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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said yesterday that preliminary testing has revealed a potential new case of mad cow disease, but said that the nation’s meat supply was in no danger of infection.

According to various press reports, USDA believes that the cow was born in the United States and died on the same farm where it lived. The cow subsequently was burned and buried. While USDA knows the location of the farm, it has not disclosed that information, and the farm is not under quarantine.

In addition, while the cow died in April, John Clifford, the USDA’s chief veterinarian, said that the veterinarian who removed the brain forgot to send in the sample until last week.

Further tests are being performed on the remains of the cow, with results expected to be available from a laboratory in England next week.

This is the third case of mad cow disease to be discovered in the US – the first, a year and a half ago, was in a cow that was born in Canada. The second, found just a few months ago, was in a Texas-born cow.
KC's View:
How many more are there that we don’t know about, that we’ll never know about?

The government keeps insisting that every case of mad cow that is identified is yet more proof that its screening procedures are working. But this makes assumptions that we simply aren’t prepared to make, and we reach the opposite conclusion – that every new case suggests at least the possibility that mad cow is a bigger problem than we think it is, and that decisions are being made for reasons of short-term political and economic expediency.

Maybe we’re wrong. But if we’re right, somebody is going to have some explaining to do.