Mad Cows and Computer Models: The U.S. Response to BSE
Issue: Volume 18, Number 2 / 2008 Pages: 145 - 156 URL: Linking Options
Mad Cows and Computer Models: The U.S. Response to BSE
Frank Ackerman and Wendy A. Johnecheck
The proportion of slaughtered cattle tested for BSE is much smaller in the U.S. than in Europe and Japan, leaving the U.S. heavily dependent on statistical models to estimate both the current prevalence and the spread of BSE. We examine the models relied on by USDA, finding that the prevalence model provides only a rough estimate, due to limited data availability. Reassuring forecasts from the model of the spread of BSE depend on the arbitrary constraint that worst-case values are assumed by only one of 17 key parameters at a time. In three of the six published scenarios with multiple worst-case parameter values, there is at least a 25% probability that BSE will spread rapidly. In public policy terms, reliance on potentially flawed models can be seen as a gamble that no serious BSE outbreak will occur. Statistical modeling at this level of abstraction, with its myriad, compound uncertainties, is no substitute for precautionary policies to protect public health against the threat of epidemics such as BSE.
Owner and Corporation Plead Guilty to Defrauding Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Surveillance Program
An Arizona meat processing company and its owner pled guilty in February 2007 to charges of theft of Government funds, mail fraud, and wire fraud. The owner and his company defrauded the BSE Surveillance Program when they falsified BSE Surveillance Data Collection Forms and then submitted payment requests to USDA for the services. In addition to the targeted sample population (those cattle that were more than 30 months old or had other risk factors for BSE), the owner submitted to USDA, or caused to be submitted, BSE obex (brain stem) samples from healthy USDA-inspected cattle. As a result, the owner fraudulently received approximately $390,000. Sentencing is scheduled for May 2007.
Topics that will be covered in ongoing or planned reviews under Goal 1 include:
soundness of BSE maintenance sampling (APHIS),
implementation of Performance-Based Inspection System enhancements for specified risk material (SRM) violations and improved inspection controls over SRMs (FSIS and APHIS),
The findings and recommendations from these efforts will be covered in future semiannual reports as the relevant audits and investigations are completed.
4 USDA OIG SEMIANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS FY 2007 1st Half
-MORE Office of the United States Attorney District of Arizona FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For Information Contact Public Affairs February 16, 2007 WYN HORNBUCKLE Telephone: (602) 514-7625 Cell: (602) 525-2681
CORPORATION AND ITS PRESIDENT PLEAD GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING GOVERNMENT’S MAD COW DISEASE SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM
PHOENIX -- Farm Fresh Meats, Inc. and Roland Emerson Farabee, 55, of Maricopa, Arizona, pleaded guilty to stealing $390,000 in government funds, mail fraud and wire fraud, in federal district court in Phoenix. U.S. Attorney Daniel Knauss stated, “The integrity of the system that tests for mad cow disease relies upon the honest cooperation of enterprises like Farm Fresh Meats. Without that honest cooperation, consumers both in the U.S. and internationally are at risk. We want to thank the USDA’s Office of Inspector General for their continuing efforts to safeguard the public health and enforce the law.” Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee were charged by Information with theft of government funds, mail fraud and wire fraud. According to the Information, on June 7, 2004, Farabee, on behalf of Farm Fresh Meats, signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (the “USDA Agreement”) to collect obex samples from cattle at high risk of mad cow disease (the “Targeted Cattle Population”). The Targeted Cattle Population consisted of the following cattle: cattle over thirty months of age; nonambulatory cattle; cattle exhibiting signs of central nervous system disorders; cattle exhibiting signs of mad cow disease; and dead cattle. Pursuant to the USDA Agreement, the USDA agreed to pay Farm Fresh Meats $150 per obex sample for collecting obex samples from cattle within the Targeted Cattle Population, and submitting the obex samples to a USDA laboratory for mad cow disease testing. Farm Fresh Meats further agreed to maintain in cold storage the sampled cattle carcasses and heads until the test results were received by Farm Fresh Meats.
