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mark purdey and the cause of mad cow disease

by brian Monday, Feb. 23, 2004 at 11:19 PM

Purdey claims the cause of mad cow disease lies in the use of organophosphates

Vegans and other vegetarians at high risk for prion diseases

[Posted 3 January 2003, last updated 23 January 2004]

Note: Since the first admitted cases of Mad Cow Disease were announced in the U.S., this page has become very popular. Although written just after the CWD outbreak in Wisconsin and focusing largely on CWD, Mad Cow (BSE) and CWD are the same disease in different species. Mark Purdey's work was originally based on cows in Great Britain during the Mad Cow outbreak there.

Last year, CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) was a hot news topic. Deer and elk in the area of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, were eradicated in a brutal and controversial government-sponsored shooting spree. The mass kill-off was allegedly designed to stop the spread of CWD to other herds, but in actuality was nothing more than a public relations ploy.

Today's most credible independent research has shown that CWD, and all related prion diseases, are most often caused by organophosphate pesticides and herbicides. Prion disease transfer via animal-to-animal is much less common than direct organophosphate exposure. This puts vegetarians at risk for contracting a prion disease from foods treated with organophosphate pesticides and/or herbicides. Of particular interest are soy products, specifically Roundup-Ready soybeans.

Roundup-ready soy is a GMO (genetically modified organism, a/k/a "Franken-food") specifically developed to tolerate higher levels of Roundup herbicide. Farmers who grow Roundup-ready soy are required by contract to use Roundup herbicide on their soy fields. Roundup is in the glyphosate class of herbicides, a type of organophosphate. I drove to Mount Horeb, a small town only two hours away from my mother's home in Wisconsin, and asked some of the locals if soy is grown in the area. The answer was yes, but I really didn't have to ask -- I could see the soy fields myself. How much of that soy is Roundup-ready? I haven't been able to obtain this information specifically on Mount Horeb, but there is plenty of information verifying that Roundup-ready soy is commonly grown on Wisconsin farms.

"Cambridge University prion biochemist, David R. Brown is dismissive of the science behind the infectious model of BSE. He terms it 'a very limited amount of science by a few assumed-reputable scientists.' He insists there is 'no evidence an infectious agent is present in either meat or milk.' " (Fintan Dunne, "Organophosphates Implicated In Mad Cow Disease")

"Prion diseases" include:

Mad Cow Disease in cattle (BSE - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy),

CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) in humans,

Scrapie in sheep, and

CWD (Chroinc Wasting Disease) in deer and elk.

All have the same cause -- abnormally-folded proteins called "prions". The infectious model of prion diseases claims that prions found in diseased animals are then transmitted to other animals through rendered animal products in their feed. The prions in animal feed then go on to infect many animals who consume that feed. At least that's the official line in the U.S. and Great Britain. However, at the height of the Mad Cow epidemic in England, an organic farmer's personal observations led him to a different conclusion.

Mark Purdey and the real cause of Mad Cow Disease

Somerset farmer Mark Purdey observed that the UK's Mad Cow outbreak immediately followed the government's attempt to eradicate the parasite warble fly from cattle. Most farmers were required to treat their cows' spines and skulls with Phosmet, an organophosphate pesticide. Because Purdey was an organic farmer, he obtained special permission to avoid treating his cattle. He then observed that his neighbors' herds went on to contract Mad Cow Disease (BSE), whereas Purdey's untreated herds did not.

Unfortunately, Purdey was unable to interest Britain's government or scientific community in this theory, so he proceeded to study the problem himself. Using his own money and some donations by private indivduals, Purdey funded private research and came up with the following theory:

1.) Prions are naturally-occurring proteins, involved in protecting tissues (such as the eyes) from harmful UV radiation.

2.) When exposed to both organophosphates and manganese, prions change from copper-tipped to manganese-tipped, and cause a chain reaction of prions switching to manganese "tips". (The organophosphate may serve as a chelating agent or catalyst.) Manganese-tipped prions are virtually indestructible, surviving disinfectants, autoclaves, and incineration.

