Mad Cow Disease
In the wake of the September 11, even PR Watch editors John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton came under attack as "terrorists" from ConsumerFreedom.org, lobbyist Rick Berman's front group for the alcohol, tobacco and restaurant industries.
"A study by the European Union completed earlier this year claimed that Japan was at high risk of an outbreak of the deadly mad-cow disease, but it was never published because of objections from Tokyo, a Japanese newspaper said yesterday," reports the Straits Times. The story broke just days after the Japanese government announced that a fourth cow was suspected to be infected with mad cow disease (BSE). The three other cases have been confirmed.
A USDA-funded study by the industry-supported Harvard Center for Risk Analysis concludes that British mad cow disease is "very unlikely" to be a problem in the US. Unfortunately the study is seriously flawed because it is based on computer modeling, not real world testing. The US refuses to conduct an adequate number of tests on cattle to determine if British BSE exists in the US. Dr. John Collinge, a British BSE researcher, says that "after mandatory testing ...
The Rocky Mountain News reports that a Colorado "Division of Wildlife biologist believes a nutritional study he conducted with deer, sheep and goats in the late 1960s might have been the genesis of chronic wasting disease. Gene Schoonveld suspects some of the sheep in his study had scrapie, a relative of chronic wasting disease. Some of the deer might have become infected with scrapie, which then mutated into CWD and spread to other deer. ...
The Denver Post reports that "Sixty-three elk exposed to chronic wasting disease (CWD) at a Del Norte ranch were exported to at least five states and three other Colorado ranches... Chronic wasting disease is ... related to mad cow disease. Unlike that disease, it has not been shown to infect humans." That's one spin to put on this issue, but the fact is that there is also no proof that CWD cannot infect humans, and laboratory evidence indicates that it might.
Following the first confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease in Japan last month, Japan's meat industry has launched a campaign to reassure Japanese consumers of the safety of Japanese beef. Over 100 politicians were invited to a "beef party" to eat Japanese produced beef.
In an industry-friendly puff piece bragging that Minnesota is the nation's number one producer of farmed elk used for food and "health supplements," Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Joy Powell makes no mention of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the mad cow-type illness devastating elk and deer in western states and spreading across North America through virtually unregulated trafficking among game farms. CWD is already suspected in the cases of a number of young people in the US who have died in the last few years from CJD, the human equivalent of mad cow and mad elk disease.
A panel of former government officials, food industry executives and a consumer advocate Friday called on the U.S. government to increase funding for agencies fighting to keep bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow from entering this country. During the BSE Symposium, held in Washington D.C. and sponsored by Edelman Public Relations, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, now a partner at the DC-based law firm, Akin, Gump, said the U.S.
PR Watch staffers Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber wrote Mad Cow USA in 1997. This report by the chemical industry's official publication does a very good job of updating developments since then. "Has the U.S. government taken sufficient measures to keep it from infecting humans?" asks reporter Bette Hileman. "For years after BSE first appeared in Britain, authorities believed the disease would not spread beyond the U.K. They also believed it would not jump species to infect humans. ... They were wrong.