THE USDA IS USING YOUR FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS TO ENTICE ANIMAL GROUPS INTO SUPPORTING THE NAIS. PLEASE NOTE THE "COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS" MENTIONED BELOW - JUST LIKE THE COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS BEING USED WITH EACH STATE TO IMPLEMENT MANDATORY NAIS. THIS IS ALSO HOW THEY SUCKED IN THE FFA - USING MONEY. DEMAND THAT YOUR SENATORS STRIP ALL FUNDING FOR THE NAIS FROM THE 2007 FARM BILL IMMEDIATELY!
Animal ID: USDA Announces Cooperative Agreement Funds For NAIS Outreach & Education
WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2007--The U.S. Department of Agriculture is continuing outreach on the National Animal Identification System among small and economically disadvantaged producers with $1.8 million, as available, for cooperative agreements through 1890 historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, 1994 tribal land-grant colleges and universities, and tribal organizations.
“We are making steady progress toward 48-hour traceback, and I welcome the participation of these institutions in promoting increased awareness among small and economically disadvantaged producers,” said Bruce Knight, undersecretary for USDA’s marketing and regulatory programs.
The request for proposals (RFP) can be found at www.grants.gov. The RFP provides more detail about the cooperative agreements, including the process for developing and submitting proposals and the amount of funding available.
USDA encourages all interested organizations to submit proposals for consideration before Thursday, Nov. 15. Additional information about the NAIS program, along with a link to the RFP, is available at www.usda.gov/nais.
NAIS Business Plan is a template for moving forward with animal ID
By Doug Rich
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials presented their Business Plan for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) at the ID-Info Expo in Kansas City, Mo.
"We need to build on systems that already exist," Dr. Clifford Clark, USDA-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinarian Services said. "This can be done by providing common data standards across all programs."
Individual animal identification is nothing new. USDA has been doing this for years with programs designed for specific animal disease such as scrapie, tuberculosis, and brucellosis. Dr. Clifford said that these programs are focused on a single disease and when that disease is eradicated the identification program stops. These programs have separate identification numbers and data collection procedures.
"An animal may be identified multiple times yet still not be fully traceable because separate programs use distinct herd and flock identification protocols," Clifford said.
Convergence of data standards in disease programs and regulations is one of the seven strategies contained in the USDA Business Plan for NAIS. Under this strategy USDA will take steps to adopt NAIS data standards for existing disease programs, including international/interstate commerce regulations. This will include a common PIN number for all disease programs.
The remaining six strategies contained in the Business Plan are:
1. Prioritization of Species/Sectors--Primary commercial food animals such as cattle, poultry, swine, sheep, and goats are the priority species. The competition horse industry is a priority as well.
2. Harmonization of Animal Identification Systems--producers want improved identification methods that can be used for multiple purposes.
3. Integration of Automated Data Capture Technologies with Disease Programs--electronic collection of data can increase the volume and quality of data while speeding data entry into a searchable database. USDA has purchased 1.5 million RFID tags for distribution and use with USDA animal health programs.
4. State Partnerships--USDA will continue to support the advancement of each state's disease traceability infrastructure.
5. Industry Collaboration and Sector Opportunities--USDA has entered into cooperative agreement with non-profit industry organization to promote premises registration within various species groups.
6. Advancement of Identification Technologies--USDA will focus its efforts on establishing performance standards for ID devices and evaluating emerging technologies with emphasis on system that can operate at the speed of commerce
"If we cannot locate these animals, then what assurances can we give to neighboring states," Dr. Clifford said. "We need to be able to reliably trace animals."
According to Dr. David Morris, USDA/APHIS/Veterinary Services, they have some traceback capabilities on approximately 95 percent of the poultry in this country, nearly 100 percent of the swine, close to 80 percent of the sheep and goats, but only 28 percent of the cattle.
"This sector has the most to gain from NAIS and it will take the most effort," Dr. Morris said.
Although 100 percent participation was the original goal, USDA now considers 70 percent a more realistic goal. This would give them the critical mass needed to make traceback a reality. Traceback capabilities to a majority of mainstream agriculture is needed to protect the nation's beef herd and to maintain the food supply.
The Business Plan will join two other reports that have already been published, the NAIS User Guide and the Program Standards and Technical References. The User Guide gives all sectors of the animal agriculture industry information on how and why they need to participate in NAIS. The Program Standard and Technical References is a supplement to the User Guide. It establishes data standards for NAIS.
Neil Hammerschmidt, USDA/APHIS/Veterinary Services, said the Business Plan will be shared with state health officials, and species groups in the near future.
Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATIONAL FAMILY FARM COALITION TAKES STAND AGAINST THE NAIS!
