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ORGANIC BYTES #25 Organic and Food News Tidbits with an Edge

ORGANIC BYTES #25
Organic and Food News Tidbits with an Edge
12/29/2003 by Organic Consumers Association
**Special Edition: Mad Cow Disease**

Feel free to forward this informative publication to family and friends,
place it on websites, print it, and post it. Knowledge is power.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Describing the Bush administration's policy on testing cows for Mad Cow
Disease: "It is "a surveillance system, not a food safety test...'"

Describing the Japanese government's policy: "Japan tests too much, it's
'like a doctor testing every patient who comes through the door for
prostate cancer.'"

Dr. Ron DeHaven, Chief Veterinarian, U.S. Department of Agriculture New
York Times. December 26, 2004

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TAKE ACTION: FAILURE OF THE USDA AND FDA
Mad Cow Disease has officially hit the United States. In Japan and
Europe, every adult cow is tested for Mad Cow Disease at
slaughter--before it enters the food chain. U.S. testing policies are
quite a bit more relaxed. Last year, while the E.U. tested 10 million
cattle for Mad Cow, the U.S. tested only 20,526 cows out of 35 million
slaughtered. Since the Mad Cow Disease outbreak in the UK, which killed
143 people, the OCA and its allies have pressured the USDA to create
standards that emulate those of Japan and the EU. Yet the USDA continues
to resist. Speaking of the fact that Japan tests ever single cow it
butchers (1.2 million/year), Dr. DeHaven, the USDA's Chief Veterinarian,
told the New York Times that the Japanese are doing too much testing.

The families and loved ones of those who have died from CJD in the U.S.
would disagree. Join millions of citizens and sign the Mad Cow USA --
Stop the Madness petition, demanding that the U.S. Government adopt and
enforce:
~ Mandatory testing for all cattle brought to slaughter, before they
enter the food chain.
~ Ban the feeding of blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste to animals.

Please forward this email to family and friends!
Sign the petition here: http://organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm

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WHAT IT DOES TO A HUMAN
When a human contracts this fatal neurological disease, either
spontaneously or via eating infected meat, it is referred to as
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). There are roughly 300 new human cases
of CJD in the U.S. every year. The percentage of those cases that are
caused by undetected contamination in the food supply is unknown. Early
symptoms of the disease include escalating neurological and muscular
symptoms, including confusion, depression, behavioral changes and
impaired vision and coordination. As the disease progresses, the
symptoms worsen. The disease is incurable and always fatal.

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MAD COW DISEASE: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Since the discovery of Mad Cow Disease in the U.S. last week, the USDA
has made repeated statements that consumers need not worry, as the
disease can only be spread to humans and other cows via ingestion of
nervous system tissue from an infected cow, not muscle meat.
Interestingly enough, the USDA did inspections of meat processing
plants in 2002, and found that, due to current killing and mechanical
meat extraction practices in U.S. slaughterhouses, a full 35 percent of
beef is contaminated with nervous system tissue. Studies have shown that
many processed meats, such as ground beef, salami, bologna, hotdogs,
contain bits of the spinal column. Of course, T-bone steaks actually
contain cow vertebrae and part of the spinal chord, so according to the
Center for Science in the Public Interest, these meats need to be
avoided as well, since cooking the meat does not kill the disease. Beef
stock and beef flavoring also contain remnants of nervous system tissue,
as they are typically made from boiling the skeletal remains of
slaughtered animals. Boneless cuts can also be contaminated, in that the
animal is cut in half with a chainsaw, down the spinal column, thereby
contaminating the surrounding meat. A European study of animals
slaughtered in this manner showed 100% contamination of meat. In
addition recent studies show that infectious agents do show up in the
muscle of the meat, and that Mad Cow and Mad Cow like diseases can be
transmitted in blood.
http://organicconsumers.org/madcow/Greger122403.cfm

