The Rudd Labor government is preparing to relax Australia's strong quarantine rules on 1 March 2010 to allow beef imports from countries known to have had outbreaks of 'mad cow' disease.

 

The Rudd government wants us all to believe that because there is only negligible risk of 'mad cow' of getting into Australia that it's OK to change the rules.

 

The fact there is negligible risk of mad cow disease getting into Australia means there is a risk.

 

I don't think anyone wants to walk into a restaurant with a sign out the front saying 'negligible risk of 'mad cow' here'?

 

Rudd Labor are racing to put the 'mad cow' beef import changes in by next Monday, 1 March 2010 but no-one knows how the 'mad cow' protocols will work because they haven't been developed yet!

 

'Mad cow' disease has a dormant period of 40 years. How can Rudd Labor say, 'yes, this is safe, and this is fantastic for Australia because there is only negligible risk you'll get 'mad cow'?

 

Some parties to the secret 'mad cow' negotiations, which have only recently come to light, suggest we need the changes to prevent international trade retaliation from some of Australia's trading partners.

 

For years Australia's trading partners have been pushing to get access to our market saying they feel they're unfairly precluded because of our strong quarantine laws. Then on the other hand we're told there isn't going to be any great increase in beef imports to Australia.

 

Australia is an island nation, we have no common borders with other countries like nations in the Americas or Europe. So why does agriculture minister Tony Burke want to compromise our Australia's disease free status?

 

Even if Tony Burke makes the 'mad cow' import protocols publicly available today, there is neither time nor opportunity for any thorough public or parliamentary scrutiny before their introduction on Monday, 1 March 2010.

 

Every Australian should be alarmed and concerned that Rudd Labor wants to relax Australia's strong quarantine rules and put Australia at needless risk of 'mad cow' disease coming into our nation.   

Tags: BSE, Fiona, Nash, Senator, cow, mad

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Dear Senator-

I would like to respectfully address the issue of importing beef from countries that have had cases of BSE.

There is much misinformation and emotion surrounding this issue, and I believe that in this (very rare) case, the Coalition has it wrong.

As for reciprocity in traceability: Our traceability is an advantage for our beef producers when we compete with the US and other beef producers in exports markets such as Japan. I do not want to force any other country to implement mandatory traceability such as our NLIS program. Let's keep the issue where it belongs: is beef up to standards when it is imported? Let's hold the bureaucracy responsible for import standard accountable, and analyse the product that comes into Australia. Any programs for trace-back are domestic issues for other countries, and are none of our business.

Trade Issues: Australian beef producers are some of the most efficient in the world. We can compete with any country in this regard, and we should not utilise non-tariff trade barriers to protect our producers (of which I am one). Our biggest threat to our ability to compete comes from within in the form of excessive regulation and protectionism. Australian agriculturalists need export markets.

To take one example: The Americans purchase our trim to use as hamburger in their market. They cannot produce enough to satisfy mince demand in their own country. We need that market to set a floor in our own beef trade. (We must sell the entire beef carcase, not just the high-quality steaks. That involves sales of trim, hides, bones, offal, etc. Oftentimes, prices of these products make the difference between profit and loss on the sale of a beef animal.) The US purchases on average over 400,000 tonnes of trim from us per year (1985-2008). When the US was selling beef to Australia (certainly an oddity), the quantity was about 4 tonnes in 2005, and 7 tonnes in 2004 (Source: http://www.fas.usda.gov/ESRQUERY/esrq.aspx)

The Science of BSE and vCJD: Never, in all the world, in all the multi-million dollars worth of studies, has there been a scientific study that effectively proves a link between Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). Any evidence that is presented is entirely circumstantial. In fact, the overwhelming circumstantial evidence points to BSE NOT being the cause of vCJD. Wikipedia claims that over 400,000 head of BSE infected cattle entered the human food chain in the late 1980s. The fact that there have been only 217 cases of vCJD worldwide since then suggests to me that that BSE-infected beef was not the cause. Indeed, both BSE and vCJD have dramatically fallen worldwide since their peak in 1993. So the risk to our beef industry is nil, and the risk to consumers is so close to nil we might as well call it that.

