Mad Cow Disease is Real -2
A second report—the Tyrell Report—was dated just four months later than the Southwood Report, but was not released to the public until January 9 1990, 7 months after it had been printed. Its conclusions have been largely ignored by the British Government.
For example, this report asked that the brains of cattle, normally sent for slaughter, first be checked to see which ones might have BSE. This would have shown how big the problem really was. Not surprisingly, this has never been done, despite numerous requests from the UK Parliament. The reason for not doing it was that it would be "too expensive." Too expensive for the people contracting the disease or for the meat industry? It was recognized that if consumers ever discovered they were buying infected meat, the meat industry would lose its vast profits.
The Tyrell Report also recommended monitoring all UK cases of CJD for 20 years (as a matter of "urgency"), to reassure the public that there was no public health link with BSE. At present, "monitoring" only means that a researcher checks death certificates for CJD! No real investigation was ever planned because of what would be revealed.
The Tyrell Report concluded with the comment that additional research was needed; and that current controls, to keep the disease from spreading, were not adequate.
All in all, the report was a fairly good analysis of the situation as it was in 1989. Unfortunately, many of the proposals it made were ignored by the government.
Officially, by this time the Government was telling beef purchasers everywhere that it was not known whether the disease could pass from cow to calf, whether it was possible for other species to contract BSE, or whether the recent increase in sheep scrapie could be a possible cause for the increase in BSE cases in cattle.
The name of the game was to stall for time; all the while the citizens of the land continued happily chewing their beef burgers and steaks.
Although the official position of the Government was that BSE was about to disappear; nevertheless, in April 1990, it quietly made the Tyrell Committee "permanent." Leaders in the British Government knew they were sitting on top of a time bomb, and they hoped they would all enter upon retirement before it exploded.
In order to make the most money, the meat industry throughout the Western world feeds meat to livestock. All leftover bits of animals from slaughterhouses, unsuitable for human consumption, are boiled up to produce fat and protein. The protein is placed in the animal feed.
Apart from the obvious high risk of different infections being passed on, it seems strange that nobody had actually questioned the biological sense of forcing naturally vegetarian animals to become carnivores, eating the remains of other animals! Both cows and sheep have several stomachs and long intestines, so they can digest grasses. They should not be given a meat diet!
In June 1988, the British Government imposed a six-month ban on feeding animal protein to cows and sheep. It was thought this was the most likely way the animals were becoming infected. In December, the ban was extended for 12 months, and laws stopped the sale of milk from cattle suspected of having the disease.
But banning infected feed did not stop the rise of BSE. Cases rose from 500 per month in January 1989 to 900 per month in December 1989.
The number of BSE cases per month rose from 800 in January 1990 to 1,500 in December 1990. Yet the Southwood Committee had predicted a maximum of 400 cases per month.
For four years, the British Government reassured the public that BSE could not infect other species. But tests carried out in February 1990 proved the opposite. It was discovered that BSE could be transmitted to mice by feeding them contaminated meat, and it could be passed to other cattle by injection. Cattle were no longer "dead-end hosts."
The disease had never previously been reported in cats; but, in May of the same year, a domestic cat died from a spongiform encephalopathy. However, in spite of such evidence, the Government continued to deny that spongiform encephalopathies could jump species. In fact, that is the very nature of the disease. But by the time 52 other cats had died in July, the government finally admitted they had contracted the disease through eating pet food. As this report is written, over 80 cats in Britain of have died of BSE.
The question was no longer "Can BSE affect other species?" but "How many species will it affect?"
A month earlier, in January 1990, trading standards officers in charge of the cattle yards revealed that infected cattle were still being sent to market because farmers were only being given half of the normal price for their cows. In response, a Ministry official denied that BSE was finding its way into our food, but some people were becoming more worried.
In April 1990, Humberside County Council banned the use of British beef in school meals. The number of known cases of BSE had passed the 10,000 mark. In April 1991, the Ministry of Agriculture predicted that a peak in the number of BSE cases would occur that year and the disease would disappear by 1994.
But, by the end of 1991, 25,025 cases had been confirmed in Great Britain, providing the first indications that, despite government claims to the contrary, the disease was being passed from cow to calf.
In 1992, BSE was transmitted experimentally to seven out of eight species of mammal, including pigs and marmoset monkeys. In four experiments, this was done by eating.
A puma and a cheetah were also reported to have died of the disease. Evidence was mounting of an uncontrollable epidemic, with serious implications for humans.
