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Report On: Bse Crisis Misconception Of Risks & Flaws Within The System

3068 words - 13 pages

Report on: BSE Crisis
Misconception of Risks
& Flaws within the system

The BSE or the mad cow epidemic was a major crisis in British history. The BSE disease was first identified in cattle in 1986. Though the cause of the disease is not known till now, but how the disease spread was known at initial stage. Contamination of BSE into cattle happens due to consumption of BSE contaminated MBM. There was a scientific assumption that BSE might not be transmitted to human, but there was a risk of contamination to human also. But policy-makers’ perception of risk was wrong and they were consistently assuring people that beef is safe to eat, and BSE is not transmissible to human. ...view middle of the document...

Table of Contents

1. Abstract 2
2. Table of contents 3
3. Preface 4
4. Introduction 5
5. The Risks 5
6. Flaws within the system 6
7. The Changes 7
8. Conclusions 8
9. Appendices
Appendix1 9
Appendix2 10
Appendix3 11
10. References 12


It is unusual to have a preface for a report. But the conditions and constraints that were set to write this report make it necessary to write a preface to let the reader know about the circumstances I have to face to write this report. The report has to discuss about BSE outbreak and the importance of separating scientific advice on risk from political risk management (with discussion on BSE crisis and the concept of risk). The report has to assess whether the institutional and procedural reforms ensure institutional independence and transparency. Though Lord Phillips’ report about BSE was of 16 volumes, the word limit to write this report has been set to 1000 words only. A lot of efforts have been taken to abide by the word limit, many points were shortened, and many descriptions were made abridged and concise, some descriptions were put to the appendices like the description about methodology and BSE disease and many others in the footnote. But it was not possible to abide by the limit and word count has to cross the set limit. By reducing the number of words fluidity of the report has already been compensated and I believe any further reduction to the report will curtail much necessary information and facts and the report will lose its shape.

1. The outbreak of BSE epidemic left its scars in the British people. After its first detection in 1986, for ten years the government was strongly and consistently assuring people that beef is safe to eat and BSE is not transmissible to human. But after 10 years they had to declare that BSE is likely to be ‘TRANSMISSIBLE’. It was a ‘policy failure’ and ‘policy disaster’ or maybe ‘failure of good governance’ (Forbes, 2004). The epidemic infected more than 170,000 cattle, 4.7 million cattle were destroyed (Phillips, 2000) and 164 people died to date in Britain from vCJD (Cleeland, 2009). This report discusses how the risk was assessed and addressed, the flaws within the then system, the reforms made, whether these ensure independency and transparency.

The Risk
2. The origin of BSE is not clear. Possibly it happens due to a gene mutation. The first cases of BSE identified by SVS in 1986 were not index cases. They were the results of recycling of cattle infected with BSE into MBM. Incorporation of MBM into animal feed has some risks, and it was well known before the BSE (Cleeland, 2009). The BSE agent transmitted into cattle via the consumption of contaminated MBM. It was not clear whether BSE is transmissible to human. It was assumed that BSE could behave like scrapie (BSE version in sheep). Scrapie is not...

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