Perhaps the most telling aspect of Professor Gabriel Horn's July 2001, report investigating the origins and spread of BSE in the UK is what it revealed about how little is really known even now, while at the same time putting back into the public arena a number of ideas that scientists had previously hypothesized.

Two conclusions stood out. First that an unmodified scrapie agent cannot be discounted as the origin of BSE, thus alerting policy makers to the fact that there could — possibly — be public health issues associated with sheep. This finding overturns a key conclusion from the Phillips' Inquiry into BSE, which said late last year that it was not plausible that an existing form of scrapie gave rise to BSE.

Secondly, the report argued that cattle might have become infected early in life because meat and bone meal was included in feed for calves in their...

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