LETTER : BSE: who will care for the thousands of victims?

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Sir: The behaviour of the Ministry of Agriculture when addressing a threat to the general population rather than the agricultural industry reinforces my already jaundiced view of its motives.

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which has the potential to ravage cattle stocks, is treated with utmost rigour. The presence of BSE merely requires the affected cattle to be destroyed, presumably because the disease is much less of a danger to cows.

Nevertheless, BSE remains with us despite the adoption of measures designed to wipe out the disease in a few years. Admittedly it has now (just) peaked, but much later than was confidently predicted. It would seem therefore either that the infective model used to determine the measures is wrong, or that those measures are being inadequately implemented. What a surprise, then, to hear that the official position has changed from "no evidence of a link with CJD" to "very low risk".

Is the ministry now prepared to take responsibility for the ensuing catastrophic loss of confidence in our beef industry?

Christopher Forsey

Northwich, Cheshire