© 2003, R. W.C. Stevens
I am awed by the mass slaughter involved in this search for Mad Cow. To me, there is a better way.
I suggest that a few cows out of each suspect herd are all that need be slaughtered. Ten percent might be right. Inspect those. It is likely that several, of the 10% in one associated herd, will show infection. (If not, revisit the farms, sample again, taking maybe 20% this time.) But on finding one particular farm with several co-infections, and finding the other farms to be apparently free, we should be able to assume with acceptable certainty that a significant point in the route of infection has been found. The investigation should continue with that one farm, its feeding practices, the feed source, where else the infection has gone, etc. No more cows in any of the other herds need be sacrificed based solely on association with the infected cow.
Each cow slaughtered represents a significant amount of lab-work before an answer is generated. The investigation of every cow in every herd will simply delay obtaining the proper answers. The thorough investigation of one herd before even considering another is improper allocation of resources. Let us get the heart of this matter without overwhelming the investigation system with needlessly redundant work.
Where the spin-doctors have our politicians saying, “The balance of initial herd has been found to be free of BSE, and this is good.” I can only hear: ‘We have yet to find the source of infection. We have wasted time, money, and bovine lives in looking thoroughly in one small area,’ when they should have been looking more generally over a broader area.
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