In Focus

The mad cow controversy has raised its ugly head once again. An as yet unpublished study conducted by British government scientists says that hundreds of Britons are likely to die every year from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), the human equivalent of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or the mad cow disease.

The most vulnerable are the people who atealot of hamburgers in the late'80s when the number of cattle carrying BSEwasthe maximum. The gloomy predictions are deduced by calculations based on the 14 'new variant' cases of CJD recorded so far in Britain. The s:tudy suggests that the number of CJD cases will rise gradually and will be maximum in the year 2003 as the incubation period of the disease on an average is 15 years. The number of such cases have doubled in each of the past two years. "This is not the doomsday scenario that some have predicted," said James Ironside, one of the authors of the report, seeking to allay the fears.

Me~nwhile, the British government has been named the biggest culprit for mishandling the mad cow crisis by an inquiry conducted by the European Parliament. The report also accuses the European Union's veterinary experts, European Commission (EC) and the national governments involved in the controversy for mismanagement. The investigation indicts EC officials for their "attempt to minimise the problem". It says that the officials tried to guard the beef industry by evading discussions on BSE.

But UK takes the biggest share of criticism. The British government failed to implement a ban on feeding meat and bone-meal to cattle untif June 1996, though it had announced it in 1988. "There was a real lack of control and mismanagement and UK officials have admitted that things could have been managed in an another way," said Reimer Boge, chairperson of the BSE inquiry committee.

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