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Don't eat venison, doctor says

October 11, 2002 St. Cloud Times by Hiran Ratnayake
Dr. Michael Greger said he believes no one in North America should eat venison.

"The biggest deception that's been spread is that there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease can be spread to humans," Greger told about 25 students and a few professors during a highly charged speech Thursday at St. Cloud State University's Atwood Memorial Center's theater. "That's deceptively true because the absence of evidence does not mean evidence is absent." [And of course there is evidence that CWD prions can infect human brain tissue--BSE coordinator]

Greger has debated the National Cattleman's Beef Association director before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and was invited to be an expert witness to defend Oprah Winfrey in the famous "meat defamation trial."

The Boston resident is on a 10-month tour through the United States to speak on chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease, which he monitored in Europe.

"CWD is exactly the same thing that Europe was experiencing in the early 1990s," he said. "I certainly recommend that no one eat venison in North America unless there's more conclusive tests on CWD."

DNR disagreement

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has reported that muscle tissue from wasting disease-infested deer does not carry the disease.

Greger said there is not enough known about the wasting disease for the DNR to make this claim.

"We have absolutely no idea if CWD can be found in muscle meat from an infected animal," he said. "But prions (infectious proteins) replicate like crazy in muscle."

Greger theorizes one reason why chronic wasting disease has spread in North America is because deer, which are considered herbivores, have been fed meat and bone meals so their racks will grow larger. Animal products fed to cows is how mad cow disease spread in Europe, he said.

"Eighteen million people died from mad cow disease," he said. [I of course never said such a thing. I've received a formal apology for the misquote from the reporter and the managing editor John Bodette jbodette@stcloudtimes.com. A retraction has been published--BSE coordinator] "Europe forbid the feeding of animal wastes to livestock when it was too late. Every state needs to enforce a halt in animal trafficking immediately and halt consumption before this starts killing more people."

Greger is a vegan but denied that he is using his message to promote veganism.

"I'm going around the country trying to protect beef eaters and deer hunters from this disease," he said. "I care about people."

Several vegans and vegetarians attended.

"I felt it was highly informational but he was not preaching to us," said 21-year-old Shireen Ghorbani, a St. Cloud State senior from Bismarck, N.D.

For more information, visit www.veganMD.org.

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