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Experts doubt USDA's mad cow results



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WASHINGTON, Nov 24, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Mad cow disease experts are skeptical of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's negative results on a suspected case of the deadly disease.

"The testing process does indeed make experts scratch their heads," said Markus Moser, a molecular biologist and CEO of the Swiss firm Prionics, which manufactures mad cow tests.

A U.S. veterinarian knowledgeable about mad cow tests told UPI that experts she spoke with are "very, very skeptical about" the USDA's negative test result.

The cow tested positive last week on two so-called rapid tests. The USDA said Tuesday the animal tested negative on more sophisticated confirmatory tests called immunohistochemistry or IHC tests.

The veterinarian, who requested anonymity because she feared repercussions for speaking out against the USDA, said the reasons for the skepticism include the agency did not run another kind of mad cow test called a Western blot that can sometimes pick up cases IHC misses.

Elizabeth Mumford, a veterinarian and BSE expert at Safe Food Solutions in Bern, Switzerland, told UPI there was surprise among experts the USDA did not send samples from the cow in question for independent analysis by outside laboratories.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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