Wednesday 30th May 2012
I have had to write this blog to inform you about the UK Government’s weak efforts to undermine my investigations and campaign. I have been both very sad and angry at the attempts by the Conservative led government, its ministers and officials who are attempting to destroy my credibility and have been manipulating the true facts regarding vCJD victims and the ongoing threat that the human form of BSE poses for us all. The disease is still here and continues to maim, disable and destroy lives in 2012; many millions of us over 14 have been exposed to BSE the same lethal pathogen that killed my boy Andrew.
As my supporters and members of the public know I am not influenced by politics, finance, corporate or professional agendas. I have taken no monies for any of the documentaries I helped produced researched. My goals remain honest, open, constant and steadfast to expose those responsible for the unlawful deaths of my beloved son Andrew and hundreds of other victims of vCJD and to make sure all donated blood is screened for vCJD. I cannot be bought, silenced or intimidated. This site like all of my research is factual, true life experiences not influenced by the UK government, outside organisations, individual or collective pressure. I tell the truth about the BSE/vCJD scandal and remain transparent as possible regarding my efforts to get justice.
Individuals and their families continue to be affected by vCJD this is the ongoing legacy of BSE. Despite a recent inaccurate report in the media and untrue rhetoric spouted by experts funded by the UK Department of Health I continue to meet with, interview and support ‘living victims’ and their families affected by the human form of mad cow’s disease, in 2012. Since the Conservative led governments tenure began in 2010 they have tried repeatedly to dismiss vCJD as a disease of the past of little significance to the UK population. This dis respectful behaviour has broken the hearts of many of the families and living victims I continue to support. David Cameron’s PR team are spinning lies and half truths about the deadly brain wasting disease which will remain a ticking health time-bomb for millions in the UK and global population for decades. Using cherry picked ‘experts’ or weak and easily swayed members of the media they are manufacturing more lies and half truths about the human form of BSE. It has not gone away millions of us since the 1980s have eaten at least 50 BSE infected meals including strict veggies. Vaccines sanctioned by the department of health during the 1980s and 1990s were sourced from BSE infected herds, Kenneth Clarke Minister of Justice and right hand man of David Cameron was health minister through this period of scandal and shame.
How these members of the cabinet, Westminster and paid lackeys can go home and sleep well at night remains to be seen as they continue the culture of secrecy and half truths that unlawfully killed my only son Andrew.
The UK government is waging a war against honesty and the truth trying to conceal all aspects of BSE and its lethal human pathogen vCJD and this includes past, present victims. Total falsehoods, peddled by minions are only too happy to tell lies to further their careers or support Conservative policy. In autumn 2011 three people died of vCJD within ten days of each other. One of the victims a middle aged woman was infected with the human form of mad cow’s disease via a blood transfusion.
Millions of us exposed to BSE means thousands could be carrying, incubating the disease. No scientist or government official can truly say the disease will go away in any of our lifetimes. The disease has been known to kill people forty years after they ate infected material. With donated blood not screened for vCJD we also face secondary infections via blood transfusions/products and hospital procedures.
David Cameron’s party spearheaded by Kenneth Clarke are desperately trying to bury all mention of vCJD, BSE and its victims. The Conservative party are distancing themselves in every way possible from the stink of ‘BSE’ and their role in the deaths of so many innocent members of the UK public. With recent vCJD deaths in Asia and Turkey the blood of so many more within our global community are also on their hands.
False accounting of the true numbers of people who have died of the disease means the true numbers of individuals killed, disabled and affected by the human form of BSE may never be known. However with my investigative skills I am trying to establish as many victims and their stories as possible on a data base held in several safe places. These evidence based experiences and documented proof will form part of the process which will bring those responsible to justice.
I have filmed families who have told me that officials from the UK Department of Health visited them and said‘ Though your child has died of vCJD they wont appear on any official government statistics as they don’t fit the criteria’ Other grieving mums and dads have been told ‘ don’t speak to the press and don’t tell your neighbours your loved one had vCJD’ Intimidation and making the families feel isolated and ashamed is another tactic used to conceal the true numbers of people who have died of vCJD.
