AR-News: (US-wi) John Oncken: One mad cow in the minefield of life

Animalconcerns info at
Thu Jan 1 10:56:24 EST 2004

[opinion from Capital Times]

We the people are a strange lot.

We smoke cigarettes bought in a package bearing a health warning on every

We travel 80 miles an hour in 55 mile per hour speed zones, sometimes
while talking on a cell phone or eating. 
So why is the fact that one cow, apparently brought from Canada some three
years ago that has tested positive for a rare disease, created such
discussion? It's talk about a disease that over the course of 17 years may
have caused the death of 143 people worldwide.

Certainly the talk is not from the fear that the disease known as Bovine
Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow will kill us dead tonight,
tomorrow or next week. Maybe it's because an offspring of that malady,
called variant Creutzfelt-Jakob disease (CJD), could cause problems a
dozen years from now.

More probably we're concerned because we fear the unknown. 
Who is a BSE expert? Certainly not the people offering opinions on talk
shows and in news stories. Being an expert or authority should at least
involve more than providing an opinion or writing a book.

It's too early to tell the impact on dairy farmers although Jefferson
auctioneer Bill Stade reports outstanding prices at two recent dairy sales
(Saturday and Monday).

Maybe one should worry more about driving to the supermarket than about
eating beef. Or riding a bicycle 20 miles as I did Sunday. Just consider
the odds.

John Oncken operates Oncken Communications, his Madison-based agricultural
information and consulting company. He can be reached at 222-0624, fax
222-7774, or e-mail jfodairy at 

full story:

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