Could Mad Cow Happen to Us?
Precautions in Canada, Australia and America
Big Bucks at Stake - Where's the Beef?
US Beef Production
US Cattle Numbers
US Useable Cattle Products
Bucking at Battered British Beef
Trouble in Burger Land
Where to Put it
Counting the Cost
Tell it Like it is Lyman
Cowboy Boots and Lawsuits
Too Close to Home
CWD in Colorado
Who's the Prey?
Misled and Misfed
Hunter Warning Belies Nonchalance
Funky Funding? Flawed Facts?
Can CWD be Transmitted to People?
Buried Time Bomb
Another CWD Death?
Dough, Oh Dear, A Female Deer
How Bib is BIG?
Colorado Deer and Elk Tags
Something to Think About. . .
FUNKY FUNDING? FLAWED FACTS?
In a publication called LabLines issued by Colorado State University's Veterinary Laboratory, they begin by saying only 5-6% of the free-roaming deer in Larimer County are infected. The current and accurate statistic is 15% infection. That northeastern area of Colorado is THE most highly diseased area in all the state. A 5-6% rate may have been the case in 1998 when the following study was done, but these findings were published in the Spring 2000 issue and leads one to believe conditions are much better than is the case. Infection has changed drastically in the intervening two and a half years.
In the fall of 1998, A "geographically targeted" area of 22 ranches where cattle mixed with free-foaming deer was selected for the study. The study did not indicate specifically what area had been chosen or what was the rate of CWD for that location, if any. Ranchers submitted 262 heads which were tested for BSE. To qualify, cattle had to be at least four years old or have spent a minimum of four years in the herd. None showed any indication of CWD. They concluded, "evidence of transmission of CWD from deer to cattle under free-roaming conditions could not be demonstrated."20
Coincidentally, funding for this project was provided by the Colorado Beef Board, the Colorado Cattlemen's Association (Floyd Cross and Leonard Horn Foundations), and the CSU Research Foundation. Do you suppose there could be any conflict of interest?
CAN CWD BE TRANSMITTED TO PEOPLE?
The short answer yes, in test tubes, CWD has been shown to pass from deer to people, but it is not an easy transmission. Sounds pretty incredible doesn't it especially when millions of hunters every year, and their families and friends, and people who eat the meat processed from hunters in restaurants or purchased in grocery stores, may be munching CWD-infected meats and sausages.
As of September 2002, the exact linkage is uncertain and still under investigation as a "cause for concern".
BURIED TIME BOMB
Even more disturbing is this medical abstract Evidence Of A Molecular Barrier Limiting Susceptibility Of Humans, Cattle And Sheep To Chronic Wasting Disease researched and written by Raymond GJ, Bossers A, Raymond LD, O'Rourke KI, McHolland LE, Bryant III PK, Miller MW, Williams ES, Smits M, Caughey B., dated September 1, 2000.
If it sounds dry as dirt you're right, but bear with us for a minute. This is another scientific paper showing there is no species barrier for CWD to humans. The data beg the question, "who would eat venison knowing the risk of conversion was 20% as efficient as CJD (the human form of mad cow) itself?" This article met with no fanfare, little public recognition, and no commentary from medical journals.
Dr. Thomas Pringle makes this observation why the information and scientists have been kept quiet: "one of the authors draws 100% of his salary from Colorado game tag sales, six are vulnerably located in small western towns (finding new employment might be rough), two at ag schools, three are USDA, one facility has an isolation moat to mollify towns people, and eight have multiple risk factors."21 A totally unbiased group, eh?
They have done their duty publishing the information, but obviously no one is going to make this bombshell front page news.
Dr. Pringle further states: "This paper is the best available science on the risk of transmission of CWD to humans, which is now no longer theoretical or questionnaire-based but experimental. If we regulate BSE, why not regulate CWD -- and scrapie for that matter -- the same way? If a visitor to England for 6 months cannot donate blood in the US and Canada, a hunter in NE Colorado or SE Wyoming should not either. Do we encourage people to hunt for meat in a herd of cows with 15% BSE? If scrapie is just as bad as BSE, why is the meat still being sold into the human food chain?