National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
What is NAIS?
Also referred to as Animal ID, the National Animal Identification System is a national program intended to identify all agricultural animals and track them as they come into contact with animals other than herdmates from their premises of origin. The main objective, as writen by the USDA, is to develop and implement a comprehensive infomation system which will support ongoing animal disease programs and enable State and Federal animal health officials to respond rapidly and effectively to animal health emergencies such as foreign animal disease oubreaks or emerging domsetic disease. The program is NOT mandatory, but the state and federal plan is for mandatory registration by 2008.
Although the program appears to be for the public good, the fine print exposes the underlying truth of an attempt to further privatize the U.S. livestock industry for the benefit of large corporations to manipulate the markets. The NAIS does nothing to prevent any animal disease outbreaks such as avian flu or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) with no capacity to trace forward to protect consumers. Also, NAIS is not necessary since mandatory country-of-origin labeling was enacted in the 2002 Farm Bill.
For more information:
DEPOPULATION IS BEING USED IN THE UK AGAIN! SEE THE What is Depopulation? Page! Foot and Mouth has a VACCINE - the LAB where this FMD came from is MAKING vaccines FOR THIS STRAIN - Why are the vaccines not being used to save the lives of the cattle, etc. and the livelihoods of their owners? BECAUSE THOSE TRADE TREATIES DEMAND DEPOPULATION!! Keep your eye on the UK -
Second new foot and mouth case confirmed in Britain
By Janie Gabbett on 9/17/2007 for Meatingplace.com
British officials on Friday confirmed a new case of foot and mouth disease in Surrey at a farm adjacent to the farm where the disease was again discovered earlier in the week. (See New foot-and-mouth case confirmed in U.K. on Meatingplace.com, September 13, 2007.)
The cattle herd had already been slaughtered as a precaution on Thursday because of its proximity to the previous case, according to a statement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Restrictions imposed on animal movement remain in place.
These most recent two outbreaks are the same strain of the disease that was discovered in early August. They are believed to have originated from a drain leak at a nearby laboratory that handled the virus to manufacture vaccines.
COMMENTS FROM READERS:
I see innocent animals again being slaughtered..."incase"....
I see farmers losing their livelihoods...again...
But anyone hear anything about the offending lab being shut down? They are the danger. In fact, they are the ones who can be downright deadly to the entire population of plants and animals. And they have proved so with this incident.
How many other illnesses will we hear being "accidentally" released from this place? Or how many have been already, but they just got away with it?
Yes. The evil powers that want one world govt. are picking off the people with the least-likely ability to have the moola/power to fight back, the farmers. A scorched-earth policy for a disease that is seldom life-threatening is "evil". The politicians who go along with it are nincompoops who have no idea what Hoof & Mouth entails,... but the complicit veterinarians know better. Same with pseudo rabies, brucellosis, vesicular stomitus, etc. Many diseases resolve themselves as animals (including people) adapt. It can be messy, at times, to let nature work things out, but that is the better way. Our power-crazed governing agencies are destroying that ability. AND they are doing it on purpose. You gotta wonder at the intellect of
an "educated" person who goes along with such policies.
We knew they would keep coming up with new *angles* - they are NOT going to stop trying to force this on the American animal owning citizens. We must be ever vigilant!
Knight continues to re-tool national animal IDFriday, June 8, 2007, 2:39 PM
by Peter Shinn
U.S. beef trade with South Korea won’t be disrupted long. USDA is re-tooling the national animal ID system (NAIS). And USDA is moving forward on re-opening the U.S. border to older Canadian cattle and will then move swiftly beyond that. Those are three of the highlights from a news conference Friday at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines conducted by USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight.
Knight told reporters that South Korea has responded favorably to the information on U.S. beef exports provided by USDA. As a result, he said and beef exports to South Korea won’t be disrupted in the long term.
"We are very optimistic that the last couple of days have been, as Secretary Johanns said, just a speed bump," Knight said, noting he expect confirmation South Korea would resume U.S. beef imports at any moment. In fact, confirmation South Korea lifted its brief ban on U.S. beef came while Knight was at the World Pork Expo.
Meanwhile, Knight said a new USDA business plan for the NAIS will be out within months. He said the new plan puts many of the goals in USDA's old strategic plan for USDA "on hold." The new focus of NAIS, Knight said, will be individual species.
"My intention is to move from one national goal on the number of folks signed up to species-by-species goals," Knight announced, adding that USDA remains committed to a voluntary system. Knight also pointed out that with around 400,000 livestock premises registered in the U.S., voluntary NAIS participation exceeds the mandatory programs of both Canada and Australia already. But Knight also acknowledged that figure represents just 25% of U.S. livestock premises.
