PDF _ RL32932 - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or "Mad Cow Disease") in North America: A Chronology of Selected Events
3-Aug-2005; Geoffrey S. Becker; 35 p.

Update: July 27, 2006 Previous: Nov 08, 2005

Abstract: This report provides a chronology of selected events leading up to and following the discoveries of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow disease”) in North America. These are primarily regulatory, legal, and congressional developments that are frequently referenced in the ongoing policy debate. The chronology generally does not contain entries for the introduction of the many BSErelated bills introduced into this or previous Congresses, except for those in recent years where committee or floor action has occurred. This report, which will be updated if significant developments ensue, is intended to be used alongside other CRS reports that provide more background and context for the BSE policy debate, and that cover many specific legislative proposals. The chronology begins in 1986, when BSE was first identified by a British laboratory. As the United Kingdom and others attempted to understand and contain BSE, the U.S. and Canadian governments were establishing panels to study the disease and began instituting a series of safeguards aimed at keeping it out of North America or stopping any spread if it should occur here. The chronology proceeds into May 2003, when Canada reported the first native case in North America; December 2003, when the United States reported finding a case in a U.S. herd; and most of 2004, when both countries worked to reassure consumers of the safety of North American cattle and beef and to reopen foreign markets blocking these exports. U.S. and Canadian officials since 2003 also have been strengthening various regulatory safeguards aimed at protecting the cattle herd and the food supply from BSE. The chronology continues with major events of 2004, 2005, and the first half of 2006, which have revolved around efforts to re-establish more open cattle and beef trade within North America, even while a handful of new cases of BSE have emerged here, and the steps being taken to regain the Japanese and Korean markets, which were until December 2003 two of the four leading foreign buyers of U.S. beef. Both were closed as of mid-2006 (although Japan appeared on the verge of reopening as of this writing). Congress can be expected to continue to play a role, holding oversight hearings, providing funding for BSE-related activities, and possibly considering legislative options to address one or more of the outstanding issues.

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Topics: Agriculture

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