We were in Africa when BSE broke out in the UK. We felt ‘safe’ – until I found out that tonnes of infected meat had been shipped to Africa to ‘get rid of it’!
I’m sure many of my readers have never even heard of BSE – or mad cow disease.
bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a disease of cattle which affects the central nervous system, causing agitation and staggering, and is usually fatal. It is believed to be caused by an agent such as a prion or a virino, and to be related to Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans.
It was supposedly caused by feeding scrapie infected meat and bone-feed to cows – fancy that; feeding meat to cows! and eating sick cows gave it to humans. Well that was the theory – it was caused by feeding cows dead animals.
People were terrified of developing CJD, which can take years to show itself.
But, there is another story.
This is the story of the OTHER story.
Organic livestock farmer Mark Purdey was ordered in the 1980’s, along with all cattle and dairy farmers in the UK, to treat his cows with an organophosphate pesticide ‘Phosmet’ manufactured by I.C.I.. Organophosphates are derived from military nerve gas and a systemic treatment (the chemical enters the entire internal system of the cow) would undermine his organic principles so Mark refused to treat. “If Phosmet is proven to have caused BSE, the worldwide use of organophosphates (OPs) could be put into jeopardy, costing the chemical industry billions. The government know more than they’re letting on. They’ve stuck to the scrapie theory to placate people and give the impression they’ve got it under control.” Mark Purdey, Organic Dairy Farmer, Exmoor. “If the government are found liable for BSE – by enforcing organophosphate treatment – the payout could break the economy.” >>>
The British Government “got BSE under control” by ordering the slaughtering of millions of cows – millions. Britain lay under a pall of smoke from the incineration fires as it did during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.
The story continues in more detail – but the final outcome in my comment under this quote might have given Mark Purdy some comfort. He wrote a book, but died before he completed it. It is heroes like Mark Purdy that REALLY change the world.
Mark Purdy, had a different theory about the cause of BSE.
One that the authorities and the pesticide producers have gone to great to lengths to silence. Between the late 70’s and 1982 British farmers were forced by law to treat their cows for warble fly with a pour on organophosphate called phosmet – organophosphates are derived from nerve gas formulated by nazi chemists during World War II. Big business soon realised its profit potential and, post war, it was exclusively marketed as an agricultural pesticide by ICI, and later their cunningly renamed subdivision Zeneca. Seeing how his own organically reared cows never developed BSE, but phosmet-treated cattle brought onto the farm did, Somerset dairy farmer Mark Purdey refused to treat his herd. In 1984 MAFF took him to the High Court, but lost. “Before 1982 farmers could treat warbles with an organic ground-up root compound called Derris. This was outlawed, so they could sell more organophosphates,” said Purdey. Organophosphates, used to treat headlice in school children, have been implicated as a potential cause of Gulf War Syndrome. Purdey managed to alleviate symptoms in a BSE infected cow by injecting oxime, an antidote to pesticide poisoning. The cure was never completed as MAFF turned up and destroyed the cow. Unconvinced by the accepted cause of BSE and CJD, Purdey set about studying how disease clusters reflected OP usage. He found Britain, the only country enforcing phosmet use, to have the highest rate of disease. Ireland had some BSE, but OP use was voluntary, and given at a lower dose. Brittany (France) began to develop BSE following an enforced phosmet trial, and human new variant CJD was clustered in Kent’s Wield Valley, where hop and top fruit growth gets saturated with organophosphates. Agitated by Purdey’s discoveries, the pesticide industry hit back. The dubiously named National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), a lobby group representing the UK animal medicine industry, whose membership reads like a Downing St dinner party invite list of extremely dodgy chemical interests – including Bayer, Monsanto, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Schering-Plough etc – published documents discrediting Purdey’s work. NOAH produced an independent expert, Dr David Ray, for the BSE Inquiry, who turned out to be receiving funding from Zeneca for his Medical Research Council toxicology unit. “I don’t think this affected my judgement,” Ray told SchNEWS. “You may not believe it, but I didn’t realise Zeneca produced phosmet at the time.” Hmmm. In March 1996 – one week before the UK government admitted to a link between BSE and new variant CJD – Zeneca sold the phosmet patent to a PO Box company in the Arizona desert. As Ray said: “Zeneca are not keen to be sued.
Interestingly – and VERY STRANGE! is that the British Government, in it’s final analysis ” took the view the cause was not scrapie, as had originally been postulated, but was some event in the 1970s that was not possible to identify.” My bold. Link Wikipedia
Here is Mark Purdy telling his story in 2001. In today’s glitzie video line up, it might seem dull, but it is well worth watching and reveals his courage in the face of persecution. Unfortunately, Organophosphates are still used in some countries – as herbicides and pesticide – ‘Its use is banned or restricted in 23 countries and its import is illegal in a total of 50 countries.’ and they have been mostly abandoned for use on animals.
Here is Mark