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From: TSS ()
Subject: Re: THE MAD COW INVESTIGATOR ??? or mad cow plagiarism, you be the judge
Date: February 13, 2006 at 10:02 am PST

In Reply to: THE MAD COW INVESTIGATOR ??? or mad cow plagiarism, you be the judge posted by TSS on February 13, 2006 at 9:49 am:

American Beef Consumers Get Tough

By Nancye Good

Devastated fans of Yoshinoya’s beef bowls mourn the reinstatement of the ban on U.S. beef imports due to the discovery of spinal material in a recent veal shipment. On December 19, 2005, America’s biggest beef consumer, McDonalds Corporation sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration requesting stricter enforcement and more stringent restrictions on American beef. McDonalds is not alone in their demands. Pfiser and Land of Lakes have also written letters to the FDA stating their concern that the current precautions are insufficient. The American beef industry is reeling.

"It is our opinion that the government can take further action to reduce this risk.” writes Dick Crawford, the Vice President of McDonalds. He maintains that as a corporation they strive to keep “the risk of exposure as close to zero as possible. The exemptions in the current (feed) ban…make this difficult if not impossible.” Crawford also points out the lack of a viable cattle identification and traceability system, which is also one of the conditions set by Japan.

This McDonalds letter constitutes a major breakthrough for self proclaimed mad cow investigator, Janet Skarbek who has been struggling to get the word out that US beef is not safe since June of 2003. Her independent investigation into what she believes is a cluster of deaths caused by eating tainted beef that was served at the garden state racetrack in New Jersey has uncovered 27 victims of Creutzfeld Jakob Disease. Her efforts to get the Center for Disease Control and New Jersey Department of Health to take over her investigation have been dismissed, until now.

Skarbek and other citizens across America continue their grassroots efforts to get out the message that Mad Cow disease is killing Americans. “Bereaved family members feel the CDC and the USDA have murdered their loved ones.” Skarbek speaks passionately, a strong and capable representative for families who feel isolated by the low public awareness level about the disease in the United States. Skarbek is an unlikely activist, with a conservative background in business, but the mother of two has devoted endless hours of research into a very complicated medical topic. “They know how to stop the spread of the disease, just stop feeding cow parts to cows. They don’t want the truth to get out and it’s all about corporate greed.”

Skarbek’s words were echoed by seven prominent scientists who likely instigated this recent unprecedented trend, where major corporations are demanding stricter government regulation and enforcement. The seven scientists drafted a letter entitled “Substances Prohibited From Use in Animal Food and Feed” to the FDA on December 20, 2005 which must be their response to recent revisions in the 1997 feed ban. The scientists urge the FDA to learn from the mistakes made by other countries regarding partial feed ban regulations. Since 5 cows have tested positive in North America, this “should provide the necessary incentive to implement, monitor and enforce a comprehensive and protective feed ban that is more congruent with the measures that have been proven to be effective throughout the world.” The group states that the newly revised feed ban has exemptions which “still provide legal avenues for ruminants to consume potentially contaminated ruminant protein.” They further state that “We feel that in North America, the source and routes of exposure still exist, hence allowing for the continued recycling of BSE.”

Back in 2004, the CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health’s wouldn’t seriously consider Skarbek’s suggestion that the Garden State Racetrack situation deemed a full epidemiological study, but new clusters of CJD deaths have emerged in New York, Idaho, Texas and Virginia. Skarbek has maintained that “It’s going to take more bodies, people dying from CJD to make them take notice.” Has this point been reached? It’s difficult to say because CJD is not a Federally Reportable Disease.

Only 24 out of the 50 United States mandate that a death from CJD must be reported to the government. Without accurate surveillance of the disease it is impossible to know how many people have died, or if the number of incidence is indeed one in a million as the Center for Disease Control asserts. (Insert graph from CJD Voice)
In the United States, the Prion Surveillance Center at Case Western University in Ohio has been designated (and funded) by the Center for Disease Control as the official diagnostic center for CJD. An associate researcher at the Prion Surveillance Center, Robert B. Petersen, PhD is one of the seven scientists that drafted the 12/20 letter to the FDA. Can one speculate that Dr. Petersen saw cause for alarm because of a rise in the number of CJD cases?

Evidence of BSE in the United States was discovered by the late Dr. Richard Marsh, formerly a professor of Animal Health and biological sciences at the University of Wisconsin. In the early 1980’s Dr. Marsh was called out to several different local mink farms to investigate a disease that was wiping out entire populations of mink. Autopsies showed vacuoles in the brains of the minks, typical of spongiform encephalopathies. Since minks are carnivorous, the farmers had raised them exclusively on affordable meat from downer cows they had purchased from nearby cattle farms. Dr. Marsh became concerned about the possibility of meat contamination and alerted other scientists in his field. Dr. Marsh’s findings are considered by many to be evidence that BSE was already endemic in U.S. herds back in the 1980’s.

If so, how come the U.S. are not testing more cattle? Currently the U.S. tests approximately one percent of the 36 million cows slaughtered. Dr. Stanley Prusiner, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1997 for discovering the Prion, the malformed protein that is believed to be responsible for infectivity in all forms of spongiform encephalopathy. Prusiner has spoken out about his concerns about putting ruminant protein in cattle feed, and about insufficient cattle testing. "I'd like to see every downer cattle, every fallen cow tested. That's a beginning. And then after that, at some point, I'd like to see every cow tested, just as they do in Japan." Prusiner’s studies have shown prions in muscle tissue in mice, and the New England Journal of Medicine published research in 2003 indicating that prions were found in eight of the 32 muscle samples of human CJD victims. The 12/20 letter mentions similar findings as further reason to maintain high precautionary levels.

Skarbek has always insisted “It’s not about starting a panic, it’s about informing people so they can make educated choices about their food.” In Japan people can feel secure in their food options because of the stringent precautions the Japanese government has taken by testing every cow and requiring strict traceability of animals. In the U.S. however the beef industry has an iron grip on the media, which keeps negative reportage to a minimum. All major U.S. TV networks are wary of airing stories on BSE because of the risk of losing advertising revenue. Skarbek can list several instances where bereaved families opened up their lives to get the message out about CJD only to have the stories canned at the last minute due to industry pressure.

Many scientists including Stanley Prusiner have pointed out the similarities between Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and CJD. Skarbek has discovered internal government memos that advocate withholding information from the public about a potential link between CJD and Alzheimer’s. In a letter regarding Alzheimer’s research from Dr. J S Metters (U.K. Department of Health), dated 4 November 1992 it states “The only tenable public line will be that “more research is required” before that hypothesis could be evaluated. The possibility of a transmissible prion remains open.” In this statement, Skarbek detects similarities to what the U.K. government said before BSE hit. Alzheimer’s disease affects 18 million people worldwide and that number is growing exponentially. “Dying for a Hamburger” by Dr. Murray Waldman further asserts the idea of a connection between beef consumption and Alzheimer’s disease. Skarbek is convinced that the U.S. government knows more than they let on about the cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The recent letters from corporations and scientists to the FDA don’t go that far in their warning tone, but certainly they do strongly support Japan’s decision to reinstate the ban on American beef. This new role of corporation as watchdog backs up the mad cow activists like Janet Skarbek and adds credibility to their demands for action to the US Government.

Nancye Good is a NYC filmmaker who works in Japanese TV and is making a documentary about Janet Skarbek and the New Jersey CJD cluster.

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