Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Mad Cow Plan Would Broaden Feed Ban

Seeking to close a gap in the defenses against mad cow disease, the Bush administration proposed yesterday to eliminate cattle parts from feed for all animals, including chickens, pigs and pets.

The government already bans cattle remains from being used in cattle feed. The proposal by the Food and Drug Administration "will make an already small risk even smaller," said acting Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach.

The plan would reduce the risk of infection by 90 percent, said Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. The rules should take effect sometime next year, he said.

Critics said the proposal falls short of what the FDA promised 19 months ago, after the nation's first case of mad cow disease. The FDA originally said it would prohibit in cattle feed the use of blood, restaurant plate waste and poultry litter, all potential pathways for mad cow disease. The only way cattle are known to get mad cow disease is from eating feed containing contaminated cattle remains.

Swedish Official Calls For Action on Climate

Sweden's environment minister, Lena Sommestad, urged Bush administration officials in Washington yesterday to take a more active role in international talks on climate change, but she said she was rebuffed.

"I tried to convince the United States to take part in these discussions, but they're hesitant to go into discussions at this point in time," said Sommestad, who met with Paula Dobriansky, the State Department's undersecretary for global affairs, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Since climate change is a global problem, a global response is needed."

Sweden is a party to the Kyoto Protocol, the international pact that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming, and it has reduced its emissions by 3 percent compared with 1990 levels. Sommestad said the country's economic growth has risen 30 percent during that period, and she was trying to show U.S. officials "Sweden and Europe are just as committed to pursuing climate-change policies that are compatible with continued high living standards and growth."

Bush's policy has focused on promoting technological initiatives aimed at curbing greenhouse gases.

Interim FDA Chief Unlikely to Keep Post

Acting chief Andrew von Eschenbach probably will not be named the permanent commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said yesterday.

Von Eschenbach is likely to resume his position as director of the National Cancer Institute when President Bush names a successor to Lester M. Crawford, who resigned as FDA commissioner last month, Leavitt said.

"Andy is acting commissioner, and I suspect that will be his status until we fill it permanently," he said.

Von Eschenbach stepped down as the cancer institute's chief after consumer groups and congressional critics said his role in promoting cancer treatments would conflict with the FDA's task of evaluating drugs for effectiveness and safety.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports

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