Graves of 6,000 mad cows revealed
Wednesday 30 April 1997
The admission was forced after The Independent obtained a copy of the list, which it is publishing today. Some of the sites may pose a risk to human health, because the disease agent causing bovine spongiform encepalopathy (BSE) could leak into water supplies.
Gavin Strang, Labour's agriculture minister, was furious at the list's suppression, after having requested it from Douglas Hogg, secretary of state for agriculture, early in March, and again on April 16. In March he was told the data was not centrally held, and could only be gathered at "disproportionate cost". His letter earlier this month received no reply.
Staff at Mr Strang's office called the news "outrageous". Mr Strang said it was "very disappointing", adding that "the real issue now is to ensure that all the steps are taken to monitor, and make sure that there's no risk to human health."
Some of the 59 sites listed are now being studied by the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Maff), to see whether the BSE-infected cattle pose any risk to human health. Though the heads were removed before burial, the spinal cords - which are highly infectious - were not.
If the BSE disease agent, a protein known as a "prion", were to get into water it could be infectious. Scientists are increasingly confident that the "new variant" of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans is caused by exposure to the BSE agent.
The full list was compiled by the Environment Agency and passed to Maff on March 14, four days after Mr Strang clashed with Mr Hogg in the Commons. "We are surprised that Maff have taken so long to answer a Parliamentary Question," said a spokeswoman for the Agency.
Maff said it had had to cross-check some of the details and that it had wanted to release the list along with the risk assessment. "We wanted to give it to Mr Strang all in one go," said a Maff spokeswoman. "We would have sent it to him in a couple of weeks."
The 6,117 BSE-infected cattle were buried between 1988 and 1991 because there was not at the time sufficient incinerator capacity to dispose of the carcasses.
The National Farmers' Union said last night that it would demand a meeting with the agriculture minister on Friday to express concerns over the continuing ban on beef exports.
Where they are buried, page 8
Oscar Pistorius trial: Defence witness contradicts athlete version
Oscar Pistorius trial: The case against Oscar Pistorius – and why the prosecution claims his story doesn't add up
South Korea ferry: Captain Lee Joon-seok could face criminal investigation as over 280 remain missing
Peaches Geldof dead: Private funeral for the family and friends of the socialite will take place next week
Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 The Hobbit: There and Back Again set for possible title change
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...