Mad Cow investigation crosses border

EDMONTON (June 6, 2003) — Officials investigating the origin of an Alberta cow found to contain cow disease have traced five bulls that spent time with the infected cow to Montana.

Near completion of the investigation was expected to relieve the ban the U.S. and other countries imposed on exported Canadian beef and livestock two weeks ago, which has crippled the $4 billion industry. However, the news is likely to strengthen calls from U.S. cattle producers to keep the border closed to Canadian cattle and beef products even longer.

Despite the fact the herd that the bulls came from was depopulated and tested negative for the disease, a group called the R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America — which claims to represent 8,700 producers — is lobbying Senate officials to keep the border closed to Canadian beef until the country is deemed free of the disease for seven years.

While the risk to humans is still remote, Lester Crawford, deputy commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said the U.S. still must wait to get more information from Canadian investigators before determining when to open the border.

–with files from CP

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