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Mad-cow scrutiny is scaled way back

22 February 2007

US - While Washington ranchers are raising a fuss over Canadian cattle and the danger of mad-cow disease, the region's only mad-cow testing lab is quietly preparing to close March 1.

The lab at Washington State University in Pullman opened after the nation's first mad-cow case spurred a flurry of new safeguards against the fatal, brain-wasting disease.

But three years later, many of those measures are being dismantled. Others proposed after the infected dairy cow was discovered in Mabton, Yakima County, never materialized.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently scaled back mad-cow testing by more than 90 percent, leading to closure of the WSU lab and several others around the country. The agency has backed off plans for a mandatory animal-tracking system, which can help identify the source of an infection and other animals at risk, and now says the program will be voluntary.

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Source: Seattle Times


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