Damage to Our Industry Through Bad Press: Finally, I am disappointed that some farm representative groups have fought this lifting of import restrictions by arguing that
1. we run the risk of contaminating our own beef,
2. we run the risk of compromising food safety in Australia, and
3. consumers will not be able to tell the difference between imported and Australian beef.
All of these arguments do an incalculable amount of damage to our own beef industry. Any consumer listening is likely to say, "No thanks. I'll just have a salad!"

Senator, I have very much appreciated your interest in science in the Climate Change debate. I see this BSE issue as just one more scaremongering campaign that is based entirely on emotion rather than the facts.

I beg of you to please concentrate on holding the Government agency in charge of overseeing imports responsible, and to stop fighting Cattle Council, who is, at least on this issue, standing on the side of truth over perception.

As always, I'm happy to discuss with any of you at any time.

Kind Regards,
Janet
Janet, all I can say to your post is ...Rubbish!
Why the hell would Australia want to take this UNNECESSARY RISK?
"scaremongering campaign" indeed?
Australians SHOULD BE SCARED!
There is NO CURE for this disease, it is a DEATH SENTENCE.
So YOU are confident that 100% of the time quarantine checks will NEVER EVER fail to detect contaminated imported beef?
Don't make me laugh!

What about organ donations and blood bank donations?

Did you know that any surgical instruments that are used to treat a patient suffering from mad cow disease must be DISPOSED OF.

All issues that are not even discussed.

Related discussions:-
AUSTRALIA AT RISK OF MAD COW BEEF IMPORTS

http://agmates.ning.com/forum/topics/australia-at-risk-of-mad-cow

POLL ON MEAT FROM MAD COW COUNTRIES

http://agmates.ning.com/forum/topics/poll-on-meat-from-mad-cow
This is a very relevant document that I have attached.
It is titled "May Contain Traces Of Mad Cow"
Attachments:
I am shocked Fiona,

What in the world are they thinking. We can't have these imports into this country, it's dangerous, ludicrous and unnecessary.

All this is about is money and agreements made without consultation again. Only this time is one step too far. When was the trade agreement made regarding these imports?

Why is there no referenda about these matters in this country? It is not right.

I don't accept negligable risk. I don't accept any risk.

Janet I think you are wrong on this. A tip do not accept anything from Wikipedia it can be changed. It is not always accurate. Those countries wanting to dump their meat here will say and do anything. Even if the beef farmers of this country were to gain from this agreement, sorry that's not a good enough reason. Not good enough at all.

Rae
Exactly!
Any risk, no mater how negligible, is UNACCEPTABLE!
Rae, I used WIkipedia as a worst-case figure. The actual figure is more in the area of about 183,000.

The US is not looking to "dump" their meat here. The last year the US sent beef to Australia, it amounted to 4 tonnes (in 2005). The year before, it was 7 tonnes. Apparently, this beef went into a US-owned chain restaurant in Australia.

I'm a beef producer, Rae. This topic matters to me. I believe it is very beneficial for the industry to play by fair rules of trade, and this is our attempt to comply with those rules.

Senator Nash, Shayne, Greg, Laurel, Rae, please, please stop putting doubt in people's mind about the safety of beef. Your scaremongering is NOT good for the Australian beef industry.

Rae, I'm happy to take scientific data that shows I am wrong on this. All of what has been presented is the same as what Phil Jones, Michael Mann and Kevin Trenberth. Statistical rubbish and emotive fear mongering. Why would we insist on doing this to our own beef industry here in Australia?
As for the poll that keeps getting kicked around, here is my response in another spot on AgMates:

I wonder if the poll question were:

Do you agree with the Federal Government's policy to allow the unregulated use of a man-made chemical that kills almost every plant with which it comes into contact (glyphosate)?

what the answers would be?

