Letter: Of 'mad cows' and animal liberation

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The Independent Online
Sir: I thought I was on top of this modern survival thing. Usually I wear a condom, eat lots of roughage, smoke hardly at all, wear a helmet on my bicycle, fasten my seat-belt, count liquor units, visit the Lake District infrequently and look before crossing the road.

But I felt suddenly sick as I read the first two paragraphs of Tom Wilkie's article today, while eating my lunch of supermarket pate. I had thought bovine spongiform encephalopathy, however serious it may be for cattle, was an insignificant risk to people. Tom Wilkie, award-winning science journalist, only eats organic meat with his family, inspired by that very risk. And he should know]

So what is the situation? Will I give up sausage and get back on the cigarettes? The prospect of brain decay caused by pate eating is the most frightening idea in these times of health obsession. Although Mr Wilkie goes on to qualify his decision, the impression lingers that he thinks 'mad cow' disease could cross to the human population.

Yours faithfully,

SIMON CORDER

London, NW3

28 July

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