9/_th/J_2_9D/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?PC_7_2_5JM_contentid=2005%2F06%2F0206.xml&PC_7_2_5JM_navtype=RT&PC_7_2_5JM_parentnav=LATEST_RELEASES&PC_7_2_5JM_navid=NEWS_RELEASE#7_2_5JM. Accessed 25 June 2006.
110..United States Department of Agriculture. 24 June 2005. Release No. 0232.05. USDA announces BSE test results and new BSE confirmatory testing protocol. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [Online.] http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2005/06/0232.xml. Accessed 25 June 2006.
111..United States Department of Agriculture. 11 December 2005. Release No. 0544.05. Statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns regarding the opening of the Japanese market to US beef. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [Online.] http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB/.cmd/ad/.ar/sa.retrievecontent/.c/6_2_1UH/.ce/7_2_5JM/.p/5_2_4TQ/.d/3/_th/J_2_9D/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?PC_7_2_5JM_contentid=2005%2F12%2F0544.xml&PC_7_2_5JM_parentnav=LATEST_RELEASES&PC_7_2_5JM_navid=NEWS_RELEASE#7_2_5JM. Accessed 24 June 2006.
112..United States Department of Agriculture. 6 April 2006. Release No. 0120.06. Johanns releases national animal identification system implementation plan. USDA’s general standards for database integration also available. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [Online.] http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB/.cmd/ad/.ar/sa.retrievecontent/.c/6_2_1UH/.ce/7_2_5JM/.p/5_2_4TQ/.d/1/_th/J_2_9D/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?PC_7_2_5JM_contentid=2006%2F04%2F0120.xml&PC_7_2_5JM_parentnav=LATEST_RELEASES&PC_7_2_5JM_navid=NEWS_RELEASE#7_2_5JM. Accessed 24 June 2006.
113. Vedantam, S.,, and B. Harden. 28 December 2003. Officials now convinced cow came from Canada. Oakland Tribune, Oakland, Calif..
114. Zhang, J. 13 December 2005. US, Japan partially lift trade restrictions on beef. The Wall Street Journal, New York, N.Y..


Generic image for table
Table 11.1

Countries reporting cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) as of December 31, 2004

Citation: Entis P. 2007. The Politics of Prions—BSE and World Trade, p 197-216. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch11
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Table 11.2

Sequence of events in the BSE-related trade disputes among the United States, Canada, and Japan

Citation: Entis P. 2007. The Politics of Prions—BSE and World Trade, p 197-216. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch11

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