Or how about:

Do you agree with the Federal Government's policy to allow the unlimited use of dihydrogen oxide (a compound known to have caused in excess of 400,000 deaths worldwide in 2000 alone) throughout Australia?

Scaremongering? I do believe so. Total human deaths in the world from vCJD? 217 since it was first discovered. And NO (ZERO) conclusive evidence that any of the 217 were from beef consumption. ZERO.

Loaded poll question? I do believe so.
Greg, perhaps we should ban the practice of blood transfusions altogether. There is a negligible risk of transmission of AIDS and other fatal illnesses through blood transfusions. We have proof (not circumstantial evidence!) that this has happened, in fact.

Every thing we do in life involves some risk. Janet Rand said it best:

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams, before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken, because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change…grow, love, live.
Only the person who risks is free.
No!
The thing that is NOT good for the Beef Industry and Australians is the risk of exposure to FATAL mad COW DISEASE!
In addition, Surely you are aware of what happened to the Australian Pork Industry after cheap imported pork was allowed in to Australia.

It's not ROCKET SCIENCE, just COMMON SENSE!

By the way I like how you TOTALLY IGNORED the blood and organ doner issues I raised.
Clearly, your support for this importation appears to stem from a profit motive.
I wonder how you would feel about the issue if that was removed from the equation.
Senator Nash,

With all due respect. No beef any where is completely free of risk from a supposed disease that is not even defined properly . Australian beef is certainly no different than American beef in this regard. The risk is negligable in both cases. What you and you coalition partners are doing in hopes of drumming up fear and advancing protectionism is actually putting that sign up. You are saying to people that eating beef is risky. You are wrong. It is not risky to eat American beef, and it is not risky to eat Australian beef.

I still can't believe it. I can't believe what the coalition is doing on this issue in spite of all advice from cattle council, or anyone with experience in the meat trade.

Australia has nothing to fear from international competition in agricultural products. We have everything to fear from the lack of fair international competition in agricultural products. If we continue to support the line of banning beef for this reason, then we shouldn't be surprised when our beef is banned any time there is even a rumour of a disease in Australia. Australian farmers will be scared of getting their animals tested for anything for fear of setting off an international incident.

This fortress Australia mentality does not protect the Australian food supply, nor does it protect the Australian beef industry. It makes us all more vulnerable. We are a part of the world like it or not. We must communicate with the rest of the world and play the game fairly. The so called strong quarantine rules did not protect us from Equine influenza, they only left us more vulnerable because individual horse owners couldn't get easy cheap access to vaccinations.

I also notice that you have now quoted the so called incubation period or dormant period on BSE is 40 years. My prediction is that 40 years after the BSE scare in the UK (2030) the disease will still never have manifested itself in humans that consumed this dangerous beef, and therefore the incubation period will be changed from 40 years to 60 years. It has already been changed from 15 years to 40 years because the dreaded disease never manifested itself when it was supposed to. Changing the incubation period is akin to changing the theory of man made global warming to climate change. When the evidence proves the theory wrong, don't change the theory or the scare mongering, change the incubation period. If we just issue a new incubation period think the bureaucrats, then we can still get more funding for more research. If we admit the theory was wrong they will cut our money off.
However, normal thinking people around the world start to wonder about about governments spending fortunes on research and protocols to prevent a disasterous disease in meat when the so called dormancy period starts to get longer than the average life expectancy.
Come on! we smell a rat here very similar to the climate change rat.
Thanks for the philosophy lesson Janet.
The point it that this is not a risk that Australia is required to take, period.
We produce abundant beef that has ZERO RISK of mad cow disease.
It is contingent on government to ensure that health and safety of Australians.
If this decision is not overturned then they will have failed, such that they will have to be held accountable for the consequences!

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