(U.S.) CWD hurting elk trade
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Wed Jun 4 22:51:36 EDT 2003
>From the 6/4 AnimalNet:
DISEASE, TRADE BARRIERS TAKE TOLL ON ELK MARKET
Byline: By Scott Canon, The Kansas City Star, Mo.
Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
De Soto, Kanas.--According to this story, although medicinal claims for
antler persist, the industry teeters like a newborn calf. A late 1990s
outbreak of a disease peculiar to deer and elk haunts the industry like a
stalking wolf. The story says that breeders across the country -- 3,500
farmers tend to 158,000 elk -- insist chronic wasting disease is in check.
it remains largely an excuse for international and interstate trade
The biggest hurdle comes from South Korea -- until a few years ago, a chief
importer. This spring, the Platte City-based North American Elk Breeders
led a small lobbying campaign to Washington, looking for federal lawmakers
to press the South Koreans to lift their ban on American antlers.
Breeders argue they've earned a clean bill of health for their herds after
years of costly monitoring for chronic wasting disease, or CWD.
The malady, like so-called mad cow disease, is one of several kinds of
transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. They incubate slowly in an
animal's nervous system until deformed proteins chew a deadly Swiss cheese
pattern into the brain.
The story says that unlike mad cow disease -- which can transmit the fatal
variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease to humans eating contaminated beef --
there's no evidence that chronic wasting disease can hop from deer and elk
to other species. For that reason, some nations, including China, still buy
American elk products. But the South Koreans banned U.S. imports on
Dec. 28, 1999, saying they needed to protect herds on the Asian peninsula
-- a move that sent the North American elk industry into a dive.
American producers were always suspicious of the South Koreans' motives.
Because the antler products were used for human consumption, the chance
of infecting Asian elk would be remote. Mike Bedinger, who has a herd of
about 100 animals at North Slope Elk in Clay County, was quoted as saying,
"The ban is bogus. It's an attempt to create a trade barrier under the guise
of some kind of animal health issue." American breeders say they raise elk
less than a fifth the cost of Korean farmers, who were looking for
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