|Quotations from the Book ... Milchael Greger|
|Government Inaction||Government Action||Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease|
|Organ Infectivity||Experiments Neglected||Scrapie in Sheep|
|The Risks||Vertical Transmission||Other Species|
|Lacey's Recommendations:||Biographical Information||Favorite Quote|
Richard Lacey is Professor of Clinical Microbiology at Leeds University. He has a degree in medicine from Cambridge University and a Ph.D in clinical microbiology from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Bristol.
As well as publishing over 200 papers in scientific and medical journals, Professor Lacey has lectured extensively overseas and broadcast frequently on radio and television. His work has won him a number of prizes, including the Evian Health Prize for Medicine and the Caroline Walker Award for Science.
Professor Lacey has been an advisor to the British Government and is widely recognised as a world authority on mad cow disease.
BSE has been epidemic in British cattle for the last ten years. The first confirmed cases were reported in late 1986 but it is believed that the first case may have occurred in Hampshire in 1985. By early 1995 it had been identified in almost 150,000 cattle and more than half of all British herds.
The exact origin of BSE is not known, but simplistic claims that it came from sheep are now discredited. BSE is an incurable disease caused by a mystery 'infectious agent'. The agent is not a virus or bacteria - nobody knows what it is. It has broken the most basic rules of biology. Any cure still lies at the very limits of present-day science.
In cattle, the first signs occur 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 it's 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 behaviour 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 it's nervous tissue) is removed for examination as 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 cow's body should be burnt but as many as 30% of infected carcasses end up in landfill sites where they could be disturbed by tractors, bulldozers, dogs or rodents. As BSE is an extremely strong disease, it remains infective even after years in the soil.
When cattle are killed for food, the same procedure applies - the head (and some other parts such as the spinal cord, spleen and thymus - 'specified offal') is removed. The Government say that people will not be at risk when they eat cows but the flesh (containing infected nervous tissue) is eaten and the bones are eventually made into gelatine which finds it's way into many products.
BSE has affected all breeds including, significantly, Jersey and Guernsey cattle on their respective islands. The black and white Friesian Holstein cows are the most commonly affected simply because there are far more of them in Britain than other breeds. 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 we, the public, demand it. The price of our daily pinta is paid for dearly by the suffering of animals.
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 knackers yards 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.They are eventually slaughtered at six or seven years old, even though its natural lifespan would be 20 years or more. Most parts of the cow are used to make burgers, sausages, pies, stocks and pet food. Until 1989, this also included the brain.
More than 90 per cent 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.
Cannibalism, especially by women hoping to increase fertility, was common until very recently, and this led to an outbreak of 'Kuru', a human form of scrapie. Kuru killed up to 80 per cent of women in some villages but how it first started is unknown. Because it occurred within families and mostly amongst women, it was first thought that Kuru was inherited genetically. Scientists have since proved beyond doubt that Kuru is infectious and that the disease was transmitted by eating meat, in this case human meat.
If BSE can be transmitted to humans then the resulting illness is expected to be like our own form of Kuru - Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). As a spongiform encephalopathy, this is again a disease of the brain and is always fatal.
Like 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 recognise 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 doubly incontinent, blind, deaf and speechless. Patients continue to be fed but are rarely placed on a respirator nor given antibiotics for infections, particularly of the lung. It is the latter which usually results in death.
During the post mortem, 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 sterilised. 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 steriliser. 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, transferred.
CJD is so feared by some people in 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 from it.
A month after the first meeting, the Government, on the advice of the committee, ordered the compulsory slaughter and destruction of carcasses of all affected cattle. 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. Half the normal price of carcasses was paid in compensation, which encouraged farmers 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, which simply admitted that the problem was too big. The next meeting of the committee was five months later, some indication of how serious the Government regarded the problem.
The report admitted that spongiform encephalopathies are 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 went on to say how they thought the disease was passed on, saying that eating was low down on the list of possible reasons. While admitting that all cows had got the disease by eating, they were suggesting one rule for cattle and another for humans. It was easy for a cow to get BSE through eating but very difficult for humans to get CJD by doing the same.