By 1994, more than 17,000 cases of BSE were confirmed in cattle born after (after) the feed ban, with 500 cases known to have come from mothers which later developed BSE. This meant that BSE was infecting cows by means other than infected food. However, the government tried to explain this by blaming farmers, feed compounders, and renderers for breaking the law. They were accused of continuing to put ground-up sheep and cattle into cattle feed.
But that was only an attempt to deny the fact that vertical transfer of BSE was taking place. The mother cows were passing BSE to their calves in the womb. The existence of vertical transfer means that the infectious agent must be in the cows blood and will therefore be found in virtually all parts of the animalall beef products.
By 1994 the government had still taken no action to control cattle being moved from BSE infected herds to other herds, nor had they taken any other steps to control the epidemic. The total number of confirmed BSE cases exceeded 137,000 by the end of August 1994. This was more than six times the number predicted by the Southwood Committee in their "worst case scenario."
In April 1994, the Government finally admitted that cows did pass BSE on to their calves.
People had been dying from the human form of the disease, CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), for years. But it was not until the 1990s that news of it began creeping into the public press.
CJD claimed the lives of two dairy farmers who had tended herds with BSE infected cattle. The number of human CJD cases in Great Britain was nearly ten times higher than the annual number recorded by researchers 25 years earlier and twice as high as the number recorded five years earlier.
Vicky Rimmer, a 15-year-old Welsh girl, developed the symptoms of CJD, despite no family history of the disease or medical mishaps such as faulty blood transfusion. She was also extremely young, considering the very long period it normally takes for symptoms to show. This meant that the disease was most probably contracted from an external source, more than likely food.
A doctor from the CJD surveillance unit was sent to Vickys home and, after examining the girl, told her mother not to make her daughters case public. According to the London Daily Mirror (January 25, 1994), he told her she should think of the economy and the Common Market.
In 1993, World Health Organization (WHO) figures indicated a total of 250 suspected, and 117 proven, CJD deaths with the average age of the victims being 27 years (descending from the former CJD average of 63 years).
But the bell didnt stop tolling: 56 Brits died of CJD in 1994, followed by 42 cases in 1995.
In the summer of 1995, the Canadian Red Cross had a blood recall, when they discovered two infected Canadians had donated blood. But the press only wanted to talk about a sick bull whose owner refused to destroy him.
In February 1995, Dr. Richard Lacey, the British scientist who first predicted this crisis in 1985and was fired for speaking upfinally published his bombshell book. More on this later.
After initially castigating Laceys book, the November 1995 issue of the British Medical Journal suggested the possibility that people might get Mad Cow from eating beef. Three million Brits immediately quit eating beef.
In March 20th, 1996, Agriculture Minister Dorrell announced to the world that British scientists "suspected a link" between BSE and its human equivalent, CJD. A link between spongy brains in British cows and the even spongier brains in British politicians was at last officially on the record.
Dorrells admission caused a furor which put photos of stumbling, cross-eyed, drooling cows on television screens across the planet and made Englands Wimpys and McDonalds burger shops stop serving beef and begin marketing a soy patty (which they did for all of three days until they had some European beef flown in and started resupplying the real thing.)
English schools immediately stopped serving beef in cafeterias. All this furor shot American beef, grain, soy, and especially corn prices sky high in anticipation of a U.S. corner on the feed market.
Staunch and patriotic politicians that they were, Prime Minister Major and the German and Italian politicians ate veal chops for lunch in Turin as they haggled over the ban. That recalled the experience of a few months earlier, when a Brit minister force-fed his gagging 4-year-old daughter a burger in front of the press corps.
The Royal Family stodgily continued serving beef at Buckingham Castle, recalling how, during World War II, they patriotically stayed in London dodging bombs alongside commoners.
All this was intended to shore up the British beef industry and keep the people buying its products. And it worked for quite a while. The British people had put up with German V-2 rockets; surely they could live with little things like prions. Besides, those fast-food burgers, doctored up with synthetic (coal-tar) flavors and colors, sure tasted good.
Finally, in February 1995, Laceys book came off the press (although it carried a 1994 copyright).
If you want a copy of the book, here is the data: Mad Cow Disease: The History of BSE in Britain, by Richard W. Lacey, Cypsela Publishers, Ltd., Jersey, Channel Islands, 1994.
