U.S. Asks Court to Lift

Ban on Canadian Beef

The U.S. government asked a federal appeals court to lift a two-year ban on imports of Canadian cattle, saying the animals do not pose a threat of mad cow disease and that American beef producers are being harmed.

"There is not a single case of anyone in the U.S. or Canada who ever contracted" mad cow disease, Mark Stern, a Justice Department lawyer, told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit yesterday in Seattle. He added that the U.S. Department of Agriculture "concluded on the basis of voluminous studies that there is no measurable risk to human health at all."

The USDA planned to lift the ban in March after deciding that cattle from Canada, which has had four cases of the disease, posed a minimal risk. A federal judge in Montana blocked the plan after ranchers and feedlot owners sued, saying Canada has not done enough to prevent the disease. Ranchers said an infected Texas-born cow discovered two weeks ago shows the need for a closed border, to prevent an epidemic.

Opponents of the ban told the appeals court the Montana judge ignored scientific data supporting an end to it. Producers' lawyers defended the ban.

Beef producers including Tyson Foods Inc., which filed a brief backing the government, have seen their profits squeezed because meatpacking plants are running at less then full capacity.

Fox Urges Congress to End

Curbs on Stem Cell Research

Actor Michael J. Fox is pushing Congress hard to lift President Bush's restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

"Embryonic stem cell research holds enormous promise," said Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, in remarks prepared for a Capitol Hill news conference. "More federal funding and more lines are needed or progress will stall."

The Senate is considering a House-passed bill to lift Bush's 2001 restrictions on federal funding for such studies, but the measure is facing stiff resistance from conservatives who believe the process is unethical because it destroys embryos.

Shuttle Delay Means

Quick Trip for Lawmakers

Congress took a midweek break yesterday so some of its members could be in Florida to watch the launch of the space shuttle Discovery. Those lawmakers quickly turned around and returned to Washington when the launch was put off until at least Saturday because of a faulty fuel-gauge reading.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) led a delegation of about 30 House members to Cape Canaveral, while his fellow Texan, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, led a group of six senators, along with John Glenn, the former astronaut and Democratic senator from Ohio. Other senators attended the funeral of former senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.).

The trips stalled business on the House floor until Thursday and delayed votes until early evening in the Senate, which is debating a homeland security spending bill.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services