Two other general conclusions of the Southwood report were that the risk of vertical transmission of BSE (passing the disease from mother to calf) was non-existent (since proved incorrect) and that cattle would prove to be a 'dead-end host', which means the disease would stop at cows and not infect other species. This introduces the revolutionary biological concept of a non-infectious infection. Cattle are not a dead-end host. BSE has been spread to other species and this was known at the time of the report. The Southwood report stated that '...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. We do have a terrible crisis on our hands.
The report also recommended monitoring all UK cases of CJD over the next 20 years (as a matter of 'urgency'!) to reassure the public that there was no link with BSE. At present 'monitoring' means that a researcher checks death certificates for CJD. That's it as far as the UK Department of Health is concerned. Of course, a real investigation was not planned because it would admit that the government was scared of a major public health problem.
It finished by saying that more research was needed and that the controls at that time to prevent the disease spreading were not enough. Overall, the report was an excellent analysis of the situation as it was in 1989 but many of the proposals it made were ignored by the government. This report, dated June 1989, was not released until January 9 1990, showing just how urgent the Government thought it was. By this time they had accepted that they did not know whether the disease could pass from cow to calf whether it was possible other species could get BSE, or that the recent suggested increase in sheep scrapie was the cause of the rise in BSE cases.
In April 1990, the Tyrell Committee became 'permanent', a surprising development as, according to the government, BSE was about to disappear.
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. This is probably what has caused the spread of BSE.
In June 1988, the government imposed a six-month ban on feeding animal protein to cows and sheep as it was thought this was the most likely way these animals would become infected. In December, the ban was extended for 12 months and laws stopped the sale of milk from cattle suspected of having the disease. 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 'mysterious agent' that causes spongiform encephalopathies has been found in many of the organs and tissues of animals. For example, cells from the spleen, thymus and tonsils ('specified offal' banned for use in animal feed in 1989) 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 gelatine, used in many foods from peppermints to pork pies. The greatest risk could come from bones because the procedures used to concentrate and purify gelatine could create a stronger source of BSE. With the passing from mother to calf of BSE confirmed in 1993/94, blood could also contain the disease, at least as far as cattle are concerned.
The problem, of course, did not go away. The number of BSE cases per month rose from 800 in January 1990 to 1,500 in December 1990. The Southwood Committee had predicted a maximum of 400 cases per month.
A month before, in January, trading standards officers revealed that infected cattle were still being sent to market because farmers were still only being given half of the normal price for their cows. A Ministry official denied that BSE was finding it's way into our food but some people weren't quite so convinced. In April 1990, Humberside County Council banned the use of British beef in school meals. The number of known cases of BSE passed the 10,000 mark.
In April 1991, the Ministry of Agriculture predicted that a peak in the number of BSE cases would occur in 1991 and the disease would disappear by 1994. By the end of the year, 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.
The following year, BSE was transmitted experimentally to seven out of eight species of mammal, including pigs and marmoset monkeys. In four experiments, this was 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.
CJD, the human form of BSE, 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 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 examined Vicky and told her mother not to make her daughter's case public. According to the Daily Mirror (January 25 1994) he told her she should think of the economy and the Common Market.
More than 17,000 cases of BSE were confirmed in cattle born 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 tries to explain this by blaming farmers, feed compounders and renderers for breaking the law - they accuse them of continuing to put ground-up sheep and cattle into cattle feed. This is manifest nonsense and is the last ditch attempt to deny the occurrence of vertical transfer of BSE (where the mother passes on BSE to her calf in the womb). The existence of vertical transfer means that the infectious agent must be in the cow's blood and will therefore be found in virtually all beef products.
In 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 BSE cases confirmed exceeded 137,000 by the end of August 1994 - more than six times the number predicted by the Southwood Committee in their 'worst case scenario'. However, in April 1994, it was admitted that cows did pass BSE on to their calves.
And while the time bomb of the twentieth century equivalent to bubonic plague ticks away, we all have to take responsibility into our own hands. The simple and safest answer of course is to stop eating animals. In the absence of any accurate, reliable or simply truthful information coming from 'the experts', the choice has to be yours.
