Mad Cow Warning

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that Mad Cow Disease could spread worldwide. Officials are urging governments around the world to take action to reduce the risk of Mad Cow Disease to humans. They say all countries should take measures to guarantee the safety of cattle and beef products.

All animals known to have the disease have been found in Europe or European imports. The F-A-O says all countries which imported cattle or meat and bone meal from western Europe since the Nineteen-Eighties can be considered at risk for the disease. It says these countries should consider an immediate ban on feeding meat and bone meal to all animals.

The cattle disease is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or B-S-E. It causes holes in the brain. Cows act strangely before they die. So it is known as Mad Cow Disease.

Scientists believe eating infected beef may cause a similar brain disease in humans. This deadly disease is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. It cannot be cured. More than eighty people in Europe have died from the human form of the disease in recent years. B-S-E first appeared in Britain and has spread across much of Europe.

In the United States, American officials have taken steps to prevent Mad Cow Disease from entering the country. The government restricts imports of cows and other animals from countries where B-S-E exists. Imports of some feed products from such areas also are restricted. Feed containing animal remains is suspected of causing the disease.

American officials say more than two-hundred-fifty experts know how to recognize foreign animal diseases, including B-S-E. Information about the disease has been given to federal and state agencies, laboratories and some colleges.

American officials say they are inspecting animals for signs of B-S-E. Federal inspectors are examining all cows raised for their meat. They examine the animals for disorders of the central nervous system. Any animal showing signs of such a disorder is destroyed. The meat is not permitted for use as human food. The brains of these animals are sent to the Agriculture Department for additional tests.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.

Voice of America Special English