Time to End “Mad Cow” Madness

Washington, D.C., December 1, 2004—The Competitive Enterprise Institute joins President Bush in calling for an end to the unnecessary and harmful ban on importation of beef from Canada.

“The two North American cases of ‘mad cow disease’ pose no noticeable threat to human health and very little threat to cattle herds,” said CEI Senior Fellow Iain Murray.

“Overcaution is not a safe course,” Murray continued. “It creates hardships for beef producers in Canada and the U.S. and leads to consumers price hikes. It will almost certainly lead to unnecessary job losses in the meat packing industry.”

Canadian sources say the cost to that country alone has reached $5 billion (Canadian). Beef producers in Canada and the U.S. had an efficient, integrated processing system, but the ban has forced them to make costly duplications of facilities. Such costs are passed down to consumers.

In remarks made Tuesday on his first official visit to Canada, President Bush reiterated his administration’s desire to end the harm to both consumers and North American beef producers created by unscientific fears of so-called “mad cow” beef from North of the border. Such a move is long overdue.

The import ban was implemented after a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)—commonly known as “mad cow disease”—was detected in Canada over a year ago. This, coupled with a single case detected in the U.S., led to speculation on whether a related human form of the disease might also be detected. Fortunately, studies have shown that a single case of BSE in each country has virtually no chance of impacting human health in either Canada or the United States.