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MAD COW ECONOMICS 101
Thanks to Mad Cow Disease, the U.S. beef industry is facing an economic
crisis. Within 24 hours of discovering Mad Cow Disease in the U.S., more
than a dozen nations banned imports of American beef, including the
U.S.'s biggest overseas customers Japan and Mexico. It is likely more
nations will ban imports in the coming days. The U.S. beef industry will
likely lose the vast majority of the $2.6 billion worth of beef products
exported last year. http://organicconsumers.org/madcow/export122503.cfm

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THE POWER OF A PRION
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, otherwise known as Mad Cow Disease, is
caused by proteins, called prions, that fold themselves into abnormal
shapes. Misshaped prions then cause healthy prions to fold. Together,
they amass into clumps that kill cells and literally leave holes in the
brain. A cow could have early forms of the disease and still show
healthy behavior. If the cow is not tested before slaughter, that
infected meat enters the food supply, thereby allowing the unhealthy
prions to take hold in others. Because of their unique structure, prions
are practically invulnerable. Prions are not adequately destroyed by
cooking, canning, freezing, usable doses of radiation, digestive
enzymes, or stomach acid. One study even raised the disturbing question
of whether even incineration at temperatures hot enough to melt lead
could guarantee the inactivation of prions. Acknowledging their relative
invulnerability and fact that prion diseases are always fatal, Dr.
Michael Gregor a world renowned expert on Mad Cow Disease, says, "We
cannot risk these pathogens getting any further into the food supply
then they may already have. We need to ban the feeding of all
slaughterhouse waste to livestock as recommended by the World Health
Organization back in
1996."

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COW CANNIBALS
In 1997 the FDA banned certain practices of feeding rendered bovine meat
to other cows, based on increased likelihood of spreading diseases. Yet,
within the beef industry, it is still a common practice to feed animals
blood, slaughterhouse wastes, and manure. On non-organic dairies it's a
standard practice to wean calves from their mother's milk by feeding
them bovine blood and later feeding slaughterhouse wastes, in order to
maximize profits. The problem here is that the disease can also be found
in the white blood cells. Adding to the problem, unhealthy animals,
known as "Downer-Cows", are not deemed safe for human consumption, and
are sent off to rendering plants to make oils and animal protein
products. A 2001 study in Germany found that downer-cows were up to 240
times more likely to test positive for Mad Cow Disease. In the U.S.,
only 10-15% of downer-cows are tested for the disease. Learn more and
take action --- http://organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm

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HOW MANY MAD COWS ARE OUT THERE?
Mad Cow Disease can be contracted via ingestion of contaminated meat,
but, according to current studies, it also spontaneously occurs, on its
own, in roughly one out of a million cows. Given the fact that the U.S.
beef industry slaughtered nearly 400 million cows in the last ten years,
statistically speaking, that should add up to an expected minimum of 400
spontaneous Mad Cow cases inside U.S. borders. Since the USDA only tests
roughly one out of every 2,000 animals, only one case has been
discovered so far, while the others have slipped through--- possibly
into the human food supply. Of course, that's just counting the
spontaneous occurrences of the disease. In addition to the spontaneous
cases, there are an unknown number of cows infected with the disease by
other cows. This has gone undetected, as well. The incubation period of
the disease is three to eight years, so the detection of one animal with
the disease suggests the strong likelihood that other cows were infected
by the same source but haven't been found yet. A 1997 FDA memorandum
predicted that if just one case of Mad Cow Disease was found in the U.S.
and a total ban on feeding animal protein to animals was implemented,
it's still possible that as many as 300,000 infected cows would be found
over the period of the disease's incubation period (three to eight
years). In short, due to scant USDA testing, no one knows how many
infected animals have already entered the human food supply.
http://organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm

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TAKE ACTION
Join millions of citizens and sign the Mad Cow USA -- Stop the Madness
petition, demanding that the U.S. Government adopt and enforce:
~ Mandatory testing for all cattle brought to slaughter, before they
enter the food chain.
~ Ban the feeding of blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste to animals.

Please forward this email to family and friends!
Sign the petition here: http://organicconsumers.org/madcow.htm

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