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Press Release of Senator Cantwell
Cantwell Legislation Would Help Halt Spread of Mad Cow Disease
Legislation cracks down on loopholes in animal feed rules
Monday, January 24,2005
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Maria Cantwell today introduced legislation to help prevent the spread of Mad Cow disease, by banning the riskiest material from the nation's supply of animal feed. Cantwell's Animal Feed Protection Act of 2005 would strengthen current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules by putting in place a comprehensive ban on the use of “specific risk materials” (SRM) in all U.S. animal feed, and banning the import of feed that may contain SRM.
“There are obvious steps we can take to improve the safety of our domestic beef supply and protect ourselves from the spread of Mad Cow disease,” Cantwell said. “It's important for both American families sitting around the dinner table and our international trading partners. If we want to gain the confidence of Asian markets for U.S. and Washington state beef, we've got to follow the science and plug the loopholes in our animal feed rules.”
SRM is already outlawed in cattle feed. However, federal regulators have not yet taken the same step to eliminate SRM from all animal feed—despite the February 2004 recommendations of an international review team commissioned by USDA, after the discovery of a Mad Cow case in Mabton , WA .
Just this month, two more cases of Mad Cow disease have been discovered in Canada—just after the Bush Administration has proposed reopening the U.S./Canadian border to beef imports, beginning on March 7, 2005. Unlike previous cases, the most recently discovered cow was born after Canada 's 1997 feed ban went into effect. Existing bans in the U.S. and Canada only prohibit the use of SRM in certain types of animal feed, rather than all of the feed that has been linked to the spread of Mad Cow disease.
Cantwell's legislation contains a comprehensive ban and definition of SRM, including the skull, brain, trigeminal and dorsal root ganglia (nerve tissue), eyes, tonsils, spinal cord and the vertebral column of cattle and bison 30 months of age and older; and sheep, goats, deer and elk 12 months of age or older.
Earlier this month, Cantwell joined a bipartisan group of Washington state legislators and ranchers in urging USDA to complete a thorough investigation of the latest Canadian Mad Cow incidents before reopening the border. The U.S. has sent a technical team from USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the most recent detections of infected cows.
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