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AMI Statement: On the International Review Team's Report On BSE in the United States

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

(Attribute statement to AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle)

We agree with the review team’s commendable focus on harmonization of trading rules governing beef products from countries with a low risk of BSE. As the report released today stated: "Exporting countries feel significant national social and financial impacts when importing countries fail to comply with international rules regarding trade."

Clearly, the OIE’s scientific guidelines regarding trade in beef products should be the blueprint for how trading partners respond to countries that confirm a single case of BSE. As the report recommended, "The United Sates should demonstrate leadership in trade matters by adopting import/export policy in accordance with international standards, and thus encourage the discontinuation of irrational trade barriers when countries identify their first case of BSE."

We agree with and support such an objective.

Several other key recommendations made by the review team also mirror what the science dictates regarding an appropriate BSE regulatory response. For example, the report noted the difficulties in tracing the BSE index animal’s "birth cohort" and confirmed what USDA officials have also prioritized: The urgent need to develop and implement a national individual animal identification system, an initiative AMI supports and will continue to encourage.

Likewise, we agree with the objective of preventing contaminated feed from being fed to cattle. However, additional measures to further regulate the uses of ruminant-derived protein must proceed from a thorough and scientifically justified risk assessment. Science needs to validate changes to our current and quite comprehensive ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban -- not expressions of concern over cross-contamination based on the experience of various European countries that were unable to enforce similar feed bans in their countries.

In summary, the key objectives underlined by the international review team are ones that AMI strongly supports: Harmonization of beef trading rules, according to the best science-based guidance, and "close collaboration among all appropriate agencies in North America" to optimally manage the BSE situation the beef industry has encountered.

We agree with the imperative of a "shared commitment on the part of national and state governments, producers, consumers and private industry," as the report recommended. Most importantly, we remain confident in the ability of BSE policies "that are developed and implemented in a consistent, scientifically valid manner," as the review team characterized them, to protect animal health and fully maintain the safety of U.S. beef products, both domestically and globally.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Senior VP, Public Affairs
Dan Murphy
Vice President, Public Affairs

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