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ALMA Supports BSE-Testing Study

“This idea arose from a meeting between ALMA, APRI and PrioNet Canada to determine what prion-related issues were facing the livestock industry.”

A proposal for a study that has been a long time coming is being initiated by a consortium made up of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), the Alberta Prion Research Institute (APRI) and PrioNet Canada. The proposed study is on voluntary BSE testing both live and post-mortem and its value and impact on marketing.

Ad hoc studies were made in the past mostly on testing costs, but no comprehensive third-party study was ever done to determine actual testing costs, logistics, and market feasibility and costs.

Ron Clarkson, prion program director with APRI said, “This idea arose from a meeting between ALMA, APRI and Prio-Net Canada to determine what prionrelated issues were facing the livestock industry. BSE testing was identified as a priority for further review.”

It was then decided that a request for proposals would be issued for a study on the cost-benefit analysis. ALMA agreed to provide significant funding for the analysis.

Clarkson said he expects proposals to come from academic institutions and qualified consultants. “This is a two-step process beginning with the analysis which could result in a further study into a live test,” he said.

No price for the study has been determined.

The request for proposal guidelines highlight a survey of Canadian exporters and importing countries and companies to ascertain interest in BSE-tested products. It would also validate whether the idea is supported by governments. In addition an analysis would be carried out not just on testing costs, but on facilities and logistics needed to put a testing process into place.

The guidelines indicate that the study should go beyond basic costs, but should include other indicators like Canadian consumer confidence or repercussions, undermining of government policy on food safety, and a consideration of legal precedents in the U. S.

The analysis is also to include the development and acceptance of an antemortem (live) test. Part of the process would be a risk analysis of the test.

Clarkson said he expects proposals for the study to be submitted by early December with the actual study to be completed by June of 2010. “The proposals will be reviewed by international peer reviewers and their recommendations will be forwarded to the funding group for a final decision.”

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