30 June 2000
Backlash feared over new BSE case

By FWi staff

MINISTERS and farmers fear a backlash over beef exports following confirmation that a cow contracted BSE despite controls to contain the disease.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown has given veterinary experts 10 days to find out how the Holstein dairy cow from Dorset contracted BSE.

Meat industry leaders voiced fears that the news could damage efforts to rebuild Britains overseas markets for beef in the wake of the BSE crisis.

The incident has received widespread media coverage. British newspapers gave the story prominent positions in their editions on Friday (30 June).

The Financial Times says the discovery “raises fears that mad cow disease may have been passed on by the animals mother”.

According to the Daily Mail, that theory “raises the chances that women could pass the condition on to their children”.

An alternative theory is that the animal was fed on banned feed left on a farm after meat and bonemeal was banned on 25 August, 1996.

The Guardian says: “It had been thought that the ban would prevent any further infection and the disease would rapidly die out…”

The Independent says the incident prompted “widespread fears that further cases could follow” and was “greeted with alarm by food safety experts”.

The Express warns of “the alarming possibility that mad cow disease could be spread by as-yet-unknown methods”.

But an editorial in The Daily Telegraph says: “What is clear, however, is that this single case is nothing to worry about.”

It adds: “If [food safety experts] use it as a pretext for inflicting more suffering on British farmers, they will be beneath contempt.”

Nigel Hawkes, science editor at The Times says: ” Only if tens or hundreds of such cases appeared would scientists have to revise their view of how BSE is transmitted.”