MAD COW AND YOU!!
There are many facts, and the facts are deadly. This food crisis cannot be underestimated. Indeed, the crisis is so immense because it has been ignored for so many years.
We will begin with a few definitions. Then we will survey the history of this health menace, from the 1940s to January 2001, and discuss the terrible implications of the findings.
We promise that you will not be the same after you have read this report. These facts are the result of painstaking research by prominent scientists on two continents, over a span of several decades.
The first part of this study will primarily focus on the massive cover-up which occurred in Britain, in an effort to protect the meat industry. These facts are given in detail, to alert Americans to similar dangers in the U.S.
In order to understand this, you need to know about prions, BSE, and CJD. First, we will consider prions.
Scientists always used to think that infectious diseases could only be caused by bacteria. But the discovery of prions (pronounced pree-ahns) changed all that. It runs contrary to all the experts had been taught in the universities.
Although prions cause diseases, they are not viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. They are simply proteins! Proteins, by themselves, were never thought to be infectious. Organisms are infectious; proteins are not. Or, at least, they never used to be.
But it is prions which cause mad cow disease.
As we will learn later, in the 1940s, when researchers began examining the cause of a strange disease in the South Pacific, they could not find any pathological cause.
By the 1970s, a variant of the disease had entered domestic and wild animals in Britain and America; researchers did not recognize the connection of this new disease with the earlier South Pacific disease which attacked humans. Once again, they could not find an infective agent.
It was thought that some kind of extremely tiny virus must be the cause, not a bacteria, not a microbe, but a virus, a sub-microscopic speck of life. For decades, scientists had searched for unusual, atypical infectious agents that they suspected caused some puzzling diseases that could not be linked to any of the "regular" infectious organisms. One possibility was that slow viruses, viruses that spent decades wreaking havoc in their hosts, might be the culprits, and these tiny viruses that were leisurely multiplying are hard to isolate. But the truth finally emerged. Here it is:
Researchers eventually, although reluctantly, accepted the astounding fact that proteins, alone, could be infectious.
These strange proteins, called prions, enter cells and apparently change normal proteins within the cells into prions just like themselves! The normal cell proteins have all the same "parts" as the prions, specifically the same amino-acid building blocks.
There is just one difference: They fold differently. What does that mean?
As soon as a new protein is assembled by other proteins from amino acids within the cell, it folds into a certain pattern. But prions are proteins which fold into a different, incorrect pattern. That little difference renders them deadly. (For a fascinating discussion of how brainless proteins make more proteins from amino-acid parts laying around, read the present authors research report, "Protein the Brainless Wonder," in Pathlights.com.)
While other proteins always fold properly, prions are proteins which do not. That little variation makes all the difference and it results in changes in the brain which produce holes, which look just like the holes in a sponge!
Prions cannot be destroyed by cooking, radiation, or any heat below 800o F.
We have explained what prions are. There are five other special words or phrases which need to be defined:
1 - Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). This is better known as mad cow disease. It is an infectious and incurable disease which slowly attacks the brain and nervous system of cattle. Spongiform encephalopathy is Latin for "sponge brains."
2 - Spongiform encephalopathies is the name given to this type of disease in various animals and in man.
3 - Scrapie is the form of BSE which is found in sheep. The experts are divided on whether it is harmful to humans. But when the dead animals are fed to cattle, BSE is transmitted.
4 - Kuru was once epidemic in a certain tribe in New Guinea, because people liked to eat other people.
5 - By late 1994, a handful of people in Britain had died from the same spongiform human version, which by that time had been named Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). This is the name for the mad cow disease, when it occurs in people.
6 - Alzheimer's disease is a non-spongiform disease. It figures strongly into the present discussion because there is clear evidence that many people, dying in America and elsewhere from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, are being misdiagnosed as the victims of Alzheimer's. More on this later.
BSE: Bovine spongiform encephalopathy This is the animal form of this disease. In cattle it is called BSE or mad cow disease; in sheep it is called scrapie.
CJD: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease This is the human form of the same disease. In New Guinea, the nationals called it Kuru; in the Western world, it is called CJD.
These words will be repeatedly mentioned. You need to understand that BSE is the animal form of the disease, and CJD the human form. In popular literature, they are both called "mad cow disease," or simply, "mad cow." In this study, when we speak of BSE, CJD, scrapie, or Kuru, we are talking about mad cow disease.
It all began in the Fore tribe, living in the jungle near Papua, southern New Guinea. That is where BSE, CJD, mad cow, disease originated.
It was an area unexplored by Westerners until the second half of the twentieth century.
Scientists, in the 1940s, puzzled over a strange disease in one tribe in New Guinea. The people there had a tribal ritual dating from the prehistoric past, in which they would eat their relatives, when they died, in order to acquire the mental and physical stamina they had while still alive. Women especially did this in order to increase their fertility. They thought it would help them have more children.
Scientists found that many of the people in this tribe were dying of a mysterious brain disease which they, the nationals, called "Kuru," because it made its victims act very strange before they died. Kuru was killing up to 80 percent of the women in the tribe.
No one knew when the disease first started. Because it occurred within families and mostly among women, researchers initially thought that Kuru was inherited genetically. But it has since been established that Kuru is infectious and was transmitted by eating the meat of those dead people.
Peoples in the South Pacific, as well as some other backward areas in the world, have had a long history of cannibalism. But the Fore tribe in New Guinea were remarkably consistent in their eating of dead relatives. This practice, continued for centuries, eventually produced a horrible new disease.
Whether it be Kuru, BSE, or CJD, patients first show symptoms of mental changes, such as problems with co-ordination, recent memory loss, and slurred speech. Sometimes obvious twitching of muscles can be seen, the facial expression becomes fixed, and the person may stumble and fall over. Over the next few weeks, the person becomes confused and unaware, unable to read or recognize even close relatives. The disease is very similar to Alzheimers, yet the cause is very different.
Years later, it has been discovered that BSE in cattle, scrapie in sheep, Kuru in New Guinea, and CJD in the Western world all affect the same part of the brain! It is the same disease, whether in animals or man.
The Western form of Kuru is Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). As a spongiform encephalopathy, it is a disease of the brain and always fatal. There is no known remedy for it. Once a person contracts it, nothing can be done to remove the prions from his body.
Here is an ominous fact about Kuru: Researchers discovered that it could take as long as 30 years before the person became visibly ill. The disease bores into the brain and nervous system very slowly; but, once established, it rapidly causes dementia and death. No treatment works. Postmortems show the brain to be sponge-like and full of holes, hence the name "spongiform." Thus the disease can work quietly, insidiously for years before any symptoms develop.
You might wonder how a cannibal disease from one little tribe in New Guinea could get to Europe and America. We are not eating people over here! Here is how it happened:
Scientists who examined Kuru, in New Guinea in the 1940s, brought tissue samples home to America and Britain for careful examination. But they found no antibodies and no disease germs of any kind. There was no microscopic lens in the 1940s which could have identified the source of infection.
It is now believed that BSE went into the food chain, beginning in Britain and America, when those samples were disposed of. They were either flushed into the sewage system, tossed on garbage heaps, or washed down sink drains.
What those researchers did not know was that there was an infective agent present, and one which no heat, normally used in laboratories for cleansing purposes, could kill. Prions which cause BSE and CJD are not destroyed by anything less than 800 degrees F. heat! This is far higher than autoclaving. The only way their sinks, for example, could be cleansed would be to put them in a high-temperature bake oven for an hour!
Those prions from the samples laid on the ground for a period of time until they were eaten by grazing animals in the Western world. Then they passed into the food chain.
Trillions of prions spread on the ground, waited for some low-grazing animal to come munching toward them. In England, it was first noticed in sheep; in America, with wildlife and sheep.
In the 1970s, it first appeared in the sheep herds of Britain. British sheepherders called it "scrapie" because the sick sheep had the strange habit of rubbing up against things.
