US Bans Canadian Beef Imports

May 21, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease
in Alberta, Canada has prompted the US to ban all imports of cattle, beef, animal
feed and beef-based products from its northern neighbor.

The reaction to the announcement in the financial and commodities markets were
almost instantaneous. Shares of company such as McDonald’s and Tyson Foods were
hit hard. The price of live cattle futures experienced their biggest percentage
drop in four months.

According to the Pioneer Press, mad cow disease is “a fatal, untreatable disease
that attacks the animal’s nervous system. Its human form, a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease, also is incurable and fatal. Humans develop Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
when they eat meat from infected animals, scientists believe. Creutzfeldt-Jakob
has killed at least 80 people in Europe.”

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the
report of mad cow disease in Canada?

It’s important for all those who sell beef (from Canada
or not) to understand that this issue is as much, if not more, an emotional
one with consumers than a realistic health issue. Beef sales in places like
the UK dropped precipitously after mad cow disease was found there.

Here in the US, there has never been a documented case
of mad cow disease. The government’s policy of banning meat and livestock from
any country where mad cow disease is diagnosed should provide consumers in America
with a degree of comfort. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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