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Stacking Falsities on Top of Each Other PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Saturday, 21 May 2005
AFF Sentinel Vol.2, #23

More False Statements and Incorrect Implications from R-CALF's Position Paper on Canada's Surveillance

We've covered R-CALF's misrepresentation in its position paper* on Canada's surveillance program that it doesn't meet international standards - it not only does meet them, it exceeds them by a huge margin. We've also shown that testing patterns in other countries show no significant correlation between percentage of cattle population tested and BSE cases found. .

What other claims in R-CALF's position paper should you be aware of? The paper states that Canada has not tested enough cattle, "to confidently detect a rate of one case of BSE per million cattle." The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) - the internationally recognized authority - disagrees.

R-CALF then attempts to build on a false assumption that Canada doesn't test enough, saying that, because it doesn't test enough and has found four BSE cases, that must mean Canada's infection rate must be much higher than other people think - higher than one per million.

Of course, neither claim is true. In fact, Canada, using R-CALF's own charts, has one of the lowest raw numbers of cases, from a total cow population that greatly exceeds all the other countries on R- CALF's comparison list (2003 data). Canada's mature cow population, at 5.5 million for that year, is 70 percent larger than Poland (with 26 cases), more than 2.5 times Japan (16 cases then, 18 now), 3.8 times Belgium (26 cases) and 19 times Slovakia (9 cases). Canada has shown that it has fewer cases from a much larger population, while testing far more numbers than the OIE says is necessary.

R-CALF also claims in its report that the OIE recommends, "countries with Canada's risk profile not only increase testing, but also, that such countries begin testing the subpopulation of cattle that enters the human food chain." This is patently false.

The OIE recommends that testing occur first from subpopulations of animals displaying clinical signs and then those we would refer to as "downers."

"Any shortfall in the first two subpopulations (recommended minimum of 336 animals annually for Canada), should be addressed by the sampling of normal cattle over 30 months of age at slaughter," the OIE document specifies. Thus R-CALF's claim that the OIE recommends Canada should be testing large numbers of normal slaughter cattle is not true. Canada tests vastly more cattle in the high-risk categories than the minimum the OIE recommends. In fact, the OIE makes it very clear that testing should occur on the two high-risk classifications of animals first, and that exclusive dependence on testing of normal slaughter cattle is not recommended.

R-CALF has also used the technique of piling false conclusions on false assumptions regarding Canada's classification as a "minimal risk" country. They claim that Canada would not meet OIE criteria for minimal risk countries. OIE recommendations say that, in addition to other factors such as an appropriate risk- management program and a surveillance-testing program as Canada has implemented, to meet minimal risk classification a country should have found fewer than two cases per million head of adult population in each of the last four 12-month periods. That would mean that Canada, with a total cowherd population now exceeding six million, would have to have discovered fewer than 12 cases in each of the last four 12-month periods to qualify for minimal risk. Having two total cases in 2003, one in 2004 and one in 2005, it is obvious that Canada is nowhere near the limits for minimal risk classification, despite R- CALF's claims they have exceeded them.

But R-CALF instead claims they're sure Canada would find more cases if they just tested an adequate number of cattle. But since the claim that Canada doesn't test enough cattle is false in the first place, their conclusion is false. And their implication that Canada has already discovered too many cases to qualify for minimal risk category is also false.

R-CALF's hue and cry that if Canada tested more, they would find more cases is similar to the Liberal Activists Group (LAG) philosophy that we ought to reduce or eliminate beef consumption because we might find some correlation to some disease in the future, so just to be on the safe side, we should quit now. After all, we "all know" that beef eating is not good for us - this just gives us an excuse, if we need one.

The fact is, we don't "all know" that Canada has a higher rate of BSE in its animal herd than most of the world believes. R-CALF just wants us to think it is so. That doesn't make it true. Repeating a falsity over and over is a LAG technique. It doesn't change the facts.

We understand some of you are also having difficulty accessing files on R-CALF's Web site. Therefore, we are providing a link to the PDF of R- CALF's report through the AFF Web site.

Here is R-CALF's Position Paper on the supposed inadequacies of the Canadian surveillance program (PDF on AFF site). AFF does not endorse their opinions. We provide this as a convenient reference for our readers only.

*"Inadequacy of Canada's BSE Surveillance Program," R-CALF, 4/28/05

Next time: Non-existent Testing Program & the Iceberg Fear

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 June 2006 )
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