From Professor S F Bush
26 October 2001
The Food Standards Agency
Your report (26 October) that the “epidemic” of variant CJD from which around 100 people have died may be at its peak, should also make it clear that there is no actual proof that it is a result of eating BSE-infected beef.
Terrible though the disease is, with a hundred cases spread over several years, it can hardly be called an epidemic. The fact that around a million BSE infected cattle were actually eaten in the period 1980-1996 means that several million people at least have been exposed to the disease. The huge disproportion between this number and the 100 or so cases of actual variant CJD must in itself throw massive doubt on the causal connection between the two diseases. The various mathematical modelling exercises reported in the scientific journals, with all their statistical sophistication, are still fundamentally based on this unproven assumption, and that is the basic reason for their wildly changing “predictions”.
Yet despite this, the Foods Standard Agency, and the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, are evidently determined to establish by hook or by crook, the existence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in our national sheep herd. And if a trace is said to be found, Mrs Becket’s Ministry of Slaughter will feel justified in inflicting another grotesque disaster on our farming industry by killing 40 million sheep. It would be at least as rational to ban all American imports on the grounds that they might be contaminated with Anthrax powder.
One wonders what planet our officials inhabit when huge efforts are expended on trying to prove that British food is unsafe, while food imports pour in with only the most cursory tests applied to them. Every £1 of foreign food which replaces home production has to be paid for by an export by someone else. One can confidently say that that someone will not be a government minister or employee of the Foods Standards Agency.
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