Why is Australian FBS so expensive?

 Australian FBS prices are higher because Australia is perceived to be a “safer” origin for BSE and cattle viruses. Canada and Australia were the first countries outside the USA where FBS was produced. In the 1980s, BSE cases that occurred in North America became a strong argument in favor of Australian FBS. The point was made that being “isolated”, Australia was necessarily the most secure origin.

However, BSE has never been found in young animals, let alone in fetuses, and BSE transmitted by animal feed has been eradicated. The remaining BSE cases are the spontaneous BSE events, which occur in all cattle populations (Stanley B. Prusiner, Nobel Prize 1997). All countries find spontaneous BSE cases if their sanitary surveillance systems are sensitive enough. Additionally, the OIE veterinary authorities have declared all blood and blood product, regardless of country of origin, to be safe in terms of BSE. So, the BSE arguments in favor of Australia were clearly ill founded from the beginning, and have become obsolete.

Nevertheless, Australian FBS is still sold as “safer”, at much higher prices than other origins. Paradoxically, Australia is actually among the countries with the most types of viruses of import concern, including Blue Tongue, Akabane, Aino, and Bovine Ephemeral Fever  (see FAQ #13). Like in the tale “The Emperor’s new clothes”, by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, those who believe that paying more will assure them a better serum, are being misled.

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