Related news: 3rd case of mad cow disease confirmed in
BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhuanet)-- Despite the confirmation
of a third mad cow disease in Alabama, the U.S. government intends to
scale down testing for the brain-wasting disorder blamed for the deaths of
more than 150 people in Europe.
The U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) boosted its surveillance after finding
the first case of mad cow disease in Washington in 2003.
This 2003 file photo shows dairy cows feeding at a ranch in Colorado, the
United States. [Xinhua/AFP]|
USDA launched an enhanced cattle testing program in June
2004 to look at animals seen at the highest risk for mad cow disease. From then
on about 1,000 tests are run daily, up from about 55 daily in 2003.
The enhanced testing program detected an infected cow in
Alabama last week and further analysis confirmed Monday that the animal had mad
cow disease, the third time the ailment has been found in the U.S. in the past
Still, a reduction in testing has been in the works for
months. On Monday USDA offered the first hint of its plans on "the
conclusion" of the program.
"By any stretch of the imagination, we have proven we have
a very low incidence," said Chuck Lambert, acting Undersecretary of USDA. He
also said USDA would shift to a "maintenance" program that does not need so many
Officials haven't finalized new levels but the
department's budget proposal calls for 40,000 tests annually, or about 110
Yet consumer groups argue more animals should be tested,
not fewer, saying that any move to end or dramatically curb the program would
send the wrong message to Americans and U.S. beef importers.
"It seems to be unwise to say you're going to ratchet it
down right after you've had another positive," said Carol Tucker, Foreman of the
Consumer Federation of America. "I don't know how you explain, either to American
consumers or to people in Japan that we want to sell beef to, that you're going
to stop looking for something because you found it." Enditem