"US TSE policy is paralyzed by economic conflicts, fears that past cover-ups of public health risks taken will unravel, and worries over accountability and liability. After all, the scrapie-to-human risk was established two years ago but no policy changes were made -- only because it would wreak havoc in the sheep industry (there is no way to certify a flock as scrapie-free). People who bought hunting tags last year based on widely publicized reassurances that now have to be retracted (two of the authors) are going to raise questions. Then there is the vexatious issue of transmission of CWD to co-pastured cattle and problems this poses to the gigantic US beef industry. In short, nothing will be done -- the US, like England, only digs itself in deeper to put off the day of reckoning."22
ANOTHER CWD DEATH?
Released Wednesday in the Denver Rocky Mountain News was a story about a man who died Oct. 4, 2000, two days after his 53rd birthday in Aurora, Colorado. In six months, Gary Hopkins shrank from a healthy vibrant man into "a sack of bones" - just like animals with chronic wasting disease.
His son, Pat, wonders if his father, who hunted avidly in the Fort Collins area, died because he ate venison infected with CWD.
The article further stated that the US government has FINALLY become concerned enough that "within the week, it's expected to issue an opinion as to whether people are at risk if they eat venison or take nutritional supplements made from antlers of deer infected with CWD."23 Photo: © Dave Kenyon
Dr. Thomas Pringle is a biochemical geneticist for the Sperling Biomedical Foundation in Eugene, Oregon which does environment-related research. Dr. Pringle heads the section on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Chronic Wasting, Mad Cow and related issues. He also has THE finest web site on TSEs with a collection of over 7,000 articles from scientific abstracts to up-to-the-minute newspaper items from around the world. I have spent countless hours over the past six weeks on his http://OrganicConsumers.org/madcow.htm site immersed in data and information. If you have questions to research on this issue, this is the first place to go.
Dr. Pringle believes the CWD first emerged in Fort Collins, Colorado thirty years ago, when deer were penned with scrapie-infected sheep. "I place the blame squarely on DOW for ever allowing scrapie sheep to be closely quartered with wild game," Pringle says, "for waiting fifteen years to autopsy facility animals suspected of having scrapie, for releasing exposed animals back to the wild, for shipping sick animals to game farms and zoos long after they knew their incompetently managed facilities were contaminated, and for years of inaction and denial over the extent of the epidemic."24 Does this ring any BSE bells?
Three Americans under age 30 who had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease ate deer and elk meat when they were young. CJD has a long incubation period, and young people rarely die of the disease, which can start spontaneously.
The cases "suggest a possible relationship with CWD," but investigations found "no strong evidence of a causal link" with the patients' illnesses, Dr. Ermias Belay of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta told the panel. "This does not totally exonerate CWD from being a human pathogen."25
According to Dr. Pringle, he says "the best available science shows that chronic wasting disease can infect human tissue but wildlife officials are carrying on with 'business as usual'."
"Who'd want hamburger from a cow where 15 percent of the herd had mad cow disease?" Dr. Pringle asked. "Who'd want mutton from a sheep where 15 percent of the sheep had scrapie? To me it looks like Russian roulette for hunters."26
If there's no problem of CWD transmitting to people nor a problem of contracting a TSE through blood, why is the FDA considering "banning blood from tens of thousand of hunters, including those who took part in the fall 2000 hunting season"?
Pringle is worried that if the disease is found in humans, it will be after years of spreading through the human community. "It's like, 'Oh, what the hell. Nobody's died yet--so keep eating the venison!"27
Dr. Pringle bluntly blames wildlife officials for protecting the source of their income - the gaming license fees - and downplaying the seriousness of CWD.
DOUGH, OH DEAR, A FEMALE DEER!
You really don't want to think dispensing accurate information on CWD, BSE, CJD could in any way be influenced - not even remotely - by $$. The inescapable truth is that gaming is BIG business, big revenue for a number of states.
The Division of Wildlife states "Wildlife is extremely important to Colorado, accounting for well over $2 billion annually in economic activity." 1999 is the department's latest available revenue information. It does not break out fishing from gaming, but shows it accounted for $81.5 million in FY 1998-99.
HOW BIG IS BIG?
Keep in mind, these revenues only cover one season. A "season" generally indicates a short, specified time frame for a particular year. Some states have variable rates which accounts for a high and low fee given.
