The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its plans this week for a national network to identify animals exposed to infections such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The initial efforts will be on cattle and potentially swine, with efforts on aquaculture and poultry to follow.

“A verifiable system of national animal identification will enhance our efforts to respond to intentionally or unintentionally introduced animal disease outbreaks more quickly and effectively,” said USDA Secretary Ann Veneman in a statement.

Late last year, Veneman announced plans for a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) after a cow tested positive for BSE in Washington state on December 23, 2003. The development of such a system had already been underway for more than a year and a half at that point.

In the event of an infected animal, the goal of the NAIS is to use tags to identify which other animals are suspect within...

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