Rams and ewes who had never met a cannibal started exhibiting an odd itch to scrape their heads and hides against fences, even if the fences were barbed wire. Frankly, the herders said the sheep acted a little crazy.
There were no antibody markers visible at any time during the incubation period, so veterinarians saw no indication of disease. Sick ewes freely gave their illness to their baby lambs who carried the bug straight to human tables.
To this day, there is still no certainty whether sheep with scrapie can infect humans. But we do know that scrapie sheep can, when eaten by them, infect cows, which, when eaten by people, infect them. The facts are hazy, since human dementia deaths in the 70s were always ascribed to Alzheimer's.
So now we have the answer to part of the puzzle. In the South Pacific, the disease was transmitted by cannibalism. People were eating their dead relatives. They contracted Kuru.
Later, a new form of cannibalism would be started in the Western world, that would spread the "civilized" form of Kuru.
Mad cow disease (BSE) has been killing American sheep since the early 1970s, U.S. cows since the mid-1980s, and humans since at least the late 1980s. The reason it hasn't been made public is that those who had the facts chose to misinterpret them. There is an extremely important reason for this: It could bankrupt the beef industry.
Something was started in 1970 which, in the 21st century, would eventually destroy the U.S. beef industry and kill millions of people in Europe, America, and other nations which import beef from them. Here is what happened:
In 1970, the U.S Department of Agriculture and National Institutes of Health (NIH) collected thousands of scrapie-infected sheep, examined them, and carefully isolated the diseased animals in pens in up-state New York. Once again, they found no bacteria or virus responsible for the problem.
But then, according to Howard Lyman, of the U.S. Humane Society (an ex-cattle rancher who was well-aware of what happened), the NIH sold the sick animals at low cost to farmers across the U.S.A., who put them into their herds. It was probably done as a way to help pay for the expensive scrapie research which had been completed. But it was the death knell of the meat industry in America.
Eventually as more sheep got scrapie and could no longer stand on their feet, they were then sold to rendering plants which powdered the carcasses and turned them into animal feed.
Upon eating the prion-loaded animal feed, more livestock contracted BSE. They, in turn, were made into more cattle, sheep, pig, and chicken feed. Which sheepherder wants to spend $500 for an autopsy on a dead animal, when he can sell it for $100?
Did you ever hear of "feeder animals"? In the U.S., there is an enormous industry based on turning cow corpses into animal feed, to be fed to "feeder cattle." One such product is called Soylent Green. These products are fed livestock, to fatten them faster. Because of its high protein content, it does this quite well. Other brands are also on the market.
Carefully consider the implications of this: These "feeder cattle" are cattle raised on meat and soy beans. This turns cattle into cannibals! This practice is so solidly entrenched in America that you can actually trade commodity futures on "feeder animals."
Thus one part of an important division of the powerful livestock industry is doomed to eventually destroy the rest of it. Unfortunately, this will happen, even if they eventually wake up and stop the "feeder animal" business. The problem is the prions are now in the livestock, and each mother is passing them on to her young at the time of birth.
Back in the 70s in Britain, the delegated "animal feeders" were the sheep who had died of scrapie. They were rendered into powder and put into animal feed. But the Brits were just copying American frugality, as they used their dead sheep to feed the living ones. No one seemed to be concerned about the fact that the sheep, which had died of a mysterious disease, were being fed to healthy sheep which did not deserve to die the same way.
So Brits happily ate their sheep, little realizing they were eating cannibals. The curse that destroyed the people in Papua was passing to them and, through livestock shipments, to the whole world.
As the years passed, British sheepherders continued losing more and more sheep to scrapie. But they kept cutting their losses with cash for corpses.
Trusting British beef farmers bought hi-protein certain-death feed for their cows for the next 18 years. Because the UK had a much higher percentage of sheep than they had cows, every cow got a daily, heaping serving of kibbled sheep. And poor, trusting Brits ate a lot of the infected sheep too. The British like mutton as well as beef. For the first time outside of New Guinea, humans began contracting prions in their brains.
