Death of BSE Safety Campaigner

UK - Last month, Wendy Grant, one of the scientists at the centre of the BSE crisis in the UK in the 1980's and 1990's and who was instrumental in ensuring changes in government policy to make beef safe, died, aged 89.
calendar icon 18 April 2012
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Wendy Grant, at the time a retired neuropathologist, raised concerns about the safety of some meat products in which cattle brains had been used.

The concerns followed an article in the British Medical Journal that suggested that Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy could pose a risk to humans and the band that had been imposed by the government on the use of animal meal in cattle feed.

She was one of the first people to voice doubt about the assurances from the government at the time that there was no risk from BSE.

By 1989, the Southwood report highlighted the risks of feeding meat and bonemeal to cattle, but still played down the risks to humans.

Wendy Grant, however, was at the fore in warning that infected animal material was still going into the human food chain and she showed that it was easy for scrapie infected material could infect other animals. She warned that some people could have been incubating the disease at the time.

One article by Wendy Grant accusing the government of playing down the dangers was later seen to be instrumental in ensuring cattle brains and spinal cord - specified risk material - were removed from the human food chain in November 1989 - a fact recognised in the official enquiry into the affair.

Despite continued opposition and attacks from the government, Wendy Grant's stance and fight over the connection between BSE and the human form, variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease was borne out in March 1996 when the health minister at the time Stephen Dorrell made the announcement that the cases of BSE and vCJD could be linked and the inquiry under Lord Phillips in 2000 vindicated Wendy Grant.

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