Mad cow 'cured' by nerve gas antidote: An organic farmer tells Peter Dunn of a 'regime of terror' he says is meant to stop him campaigning against the use of chemicals

DAMSON, the pedigree Jersey cow, browsed peacefully across sloping pastures high above Taunton Vale yesterday, a slight limp being the only evidence of a traumatic week for her and her owner, Mark Purdey.

Four days earlier, Damson had betrayed all the symptoms of BSE - mad cow disease. Her ears were swivelling, she was staggering like a crab or was sprawled out. In Mr Purdey's words, she was 'like a frog on ice'.

On Thursday he injected her with oxime, a chemical carried by troops in the Gulf war as an antidote to nerve gas shells. Within 90 minutes Damson had shown remarkable signs of recovery.

Mr Purdey, an organic farmer, said at his 100-acre dairy farm near Elworthy, Somerset: 'The photographer from Farming News was there and said it was a miracle. Yes, I think I've discovered a cure for BSE because I've rectified the biochemical balance of Damson's body in an astounding way; and that itself pinpoints the root of the problem - these organo-phosphate pesticides that farmers are told to use.'

Mr Purdey, 38, thinks Damson - 'a divine cow, a cow of cosmic radiance' - became infected when he placed his herd of 35 Jerseys on a neighbouring 'chemical farm' for three months, earlier this year. Another of his cows, Mustard, was also infected but recovered after treatment with magnesium sulphate.

Damson's recovery revives, not for the first time in Mr Purdey's 19 years as a farmer, the debate over the use of pesticides. He believes his own life reflects some of the horrors of Natural Lies, the BBC's recent television thriller about big business and gangsters in the world of BSE. 'In 1985 I took the Government to the High Court - and won - because they wanted to treat my animals forcibly with organo-phosphate for warble fly.

'We'd moved farms to Devon and this strange person had been following us around, buying the farm next door. We came under this regime of absolute terror. The police came out many times. He was firing at us, not to hit us, basically just to undermine our validity as organic farmers. He went under several different names. I got the feeling he was from the criminal fraternity. That's the sort of vibes I got off him. One policeman told me 'you realise people are employed to behave in this way'. '

Mr Purdey said a house he had in Pembrokeshire was set on fire the night before he moved in. 'Then last Christmas a stone barn collapsed on to my caravan while we were away . . . We get odd people turning up here pretending to be chemical victims and trying to find out dates of meetings. And yet to me they seem to have memories like computers and if you're poisoned with pesticides you've no memory at all.'

Mr Purdey says he believes a government vet who visited him this week wanted to put Damson down. 'Then she saw the media here and drove off in a cloud of dust. Another vet arrived and took photographs of the media.'

On Friday, John Cohen, another government vet, turned up. He clapped his hands in front of Damson, a test that would have made a BSE bovine jump. She merely moved closer to investigate. Did Mr Cohen still believe she was suffering from BSE and should be put down? 'That's a leading question,' he said.

Mr Purdey said: 'The natural instinctive methods of farming that people are born with have all been kind of lobotomised out of their brains at agricultural college . . . You realise someone is making a lot of money manufacturing chemicals that are having serious side-effects and then they make more money by manufacturing pharmaceuticals to rectify that.'

A Ministry of Agriculture spokesman said: 'BSE can only be diagnosed by post-mortem though one can never be sure whether a particular animal has got it. Meanwhile, Mr Purdey has a form A movement restriction order on the animal as a precaution.' Did the Government think Mr Purdey had found a cure for BSE? 'At this early stage we can say nothing of significance.'

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee