Industry Fights Against Beef Imports From BSE Countries

AUSTRALIA - The Australian cattle industry is continuing to fight against the relaxation of imports which will allow beef from countries with BSE to be imported into Australia.
calendar icon 23 February 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Australian Beef Association (ABA) Chairman, Brad Bellinger said: " The decision to import beef from countries with BSE is Free Trade trafficking in a very painful death. The word Ebola frightens anyone. BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) and its human offshoot - Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a similar degenerative disease of the brain. If one suffers from Ebola, one can no longer sleep, as the disease drags on into a very painful and certain death. There is no cure. However vCJD is worse in that once in a human family, it can recur in future generations."

Only last December, Professor John Collinge, Head of the UK Prion Clinic, announced that vCJD had jumped the fence. They had discovered it in a death of a Scotsman, whose genes were different to those of the 166 deaths already recorded in UK. This knowledge was unavailable to Professor Mathews - the Health Statistician that the Government chose to do an 18 day review in September and announce that there is virtually no risk in importing beef from countries with BSE.

Mr Bellinger continued: "The Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) has been saying that BSE is no longer a problem. They are hopelessly wrong - 60 cases- not 18, were reported to The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) last year. Member countries are not bound to report deaths from v CJD to the OIE. The incidence of BSE in cattle in France has not fallen in the last 4 years. The French have the most sophisticated testing procedures in the world. This means that there is a lot of BSE infective units entering the food chain in these OIE member countries that Australia is about to grant importation to."

Mr Bellinger said: "Scientific certainty does not exist on BSE and the various forms of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy's (TSEs). The gestation period for these diseases can run to over 50 years. There is cause of death confusion between BSE/CJD and Alzheimer's disease. Post mortems don't have compulsory reporting in USA for vCJD diagnoses.

"Statements that RMAC will have input into import protocols are a sick joke. RMAC's larger processor members are the two biggest processors in USA. They will have the most to gain from importing high quality US beef. Statements by the Cattle Council (CCA) and Australian Lot Feeders' Association (ALFA) saying there are suitable protocols are in place are naïve at best. They are just following the orders for their processor colleagues.

"Australia exports 65 per cent of its beef production; to want to import beef is idiotic. To risk Australian lives because a foolish Minister signed a 'Side Letter' to the US Free Trade Agreement is insanity," Mr Bellinger stated.

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