Is the cause of varCJD still one of those "Unknown Unknowns"?

Folks, given the current level of unjustified hysteria about the dire threat of beef imports introducing BSE and devastating our export beef industry and causing varCJD in Aussies, I thought it an opportune time to pose this question. Have we proved conclusively beyond a shadow of a doubt that the BSE prion is the cause of var CJD in humans?

Or is it still one of those "Unknown Unknowns " famously defined by former US Vice President Donald Rumsfeld as these being "things we don't know we don't know". Furthermore, is the real answer in one of the other caterogies of human knowledge so cleverly defind by this often pilloried gent.

All copyrights for the below reserved to Donald Rumsfeld.

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are
things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns.
There are things we don't know we don't know.

Donald Rumsfeld

A special hi to Janet Thompson as I know she has been studying up some info I sent her on the subject.I look foward to her thoughtful comments.
Now Laurel, please take a deep breath and perhaps have a little lie down before you get too wound up over this intruiging topic. Cheers to all Lee Mc Nicholl


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Good post Lee. I find the hysteria surrounding this issue over the top. Are there other agendas driving this hysterical discussion? I suspect so. I defer to your scientific backgroud, being a vet, to give some semblance of rational input.
Too right there is Ernest- you are very observant!
Earnest, thanks for your contribution. I am hoping interested {and unbiased folk} will do some real thinking on this. It would be great if some bureaucrats involved in the current hysterical debate would be good enough to get involved. Hello out there if you are watching

I can't see how it can be proved 100% without direct human transmission test and I don't think we are going to be killed in the rush of volunteers. So in the absence of this "definitive" test the scientific community has to rely on the following circumstantial evidence. There are molecular similarities between the BSE and varCJD prions, BSE can cross the "species barrier" in lab experiments to infect sheep , mice and monkeys, and the incidence of var CJD has declined in unison with BSE in infected countries. So as far as my reading goes the circumstantial evidence is reasonably compellig and would probably pass the "reasonable doubt" test in a Court of Law. However as I said before in my "Scared to Death - From BSE to Global Warming " post, an element of doubt will always remain.

AS BSE is disappearing from the planet quicker than a Kevin Rudd promise, the definitive answer might remain an "unknown- unknown" for all time . BSE is being consigned to the history books as we get hysterical about it in Australia once again. The sooner the cattle industry gets BSE off the front pages of our "scare hungry " media the better in my view.

Folks, I am going to be very busy for a couple of days, so after sowing this contentious seed I'll drop out of the "blogosphere" until then. Happy pondering and cheers from Lee Mc Nicholl
Ok, I am NOT saying its gospel , but in a weird coincidence while looking up other info for someone else, I happened across this item.
make of it what you will, I am simply putting it up.

Patricia Doyles been around a while ,specialises in zoonotic and contagious disease research.
any question or issues maybe you can email her, the addy is at the bottom of her article.
HI Laurel, I recall reading about this incident a few years ago. I guess it will forever be one of those
"unknown-unknowns" possibly even a convenient one. Cheers Lee Mc Nicholl
Frankly Lee, why would you take the risk of imports,(esp with the inconclusive position you paint) no risk is my position, not minimal risk or well, dont worry about it, 40% of the beef industry is domestically consumed, I suspect it is your biggest market, buggered if i know what you will do if its damaged... or emoved for imported beef prioduced in countries with more efficent production systems,that is the risk. Suppose 1970's not too much to worry about?

I think we are on the comparitive advantage stuff again, I reckon all along you have been a NFF supporter?
NO risk??

Are you serious? OK close all airports and all international travel by sea. Close all imports of all goods including pharmaceuticals. Ban autos. Ban jogging.

NO Risk????????

This ban of US beef business makes me sick to my stomach. What if they ban our beef? They have better BSE controls than we do, but the controls are unnecessary because there is no threat to humans from this disease. The whole thing is like global warming. It turns out beef from BSE infected cattle was not causing people to get CJD. The theory was wrong!!!!!!!!! This is not sane!!!!

The USA purcahsed over 300,000 tonnes from us last year. They can get the beef they want from Brazil, or produce it themselves. Last time US beef was allowed in to Australia they sold 34 tonnes. If we can't produce beef here good enough and cheap enough to compete with them after they ship the stuff all the way over here, then we don't deserve the Australian domestic business. Personally, I have no fear of them competing with me for the domestic market.

This bse scare is a joke. USA beef is safe and so is Australian beef. Making a big deal out of this gives consumers the erroneous idea that eating beef is risky. What is ABA thinking? They are not!

We can't continue to speak out of both sides of our mouths regarding trade. It is a two way street and it must be played fairly. If we want market access overseas, we must in turn grant it here. Either we trade fairly and communicate with the rest of the world, or we bury our heads in the sand and ruin our economy.
Spot on Matt.

The US Beef market is very important to us as it underpins all of our markets.
Paul, puzzled? we havent hAD a US beef market and we have done fine.

Matt Theres a LOT of difference between Fair trade and NAFTA.
the name for starters North American Free Trade, they are free to choose what they trade and free to whack tariffs and limits on us, a darn sight more than any other dealing country has in return, I see it as rather Biased in their favour.
Hi Laurel, just back from a 820 KLm rush round trip to see my favourite Rubgy Union team gallantly defeated with 30 seconds to go 30-28 in their great performance against their highly fancied opposition, the NSW Waratahs. I had a few games for "The Reds" in my younger days and my sporting background partially explains why I believe in playing it tough but fair.
THat is why I believe in OIE rules fairly applied, and why like Matt Thompson I am not afraid to compete against US beef imports { as unlikely they are to be in any significant volume}. I have never been prepared to be a closet anything throughout my life and certainly not a "closet " protectionist.

I can't work out what you are getting at when you say " we have not had a US beef market and we have done fine" . This seems at odds with the reality that we export approx 300,000 MT. to the US annually. If this is not a US beef market, please explain.

Cheers from Camel Mc Nicholl

{ Camel is my old Rugby nick name. If you are game I'll tell you how I got it}

I didnt think that the value of a market that takes 300000 tonnes or more of our beef would need explaining. Put simply the reason why the US market is so important is that it takes mostly trim and tends to put a floor price in for all markets.
Lee, Paul , I meant INcoming to here.

Paul, curious- they take the trim?
meaning for petfood? or hamburger?
I would have thought 300K worth and the value would have meant our Prime cuts?
explains why we have only One?? as far as I know anyway, Canner of pet food, ie Pal which is Now MARS, which is Unilever...
Needless to say I buy None.
and was wild that Purina took over Aussies Bonnie brand and then Nestle bought them out.

I know you guys may find it hard to believe, but I and a lot of women I know go to great lengths to find the sources and origin of our food, we want Aussie and NO imports if we can in any way avoid them. I prefer to go without, than support o/S food mega corps like unilever, and ADM,etc.
I get my pearl barley for my dogs tucker from SA, because Mckenzies(only available stupormarket brand) use imported grains, for eg, and I dont see why I should undercut our growers by buying and encouraging imports of food we grow.
And I am on a pension, so it means I cut my own food budget, but still see it as important to do so.
If anyone knows an Aussie supplier? for a ton purchase? I,d love to know I couldnt find any!

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