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State Senate wants mad cow disease tests for live animals

OLYMPIA - The Washington State Senate this past Tuesday adopted Joint Memorial 8050, asking the federal government to give Washington State University money to develop a mad cow disease test that can be used on live animals.

Mad cow disease is the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

"Sheep can contract a similar disease called scrapie, and a live test for sheep was first developed by WSU," said Sen. Larry Sheahan (R-Spokane). "WSU has the knowledge, the technology and the ability to develop a test for BSE.

"With a live test, we can save disease-free animals from being slaughtered.

"The federal government is looking at providing additional money for BSE research, and this memorial asks the government to consider WSU," Sheahan said.

The memorial adopted by the state senate requests federal funding to build a WSU-certified facility to create a live BSE test. In addition, it would create a WSU testing facility for BSE. Currently, the nearest facility to test animals for BSE is in Ames, Iowa. The memorial passed on a vote of 48-0.

"We have a great opportunity before us," Sheahan said. "We can develop a test that will save thousands of animals and protect ranchers, and we can build a mad cow testing facility here in Washington.

"WSU is on the cutting edge of research. We need to take advantage of it," Sheahan added.

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