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Mad Cow U.s.a.: Could The Nightmare Happen Here?

by Sheldon Rampton And John Stauber

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About Book

Mad Cow U.S.A. is not the book to read before you go out for a steak. In fact, it's not really a book to read before eating anything; this chronicle of government cave-in to pressure from the food industry just might scare away your appetite. Authors Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber argue that both the American and British governments colluded with beef producers to suppress important facts about interspecies transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or "mad cow disease"--facts that might have prevented gruesome deaths. Could a British-style BSE epidemic happen in America? In a 1996 TV talk show, Oprah Winfrey attempted to ask the same question, only to find herself slapped with a lawsuit by a group of Texas cattlemen. Their grounds: the so-called agricultural product disparagement laws currently on the books in 13 states; these laws prohibit people from questioning the safety of any agricultural product, shifting the legal burden of proof from the food industry to its watchdogs. What happens when anyone who speaks out about problems with our food supply can be sued into silence? Rampton and Stauber fear grave consequences for public health, and they make a convincing case against these laws--and, inadvertently, for vegetarianism.

From Library Journal
The epidemic of "mad cow disease" in Britain caused great economic damage, a political crisis, and general panic when it was discovered that humans were apparently acquiring a fatal neurological malady called Creutzfeld-Jacob syndrome from eating the meat of cattle infected by feed containing protein from carcasses of sheep suffering from a disease called scrapie. Richard Rhodes's Deadly Feasts (LJ 3/15/97) provided a lively, sometimes lurid account of how an eccentric scientist named Carleton Gajdusek and others investigating kuru, a disease of New Guinea cannibals, discovered this whole new family of strange, deadly diseases, called transmissible spongiform enchephelopathies, or TSEs. Rampton and Stauber (Toxic Sludge Is Good for You, Common Courage, 1995) cover some of the same ground and more, also in a gripping but better documented way. But the real emphasis here is the conflict between the economic interests of meat industry associations and concerns about potential threats to public health. The authors detail how industry associations and sometimes government agencies have worked to discredit those concerned about public health issues. While the FDA has recently banned the feeding of mammalian tissues to ruminant animals, this is still an important book for its detailed revelations about the dangers of the TSEs and the complex but important issues of balancing economic and political interests and protecting public health. Highly recommended for most collections.?Marit MacArthur, Auraria Lib., Denver
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Will St. John, Detroit Free Press, 11/23/97
"Rampton and Stauber concentrate on the mire of government response to an uncertain threat. In its own way that is just as terrifying as the disease itself. ... The book manages to avoid becoming mere polemic. Their scorn for various halfway measures and public-relations choices is prominent, but they have been reasonably fair in giving voice to the concerns that went into those choices. ... Could the nightmare happen here? Yes, the authors say. ... Perhaps most distressing, one could easily imagine the same set of responses to other potentially deadly but so far uncertain dangers, from global warming to meteor impact. This is indeed a cautionary tale."

New Scientist, 4/4/98
"Most accessible and informative... a lively account...The language is clear and straightforward... Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber tell this larger tale with style, aided by accounts of some richly colourful characters. ... Their exhaustive exploration of the people, the ideas and the growing understanding of TSEs is thought-provoking... dancing prose."

Journal of the American Medical Association, 6/24/98
"Will be received with interest by a large number of readers of different backgrounds and perspectives."

Chemical & Engineering News, 4/20/98
"The kind of book you can't put down. It tells with great clarity a complicated story that interweaves intrigue, horror, massive economic interests, cannibalism, death, and some rather curious science. ... [The authors] have done the legwork and research necessary to produce a solid accounting of the affliction of mad cow disease, the mess that was made of handling it in Britain, and its implications for the U.S. ... required reading ..."

Book Description

The human death toll from British mad cow disease is doubling every three years. A version of mad cow disease unique to the U.S. is killing deer across North America; young hunters are dying from it. Did they get it from U.S. deer? Or from U.S. cattle or pigs that were fed "rendered byproduct" from slaughterhouse waste? With a new chapter of their 1997 book, Rampton and Stauber reveal a terrifying tale of governmental neglect and industry malfeasance.

From the Publisher
John Stauber is the founder and executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy.

About the Author



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