The Politics of Lying: Implications for Democracy

By Lionel Cliffe; Maureen Ramsay et al. | Go to book overview
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11
BSE: Mad Cows and Deregulation

Dave Bartlett

We can say with confidence that beef can be eaten safely by everyone, both adults and children.

( John Gummer, Minister of Agriculture, May 1990)

There is no evidence whatsoever that BSE causes CJD and, similarly not the slightest evidence that eating beef or hamburgers causes CJD.

( Gillian Shephard, Minister of Agriculture, June 1994)

In the early 1980s the UK rendering industry underwent important changes in both production process and organisational structure. The period saw the introduction of the new energy-saving, Carver- Grenfield, 'continuous batch', rendering process which reduced operative temperatures to a range of only 80-90 degrees (as against the previous 130 degrees) without the sterilization processes required in other countries. A new Conservative government, ideologically committed to deregulation, removed many of the state's previously established regulatory procedures in the areas of public health, planning and the environment (Gifford n.d.) and, in April 1981, legislation established self-regulation in a rendering industry which was becoming increasingly concentrated in large-scale plants and subject to strong pressures towards monopoly ownership ( Shaoul 1996; Observer, 22 December 1996).

The change in the process of rendering sheep remains and cattle carcase waste was made despite MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries) research showing the need for high temperature processes to kill the scrapie agent in waste sheep meat ( Dealler 1996: 4: 7: 18). The new rendering process and the transformation of a part of the product into inputs for high protein compound feeds for cattle (and other farm

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