On another topic, Knight said USDA will indeed issue a final rule, the so-called minimal risk II rule, allowing older Canadian cattle into the U.S. within the next couple of months. But Knight also noted the recent designation by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of the U.S., Canada and several other nations as countries at controlled risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). He said in light of that development, USDA will promulgate new rules to align U.S. import-export regulations with the new OIE guidelines on BSE immediately after the minimal risk rule II takes effect.
"As soon as we have that done, I will take that same team of staff, turn them loose on a general BSE rule that will put us into full compliance," said Knight.
Knight said there's no question the U.S. must encourage the development of science-based beef international trading systems based on OIE guidance. He said that's especially true since the U.S. is urging Pacific Rim nations to do the same.
"We have to live by the same international rules we're expecting other people to do," Knight said. "And Japan is a billion dollar market.”
Great news! Arizona has passed its no-mandatory NAIS bill. Senator Karen Johnson sponsored the bill, and maneuvered it through the legislature. She sent the note below to the folks who helped her, including the Liberty Ark steering committee and the members in Arizona.
This should be strong encouragement to the other 12 states that are working on legislation, and to all the other states to get legislation
working. It's amazing what a small group of determined people can accomplish when all the folks work together!
Today, Governor Janet Napolitano signed SB1428! It usually is 90 days before a bill takes effect and becomes law, but for our
purposes, it's over. The bill passed and it's done. I'll let you know about the effective date after I look into it a bit. Congratulate
yourselves and give a sigh of relief. The practical effect is that the Arizona Dept. of Agriculture MAY participate in NAIS if it wants to, but they can NOT force any of you to participate if you choose not to. If the big ranchers like this, they can go for it, but they can't make anyone participate against their wishes. We need to know what kinds of
experiences you have in the next 6 to 8 months. If you find that the Dept. is pressuring you, please email Senator Johnson and let her know. Sometimes after a bill passes, we discover we need to do some "tweaking" later to actually get what is wanted. So, let us know if any of you have any future problems. Thank you all for all your efforts. You're the best!!
Senator Karen S. Johnson
USDA Admits Exposing 26 Years Of Social Security Numbers
As many as 150,000 people have had their ID numbers exposed from an online database, one savvy farmer discovered.
By Sharon Gaudin
April 20, 2007 05:56 PM
The Social Security numbers of about 150,000 people may be at risk for identity theft after it was discovered that a government agency has exposed the personal identifying information on farmers and others for the last 26 years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that it had inadvertently exposed online sensitive information, such as names and Social Security numbers, in a publicly available database. The database has existed since 1981 and the information has been exposed ever since it was put online, according to Terri Teuber, director of communications for the USDA.
Teuber said in an interview with InformationWeek that she's not sure when the database went online.
At the moment, the database contains information on 47,000 people who receive USDA funding from the Farm Services Agency and the USDA Rural Development agency, according to an advisory. USDA has identified between 105,000 and 150,000 individuals whose private information has been entered into the federal database at some time during the past 26 years.
The Department of Agriculture is notifying all of them about the exposure and is offering them one year of free credit monitoring.
Teuber said no one in the agency realized that the identifying information was in the publicly available database. "It's been downloaded thousands of times," she said. "It's been available for anyone to download. It's out there."
She added that different organizations actually downloaded the database and then featured it on their own Web sites. OBM Watch, a nonprofit organization that keeps an eye on government spending, had the database up on its Web site, but it has been taken down.
"This gross negligence on the part of the federal government is unacceptable," Gary D. Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, said in a written statement. "What appears to be a longstanding violation of federal law needs to be fixed without delay to protect the privacy rights of our citizens, and new identifiers need to be immediately generated to replace the current data to maintain the public's ability to track and review the government's spending of tax dollars. This fix is not technically difficult to accomplish and should be done immediately."
Teuber said the agency became aware of the data breach on April 13 after a farmer was researching the name of her farm on the Internet and stumbled upon the information. The woman is a recipient of USDA funding. Teuber said the identifying information was removed the day the woman called to notify the department.
Any USDA funding recipients who want to take advantage of the free credit monitoring can go to the USA.gov Web site.
