AR-News: assume no animal products are safe: this woman is
brilliant: please read
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Animalara2003 at aol.com
Sun Feb 8 15:59:03 EST 2004
PLEASE CROSS POST
(I've heard Karen Davis speak and read her work. She is brilliant and
incredibly moving. Please share with everyone you know.)
Assume No Animal Products Are Safe
By Karen Davis, PhD
Like all modern farmed animals, cattle suffer from many diseases because of
how they are raised and fed with little known effects on the people who eat
them and their products. Despite salmonella, E. coli, avian influenza, SARS,
campylobacter and other evidence of farmed-animal-to-human disease
transmission, government and industry reassure us that virtually no farmed
animal diseases infect humans.
When a known transmittable infection is confirmed in a particular animal, as
mad cow disease was confirmed in a cow in Washington state in December, they
reassure the public there is nothing to worry about. It's just "one animal";
the nation's food supply "remains safe."
But scrutiny belies these assurances. For example, on December 23, U.S.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman told reporters that the infected Holstein
cow was never meant for the U.S. food supply (1) and, at the same time, that
inspectors were trying to trace the whereabouts of the infected flesh (2).
In fact, no one knows where it went. It could be, or it could have been, by
now an ingredient in dog food, pig chow, poultry feed, hamburger, chicken
nuggets or all of the above. It could be stewing in a sewage plant somewhere
or "misfolding" in an individual's neural pathway.
Talk about "isolated cases" is nonsense regardless. Agribusiness is global,
and for this reason alone the synergies of animal and human diseases elude
exactitude. However, we do know some things from which reasonable
conclusions and choices may derive.
Take cattle feed, for example. Realizing that cattle get fatally infected
with mad cow disease by eating feed containing tissue from the central
nervous systems of infected cattle, and that a variant of this fatal
neurological disease may be transmitted to human consumers of beef products,
the U.S. and Canada banned certain cattle-derived feed ingredients from
cattle feed in 1997 - brain, spine and the bones called vertebrae that
protect the spinal cord.
However, nervous system tissue along with the stomachs and intestinal
contents of poultry and pigs are fed to cattle (3), as are poultry manure
and used poultry-house bedding, or "litter," into which the birds excrete
their waste, die prematurely and decompose by the millions each year (4).
Cattle raised next to chicken houses are often "grazed" on this noxious
Thus, even if feeding cattle to cattle is banned in the U.S. and Canada,
feeding the banned cattle tissue to poultry and pigs is common and legal in
both countries. Protein additives extracted from diseased cows and fed to
chickens and pigs contain the same infectious prions that cause mad cow
disease (6). When the birds and pigs who ate the prions are in turn fed to
cattle, the infectious tissue is recycled back to its source.
If the danger of this circular disease route seems remote, consider that the
prion proteins responsible for mad cow disease can withstand the intense
heat that is used to render diseased cattle into poultry and pig feed (3),
and that birds have been shown to have the same type of prion proteins as
mammals, including humans (7).
For these reasons, the 2002 Nobel Prizewinning professor of biophysics at
the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich Switzerland, Kurt Wuthrich,
warned last summer that chickens could be a "prion reservoir" that poses a
"mad cow" threat to humans (7). Other distinguished scientists including D.
Carleton Gajdusek, the first to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his
work on mad cow-like diseases (8), and Dr. Pat Brown, medical director for
the U.S. Public Health Service, speculate that pigs and chickens could be
harboring mad cow disease and passing it on to humans (9).
And while to date no pigs, chickens or turkeys have been reported with the
disease, Michael Greger, M.D. of Cornell University says that these animals
die so young, "they may not have time to develop symptoms," yet they could
act as "silent carriers" (10).
Knowing what we now know about mad cow disease and how it travels -
including the fact that its travels cannot truly be traced, given the
realities of the industrial economy - we should give serious thought to the
role of animal products in our diet and that of our children. A vegetarian
diet is not only an ethical opportunity to create a less violent world but
an intelligent food safety initiative that doesn't depend on the government.
(1) U.S. Reports First-Even Mad Cow Case, Associated Press & Canadian Press,
Dec. 23, 2003.
(2) Sandi Doughton, Mad Cow Disease Suspected in Washington State, Seattle
Times, Dec. 23, 2003.
(3) Kim Murphy, Canada May Step Up Its Livestock Controls, Los Angeles
Times, May 30, 2003.
(4) Dennis Bueckert, If You Are What You Eat, then Canadian Cattle May Be
Pigs or Chickens, Canadian Press, June 1, 2003.
(5) J Gerstenzang, Poultry Production Threatens Potomac River's Health, San
Francisco Chronicle, April 21, 1997.
(6) Fears over BSE in chicken, Vetscite (www.vetscite.org), June 5, 2002.
(7) Mad Chicken Disease? The Scientist (BioMedNet, July 25, 2003), July 30,
(8) Unconventional viruses and the origin and disappearance of kuru, Dec.
13, 1976. http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1976/gajdusek-lecture.html.
Quoted on NBC Dateline, March 14, 1997. Cited in Michael Greger, M.D., Mad
Cow Disease: Don't Just Switch to Chicken, Dec. 26, 2004.
(9) Fred Pearce, BSE May Lurk in Pigs and Chickens, New Scientist, April
1996: 5. Cited in Michael Greger, M.D., above.
(10) Michael Greger, M.D. Mad Cow Disease: Don't Just Switch to Chicken,
Dec. 26, 2003. http://www.veganMD.org
Karen Davis, PhD is the President of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit
organization that addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in food
production, science, education, entertainment, and human companionship
situations and promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of
domestic fowl. www.upc-online.org
Humans aren't the only species on earth,
we just act like it.
"The world is a dangerous place,
not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.",
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