In 1996 we lost a family business. Thanks to scientists. Those men in their white lab coats and tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows who loved every minute of their time on the tele. It was the great BSE crisis.
Remember it? Here’s a potted history. Dairy cows started dying of a new illness which the scientists called BSE and the press called Mad Cow disease. Well, of course they did. Who’s going to get excited by the new disease called BSE! There was some archive footage of one particular cow thrashing around the byre looking as mad as Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining’ which got played over and over and over again.
So it was new and it had a tabloid friendly name. All good stuff. So what utter wickedness could have caused such a thing? Well conclusions were jumped to and it was quickly decided that it had to be meat and bone meal in cow feed. Meat and bone meal in case you don’t know is what remains of a carcass when all of the edible meat is cut away. What is left is all dried up and ground to powder. You might well have used it on your roses. Anyway. Feeding such stuff to cows was deemed to be wicked and unnatural and generally dreadful. To be honest we made a point of never using the stuff in our mill, but that was by the by. All of a sudden the animal feed industry was squarely in the cross hairs of the media and every night the news showed that same old cow in its death throws. It was the moment for scientists to emerge from obscurity and have their time in the spotlight and they loved every minute.
The problem was that the media would only be interested in a weird cow disease for so long and the public were getting a bit fed up of seeing that same old dying cow. And so it was that the scientists came up with a new theory. Mad cow disease was becoming mad human disease - CJD. Eat a burger and your brain would fester and rot. And now things got really exciting. The media got itself all revved up and the scientists were the new rock stars. Wow, did the thing ever escalate. Before you could blink, the French had banned British Beef and a Sunday roast was deemed to be more deadly that an anthrax sandwich. Unsurprisingly amidst all the frenzy the facts were left for dead. The fact that we had fed meat and bone meal to animals for hundreds of years was ignored. The fact that twenty people a year had died of CJD since it had been discovered a century or so earlier and that number was not rising in the slightest was deemed irrelevant. In case you are interested, 20 people a year still die from CJD. The figure has never gone up or down. But who cared about such boring stuff. The scientists carefully cleaned their glasses and straightened their knitted ties and took to the screens to warn us of a coming pandemic. We were all about to die a truly horrible death of rotting brains. Soon we would all be as mad as Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining’. The non vegetarian world was about to become real l
zombie movie. ife
For a while the government tried to hold the line. Who can ever forget the epic sight of John Selwyn Gummer force feeding a burger to his rather bemused son?
Then of course the politicians panicked. Well of course they did. They always do when scientists warn of impending doom. British beef was deemed little better than poison. The French loved every minute. Meat and bone meal was deemed to be absolute poison and banned fro feed, not only for cows and sheep, but pigs and chickens as well. Since when were pigs vegetarian? Since 1996. Old aircraft hangers from the Second World War were stuffed with hundreds of thousands and tonnes of meat and bone meal and to the best of my knowledge those mighty heaps are still feeding rats by the million to this day. It certainly was a hell of a good time to have an empty aircraft hanger.
Before BSE our business had grown strongly. By 1996 we employed 80 people and had a turnover of £18 million a year. Unfortunately 40% of that turnover came from making muesli style feed for young bull calves. And a well and truly panicked government decided to appease the scientists and the media and the French by doing a King Herod and ordering that all bull calves should be slaughtered before they were a week old. Ouch. You can’t sell feed for a calf when it has been topped and ground up and added to the pile in an aircraft hanger. So sales fell off a cliff and the bank manager called us in and we were basically all but bankrupt. Just like hundreds of other businesses that had done absolutely nothing wrong. We were luckier than most and we managed to sell the business for a quid and mum and dad got to keep their house. I wound up writing a book called ‘One Man’s Meat’ and discovered with some surprised that quite a lot of people were willing to shell out £5.99 to read it.