A question was asked about animals on rented or a friend's farm is the key to this, I think, as well as mandatory 4-H/ FFA premise ID in order to show their animal projects. The forms online can be signed up by anyone,,,,ANYONE on anyone's land without the real owner knowing it. Put in the renter's name, the one signing it up could put in anyone's name and it sticks. The renter leaves but the premise ID, unknown to the owner, stays forever and can be subdivided and the subdivided parts are issued new ID with the original staying with one piece of property, unknown to anyone getting the land. Think about this....anyone can get your address - renter, family, friend, ag teacher, organizations getting Cooperative Agreement monies to sign up folks - and just put an ID on your property, have the ID card mailed to them as "renter" and you and your property are signed up for life without knowing it until it is far too late. So far ID's have been deactivated when found it was done against the owner's will but not REMOVED, and even if removed, could they be kept for the future? How would one know? http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleprint/2612/-1/1 This is what Multi National Corporations want and USDA INC does, too, but is not showing the "pubic" its hand yet for tags. Vets have already been shown a peek of it in some briefings.
Sue Karber, Oklahoma Cattle Producer
Corporations that make microchips, RFID tages, etc. are pushing for the NAIS - they stand to make billions of dollars! Here is a report on just one of these corporations:
Anyone still not convinced GlobalVetLink, LLC is heavily invested in those groups who are pushing NAIS? Go to page 370 of the 2003 USAHA Annual Meeting: http://usaha.org/meetings/proceedings.shtml
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON LIVESTOCK IDENTIFICATION
Chair: Mr. John F. Wortman, Jr., Albuquerque, NM (Director, State Livestock Board, New Mexico (Animal Disease Control) - see page 6 http://www.fda.gov/ora/fed_state/State_Directory_Files/new_mexico.pdf )
Vice Chair: Mr. Kevin D. Maher, Ames, IA (Founder and President of GlobalVetLink, LLC, current Board member NIAA http://www.globalvetlink.com/public/about.jsp and http://animalagriculture.org/aboutNIAA/LeadersStaff/BOD.asp)
The entire committee report is well worth reading but I want to draw people's attention to pages 372 and 373:
2. APHIS ICVI UPDATE: Tim O'Neill (APHIS-VS) and Amelita Facchiano (GlobalVetLink):
Amelita Facchiano, who claimed in her response to Gisela Swift's letter to the Editor of TheHorse magazine to NOT be employed by GlobalVetLink! The same Amelita Facchiano who is co-chair of the NIAA's Equine ID Subcomittee and an active member of the USDA's Equine Species Working Group. Reading on to the end of the first paragraph and the beginning of the first paragraph, we find....
USDA purchased an eight-year license for an electronic Certificate of Veterinary Inspection software application from GlobalVetLink, a provider of Internet applications. USDA, via Communication Resource Inc, has contracted with GlobalVetLink to perform the Phase I implementation. (Comment from me - "Ah ha! So this explains why she was sometimes listed with USDA/APHIS/VS after her name on EWSG reports!) Phase I implementation, in addition to enabling the system for use in these states, will enable USDA to apply lessons-learned to the implementation of the electronic ICVI in the remaining states. This project integrates thoroughly with the National Animal ID plan that is supported by the National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA), the USAHA, and the USDA. Relying on the unique animal and premises identification numbers from the National Animal Identification Plan, accredited veterinarians can voluntarily use the web-based Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection via the Internet.
Still believe vet certificates will be separate and apart from NAIS? Remember, the southern states who participated in the initial pilot project DO require premises and animal ID for vet certificates. Continuing on to the last paragraph on page 372:
By using an electronic web-based application, accredited veterinarians, and state and federal animal health officials will be able to electronically produce, transmit, and obtain reports of interstate animal movement
information. This ability to electronically track the interstate movement of livestock is one of the tools supporting our nations' combined efforts of industry and government to safeguard the health of the national herds via early detection of emerging diseases or significant livestock diseases, including foreign animal diseases.
Remember that GlobalVetLink has recently been approved by the USDA for tracking software. Don't believe me? Look here: http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/naislibrary/documents/guidelines/NAIS_Interim_ATD_Listing.pdf
But back to the 2003 Livestock ID minutes......
First paragraph page 373:
Amelita Facchianno provided a "walk thru" of the process for accredited veterinarian registration to completion of official certificates of veterinary inspection with a demonstration of the flow via screen shots. The connection to ID was demonstrated in several ways, including look ups by animal primary ID, lab accession numbers, owners, veterinarians, digital images and related criteria toward identifying animals transported across state lines.
If you still believe these folks from GlobalVetLink, LLC have no financial interest in NAIS, I have some beach front property for sale in AZ. These are not by any means the only players who stand to gain financially. A read through committee memberships in these organizations is like a "Who's Who" of animal ID and software manufacturers. While I agree that they should serve in an advisory/consulting capacity on these committee, they in no way should be chairs, co-chairs or voting members. It's no different than asking the fox to guard the hen house!!
