Since April, there is another harm reduction technique that is working to safeguard threatened beef markets. Faced with two mad cow scares this year, both US and Brazil authorities have debuted the concept of "atypical mad cow disease." Spontaneously-erupting mad cow that has no known cause and may be a genetic mutation has seldom if ever been reported before. But it now seems the new, preferred diagnosis.
A mad cow found in April at a slaughter facility near Fresno whose identity officials protected (identities of mad cow producing ranches in Texas and Alabama were also protected) was "just a random mutation that can happen every once in a great while in an animal," said Bruce Akey, director of the New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University. "Random mutations go on in nature all the time." Brazil officials are similarly saying their mad cow suffered from "atypical mad cow disease."
Designating cases of mad cow as a "spontaneous" and "atypical" certainly frees officials from lengthy, expensive investigations into the cows' herd mates, offspring, ranches, slaughterhouses and most importantly feed. It certainly salvages threatened international and domestic beef markets and keep people eating US beef. It certainly quiets news stories when herds start to exhibit mad cow disease. But is it true? END