North American farmers were shaken this week when the Canadian government confirmed on Tuesday that a cow slaughtered in January from an Alberta farm had tested positive for BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), or Mad Cow disease.
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reacted quickly to the announcement, temporarily halting imports of Canadian cattle, as well as processed meat over fears that BSE, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, would spread across North America.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said on Thursday that two Canadian herds have been identified as the likely herd of birth of the cow diagnosed with brain-wasting mad cow disease.
"Obviously one of these two streams is the herd of birth," Claude Lavigne of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency told reporters at a nationally televised briefing from Edmonton, Alberta.
Britain suffered the worst outbreak of mad cow disease among western countries in recent years, prompting global bans of its beef. The human variant of the condition, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), is passed on to humans from infected meat.
Farmers in Canada will be living through tense moments as images of the impact of BSE on British farmers lie fresh in their minds. In 2002 Canadian beef and cattle exports were worth approximately $4 billion and beef and cattle imports were worth approximately $1 billion. The US market accounted for over 80 per cent of beef exports and nearly all cattle exports.