I am compiling much, much more information in regard to horses and NAIS from the USAHA Equine Subcommittee (which is many of the same "players" from the NIAA and USDA committees). My end goal is to find a way to get this information out there to the average horse owner, who is largely unaware of this program.
One more thing before I close.
It is well acknowledged that costs associated with the USAIP will be substantial and that a public/private funding plan is justified. Significant state and federal costs will be incurred in overseeing, maintaining, updating, and improving necessary infrastructure. Continued efforts will be required to seek federal and state financial support for this integral component of safeguarding animal health in protecting American animal agriculture.
The USAIP attempted to institute NAIS in a cost effective manner, using federal and state funding to cover part of it (one of their recommendations stated it should be 50-50 cost share). They are, of course, defunct since the USDA decided to privatize the ID and tracking components. So who pays? We, the livestock owners AND the consumer!
NO 2 NAIS MEANS TROUBLE
It appears as though the USDA is not taking kindly to the States saying No to NAIS. They had a conference in October 2006 with all the biggest names and made a ruling to adopt an interim rule which will exclude any state that does not go along with NAIS, they will be isolated. I am sending a copy of the notification for immediate release from an attorney I work with in NY.
This is crucial to get out the nationwide:
The following document is the Report of the Committee on Livestock Identification of the U.S. Animal Health Association, from a meeting on October 17, 2006. Present at the meeting were USDA Undersecretary Bruce Knight, Dr. John Clifford, Dr. John Wiemers, and Neil Hammerschmidt.
On p. 14 of this document we have a hint about a very dangerous game that the USDA may be intending to play with our way of life and our ability to keep livestock. The last paragraph on page 14 describes a
recommendation that this Committee of the USAHA has made to the USDA. The Committee has recommended that, prior to July 1, 2007, the USDA should promulgate an "interim rule" that would prohibit interstate movement of cattle from any state that fails to REQUIRE THAT ALL BREEDING AGE CATTLE BE OFFICIALLY IDENTIFIED at each change of ownership. Such an "interim rule" would make it impossible for any state to resist, because it would become economically isolated. Also note that an "interim rule" can be promulgated WITH NO PRIOR OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC COMMENT.
Is the USDA planning to follow this Committee recommendation and force NAIS upon the entire nation by means of a dictatorial "interim rule"? It is bad enough that the USDA has been killing off American
agriculture for decades; don't let them kill off democracy.
Please send a copy of this message to your U.S. Congressman and your two U.S. Senators. This scheme must be stopped in its tracks.
Karin Bergener at (330) 298-0065, or Judith McGeary at (512) 243-9404
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
USDA provides an "OPT OUT" procedure for NAIS
In a dramatic reversal of policy, the USDA has decided to provide an "OPT OUT" procedure for people whose premises have been registered in the National Animal Identification Program. Complaints have continued to mount in several states from landowners who have discovered that their premises were registered in the NAIS without their knowledge or permission. On Friday, January 26th, Ben Kaczmarski, a spokesman for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, told the Liberty Ark Coalition, http://libertyark.net, that the USDA has decided to provide an "opt out" procedure. Even though the protocol has not yet been fully defined, Kaczmarski said the procedure would require a person who wants to opt out, to write a formal request to be removed from the NAIS, to the state NAIS coordinator. This procedure, not yet published by USDA, would require the state NAIS coordinator to confirm the validity of the request, and advance the request to USDA. The USDA will then, presumably, remove the name from the registry, according to Kaczmarski.
State NAIS coordinators can be located at this website:
The new "OPT OUT" procedure was received with enthusiasm, and skepticism, by the farm and ranch community. "Many people are sure to file requests for removal of their premises from the NAIS registry in the coming weeks," said Judith McGeary, a member of the Liberty Ark Coalition Steering Committee. "And we are set up to monitor the process to see just how long it takes, and what bureaucratic obstacles have to be overcome."
"Opponents of the NAIS are skeptical because the USDA has a history of saying one thing to the public," says McGeary, "while doing quite another thing behind the scenes."
Another Steering Committee member, Randy Givens, says: "Everyone in the grassroots community should take heart at this evidence of their joint efforts, but people should also remember that this is a proposed
protocol that can be changed at any time. This opt-out procedure is just one aspect of the evolving plans for NAIS at both the federal and state levels."
Opposition to the NAIS forced the USDA to renounce its planned time-line to make the NAIS mandatory starting in 2007. The new USDA policy calls for a "voluntary" NAIS, but behind the scenes, the USDA has poured funds into states that worked to make the program mandatory at the state level.
Another tactic being recommended by the Animal Identification Committee of the United States Animal Health Association is to create a list of "Consistent States" that require official identification of all
breeding cattle. States not on that list could face restrictions of interstate commerce. Though this recommendation has not been adopted by the USDA, these behind-the-scenes maneuvers give credence to the concerns of NAIS opponents as to the sincerity of the USDA's announcement that the NAIS is, and will continue to be, a voluntary program.