Evidence uncovered during the government’s investigation established that Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee submitted samples from cattle outside the Targeted Cattle Population. Specifically, Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee submitted, or caused to be submitted, obex samples from healthy, USDA inspected cattle, in order to steal government moneys.
Evidence collected also demonstrated that Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee failed to maintain cattle carcasses and heads pending test results and falsified corporate books and records to conceal their malfeasance. Such actions, to the extent an obex sample tested positive (fortunately, none did), could have jeopardized the USDA’s ability to identify the diseased animal and pinpoint its place of origin. On Wednesday, February 14, 2007, Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee pleaded guilty to stealing government funds and using the mails and wires to effect the scheme. According to their guilty pleas:
(a) Farm Fresh Meats collected, and Farabee directed others to collect, obex samples from cattle outside the Targeted Cattle Population, which were not subject to payment by the USDA;
(b) Farm Fresh Meats 2 and Farabee caused to be submitted payment requests to the USDA knowing that the requests were based on obex samples that were not subject to payment under the USDA Agreement;
(c) Farm Fresh Meats completed and submitted, and Farabee directed others to complete and submit, BSE Surveillance Data Collection Forms to the USDA’s testing laboratory that were false and misleading;
(d) Farm Fresh Meats completed and submitted, and Farabee directed others to complete and submit, BSE Surveillance Submission Forms filed with the USDA that were false and misleading;
(e) Farm Fresh Meats falsified, and Farabee directed others to falsify, internal Farm Fresh Meats documents to conceal the fact that Farm Fresh Meats was seeking and obtaining payment from the USDA for obex samples obtained from cattle outside the Targeted Cattle Population; and
(f) Farm Fresh Meats failed to comply with, and Farabee directed others to fail to comply with, the USDA Agreement by discarding cattle carcasses and heads prior to receiving BSE test results. A conviction for theft of government funds carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Mail fraud and wire fraud convictions carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. Convictions for the above referenced violations also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Earl H. Carroll will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
Sentencing is set before Judge Earl H. Carroll on May 14, 2007. The investigation in this case was conducted by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Alejandro Quintero, United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General. The prosecution is being handled by Robert Long, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix. CASE NUMBER: CR-07-00160-PHX-EHC RELEASE NUMBER: 2007-051(Farabee) # # #
Thu Dec 6, 2007 11:38
FDA IN CRISIS MODE, AMERICAN LIVES AT RISK
FDA SCIENCE AND MISSION AT RISK
In 2007, in one weekly enforcement report, the fda recalled 10,000,000+ pounds of BANNED MAD COW FEED, 'in commerce', and i can tell you that most of it was fed out ;
10,000,000+ LBS. of PROHIBITED BANNED MAD COW FEED I.E. MBM IN COMMERCE USA 2007
Date: March 21, 2007 at 2:27 pm PST REASON Blood meal used to make cattle feed was recalled because it was cross-contaminated with prohibited bovine meat and bone meal that had been manufactured on common equipment and labeling did not bear cautionary BSE statement. VOLUME OF PRODUCT IN COMMERCE 42,090 lbs. DISTRIBUTION WI
REASON Products manufactured from bulk feed containing blood meal that was cross contaminated with prohibited meat and bone meal and the labeling did not bear cautionary BSE statement. VOLUME OF PRODUCT IN COMMERCE 9,997,976 lbs. DISTRIBUTION ID and NV
END OF ENFORCEMENT REPORT FOR MARCH 21, 2007
Subject: MAD COW FEED RECALL USA SEPT 6, 2006 1961.72 TONS IN COMMERCE AL, TN, AND WV Date: September 6, 2006 at 7:58 am PST
snip... see listings and references of enormous amounts of banned mad cow protein 'in commerce' in 2006 and 2005 ;
see full text ;
Friday, April 25, 2008
Substances Prohibited From Use in Animal Food or Feed [Docket No. 2002N-0273] (Formerly Docket No. 02N-0273) RIN 0910-AF46
SPECIFIED RISK MATERIALS
SRM MAD COW RECALL 406 THOUSAND POUNDS CATTLE HEADS WITH TONSILS KANSAS
MAD COW DISEASE terminology UK c-BSE (typical), atypical BSE H or L, and or Italian L-BASE
Please remember, the last two mad cows documented in the USA i.e. Alabama and Texas, both were of the 'atypical' BSE strain, and immediately after that, the USDA shut down the testing from 470,000 to 40,000 in the U.S. in 2007 out of about 35 million cattle slaughtered. also, science is showing that some of these atypical cases are more virulent to humans than the typical UK BSE strain ;
***Atypical forms of BSE have emerged which, although rare, appear to be more virulent than the classical BSE that causes vCJD.***
Progress Report from the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center
An Update from Stephen M. Sergay, MB, BCh & Pierluigi Gambetti, MD
April 3, 2008
In this context, a word is in order about the US testing program. After the discovery of the first (imported) cow in 2003, the magnitude of testing was much increased, reaching a level of >400,000 tests in 2005 (Figure 4). Neither of the 2 more recently indigenously infected older animals with nonspecific clinical features would have been detected without such testing, and neither would have been identified as atypical without confirmatory Western blots. Despite these facts, surveillance has now been decimated to 40,000 annual tests (USDA news release no. 0255.06, July 20, 2006) and invites the accusation that the United States will never know the true status of its involvement with BSE.