In 1996 - '97, these were the totals for Colorado deer and elk licenses sold:
If you (can find and) look at the annual fish and game financial reports for each state above in the bar graph, plus all the other states where there is hunting, revenues for this sport become very significant. The $27.1 million in revenues were for deer and elk licenses in Colorado only. Some states also hunt antelope, big horn sheep, mountain goat, moose, black beer and mountain lions. All but the last two are ruminants.
Each state has a vested interest to see potential panic over chronic wasting disease squashed. A few states, Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, New Mexico addressed CWD in a very unconcerned manner. As far as we could tell, they had all used the same document for their mini-FAQ on the subject and just substituted their own state's name where needed. They all state that the problem is only in Wyoming and Colorado and that the (absolutely minuscule) number of animals tested in their own state showed negative results for CWD.
With a large numbers of hunters and animals hunted, the chances of killing and consuming a diseased animal increase substantially especially if the people are still unaware of CWDs, BSE and CJD.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. . .
In the past six weeks, we've read literally hundreds of documents and articles reassuring the Australian, Canadian and American public that not only do we not have a BSE problem, we will not. We've taken the proper safeguards. We've tested. We've never had a case of BSE
before . . . We're OK, aren't we? Hello? Hello? Is anybody buying this horse hockey?
These assurances have come through newspapers articles, scientific
abstracts, news mag interviews, and federal and state government
They have promised our food and blood supplies are safe, that TSEs generally can't jump specie, that CJD is not transmissible by blood, but gradually, consistently, their steadfastness is beginning to crack. Adamant denial is replaced by "maybe". "One hundred percent safe" is replaced by "slight chance". "They" are paving the way just in case they have to wear omelets instead of eat them.
If the government is 100% sure Mad Cow can't happen in our country, why have they quietly put together this BSE Response Team?
Click for a larger image
Download the BSE Response Team pdf file.
The BSE Response Team (outlined in red above) is a 27 member emergency group who will be flown in from around the country should an "event" take place. Their meeting room? The "Situation Room" at APHIS headquarters in Riverdale, Maryland. The BSE team is organized under the USDA Office of Communications and USDA's secretary Dan Glickman. From them, information filters through various channels down to the BSE Response Team where they spring into action.
There is an entire set of procedures outlined in this file, should a BSE bovine be found. Does this sound like they're sure we'll never have poisoned food? It's something to think about. . .
Oops, hold the phone! Just in. Around 1200 cattle in Texas have been impounded for BSE checks. It was discovered their feed may have been mixed with MBM (meat and bone meal) from US companies found in flagrant violation of USDA regulations. Gary Weber of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said, "The current feel is that it wasn't a big deal, just a normal process to see whether there needs to be a feed recall."
Stan and I want to thank Vicki Nelson and the lady who wishes to remain in the background for her copious amounts of information sent and her own diligent research. Thanks everyone! Next week is the last of this 4-part series where we'll examine the food issue and how to keep free of BSE.
Holly and Stan
Seismo and Taco
Taco: "oh yah?.. How come?"
Taco: "Gee, Sizie, you DO catch on quick doncha?"
Seismo: (with an exasperated look at her) "OK... ok... I have other redeeming qualities."
Taco: "Yah, I know. You have a nose that could track a free feed from 20 miles!"
Seismo: "Anyway,... insults aside, what else could they have done to solve this problem once it got started? I mean if they'd told everyone about the risks in the food chain officially, then the western nations who depend so heavily on beef and stuff would have run the risk of an overnight economic collapse. On the other hand if they said nothing, it'd only spread faster until they were consumed anyway."
Taco: "Why, Seismo! I just love it when you have these little bursts of logic."
Seismo: "Uhhh, thanks, I think.... Well, whaddya think?"
Taco: "I think they'd better find a solution quick-smart!"
