Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 16:04:53 CST
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <>
Subject: Workers Around the World 4/11/96

Mad capitalism disease

Workers World, 11 April 1996

Recent revelations in Britain linking Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy—mad cow disease—to a deadly human disease have again exposed how capitalism's brutal drive for profits proceeds at all costs, even at the expense of human well-being.

Mad cow disease was first detected in Britain in 1986. It is widely believed to be caused by consumption of animal offal. Big cattle farms inject and feed the offal to cattle in an effort to increase beef output.

The disease only affects cows. But eating tainted beef has been connected to a recent outbreak of a new variety of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which attacks the human brain and is fatal. Ten cases of the rare human disease have been diagnosed in Britain.

The practice of injecting cattle with cow and sheep offal was banned in 1989. But recent inspections reveal that half of all slaughterhouses violate the regulations.

Beef is big business in Britain—a $6.9-billion industry. The drive to increase output—and profits—has moved the industry to adopt various hormonal and genetic cattle treatments. The effects of these treatments on human consumers are little understood—and rarely considered by agribusiness.

The revelations have the cattle industry reeling. The European Union banned the import of British beef. McDonald's, the biggest single buyer of British beef, was forced to stop selling it. Tens of thousands of workers have been laid off as a result of the virtual shut-down of beef production.

The incident has also sharpened tensions among the European capitalist classes, which are in the midst of negotiations to strengthen European unity. Britain's Conservative government complains that the other European powers are not backing London's defense of its beef industry.