3.) These chain reactions cause periods of high oxidation which burn through tissues, as evidenced by the sponge-like brains found in Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. (Spongiform is pronounced "SPONGE-i-form", because the brain will eventually resemble a sponge from so many holes.) Sometimes consuming the flesh, eggs, or milk of an infected animal can cause the disease, especially if the animal was consumed when a prion chain reaction was occurring. However, prion diseases are much less likely to be contracted from infected animal products than from organophosphate exposure coupled with available manganese.

4.) High-manganese, low-copper environments can create prion diseases without the organophosphate catalyst, as seen in deer and elk herds in Colorado who eat manganese-rich pine needles.

Purdey's theory is corroborated by field data and lab tests funded with his limited resources. However, all such data is completely ignored by the UK and US governments, largely because politicians receive sizable campaign contributions from both GMO and organophosphate producers. Liability of organophosphate producers would be astronomical if Purdey's theory were accepted as the true cause of prion diseases.

In the case of Wisconsin, Purdey's soil samples showed a natural high-manganese, low-copper content in the CWD/Mount Horeb area. Further evidence of high manganese soil can be seen underground a few miles from Mount Horeb, in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. Cave of the Mounds has a number of purple and black formations which they'll tell you are colored by manganese leached from the soil above. In contrast, Kickapoo Indian Caverns in Western Wisconsin has no CWD in the area, and the cave has patches of blue-green copper-rich areas on its walls, indicating the copper-rich soil above.

"A lobby group that includes Bayer, Monsanto, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche and Schering-Plough was behind the effort to discredit Purdey... Purdey has been consistently denied even exploratory funding to extend his privately supported research. Yet the Purdey/Brown chemical poisoning model matches with the epidemiological spread of CJD clusters in humans. It also predicts the incidence of BSE-type diseases in animals. The accepted infectious model fits neither." (Fintan Dunne, "Insecticide Causes Mad Cow Disease")

It's obvious that deer and elk in the Mount Horeb area are eating from local soy fields. If any of that soy is Roundup-ready, the high-manganese soil would provide the requisite manganese to produce CWD. And unlike humans, deer and elk don't remove soybeans from their pods or rinse them off prior to eating. In other words, they're getting the full dose of Roundup, a type of organophosphate. This would explain an outbreak of CWD in the soy-growing area of Mount Horeb.

How to avoid prion diseases

Prion diseases are considered to be fatal in all animals. They vary in which part of the nervous system is attacked, and how long the organism will be able to survive after infection. Often the human form of prion disease, CJD, is misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, MS, or other nervous disorders.

Steps can be taken to avoid CJD. To ensure that soy is NOT treated with Roundup, use only CERTIFIED ORGANIC soy and soy products. Soybeans treated with organophosphates, or GMO soybeans, cannot be certified as organic. Also, all animal products should be avoided, as the infectious nature of the disease is occasionally manifested (as with hunters infected from eating diseased prey). According to Purdey, the disease is infectious when prions are causing active chain reactions, but there is no way to visibly ascertain whether prion chain reactions were occurring when the animal was slaughtered.

"I shudder further when I see the bottles of OP head lice shampoo and OP systemics for pets and gardens still in the shops for human use." (Mark Purdey, "Myths &Truths About Mad Cow Disease")

Another source of organophosphates are lice, flea, and tick shampoos. This includes lice shampoos distributed by public schools. Read the label of any such product provided to your child or purchased, and check its active ingredients with your pharmacist. An internet search can also help -- in a good search engine like, type the word "organophosphate", followed by a space and then the active ingredient. Seeking natural remedies, such as neem and turmeric (see "The Green Pharmacy" by James Duke, Ph.D.), are a good way of circumventing possible organophosphates.

Finally, if farming or gardening, avoid organophosphate pesticides and herbicides. Research the products you use, then find alternatives or switch to organic farming/gardening methods. Farm workers who can't influence their employers could look into wearing protective gear, or even finding a job with a better employer.

More information

The following links provide information on the history of Purdey's research, the science linking prion diseases with organophosphates, and the difficulty Purdey and others have encountered while trying to inform the public of this horrendous connection:

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