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Daily News Archive
From February 5, 2001

Farmer Believes Pesticides Are Responsible for Mad Cow Disease

According to a February 1, 2001 Reuters news story, English organic farmer Mark Purdy believes that pesticides, specifically organophosphate insecticides, rather than infected cattle feed, are responsible for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), otherwise known as mad cow disease. Mr. Purdy, who has waged a 16-year campaign to investigate his theory, told Reuters that he urges people to distance themselves from "the men in bow-ties" who have what he calls a monopoly on the accepted BSE theories.

Mark Purdy began his fight when the UK agriculture ministry told farmers to pour organophosphates along the spine of their cattle in the early 1980s to kill a parasite called the warble fly. "Like most things it was instinct. Being a farmer, I was horrified when I was approached by a ministry official to treat a cow for warble fly by pouring this chemical along the spinal cord and the base of the head," he told Reuters. "It was an oil designed to seep through the skin and to change the entire internal environment of the cow into a poisonous medium to kill off the parasites."

In the 1980's, Mark Purdy began his investigation. He looked at data collected from wildlife and humans with similar problems. What Mr. Purdy found in common was high levels of manganese, a metal given to cattle in high doses via the organophosphate. He claims his data is supported in the lab by Cambridge University. Mr. Purdy also disputed the accepted contaminated food theory, by tracking the meat and bone meal supposedly responsible for the disease. Despite its export to other countries, there is little correlation with the dosease. He disagrees with the argument that BSE is passed to humans via infected beef. "If it was to do with eating beef we'd have lots of cases in towns, where most burger bars are, but 60 percent of cases are in rural areas," he told Rueters. "Most victims live by fields, where crops are sprayed."