Every day I receive texts, phone calls, letters, emails from people affected by the disease these are ongoing ‘living victims’.
John and his brother Peter Gummer bank rolled Prime Minister David Cameron into office and Peter Gummer owns a huge PR and lobbying company Huntsworth PLC (integrated health care communications). Huge public relations organisations supportive of the Conservatives are working overtime to help hide, conceal or wipe out anything connected with BSE/vCJD and its ongoing victims. John Gummer as we know was the Agriculture Minister during BSE and John Gummer’s deliberate and ongoing decisions made sure that BSE infected brains and spinal cords continued to feed our children and families. In May 1990 John Gummer was continuing the lie still telling the public and media that ‘British beef is safe to eat’ despite his scientists telling him that BSE was lethal to humans.
In 2011 David Cameron bought a plot of land from Peter Gummer (Lord Chadlington) for £140,000 and all their families meet regularly at social, private and professional occasions.
Re branding of vCJD to prion disease is just one of the UK Governments PR and spin doctors initiatives. Yet another ruse used to remove the Conservative party and UK Department of Health away from the scandal of BSE. The term Prion Disease will have little relevance to the ordinary man or woman in the street and many would not connect it with the staggering cows of BSE which were slaughtered to make burgers and pies to feed our children as they sat down to school dinners. The same material used to make commercially prepared baby food, the same infected herds to make vaccines.
One family recently nursing their dying mother were warned by government medics that: ‘We don’t call it cjd anymore it’s called prion disease as that is less negative’
This blog is also posted as a warning to all those in Whitehall who continue to lie and try and block my steps towards the truth, to let you know that the bell tolls for you all and that one day soon you will be facing a court of law and will be made accountable for so many unlawful deaths, corruption and ongoing wrong doing.
INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE
Martin Luther King
Monday 28th May 2012
Once again another agriculture minister is putting government policy, shareholders profits and the huge money making machinery that is beef and livestock before a population’s health and safety. Below see this article from Care2 reporter Cathryn Wellner who reports that Canada’s British Columbia’s Minister is proposing to change the Animal Health Act which will ensure anyone is punished who leaks news of a disease outbreak on a farm with heavy fines and jail sentences. This means any journalist or member of the public that speaks out about diseased animals including BSE would be silenced and imprisoned. George Orwell depiction of big brother in his book 1984 is alive and well in the 21st century.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/bc-law-could-hide-animal-disease-outbreaks.html#ixzz1w3zERyXL
BC Law Could Hide Animal Disease Outbreaks
May 25, 2012
British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture says its proposed changes to the Animal Health Act “will ensure B.C.’s reputation as a producer of safe and healthy foods and animals.” It will also punish anyone who leaks news of a disease outbreak on a farm with fines up to $75,000 and a possible two-year prison sentence.
That language is buried in the first major re-write of the Animal Health Act since 1948. For the most part, the act is a detailed strategy for dealing with animal disease. When outbreaks affect companies such as Tyson and Cargill, they are major safety concerns for consumers.
So updating the Animal Health Act to ensure all disease outbreaks are accurately and quickly reported and dealt with is a responsible thing to do. Most of the revised act addresses safety concerns.
What has set alarm bells ringing are provisions giving government complete control over what information is released and applying stiff penalties for any leaks. The wording of Part 3 of the act means journalists cannot even access details through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, (FOI) the usual avenue for accessing information
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/bc-law-could-hide-animal-disease-outbreaks.html#ixzz1w3zERyXL
Friday 27th May 2012
Here are just some of the photographs taken during the vCJD, sCJD, g CJD, Iatrogenic CJD memorial/protest that took place in central London on May 17th. I like to thank the families, friends and members of the public that supported this event, including the living victims of vCJD who attended despite their health difficulties.
I also like to thank Frank Dobson Labour MP for his support and the words he spoke before the 2 minutes silence for all those lost to the horrific brain wasting disease made, manufactured and exported by the UK.
The former health secretary Frank Dobson talked passionately about his support for individual blood screening for all donors and the Labour party support of families affected by the disease.
As I stated during the ceremony ‘we will continue to fight for justice, transparency for our loved ones and to push for blood screening of all donations for vCJD.’
