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International Meat Crisis





The British Government had been forced into an investigation it did not want! A lot of money could be lost. So it told expert scientists, including its own advisers, to keep quiet lest the hugely profitable meat industry suffer.

In May 1988, the government set up the Southwood Committee, to examine the risks of BSE to both animal and human health. Yet, amazingly, no experts on spongiform encephalopathies were appointed to that committee, and none were consulted! Lacey, of course, was ostracized. Although experts in their own areas, not one of the members of the Southwood Committee had ever done any research into spongiform diseases.

In June 1988 after the first meeting, the government, on the advice of the committee, ordered the compulsory slaughter and destruction of the carcasses of all affected cattle. But 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. Since they received half the normal price in compensation for the carcasses, the hard-pressed farmers were thus encouraged not to report suspect cattle to the government. 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. But it announced that the problem was too big for them to handle. Those learned men did not want to be ostracized, as Lacey had.

Elsewhere in the Southwood Report was the admission that spongiform encephalopathies may be 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 then stated their theory about the possible ways the disease could be transmitted. Eating the meat was listed as one of the least likely causes. While admitting that all cows had contracted BSE by eating, they were saying that people could not also get the human form of the disease (CJD) by eating. They were suggesting one rule for cattle and another for humans.

Two other general conclusions of the Southwood report were these:

(1) They declared that the risk of vertical transmission of BSE (that is, passing the disease from mother to calf) was non-existent. That has since been proven incorrect. Cows can pass spongiform disease to their offspring. It can pass through milk, and through eggs. This is a key point and of the highest significance. Not only can cattle pass the prions on to their offspring, people may be able to also.

(2) Cattle would eventually be shown to be a "dead-end host"; that is, the disease would stop at cows but not infect other species. However, that theory would introduce the revolutionary, new biological concept of a non-infectious infection! Cattle are not dead-end hosts. BSE has been spread from one species to another, and this was known at the time the Southwood Report was issued.

The report added this ominous statement: "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. And that means we are confronted with a terrible crisis. 


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 beefburgers 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 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 of Agriculture 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 had been transmitted experimentally to seven out of eight mammal species, 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 cow’s blood and will therefore be found in virtually all parts of the animal—all 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 Vicky’s home; and, after examining the girl, he told her mother not to make her daughter’s 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 didn’t 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 1985—and was fired for speaking up—finally published his bombshell book. More on this later.

After initially castigating Lacey’s 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.

On 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.

Dorrell’s admission caused a furor which put photos of stumbling, cross-eyed, drooling cows on television screens across the planet and made England’s Wimpys and McDonald’s 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).

Along with that, the news broke on the same day that ten people under the age of 42 had just died from slow, agonizing deaths of CJD. The citizenry awoke to action,—and demanded that something be done.

Not only were these victims far younger than those typically afflicted by CJD (averaging 27 years old), but none had a genetic predisposition to the disease; and autopsies revealed that all had a virulent strain of CJD. The government was forced to admit that there was a link between the sick animals that Britons were eating and the sickness they were increasingly contracting.

Immediately, 10,000 British schools dropped beef from their menus; Ireland and Europe banned the entrance of British beef; and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that BSE was indeed linked to CJD.

Autopsies revealed that the brain pathology of those who died of CJD was essentially identical to the brains of the victims of Kuru in New Guinea.

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. (They quietly made sure it was Italian, not British, beef.) 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, Lacey’s 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 Britons 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. McDonald’s 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.

Here are some sample quotations from Lacey’s book:

p. xx: "The British Government [beyond much reasonable doubt] has at all stages concealed facts and corrupted evidence in mad cow disease."

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."

p. 17: "Several cases of CJD spread by blood transfusions."

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: "With vertical transmission of BSE confirmed in 1993/1994, the infectivity of blood is implicit, at least as far as cattle are concerned." This means that a person can contract mad cow infection from eating any part of an animal. And a mother with the disease can pass it on to her fetus.

p. 27: "In England, as many as 30% of BSE infected carcasses [are not incinerated and] end up in landfill sites."

p. 174: "Over 11,000 BSE cattle have been born after the [contaminated feed] ban."

p. 6: "Pathologists are often unwilling to undertake postmortem examinations of patients considered as having possibly died of CJD."

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."

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. 175: "There is also the problem of needing to house the new herds on fresh territory to prevent reinfection." 


Pulitzer prize winning author, Richard Rhodes, has published a helpful book, Deadly Feasts, on the controversy. Here are some facts you will find in it:

Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Carleton Gajdusek (one of the foremost researchers of Kuru and other spongiform diseases), has declared that all the pigs in England are infected with BSE; and that means not only pork, but also pigskin wallets, footballs, and catgut surgical sutures. All of these come from pigs (p. 220). Noting that all the chickens fed on meat-and-bonemeal are infected, he adds that, in America, beef male cattle are killed at or before age two, before they are likely to show the outward symptoms of the disease.

In America, chicken excreta (manure) is fed to cattle as a good source of nitrogen (p. 258). As for the American FDA’s ban on feeding meat and animal by-products to cattle, Rhodes writes "That’s a ban with exclusions big enough to drive a cortege of hearses through." Their own BSE advisory committee urged the FDA take stronger measures (p. 257).

According to Rhodes’ book, bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been detected in America, and not just in cattle. The American form of BSE does not cause the staggers and other behaviors found in British cattle; but instead it results in a more "sedate" collapse of the victim, referred to as "downer cattle." The nature of the brain damage is also distinct, a spongiform with differently shaped and oriented vacancies. Other forms have been transmitted via eating wild squirrels and wild bear. Some American zoos have lost animals to BSE.

Dr. John Pattison, Chairman of the British Government’s Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), Dean of the University College of London Medical School, believes 500,000 people may already be incubating CJD in Britain.

Dr. Alsleben has stated that prions can be found in white blood cells, contaminated milk, and even in the animal grease used in lipstick.

On page 222 of Rhodes’ book, Richard Lacey of the Microbiology Department of Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds, points out that " ‘there was no certainty that the source of infection had been cut off.’ ‘If it seems that the incubation-period average for CJD in humans begins to be about twenty five years, maybe thirty years,’ he told me [Rhodes] grimly, ‘then the peak human epidemic will come around the year 2015. If the current numbers of variant CJD cases increases by fifty percent per year, as they well might, that would take it to about two hundred thousand [human] cases a year by then.’ " That comment is only about mortalities in Britain.

Why is the body filled with the prion infection before CJD symptoms appear? What are the subtle effects long before the final destruction? If these prions are indeed the rod-like structures researcher Patricia Merz describes on page 156 of Rhodes’ book, then they would tend to impede cellular machinery long before they became long enough to break cell membranes and kill the cells. Thus it is possible that, long before that final break, subtle neurological effects could become evident. Dr. Merz has definitely located prions in spleen tissue and elsewhere in the animals, long before any outward symptoms were manifest! This is extremely significant. Prions apparently travel freely in the blood of these animals. Therefore all tissue is likely to harbor some prions, not just brain tissue. This means that large amounts of infected cattle have been fed to other cattle which, after becoming infected, have been sold to the public. But, since the human form of the disease (CJD) is misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, the medical crisis continues to mount.