GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Mad Pig Disease in the USA

    WASHINGTON, March 27 (Reuter) - The U.S. government should toughen its
safeguards against "mad cow" disease, consumer and union groups said
Thursday, asking for more research into pig diseases and a broader ban on use
of animal proteins in livestock feeds. 

    They acted because of recently renewed interest in a two-decade-old study
that found similarities to a7/8s like "mad cow," bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, in one brain tissue sample from a pig sent to market in New
York state. 

    "None of our groups think it is responsible to conclude there is a
(porcine) transmissible spongiform encephalopathy," 

said Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower
group that often works with federal employees. 

    But, Devine said "it's premature to give pork a clean bill of health" and
said the Agriculture Department needed to do more research and disclose more
of its information. 

    "We share concern about the possible risk," an Agriculture Department
spokeswoman said but added there were no signs of a transmissible spongiform
encephalophathy in pigs. 

    While the consumer and union groups termed a re-examination of the 1979
tissue sample as inconclusive, the spokeswoman said one reviewer found no
signs of TSE and another said conditions in the brain tissue could be
natural, rather than a TSE. 

    In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, the groups asked for
stepped-up inspection of hogs before slaughter to prevent animals with
central nervous diseases from entering the food supply, new studies to see if
an unknown central nervous system disease exists among pigs, and including
swine in screening of livestock for signs of TSE infection. 

    Consumers Union, a large U.S. consumer group, sent a separate letter to
the Food and Drug Administration suggesting that pigs should be included in a
proposed ban on animal protein in livestock feed. 

15:20 03-27-97