Governments



U.S. GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND RELATED ORGANIZATIONS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY AND APPLIED NUTRITION CENTER FOR VETERINARY MEDICINE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE FOOD SAFETY AND INSPECTION SERVICE UNITED STATES ANIMAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION NATIONAL JOHNE'S WORKING GROUP ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY


NJWG:- National Johne's Working Group (NJWG)

Subcommittee of the Johne's Disease Committee


Overview


Governed by United States Animal Health Association
 
Purpose According to the 99th Proceedings of the US Animal Health AssociationNew window link indicator, the National Johne's Working Group was formed as "a task force on the relationship of M. paratuberculosis to Crohn's disease."
 
2011 chair: Jamie Jonker of the National Milk Producers Federation
 
Executive Commitee
(Previous co-chairs)
John Adams, (National Milk Producer's FederationNew window link indicator)
Gary Weber, (National Cattleman's Beef AssociationNew window link indicator)
Robert Whitlock, (University of PennsylvaniaNew window link indicator)
 
Membership The members of the NJWG are for the most part representatives of dairy interests and beef interests, or are veterinary professionals.
 
PARA & USAHA - For the RecordSee PARA & USAHA, For the Record  for a description of important events regarding PARA's involvement at USAHA, including texts of speeches, PARA's Reports and Press Releases about USAHA
 

Before proceeding further, we would encourage you to read the Important Developments Page prior to reading the rest of this webpage. This will give you some background which may be helpful in evaluating PARA's Concerns about NJWG, in light of significant developments that have taken place around the world.


   
   

The USAHA Johne's Disease Committee


As a committee of the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA), the Johne's Disease Committee was formed in 1987. The purpose of the Johne's Disease Committee, as described in the 99th proceedings of the US Animal Health AssociationNew window link indicator, is as follows

"The purpose of the Committee on Johne's Disease is to facilitate control and eventual eradication of paratuberculosis by providing information and guidance on diagnosis and control of infection to appropriate federal, state, and industry personnel.

"The committee also provides the latest information to animal diagnostic and regulatory agencies concerning diagnostic methods for Johne's disease, assists in helping identify the most sensitive and specific tests available for paratuberculosis diagnosis, and fosters the establishment of standardized diagnostic tests including culture and serologic tests for the detection of M. paratuberculosis.

"The committee identifies the prevalence and economic losses associated with paratuberculosis infection in ruminants and promulgates distribution of information on how to best to control and manage the disease."

Formation of the National Johne's Working Group


In 1994, the National Johne's Working Group (NJWG) was formed. According to the Proceedings of the 99th annual meeting of the USAHA,  the purpose of the National Johne's Working Group was to be a task force to deal with a single issue:  the relationship of M. Paratuberculosis to Crohn's disease.

It would appear that USAHA realized that the issue of MAP infecting humans through cattle-derived foods and causing Crohn's disease could be a very damaging one, as control of the National Johne's Working Group was given to representatives of the animal industries.

 

"With many important ramifications for both the USAHA and producer groups, the chair of the Johne's Committee and the president of the USAHA, Dr. Wes Towers, agreed it would be prudent to have the task force, later to be called the National Johne's Working Group (NJWG) appointed by the President of the USAHA. During a meeting of the USAHA executive committee in Washington, DC at the National Cattleman's Association office on February 28, 1994, Dr. Wes Towers, President USAHA, appointed John Adams (National Milk Producer's Federation), Gary Weber (National Cattleman's Association) and Robert Whitlock (Chair Johne's Committee) as co-chairs of the National Johne's Working Group (NJWG)."

 

John Adams represents the National Milk Producers FederationNew window link indicator, a registered group of political lobbyists which represents the interests of the U.S. dairy industry in Washington, D.C.

Gary Weber represents the National Cattleman's Beef AssociationNew window link indicator, a group which represents the political interests of the U.S. beef industry in Washington. Gary Weber was the beef industry representative on the now infamous Oprah Winfrey show about Mad Cow Disease.



NJWG's Failure to Meet Objectives Regarding Crohn's Disease


Many of PARA's concerns are discussed in Karen Meyer's report New window link indicator of PARA's attendance at the 1997 USAHA meeting, and in Cheryl Miller's speechNew window link indicator at the October 1998 USAHA meeting.


The purpose for which the National Johne's Working Group (NJWG) was formed was very specific:- to be a "task force on the relationship between MAP and Crohn's disease". Although the original purpose of the NJWG was only to investigate the relationship between M. paratuberculosis and Crohn's disease, the current work being carried out by the NJWG has nothing to do with Crohn's disease.

The NJWG stated objectives in 1995, according to the Proceedings of the 99th annual meeting of the USAHA, are stated below.   PARA's Comments are stated below each of those objectives.  