The fight continues and is gaining ground in all areas, and I would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support, information and documentation that continues to build our dossier of evidence and facts.Tuesday 22nd May 2012
The press association in the UK are continuing to attack the far reaching powers of the Justice and Security Bill which is to be published this Thursday 24th April 2012.
Article in The Telegraph stated:
The Justice Secretary will push ahead with proposals to allow some civil claims concerning the security and intelligence services to be held behind closed doors. But in one concession he will announce a judge will have the final say on such hearings rather than a minister. The bill, to be published on Thursday, will also restrict the power to “national security cases” rather than a previous proposal to allow any case that is in the “public interest”. However, it remains uncertain whether Mr Clarke will exclude inquests from being subject to the secret hearings. The Justice Secretary admitted some of the previous proposals had been “rather loose” and could have meant “putting a lot of things in secret”.”
Below is one of many letters I have sent to various advocates, members of the legal profession and human rights committees expressing my concern over the Justice and Security green paper, which if fully implemented will have catastrophic consequences for every man, woman and child in the UK. Our right to a fair, just and open trial in court will be no more.
Ms Christine Lord
5th March 2012
Dear Lord Ken MacDonald,
I have been following with interest and growing alarm the plans for the Justice and Security Green Paper which would mean court cases deemed ‘sensitive’ by Government would be held in secret. I thoroughly support your views that these plans spear-headed by Kenneth Clarke will scupper British justice, the right to a fair hearing and our constitutional right to have court cases heard in public for scrutiny by the population and media. The core of the Green Paper is ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’ and would destroy our legal system.
My name is Christine Lord and I lost my son Andrew Black aged 24 on 16th December 2007 to vCJD (the human form of BSE) my son was unlawfully killed by a culture of secrecy and corruption. In the near future I am confident of a court case which will bring those I hold responsible accountable for my boy’s untimely death.
The Green Paper proposals would mean inquests; court cases and many other areas of the judiciary could be held in camera at the incumbent governments request. This smacks of the same ‘Whitehall cover-ups ‘that killed my only son. Hundreds of families affected by vCJD, thousands living with an ‘at risk status’ of vCJD and the millions of us exposed to BSE would never find out the truth or answers if this green paper eventually becomes law.
When my Andrew was dying he asked me ‘Find out who did this to me mum and expose them’ and always thinking of others ‘this must never happen again.’ The promises I made my dying boy has meant me going on a life long mission for the truth and justice. With the development of a blood screening test for vCJD it means very soon we will know the prevalence of vCJD in the population and also be able to trace back the exact source of the infection. The blood test will also make donated blood and operations safe and free of vCJD. This test developed by British Scientists is essential to save lives and prevent future deaths; it will also reveal many of the secrets and realities about the disease and its origins. With these revelations will come legal action and many traumatised families and victims will finally have their say and day in court. None of us want that day to be silenced due to a green paper implemented by Kenneth Clarke who was Health Secretary during BSE who allowed infectious bovine material into baby food, school meals and vaccines when he knew the consequences to animals and man.
If this green paper comes to fruition it would mean the very officials who created, condoned and allowed BSE into the human food and medicine chain would have the power to censor, veto and silence any court cases within the public arena. So myself and other parents deeply bereaved would never have the transparent resolution we need and daily seek.
Surely there is a conflict of interests if as Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke is trying to bring about a law that will have the ability to silence and stop any future inquiry, inquest, legal investigation into vCJD taking place in the public domain. If this green paper becomes law my son Andrew will never have justice and I will never know the truth. The public will also never know just how many people have and will die of vCJD this will all be kept behind closed doors, not for the benefit of the population but for the benefit of those who are to blame for so many innocent deaths.
I am writing to you to offer my help in any way I can as representative of hundreds of families and thousands of people who have and are affected by vCJD and also on behalf of the millions of us over 14 years old that have been exposed to the same lethal pathogen BSE which killed my Andrew.
This green paper is a tool to be used by government ministers and officials to hide their wrong doings if it becomes law, justice in the UK will have finally died.