In his book, Lacey claimed there were already over a hundred dead Britains from mad cow disease. But that implied that something was wrong with the British beef supply. So, immediately, two prestigious medical journals trashed the book in scathing reviews. Not to be undone, the same week a new rock group came on the scene. Calling itself "Mad-Cow Disease," it made its London debut to rave reviews. Screaming, clapping Brits were thrilled and happily returned to their cannibal beef dinners. McDonalds was relieved and life returned to near normal.
Year after year, people willingly eat junk, ignoring the fact that their bodies are made up of what they put in it.
You should know that Dr. Richard W. Lacey was widely acclaimed in the mid-1980s as the leading microbiologist researcher in the British Isles, until he began warning about beef.
Here is his professional biography: M.D. at Cambridge, Ph.D. at Bristol. Specialist "in both child health and microbiology." He is currently Professor of clinical microbiology at Leeds University (they later rehired him) and a consultant to the World Health Organization for Microbiology. He has published over 200 papers in scientific and medical journals and has won the Evian Health Prize for Medicine and the Caroline Walker Prize for Science. In 1986, he became an official adviser to the British Government as a member of the Ministry of Agricultures Veterinary Products Committee.
Here are several significant statements from his book which, we who live outside of Britain, can learn much from:
1 - GOVERNMENT INACTION
It is clear that the British Government repeatedly did nothing about the growing mountain of evidence.
p. 80: "The definitive proposal [by the British government] to study the human risk" in humans is to "check death certificates for CJD" over the next 20 years. "This is just about the total sum of research done by the UK Department of Health."
p. 117: "I just cannot believe that an honourable independent scientist will say: In order to find out how big the problem is we are going to see how many people die. "
p. 97: "The whole story of the action (and inaction) by the [British] Government, following the Southwood and Tyrell Reports has been one of delays, obfuscation, and misinformation."
p. 58: "As far as I can ascertain, none of [the members of the Southwood Committee] . . nor the chairman, had undertaken any research in the field of spongiform diseases." p. 59: "What was quite extraordinary about the composition of the [Southwood] committee was the omission of experts of spongiform encephalopathies and the failure of the committee, once appointed, to co-opt them."
p. 59: "The first confirmation of BSE [was] in late 1986."
2 - GOVERNMENT ACTION
The British Government repeatedly carried out one cover-up after another, so the public would not learn the truth.
p. xx: "The British Government [beyond much reasonable doubt] has at all stages concealed facts and corrupted evidence in mad cow disease."
p. 89: "The drop in price [of British beef due to the BSE scare] would have been greater but for the intervention buying of unwanted carcasses at this price. These were subsequently stored deep frozen at considerable expense for the taxpayer."
p. 154: "It looks suspiciously as if the [British] Government has massaged the figures by back-dating deaths to earlier years."
p. 154: "[The Ministry of Agricultures] Transferring [of] some 1,993 cases to previous years will very conveniently give a false impression of a recent decline in the epidemic."
p. 176: "From April 1, 1994, a new system of compensation to farmers was introduced," which "would discourage the reporting of BSE suspects."
p. 139: "In February 1992 [the Ministry of Agriculture changed] . . the reporting and slaughtering procedures for BSE animals born after the feed ban." p. 140: "This change in procedure . . will distort the number of BSE cases." "The numbers of animals confirmed, that were born after the feed ban, will inevitably fall."
p. 58: "After publication of their [Southwood] Report, Professor Southwood was promoted to Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Epstein was knighted and Sir John became Lord Walton."
3 - THE INFECTABILITY OF ORGANS
The British Government was careful to ban only the least profitable animal parts from sale. Yet BSE had been found in all body organs.
p. 85: "No action [was] taken over products containing these [11/8/89 banned offal] which were already available in retail outlets."
p. 85: "In late 1989, virtually nothing was known about the distribution of the BSE infection in the animal . . as far as the range of organs was involved."
p. 17: "Several cases of CJD spread by blood transfusions."
p. 85: "The range of offals removed is not comprehensive. What do brain, spinal cord, spleen, thymus, tonsils and the intestines of cattle have in common?" "They are of little commercial value."
p. 86: "[Scrapie] infectivity was found in the liver, kidney and bones, sometimes at high levels."
p. 86: "The greatest risk could come from bones because the procedures used to concentrate and purify gelatin could also create a potent source of the BSE prion." [This would include bonemeal in food, i.e. calcium supplements, capsules, and gelatin products.]
p. 88: "The reason why researchers have found BSE infectivity in very few cattle organs . . is that the mouse assay test that is used is too insensitive."
p. 88: "With vertical transmission of BSE confirmed in 1993/1994, the infectivity of blood is implicit, at least as far as cattle are concerned."
