Socialist Worker

Not Mad about the Beef

Issue No. 1671

THE TORIES and the British press have whipped themselves into an anti-French frenzy over beef during the last fortnight. Labour cabinet ministers, like agriculture secretary Nick Brown, have encouraged the mood. But they all ignore the most basic facts about British beef and BSE.

BSE is still a major problem in Britain. There have already been 1,562 confirmed cases so far this year. This is vastly greater than anywhere else in the world. France has had just 22 cases this year.

We are told that the ban on using ground up dead animal parts in cattle feed stopped BSE. Yet 95 percent of cases this year are in cattle born after the feed ban came in.

The government's own Scottish public health director, David Carter, warned that experts believed at least 43 BSE infected animals would get into the human food chain in Britain this year.

While the tabloids and Tories bash 'Europe', they don't mention that most of the world still bans British beef as unsafe, including countries like the US, Canada and Australia.

The rest of the world is not convinced that 'British beef is safe'. Nor should we be.

Obscene call

THE EDITOR of one of Britain's leading medical journals was threatened by a senior establishment scientist for publishing research which questioned the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods. Richard Horton is the editor of the Lancet, which recently published research on GM foods by Dr Arpad Pusztai.

Horton claims he received a phone call from a top establishment science figure. The call was 'very aggressive', says Horton, and included a threat that his job could be at risk if he went ahead with publication. Horton refused to name the caller. But the Guardian newspaper claims it was Peter Lachmann, a key figure in the Royal Society, an establishment science body.

Lachmann admits he did call Horton. It has emerged that Lachmann is part of a grouping at the heart of the Royal Society which is organised to counter challenges to the safety of GM food in science publications. It claims to be simply standing up for good science. Peter Lachmann was a consultant to the Gerona Biomed biotechnology company. He was also a non-executive director of the Adprotech biotechnology company. He is also on the science advisory board of the multinational SmithKline Beecham, which has huge investments in biotechnology.

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Article information

Sat 6 Nov 1999, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1671
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