Mad cow or just mad people?

Update: Post on Crooked Timber about mad cow stuff mentions Mr. Milloy.

Steven Milloy writes about the lack of real science behind the mad cow scare. Here are some excerpts
Mad cow hysteria is once again frightening beef consumers and hammering the beef industry. It would be easy to blame ignorant media, opportunistic anti-meat activists and cut-throat business rivals for the current mania. But I won’t.

The blame for the groundless alarm rests squarely on the shoulders of scientists who have given way too much aid and comfort to the still unproven notion that mad cow disease poses a risk to human health.

Most of the scientists who buy into this theory are also quick to acknowledge that they believe the risk to human health is small but not zero, citing the relatively low number of deaths despite that hundreds of millions of Europeans who consumed millions of pounds of potentially infected British beef since the 1980s.

... however, it has not been scientifically established that prions cause any sort of disease ― a fact only reluctantly acknowledged by organizations such as the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council and the National Institutes of Health.

Despite almost 10 years of intense research into the causes and potential ramifications of mad cow disease, the prion theory still does not satisfy the basic scientific test known as Koch’s Postulates for whether a particular microorganism, such as a prion, causes a specific disease, such as mad cow.

“The best-kept secret in this field is that [prions] in any form have never shown infectivity,” said the head of Yale University’s surgery department to the United Press

Other researchers, including an anonymous NIH scientist, told Mitchell that the research community isn’t applying for grants because the agency is biased against non-prion theories and will reject applications for such research.

I don't know about you but I'm not giving up steak any time soon. I just hope this whole thing makes beef a bit more affordable.

No rush to vegetarianism in U.S. yet: Mad cow scare hasn't changed eating habits Apparently most people have kept their heads about this whole mess but PETA is not above a little fear mongering for the cause.
'MAD to eat meat'
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals seems less concerned about appearing political.

The Norfolk, Va.-based animal rights group already has activists around the country distributing information about vegetarianism outside restaurants and launched a new ad campaign: “You would have to be MAD to eat meat.”

Bruce Friedrich, the group’s spokesman, said demand for PETA’s free vegetarian starter kits — a pamphlet of recipes and advice for changing one’s diet — has been so strong the group called in employees from vacation to handle the requests — 10,000, up from the usual 4,000.

“The USDA and the meat industry are playing Russian roulette with the health of the American people, and the national consciousness is being awakened” he said.


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