- As I stated over three years ago, MILK and DAIRY products
cannot be ruled out as vectors for spreading Mad Cow/CJD to humans. I have
called for urgent research into this potential on numerous occasions. Finally,
at long last, there is an official call for such testing. Now, let's see
how long it takes the truth to come out...
- - Jeff Rense
- "...milk should be assumed to have the potential
to carry infection."
- By Jonathan Leake - Science Editor The Sunday
Times - London Sunday
- A nationwide investigation into the risk that milk could
transmit BSE between cows and humans is being launched by the Food Standards
Agency (FSA). The move follows private warnings from scientists that the
original experiment used to declare milk safe was flawed.
- This weekend Professor Malcolm Ferguson-Smith, the Cambridge
University geneticist who sat on the two-year BSE inquiry, criticised the
agriculture ministry for not doing the necessary work. "It is astonishing
that this research has not been done," he said.
- The new investigation coincides with fresh figures on
the spread of variant CJD (vCJD), the human equivalent of BSE, showing
that the number dead or dying from the disease has risen to 90. It has
also emerged that the number of people aged over 50 dying from the disease
has risen to six. It had been thought that it was mainly a disease of the
- The main research used to declare milk safe was published
in 1995. It was based on giving milk from cows with BSE to mice, orally
and by direct injection into the brain. None of the 275 mice in the research
developed any sign of the disease.
- Although scientists say there is no evidence at present
to suggest that milk is unsafe, Ferguson-Smith believes the experiment
was flawed because of the species barrier that prevents BSE passing from
cows to mice. This, he said, made it highly unlikely that any of the mice
would have fallen ill.
- He said the work should also have been done in calves,
adding: "This would have been a thousand times more sensitive."
- Tastes all right: 11-year-old Victoria Robinson, from
Halifax, enjoys a glass of milk. Photograph: Bob Collier
- He warned that milk should be assumed to have the potential
to carry infection. Pointing out that BSE spreads via the lymphoreticular
system, a loose network of organs involved in the immune system, he said:
"Milk contains mammary cells, cell organelles and cells from the lymphoreticular
system. It therefore has the potential to transmit prion diseases."
- Britain consumes about 14 billion litres of milk a year,
of which half is as milk or cream and the rest cheese, yoghurt and other
dairy products. Tests suggest none of the processing methods could kill
prions, the deformed proteins thought to cause BSE and CJD. The majority
of the 1m or so animals thought to have entered the human food chain while
infected with BSE were dairy cows, whose milk would have been consumed
for years before they died.
- Most of the scientists and politicians involved in the
BSE crisis have taken comfort from the fact that there is little positive
evidence that prion diseases can be transmitted by mothers' milk.
- In Papua New Guinea, where the Fore tribe was almost
wiped out by kuru, a prion disease spread by cannibalism, studies have
shown that suckling children did not get the disease from their mothers.
Only consumption of flesh, especially brains and other nervous tissue,
seemed to pass it on.
- There is, however, some evidence that other prion diseases
can spread through mothers' milk. In Japan, researchers tested tissues
taken from a pregnant woman who died of sporadic CJD, a rare form that
killed 38 people in Britain last year. They found that her colostrum -
secreted in the first few days after a child is born - could pass the disease
- There is also a mystery over the mechanism by which calves
seem to get BSE from their mothers. Some evidence suggests that they are
infected in the womb and other work suggests that milk could be a cause.
- An FSA spokesman said the Central Veterinary Laboratories,
a government agency, had been commissioned to start the research in the
next few weeks. It would involve trying to infect calves known to be free
of BSE with milk from diseased animals. The research will take at least
three years - the time it takes cattle to incubate BSE.
- The spokesman said there was no evidence yet regarding
milk, but added: "We have identified this project as a priority."
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