In this country the politicians' statements were to the effect that there was no danger of BSE jumping the species gap and infecting humans, ie, it was safe to eat beef whether it was infected or not. On the Continent the public was assured that the disease was very rare and that no infected animals were getting into the food chain.
We now know that both statements are factually flawed. Certainly many British farmers will tell you that BSE is grossly under-diagnosed on the Continent and often labelled as "staggers". It is this situation which has resulted in the present difference in confidence between the British beef-buying public, who now believe that infected animals are no longer getting into the food chain, and the Continental beef eaters, who now realise it is.
Surely, by threatening further exposure of the inadequacies of the Continental safeguards we can push the EU to play fair. Once the ban is lifted, British confidence in its beef should help it very quickly to re-establish its high reputation. Perhaps that is the real fear in Europe.
NICHOLAS P MEYER
Ledbury, Hereford and WorcesterReuse content