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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With David Bossman, Jean Halloran

Aired June 11, 2003 - 20:22   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. Department of Agriculture today declined to forecast what the discovery of mad cow disease in Canada last month might do to beef production in this country. Imports of Canadian beef and cattle into the U.S. have been banned indefinitely, but the Canadians say the four-week-old ban should be lifted because nearly 2,000 tests on other cattle have turned up negative, ending their investigation. Concern about mad cow disease has raised questions about some of the feeding practices in the cattle industry in this country.
To put it delicately, livestock are not supposed to eat certain animal byproducts, proteins and tissues from other cattle. But is that happening? Joining us from Washington is David Bossman, he's president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association, and here in New York, Jean Halloran, director of the Consumer Policy Institute. Both of you, appreciate you joining us. Jean, I want to start off with you. There's a ban on cattle byproducts in feed that goes to livestocks. But you say the ban doesn't go far enough?

JEAN HALLORAN, DIRECTOR, CONSUMER POLICY INSTITUTE: Yes, unfortunately. We still allow the feeding of cattle remains to pigs and chickens. And then pigs and chickens can be fed back to cows. We think...

COOPER: Why do you say that's dangerous?

HALLORAN: Well, there's a risk that the disease-causing entity, called pryons (ph), can be transmitted in this way.

COOPER: David Bossman, do you agree with that?

DAVID BOSSMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, AMERICAN FEED INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: Well, there certainly hasn't been any evidence to that, so I can't say I agree with that.

COOPER: But is there any -- is it actually true that these byproducts, that it's not a total ban that the FDA has?

BOSSMAN: It's a total ban on mammalian protein feeding to beef and dairy animals. There is the opportunity to feed poultry byproducts to the beef and dairy animals, but not the mammalian protein, which potentially would contain the pryon (ph).

HALLORAN: There is an exception. Swine meal can be fed back, and they are most definitely mammals. COOPER: David, last month, one cow was discovered with mad cow disease in Canada. It was obviously killed. But then, several of the cow's herd were shipped here to the United States. They ended up in Montana. They were eventually slaughtered as well. It of course provoked a lot of concerns about mad cow disease here. Do you have any concerns that it could happen here?

BOSSMAN: Certainly not from that perspective. No. And everything that we've been doing has been working. We've been working very hard since 1997, actually the industry started prior to 1997 when the FDA regulations came out.

COOPER: Jean, let's talk about testing a little bit. You're concerned that the U.S. does not test enough?

HALLORAN: Yes. I don't think we really know whether we have a problem here. At least a small problem could easily go under the radar. We're only testing one in every 5,000 animals. And that's not enough. In Europe, they test one out of four.

COOPER: David, also I think in Japan, I think they test all the animals. What about it? Is the U.S. doing enough testing?

BOSSMAN: Yes, we're doing enough testing. We don't have BSE in this country. So you know, the statement still holds, why test a young girl for breast cancer when that's not where the risk is? We're testing all of the high-risk animals.

HALLORAN: We should be testing all the downer (ph) cows, and by some estimates, there are 200,000 of those in the United States every year.

BOSSMAN: I don't think it's necessary to test a cow that broke its leg.

COOPER: All right, clearly (UNINTELLIGIBLE) opinions. David Bossman, appreciate you joining us, and Jean Halloran, thank you very much.

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