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U.S. Scientist Invents Groundbreaking Mad Cow Disease Test But The USDA Refuses To Use It

December 30, 2003

Scientist Andrew Alpert discusses how he helped discovered how to test living cows for mad cow disease. Britain has Okd the test but not the U.S. And John Stauber, author of Mad Cow USA, outlines the latest in the mad cow scandal.

US agriculture officials so far are standing by their detection system for mad cow disease, despite complaints from consumer groups that testing is inadequate

Monday was the first regular business day since the Agriculture Department last week announced the nation’s first case of mad cow disease in a Washington state dairy cow. Dr. Kenneth Petersen of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said no additional inspections had been ordered and meat from cows that were too sick or injured to stand or walk unassisted would continue to be allowed to be sold for human consumption, provided there was no evidence of neurological problems.

However, Petersen said, "The department is looking at what additional testing we need to do." Officials said they are considering increased testing and expansion of a ban on animal feed, officials said.

Meanwhile, a Japanese official told the Associated Press that U.S. agriculture officials in Tokyo trying to persuade the Japanese to lift that country’s ban on American beef said the United States soon would announce more stringent safety measures. The U.S. officials went to South Korea after their stop in Japan.

The diseased cow’s meat was allowed to be sold for human consumption because a USDA inspector saw only signs of a physical injury to the cow.

USDA ordered a recall of more than 10,000 pounds of meat from 20 cows slaughtered on the same day at the same Washington state company. The recalled meat was distributed to eight states and Guam, although officials said 80 percent of it went to Oregon and Washington.

USDA officials have said they ordered the recall as a precaution, insisting there was no threat to the safety of the U.S. food supply.

  • Andrew Alpert, president of the biochemistry company PolyLC based in Maryland. He helped develop the first unobtrusive test for Mad Cow disease. While the test has been approved in Britain, the USDA has not validated the test.
  • John Stauber, co-founder of PR Watch and co-author of the book, Mad Cow USA: Could The Nightmare Happen Here? (Common Courage Press, 1997) which reveals how mad cow disease has emerged as a result of modern, intensive farming practices. [Download book for free here]