- After more than two decades of research on prions, Stanley
Prusiner of UCSF suggested that mad cow disease must be present in US cows
at low levels.
- Prusiner, who spoke at a May 30 congressional caucus
luncheon, said the longer animals live, the more likely they are to develop
the disease. He said he agreed with a Wisconsin researcher [Prof. R.F.
Marsh], who believes mad cow disease was linked to US cows in the mid-1980's.
- Prusiner criticized the British government for setting
up an expert panel with members chosen by the government, rather than by
an independent body such as the National Academy of Sciences. He stopped
short of recommending measures to halt the potential spread of the disease
in the US, citing the complex chain of economic, political, and scientific
variables affecting policy decisions.
- Many factors conspired to cause mad cow disease in Britain,
including the deregulation of the rendering industry, he said. The fat
content increased in meat and bone meal fed to cows. While more than 160,000
cattle have come down with the disease, the numbers peaked in 1992 and
are beginning to drop off there. The practices that led to the disease's
spread stopped in the late 1980's, he said. Today, there are an estimated
1,000 cows dying of the disease every month.
- The California researcher said scientists still don't
know whether diseased cows can affect humans. He said it's still unclear
what route exposes cows to the disease, whether through cuts in their mouths
or [infectious agent] carried by white blood cells.
- He took the opportunity to urge Congress to step up funding
of biomedical research.
- Organic Consumers Association - http://www.purefood.org
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