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BSE and the use of cattle tissues in inoculates

by Joanna Wheatley

Long Lane Farm
Touchen End
Maidenhead
Berks SL6 3LG
1st March 2001

Rt Hon Nick Brown
Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Food
Westminster
London

Dear Minister,

PHARMACEUTICALS AND FOOT AND MOUTH

Open Letter

I am a beef farmer and directly concerned with the current Foot and Mouth crisis. As such I ask you as the Minister for Agriculture, to personally make sure that the current Foot and Mouth crisis has no connection to the use of pharmaceutical preparations.

If a disease can be carried on the wind, let alone, vehicles, people and other animals, then it is fair and right that veterinary medicines checks should be undertaken. Live vaccines are quite capable of carrying a number of disease's, foot and mouth being one. As bovine tissues for veterinary medicines are now being sourced from around the world it is imperative we have a watchful and openly investigative attitude towards these products. The record shows that the accountability of animal derived components in these products has been lacking, as I discovered when investigating and attempting to evaluate the science and risks of BSE and other Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies [TSEs]. I have contributed to, and had a statement published by the BSE Inquiry, and I am mindful of, and grateful for, the recent government Interim response to the BSE Inquiry. I fully intend to comment on this as available through the consultation process, which has been set up, however as we are now beset with another animal health disaster I am most anxious that all the risks of spreading foot and mouth are adequately and openly investigated.

Foot and Mouth Investigation

An independent person, not a vet, possibly trading standards, should attend the affected farm and locate and hold all veterinary medicines on site, the farmer should be interviewed and all recent treatments administered noted. This should be rigorous but in no way intimidating, as more recently drugs are increasingly being bought on the internet and circulated in local communities. Farmers are not entirely sure as to the legality of these actions, there appears to be little guidance or warnings issued to check for quality or country of origin.
The facts obtained should be compared with those in other outbreaks, if common factors evolve they should be further independently checked and openly acted on.
Should no connection be found we will all be grateful and secure in the knowledge that a proper and full investigation has been undertaken in this area.

The Veterinary Profession

When asking for an investigation as to whether veterinary medicines may play a part in the eruption and possible spread of foot and mouth. I believe it is important that it is understood that vets consider veterinary medicines to be the tools of their trade, and can be fiercely protective towards them. [See enclosed correspondence with Professor Krebs.] Vets receive an education based on diagnose and treat with these commercial products, the largest part of their professional profits come from using and charging for these, of which they require an ample and cheap supply. As an organic farmer of many years standing my vet commented to me recently that I may NOT need to use veterinary medicines as my cattle are extraordinarily healthy. But if all farmers were like me he would not have a business of the style to which he had become accustomed. These comments are not made to cause offence or denigrate the veterinary profession, they are made to highlight a dependence which has evolved and needs to be understood, many in the farming profession have received a similar education and adopt a similar outlook, as you may well know.

Organophosphates [OPs]

As a farmer and an ex research scientist who developed OP pesticides, I was extremely worried by the very narrow and biased investigation of the science of BSE. I have worked for a number of years attempting to have the OP/BSE theory properly investigated, and have been involved with initiatives by individuals to undertake research. I do not believe one can rule out the fact that a spongiform encephalopathy may well arise from over use of OPs, and I am fully convinced from the evidence and knowledge that I hold that these compounds will undoubtedly exacerbate latent disease and aid its progress. OPs should at all times be used minimally and with the greatest respect, if at all, their effects on the animal/human exposed are cumulative. I have corresponded and submitted evidence to this effect, using HM government documents to substantiate the case, to many Ministry departments, Select Committees and Inquiries, including the recent Committee on Toxicity working group on OPs. I enclose my submission to the 'Workshop on research on OPs'.

Bovine sourced pharmaceuticals

For a number of reasons as laid out in my statement to the BSE Inquiry and in my Final Statement [enclosed], I have become concerned with the risks emanating from the recycling of cattle tissues through inoculation, and tabulated a risk analysis which is also attached. It is based on logic and empirical science, the crux of which is; inoculation directly invades of the same circulatory systems that the gut feeds and therefore carries greater risk because it overrides the defences of the gut wall, which is designed to breakdown foreign proteins etc.

It was a major oversight of all those involved, right from the beginning of the investigation of BSE and so called vCJD, not to openly discuss nor legislate upon the risks associated with inoculation, as was the case for all the aspects of cattle and humans eating cattle tissues. What has evolved is an extra ordinary double standard. [See enclosed letter to Commissioner Byrne]

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The science of BSE requires unravelling in order to evaluate an accurate risk analysis, starting with checking the most risky scenario;
Injecting bovine pituitary extracted hormones onto other bovines.
If this practice neither evokes nor spreads BSE then serious consideration should be given to environmental exposures of neuro/endocrine toxins such as OPs.
If it does transmit BSE, then one should continue to investigate transmission opportunities through other inoculates, such as live vaccines.

It is disconcerting that this important basic investigation has not been considered and undertaken by the appropriate committees, and I would be most grateful if you would consider these further observations on the facts of the matter.

Government Advisory Committees

Obviously a minister is only as informed as the advice he receives, which is principally from his civil servants and selected specialist advisors and advisory committees. I do not believe these committees are either structured or staffed in such a way as to afford Ministers the most unbiased and hence accurate advice. I certainly do not believe they comply with the Committee on Standards in Public Life's, 'Seven Standards in Public Life', which are: Selflessness. Integrity. Objectivity, Accountability. Openness, Honesty and Leadership. Please see enclosed letter to Lord Neill, and consider the specific situation with regard to your BSE/CJD advisors.

The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee [SEAC]

Some members have considerable commercial interests in pharmaceutical companies who extensively use bovine materials, this conflict of interest, has enabled the creation of legislation and traceability for food, yet failed until recently to address pharmaceutical risks. E.g. Professor Almond who left in 1999 was a consultant to Medeva, the company which made the polio vaccine that was withdrawn last year when it was revealed the company was using possibly infected bovine tissues.

Other members are researchers in the field of [TSEs] so are representing and reviewing their own hypothesis and research, this compromises their ability to objectively challenge their own work and to accept the validity of contra evidence.

SEAC recommends what research is to be investigated, and hence to whom research money is awarded, the main beneficiaries are the members of SEAC.

This whole situation is not conducive to good science, which should be an open holistic investigation of all evidence and factors. SEAC serves no one except its self, as it exists. It should comprise of independent scientists who review the work of TSE researchers, checking content and validity then working this into an unbiased logical interpretation of the facts and risks. That also applies to the European Committees.

Veterinary Products Committee

This committee which recommends to you veterinary medicines for licensing, including OPs and hormones. Again its membership is weighted out with drug and chemical company employees. However the biggest problem with this committee and with the human equivalent, the Committee on Safety of Medicines; is that they are both charged with the task of recommending for licensing products and policing for contra indications to their efficacy and safety. This is intellectually corrupt, as these people hold the role of both Judge and Jury. In the case of OP usage affecting farmers health, a well documented wall of denial has operated, which was recommended in the 5th Agricultural Select Committee 1995, 'Investigating the efficiency and effectiveness of the PSD and the VMD', to be changed. [see enclosed letter to Tessa Jowell]

I hope this factually demonstrates to you my well founded concerns, and you can confirm to me that a full, independent and adequate investigation of the possible role of veterinary medicines in the current Foot and Mouth crisis is being undertaken.

Yours most sincerely

Joanna Wheatley

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