veggies.jpg (6769 bytes)fruitbowl.jpg (6391 bytes)Paratuberculosis and Crohn's Disease: Got Milk?

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Paratuberculosis and Crohn's Disease: Got Milk?
by Michael Greger, MD
Updated January 2001

Gambling with Lives

The USAHA statement reveals the gamble the industry is willing to take. In Britain, when asked what the industry planned to do about paratuberculosis, spokespersons said that it was "something that bears watching"[201] but that they "preferred to defer action" until paraTB is proven to cause disease in humans.[84] This sounded all too familiar to the British public after the mad cow debacle, where the beef industry made the same wager -- and lost.[177] According to some social science studies, it was the British public authorities' decade-long insistence on the safety of beef that did the most damage to the public trust.[79]

The American dairy industry is similarly gambling not only with the health of consumers, but with their own financial health. The financial impact of paraTB is enormous;[30] paratuberculosis currently costs the American livestock industry over a billion dollars a year.[61] A collapse in consumer confidence could raise that figure much higher.

"If MAP is ultimately shown not to be the cause of Crohn's disease," Chiodini argues, "then the industries have taken the appropriate position of 'lip-service,' to give an image of concern."[24] If, however, -- as PARA phrased it in an open letter to the industry -- "dairy products become associated with the dreadful, life-destroying disease known as Crohn's disease, your markets may also collapse and may never recover. The image of dairy foods as being necessary for good nutrition, carefully propagated and nurtured by you for decades, may be destroyed."[124]

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