01 August 1997
BSE – out of Africa?
A GROWING body of scientific evidence points to the hypothesis that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) may have originally reached Britain in infected animal remains from Africa.
A written parliamentary answer from the government showed that in the 10 years to 1980, the UK imported thousands of tonnes of meat and bonemeal from African countries with significant cattle industries. Imports effectively
stopped afterwards. It is known that African game animals can catch BSE.
The hypothesis contradicts the government line which maintains BSE originated in diseased British sheep recycled into cattle feed. But if the new claims prove correct, it would mean that many precautions the government is taking, such as destroying sheet offal, are pointless.
It also raises implications for imports of foodstuffs from foreign lands where unusual diseases may occur.