Wednesday, July 13, 2005

$8 billion BSE disaster blamed on CDN Food Inspection Agency

OTTAWA (CP) - Canada's $8-billion mad cow disaster can be squarely attributed the failure of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to assess economic consequences of even a single infection, says a leading expert.

William Leiss of the University of Ottawa, who is also a past president of the Royal Society of Canada, said the CFIA assessed the risk of mad cow to animal health and human health, but not the risk of losing export markets. Yet Canada was party to an international agreement providing for a ban on exports from any country with even a single case of the disease. The policy was known as "one cow and you're out."

"What would be the economic impact of one or just a few cases of BSE (bovine spongiform encepalopathy) in the Canadian herd?" Leiss asked at a World Health Organization conference on risk management.

"We failed completely to manage or even to recognize this risk at our great cost."