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Old 28-05-2004, 10:02 AM
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Default Bone/ Blood Meal and Mad Cow Disease

In article , George Orwell

Does anyone know of any research that has been done on the potential for
contracting mad cow disease from using bone meal or blood meal as a soil
amendment for veggies or herbs. That is, assuming no direct contact with
the stuff.

Four cases in Great Britain were not traceable to any meat eaten, but all
four were inveterate gardeners who used bonemeal. It is believed they
inhaled the initial prion infection while spreading bone meal in their

Agricultural lobby & spin doctors have hired scientific spokespersons to
state pretty much "there is no evidence that BSE can infect humans by
inhaling bone meal." The guys hired to say this usually have five or six
degrees in science, but never did any actual studies, & get paid by
Agribusiness which uses bonemeal.

It remains that the four cases in England have never been explained by any
alternative theory, since those four gardeners had not been exposed to
infected meat.

It is also not being studied to what degree the BSE prions can be
absorbed, unaltered, into edible tubors & plants --thus entering the food
chain even for vegetarians. It is theoretically possible, but it isn't
being studied, so there is no evidence one way or the other.

The prions have reached the bone meal product by several methods. While it
is no longer legal to put infected sheep & cattle meat in feeds for dogs,
cats, pigs, or cattle, it is still legal to make a rendering product from
waste meats that are not to be used as animal feeds. BSE infects game
animals in the United States, especially elk, & these end up at rendering
plants as roadkill. They also render sheep, the most commonly infected
farm animals in the United States. Lastly, while it is widely believed
that chickens cannot be infected, some scientists speculate that chickens
have "safely" eaten prion-infected feeds merely because their lifespans
are too short for the infection to injur them -- but the prions could
nevertheless be in their brainstem & spine, & rendered chicken meal could
also be a source of the prions.

And the rendering plant industry is self-regulating (meaning largely
unregulated). On the rare occasion when anyone ever checked to see if
self-regulation worked, the vats obviously had everything from zoo animals
& roadkill to dog & cat carcasses from animal control & run-over racoons,
with wildlly inadequate methods of monitoring which end-product batch gets
labeled liver meal or chicken meal or beefmeal allegedly suitable to feed
even pets -- & you can bet they care even less what goes into their
garden-grade garbage. Not much in the news was an American recall of
Canadian pet foods found to be contaminated by BSE prions, but if anyone
thinks they're more careful in say Milwaukee than in Alberta, they're
kiddin' themselves.

Because the risks of bone meal in garfdening is not being studied for
publication in peer-review contexts, it is possible to say there is no
definitive evidence of risk, & fail to mention no one is looking for the
evidence because vested parties fund such research & can pick & choose
what suits agribusiness best. And those four British cases remain a
haunting answer to any Agribusiness spin about it all beikng unproven. One
of these victims reportly "never wore a mask & used to grind up the soil
& make a big cloud of dust" when adding bonemeal to his rose garden, & was
exposed to it on many occasions over a great length of time. The majority
of Britain's human cases ate at MacDonalds -- MacDonalds was the sole
source of the contaminated meat! -- but four victims were evidently
exposed only to bone meal fertilizers. That fact doesn't qualify as a
"study" so agribusiness dismisses the cases as unproven, & will certainly
never admit how extremely likely it is.

In a garden that is not used for harvested vegetables, & if a gardener
wears a high-end face mask while spreading bonemeal (not one of those
worthless felt paper mouth guards), the possibility of risk would seem
largely to be mitigated. Not that I've ever seen a gardener with even one
of the worthless felt-paper face guards which stop nothing from going up
the snout, let alone an industrial grade real-deal filter mask.

But even if it were reasonable to assume it is safe to breathe in bone
meal while fertilizing the garden, I would not use it. I do not want to
look at my gardens & have to think, "I've sprinkled rendered animals all
over that."

-paghat the ratgirl

"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
-from Peter Newell's "Wild Flowers"
Visit the Garden of Paghat the Ratgirl: