Iowa Public Television


Mad Cow Again Rears It's Head

posted on November 25, 2000

Protein from the genetically engineered and controversial StarLink corn has turned up in non-StarLink hybrid seed corn. The discovery raises the possibility the material may have found its way into more of the nation's food supply than initially feared. Taco shells and other food items containing StarLink already have been recalled. The latest discovery was made by an Iowa seed company working to determine just how widespread the StarLink problem is.

Consumers grow increasingly edgy with each new food scare, real or imagined. To be sure, Europeans this week were seeking answers with the re-emergence of another frightening food-borne specter.

Mad Cow Again Rears It's Head Looking to avoid the same panic that swept the continent four years ago, the European Union this week sought assurances that consumers of French-grown beef are not being exposed to Mad Cow disease.

In the wake of a rising number of Mad Cow disease cases, France has banned the sale of T-bone steaks. It also joined other E.U. nations in outlawing the use of meat and bone meal in animal feed, long suspected as a possible cause of the malady. The European Union's food safety commissioner told French officials that those measures must be extended to exports of French-grown beef.

Beef sales in France have plunged 40% in recent weeks as consumer fears mount. at least two deaths have been confirmed in France from C-J-D, the human form of Mad Cow disease. To quiet fears, the French have begun a testing program expected to reach up to six million cattle by mid-2001.

Britain's beef industry has never fully recovered from its mad cow scare of the late 90s. C-J-D has killed an estimated 800 people there.

The ban on meat and bone meal in European animal feed sent soybean prices in Chicago to five-week highs late last week. Analysts say the fear over Mad Cow disease could mean increased exports of U.S. soy meal, a widely used animal feed supplement.

For its part, the French government is running full-page ads in newspapers insisting that French beef is safe to eat.

Ads also have become a prominent medium for American controversies. Smithfield Foods is using full-page ads in nine Midwest newspapers to criticize a rival bidder for I-B-P. And Archer Daniels Midland is using radio spots to warn farmers not to plant biotech corn that ADM can't sell overseas.

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