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How Factory Farming Harms People, Planet and Animals

BSE shows UK Government has a history of deadly failure


177 people died eating infected beef and over four million cattle were slaughtered to contain the outbreak.

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Government track record - a case study

A paper, in the International Journal of Epidemiology describes the origins, in the UK, of BSE concludes

“It might have been expected that its significance for human health could have been recognized and researched earlier” and “The UK government allowed more than 10 years to elapse after recognition of the new disease before formal efforts were made to integrate the work of all the agencies concerned with the control of BSE. There has been conflict between public health, commerce and politics throughout. Government ministers have said their priorities were to protect both public health and the UK farming industry simultaneously. They have tried to serve two masters and failed both. The principal organisations in conflict have been those representing food producers and food consumers, the worst example being the internal conflict of interest in the Ministry of Agriculture itself. It has been accused of favouring the producers at the expense of consumers and has forfeited both media and public respect. It has become fashionable for governments to talk about Public Health. Unfortunately blatant commercial protectionism, in the form of one country resisting the products of another, has been allowed to masquerade as public health protection thereby undermining the concept”
🔗 Source: Have lessons been learned from the UK bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) epidemic?


History is full of examples of public health, commerce and politics in conflict. In recent years attempts to protect UK egg producers, after the discovery of Salmonella enteritidis  (phage type 4) in hens' eggs, strained previously good working relationships between medical and veterinary epidemiologists and ended the political career of a government minister who spoke out in defence of the public health. Against the background lessons of earlier high profile public health problems in the UK conflict should have been avoided when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) started. It might have been expected that its significance for human health could have been recognized and researched earlier. Public announcements about it could have been timely and clear. Unfortunately this was not the case and it looks as though similar mistakes are going to be repeated over genetically modified foods.

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