So what happened to the pandemic? Nothing of course. 20 people a year continued to die of CJD. The scientists shuffled off back to their labs. Billions of quid were flushed down the toilet. And very, very quietly the government banned the use of a very, very nasty chemical that they had made it a legal requirement for farmers to pour onto the backs of their cattle to protect them from warble flies. The organo-phospates zapped the flies. And they also zapped many of the farmers who handled the poison. Not that anyone ever admitted to that. You see this horribly toxic stuff was manufactured by a big corporation hailing from
Arkansas, . And for
many years this particular corporation had poured their dollars into a young,
handsome local boy made good politician from their home state. And those
dollars took Prince Charming all the way to a large White House in the capital
of the Land of the Free and Home of Brave. And once he had the top job, it was
payback time. He made a hell of a salesman and he threw his weight around to
make sure the chemical in question was used all over the world. We of course
did as we were told, and passed a law insisting that our farmers use the
chemical in question. Or else. And when they started getting ill and cows
started going mad, we shoved the whole thing as far under the carpet as we
could get it. And surprise, surprise – once the chemical was quietly removed
from the market, cows stopped going mad and BSE was consigned to the history
Ever since that time I have developed a complete distrust in scientists who seem a tad over keen on getting themselves on the tele. They have come up with a succession of doomsday threats over the last 15 years. We’ve had the Millenium Bug and Bird Flu and cancer warnings on everything we have eaten and drunk for ever and a day.
And then came the big one: Global Warming. Climate Change. The end of civilisation as we know it; unless we change our ways. And instead of that same old mad cow, we now get the same old melting iceberg.
The world is warming up and it is our fault. The fact that the world has warmed up and cooled down for millions and trillions of years is neither her nor there. Man’s endless vanity deems that it has to be down us. What an absolute field day the scientists have had. And the media of course. Nothing like a ‘We’re doomed!’ story to sell a paper or two. Al Gore managed to transform himself from one of the most wooden and boring people on planet earth to a superhero. And once again it didn’t take very long for the politicians to get into a panic. David Cameron headed north to ride a husky sledge. The Tories decided to adopt a tree as their new logo. For goodness sake!
Saner voices were greeted with the same kind of scathing condemnation that was once directed at the heretics who suggested that world might not be flat after all. I have found it interesting to see how Nigel Lawson has been condemned as being unspeakably wicked and evil for daring to suggest that the whole thing is a load of old tosh. If we still burnt those who disagree with the dogma of the day at the stake, then Nigel would have been turned to ash and added to those piles in the aircraft hangers. Here are a couple of examples of the wicked evil he is spouting.
He is more than happy to agree that the world is warming up. Just like it has warmed up many times before. What is deemed wicked and evil is that he has the audacity to suggest that this might actually be quite a good thing. How on earth could he ay such a terrible thing? Easy, actually. Let’s say that
Europe has a
serious heat wave. And 2000 old people die of heat related stuff. The media will
be right on it. Global Warming kills 2000! Horror, horror. Fair enough. But
then the following winter it is nowhere near as cold as usual. And because it
is warmer, 20,000 less old folk die of cold related stuff than would normally
die. So do the maths. 20,000 – 2000 = 18,000 less deaths thanks to Global
Warming. Now what’s so bad about that?
If the temperature goes up by 3 degrees over the next hundred years, then it will be all but impossible to grow any sort crop in places like
Chad and Niger and . Fair enough. The thing is
that these places have never been capable of growing much. That is why people
tend to starve to death in those regions. On the flip side, a three degree warm
up will mean that countless millions of acres of rich, black soiled ground
across northern Somalia Canada and will all
of a sudden be capable of turning out millions upon millions of extra tonnes of
wheat. Overall, Global Warming will mean much, much more food. Which means that
those going hungry in Sub Saharan Africa are not a global warming problem. They
are a political problem. The world will be in a much better position to produce
food enough for all. The problem is that those in the greatest need always have
the emptiest pockets. The real trick is to find a way for food grown by the
rich to be given away to the poor. But that of course would going way too far.
