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Clinical implications of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.PETA welcomes foot-and-mouth disease

PETA welcomes foot-and-mouth disease

May 25, 2001  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  by Meg jones

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on World Dairy Expo officials to cancel the event because of concerns about foot-and-mouth disease, even going so far as to say the devastating livestock affliction would be a good thing for the U.S. because more people would become vegetarians.

A letter from PETA was sent Thursday to expo officials asking for the cancellation of the event, scheduled for October in Madison. PETA hopes the disease that has crippled much of the livestock industry in Britain comes to North America because animals would be spared a trip to the slaughterhouse, wrote Bruce Friedrich, the group's vegan campaign coordinator.

That raised the question of whether PETA is encouraging agroterrorism and suggesting its members should intentionally bring the highly-contagious animal disease to the United States.

In a phone interview Thursday, Friedrich said he would not intentionally infect animals in America, although he did write in his letter that he was traveling to the United Kingdom this summer and will come to Madison to visit the expo soon after he returns.

Introducing foot-and-mouth disease in America is "not something PETA would do, but it's something we would welcome in this country for the positive effect on animals," said Friedrich. "People need to understand that if they're eating meat, they're promoting cruelty to animals."

The World Dairy Expo, which attracted almost 70,000 people last year, will go on as scheduled, said Marjorie Stieve, marketing manager.

The expo is one of the largest dairy cattle and trade shows in the world. Last year it attracted visitors from 75 countries.

Because of the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which can be transported through the air and even cling to visitors' shoes and clothing, expo officials will unveil a new biosecurity plan in June, Stieve said.

The World Pork Expo scheduled in Des Moines, Iowa, was canceled because of concerns about the disease, and Friedrich said he expected officials to call off the dairy event as well.

"The people who are most likely to bring it here are the farmers who are coming to the World Dairy Expo," Friedrich said. "I suppose if it happens, we'll write a massive thank you note because it'll turn a massive amount of people into vegetarians."

Tom Thieding, communications director for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, said farmers in other countries who are having problems on their farms, such as foot-and-mouth disease, are smart enough not to visit events where they'll be in contact with animals.

"We're not worried. We know there are nuts out there and PETA confirms that," Thieding said. "We don't get too hung up on anything that PETA says anymore."


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