More bad news

3 April 2001

Livestock farmers in Britain must be wishing they had left animal husbandry years ago. It has been one disaster after another and has bought the farming industry to its knees. It may never completely recover from this latest, awful outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. How did it get to England and where from? In South Africa the same virulent Asian strain was traced to food waste illegally offloaded from an Asian boat. In the UK imports of cheap meat from countries which have suffered outbreaks of this highly contageous disease are being investigated. Though this trade is theoretically legal under free trade rules, strict controls are permitted to protect human and animal health. And Foot and Mouth is one of the most infectious diseases to strike cloven hooved animals. With regard to BSE, the incidence has been blamed entirely on Britain and while contaminated feedstuff undoubtedly exaccerbated the spread of the disease to epidemic proportions, the likelihood is that BSE had been in existence long before the first case was recognised in an 18 year old cow in 1985. Dr David Brown, a senior fellow at the department of biochemistry, University of Cambridge, claims that BSE was not caused by the transmission of scrapie to cattle, vCJD is not caused by eating infected beef and BSE-infected rendered animal feed did not cause all current BSE. 'BSE-infected offal has not been fed to cows in Europe for five years, yet the ages of some of the affected animals placed their births after the total offal ban in 1996.' According to Dr Brown there is a strong possibility that BSE and vCJD can be transmitted from the mother to her young or through the ingestion of cow's milk. A chilling thought! 'The udders of BSE infected-cows should be investigated to see if the disease specific protein is present, but there is currently no published research. 'Despite the millions of pounds spent on research in the UK each year, under the assumption that BSE is the cause of vCJD, the critical experiments to verify what everyone seems to take for granted have either not been carried out or have not been made public.' I look forward to seeing you all at the APLF.

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