It should be understood that neither farmers nor butchers fully recognized the problem. Keep in mind that, at beef slaughter time, the dementia generally had not fully manifested itself. The prions were in the animals, but they had not lived long enough to show the symptoms.
Even if they had, it was not until 1974 that the top UK microbiologist/researcher, Dr. Richard Lacey, and his U.S. counterpart, Dr. Stanley Prusiner, set up their electron microscopes to study prion diseases. Until they did that, researchers thought prion diseases were merely genetic in nature, just weird malformations which occurred from time to time in nature.
The truth is that the damaged proteins (the prions) were not only injuring the bodies of the sick animals, but were passing into the chromosomes and becoming part of the DNA of those animals and their descendants.
BSE (the animal form of mad cow disease) has been epidemic in British cattle since the late 1980s. The first confirmed cases were reported in late 1986; but it is believed that the first case may have occurred in the county of Hampshire in 1985.
In 1985, British farmers noticed that an illness suspiciously like scrapie turned up in a cow. It was a Holstein dairy cow who started kicking, developed an extreme case of the jitters, then fell over dead. Her brain was examined posthumously, its Swiss cheese appearance noted, and the disease given the name "bovine spongiform encephalopathy" or BSE. For the first time, the disease in animals had been named.
In a cow, the bug caused more than just an itch to scrape against fenses. BSE was a true "Dementia" disease, like Alzheimers is for humans, i.e. memory loss, motor function changes, loss of large movements like walking ability. Eyesight and the ability to make fine movements with the hands were lost, as well as spacial perceptions needed for parking a car etc. A lot of that is not crucial to a cow, but it was hard for the farmer to milk Bessie when she was splayed on the ground shaking and mooing.
A cow is a lot more valuable than a sheep. So beef farmers demanded answers. At first, nobody connected spastic cows with the scrapie sheep of the 1970s and certainly not with New Guinea cannibals of the 1940s. But in 1986, a research professor of microbiology at Leeds University, consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Richard W. Lacey, announced that scrapie, BSE, and CJD were the same thing; and that this beef disease was in the meat supply. In addition, he not only said it could kill humans, but he warned that a wave of deaths would soon hit Britain.
Immediately, the Establishment set to work to destroy Lacey's conclusions, and even his character. He was said to be a shoddy researcher and opposed to best interests of the British people. One publication called him "an airy-fairy, politically suspect vegan." Another said he was trying to dismantle the 6-billion dollar-a-year British beef industry.
The funding for Laceys research was canceled. But, refusing to give up, he warned that there would eventually be a fatal outbreak that would kill many Britains. In a nation whose economy was heavily keyed to beef production and its overseas export, he said people should stop eating beef and the newspapers should start warning people of the possibility of human infection. Lacey went still further and said that 100,000 people in Britain were already infected.
Something had to be done. Beef eaters were becoming worried and beef farmers were frightened. Three things were done to solve the problem. First, Dr. Lacey was fired from his research position at Leeds University. Second, the government established an Official Advisory Council. Of course, they left Lacey, the nations only expert, off the board.
Third, the government told the farmers not to worry, that while feeding powdered sheep corpses to live cows probably wasnt a good idea, Brit farmers could do as they wanted. After all, had not the idea been given to them by American ranchers who regularly practiced "the grisly, fleshly humus pile" method for buffing up beef for huge profits,
The year was 1986. Brits happily went back to eating their cannibal-cattle burgers and steaks, and the beef farmers went back to their rewarding task of supplying them with scrapie-fattened cows to munch on.
Meanwhile, Richard Lacey set to work writing a book on the subject. It was with difficulty that he was able to continue his research; but fortunately, he already had a lot of data in hand. Some friendly researchers also provided secret help. We will discuss the findings of his book in more detail later in this report.
In late 1987, 700 BSE-infected cows were reported in Britain. By the summer of 1988, the number had climbed to 7,000. Out of one side of their mouth, the experts said they were stumped. Out of the other side, they quietly passed a 1988 law making the use of sheep and bovine offal illegal. ("Offal" is the waste parts of an animal. It includes the intestines, manure residues, and diseased organs.)