PS enclosed is one of three documentaries I have made about my son’s decline, death and the aftermath of living with vCJD. The DVD is the documentary which was commissioned by BBC1. This short film gives just a glimpse of the horror of the illness a UK man made manufactured and totally avoidable disease.
Thursday 17th May 2012
Thursday May 17th 2012
Central London from 1230
Meet at Slug and Lettuce Pub: 5 Chichelley Street, SE1 7PJ, before the short walk to embankment. Service to take place next to the Human BSE plaque.
Families and children who have lost loved ones to human form of mad cows disease will be protesting at a memorial service for those that have died.
Grieving families and live victims of the fatal brain wasting disease vCJD caused through eating infected school dinners, baby food, vaccines or contaminated blood, will be gathering on the embankment in central London from 1245. Campaigners and parents are demanding that David Cameron and his government support individual blood screening tests for UK blood donors so that the disease does not cause hundreds maybe thousands more to needlessly die.of the human form of BSE.
The multi faith event will be attended by MPs. Former Health Secretary Frank Dobson supports the campaigners he said ‘The latest research from the Health Protection Agency warns that up to 60,000 UK residents could be silently carrying vCJD, never become ill themselves but have the ability to transmit the disease through blood donation we need to know the numbers of people in the UK population who may be harbouring this deadly disease’.
Christine Lord organiser from Portsmouth lost her only son Andrew Black to vCJD aged 24 said:
‘We have the technology and its relatively cheap, the UK department of health have already spent over £450 million plus trying to filter blood but it hasn’t worked as a victim died October last year of vCJD due to a contaminated blood transfusion she received for a back operation. A British scientist has developed a test and several other foreign tests are in development but the UK Department of Health need to validated any test, the same organisation that helped o spread BSE during the 1980s and 1990s’ she continued ‘I fear the current Conservative led government will never want a test for vCJD as it would highlight the wrongdoings of the Tories who created and allowed BSE infectious material into the food and medicine chain in the 1980s and 1990s. ‘ She concluded ‘ VCJD has not gone away and we, one blood donor has the ability to infected hundreds of people.’
The memorial/protest will be attended by ‘ living victims ‘of the human form of mad cows disease, who are now ‘at risk’ of developing the horrific brain wasting disease through injectibles, medicines, blood products or medical procedures. Andrew March 38 from Kensington, London has received over 110 vials of factor 8 blood products which were infected with vCJD. He said ‘ I have to inject myself for my haemophilia and my medicine was sourced from blood donors that went on to die of vCJD.He added ‘ There are hundreds and hundreds of people like myself worrying that any time we could succumb to the human form of BSE, Individual blood screening tests for all blood donors and those like myself who are considered ‘at risk of vCJD’ should be the Department of Health’s priority.’
Tommy Goodwin from Glasgow lost his only son Grant aged 30 in 2009 to vCJD he said ‘Despite my son being recognised as a victim by world experts, lancet papers, and his blood being used for research. I have been told by Ministers at the Scottish and English parliament, that my Grant will never appear on any official records, he has been unlawfully killed and now his very existence wiped out. Just how many people have really died and are dying of vCJD? The cover-ups continue.’ (photo of Grant Goodwin)
Rose Smith, from Eltham, London, son Billy, died of vCJD aged 21 in January 2010. She said: “I stopped feeding Billy beef because of BSE but when John Gummer came on TV and said it was safe I believed him and started feeding beef to my family again. My boy was just a year old, all my Billy did was eat his Sunday dinner and now he is dead …” (photo of Rose with son Billy dying of vcjd)
Mum of two Judith Hajdaraj (40) from Brighton, is marching with her infant son Billy (4). She received blood transfusion at Royal Sussex Hospital in 2008, she said: “I was never warned that the blood I received could give me vCJD or that UK blood bags/ components have the disclaimer: ‘RISK OF ADVERSE REACTION INFECTION INCLUDING VCJD’ since July 2007. Why wasn’t I told this? And why doesn’t the British public know what’s going on? Why isn’t our blood screened for vCJD’.Friday 11th May 2012
The above link is from the Brighton Argos Newspaper (UK) reporting on the untimely and tragic death of a man aged 39 due to growth hormones contaminated with CJD.
