No one wants to prevent BSE in livestock more than the U.S. meat industry, whose livelihood is dependent upon providing wholesome products and ensuring consumer confidence. Unfortunately, a new report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) report brings nothing new to that effort.
The GAO report stands in sharp contrast to three major risk assessments - including one done by Harvard University and released in November 2001 -- that have shown the risk of BSE occurring in the U.S. is extremely low. According to experts, the risk of BSE is low in the U.S. because our government has taken more than a dozen major steps to sequentially strengthen firewalls to the disease. These firewalls include import controls, feed controls and on-going surveillance.
The weaknesses, errors and omissions of the GAO report are highlighted in nearly 25 pages of response from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. While the GAO report may receive a lot of attention, this report simply misinterprets, or simply ignores the effectiveness of measures already taken.
Preventing BSE is in everyone’s interest, especially the U.S. meat industry. We support all scientifically sound efforts to continue to prevent this disease in herds. Regrettably, the GAO report is not consistent with expert opinion on the current U.S. situation.
AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Together, AMI's members produce 95 percent of the beef, pork, lamb and veal products and 70 percent of the turkey products in the U.S. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory, public relations, technical, scientific and educational services to the industry. Its affiliate, the AMI Foundation, is a separate 501(c)3 organization that conducts research, education and information projects for the industry.