January 11, 2007
The USDA and state departments of agriculture have spent a lot of effort this past year trying to reassure people that their data would be safe and that the only way the Premises Registration and NAIS would be used is for trace back of disease events. But they lied.
National Animal Identification System Proves to be a Valuable Tool During Blizzard Recovery Operations
LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Phone calls directly to ranchers in southeast Colorado helped evaluate the safety of those ranchers’ families and the well being of Colorado livestock during the blizzard recovery operation. This process was made possible by the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).
Those with registered premises were called on Wednesday and Thursday by the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office. Those phone calls helped locate animals and find out if they have had access to feed
-Colorado Ag Commissioner Press Release
On the face of this, okay, so they did a good thing, although that itself is debatable. But the key issue here is that the government found an excuse to use the data that it had said would not be used except in the case of a large scale disease outbreak. This time it was an excuse do some PR and damage control on their NAIS program. What will the excuse be next time?
Cows Engineered to Lack Mad Cow Disease
By PAUL ELIAS (AP Biotechnology Writer)
From Associated Press
January 01, 2007 9:48 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO - Scientists have genetically engineered a dozen cows to be free from the proteins that cause mad cow disease, a breakthrough that may make the animals immune to the brain-wasting disease.
An international team of researchers from the U.S. and Japan reported Sunday that they had "knocked out" the gene responsible for making the proteins, called prions. The disease didn't take hold when brain tissue from two of the genetically engineered cows was exposed to bad prions in the laboratory, they said.
Experts said the work may offer another layer of security to people concerned about eating infected beef, although though any food derived from genetically engineered animals must first be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
"This research is a huge step forward for the use of animal biotechnology that benefits consumers," said Barbara Glenn of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a Washington industry group that includes the company that sponsored the research as a member. "This a plus for consumers worldwide."
The surviving cows are now being injected directly with mad cow disease, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, to make certain the cattle are immune to it.
Those key results won't be known until later this year, at the earliest, according to the Sioux Falls, S.D. based biotechnology company Hematech Inc. that sponsored the research. It can take as long as two years for mad cow disease to be detected in infected animals.
The research published in the online journal Nature Biotechnology could be used as a tool that would help researchers better understand similar brain-wasting diseases in humans, Glenn and others said.
Scientists are still mystified by the biological purposes of normal prions, which humans also produce. But they believe that even one prion going bad can set off the always fatal and painful brain disease - known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.
Similar prion-based diseases also are found in sheep, deer and elk.
Glenn and others stressed that the mad cow threat to the United States is extremely low due in large part to government regulations enacted after outbreaks in Europe.
"At the moment we don't have a high threat of BSE," said Val Giddings, a scientist who consults with biotechnology companies. "But if BSE were ever to become a problem, this could turn out to be a good technological fix to it."
Also, Hematech's chief scientist, James Robl, said companies still are spending millions of dollars annually to protect their cows from the disease.
In the lab, Robl and his colleagues, who included a scientist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, scraped skin cells from cows and "turned off" the gene that makes prions.
Then, using those cells as a "starter kit," they produced 12 calves through cloning processes - the fusing of the cells into the eggs of cows. Three were slaughtered so their brains could be studied and nine are still living.
"The cloning process itself is very large scale," said Robl, who estimated that Hematech implants about 15,000 cloned embryos into 4,000 cows annually. Most of the pregnancies are terminated before birth to collect cells for the company's research in developing human medicines, he said.
Robl said a more immediate use of the technology could be to produce prion-free cows to produce cow serum, a popular laboratory tool used for myriad biological experiments.
Since three cows in the United States were diagnosed with BSE beginning in December 2003, most labs order their cow serum from New Zealand.
But Hematech isn't much interested in producing serum for scientists and has no plans to become a beef producer.
Instead, the company is genetically engineering cows to produce antibiotics and other medicines for people.
The company embarked on the mad cow disease project five years ago to ensure it could produce medicines that were free from the brain-wasting disease. BSE is caused when one misshapen prion prompts normal prions to turn bad, slowly boring lesions in the brain and making infected animals go mad.
It's thought that people eating infected beef can contract the human variant of the disease, which also occurs spontaneously.
At least 180 people worldwide have died after eating meat infected with mad cow disease in the last two decades. Symptoms can take years to develop.
But scientists are certain the brain-wasting diseases are caused by the misshapen prions, one of the most mystifying particles in biology. No one knows the function of normal prions and the research published Sunday suggests the proteins have little value.
