Prof: mad cow won't
The discovery of mad cow disease in Alberta may hurt some farmers, but
it will not have a dramatic impact on the Canadian economy, according
to an expert at Western.
Economics professor Clark Leith said the presence of mad cow, or bovine
spongiform encephalopathy, certainly came as a shock, adding it is the
equivalent of a crop failure.
"Agriculture is a small part of the economy, despite the fact that
it [looms large] in Canadian politics," Leith said, adding the beef
industry itself is even smaller.
Leith noted it is hard to tell how much damage would be done to the beef
industry, following a ban on beef imports by the United States on Tuesday.
Comparisons to the damage done to Toronto's economy following the outbreak
of severe acute respiratory syndrome are valid, Leith said. "[It's]
serious for those affected."
"The really important thing to distinguish here is that there will
be a severe impact on individuals, but [Canada] has a social safety net,"
"This is a really sad moment for the Canadian beef industry,"
said Kelly Daynard, communications manager for the Canadian Cattlemen's
There are all kinds of safeguards in Canada to make sure this does not
happen, Daynard said. "Catching the animal shows [the system] works,"
she added. "The safety of the food system hasn't been compromised
[as far as we know]."
"There will be farmers bankrupt in this country in a matter of weeks
if [the situation] isn't resolved soon," Daynard explained, adding
the U.S. ban did not come as a surprise. "We would do the exact same
thing if it happened down there."
Some Western students said the scare would affect where they choose to
"I think it would generally affect my appetite towards beef,"
said Andrea Zeffiro, a first-year masters in media studies student.
Sam Quraishi, a fourth-year administrative and commercial studies student,
said he agreed. "I'm not going to be going [to burger joints]. I
was not a big red meat eater in the first place."
Not all students said mad cow disease would scare them off. "Stuff
like that doesn't concern me," said third-year dentistry student
Jeremy Black, adding there is not enough proof of a danger.