Have we forgotten about the “BSE Time Bomb”?

Is it asking too much to have a little fact-checking on newspaper comment pages? Not the Mail, or the Tory comics, which are beyond redemption (beyond parody, too), but for papers which once, at least, were considered more intellectual before they were dumbed down by morons both above and below the line.  And for moderators to do a better job of vetting the lunatic fringe rather than just deleting posts that irk them, personally?

The Guardian comment pages, (not all of which are part of CiF, as is often wrongly supposed), were once the home of intelligent and reasoned debate. Not any longer, though.

Now any witless pillock with an opinion can get hundreds of  “Recommends” for posting any old deranged crap, because very few check their facts before posting and, I’m willing to wager, almost nobody does so before clicking the Recommend button.

I do, though. If I’m going to endorse an opinion (even though the process is anonymous), I want to know that it’s right – not a widely-shared point of view, I suspect, based on today’s evidence.

This morning, for example, some numpty blames the Thatcher government for the BSE crisis, and his recommends were heading for 500 last time I looked, at about 08.30. And it’s bollocks! The Thatcher government did a hell of a lot of damage, but feeding cattle their brethren wasn’t their idea. (Tip: You can’t blame the Tories for everything; other duplicitous and mendacious fuckwits are available!)

Actually, farmers, not the Tory government, gave us BSE, and contributed to its spread, by the then well-established and egregious practice of feeding cattle, which are, of course, herbivores, with the ground-up remains of their fellow animals (mostly cattle and sheep with the added bonus – you’ll just love this – of poultry shit), many of which animals, it transpired, were infected with BSE and/or the sheep disease, scrapie, thought to be a precursor of BSE at the time, though whether that actually turned out to be the case I don’t recall. It doesn’t really matter, as BSE quickly spread through the national herd with or without the aid of scrapie.

Tory politicians might be – indeed, mostly are – arseholes, as John Selwyn Gummer so ably demonstrated, trying to force-feed his toddler daughter a burger live on TV, and failing miserably, but blaming them for BSE is just crass. They could arguably have done more to stem the spread, but they sure as hell didn’t cause it.

And by the way, given the current upsurge in dementia cases, why is everyone silent about the “BSE time bomb” that was so widely predicted in the 80s? It’s due to blow up in our faces about now.

BSE was, incidentally, one of the reasons I spent 20-odd years as a vegetarian,** though it was probably pointless by then as my consumption of milk and cheese, always high, became even higher (by the late nineties I was getting through 16 pints of milk a week). The terrifying thing is that BSE might be responsible for the intellectual problems that have plagued me for some months now, and about which I’ve written here at some length.

How’s that for a cheery thought to end on?

**And it’s still the reason I try to buy organic meat, because I don’t trust a largely unsupervised food chain to remain uncontaminated by dodgy, and cheap, feed.


One thought on “Have we forgotten about the “BSE Time Bomb”?

  1. One of the first things that Cameron did when he stole his position as leader was to stop the “ring fenced” funding to set up testing for CJDv. This test would have become part of the testing regimen for all donated blood in the UK. There is a test to detect the infective agent of CJDv in blood. The amount of money put aside to trial these tests in mass production of blood and blood products was tiny (£240k for the first centre to run them, not including test kits and other equipment) compared to the hundreds of millions handed out to the outsourcing giants, we all know their names.

    I remember farmers feeding herbivores with ground up chickens and fallen stock in the early 70s, so it’s been going on for a very long time.

    This kind of cheapness hasn’t just affected livestock and humans, it’s affected at least one species of pet too – cats. In the 90s an unusual spongiform encephalopathy was described in pet cats, so similar to BSE that it was thought that the ground up nose and bottom floor sweepings that go into “premium” and cheaper brands of cat food were to blame. At least in this country animals euthanased with pentobarbital don’t end up in the pet/human food chain as they do in the USA.

    Farmed deer (for venison) have their own version of BSE too.
    BSE wiped out all the White Tigers at Bristol Zoo (not that they should ever have been bred in the first place, all had genetic problems due to the small gene pool they were bred from)

    Sometimes this country seems like one big Darwin Award.

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