Canada Farmers Sue Canadian Government for BSE Negligence

Class-action lawsuits seek at least $5.7 billion in estimated losses to date and $81 million in punitive damages.

Nearly 100,000 Canadian ranchers and others in the cattle industry have joined together in a class-action lawsuit against Canada's federal government for negligently allowing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to devastate the cattle industry, the Associated Press reports.

The lawsuits were filed in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec seeking at "least $5.7 billion, the industry's estimated losses to date, and another $81 million in punitive damages," the article says.

The lawyer for the group says that the government did not take into account common knowledge of banning ruminant feed in the early 1990s, even after Great Britain and Ireland had already banned the practice. Canada did not have a full ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban in place until 1997.

In addition the article explains the during the 1980s Canada imported 191 cows from the United Kingdom. In 1993, one was found to have BSE. The government loss track of 80 animals and it is assumed by the plaintiffs that this is the source of contamination for the May 2003 BSE case.

"While issued in four provincial courts last week, it's expected the four similar suits will be combined at some point in what would be the largest such action in Canadian history," the article says.

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