P.O. Box 7711, Pueblo West, CO 81007
© Text and Graphics, 2001 Stan and Holly Deyo, except where otherwise credited
1Elk Get The Blame As US Is Hit By CJD Scare; By David Usborne in New York; January 21, 2001; http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Americas/2001-01/uscjd210101.shtml
2Agriculture Meat production and Slaughterings; Livestock Products, Australia (7215.0);
3Ministers Back BSE Tests As Sales Plummet; November 22, 2000; http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=003662531325865&rtmo=
4 Summit considers BSE crackdown; December 4, 2000;
5Letter From Brussels Fuels Panic Over BSE; January 16, 2000;
6Health & Science: Mad Cow Crisis Could cCost EU $1 Billion; January 22, 2001; http://www.nandotimes.com/healthscience/story/0,1080,
7Mad Cow Scare Spreading Beyond Europe By Paul Casciato; December 1, 2000;
8 EU Holding Mad Cow Meeting; December 3, 2000; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20001203/aponline132949_000.htm
9Plain Truth From the Cattlerancher Who WonÍt Eat Meat; by Howard Lyman with Glen Merzer; http://www.madcowboy.com/
10 Mad Deer Disease in Wisconsin?; Brian McCombie; Isthmus Newspaper Madison, Wisconsin; July 13, 2000
11State-by-State Update on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD); January 25, 1999;
11.5 First Chronic Wasting Case Found in Minnesota; August 30, 2002; http://OrganicConsumers.org/madcow/MinnCWD83002.cfm
12 Mad Deer Disease Spreads To Wisconsin? - Infected Venison Can Be Fatal; Brian MdCombie; Isthmus Newspaper Madison, Wisconsin; July 13, 2000; http://www.purefood.org/meat/wisdeer.cfm
13Mad Deer Disease Spreads To Wisconsin? - Infected Venison Can Be Fatal; Brian MdCombie; Isthmus Newspaper Madison, Wisconsin; July 13, 2000; http://www.purefood.org/meat/wisdeer.cfm
14 Mad Deer Disease Spreads To Wisconsin? - Infected Venison Can Be Fatal; Brian MdCombie; Isthmus Newspaper Madison, Wisconsin; July 13, 2000; http://www.purefood.org/meat/wisdeer.cfm
15Ill Animals Spook Hunters; Jason Blevins; Denver Post; February 14, 1998; http://www.denverpost.com
16Mad All Over: This Family Of Killer Diseases Hits Close To Home; By Juliet Wittman; November 12, 1998; Westword Denver http://.www.westword.com
17Mad Deer Disease Spreads in US--Hunters Are in Danger; October 31, 2000; New York Times
18Mad Deer Disease Spreads in US--Hunters Are in Danger; October 31, 2000; New York Times
19Mad Deer Disease Spreads in US--Hunters Are in Danger; October 31, 2000; New York Times
20 Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories; Volume 4, Number 2 Spring 2000; Chronic Wasting Disease Update; Dan Gould;
21Evidence Of A Molecular Barrier Limiting Susceptibility Of Humans, Cattle And Sheep To Chronic Wasting Disease; Raymond GJ, Bossers A, Raymond LD, O'Rourke KI, McHolland LE, Bryant III PK, Miller MW, Williams ES, Smits M, Caughey B. EMBO J. 2000 Sep 1;19(17):4425-4430; http://www.mad-cow.org/00/sep00_sci_news.html#bbb
22Fatal 'Mad' Diseases Have Scientists Scrambling For Answers; January 23, 2001; http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/health_and_fitness/article/1,
23 Mad All Over: This Family Of Killer Diseases Hits Close To Home; By Juliet Wittman; November 12, 1998; Westword Denver http://.www.westword.com
24US Admits To Mad Sheep, Deer, And Elk But Claims Nary A Case Of Mad Cow... By Lucrezia Cuen; January 17, 2001; http://www.abcnews.com
25Mad Deer Disease Spreads in US--Hunters Are in Danger; October 31, 2000; New York Times
26Mad Deer Disease in Wisconsin?; Brian McCombie; Isthmus Newspaper Madison, Wisconsin; July 13, 2000
27 Stringent Steps Taken by U.S. on Cow Illness; January 14, 2001; http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/14/health/14COW.html?pagewanted=all
U.S. Commodity Rankings Livestock Data - Based on Inventory; January 1, 1998;
Official USDA Estimate Of BSE In Downer Cows; May 18, 1999;
Deer Population Exploding Across the USA USA TODAY; December 22, 2000 http://www.usatoday.com/news/ndsthu10.htm
McDonald's Profits Drop 7 Percent; January 24, 2001;http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20010124/aponline130536_000.htm