The article is titled ‘ MAD COWS DISEASE KILLED MAN OF 39’
By Anna Roberts.
‘Daniel Sands 39 who lived with his wife Julie and his son Andrew went from a gregarious man to someone who could not even feed himself. His wife Julie spoke out about her husbands death as she wanted people to be aware the illness, still existed and could be contracted in ways other than a ‘dodgy burger’.
Daniel became ill in August 2010 and died in March 2011, he knew he could contract the killer disease as he had received contaminated growth hormones when he was a youngster. He was told by the UK Department of Health officials that the risk was so ‘ minimal it wouldn’t affect him’.
Growth Hormone treatment was given to young people in the 1970s and 1980s which had been sourced from human corpses who had died of CJD. This was given to young people with restricted growth and was fan fared as a ‘wonder drug’ with little or no side effects.
The practice of making growth hormone medication was developed in UK Labs Cambridge where the pituitary glands from cadavers were harvested to make growth hormones that were then used across the UK and exported. This medication made huge profits for the pharmaceutical companies the same ones that were also producing childhood vaccines during the 1980s and 1990s. In labs at the same location drug companies were developing growth hormones for cattle as well as experimenting with TSE’s (BSE).
The terrible decline and avoidable death of father of two Daniel Sands from Battle in St Leonards West Sussex UK is the story of yet another innocent person’s life destroyed by government greed and lies. Another family who have been left devastated by the lies and wrongdoings of government ministers and the UK department of health.
The newspaper article has used USA Government official records to quote ‘ 26 people have THOUGHT to have died of cjd via growth out of 8,000 people treated with the medication’ Note the use of the word ‘THOUGHT’ a get out clause for the USA Department of Health when the true numbers are much higher. Many more people have died of cjd due to growth hormone injectibles, in much the same way as the true numbers of vCJD victims here in the UK and abroad are being distorted or hidden. These families and victims have talked to me at length about their experiences.
I am in contact with many families who have lost dearly loved brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers to cjd via growth hormone injectibles. One family told me that their son Wayne who also died recently ‘ had his last growth hormone injection when he was 17 and his death at 43 meant incubation periods could be decades’. Wayne was MV genotype which were believed to have some protection over the disease, once again false reassurances from the UK Department of Health.
Across Europe many more people have died of cjd due to growth hormone treatments, this is another group of victims whose deaths were caused by the same corrupt people and lies that killed my only son Andrew. Kenneth Clarke the UK ‘s current justice minister was Health Secretary during BSE and he knowingly allowed contaminated blood, blood products, vaccines and injectibles to medicate our children and families. Kenneth Clarke deliberately risked the population’s lives and well being as he put his career and shareholders profits before human health.
Yet Kenneth Clarke continues to make a fortune in cash from his corrupt dealings, and is in charge of our justice system and the jails throughout the UK. When in fact he should be incarcerated within one, for the numbers of people he has unlawfully killed, disabled and maimed.
My thoughts and prayers are with Julie, Andrew and Stacey Sands and all of Daniels family and friends, and to let them know the fight continues for the truth and justice.
Wednesday 9th May 2012
Scientists based at Leicester University UK are a step closer to ‘switching off’’ brain mutations that cause vCJD and other neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons. Team Leader Professor Giovanna Mallucci research said the ‘breakthrough was very exciting’.
‘Her team found the build up of mis folded proteins in the brains of mice activated a natural defence mechanism in cells which switches of the production of these rogue proteins. This would then normally switch back ‘on’ again but the continued build up of misshapen protein keeps the switched turned ‘off’. It is this process which triggers brain cell death as key proteins essential for nerve cell survival are not made. By injecting a protein that blocks this ‘off switch’ the scientists were able to restore protein production independently of the build up of mis- shapen proteins and halt degeneration of the brain’.
Sunday Express UK May 6th 2012 page 9 By Jo Willey Health Correspondent.
When I read the above article I was both elated and sad, that these significant findings were not around when my Andrew was younger. Having nursed my Andrew through months of torment as he succumbed to vCJD, I am hopeful that these developments will unravel the mysteries of the disease and explain why some people develop vCJD, others incubate and many may carry the disease. As Andrew’s mum I need to know where he became infected, when and the exact source of the infection. These findings by the researchers at Leicester University will pave the way for these questions to be answered.
