News Update
Feb. 5, 2007

Canada Ceases Bluetongue Requirements on U.S. Imports

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced Feb. 2 new import regulations allowing greater access for cattle, sheep, goats and other ruminant animals from the United States.

Chuck Strahl, Canada’s minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said the changes reflect advances in the country’s disease surveillance capacity, as well as current international standards.

Effective immediately, U.S. cattle can enter Canada without any bluetongue-related import requirements. The CFIA is also reducing testing requirements for anaplasmosis, based on enhancements to diagnostic tests. According to the agency, neither disease poses a risk to human health.

In addition, sheep, goats and other small ruminants, which were previously banned from entering Canada, will be able to be imported for breeding purposes under certain conditions.

The new regulations will use a permit-based system for most ruminant animals imported from the U.S.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) praised Friday’s decision. Terry Stokes, NCBA chief executive officer (CEO), said the decision by CFIA to move toward a science-based permit system for ruminant animal imports is extremely important for U.S. producers of breeding stock — eliminating unnecessary costs and procedures that affect their bottom lines.

He said Canada’s new regulatory plan is also significant for producers who do not export live cattle, because it represents further progress toward reliable, science-based trade.

Legislation Could Ban Harvest of Non-Ambulatory Animals

Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives that could ban the harvest of non-ambulatory animals, or so-called “downed animals.”

According to the American Meat Institute (AMI), the bill, called the “Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act,” was introduced by Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), and has 75 original co-sponsors. The companion bill in the Senate is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).

Both chambers have approved similar legislation previously, but the earlier bills have never received final passage by the full Congress, AMI reports. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) already prohibits the slaughter of non-ambulatory cattle.

Visit to view a full copy of the bill.

BSE Study Points to Virus, Not Proteins

Researchers have found more evidence that a virus may cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and a related brain disorder in humans, according to an article at

Laura Manuelidis, a neuropathologist at Yale Medical School, said nerve cells infected with the human form of BSE contained a virus-size particle not appearing in uninfected cells. Cells infected with scrapie contained the same germ, the article noted.

The findings disagree with the commonly held belief the diseases are spread by prions, abnormal proteins.

According to, questions have arisen because people and animals are thought to catch the disease by eating infected meat, and some researchers argue the stomach and intestines would quickly break down any protein before it reached the blood or brain.

U.S., Brazil Agree to Germplasm Exchange

U.S. and Brazilian scientists have agreed to a significant international exchange of germplasm, the material plants and animals use to reproduce.

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) reports it is helping its Brazilian counterpart develop a new animal genome database. According to ARS, the effort is part of an ongoing collaboration between the two countries, called “Labex,” through which the U.S. and Brazil share agricultural equipment, scientists and expertise.

This is the first Labex effort to deal with genetic resources. As part of the project, Brazilian visiting scientists collaborated with ARS scientists on their research, analyzed germplasm storage techniques and compared genebank management practices.

A Brazilian computer programmer is also scheduled to work with U.S. programmers to develop a new version of the animal germplasm component of the ARS Genetic Resources Information Network.

Once the database is completed, people from both countries will be able to query it to obtain information on the breeds and individual animals whose germplasm is contained in the nations’ repositories, ARS reports. In the future, this information could facilitate the international exchange of germplasm or tissues for genomic studies.

Read more about the research in the February 2007 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, available online at

— compiled by Crystal Albers, associate editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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