The astonishing recent events in the BSE-in-sheep experiments have led to
further revelations.  Betty has forwarded these items:

BSE bacteria test could save livestock

By Sandra Barwick

(Filed: 13/10/2001)

A TEST for BSE in live animals, which could eradicate the need to slaughter
young
cattle and lift the threat of a national sheep cull, has been proposed by a
government funded study.
Alan Ebringer: needs further funding to validate test
The full report, which has only recently been sent to the Department of
Environment, supports the theory that BSE is an auto-immune disease caused
by
a common bacteria.
The theory, first proposed by Alan Ebringer, professor of immunology at
King's
College, London, and his colleague the late Prof John Pirt, opposes the
accepted
idea that rogue prions are responsible.
The completed report, funded at a cost of #234,260 by the Department of
Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), has been submitted to the
department, and will be presented to a meeting of the Spongiform
Encephalopathy
Advisory Committee.
Prof Ebringer's research into 128 animals with BSE has confirmed an earlier
pilot
study which showed high levels of auto-antibodies to a bacteria found in
sewage
and soil in affected cattle, called acinetobacter calcoaceticus.
The theory was dismissed in the Phillips Report on BSE as "not widely
accepted
as a credible explanation for the BSE epidemic".
Prof Ebringer says that whether prions cause BSE or it is an auto-immune
disease, as he believes, the proved presence of antibodies in cattle with
the
disease means that it should be possible to screen them out of the food
chain.
Further studies are necessary to show how soon in the progress of the
disease
antibodies are produced. Prof Ebringer is now asking for further funding of
#2
million for further research to validate the test.
At present cattle entering the food chain are slaughtered at or under 30
months
because of the fear that older animals, invisibly incubating BSE, may
produce
variant CJD in humans who eat the meat.
Recently Defra proposed that, if BSE is found to have existed in sheep
during the
period when it was rampant in cattle, almost the entire national flock of 40
million
sheep will need to be slaughtered.
This action, which would be expected to take four years at the cost of many
billions
of pounds, is argued to be likely to be necessary because no simple test
exists to
find which live animals have, or are incubating BSE. Several scientific
teams are
attempting to find such a test.
If BSE is an auto-immune disease it would mean that British beef is safe,
Prof
Ebringer believes, and that the mass slaughter of cattle over 30 months of
age and
other measures costing the taxpayer several billion pounds, were
unnecessary.
In the study of 128 cattle with BSE, high levels of antibodies to
acinetobacter were
found compared to those in controls.
The report argues that the agent causing BSE is not in the brain and spinal
cord,
but in bacteria present in "green offal". This is excluded from the food
chain. If the
theory is correct, there will be no CJD epidemic.


Ministry ignored two-day test for mad cow disease
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
(Filed: 20/10/2001)
MARGARET BECKETT, the Environment Secretary, was under pressure last night
to explain why her department ignored the advice of scientists who could
have
shown by now whether or not there was bovine spongiform encephalopathy in
the
national sheep flock.
After the collapse of four years' research into BSE in sheep because
scientists
used the brains of cows by mistake, a leading Government scientific adviser
openly criticised the ministry's delay in acting as "disgraceful".
Prof John Collinge, the director of the Medical Research Council's prion
unit and a
member of the Government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee,
said the scientists who commited the blunder had not only been using the
wrong
brains but were using the wrong experiment.
Prof Collinge of Imperial College, London, who discovered that variant CJD
was
the human variety of BSE in 1996, suggested that year that veterinary
laboratories
should adopt his test which would have found BSE, if present in sheep, in
two
days instead of two years.
Three years passed then he wrote to ministers criticising the delays in
testing the
flock for BSE, and suggesting that they used his test. He heard nothing.
Prof Collinge added that the risk of BSE in sheep was not a "theoretical
risk" - as
the Food Standards Agency put it yesterday - but a strong possibility in the
early
Nineties. Sheep, he said, were known to be susceptible to the disease and
could
be infected with half a gram of infected material in contaminated feed.
Prof Collinge said: "It is likely they were fed contaminated meat and
bonemeal in
the late Eighties and early Nineties. It would be very surprising if some
weren't
infected. The question is, has it died out? This is a serious problem."
Prof Collinge first suggested using his new molecular strain typing test in
the Seac
committee in 1997 and assumed that the advice had reached ministers.
He said: "Nothing happened. At the end of 1999 I wrote to the highest level
in
Government and said my test could be used to test the health of the national
flock
much faster than the tests used before.
"We could have sorted it out two years ago. But we are five years on and we
are no
further forward. It was as if they did not want to find the answer."
The FSA was under pressure to issue new advice on the safety of feeding
British
lamb and mutton to babies and children last night after the consumer
representative on Seac, Harriet Kimbell, said she did not feed British lamb
to her
teenage sons but would eat it herself.
Prof Kimbell, the principal law lecturer at Guildford College of Law, said
the agency
should publish advice specifically on risks to children. "I am not
necessarily
suggesting there should be a ban on children eating British lamb but I
believe that
there should be more information given to parents," she said.
Prof John Krebs, the agency's chairman, told the BBC's Today programme that
he
had spoken to baby food manufacturers and been assured that they used only
New Zealand lamb in their products.
An agency spokesman said it did not advise against the eating of sheep meat.
Peter Ainsworth, the Tory environment spokesman, said the failure by Mrs
Beckett's department to take up a speedy scientific method of testing for
BSE in
sheep three years ago was "utterly unforgivable". He added that the blunders
in the
testing were "a major setback to the vital task of restoring public
confidence in our
food".
David Curry, the Tory chairman of the environment select committee, said he
had
tabled a question for Mrs Beckett asking where the collapse of the Institute
of
Animal Health's study left the search for BSE in sheep.
ENDS


