|03OTTAWA1432||2003-05-20 19:14:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Ottawa|
1. (U) Canadian Agriculture Minister Lyle Van Clief notified
Ambassador on May 20 that the Minister would announce that
afternoon Canada's (and North America's) first case of bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an animal not imported
from Europe. Agriculture Canada's draft press release --
faxed to WHA/CAN and USTR -- notes that the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (CFIA) has quarantined the farm in northern
Alberta where Canada's ongoing BSE surveillance program had
identified a suspect animal at slaughter and declared its
meat unfit to enter the food chain. The animal was rendered
and CFIA is now investigating the uses to which its tallow
and gelatin might have been put (Note: Canada prohibits use
of bone meal or other byproducts in feed for other ruminant
animals. End Note). Specimens from the suspect animal were
sent to the World Reference Library in the UK, which informed
the GOC on May 20 that it had verified the presence of BSE.
CFIA is now tracking down the animal's origin, determining
how its remains were processed and ensuring that it
identifies all calves originating from the 150-head herd
Once the entire herd has been tested, it and any other herds
determined to be at risk will be destroyed.
2. (SBU) The GOC has acted quickly to deal with the threat
BSE poses to the Alberta beef industry and to maintain
confidence in the CFIA's BSE surveillance program. The
Minister's message to the Ambassador, efforts by Department
of Foreign Affairs and International Trade officials to touch
base with USG counterparts and ongoing contacts between CFIA
and APHIS underscore the Canadians' understanding that this
is a North American problem. Canadian officials with whom
Emboffs have discussed the issue have actively solicited USG
advice on how best to manage any health or trade fallout from
this discovery and indicated their willingness to work with
us to ensure that there are no further cases. Beef cattle
and meat products account for 13 percent of Canada's
agricultural exports and 22 percent of ag exports to the U.S.
(US$ 2.25 billion annually), so the stakes are very high.
3. (SBU) Comment: The GOC has been greatly concerned by USG
plans to implement a Congressionally mandated
country-of-origin labelling program for beef cattle.
However, had such a program been in place when this infected
animal was found, its origin would have been immediately
evident, saving considerable investigative time and effort.