78 The Tyrrell Report [was dated] just four months later [than the Southwood Report], but was not released until "January 9 1990, 7 months after it was printed."
80 "the definitive proposal to study the human risk..." 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."
117 "I just cannot believe that a[n "honourable independent"] scientist will say: 'In order to find out how big the problem is we are going to see how many people die.'"
97 "The whole story of the action (and inaction) by the [British] Government following the Southwood and Tyrrell Reports has been one of delays, obfuscation, and misinformation..."
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."
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."
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."
59 "the first confirmation of BSE [was] in late 1986..."
After its 6/20/88 meeting the chairman of the Southwood Committee urgently recommended that 'at least until more is known about BSE, the carcases of affected animals should be destroyed.'
60 "It was not until August 8 1988 that compulsory slaughter and partial compensation was introduced in England, Scotland and Wales, and incredibly not for another four months (November 28 1988) in Northern Ireland."
xx "the British Government [beyond much reasonable doubt] has at all stages concealed facts and corrupted evidence in mad cow disease..."
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."
154 "It looks suspiciously as if the [British] Government has massaged the figures by back-dating deaths to earlier years."
154 "[The Ministry of Agriculture's] Transferring [of] some 1993 cases to previous years will very conveniently give a false impression of a recent decline in the epidemic."
163 "First [the UK Ministry of Agriculture said] there would be only 17000-20000 cases of BSE in total." Then it would "drop off in 1993. Then the disease would peak in 1991 and disappear in 1994. Then it would peak in 1992. Then...1993. "
176 "From April 1 1994, a new system of compensation to farmers was introduced..."which "would discourage the reporting of BSE suspects."
139 "in February 1992 [the Ministry of Agriculture changed]...the reporting and slaughtering procedures for BSE animals born after the feed ban."
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."
58 "after publication of their report, Professor Southwood was promoted to Vice Chancellor of Oxford Universoty, Professor Epstein was knighted and Sir John became Lord Walton."
85 "no action [was] taken over products containing these [11/8/89 banned offal] which were already available in retail outlets"
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"
17 "several cases of CJD spread by blood transfusions..."
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."
86 "[scrapie] infectivity was found in the liver, kidney and bones, sometimes at high levels."
86 "The greatest risk could come from bones because the procedures used to concentrate and purify gelatine could also create a potent source of the BSE prion."
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..."
103 "There is little reason to believe that the agents responsible for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies are found actually within or around muscle fibres."
88 "with vertical transmission of BSE confirmed in 1993/1994, the infectivity of blood is implicit, at least as far as cattle are concerned."
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.
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?"
159 Also "Human PrP genes could be put into a mouse replacing its own PrP genes and the animal could be challenged with BSE prions."
177 How about "feed[ing] milk from a BSE cow to a calf to see if any infectivity was transferable."
34 "for nutritionally useful protein to be retained after the rendering process there will inevitably be contamination by the BSE agent if present initially."
35 The "nearly 50%" solvent use decrease was due to the occupational hazard posed by the stuff.
35 He is not convinced that "the cessation of solvent extraction was a major factor causing BSE."
38 "it is reasonable to incriminate the rendering plants as one of the means of the dissemination of BSE, but the source of the infection was unknown, and other factors must have been involved in the development of the disease."
57 "I still believe that there is a real possibility that BST could aggrevate BSE ..."
120 On one hand the British government says that"very large doses are needed [using the oral route]", but on the other hand feels that "all BSE came from the feed..."
27 "as many as 30% of BSE infected carcasses [are not incinerated and] end up in landfill sites..."
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?" 96 There is a government initiative "to slaughter and destroy all affected cattle..."
Notice that they don't use the word 'infected', which "would also include the countless cases still incubating the infectious agent, but not yet ill."
104 There is no way to detect all such [cattle and cows that carry the infectious agent but appear clinically normal]..."
118 The "...if our worst fears are realised, 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 from spongiform encephalopathy following eating contaminated feed."
