Sheep Owners Say Animals Weren't Diseased

06/07/02 12:00AM



(Host) The East Warren farmers whose sheep were seized last year amid fears of Mad Cow Disease are disputing the governments interpretation of test results. The sheep were slaughtered because the government said tests showed the sheep might have had an illness related to Mad Cow Disease.

According to sheep owners Larry and Linda Faillace, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ignored a consultant's explanation that the test results could have resulted from breakdown of the animal tissue during storage. Fallaice points to a report issued by the consultant:

(Faillace) "It says this result can be explained if the samples were autolized, which means they were decomposed, or by high levels of protoelitic enzyme activity, which means some sort of bacterial contamination, which may have occurred during the collecting of tissues or due to the fact that the tissues were so old."

(Host) Ed Curlett is a USDA spokesman. He says the USDA made the right decision to slaughter the sheep:

(Curlett) "Well we still believe that two of the 99 sheep that we tested were positive. We stand by that statement."

(Host) Curlett says there is little scientific basis to explain tissue damage during storage:

(Curlett) "My understanding is that it is extremely, extremely, highly unlikely, very, very remote chance that that could have happened."

(Host) The Fallaices are talking with their lawyer about what, if any, action to take next.
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