Have You Herd?

The Wall Street Journal obtained a memo showing that, "five months after Canada disclosed its first case of mad-cow disease in May 2003, a U.S. Agriculture Department agency made unpublicized policy changes that helped the U.S. meat industry gain access to more beef products from Canada, despite safety concerns." Then-deputy administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (and current administrator) Ron DeHaven sent the memo, which warned that the "significant change" would increase "the possibility that higher risk product may be imported." In related news, the World Organization of Animal Health relaxed its standards for countries' mad cow disease status, "allowing for a lifting of bans on U.S. and European Union meat." And in Britain, three young mad cows represent "the first time three cases born after 1996 have been linked to one farm." The cases are significant, since Britain banned all mammalian protein from cattle feed in 1996.