4 - EXPERIMENTS NOT DONE
The British Government repeatedly refused to carry out the necessary experiments which would have exposed the seriousness of the crisis.
p. 78: Despite the Tyrell committee recommendation, the experiments that "would have established the frequency of animals that were highly infectious, but not yet ill, that went into the food chain," have not been done.
p. 79: "The official justification for not doing this research [despite numerous requests in the UK Parliament that it be done] was that it was too expensive . . Too expensive to know the scale of risk to the British public?"
p. 177: How about "feed[ing] milk from a BSE cow to a calf to see if any infectivity was transferable."
5 - THE TERRIBLE DANGER
While the British Government dawdles, this terrible plague increases monthly, and more cattle and people are infected and destined to die.
p. 27: "As many as 30% of BSE infected carcasses [are not incinerated and] end up in landfill sites."
p. 69: All cattle "known to be infected" should be destroyed by law; "but what about all those that are infected, but are not known to be because they are slaughtered before their terminal disease develops?"
p. 96: There is a government initiative "to slaughter and destroy all affected cattle." Notice that they do not use the word "infected," which "would also include the countless cases still incubating the infectious agent, but not yet ill."
p. 104: There is no way to detect all such cattle and cows that carry the infectious agent but appear clinically normal."
p. 118: The concern, that "if our worst fears are realized, we could virtually lose a generation of people," "was based on the well-documented instances of almost 100% of all mink on a ranch succumbing to spongiform encephalopathy following eating contaminated feed."
p. 180: "Many sub-clinically infected cattle . . pass into the British food chain as meat every day."
p. 78: "In almost every Ministry of Agriculture document from 1990-1994, vertical transmission was claimed to be exceedingly unlikely."
p. 148: CJD "infectivity was [found to be] present in the placenta, in colostrum . . and in cells within the umbilical cord."
p. 174: "Over 11,000 BSE cattle have been born after the [contaminated feed] ban."
7 - CREUTZFELDT-JAKOB DISEASE
p. 18: "Researcher have found an association between eating pork, ham, hot dogs, roast lamb and CJD."
p. 6: "Pathologists are often unwilling to undertake postmortem examinations of patients considered as having possibly died of CJD."
p. 8: About 95% of people who develop [CJD] . . are aged between 40 and 75." There was no "evidence of an abnormal gene causing the disease" nor any "contaminated hormones, grafts, implants or blood transfusions."
p. viii: "The best guess is that mad person disease could emerge an epidemic in Britain" within a very few years.
p. 145: "Virtually all mammals tested were vulnerable, so man is likely to be vulnerable."
8 - RECOMMENDATIONS
p. 30: "Where a BSE case was confirmed, the entire herd should have been destroyed and incinerated, with restocking from BSE-free sources on new ground." p. 95: Doing this, "would result in the deaths of six million cows."
p. 175: The "estimated . . cost of replacing the infected herds was 30,000,000,000 [pounds]."
p. 175: "There is also the problem of needing to house the new herds on fresh territory to prevent reinfection."
BSE has affected all breeds including, significantly, Jersey and Guernsey cattle on their respective islands. Jersey and Guernsey are the best breeds of milk cows that money can buy. The black and white Friesian Holstein (beef) cows are the most commonly affected, simply because there are far more of them in Britain than other breed. The youngest case so far recorded of a cow showing the symptoms of BSE was 20 months and the oldest 18 years.
The cattle industry in Britain is under constant pressure to produce more milk and dairy products at the lowest possible cost because the public demands it. To provide as much milk as possible, cows are often fed protein-rich concentrated food made from the carcasses of other dead animals that have been sent to stockyards (called knackers yards in Britain) or rendering plants.
Cows only produce milk when they have had a calf. After a nine month pregnancy, the calf is removed within a day or two of birth. A few months later, while still producing milk, the cow is artificially inseminated again. Cows have around three or four pregnancies before their milk yield begins to drop. Each cow is eventually slaughtered at six or seven years old, even though its natural life span would be 20 years or more. Most parts of the cow are used to make burgers, sausages, pies, stocks, and pet food. Until 1989 in Britain, this also included the brain.
More than 90 percent of BSE cases have been in cows rather than bulls, simply because cows live longer. Beef animals are usually slaughtered around three years old and veal calves at six months. As BSE appears when the animal is around four to five years old, most beef animals are slaughtered before they are old enough to show symptoms, although they may have the disease.