All the prion-free cows the research team created were born healthy, although Robl noted that since they are only two years old they will have to be watched to see if the lack of prions has any future health effects.
"It furthers the mystery of prions, for sure," Robl said.
U.S. PLANS TO RECRUIT ONE IN 24 AMERICANS AS CITIZEN SPIES!
Millions of U.S. citizens are to be recruited as domestic informants. The program is to use a minimum of 4 per cent of Americans to report "suspicious activity". Highlighting the scope of the surveillance network, TIPS volunteers are being recruited primarily from among those whose work provides access to homes, businesses or transport systems. Letter carriers, utility employees, truck drivers and train conductors are among those named as targeted recruits.
It should be noted that on page 27 of the USDA proposed draft for the NAIS it states:
Reporting Animal Movement/Sightings
Records that provide animal location and movements would be received from various sectors of the industry (producers, animal health officials, service providers, markets and slaughter plants). Such input would be obtained through the integration of the AIN/Animal Transaction file.
Animal Health Officials: Veterinarians, inspectors, humane societies, etc.
Service Providers: your friendly electric utility workers, gas delivery drivers, meter readers, postal workers and other members of the public.
Markets - Auction houses, retail stores, restaurant buyers.
Slaughter Houses - Your local butcher
"THE PRICE OF LIBERTY IS ETERNAL VIGILANCE."
NEW BOOK COMING OUT! "MAD SHEEP; The True Story Behind the USDA's War on a Family Farm" by Linda Faillace
The page-turning account of a government cover-up, corporate greed, and a courageous family’s fight to save their farm.
When the government fears the people,
you have liberty.
When the people fear the government,
you have tyranny.
In the mid-1990s Linda and Larry Faillace had a dream: they wanted to breed sheep and make cheese on their Vermont farm. They did the research, worked hard, followed the rules, and, after years of preparation and patience, built a successful, entrepreneurial business.
But just like that, their dream turned into a nightmare. The U.S. Department of Agriculture told them that the sheep they imported from Europe (with the USDA’s seal of approval) carried a disease similar to the dreaded BSE or “mad cow disease.” After months of surveillance—which included USDA agents spying from nearby mountaintops and comically hiding behind bushes—armed federal agents seized their flock. The animals were destroyed, the Faillace’s lives turned upside down, all so that the USDA could show the U.S. meat industries that they were protecting America from mad cow disease—and by extension, easing fears among an increasingly wary population of meat-eaters.
Mad Sheep is the account of one family’s struggle against a bullying and corrupt government agency that long ago abandoned the family farmer to serve the needs of corporate agriculture and the industrialization of our food supply. Similar to the national best-selling book, A Civil Action, readers will cheer on this courageous family in its fight for justice in the face of politics as usual and the implacable bureaucracy of the farm industry in Washington, DC.
will enrage you. ... The sheep are dead, lives destroyed, mad cow disease here, and the worst is that these bunglers are still running the show."
—John Stauber, co-author, Mad Cow U.S.A.
About the Author
Linda Faillace is a writer, shepherdess, songwriter, and owner of a country store dedicated to supporting local farmers and locally grown food. She has studied mad cow disease since the early 1990s. A champion of organic and sustainable farming, farmer’s rights, and strong local communities, Linda lives with her husband, Larry, and their three children in East Warren, Vermont.
ORDERING INFORMATION IS AT THE ABOVE WEBSITE LINK - THIS WILL BE A BOOK YOU CAN'T PUT DOWN.
Article published Sep 3, 2006
Sheep farmer writes about losing her flock
New book recounts USDA seizure in East Warren
WAITSFIELD - The book "Mad Sheep" is a saga of love, government conspiracy, civil disobedience and the power of community and family. It's fodder worthy of a best-selling novel.
But when Linda Faillace sat down to write a memoir about the events in 2001 that led to the federal seizure of her family's sheep, she wasn't motivated by fame or fortune. Her impetus was purely personal.
"Basically, Larry (my husband) had said I'd gotten too difficult to live with," Faillace recalled. "He said, 'You really gotta do something.'"
So she set to work putting their story on paper, as much for her own peace of mind as for posterity. And now, just five years after the USDA forcibly removed the couple's 125 sheep on their 90-acre homestead in East Warren, Faillace has a book in hand that details the family's struggle for answers.
In "Mad Sheep," Faillace writes that they still don't know why their flock was targeted by the USDA for testing for the rare brain-wasting disease known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Since the seizure and subsequent liquidation of the flock at a laboratory in Ames, Iowa, government scientists have determined that none of the sheep had TSE, a condition related to mad cow disease. The Faillaces meanwhile, lost all hope of fulfilling their dream of sheep farming and producing artisanal sheep-milk cheese.
