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Analysing Cost-Benefits Of Additional BSE Testing

11 May 2010

CANADA - An agriculture-based think-tank will do an analysis of whether the cost of conducting client-driven optional BSE testing in animals before or after slaughter would be beneficial in the marketplace.

The work which is being done by the George Morris Centre will help to determine whether pre or post-slaughter testing would allow Canadian products access to export markets that are currently not available, potentially creating a greater demand for Canadian beef.

“In Alberta, in accordance with internationally accepted standards, we currently test those animals that meet the criteria for BSE testing,” said Jack Hayden, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“This study is separate from our world-class surveillance system and the other steps that we already take to ensure the safety of our beef products for consumers. Alberta’s beef industry is market-driven, however, we need to constantly be evolving as science and technology progresses in order to further enhance our market opportunities.”

“At this time, Canadian products are still restricted in certain markets that could be important to industry,” said Dr Kevin Keough, Executive Director, Alberta Prion Research Institute. “This study will provide an independent look at the issue, as well as reliable data and analysis.”

“Canada’s economic losses stemming from the 2003 BSE crisis are significant and research like this is needed to support Canada’s beef industry,” said Dr Neil Cashman, Scientific Director of PrioNet Canada. “This analysis plays an important part in the process to determine how we can help restore international consumer’s confidence in Canadian beef.”

The Alberta Prion Research Institute and PrioNet Canada, in partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, requested submissions for proposals in November 2009, and selected the George Morris Centre.

“We submitted a proposal for the project because the cost-benefit analysis of BSE testing in cattle is a significant issue and we thought we would make a good contribution to it,” said Al Mussell, Senior Research Associate, George Morris Centre.

The cost of the project is approximately $179,000 with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency contributing 50 per cent of the funds. PrioNet Canada and The Alberta Prion Research Institute are each contributing the remaining amount equally.

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