It is now known that BSE and CJD are just two aspects of the same disease, the one occurring in animals, the other in man. Here are important facts which you should know:
The period between becoming infected and showing symptoms for spongiform encephalopathies can be long in relation to the life span of the animal or human involved. Scientists know that research studies of Kuru in New Guinea revealed that frequently it took as long as 30 years before the person becomes visibly ill with Kuru (which is Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease). 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."
The "mysterious agent" that causes spongiform encephalopathies is not just found in the brain! It has been found in many of the organs and tissues of animals. For example, cells from the spleen, thymus, and tonsils enter the blood and find their way to many organs, including the liver and bones.
The bones of old cows are one of the major sources of the protein gelatin, used in many foods from peppermints to pork pies. The greatest risk could come from bones because the procedures used to concentrate and purify gelatin could create a stronger source of BSE.
Confirmation in 1993, that the disease can be passed from the cow to the calf. established that transmission can be by blood. So blood can also contain the disease.
In cattle, the first signs of the disease occurs when the cow is put under any slight pressure or stress. Movement to a milking station might induce fear, panic, and stumbling; and the infected animal may stand away from the rest of the herd, holding its head in an awkward posture. Despite a good appetite, the amount of milk she produces may drop and she usually loses a lot of weight.
As the muscles waste away, there may be twitchings, quiverings, and shaking. Strange behavior can occur, such as grinding teeth, and sometimes the moo is odd.
The cow over-reacts to touch and becomes very jumpy. Eventually, she will shake violently; stagger; and, in the end, be completely unable to stand up.
It is the combination of a drop in milk and the fear that the cow will fall and be unable to stand again that makes the farmer call in the vet. If the animal does not recover, it is slaughtered and the head (with its nervous tissue) is removed for examination; it is "officially" believed that this is the only infected part of the animal.
This is unlikely, as flesh also contains nervous tissue. It also ignores the possibility of the disease being passed from mother to calf.
The rest of the cows body should be burned, but as many as 30% of infected carcasses end up in landfill sites where they could be disturbed by tractors, bulldozers, dogs, or rodents. BSE is an extremely strong disease; it remains infective even after years in the soil. (Recent disclosures indicate that burning bodies could send prions into the air.)
When cattle are killed for food, only the head (and some other parts such as the spinal cord, spleen and thymus "specified offal") is removed. The rest is sold to the public. The official position of the Government is that people will not be at risk when they eat cows. So the flesh (containing infected nervous tissue) is eaten, and the bones are eventually made into gelatin which finds its way into many products.
People can contract CJD from eating the flesh of baby calves. This is another proof of transmission of the disease from the cow to the calf through the blood. Those who regularly eat veal (baby cow meat) are 13 times more likely to develop CJD than those who do not eat calf meat, according to the British Department of Health newsletter (BUAV Newsletter, April 1995).
The evidence is clear that humans are not immune from infection. Kuru, which originated in Papua, New Guinea, is definitely a form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
If BSE can be transmitted to humans, then the resulting illness is expected to be like our own form of Kuru, which is CJD. Both are spongiform encephalopathies, which are diseases of the brain and always fatal.
As occurred in Kuru, 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.
Towards the end of the illness, the patient is unconscious and not reacting to anyone; often having fits or jerking spasms; and is incontinent, blind, deaf, and speechless. Patients continue to be fed but are rarely placed on a respirator or given antibiotics for infections, particularly of the lung. It is the latter which usually results in death.
Many of these symptoms are similar to those of Alzheimer's, but CJD has a totally different origin.
During the postmortem, extreme care must be taken because the disease is incredibly infectious. The pathologist wears a mask, goggles, gloves, boots, and a plastic apron; and any instruments that have been used on patients suffering from CJD have to be thoroughly sterilized. For example, the silver needles used for the EEG (brain examination) must be treated with high pressure steam for prolonged periods of time or put through six successive heat cycles in a sterilizer. Even then there is no guarantee of destroying the infection. If contaminated instruments are used on another patient (which they will be if the person was not visibly ill with CJD), the disease can (and indeed has been) be transferred.
CJD is so feared by the medical profession that they have refused to perform autopsies on patients suspected of dying from it. Some hospitals have even refused to admit patients suffering with it. They find it far easier to just diagnose the victim as having Alzheimer's, without doing an autopsy.