Hopefully these amazing results will mean in the future individuals can be treated for vCJD and the devastating brain death caused by the human form of BSE will be eradicated. With these developments will come treatments for a range of neurological diseases.
However this is just the beginning of a long haul for the scientists at Leicester University but it gives hope to us all. This development also highlights how close Alzheimers is to vCJD and how the dramatic increase in cases of sporadic CJD and dementia may be closely linked to exposure of BSE material during the 1980s and 1990s.
Team Leader Professor Giovanna Malllucci
MRC Toxicology Unit
PO Box 138
University of Leicester
Lancaster Road, Leicester
LE1 9HN, UK
Tel: +44 (0)116 252 5550 (/5597 lab)
Friday 4th May 2012
Below is a letter from concerned scientists to the US Secretary of Agriculture regarding the latest BSE cow found in California. This latest case raises many issues not least how much BSE infected material has gone into the USA human food and medicine chain? The Californian cows with BSE was picked up before slaughter but infected cows can also be symptom free, harbouring or incubating the fatal brain wasting disease and still have the ability transmit the disease via its meat to humans.
As a resident of the UK who lost their only son Andrew Black to vCJD aged 24 in 2007, I believe that the cow discovered with BSE most recently in the USA is just the tip of the iceberg. What about that cow’s offspring, parents, siblings as well as the rest of the herd it came from? Have they been tested? Have they been destroyed or have they ended up being slaughtered for food?
How safe is that national staple and iconic American food the burger? Are US burgers made with beef from BSE infected cows?
(photo of Billy Smith with his mum Rose dying of vCJD, Billy ran a burger van, cooked and prepared hundreds of burgers)
The rogue prions that cause BSE in cattle and vCJD in humans adhere to metal and cannot be destroyed by usual sterlisation or heat. All the instruments equipment used on that cow would be infectious and would pass BSE onto other animals being prepared for slaughter. How many BSE infected cows have really entered the USA human food chain? With incubation periods of upwards of forty years on humans, I fear the rising numbers of cases of cjd and dementia in the USA and UK may well be due to exposure to BSE infected food and medicine products.
Also it wouldn’t be for decades that the true cases of people affected by the disease would become obvious. Whether these would ever be made public is another matter.
Here in the UK the government put the agriculture, beef and pharmaceutical industries and their money making potential before my son’s life. The UK Conservative Government adopted a ‘Wait and see’ attitude not because it was the safest option but due to the huge political and financial influence those three organizations wield. The same is true in the USA whose beef lobby have a great deal of power within the senate.
(photo of Kate Richer victim of vcjd aged 9 during a family holiday on a farm, who died of vCJD at just 22 years old).
Scientist’s Michael Hansen, PhD. Jean Halloran urge the USA government to take stringent steps as it’s likely the cow that developed BSE became infected via animal feed. This is exactly the same scenario which top experts here in the UK believed created and caused the UK BSE epidemic and its terrible consequences to humans who have died and continue to die of vCJD. The companies that provide this feed should be named, shamed and shut down as the metal equipment they use to produce the feed will also be infected with rogue prions that cause BSE and the disease could then be re- cycled again and again into the animal feed.
BSE MAD COW LETTERS TO USDA (Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture) and FDA (Magaret Hamburg, Commissioner of FDA) May 1, 2012
BSE MAD COW LETTERS TO USDA (Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture) and FDA (Magaret Hamburg, Commissioner of FDA) May 1, 2012
May 1, 2012
Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary U.S. Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Ave., SW Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
USDA’s announcement last week that a fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has been identified in the United States, in a dairy cow in Central California, is a warning flag that current safeguards against BSE are not adequate and USDA should take additional steps to protect the health of animals and of the beef-eating public.
Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, is concerned that if additional steps are not taken now, this deadly disease could circulate and amplify within US cattle. USDA should conduct a full and complete investigation of this case, expand its surveillance program, and allow private companies to test as well. USDA should conduct a full and complete investigation of this new BSE case. USDA has confirmed to reporters that this case is an “L-type” atypical strain of BSE.1 USDA therefore must be especially vigilant, because this may well not be a “spontaneous” case, but rather may well have been infected through feed, and may be particularly infectious in humans.
The L-type BSE strain has previously been identified in cattle in Europe2 and in Canada.3 This would suggest that the current case may have been contracted through feed, rather than be a new spontaneous occurrence.
Studies further suggest that the L-type BSE can infect humans, possibly even more easily than “classical” BSE. A study using humanized mice (mice genetically engineered to
have brain prions like humans) suggested that L-type BSE could infect humans.4 Another study showed oral transmission to a primate.5 The mouse study also found shorter incubation periods than for classical BSE, making it a more “virulent” strain.6 The fact that L-type BSE has been found before in cattle makes it extremely important that USDA conduct a thorough and complete investigation of this case. Not just all offspring, but all cows that consumed the same feed as this cow, should be tested for BSE.
USDA should significantly increase its surveillance for BSE.
Given the very small size of the current USDA surveillance program, it cannot be said with certainty whether this new case is an isolated one, or whether it is indicative of a much larger problem.
USDA tests approximately 40,000 dead or slaughtered cattle annually for BSE, only about .1 percent of the 35 million cattle slaughtered annually in the United States. This is far too small a sample to provide the nation with the assurance that our food supply is safe. In Europe and Japan, every animal over a certain age is tested at slaughter. In the U.S., having recently found one case of BSE in a program of just 40,000 tests annually, consumers need to know what the results would be from a larger test program in order to maintain their confidence in the U.S. beef supply.
Ideally USDA should test all cattle at slaughter over the age of 20 months for several years. At a minimum, USDA should test at least 350,000 annually, for at least three years, including all cows showing nervous system abnormalities, downers, and a random selection of cattle slaughtered at more than 30 months of age and cows sent to the renderers.
USDA should end its prohibition on private sector testing for BSE.
To augment USDA testing, and to assure meat producers’ access to foreign markets, USDA should reverse its counterproductive policy of prohibiting private companies from testing for BSE at their own expense. In the past, a private company sought permission to test animals for BSE at their own facility, using the same test that USDA employs to detect BSE, in order to be able to export beef to Japan, which requires testing of all animals over 20 months at slaughter. However, USDA has prohibited sale of test kits for this purpose. In an era of limited governmental resources, when public-private partnerships are essential to assure safety, we urge USDA to reconsider this highly counterproductive and anti-competitive policy.
USDA has argued that the rapid tests are “worthless” when used for a food safety purpose because their use could result in a false negative.7 While we agree the rapid test kits can miss a case of BSE in the early stages of incubation, such test kits can catch the disease in later stages, before the animals show symptoms.8 They are used to test animals at slaughter in Europe and Japan and have identified more than 1,000 otherwise undetected cases in Europe.9 We urge USDA to allow private testing, with the caveat that any findings of a BSE positive animal would have to be immediately reported to the USDA. Although tested beef should not be labeled “BSE-free,” testing could in fact be incentivized by allowing companies who use such tests to label their products as “BSEtested.” We would appreciate having an opportunity to discuss these recommendations with you and your staff. Thank you for your consideration.
1 Thompson, H. 2012. California BSE prion comes with a different twist. Nature News Blog, April 27. At: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/04/california-bse-prion-comes-with-a-different-twist.html
2 Brown, P, McShane, LM, Zancusso, G and L Detwiler. 2006. On the question of sporadic or atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 12(12): 1816-1821. At:http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/12/12/pdfs/06-0965.pdf
3 Dudas, S et al. 2010. Molecular, Biochemical and Genetic Characteristics of BSE in Canada. PLOS One, At: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0010638
4 Kong, Q, et al. 2008. Evaluation of the human transmission risk of an atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy prion strain. Journal of Virology, pp. 3697-3701.
5 Mestre-Frances N et al. 2012. Oral transmission of L-type bovine spongiform encephalopathy in primate model. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 18(1): 142-145.
6 Kong et al. Op cit.
Michael Hansen, PhD. Jean Halloran