After years of uncertainty and struggle, writing the book was, Faillace says, "really healing."
Chelsea Green Publishing kicked off a national book tour for "Mad Sheep" last week at Waitsfield's Inn at the Round Barn. The barn's renovated interior was adorned with enormous protest posters that read "Crimes of the USDA," "Unwarranted Search & Seizure Perjury," "Never Forget" from that cold day in March 2001 when the community rallied around the Faillaces as dozens of federal agents descended on their homestead.
Today, the Faillaces' farm animals consist of a couple of American sheep, a flock of geese and a dog. They have no plans to farm again, and their lives have changed dramatically. The family now runs a country store specializing in local foods.
Because of the publicity surrounding their case, which went on for several years, the Faillaces have come to symbolize the "average Joes" fighting Big Brother-style, heavy-handed government interference.
"It's more than a tale of government conspiracy," said Joerg Klauck, who attended the book tour kickoff and has supported the Faillace family's ongoing struggle. "It's a tale about this family and about their children and how they worked together against all of this."
The couple's son, Francis Faillace, who recently graduated from St. Lawrence University, is featured prominently in his mother's memoir. Wounds from those days run deep for the 22-year-old.
He said a reporter asked which chapter was the most important to read. "I asked my mom, and she said, 'read Seizure,' so I told him. I picked up the book to read (the chapter) before I went to work this morning, and I didn't get far before I had to put it down."
Francis, like his siblings, Heather, 20, and Jackie, 19, were all involved in the sheep operation. When the USDA came to the family farm on March 23, 2001, to remove the flock with the aid of 27 armed federal agents, 13 government officials, one bulldozer and an ambulance, the Faillaces lost not only 125 livestock and a dream to
make high-quality cheese, says Francis, but 125 friends as well.
"It's a chapter in my life that I don't want to revisit," he said.
Of the two sheep breeds they tended, East Friesian and Beltex, Linda admits she had a soft spot for the latter. "They looked like little pigs when they were sheared," she said. "We'd have people stop near the farm and ask about the sheep and the pigs."
Linda Faillace said the Beltex are an especially friendly breed, and one ram in particular, Moe, was a frequent companion. "He hung out with me a lot."
The Faillaces bottle fed the lamb after he was shunned by his mother and put him on the sun porch where he kept company with the family's pet rabbit and guinea pig.
Like the rest of the herd, all of which were given congenial names like Kanga, Upsala and Mrs. Friendly, Moe was taken to Iowa and destroyed.
Though the event left an indelible mark on the family, they have moved on.
The Faillaces started a new family enterprise, a country store called The School House Market, after they stopped farming. The store specializes in Vermont-produced goods.
Larry and Jackie, who became a proficient cheese maker at age 11, teach cheese-making classes at the store and produce curd under the name Three Shepherds' Cheese.
Jackie and Heather both attend Middlebury College on full scholarships. Francis, Linda said, left with a healthy dose of skepticism for government, and decided to major in political science.
Linda is readying for a whirlwind book tour as far afield as Washington, D.C., and Oregon. In a small, rented space in Waitsfield, away from day-to-day pressures, Faillace put angst to page starting in March last year. The memoir traces her life from her work as a lab assistant to British doctor Eric Lamming, whose research focused on
BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease), to the unrelated, much-publicized USDA seizure of the family flock less than 10 years later.
"Ignorance is very comfortable," she said, recalling that being well-armed with knowledge of BSE and animal science (husband, Larry, has PhD in animal physiology) did little to prepare her for the reality of bureaucracy.
"With everything, with the current climate with the government and the abuse of citizens' rights and learning about the politics of food," she said, "I want peoples' eyes open."
Faillace says the government abuses she writes about have little to do with political affiliation and much to do with self-serving mid-level bureaucrats and corporate interests taking precedence over the rights of small farmers and citizens.
"My goal is to get the local movement out on a broader scale, so we'll have these little interconnected pods of folks all over the country exchanging information."
Linda says she still doesn't know why the family herd was targeted and who was behind it. "We don't have any concrete answers and plenty of theories," she said.
One of the main antagonists in Faillace's book, the USDA senior staff veterinarian at the time, Dr. Linda Detwiler, has since resigned and now consults for Wendy's and McDonald's, Faillace said.
Standing in front of friends, fans, and family at last week's book-tour sendoff, Faillace blushed and flashed a radiant grin as she told the crowd about a movie deal under discussion. "We'll get you the details as time goes on," she said.
As the new author stood under a spotlight a simple white poster with moss green block letters outlined in black became visible: "Moe Lives."