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Bioniche Seeks E. coli Programme Endorsement

29 May 2009

CANADA - Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., today announced that it made representation at the House of Commons Sub-committee on Food Safety yesterday.

This was an opportunity for the Company to create additional awareness of its on-farm/pre-harvest intervention to reduce the prevalence of the deadly E. coli O157 bacterium, and to seek further support for vaccination programs.

"Bioniche has proposed that a Government of Canada program be established that encourages adoption of our E. coli O157 cattle vaccine, the only registered vaccine of its kind in the world," said Rick Culbert, President of Bioniche Food Safety. "Such an initiative would position Canada as a global leader in food safety, preserve customer confidence in Canadian agricultural products and bolster public health."

The House of Commons Sub-committee on Food Safety was established following last year's Listeriosis outbreak in Canada. Like Listeriosis, E. coli O157 can be fatal to humans who become infected. An estimated 100,000 cases of human infection with the E. coli O157:H7 organism are reported each year in North America. Two to seven per cent of those people develop haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a disease characterized by kidney failure (in recent outbreaks, this percentage has risen to as high as 16 per cent). Five percent of HUS patients die, many of them children and senior citizens, whose kidneys are more sensitive to damage.

Cattle are the primary carriers of E. coli O157, but the organism, which makes people ill, does not have the same effect on cattle. When people come in contact with contaminated food or water, they can become infected. The Bioniche E. coli vaccine - trademarked Econiche - has been proven in field studies to reduce colonization of cows by O157 and to reduce the amount of the bacteria shed in their manure, thus decreasing the number of bacteria to which humans may be exposed.

On-farm interventions to reduce the shedding of E. coli O157 by cattle, such as vaccination of cattle with Econiche, have the potential to reduce food and water contamination and the consequences associated with human infection with the deadly bacteria. Clinical trials conducted with Econiche have shown a significant reduction in the amount of E. coli shed in the manure of vaccinated cows.

It appears to Bioniche that most Canadian cattlemen are willing to administer the vaccine, but cannot afford to incur the expense of the vaccine without receiving an offsetting increase in revenue. At the same time, cattle producers believe that they receive no immediate or direct benefit for spending money to vaccinate their herds against E. coli O157. Bioniche is seeking the support of government to provide initial funding to encourage adoption, given that E. coli O157 poses a serious risk to human health.

Econiche is manufactured in the Bioniche production facility in Belleville, Ontario, where a $25-million expansion is taking place, supported by the Ontario and Canadian governments. Vaccine supply will be limited during this manufacturing expansion period.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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