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   VegSource Interactive, Inc. | Mad Cow Disease

Mad Cow Disease:  Don't just switch to chicken!
by Michael Greger, MD

Our government seems to be more interested in protecting cattle futures on the Chicago Merchantile exchange than it does in protecting human futures. In direct violation of the World Health Organization recommendations and international standards,[1] billions of pounds of slaughterhouse waste is still legally fed to pigs[2] and chickens[3] in North America.[4-5] According to the USDA, the most infectious tissues of the U.S. mad cow case--the brain, spinal cord, and intestines--"were removed from this animal and sent to rendering" to presumably become animal feed and pet food.[6]


D. Carleton Gajdusek was the first to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on mad cow-like diseases.[7] He was quoted on Dateline NBC as saying, "it's got to be in the pigs as well as the cattle. It's got to be passing through the chickens."[8] Dr. Paul Brown, medical director for the US Public Health Service, believes that pigs and poultry could indeed be harboring mad cow disease and passing it on to humans, adding that pigs are especially sensitive to the disease. "It's speculation," he says, "but I am perfectly serious."[69]

Although no pigs or chickens have been found with the disease, they are killed so young on American factory farms that they may not have time to develop symptoms. Pigs and chickens may also be so-called "silent carriers." Dr. Richard Race is a Senior Investigator with the National Institutes of Health.[10] In 2001, he published a landmark paper showing that even species thought to be resistant to particular strains of prions could invisibly harbor the disease and pass it on to other animals.[11] He also found that these deadly prions were somehow able to adapt to the new species, becoming even more lethal and replicating faster and faster.[12]

Mad cow disease has been described as the Chernobyl of food safety issues.  It lays to bear our brash willingness to place the public, rather than corporate profits, at risk, and the danger inherent in cows-or people-eating the flesh of other beings.

Any animal with a brain has the potential to become infected and presumably infectious with these deadly infectious sponge-like brain diseases. Although there are some cuts of beef likely to carry less risk than others, the safest type of meat... is a veggie burger. It's a no brainer!

[1] Joint WHO/FAO/OIE Technical Consultation on BSE. OIE Headquarters, Paris, 11-14 June 2001.
[2] European Commission memo/03/94. Brussels, 30 April 2003.
[3] National Renderers Association. North American Rendering: A Source Of Essential, High-Quality Products.
[4] Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Regulations: Food for Ruminants, Livestock and Poultry (Part XIV), "Prohibited Materials".
[5] Food and Drug Administration 2000 CFR Title 21, Volume 6, Chapter 1, Part 589. http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_00/21cfr589_00.html.
[6] FDCH Political Transcripts December 23, 2003
[7] Unconventional viruses and the origin and disappearance of kuru. 13 December 1976. http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1976/gajdusek-lecture.html
[8] NBC Dateline 14 March 1997.
[9] Pearce, Fred. "BSE May Lurk in Pigs and Chickens." New Scientist 6 April 1996: 5.
[10] http://www.niaid.nih.gov/dir/labs/lpvd/race.htm.
[11] R Race et al. Long-term subclinical carrier state precedes scrapie replication and adaptation in a resistant species: analogies to human BSE/vCJD. Journal of Virology 75(21):10073-89 (2001).
[12] National Institutes of Health. NIAID News Release "Study Examines How Prion Disease Adapts to New Species." 17 October 2001

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