Let us now examine how the NJWG has addressed its primary function, which is to investigate the relationship between MAP and Crohn's disease. We will discuss the objectives one by one.

  1. "NJWG will evaluate information suggesting M. paratuberculosis is a zoonotic pathogen and assess the likelihood that animals serve as a reservoir of infection."

    PARA's Comment:   Although it has been clearly demonstrated that the MAP bacteria found in Crohn's disease patients originated in cattle, the NJWG has done absolutely nothing to fulfill this objective.  
     
  2. "NJWG will evaluate the potential for the organism to contaminate foods of animal origin."

    PARA's Comment:   MAP can infect a variety of different foods derived from cattle, i.e. milk, cheese (which can be made from raw milk), ice-cream, butter, yogurt, infant formula, powdered milk, beef steaks, ground beef, beef offal (kidney, liver, tongue, etc), and numerous other foods.  In 1996 the NJWG organized research at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service to study one method of food treatment, namely HTST milk pasteurization. The research conducted by those researchers is highly controversial.  Furthermore, it should be noted that this research was FUNDED IN PART BY THE DAIRY INDUSTRY.   (See the USDA - ARS Page for details.)

    The NJWG has ignored all other foods that could potentially contain MAP.  (For a discussion of these possible contamination routes, please read the pages "MAP in retail dairy supplies" and MAP in retail beef.)

  3. "NJWG will identify and encourage research needed to develop a strategy for a control and herd certification program."

    PARA's Comment:  This is a duplication of the work of the Johne's Disease Committee, and is irrelevant to the question of whether or not M. paratuberculosis causes Crohn's disease.

  4. "NJWG will evaluate the domestic and international economic impacts of Johne's disease and develop recommendations for updating currently suggested good management practices which can be employed by producers to prevent entry and spread of the infection in livestock populations."

    PARA's Comment:   This is a duplication of the work of the Johne's Disease Committee, and is irrelevant to the question of whether or not M. paratuberculosis causes Crohn's disease.
     
  5. "NJWG will develop a set of policy objectives and goals to enhance development and implementation of the strategy for a Johne's disease control and herd certification program. "

    PARA's Comment:   This is a duplication of the work of the Johne's Disease Committee, and is irrelevant to the question of whether or not M. paratuberculosis causes Crohn's disease.

By duplicating the work of the Johne's Disease Committee in Objectives 3, 4 and 5,  the NJWG has neglected and drawn attention away from its main purpose, which is to be a task force to investigate the relationship between M. paratuberculosis and Crohn's disease. This point was noted in the 99th Proceedings of the US Animal Health AssociationNew window link indicator,

 

"Discussion centered around the expanded role of the NJWG and the Johne's Committee. Many members believed the NJWG with their broadly based objectives has assumed many objectives of the Johne's Committee as described in the purpose statement for the committee."

 


 

"Disappearance" of NJWG's Mission Statement


Since 1997, PARA has been reminding the NJWG of their mission statement and objectives.   Is it a coincidence that one year after PARA began watching over the NJWG's shoulder that this mission statement "disappeared" from their website?   As of 2003, that mission statement is still missing.  In fact, USAHA's NJWG Mission Statement Page on the USAHA website is blank, with a notice, "This page is still under construction 7/3/99)".    

Even though it has "disappeared" from their website, apparently the NJWG and Johne's Disease Committee at the 2002 USAHA meeting considered the mission statement an issue that needs to be addressed.  In the 2002 Report of the Committee on Johne's Disease, (Page 13),  it states that a NJWG Steering Committee will be appointed to:

1.  Evaluate the mission statement and objectives for the NJWG.

2.  Evaluate research priorities.

3.  Develop a strategic plan for the Johne's Working Group.

4.  Adjust the mission statement for the NJWG as needed. 

As of March 2003, the "dangling" mission statement has not been revised by the NJWG.   When and if this is done, we will report it on this webpage. 


   
   

Summary


Since NJWG's inception in 1994, nine years ago, in terms of real action being taken, they have still not fulfilled, in whole or in part,  the main objective for which they were created.  Since they have been in existence, AT LEAST 200,000 people have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease.   Nothing has been done to halt or even slow down the spread of an infectious agent that may be causing enormous human suffering.  

Since 1997, PARA has urged them to fulfill their main objective, and they have chosen instead to avoid the issue of MAP and Crohn's disease.    

Why? 

Action you can take


Please visit PARA's "How to Help" section to learn how you can get involved in creating awareness about this vital issue. 


Source: http://www.crohns.org/governments/njwg.htm   
Contact PARA: http://www.crohns.org/contact.htm
Paratuberculosis Awareness & Research Association, 1999-2003.