Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in livestock has gained much of the world’s attention with its identification in Western and Eastern Europe, Israel, Japan and North America. BSE and other TSEs are considered serious animal health concerns. BSE has also become a public health issue as a result of the connection that has been made between BSE in cattle and variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans. Public confidence in the beef supply is potentially affected each time another case of BSE in cattle is identified. Many questions remain that can only be resolved through further research, on-going evaluation and assessing the risks involved. Maintaining an adequate food safety system while additional knowledge is obtained remains a primary objective.
NASDA supports a policy which assures that the U. S. actions are supported by the best available science–a policy that embraces research as a method to advance current knowledge and understanding, is based on risk analysis, is able to assure the consuming public that the beef supply is safe because of the actions taken by U. S. pubic agencies and is fair to U. S. beef producers.
Within this context, NASDA supports--
- Development of a feed ban based on the best available science and is enforceable.
- Increased research – especially to develop an in vitro testing procedure that is rapid, accurate, and cost efficient, further analysis of other possible methods of transmission of the disease in cattle (e. g., blood/tissue), other possible avenues of transmission to humans, disposal options for SRM, infectivity of tissue from animals under 30 months of age, develop and implement effective methods for inactivation of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) agents, further determination of pathways by which the agent causes the disease.
- Risk assessment – determine options for proper actions based on risk assessment.
- Normalization of trade and consideration of regionalized barriers, where appropriate, to minimize the overall affect on U. S. producers while regional issues are worked outùmay be across international borders.
- An emphasis on developing whatever is needed to allow the U. S. to qualify for better than minimal risk status with our trading partners.
- The need for an animal ID system that is operational as soon as practical.
- Harmonization of all animal health standards. Harmonization of BSE Standards while avoiding reaching agreement on other standards is not generally recognized as free trade in the U. S. No feeder cattle should be allowed to be imported until agreement is reached on harmonization of other animal health standards, especially bluetongue, anaplasmosis, brucellosis, and tuberculosis.
- NASDA realizes there is no such thing as a no cost policy--if the U. S. needs to take actions to assure eradication in a reasonable timeframe, NASDA believes that affected sectors of the industry (e.g., renderers, perhaps others) should be assisted to assure compliance is reached as reasonably as possible.
- Surveillance programs that assure the U. S. is compliant with OIE Standards and that go beyond compliance where such actions can lead to the removal of infected animals from the U. S. herd (e.g., due diligence on trace-forwards, trace-backs and cohorts)