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January 6th, 2004
Garden Grove, California
Mother has just gotten back from the grocery store. She's loading up the refrigerator with chicken, fish, and eggs--no red meat once again. Oblivious to the complaints about father saying the risk to human health from Mad Cow Disease is low and that he has got to have his meat. What can I say? A man has got to have his red, red meat. It has only been less than a year since the World Reference Laboratory has confirmed that a cow killed in Alberta, Canada was tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) also known as Mad Cow Disease among the public. But that was not the news that got mother going through red-meat paranoia. This past Christmas, it was found that a cow in Washington of the US of A, was positive for mad cow. If my word dissection is correct, the disease can be broken down to enceph meaning the brain and pathy meaning disease.* Overall, it is a disease that turns the brain into a sponge-like chunk of meat.
At first, the only time I have heard of the Mad Cow Disease was in my European History class and it was only a brief sentence that was spoken about it, but boy, what a sentence it was. It seems as though during the 1980s, to save money, Great Britain's ranchers began to feed grounded up dead animals (who have died from disease) to their cattle. Now isn't that disgusting? Not only was it disgusting, but cows are herbivores and basically altering their diet like that caused the Mad Cow Disease to develop. When symptoms of the disease started to show, well, the government banned the use of dead animals as fodder and killed off the cows that were predicted to have Mad Cow.
Now, I was thinking to myself, that's not so bad, right? What harm can this disease do? But being one of my bad characteristics, I spoke too soon. This disease has a human form called Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). One of the main forms of getting it is by eating BSE-infected meat from cattle. Are you ready for some bad news? Well, symptoms of the disease include muscle spasms, distorted walking ability, memory problems, having a hard time controlling muscles, etc.
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The bad news continues. It seems as though in 1997, a professor named Stanley Prusiner discovered that a protein called a prion protein causes it. That was not what scared me though. What scared me was that this one protein can not be destroyed by, according to Prusiner, fire, disinfectants, radiation and all these other sterilization processes.* By golly, 1000 degree Fahrenheit heat does not destroy it one bit! So if you want to figure out whether you have it or not, you look for the presence of that protein through labs. There is no current cure; therefore, symptoms always prove to be fatal.
This is dreadful because ever since a case was found in Washington, many countries including Japan, Brazil, Russia, Hong Kong, Mexico, etc, have banned American beef.* This harms our economy because the export of beef is seen as one of the main food industries. But America could not be hurting as much as Canada. Not only have countries banned Canadian beef, but Canada officials have also had to kill cattle who risked having Mad Cow Disease. For example, on September 4, 2003, beef producers in Canada asked the government to slaughter 620,000 cattle.* 620,000 cattle!! That was likely to cause a big dent in their economy.
Even some Americans are going against the beef industry here. Mother, for example, is not buying beef until the whole scare settles down and my friends as well as relatives have decided not to eat beef as well. I mean, I would not blame them since CJD has no cure and takes years to show symptoms.
Since America is losing profit in the beef industry as well as has the priority to protect the lives of its citizens, including yours truly, certain measures were taken. One of the main steps was to figure out the cause of the disease, which has already been done. Next step the government took was to quarantine the ranches or farms where Mad Cow was present. All throughout May of last year, Canada has been quarantining a total of seven ranches I believe. In addition, they had to carry out mass slaughters as mentioned above.
As for the meat industry, new regulations were formed such as improving testing for the presence of disease and removing certain animal tissues (especially brain and spinal cords) during processing.* It seems as though these measurements are working since I have not heard of any other Mad Cow cases in awhile.
And maybe my father will be able to get his meat by the end of this month. And if he continues his complaining, my mother's only reply is, "Don't have a cow."
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