Sunday, December 28, 2003

Blame Canada!

The kids from South Park were right:

U.S. Officials Say Ill Cow Is Linked to Alberta Herd

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 — In an announcement that brought measured relief from researchers and beef industry experts, federal officials said on Saturday that they believed a dairy cow infected with mad cow disease came to the United States in 2001 as part of a herd of 74 cattle from Alberta, Canada.

The infected animal, said Dr. Ron DeHaven, chief veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture, entered the country through Eastport, Idaho, in August 2001 before being transported in October of that year to what the authorities called the index herd, the herd in which it was discovered to have been infected, in Mabton, Wash.

“This puts a different perspective on things,” Dr. DeHaven said at a news conference on Saturday. The announcement may allay the worries of American consumers and the nation’s cattle industry about mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Canadian officials, however, said it was too early to definitely pinpoint the cow’s origins. “We feel there is more investigation that needs to be done,” Brian Evans, chief veterinary officer for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said at a news conference in Ottawa.

Earlier news reports said it would take weeks before the source of the BSE infection could be known. But hey, as long as we can point the finger somewhere else, what the hell.

Update – 11:00 a.m. Corrente has more on this story. (And GMTA on headlines…)

Further Update – 2:37 p.m. The Canadians are not only not convinced the infected cow came from Canada, they’re openly skeptical. From CTV:

CFIA not convinced mad cow came from Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s “premature” for the United States to conclude that the cow carrying its first case of BSE came from Canada.

Dr. Brian Evans, chief veterinary officer for the CFIA, says not only is he not convinced the cow came from Canada, he’s skeptical.

“As yet, there’s no definitive evidence that the BSE infected cow came from Canada,” Evans told reporters Saturday.

“We don’t have the kind of evidence we feel you would have to have to say: ‘It’s that animal and it’s this herd and it’s that location’.”

Evans adds that Canadians have been working on the ground with U.S. authorities since “the early days of their presumptive diagnosis,” and have not completed their investigation on the Canadian side of the border.

“While we understand that the U.S. is pursuing other avenues of investigation… it would be premature to draw such conclusions at this time,” Evans said.

Evans spoke several hours after U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said they’ve tentatively confirmed the cow in Washington state infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy came from Canada.

For the record, the smoked salmon we had for lunch was very tasty.