How to Prevent Mad Cow Disease. (Feature)

By Dunne, Fintan; Ankomah, Baffour | New African, April 2001 | Go to article overview
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How to Prevent Mad Cow Disease. (Feature)


Dunne, Fintan, Ankomah, Baffour, New African


As Mad Cow Disease or BSE spreads across Europe and elsewhere (and recently Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Britain), African farmers (especially those in East and Southern Africa whose lives revolve around cattle) should beware. There is an alternative theory about the causes of BSE which the authorities in Europe do not want to hear. To be on the safe side, African farmers would do well to keep all pesticides from their animals.

Pharmaceutical interests in Britain are ignoring new scientific research that shows an insecticide used in the UK government's warble fly campaigns in the 1980s triggered the surge of Mad Cow Disease (or BSE) in Britain.

This theory sharply contradicts the "official" version that says the disease is caused by contaminated cattle feed.

"The consumption of meat and bone meal from infected cows has doubtless had an important role to play," wrote George Monbiot, in a column for the British daily, The Guardian on 23 November last year.

"Yet this explanation alone fails to account for the huge numbers of cattle in Britain which continued to become infected after most contaminated feed had been removed from the food chain. The latest research on the human form of the disease, nvCJD, published three weeks ago, failed to find any link with the consumption of infected beef."

Monbiot continued: "You might have imagined that when its theory isn't working, a government would wish to test the alternatives. But the British administration has, so far, sought only to attack a hypothesis which does appear to fit the facts.

"Since 1988, a Somerset farmer called Mark Purdey has been arguing that scientists have overlooked the root causes of BSE. Self-taught and self-financed, [Purdey] has mastered the brain's complex biochemical pathways and this year published a groundbreaking paper in a respected medical journal. His reward is to have been reviled, misrepresented and physically attacked.

According to Purdey's research, "prions, the brain proteins whose alteration seems to be responsible for BSE, are designed to protect the brain from the oxidising properties of chemicals activated by dangerous agents such as ultraviolet light.

"When the prion proteins are exposed to too little copper and too much manganese, the manganese takes the place of the copper [that] the prion normally binds to. This means that the protein becomes distorted and loses its function."

On the back of Purdey's research, have come more experiments recently by the Cambridge University prion specialist, David R. Brown, and other researchers that show that prions in the spine of cattle -- along which pesticides are applied -- can be damaged by the organophosphate insecticide which were used during the UK government's warble fly campaigns.

The offending pesticide was manufactured by one of Britain's pharmaceutical giants. (The names of the company and the pesticide are being withheld in this article, for legal reasons).

British scientists favoured by the government have led the "official" theory that an infectious prion in bone meal fed to cattle causes Mad Cow Disease (or Bovine Spongiform Disease -- BSE).

Infectious prions are also claimed to cause new variant Cruetzfed-Jakob Disease (nvCJD) in humans -- from ingesting beef. But this theory serves to obscure a tragic chemical poisoning scandal behind the majority of BSE cases.

New research

The new research proves that the prions can bond with manganese in animal feed or licks. These manganese prions cause the neurological degeneration seen in BSE. By a similar process, lice lotions containing organophosphate damage prions in human brains. This can result in neurological diseases like nvCJD and Alzheimer's later in life.

Many people might be surprised to hear that organophosphates were developed by Nazi chemists during World War II, as a chemical weapon nerve agent.

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