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Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? Hardcover – July 1, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Mad Cow U.S.A. is not the book to read before you go out for a steak. In fact, it's not really a book to read before eating anything; this chronicle of government cave-in to pressure from the food industry just might scare away your appetite. Authors Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber argue that both the American and British governments colluded with beef producers to suppress important facts about interspecies transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or "mad cow disease"--facts that might have prevented gruesome deaths. Could a British-style BSE epidemic happen in America? In a 1996 TV talk show, Oprah Winfrey attempted to ask the same question, only to find herself slapped with a lawsuit by a group of Texas cattlemen. Their grounds: the so-called agricultural product disparagement laws currently on the books in 13 states; these laws prohibit people from questioning the safety of any agricultural product, shifting the legal burden of proof from the food industry to its watchdogs. What happens when anyone who speaks out about problems with our food supply can be sued into silence? Rampton and Stauber fear grave consequences for public health, and they make a convincing case against these laws--and, inadvertently, for vegetarianism.

From Library Journal

The epidemic of "mad cow disease" in Britain caused great economic damage, a political crisis, and general panic when it was discovered that humans were apparently acquiring a fatal neurological malady called Creutzfeld-Jacob syndrome from eating the meat of cattle infected by feed containing protein from carcasses of sheep suffering from a disease called scrapie. Richard Rhodes's Deadly Feasts (LJ 3/15/97) provided a lively, sometimes lurid account of how an eccentric scientist named Carleton Gajdusek and others investigating kuru, a disease of New Guinea cannibals, discovered this whole new family of strange, deadly diseases, called transmissible spongiform enchephelopathies, or TSEs. Rampton and Stauber (Toxic Sludge Is Good for You, Common Courage, 1995) cover some of the same ground and more, also in a gripping but better documented way. But the real emphasis here is the conflict between the economic interests of meat industry associations and concerns about potential threats to public health. The authors detail how industry associations and sometimes government agencies have worked to discredit those concerned about public health issues. While the FDA has recently banned the feeding of mammalian tissues to ruminant animals, this is still an important book for its detailed revelations about the dangers of the TSEs and the complex but important issues of balancing economic and political interests and protecting public health. Highly recommended for most collections.?Marit MacArthur, Auraria Lib., Denver
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Common Courage Press; 1 edition (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567511112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567511116
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,785,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Like kuru, scrapie and CJD, BSE ("mad cow disease") is a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE), a fatal neurological disease transmitted by prions. That is, the infectious agent is a defectively folded prion protein, not a living pathogen like a virus or bacteria. It can survive being incinerated, or being buried for years in the ground with only a modest reduction in its disease-causing ability. The epidemiological model for the danger of BSE is kuru, a fatal but otherwise rare neurological disease that was common among New Guinea highlanders back in the 50's and 60's. Kuru reached epidemic proportions due to the practice of human cannibalism, usually of the brain. The regional government finally banned the practice, which (eventually) led to the decline of kuru incidence.
So what's this got to do with hamburgers? "Rendering" is the innocuous term for the practice of grinding up left-over animal organs, tissues, spinal cords etc that are considered unfit for human consumption, then selling it as Meat & Bone Meal (MBM) or Tallow. Agribusinesses use MBM as cattle and pig food and fertilizer (like on vegetables...); tallow has many uses including in the pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industries. Rendering is cow cannibalism, as it were, which is believed to have amplified the incidence of BSE in Britain, just as cannibalism amplified kuru in New Guinea. If you have never heard of rendering then you need to read this book. The British experience of CJD should have been a lesson to US politicians, bureacrats, cattlemen, and the FDA, because the "new variant" of CJD that has killed numerous British persons is actually a prion disease derived from the BSE prion, that is, from cattle. That is, people have died from from eating prion-infected beef.
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Format: Hardcover
When a topic as potentially sensationalistic as "Deadly Disease Being Spread to US Population with Covert US Government Cooperation" needs to be dealt with seriously, it takes responsible journalists to keep hysteria from distorting the facts. Rampton and Stauber have succeeded where others would have failed. The topic of the book is how the meat industry, their public relations firms and the governments of the USA and Britian worked together to attempt to conceal important information about a newly discovered disease that was abroad in the human food system. The truly frightening truth is that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or Mad Cow Disease) is a real thing. It is one disease in a class known as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy that have, until recently, been little researched and little understood. This book does not describe an episode of "The X-Files." People have died from it and are continuing to die from it. The authors documented the entire process of a growing crisis that has potentially world-shattering implications to millions of Americans. Pulling together original source material from obscure (and perhaps at time even hostile) sources they describe how the events unfolded and reason the events unfolded as they did. An important note is that this book is not, and does not pretend to be, a scientific treatment of BSE, TSE's or any other topic. Its approach is more realistic. The authors lay out the occurances as they transpired, uncovering innumerable bits of information that were never before collected together or presented to the general public. The book details the scientific minutae only to the degree it is relevant and stops short of either lecturing or preaching.Read more ›
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By A Customer on December 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Wow! Judging from the prices of these used copies, the scalpers are out in force now that we have MCD in USA. You can get this book FREE as a download at [...] .
It is a great book, with a great history of the disease, its epidemiology, and uncovers the truth about the beef industry and their ties to the Dept of Agriculture. Get it!
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Format: Hardcover
This review appeared in the October 97 issue of Chicago Ink
Mad Cow U.S.A.: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber reviewed by Heidi Thompson If you aren't a vegetarian, now might be a good time to convert. If recent outbreaks of e-coli in contaminated beef, added to knowledge that meat contains enormous amounts of fat and cholesterol, haven't convinced you of the enormous health risks associated with eating meat, this book will. Rampton and Stauber detail the incidences of several types of transmissible spongiform encphalopathy (TSE). TSE's include BSE (bovine spongiform encphalopathy) otherwise known as "mad cow disease", as well as variations of these diseases typically found in sheep, mink, and humans. Rampton and Stauber provide details of experiments that clearly link various types of TSE's to each other--in other words, it is now almost certain that a human could contract a variant of TSE from eating an animal which was similarly infected. This terrifying realization gets worse: it is possible that the governments of various countries (primarily Britain) could have stopped the outbreak had the meat industry not consistently denied that there was any connection between BSE and human illness. (Does anyone else see a parallel to the tobacco industry's constant denial that smoking causes lung cancer?) One of the main problems with TSE's (aside from being completely incurable) is that they are extremely difficult to diagnose. It is impossible be for certain whether or not the disease is present until the victim is dead and the brain can be looked at under a microscope. At that point the signs are unmistakable: the brains of TSE victims (animal and human) resemble Swiss cheese-full of holes.
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