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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I rise to join Chairman Bonilla in opposition to this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, the most important thing that should come out of this debate is that the American beef supply is very, very safe, the safest in the world. And that is based not only on the statistics maintained by the Department on food-borne illness, the lowest in the world, but also based on the fact that there is no evidence of any American ever contracting any disease from BSE based upon consuming American beef, ever.

The enhanced surveillance program for BSE was designed as a one-time intensive assessment to test as many animals as possible from the portion of the cattle population considered to be most at risk for BSE.

A surveillance program is not designed to test every single animal at risk for a disease, and surveillance is not a food safety measure. Surveillance testing looks for signs of the disease in the cattle herd. But it is USDA's other safeguards, such as the removal of specified risk materials from cattle at slaughter, that protect consumers and the food supply.

USDA has tested over 714,000 samples. And they have tested the greatest at-risk cattle for having BSE. It has cost us more than $1 million a week to do it. The USDA's analysis of that surveillance data shows that we are dealing with an incredibly low prevalence of the disease in the United States, no more than four to seven cases in the entire U.S. herd of 100 million cows.

What is more, because of the other practices, even if a cow has BSE, like four to seven may have, they are not getting into our food supply. The two cows that have been found so far in this country with BSE, neither one got into our food supply. The USDA is currently putting its analysis through a rigorous peer review process to ensure that the conclusions drawn are sound and that they are scientifically credible.

We should allow that process to go forward. The enhanced surveillance program gives the USDA the ability to stand on solid scientific ground in saying that the prevalence of BSE in the United States is extraordinarily low.

Mr. Chairman, given that fact, there is little justification for continuing surveillance at the enhanced level once the USDA analysis is affirmed by peer review. The USDA has said that the framework for ongoing BSE testing will be based in science and will be in line with international guidelines for a country like the United States that is at minimal risk for the disease.

Mr. Chairman, we now have the data to draw scientific specific conclusions, leaving no need to continue the enhanced program and no justifications for the related costs. Surveillance testing is distinct from food-safety testing, which we also conduct.

It is appropriate that the USDA will transition to ongoing testing for BSE from a standpoint of sound science and policy.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.


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