The story of BSE by the group MISIAS on the web-site for teachers and learners of English as a secondary language from a German point of view
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The Story of BSE

Officially the story of BSE began two days before Christmas in 1984. The first victim was the cow with the term "133".
She  rampaged the cowshed and wrecked the milking machines. Her back was bent and she was strangely lean. Neither the vet nor the farmer knew a remedy. The cow couldn't hold up on her legs and ended on 11th February 1985. Until the end of April 5 further animals died on the "Stent Farm". So the cow "133" seemed to be the first victim of the BSE disease.

It is supposed that the mad cow disease has existed unrecognized since the 70s. Nobody knew which disease it was, so they said at the beginning: "God only knows." It was assumed that until the middle of the ninties people ate no less than 750,000 cows. At the end of December 1986 the disease was called "Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy" or BSE. In June 1987 the London government heard about the mysterious incidents. In 1988 the epidemiologists met at Weybridge and  found out that there was one reason for the cattle disease: bone meal that was produced from the waste of the slaughterhouses. They processed bones as well as the meat of dead cows to an animal feeding stuff that apparently transmitted the pathogen. In order to save the expenses of energy the manufacturers of bone meal had reduced the temperature of sterilisation to 80 degrees C. This temperature was high enough to kill the salmonellae but not the pathogens of BSE, the transformed prions, a protein that is found in the brains of animals as well as human beings.

Since the middle of 1989 the British governmant offered British farmers to pay for the mass slaughter of the BSE infected cattle to the amount of half of the market potential. It was one of the abuses of this step that farmers who already had BSE-infected cows bought other infected cattle to get the slaughter bonus.

Now farmers must close their farms if there is a BSE case and kill and burn all the cows. This measure affects a lot of farmers who must fear that they won't survive the epidemic and will lose their basis of living.

In the year 2001 400,000 cattle shall be slaughtered. In order to protect the existence of cattle raising farmers and to maintain the beef market in Europe another12 million cattle will be slaughtered. Some say that the peak of the epidemic is surpassed and that the control of meat as well as the marketing of beef has to be reinforced.

Composed by th MISIAS
Maria, Irene, Ina, Stella

<Click here and you will always get back to the table of contents>
Table of Contents
The story of BSE
by the group MISIAS
HOMEback to the homepagePAGE back to the previous page back to
BSE in Germany
by DARK LIGHTS
go on to
Project BSE:
RASPIES: A handout
on to the next page