So one of the many things that make people think I’m crazy is my very strong belief in Mad Cow and my staunch refusal to eat beef from a questionable source. If I don’t know that its organic or grain fed, I’m not eating it, and neither is my son. Not to sound callous, but I tell my husband he can eat whatever he wants, it’s too late for him. You see Mad Cow Disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans) works very very slowly in human beings. It lies dormant for many years before producing symptoms similar to dementia, and eventually death. It can be up to 30 years after initial infection before the disease manifests itself. There’s also some evidence that suggests that a lot of these cases have been and are misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or dementia, which is frightening—we may have an emerging epidemic over the next 30 years with thousands or even millions of people literally losing their minds.
And now, a new form called variant CJD (vCJD), discovered in the UK in March 1996, has been disproportionately affecting younger patients (a median age of 29 instead of 65). From October 1996 to November 2002, 129 cases of vCJD were reported in the UK, six in France and one each in Canada, Ireland, Italy and the US. The only way you can get CJD is from eating infected meat!
What is amazing to me is how hard the government is working to keep this epidemic under wraps. Leading the American public too believe that Mad Cow is the disease of other countries, blaming Canada for the last two cases that actually made it to the public. But get this, it’s not difficult for ranchers and beef companies to test their beef. It costs only a few more cents per pound. Some companies, in fact, volunteered to test, only to be stopped by the USDA. The USDA actually forbids them from testing! They claim it is because a few more cents per pound results in millions to billions of dollars of lost profit to big corporations’. And if one company tests, everyone will have to test. However, I’m sure that most consumers would gladly pay a few more cents per pound in order to eat safer beef, if these companies would simply pass on the costs to the consumer. They do it all the time with taxes!
Here’s how BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) widely known as Mad Cow disease happens. Believe it or not, our beef industry is insane enough to feed cows the inedible remains of other cows. The parts that humans are loath to eat. These parts include the brain and spinal cord, they are ground up and fed to cows to save money on feed. Of course, an infected cow’s brain and spinal cord are full of prions. A prion is a protein that has the unique ability to take other proteins and turn them into its own shape. Prions are like zombies (or for you Trek fans, the Borg) who take normal human beings and turn them into one of them. Eventually, so many of these proteins accumulate in the brain that it results in brain damage. These prions go on to infect more cows, creating more of themselves, and so forth. Unfortunately, a cow can still seem somewhat healthy and be infected with a lot of these prions. That’s why banning “downer cows” just doesn’t go far enough. “Downer cows” are cows that have hit the very last stages of mad cow disease—cows whose brains are swimming with the particle responsible for this disease: the prion.
BSE spreads between animals and humans through the consumption of infected meat rather than airborne viruses. The feeding of dead cows to live ones is a major contributor to the rapid spread of the illness. But Cows are not the only ones who get fed this cannibalistic diet, BSE has been found in Deer and Bison and other animals we farm or hunt, they believe the wild animals contract it by breaking in and eating the feed from farms.
Unfortunately, the beef industry is incredibly politically powerful, even since the 1800s, they’ve been getting subsidies from the government. Yes, you heard right—your very own tax dollars are supporting our massive beef industry. It’s obvious we can’t rely on the government for a solution to this.
I am not some crazy conspiracy theorist, this is actually happening. I am also not some wacko environmentalist, all you have to do is read my “about me” to see that for yourself. However I do believe how we treat our feed animals is not only a moral issue. The antibiotics, steroids and other substances we administer to them; the food—including their diseased brothers—we serve them; and the illnesses they contract, are bound to pass onto humans, if not directly through our stomachs, then by way of the air, land and water we share. Is it worth sacrificing our own health, our children’s? If you know better, can you keep living in denial? I can’t, if you can’t buying from local, family owned, free-range and organic farms is the only option you can consider.
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