BSE Becoming a Major ThreatMonday, Jan 15, 2001
BSE continues to be a concern for all meat producers. Reports of infected stock in Italy and Denmark
show the insidious expansion of this disease across Europe and perhaps parts of Africa.
BSE is an infection that at farm level is devastating from a management point of view. There is no treatment.
Most NZ farmers have handled milk fever, grass staggers or magnesium deficiency and now
the frustration of stock that have lost their mobility but with known treatment quickly applied recovery
is complete. No such outcome with BSE.
But much worse is the consumers fear of contracting CJD from consuming meat particularly beef and it
seems the authorities who set food production standards cannot assure consumers that the beef they
consume is safe.
Today's news that lamb consumption is increasing in Europe should be tempered with caution. Commercial
opportunities may arise but beware of expecting advantage from this disaster.
The abrupt change of direction by the German government in putting in a minister who will promote a
bias to 'green' standards for agricultural production may set in train a series of events that will
place all red meat consumption outside the normal food purchase needs of consumers.
Where is the leadership from meat producers and processors going to come from that will counter this
growing rejection of red meat as a clean, reliable and high quality product. Who is pressuring the
regulators to put their house in order and research, manage and control the systems that allowed
BSE to become the problem that it is.
Eliminating beef from the diets of the developed world is not an acceptable answer but it is heading
in that direction if 'green' values are given the ascendancy.