We really couldn’t be having any of that. That would be the end of capitalism
as we know it. Russia
Similarly if rising sea levels mean that areas of
become uninhabitable, the best answer is to allow the victims to up sticks and
move to areas of the warmer world where there is space enough for everyone. But
such a thing would be inconceivable. The main reason why over a hundred million
doomed souls are crammed into such a tiny space is down to the lines hastily
drawn on the map by Lord Mountbatton in 1948 when we decided that we had pretty
well completely taken everything there was to take from the Indian
Subcontinent. When we turned up in the eighteenth century, Bangladesh accounted
for 20% of the world’s GDP. When we left 200 hundred years later that figure
had fallen to about 1%. I wonder where all the cash went? We robbed them blind
and when we got out of Dodge as quick as we could, we drew ridiculous lines on
the map and created the disaster that is now called India . In a hundred years time
the empty spaces of Bangladesh Northern Scotland might
well be capable of growing all kinds of crops. Maybe we might be willing to
allow a few million flooded out Bangladeshis to come across to do some farming.
After all, we do kind of owe them….. As if!
Like Nigel says, it’s a political problem.
And so the madness goes on and on. We are sitting on top of 300 years worth of coal. If we were to get on and mine it, we could create thousands of well paid jobs and stop draining what is left of our national wealth into the Swiss bank accounts of a bunch of tyrants from the
Middle East. What’s stopping us is meeting our Global Warming targets. Anyone
lucky enough to own a hill can now earn a quarter of a million a year from
renting it out to wind farmers. And does the cash come from selling electricity
to the national grid? Does it hell. It comes from the tax payer. The electric
would be barely worth a tenth of that figure. But what the hell. We are doing
our bit. So long as windmills mean votes, our politicians will continue to
chuck our money at it.
All of this is annoying. Really, really annoying. Just like the BSE nonsense was annoying. And the scientists are also annoying, especially those best experts in the world characters from the
When their research suggested that the world wasn’t warming up fast enough for
the tabloid press, they simply made stuff up to made the story better. Lying
bastards. University of East Anglia
But over the last couple of months annoying has become evil. Here is what should be the biggest story in the world right now. You might have seen some stuff on the news about the drought in
. The corn crop is an
absolute disaster. The wheat crop in America isn’t a lot better. Food prices
are about to go through the roof. Now that isn’t going to be great for the
likes of ourselves. A loaf of bread might go up from £1 to £1.30. But let’s
face it, we can live with that. We spend about 10% of our disposable income on
food. A 50% rise in the price of corn might put that figure up to 12%. Some of
us might have to cancel our Sky subscription. It is a much different story for
the four billion of our fellow human beings who live on a dollar a day. They
spend 60% of their disposable income on food. And they don’t buy microwavable
ready meals where more of the cost goes into advertising and packaging than the
actual contents. No. They buy corn and wheat and yams and rice. Basic starch
that is generally made into a simple porridge or tortilla or chapatti that just
about keeps body and soul together. They have no more to spend on food. They
have no notches on their belts to tighten. And when food prices go through the
roof over the coming months, they are going to start to starve to death. Russia
Things have got so bad that the United Nations has pleaded and begged the US Government to stop using corn to make fuel for cars. They have begged that all corn should be used to feed human beings who otherwise will starve to death. And at the time of writing, the US Government has told them to take a hike. Why is this? Is it because ethanol produced from corn is so very much cheaper than petrol refined from oil? Like hell it is, especially when the corn price itself has gone through the roof. No. They are refusing to listen to the UN because they are determined to show the world that they are serious about meeting their emission targets. Because the scientists say they have to. Because the media says they have to. And when all is said and done, it is an election year and anyone who suggests that the world is not flat after all gets burned at the stake.
And the scientists will still get their TV time. And the Queen is about to get a quarter of a million a year of tax payers’ dosh for installing a silly water turbine at Windsor Castle that will hardly produce any electricity at all. And millions of tonnes of
corn will get turned into
ethanol regardless of the pleadings of the UN. US
And a whole lot of people are about to starve to death.
And it makes you want to scream with rage. But nobody would listen. Because the men with the leather patches on the elbows of their tweed jackets are sending us all to hell in a handcart.