But when Europe, Asia, and America heard about this law, they realized the livestock they had been importing from Britian was infected. Immediately they boycotted British sheep and beef, causing millions of pounds sterling profits to vaporize.
Unfortunately, this was a case of too little too late. British livestock were already grazing in every country of the world, and had entered the breeding stock of nearly every nation on the globe. The entire world had been eating imported British beef and lamb chops ever since the disease was solidly in place in the 1970s.
The world ban on beef and the 1988 law against grinding up sheep did not stop the progression of BSE in England. Cows kept dying. The number of infected dead cows soared from 1989s mere 7,000 to 36,000 in 1992. In eleven years, 160,000 British cows had gone four hoofs to the sky and there still was not an official murmur about human contagionaside from Crazy Lacey whom no one took seriously
As already mentioned, the first confirmed cases of the bovine form of the disease (BSE) were reported in late 1986; but it is believed that the first case may have occurred in Hampshire in 1985.
By late 1994, the disease had been identified in nearly 150,000 animals and in just over half of all the cattle herds in Britain. Some scientists (including Lacey) have since stated that the only way to tackle the problem would be to destroy all herds which had cattle incubating the disease. The problem is that the ground would continue to have prions in it.
By the 1990s, deaths from the human form of the disease, CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), began to enter the public press. More on that later.
The British Government had been forced into an investigation it did not want! A lot of money could be lost. So it told expert scientists, including its own advisers, to keep quiet lest the hugely profitable meat industry suffer.
In May 1988, the government set up the Southwood Committee, to examine the risks of BSE to both animal and human health. Yet, amazingly, no experts on spongiform encephalopathies were appointed to that committee, and none were consulted! Lacey, of course, was ostracized. Although experts in their own areas, not one of the members of the Southwood Committee had ever done any research into spongiform diseases.
In June 1988 after the first meeting, the Government, on the advice of the committee, ordered the compulsory slaughter and destruction of the carcasses of all affected cattle. But it was already too late. Between the date of the first known case of BSE in late 1986 and the middle of 1988, at least 600 obviously diseased cows (plus an unknown number of animals not yet obviously ill) had been slaughtered; and their meat had found its way onto supermarket shelves. Since they received only half the normal price in compensation for the carcasses, the hard-pressed farmers were thus encouraged not to report suspect cattle. The real extent of the problem remained unknown.
The second recommendation of the Southwood Committee was to set up another committee to do more research. But it announced that the problem was too big for them to handle. Those learned men did not want to be ostracized, as Lacey had.
Elsewhere in the Southwood Report was the admission that spongiform encephalopathies were a danger to humans and stated: "With the very long incubation period of spongiform encephalopathies in humans, it may be a decade or more before complete reassurance can be given."
The Southwood Committee then stated their theory about the possible ways the disease could be transmitted. Eating the meat was listed as one of the least likely causes. While admitting that all cows had contracted BSE by eating, they were saying that people could not also get the human form of the disease (CJD) by eating. They were suggesting one rule for cattle and another for humans.
Two other general conclusions of the Southwood report were these:
(1) They declared that the risk of vertical transmission of BSE (that is, passing the disease from mother to calf) was non-existent. That has since been proven incorrect. Both cows and people who have a spongiform disease can pass it on to their offspring. This is a key point and of the highest significance. Not only can cattle pass the prions on to their offspring, people can do the same.
(2) Cattle would eventually be shown to be a "dead-end host"; that is, the disease would stop at cows but not infect other species. However, that theory would introduce the revolutionary, new biological concept of a non-infectious infection! Cattle are not dead-end hosts. BSE has been spread from one species to another, and this was known at the time the Southwood Report was issued.
The report added this ominous statement: "If our assessment of these likelihoods (of possible human infection) are incorrect, the implications would be extremely serious." Their assessments have been shown to be incorrect. And that means we are confronted with a terrible crisis.