How Now, Mad Cow?

What will it take to increase the safety of America's beef supply? Here are some answers

Just before Christmas, U.S. consumers and the country's $38 billion beef industry got a glimpse of the damage caused by mad cow disease, the brain-destroying ailment that has afflicted cattle around the world over the past decade -- and has killed a handful of humans, too. Since the case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Washington State on Dec. 23, dozens of countries have banned the import of U.S. beef, resulting in depressed cattle prices and the loss of hundreds of beef processing jobs -- even though not one person in the U.S. has yet been diagnosed with the human form of the disease, which can take 10 years or more to appear.

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