News of the WeekU.K. MAD COW DISEASE

Report Flags Hazards of Risk Assessment

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Science  03 Nov 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5493, pp. 911-913
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5493.911

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LONDON-- Last week an independent panel issued its report on how the British government has responded to the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) over the past 15 years. The 16-volume report concluded that the practice of feeding cattle with the remains of dead cattle spread BSE "like a chain letter" through the British herd before anyone knew what was happening. It also describes how an incorrect assumption by a scientific panel of how BSE would behave played into a desire to assure the public that the health risks were negligible--with tragic consequences.