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OPRAH WINFREY: MAD COW DISEASE

The following is an edited transcript of the April 16 1996 Oprah Winfrey television show.

Oprah Winfrey:

Mad Cow Disease, it's a medical mystery spreading panic across the Atlantic. In England, 10 puzzling deaths of young people may be linked to a rare and fatal brain disorder in cattle. The afflicted cattle shake and contort like mad dogs before what must be an excruciating and inevitable death.

In human beings, dementia and paralysis precede death. Scientists speculate that cattle contract the disease by feeding on sheep parts that are infected with another disease -- a practice officially banned in England in 1989. Could it happen here?

Dr. Gary Weber is with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. He says our government regulations have seen to it that our beef supply is safe.

My next guest disagrees, he believes the US will face a similar crisis within the next ten years.

Howard Lyman is a former cattle rancher, turned vegetarian. You said this disease could make AIDS look like the common cold?

Howard Lyman
Absolutely, and what we're looking at right now is, we're following exactly the same path that they followed in England -- ten years of dealing with it as public relations rather than doing something substantial about it. [In the US]..., 100,000 cows are fine at night, dead in the morning. The majority of those cows are rounded up, ground up, fed back to other cows. If only one of them has Mad Cow Disease, it has the potential to effect thousands. Remember, today, in the US, 14 percent of all cows are ground up, turned into feed and fed back to other animals.

Oprah:
But cows are herbivores. They shouldn't be eating other cows.

Lyman:
That's exactly right. We should have them eating grass, not other cows. We've not only turned them into carnivores, we've turned them into cannibals.

Oprah:
Now, wait a minute. Let me just ask you this right now, Howard. How do you know the cows are ground up and fed back to the other cows?

Lyman:
I've seen it. These are USDA statistics. They're not something we're making up.

Oprah:
It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger!

Audience:
(loud applause and shouts) Yeah!

Oprah:
Dr. Gary Weber says we do not have a reason to be concerned, but that, in itself, is disturbing to me. Cows should not be eating other cows!

Dr. Gary Weber:
Well, let me clarify that. There is a reason to be concerned. Let me go back and correct a couple of things. Number one, we do not have BSE in this country, and we have a ten-year history of surveillance to document that, based on science, we do not have it. Also, we have not imported any beef in this country since 1985 from Great Britain.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE --> Written by: Earth Island Journal


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