In short, a great deal of further work will need to be done before the phenotypic features and prevalence of atypical BSE are understood. More than a single strain may have been present from the beginning of the epidemic, but this possibility has been overlooked by virtue of the absence of widespread Western blot confirmatory testing of positive screening test results; or these new phenotypes may be found, at least in part, to result from infections at an older age by a typical BSE agent, rather than neonatal infections with new "strains" of BSE. Neither alternative has yet been investigated.
Cases of atypical BSE have only been found in countries having implemented large active surveillance programs. As of 1st September 2007, 36 cases (16 H, 20 L) have been described all over the world in cattle: Belgium (1 L) , Canada (1 H)15, Denmark (1 L)16, France (8 H, 6 L)17, Germany (1 H, 1 L) , Italy (3 L)18, Japan (1 L) , Netherlands (1 H, 2 L)19, Poland (1 H, 6 L)20, Sweden (1 H)21, United Kingdom (1 H)22, and USA (2 H)23. Another H-type case has been found in a 19 year old miniature zebu in a zoological park in Switzerland . It is noteworthy that atypical cases have been found in countries that did not experience classical BSE so far, like Sweden, or in which only few cases of classical BSE have been found, like Canada or the USA.
And last but not least, similarities of PrPres between Htype BSE and human prion diseases like CJD or GSS have been put forward , as well as between L-type BSE and CJD . These findings raise questions about the origin and inter species transmission of these prion diseases that were discovered through the BSE active surveillance.
full text 18 pages ;
EFSA Scientific Report on the Assessment of the Geographical BSE-Risk (GBR) of the United States of America (USA)
Summary of the Scientific Report
The European Food Safety Authority and its Scientific Expert Working Group on the Assessment of the Geographical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Risk (GBR) were asked by the European Commission (EC) to provide an up-to-date scientific report on the GBR in the United States of America, i.e. the likelihood of the presence of one or more cattle being infected with BSE, pre-clinically as well as clinically, in USA. This scientific report addresses the GBR of USA as assessed in 2004 based on data covering the period 1980-2003.
The BSE agent was probably imported into USA and could have reached domestic cattle in the middle of the eighties. These cattle imported in the mid eighties could have been rendered in the late eighties and therefore led to an internal challenge in the early nineties. It is possible that imported meat and bone meal (MBM) into the USA reached domestic cattle and leads to an internal challenge in the early nineties.
A processing risk developed in the late 80s/early 90s when cattle imports from BSE risk countries were slaughtered or died and were processed (partly) into feed, together with some imports of MBM. This risk continued to exist, and grew significantly in the mid 90’s when domestic cattle, infected by imported MBM, reached processing. Given the low stability of the system, the risk increased over the years with continued imports of cattle and MBM from BSE risk countries.
EFSA concludes that the current GBR level of USA is III, i.e. it is likely but not confirmed that domestic cattle are (clinically or pre-clinically) infected with the BSE-agent. As long as there are no significant changes in rendering or feeding, the stability remains extremely/very unstable. Thus, the probability of cattle to be (pre-clinically or clinically) infected with the BSE-agent persistently increases.
snip...see full text ;
June 12, 2008
FEDERAL OVERSIGHT OF FOOD SAFETY
FDA Has Provided Few Details on the Resources and Strategies Needed to Implement its Food Protection Plan
What GAO Found
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
OIE Recognition of the BSE Status of Members RESOLUTION No. XXI (Adopted by the International Committee of the OIE on 27 May 2008)
1. Adoption of subsequent Resolutions* since the 67th General Session of the OIE International Committee has established a procedure for annually updating a list of Members, categorised by their BSE risk according to the provisions of theTerrestrial Code,
2. During the 70th General Session, the International Committee adopted Resolution No. XVIII asking Members applying for a BSE risk evaluation to meet part of the costs sustained by the OIE Central Bureau in the evaluation process,
3. During the 72nd General Session, the OIE adopted Resolution No. XXI requesting the Director General to inform Delegates of Members whose country or zones are recognised with regard to their BSE risk status should annually confirm during the month of November whether their risk status and the criteria by which their status was recognised have remained unchanged,
4. Information published by the OIE is derived from declarations made by the official Veterinary Services of Members. The OIE is not responsible for inaccurate publication of a Member disease status based on inaccurate information, changes in epidemiological status or other significant events that were not promptly reported to the Central Bureau, subsequent to the time of declaration of the BSE risk status.
1. The Director General publish the following list of Members recognised as having a negligible BSE risk in accordance with Chapter 2.3.13. of the Terrestrial Code:
Australia, Argentina, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Singapore, Sweden and Uruguay.
2. The Director General publish the following list of Members recognised as having a controlled BSE risk in accordance with Chapter 2.3.13. of the Terrestrial Code:
Austria Belgium Brazil Canada Chile Chinese Taipei Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lichtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Mexico Netherlands Poland Portugal Slovak Republic Slovenia Spain Switzerland United Kingdom United States of America
3. The Delegates of these Members will immediately notify the Central Bureau if BSE occurs in their countries or their territories.
(Adopted by the International Committee of the OIE on 27 May 2008)
* 67th General Session (GS) Resolution No (Res) XVI and Res XI; 69th GS Res XV, and 71st GS Res XXII, 72nd GS Res XXIV and Res XXI..
IN A NUT SHELL ;
(Adopted by the International Committee of the OIE on 23 May 2006)
11. Information published by the OIE is derived from appropriate declarations made by the official Veterinary Services of Member Countries. The OIE is not responsible for inaccurate publication of country disease status based on inaccurate information or changes in epidemiological status or other significant events that were not promptly reported to the Central Bureau,
bought and paid for by your local cattle dealer $$$
IN my opinion the WOAH/OIE is nothing more than a organized bunch of lobbyist for the members Countries in support of there INDUSTRY, bound together as one, with the only purpose of open trade for there precious commodities and futures. Speaking only of BSE, they failed at every corner, and then just said to hell with it, well just trade all strains of TSE globally.
NOW, ask yourself why not one single mad cow has been documented in the USA since the Honorable Phyllis Fong of the OIG did the end around Johanns, Dehaven et al ??? found two atypical BSE or BASE cases and they flat shut it down i tell you. IF the OIE gives a favorable rating, IF the OIE gives any other rating but the lowest, poorest possible BSE/TSE rating, the OIE will have sealed there fate once and for all, because most of the world knows the truth about the USA and there mad cows. THE OIE will then be able to stand side by side with the USA, and proudly claim to have sold there soul to the devil, all for a buck, commodities and futures, to hell with human health. A 'CONTROLLED' RATING IS EXACTLY what the OIE will get if that is what they classify the USA as a 'CONTROLLED RATING'. IT will be controlled by Johanns, Dehaven, and GW. IT WILL BE RIGGED in other words. but that is nothing new, it's been rigged for years. ...
snip...SEE FULL TEXT with facts and sources @ ;
Terry S. Singeltary Sr. P.O. Box 42 Bacliff, Texas USA 77518