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Mad cow case won't stop cross-border trade

Canadian officials have found a third animal infected with mad cow disease _ an almost 7-year-old beef cow with no known connection to the other infected cattle _ but the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will go ahead with a controversial plan to resume cross-border trade.

The cow was born after Canada banned the use of cattle feed that includes animal parts in order to try to keep the potentially deadly infection from spreading. Officials of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said use of contaminated feed in violation of the ban was the "most likely source of infection."

It was the second discovery of an infected cow in Canada in two weeks, and both came just after the USDA announced a plan to reopen the border to imports of live Canadian cattle. The United States halted trade in live cattle from Canada after the first infected animal was discovered there in 2003.

"We remain confident that the animal and public health measures that Canada has in place to prevent (mad cow disease), combined with existing U.S. domestic safeguards, provide the utmost protections to U.S. consumers and livestock," said Ron DeHaven, administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "The result of our investigation and analysis will be used to evaluate appropriate next steps."

Because the newly discovered animal was born after Canada imposed its feed ban, however, the agency will send a technical team to Canada "to evaluate the circumstances surrounding these recent finds," DeHaven said.

Mad cow disease is a rare but always fatal disease that can be transmitted to humans who eat an infected piece of meat.

The American Meat Institute, the nation's largest meat and poultry trade association, said the discovery of a third infected animal in Canada was no cause for concern.

New prescription discount aimed at uninsured

WASHINGTON _ Millions of uninsured Americans could save money on prescriptions under a discount program that 10 major drugmakers unveiled Tuesday.

The Together Rx Access Card program allows those who meet income and age requirements to save 25 percent to 40 percent _ and sometimes more _ on more than 275 brand-name prescription drugs and a host of generic drugs.

The program is the latest in a trend by drug manufacturers to offer their discount cards to those without health care coverage.

Consumer groups have called similar discount cards a way for drug companies, rather than the government, to control who saves money and how much is saved. The cards offer some savings from already high prices while attracting new customers for the companies' products.

"I think what these drug companies are doing is very commendable and it will be of benefit to people who are uninsured," said Ron Pollack, executive director of the health care reform group FamiliesUSA. "Of course, it's nowhere near being an adequate substitute for our nation making a real commitment to expanding coverage for the 45-million who don't have coverage today."

Study finds link in meat, risk of colon cancer

ATLANTA _ Eating a lot of red or processed meat over many years increases the risk of colon cancer, a major new study finds.

But fruits and vegetables don't protect against breast cancer, another study says, though diets rich in them are still thought to ward off heart disease.

Both studies, in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, are among the largest ever to analyze links between diet and cancer.

The studies come as the federal government plans today to release dietary guidelines, expected to call for more fruits and vegetables but no changes in meat intake.

Bill bans discrimination against gays in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. _ The Illinois House on Tuesday passed a bill that bans discrimination against gays and sent it to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has said he supports the measure.

If the Democratic governor signs it, Illinois will join 13 other states that bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"This legislation sends a clear message that we will not allow our citizens to be discriminated against," Blagojevich said.

The measure would add "sexual orientation" to the state law that protects people from bias based on race, religion and similar traits. It applies to discrimination in such areas as jobs and housing.

Opponents argued it would lead to approval of gay marriage.

Rather praises employees who were fired by CBS

CHICAGO _ Dan Rather came to the defense of his former colleagues on Tuesday, praising four employees who were dismissed by CBS News in the wake of a scathing independent report into a flawed 60 Minutes segment on President Bush's National Guard service.

"My strongest reaction is one of sadness and concern for those individuals whom I know and with whom I have worked," Rather wrote in an e-mail to CBS News staffers. "It would be a shame if we let this matter, troubling as it is, obscure their dedication and good work over the years."

New Canadian mad cow case confirmed

Canadian inspectors confirmed another case of mad cow disease Tuesday. An earlier case was found a day after the United States said it planned to reopen its border to Canadian beef in March. Canada exported 26 percent less beef in 2003 due to the closure.

Where Canada exports

Mexico 6%

Asia 4%

U.S. 87%

Other 3%

Canadian beef and veal imports to the United States

May 20, 2003: Discovery of lone case of mad cow disease in Canada. U.S. health officials ban imports of cattle, beef, beefbased products and animal feed from Canada.

Sept. 11: Truckloads of Canadian beef cross U.S. border for first time since May.

January 2005: Canada confirms second case of mad cow disease just days after the United States said it would lift ban on Canadian beef.

Sources: Beef Information Centre; Department of Commerce; Department of Agriculture