Friday, October 2, 2015

Update to Mad Cows and Mad Scientists

by Ed Gehrman

Update —Mad Cows — Mad Scientists

Open letter to Sheldon Rampton & John Stauber

January 13, 1998

Re: Mad Cow U.S.A.: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?
A book about the ramifications of BSE/TSE
Released November, 1997
Dear Sheldon and John:
About a month ago a friend contacted me; he had received a galley advance of Mad Cows USA and wanted to know if I would review it. After editing many of my recent articles on the subject, he was sated on Mad Cows. I told him to send it on and I'd write a review for my next column in the Sonoma County Free Press.
Having heard some rumors about this particular book, I had planned to purchase it anyway so a free copy was a bonus. I was not disappointed, and more than a bit surprised! Mad Cow USA is a fascinating read. I couldn't put it down and continued late into the night. Then the next morning as I tried to finish the last couple of chapters before leaving for work, my name suddenly jumped from the page: Internet essayist Ed Gehrman. I was shocked, dumbfounded and I must admit, a little pleased since you aptly summarized my point of view, although your interpretation of my position is wrong-headed and perplexing.
You characterize my contentions as "imaginative" because you say I offer no evidence for stating that 200,000 citizens succumb each year to misdiagnosed TSE caused diseases. But it is common knowledge for anyone who bothers to look closely at the published evidence; there are many cases of misdiagnosed TSE. Michael Greger has done excellent research on the subject. I used the figure 200,000 because of a study done at Yale by Elias E. & Laura Manuelidis: "In our own neuropathological material, in 46 cases diagnosed clinically as AD(Alzheimer's), 6 cases were proven to be CJD at autopsy --13%."
I calculated using thirteen percent of deaths from dementia and Alzheimers each year. I soon realized that this figure was unreasonable and that I had miscalculated the number of deaths, mainly because there is so little information about how many folks do in fact die from Alzheimer's each year.
Perhaps I should have shown sources and all but I did footnote most of my writing on TSE. This was one of my first drafts, sent to Tom Pringle for peer review and then published on his web site. Although it did appear in the Sonoma County Free Press, I have since rewritten it many times as new information came into circulation and critics challenged my stance.
I also no longer believe that prions play much of a role in spreading this disease. Prions are a "red herring" and are secondary to the agent itself which seems to be able to manipulate protein or cause its production. After completing the article you quote, I came across the work of Dr. Frank Bastian. His research convinced me that spiroplasma are the infectious agent in all TSE disease. I have since done everything I could to help folks see the wisdom in his sound and well thought-out theory.
Dr. Bastian, director of Pathology, University of Alabama, Mobile, is a known authority on CJD, having edited the only scholarly book on the subject. He first saw the spiroplasma in 1976 during the autopsy of a brain from a CJD cadaver, and since then has been slowly and meticulously gathering information and data. We can not afford to ignore his arguments much longer.
I still believe that the national labs that enact our bio-warfare bidding are responsible for putting Kuru into cows. They have been experimenting with Kuru and other TSE diseases since the early 60's. How else did it get there? Gajdusek as well as others have affirmed that BSE is Kuru, not Scrapie, though I believe both are caused by the minuscule spiroplasma, only different strains of the same.
The nature of TSE is misunderstood by many. The mixture of genetic factors and infectivity throws researchers off. Those interested in solving this puzzle would best begin by reading Dr. Bastian's material. There definitely is a genetic component to these ailments. Some folks can't contract the disease, while others are susceptible, about fifty-fifty. That is clear. What isn't clear is the level of exposure to TSE infection. It's lucky that the genetic barrier is probably wide and deep, otherwise we would all be demented or dead.
Dan Marsh was too conservative in his estimates of 100,000 downers in US herds; this number is far too small. We have no idea how many downers there actually are in the present population of US cattle because accurate records are not kept. There could be a million or more. We just don't know! Think of the implications of this paragraph from Beyond Beef by Jeremy Rifkin: "The cattle are transported for hours or the end of their journey the intact animals are deposited in a holding pen... Downers, however, must wait hours to be unloaded. Although downed animals are frequently in severe pain,they are rarely euthanized or anesthetized,as that would translate into a lost carcass and additional expenses. Often spread-eagled on the floor of trailers, unable to stand or walk, these hapless animals are chained by their broken legs and dragged from the truck onto the loading ramp to wait their turn for slaughter."
Indisputably, this is a common event. Mink-fed downer cattle have died from a TSE disease. Until we know more about downers than we do, I think it's probable that any downer is a TSE carrier. Remember it only takes a teaspoon of infected material to begin the disease process.
Putting all that aside, I must congratulate you on this excellent and fact-filled book. You've certainly proved your case. If we let the meat industry set the rules on how we raise and process our food, there will be "no limit to what we will swallow, and the nightmare of mad cow disease, or something just as bad, or worse, not only can happen here, but most certainly will."
Everyone interested in our "Mad Cow" dilemma should read Mad Cow USA.
Ed Gehrman
January, 1998