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STUDENTS AGAINST ANIMAL SUFFERING - University of California, San Diego
MAD COW DISEASE

IT'S MAD TO EAT MEAT!

Despite assurances to the contrary, our food supply is not safe from Mad Cow Disease. The USDA, an agency intended to protect consumers, has been acting more like a PR firm for the beef industry.

*Mad Cow Disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is caused when cattle eat the brain matter of other cows, and is transmitted when they eat part of another infected animal.

*The disease is spread to humans by eating the meat of infected animals. They may develop Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (CJD), which eats holes in the brain, causeing memory loss, erratic behavior, loss of the ability to care for one's self and communicate, then death.

*CJD IS ALWAYS FATAL!

*So far, more than 140 people in England have died from the disease, and bacause of the gap of time between eating infected animals and showing signs of the disease, it is estimated that thousands more will die.

*Millions of cattle in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, and Italy have been incinerated, but they have not been able to stop the epidemic.

*Few of the safeguards that have been adopted in Europe have been adopted in the U.S.

*Two years ago, 200 sheep in Vermont were killed because they were suspected of having chronic wasting disease, an equivalant to BSE. When infected sheep are fed to humans, they develop CJD, when they are fed to cattle cattle they develop BSE. Sheep are still fed to cattle in the U.S.

*In May of 2003, an 8 year old cow in Alberta, Canada, was found with BSE. This cow was killed, but many countries, including the U.S., banned the importation of Canadian beef. Canada lost $1 million a day following the ban.

*On December 23, 2003, a downed dairy cow in Washington tested positive for BSE. The problem is that she was slaughtered on December 9 and had already traveled through three processing plants and her body sent to multiple Western states and Guam before it was discovered. It's hard to say who ate her, what will happen to them, or how many other cows there are in the U.S. with the same affliction.

*Japan, Russia, Australia, Mexico, and many others have placed a ban on U.S. beef.

*One reason the cow was discovered was because she was a dairy cow and was allowed to live longer than most cows. Most cows are killed before they are 2, pigs before they are 6 months old, and chickens between 6 and 7 weeks. There are generally no signs of BSE at this stage, but people can still develop CJD from the meat.

*The cow was also a "downer", a term used to describe an animal to sick or injured to walk to slaughter. These animals were usually haled with ropes or chains, beaten until they moved, or pushed with bulldozers into the slaughterhouse - or sold to renderers who fed them to other cattle.

*According to the USDA, between 130,000 to 190,000 downed cattle are sent to processing each year. A third are for human consumption. At least 200,000 become downed every year.

*Because of recent events, and the public outcry caused by them, the USDA has issued a ban on the slaughter and sale of downed animals.

*Animal protection organizations have lobbied for this for over a decade, and this is a great victory for the animals because it will force farmers to treat the animals better so that they do not become downed in the first place.
The USDA admits that it tested only 20,000 cows (and no other animals) for BSE last year - out of 40 MILLION cows slaughtered, and 10 BILLION other animals slaughtered.

*Feeding sheep and cattle to cows in the U.S. was not banned until 1997, and the government recently said that there was widespread violation of the feeding regulation.

*Farmers can still feed cow's blood to cows (even though Mad Cow disease can be transmitted through blood), and can still feed sheep and cows to pigs and chickens and pigs and chickens to one another and to cows (even though the disease can spread through almost any species). All these practices have been banned in Europe.

*The USDA wants us to believe that only certain parts of the animal, like the brain and the spinal cord can transmit the disease. This is not true. Though the prions, the malformed proteins causing the disease, are in higher concentrations in these parts, any part of the animal can spread the disease. And federal inspections found that much of our hamburger has brain matter and spinal cord of cattle mixed in with it.

*This all came about because people wanted to save money by feeding the ground up remains of one cow to another. It should have occurred to us that when we turned a naturally vegetarian species into a carnivore and a cannibal, some unnatural things might happen.

*The problem became so widspread in Europe because they attempted to deny the facts and conceal the truth. Right now our government is on a similar path, seeking to limit the damage to the cattle industry while putting the public in jeopardy.

*There is no way to know if the meat you are eating may have Mad Cow disease, if 10 years from now you will develop symptoms of the degenerative disease, and within months not be able to care for yourself.

*The disease is also transmitted vertically, meaning that cows not only pass the disease on to their young, but so do humans. Recently a pregnant woman in Japan was diagnosed with the disease, and when her baby was born it tested positive for CJD.

*Perhaps this is nature's way of telling us that we shouldn't have been feedin cows to cows, or that the human body was not meant to consume meant. Whatever it is, this problem is not going to go away, it has been known in Europe for 18 years.

*The best way to avoid Mad Cow disease is to go vegetarian or vegan! Email us or many other animal rights groups for a vegetarian starter kit.

*If you're not willing to do that just yet, organic meat not only is more humane for the animals, but the animals aren't fed other animals, or pesticides or antibiotics.

*You can also avoid beef or reduce your intake of beef, reducing your risk of eating infected animals.

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"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of 'real food for real people' you'd better live real close to a real good hospital." - Neal Barnard, MD, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine