LETTER : Does BSE in the Sunday joint cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

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From Dr H. C. Grant

Sir: Here are some important additions to your list of the first 10 years of BSE (25 October):

1981: The Government removed the guidelines, in place for years, on the recycling of dead sheep for feeding to cattle. The agrifeed industry immediately reduced the temperature and the time required for processing of the sheep carcasses. But most importantly, the sheep brains were no longer dissolved because the expensive fat solvents (the brain - the infective organ - is very fatty) were no longer included in the mixture. Four years later, the first cow went down with BSE.

1986: The government vets who had identified BSE and its origins were told to keep quiet about it and not to publish their interesting papers on the subject - or else. Furthermore, far from the infective feed being banned immediately, farmers continued to be encouraged to feed this high protein material to their cattle for two years and the disease spread all over the UK.

1988: The Government stated, and still states, that "infected" livestock are destroyed. This is incorrect: only visibly infected livestock are destroyed, leaving an unknown number of equally infective but unidentifiable animals. There is no test to identify them and the only scientist to have perfected such a test has been prevented by the Government from using it.

Yours faithfully,

H. C. Grant

London, NW3

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