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Don't be sheepish;
Act quickly to contain deadly threat to livestock

December 3, 2001 Sarasota Herald-Tribune
As lambs and ewes take their places in creches associated with the Christmas celebration, U.S. sheep producers face a somber prospect that could decimate their industry.

They wait and watch for an insidious threat - scrapie, a fatal disease that can afflict sheep and goats. Already, 260 sheep from two flocks in Vermont have been slaughtered because they came from Belgium or were related to sheep that came from that European nation, where the disease is prevalent. U.S. sheepmen fear the numbers will increase and, at the least, they must contend with a new regulatory program designed to help prevent the disease from spreading. Scrapie, which resembles mad cow disease but has never been linked to human illness, is the target of a new eradication program designed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because there is no vaccine or other therapy for eliminating or controlling the brain-wasting disease, the program calls for slaughtering sheep from contaminated flocks.

Since scrapie develops slowly and can only be confirmed by autopsy, infected animals may show no symptoms until the disease is advanced. As a result, a new USDA rule requires all sheep and goats in the U.S. older than 18 months to be identified and tagged as coming from scrapie-free flocks before they cross state lines. In addition, flocks that include sheep with symptoms of the disease must be slaughtered, according to USDA and national industry officials.

Implementation of the program will impose short-term costs on sheep producers, but the government and the industry face no practical option. Acting quickly is essential to avoiding a large-scale livestock disaster like the one that struck Great Britain.

The mad cow eradication effort in England to date has resulted in the slaughter of 211,337 cattle infected with mad cow disease. A majority were stacked and burned because their sheer numbers overwhelmed available slaughter facilities. The emotional and financial losses were devastating; they demonstrate the need to take preventive steps in America.

The economic impacts of the disease have already been felt in the U.S. For example, Australia and New Zealand, both of which remain free of scrapie, refuse to import live American sheep and goats. Without an aggressive eradication and prevention program, those financial losses and the toll of slaughtered animals will escalate.


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Home | News | Organics | GE Food | Health | Environment | Food Safety | Fair Trade | Peace | Farm Issues | Politics
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Organic Consumers Association - 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603
E-mail: Staff · Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652
Please support our work. Send a tax-deductible donation to the OCA

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.
Please Support Our Sponsors!

Organic Valley

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Valley

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps

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Magic Soaps

Botani Organic

Botani
Organic

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Eden Organics

Eden Foods

Frey Vineyards

Frey
Vineyards

Intelligent Nutrients

Intelligent
Nutrients