Professor Hugh Pennington, the eminent Aberdeen University bacteriologist
frequently called upon by the government to handle food scares, puts the science of the BSE in sheep scare in perspective............... There is absolutely no evidence that there is any BSE in sheep, and it's not that people haven't been looking. They have, but they haven't found it.
I agree with the statments by the epidemiologist Graham Medley, published in the leading US journal 'Science' last November (2001) "Predicting the course of a disease in a population certainly fulfils a morbid fascination, but predictions that vary by two or three orders of magnitude (by 10 or 100-fold) are for all intents and purposes meaningless"
Professor Pennington adds, Recall the attempts of the mathematical modellers to predict foot and mouth last year. Despite knowing more about the behaviour of the virus in the filed than for just about any other microbe, they still got things seriously wrong.
The main value of modelling is to show up the things that need to be found out such as how does infection spread. For BSE and sheep, of course, we don't need to do modelling to remind us how few actual facts we have."