157 "the annual incidence of [CJD]...among [BSE herd] closely associated personnel cannot be calculated as 1 in 20,000 because of the long incubation period."
157 [(discussing the two BSE herd dairy farmers 1993 CJD deaths in relation to the 40,000 personnel closely associated with BSE herds in 1992)] "if these diseases were acquired in, say, 1983, there might have been as few as 20 BSE herds..."
157 "the development of CJD in two dairy farmers attending BSE herds is therefore highly significant statistically..."
"and deeply disturbing."
180 "many sub-clinically infected cattle ...pass into the British food chain as meat every day."
78 "in almost every Ministry of Agriculture document from 1990-1994, vertical transmission was claimed to be exceedingly unlikely."
148 CJD "infectivity was [found to be] present in the placenta, in colostrum...and in cells within the umbilical cord" 174 "Over 11,000 BSE cattle have been born after the [contaminated feed] ban."
4/95 BUAV Newsletter (not from Lacey book) people who regularly eat veal are 13X more likely to develop CJD than those who do not eat calf meat a reprt from the Department of Health admitted recently 18 "researcher have found an association between eating pork, ham, hot dogs, roast lamb and CJD..."
6 "Pathologists are often unwilling to undertake post mortem examinations of patients considered as having possibly died of CJD..."
8 About 95% of people who develop [CJD]...are aged between 40 and 75..."
164 "I believe a food source provides the only plausible explanation for [15 year old Vicky Rimmer's] disease."
There was no "evidence of an abnormal gene causing the disease" nor any "contaminated hormones, grafts, implants or blood transfusions."
164 A doctor from the Government-established CJD survaillance unit reportedly told Beryl Rimmer, her mother, that "she should not make her daughter's plight public."
and "that she should think of the economy and the Common Market."
viii "The best guess is that 'mad person disease' could emerge an epidemic in Britain around the millenium."
80 "perhaps ["there is no concrete evidence that scrapie causes CJD"]...mainly because sheep are eaten when young and relatively uninfectious..."
102 "The evidence that BSE is due to sheep scrapie is...virtually nonexistent."
19 "...I suspect [that there exists no risk from]...pigs...[because in part] they are eaten as ham, pork or bacon when the animal is young, typically aged 4-5 months at slaughter."
93 "[Spongiform encephalopathy had] not been reported previously in domestic cats."
93 The name of the first cat to succumb was a siamese named Max. 94 "[By July 1994] 52 other cats had succumbed like Max..."
145 "virtually all mammals tested were vulnerable, so man is likely to be vulnerable."
145 "The reason for the use of injection as the route to infect was because it was believed that the oral route was likely to induce disease only after many years. However, of the four species challenged by the oral route...all succumbed."
145 "The reason for the high infective challenge is to speed up the experiment, to be within the life span of the animal.
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."
95 This would result in the deaths of six million cows.
107 "Careful removal of meat from the carcass[es "of beef cattle...slaughtered as soon as possible - preferably under 18 months of age"] might produce some relatively safe product say for people over 50."
175 The "estimated...cost of replacing the infected herds was 30,000,000,000 [pounds]..."
175 "There is also the problem of needing to house the new herds on fresh territory to prevent reinfection..."
MD at Cambridge; PhD at Bristol; Specializing "in both child health and microbiology."
At present he is Professor of clinical microbiology at Leeds University and a consultant to the World Health Organization for Microbiology. Published over 200 papers in scientific and medical journals.
Won the Evian Health Prize for Medicine and the Caroline Walker Prize for Science. In 1986 [he] became an official advisor to the British Government as a member of the Ministry of Agriculture's Veterinary Products Committee.
viii "conservative by nature, and believes that the use of antibiotics
on farm animals probably does not amount to a major threat to human
x "not an animal rights activist."
57 "It was because of BST that I resigned from [the government Veterinary Products Committee]..."
83 As late as 1989 he felt that humans catching BSE was "unlikely."
"had he lived, Orwell would have identified the Ministry of Agriculture as the Ministry of Truth and left the title of the Department of Health unchanged."