NEW SCIENTIST ON BSE REPORT
**** BSE REPORT ****
WHERE DID BSE COME FROM?
CAN WE BE SURE THAT A SIMILAR FOOD AND HEALTH DISASTER WON'T HAPPEN
MUTTON, LAMB, PORK, EVEN CHICKEN - IS ANY MEAT SAFE TO EAT?
WHY WERE WE TOLD THAT BEEF WAS SAFE AND BSE COULD NOT BE TRANSMITTED
The last item is particularly interesting. Here are some excerpts including this telling quote from the report about science-related Group Think and false-shared -assumptions:
"The vast majority of those involved in the response to BSE believed, subjectively, that it was not a threat to human health. This belief was shared by many who could see, objectively, that the potential risk was there."
What this article, and so may others, says nothing about, is the suppression
(the sackings etc) and denigration of those scientists who did speak out
about the risks.
SCIENTISTS must take part of the blame for delays and mistakes in tackling the largest food scare in modern British history, says the report of the BSE Inquiry, chaired by the senior judge Lord Phillips. Their generally uncritical acceptance that BSE could not spread to humans meant early reassurances were taken as gospel, the report states.
This helped lull the public into accepting that beef was safe to eat, and blinded scientists to crucial warning signs as new data on BSE emerged.
It also bred complacency in British slaughterhouses, which for years undermined measures to prevent BSE-contaminated meat entering the food chain.
Contained in the 4000 pages are myriad lessons for governments and scientists
the world over who are charged with protecting their citizens from unsafe
food. The report provides a harrowing look at how science was mismanaged,
misused, misinterpreted and miscommunicated to the
...the Southwood working party's conclusion that BSE was unlikely to
have any implications for human health was repeated by government ministers
whenever they were asked about the safety of beef. The working party's
warning that "if the assessment was incorrect, the implications would be
extremely serious" was quietly buried, says the Phillips report.
The damage caused by these fallacies was far reaching. "The vast majority of those involved in the response to BSE believed, subjectively, that it was not a threat to human health," says the report.
"This belief was shared by many who could see, objectively, that the potential risk was there."
As a result, reassurances were issued until 20 March 1996, often by chief medical officers who failed to realise that infective material was still entering the food chain.
Worse still, the first warning signs that BSE could spread to other
species were ignored...