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Mar/Apr 2001 issue (#50)


'60s Dream Lives On

Party Troopers

Suit Filed Against George W. Bush

"Friends in High Places"

Baby Bush Bombs Baghdad

Don't Put the Utilities Back in Charge

Biblically-Grounded Movements For Progressive Change In Washington

How to Run for City Council

Mad Cow: Coming to the U.S.?

Monoculture and Mad Cows

Itching to Ride Light Rail

Is Work Killing You?

Escaping the Globalized Gym

Seattle's Clattering Poets

A Puppetista Manifesto

Living Outside Empire

Don't Put the Utilities Back in Charge

ACORN's Falling

Social Transformation Explained? Technogod

Spokane Free-speech Battle


Reader Mail


Urban Work

Media Beat

Nature Doc

Rad Videos

Do Something!

Reel Underground

Mad Cow: Coming to the US?

by Ronnie Cummins

Mad Cow panic has once again swept Europe, provoking drastic declines in beef sales, economic insecurity among farmers, trepidation in the meat, drug, cosmetic, and plasma industry, and near-hysteria among consumers. Recent revelations of cattle testing positive for Mad Cow disease (also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE) in Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy, and the expose in the press that thousands of tons of BSE-infected cattle feed were exported from Britain to other nations over the past decade, have set off the largest food scare in history.

Although only 92 Europeans have died since 1996 from new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), the human equivalent of Mad Cow, British scientists admitted last year that, due to the long latency period of the disease (up to 30-40 years in humans), and due to the fact that the majority of meat eaters have probably been exposed to Mad Cow, several hundred thousand Britons and many more in other countries may die from the incurable brain-wasting disease over the next few decades.

EU authorities have placed a complete ban on the feeding of animal parts back to animals, a practice still routine in American agriculture.

The New York Times on January 11 reported that the US Food and Drug Administration’s supposed 1997 ban on feeding rendered animal protein to cows and other ruminant animals is full of loopholes, and that the ban is not being enforced among the thousands of companies involved in the $3.2 billion rendering industry and the $20 billion animal feed industry.

In other words millions of US cows, sheep, game-farm deer and elk, pigs, and household pets are still being fed billions of pounds of animal feed or pet food containing meat and offal from ruminant animals—despite the obvious danger to human and animal health and despite the fact that the FDA and the USDA for the past three years have been reassuring the public that this was no longer happening.

A New York Times article on January 14 noted that apparently US feed companies, pet food companies, pharmaceutical firms, and nutritional supplement manufacturers have been carrying on business as usual by importing large quantities of possibly contaminated bovine parts and rendered animal protein—no doubt at bargain basement prices—in 1989 and 1997. After British authorities made it illegal to feed rendered animal protein to ruminant animals in their own country, the UK feed industry simply sold it overseas.

As the New York Times related, scientists generally agree that BSE or BSE-like diseases “spontaneously” appear in one out of every million humans, cows, sheep and many other mammals. “Since 36 million cattle are slaughtered annually in the United States, about 36 cows spontaneously infected with mad cow disease could be entering the nation’s food chain each year.”

Thirty-six domestic US Mad Cows a year being fed back to other animals may not sound that alarming until you consider the fact that an average cow, pig, chicken, game-farm deer, elk, fish-farm fish, or household cat and dog—because of the commingling of many animals at the rendering plants—will be consuming the body parts of literally thousands of different animals in their feed over their lifetime.

Scrapie or Mad Sheep Disease has been endemic in US sheep herds since 1947, and significant numbers of scrapie-infected sheep have undoubtedly been ground up every year and fed back to other animals. In addition the US currently has a raging epidemic of Mad Deer Disease and Mad Elk Disease (technically called Chronic Wasting Disease) in parts of Colorado and Wyoming.

There are already several cases of deer hunters in their 20s and 30s dying from CJD. Officials tell hunters not to eat the meat of infected animals, but have refused to ban hunting or eating venison, despite calls from some consumer groups to do so. Meanwhile several million people are eating venison and venison sausage every year in the US, while several million more in the US and overseas are taking “glandular supplements” or body-building hormones which contain concentrated brain and pituitary material from US, British, and European cows. For the full New York Times article see www.purefood.org/meat/madcowexplosive.cfm.

For more on this issue, please go to www.purefood.org, but www.organicconsumers.org is our primary address because a counterfeit site, filled with industry propaganda, has been set up at www.purefoods.org. Take a look at this site if you want to see what we’re up against. But the “Bad Guys” wouldn’t be doing this except for the fact that we’re beginning to win the battle. Organic Consumers Association can be contacted at 6101 Cliff Estate Road Little Marais, MN 55614.

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