Also, you can hear our least-favourite Professor, Roy Anderson, talking
about the risk of BSE in sheep on BBC radio 4 via this link:


http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin//radio4/today/listen/audiosearch.pl?ProgID=1003
571523



Our comment:  May we just draw your attention to Professor Collinge's
statement above "Sheep . .  were known to be susceptible to the disease"
followed by "It is likely they were fed contaminated meat and bonemeal in
the late Eighties and early Nineties. It would be very surprising if some
weren't infected. The question is, has it died out?"

These extraordinary claims can only be explained by one fact; this Professor
is based at - guess where - Imperial College in London, so he is a colleague
to the infamous Roy "sheep killer" Anderson!

We thought that the whole purpose of the now-abandoned sheep brain
experiments was to demonstrate if - and we stress the word "if" - there was
evidence of BSE to be found from the late eighties/early nineties period.
But according to Prof. Collinge, BSE in sheep is already an established fact
and the only remaining question is whether it has "died out".  These stateme
nts are simply as unbelievable as the experimental mix-up.

But we are no longer in the realms of truthful science, are we?   "Tell a
lie big enough, and often enough, and people will start to believe it".  We
are now seeing and hearing a succession of supposed "experts" planting and
reinforcing the message that British lamb is unsafe to eat.  On this BBC
radio 4 link, you can hear for yourself what Sir John Krebs of the Food
Standards Agency had to say:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin//radio4/today/listen/audiosearch.pl?ProgID=1003
477755

In this interview, he says (we can scarcely believe we are writing this)
that baby-food manufacturers are using New Zealand lamb instead of British
lamb, under a voluntary scheme based on the good practice of the
precautionary principle!  It's funny, but we could have sworn that the
precautionary principle has been steadfastly refused by this government for
GM crops, for example.  So it's perfectly safe to conduct open-air field
trials with side-effects that no-one can possibly predict, brushing aside
all objections with the stance that everything is safe until it is proved to
be dangerous;  but on the other hand, it isn't safe any more to eat lamb
that has so far yielded no evidence whatever that it may pose the slightest
health risk to anyone.

If that wasn't bad enough, when Krebs was pressed on the point that the
now-discredited experiment had yielded results that would have led to
wide-scale slaughter of the national flock on false justification, he said
that this emphasised the importance of "not relying on a single approach, or
a single group of scientists"  -  when this is exactly what Krebs himself
engineered for his Imperial College mates during the FMD crisis.

Hypocrite does not seem a strong enough word in these circumstances.

It has become crystal clear that Elliot Morley's "worst possible scenario"
of slaughtering the entire UK sheep flock was already set up and ready to
roll when the whistle was blown only just in time
.  It is equally clear that
a determination exists at the highest levels to continue the campaign
against sheep, and to find some justification, however tenuous, for mass
slaughter of the UK flock.  Foot and mouth disease was just a warming-up
exercise.

***************************

Rosie says no jokes allowed tonight 'cos this is serious.


from Alan & Rosie