Iowa Public Television


Countries Are Tired Of BSE Trade Issues

posted on June 11, 2004

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

In a week-long farewell to one of the most popular figures in 20th century American politics, the nation bid good-bye this week to Ronald Reagan.

The 40th president, who died last weekend, was recalled as the man who defeated communism and restored faith and confidence in the American spirit. He also was remembered by American farm interests as the force behind a more market-driven U.S. agricultural economy.

President Reagan, 1985: "We're trying to free farmers from the influence and direction of the government and encourage them to produce for the public market basket and not for government storage bins."

Though he presided over the farm credit crisis of the mid-1980s -- one of the worst financial times in recent U.S. farm history -- Reagan is more fondly remembered by rural interests for his common touch and diplomatic successes.

The business of statesmanship that Reagan practiced so well was on display off the coast of Georgia this week, as the leaders of the so-called G8 nations met for high-level talks. Among the topics of discussion were Iraq, AIDS research and trade-related issues surrounding Mad Cow disease.


Countries Are Tired Of BSE Trade Issues

At the G-8 conference in Georgia this week, the Canadian Prime Minister told President Bush that it's taking too long for the U.S. to open its border to live cattle from Canada.

The ban was put into effect some 13 months ago after one case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ... or BSE ... was discovered in one cow in Alberta Province.

President Bush told the northern neighbor of his commitment to quickly resolve the trade issue. Bush then switched from the ban-"er" to being the ban-"ee", when he queried Japan's Prime Minister this week about when that country will end its ban on U.S. beef. Japan was largest the market for U.S. beef until a BSE case was discovered in Washington state last December.

Meanwhile, the USDA's expanded BSE surveillance program tested 1,127 animals between June 1 and June 8 and all test results came back negative. The goal is to test 268,000 animals during a one-time, 18-month period to get an idea of BSE prevalence in the U.S.

The current BSE testing is being done post-mortem, but that could change in the not too distant future. A British scientist has invented a live test for BSE. The researcher developed a hand-held device that records the heartbeat of a cow. There is a link between the heart and the brain stem, so dysfunction in the brain stem can be found by looking at the heart. The scientist said the idea is to monitor individual cattle throughout their lifespans in order to keep records of their health.


Tags: agriculture animals beef cattle diseases food safety livestock Mad Cow meat news trade