Don's Diary

November 3, 2000

1989

Article in the British Medical Journal shows that BSE, a disease of cattle, may pose a risk to humans. My colleague Richard Lacey predicts a cover-up, and we get hold of as much data as possible. Notice that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food does not admit that transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) can cross species boundaries.

1990

Maff says there is only a minor risk of humans becoming infected. Writing polite letters to officials is not working. Visit TSE experts in United States. Told that we cannot assume all is well - they refused UK cattle in 1987 because of BSE. Get back, visit government's Central Veterinary Lab. Shocked by determination that there is no risk to humans.

1991

Deliver information to Maff in Whitehall. It is sent back.

1992

Send information to Department of Health proving that we can no longer proclaim innocence. No reply. Lacey beaten down by whispers from Maff that he is a crank. No one else is speaking out. Farmer rings saying his cow is dying of BSE even though it was born after the 1988 feed ban. Maff turned it down as a case of BSE three times. Get sample to test. The farmer was right.

1993

Prions, the infectious agent, are a funny shape. Pick 250 species of plant to separate chemicals as possible treatment for BSE. Thirteen plants contain the alkaloids needed. Back to lab research.

1994

Calculate risks of eating meat. Turned down by The Lancet as insignificant. Meet with Maff. Shocked by excuses for continuing BSE cases. Turned down for 13 posts. Discover libellous letters about me are being sent. Blood Transfusion Service agrees that blood transmission of BSE could be taking place.

1995

Talk to World in Action. Show we are eating more than a million infected cattle. Set up BSE website. Publish findings in major journal. Keith Meldrum (chief veterinary officer) tries to deny its validity. Some government in-crowd figures admit they would not eat UK beef. Press show we are flouting regulations and sending meat abroad. Publish public health risks of BSE with Will Patterson.

1996

Meet health secretary Stephen Dorrell after a TV show and warn him not to be led up garden paths by civil servants. Parliamentary committee set up. Questions arise on the validity of my research. Blood transfusion risk data published. Government realising scale of scandal.

1997

Website has become an international service for data.

1998

Pentosan polysulphate pushed to the Medicines Control Agency to permit people receiving blood to protect themselves from vCJD. The MCA does not accept work done in animals as proof of drug's value. Should we experiment on humans? Report to Phillips inquiry. Tell of government ignorance and culpability.

1999

Work for the TSE unit in Leeds. Pentosan realised to be a potential treatment for autism and inflammatory bowel disease.

2000

Autism study set up. Phillips report published and independent scientists vindicated.

Steve Dealler is a consultant microbiologist, Burnley General Hospital, Leeds and an independent researcher into BSE since 1988.

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