ACRES U.S.A. What led you into your consideration of Mad Cow disease to your findings, which are somewhat at variance with the conventional wisdom?
PURDEY. It all started in 1984, appropriately, when I was visited by a British Ministry of Agriculture officer, who just suddenly appeared at my farm one morning and ordered me to treat my cows with these warble fly insecticides, which were systemic acting organophosphates. They came because I had fallen into a compulsory warble fly eradication zone after one of the neighboring farmers had an infestation of warble flies. But I said, look, I don’t want to use the systemic organophosphate compounds; my cattle haven’t got warbles, anyway; and I accused them of acting illegally, saying that they had no legal right to force farmers to use a chemical dressing, particularly one that belonged to a toxic organophosphate group. Largely my refusal to use these chemicals on my cows was based on intuition at that time, but as I started studying the science, I very rapidly realized that these chemicals were derived from military nerve gasses.
ACRES U.S.A. Had Mad Cow disease showed up at that time?
PURDEY. No, but what I was concerned about was, first, the exposure to the farmer-operator who was putting the chemical on, particularly when you handled your cattle afterwards. Because it was put on in an oil form, it had to be
poured along the base of the head and the spine line of the cow. It was this oily substance that kind of sat there, and slowly the chemical penetrated through. It was actually designed to metamorphose the whole internal environment of the cow into a poisonous medium so as to kill off the warble fly larvae during the stage of their life cycle when they were inside the cow.
ACRES U.S.A.You did not do that, then?
PURDEY. No, we completely refused to use it. The government were then talking about taking us to court, but they never did. They just heavy-handedly threatened turning up on Monday morning. I took out a High Court judicial review to prevent them from coming to the farm, and I argued that, under the Animal Diseases Act, the British Ministry of Agriculture were only empowered to force treatment with a vaccine or a serum. I said that the Animal Diseases Act doesn’t authorize them to come and forcibly treat with a chemical dressing, because that is neither a vaccine nor a serum. We actually won our High Court case, and we didn’t have to treat our cows with anything, basically they were warble free….”