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After Second U.S. ’Mad Cow’ Case, Farm Sanctuary Calls for Permanent USDA Ban on ’Downers,’ More Stringent Testing for BSE


WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., June 28 -- Since the 1980s, Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal shelter and advocacy organization, has warned that downed and sick animals are routinely entering the human food supply. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture has consistently denied that these animals are a threat to human health. In light of this second confirmed case of BSE in a downed cow in the United States, Farm Sanctuary is calling for a prohibition of all downed animals for human food and urges that the USDA increase its surveillance for BSE and possible variants of the disease. The current tests of 388,000 animals annually is not an adequate measure for the 30 million cattle slaughtered every year for human consumption.

“The last thing the American public needs is the ongoing attitude of the USDA of ’don’t look, don’t find,’” said Gene Bauston, president of Farm Sanctuary. “We are not talking about needles in haystacks, like Secretary Johanns has suggested. Today’s testing for BSE is grossly inadequate. At best, the USDA has been negligent in this case; at worst, the department is deceiving the American public. Why did the Secretary not request that a more accurate test be performed when the animal was discovered last year?”

Farm Sanctuary has campaigned to ban the sale of downed animals since 1986. In 1998, Farm Sanctuary petitioned the USDA to ban downed animal slaughter. The USDA formally denied the petition in 1999. Farm Sanctuary then filed a lawsuit to ban downed animals. The case was dismissed, but a federal appellate court reinstated the case on December 16, 2003, just one week before mad cow disease was discovered in the U.S.

The FDA, which regulates animal feed, continues to allow cattle blood in livestock feed -- part of the diet of dairy calves used in place of the milk that they would normally get from their mothers. In addition, poultry litter, routinely fed to livestock, contains meat and bone meal from rendered cattle that has been added to poultry feed. Finally, manure remains in the diets of many livestock that are slaughtered for human consumption today. These factory-farming practices leave loopholes in the current regulations put in place to prevent ruminants being fed to ruminants, which is the leading culprit in the spread of BSE.

“It appears the U.S. policy regarding our food supply is based on economic interests, not on concerns for human health,” said Bauston. “Finding this cow with BSE is further proof that we have ’mad cow’ disease in the U.S, and that we’ve likely had the disease for many years. It says nothing about the effectiveness of the USDA’s testing procedures.”

About Farm Sanctuary

Farm Sanctuary is the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the “food animal” industry through research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness projects, youth education and direct rescue and refuge efforts. Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, NY and Orland, CA provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued animals, who have become ambassadors for farm animals everywhere by educating visitors about the realities of factory farming. Additional information can be found at or by calling 607-583-2225.


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