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www.EllenWhite.info - The Ellen White information website.

Mad Cow Disease

The prediction

The following are a few examples of Ellen White's predicting that future animal diseases would make all animal products unsafe to eat:

Let the diet reform be progressive. Let the people be taught how to prepare food without the use of milk or butter. Tell them that the time will soon come when there will be no safety in using eggs, milk, cream, or butter, because disease in animals is increasing in proportion to the increase of wickedness among men. The time is near when, because of the iniquity of the fallen race, the whole animal creation will groan under the diseases that curse our earth.—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 135.

There is no safety in eating of the flesh of dead animals, and in a short time the milk of the cows will also be excluded from the diet of God's commandment-keeping people. In a short time it will not be safe to use anything that comes from the animal creation. [written in 1898]—Pacific Union Recorder, Nov. 7, 1901.

Notice how at the end of the first quote Ellen White used wording from a verse from Romans. Is it possible that her prediction is therefore in harmony with Scripture?

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (Rom. 8:22)

This whole question is quite interesting in light of the discovery of Mad Cow Disease in the U.S.A. Was she right or wrong on this one? We'll look at cattle first and chickens toward the end, and then you decide.

Why the problem?

It could be noted that Ellen White connected an increase in animal diseases with an increase in man's wickedness. Now the apostle Paul wrote:

For the love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Tim. 6:10)

—Ag. Research Service

The whole problem with Mad Cow Disease started because of the practice of cooking down cows and feeding them to other cows. Since, as nearly everyone admits, God didn't create cows to eat either healthy cows or downer cows, why in the world did the cattle and dairy industries ever start feeding cows to cows? The bottom line is that using such feed increased their profits. Thus, unnatural practices, carried on because of the overpowering appetite for money, have resulted in a situation where even dairy cows are contracting a strange, fatal illness that can also be transmitted to humans.

This sounds remarkably similar to the scenario Ellen White predicted in the 1890s in the above quotations.

Perhaps you think Mad Cow Disease is a lot about nothing. Read on and see why we do not, and why we are equally concerned about similar feeding practices in the cattle and poultry industries.

Keeping the public in the dark

Some missionaries from Africa told us in 1993 about Mad Cow Disease, a disease afflicting cattle, mainly dairy cows, in Britain. It was rather strange, for the U.S. nightly news wasn't talking about that at all, and would not do so for several more years. But this disease, first diagnosed in 1986, was already a major international concern. Russia, when getting food aid from Europe, had initially demanded that the donated food not include British beef. By 1989 the United States was restricting imports from countries known to have Mad Cow Disease. And any cow that acted crazy anywhere in the United States had its brain sent to Ames, Iowa, for testing. But the public, and the average farmer, knew nothing.

Some of those in the know told each other with confidence that the United States probably wouldn't have problems with Mad Cow Disease, since we slaughter our dairy cows earlier than they do in Britain. Send them to market before the incubation period is over, and they'll never "come down" with the disease. Indeed, in 1996 the UK prohibited any cow over thirty months of age from being slaughtered for food. If only a lack of symptoms could ensure that the cows are not contagious!

Former USDA Sec. Ann Veneman—USDA

But if the American public was not in the know in 1993, not no more. It's all out in the open now. Or is it? The U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, Ann Veneman, in the wake of the discovery of a cow that came down with symptoms before it could be slaughtered, repeatedly assured the public that the meat, even of the infected cow, is "entirely safe to eat." And yet on December 17, 2003, just one week before an article appeared on cnn.com with a side bar that stated, "To date, no case of mad cow disease has been identified in the United States," there was a report of two unusual deaths in the UK due to human Mad Cow Disease. A donor gave blood in March 1996, and showed no signs of the disease until 1999. The recipient of that blood, six and a half years after receiving the transfusion, developed the disease and died in the autumn of 2003.

Blood and milk

The other day we were chatting with a young lady who works at a local grocery store about this very topic. She told us how she and her mother had spent a couple years in Britain, and how a number of years ago the regulations changed, and now she and her mother are prohibited from donating blood because of the possibility of their blood transmitting Mad Cow Disease.


It's true. Did you spend six months in Britain after 1980? Can't donate blood as of the year 2000. No, actually, they changed that in 2001. Spent three months or more in Europe? Can't donate blood because of the threat of Mad Cow Disease.

You see, the medical community knows that there is a possible risk that blood from those infected with Mad Cow Disease is infectious, even if those infected have no symptoms. Now if the local butcher can assure you that that red stuff in your hamburger and steak isn't blood, then Secretary Veneman is entirely correct in saying that the meat of an infected cow is "entirely safe to eat."

We asked a local physician, "If blood is infectious, is it possible that milk might be as well?" He said it most definitely could be, for while there is a blood-brain barrier, there is no blood-milk barrier. In other words, while some substances are hindered from going from the blood to the brain, there is no such hindrance in going from the blood to the milk. For this reason doctors routinely are more careful about the medications nursing mothers get, since the drugs in their blood pass into the milk and from there into the baby.

Of course, to be fair, it should be noted that while the blood of other animals has been proven to be infectious, the blood of cows has not, and neither has milk. Still, one has to wonder exactly how mother cows give Mad Cow Disease to their offspring, if neither blood nor milk are infectious. The mothers really can and do give it to their offspring. This has been known since at least 1996, and it is why, in January 2004, the U.S. government slaughtered a herd of 450 calves near Yakima, Washington, one of which, lost in the mass, was the offspring of an infected cow.

The chicken connection

To bolster confidence in beef, new regulations are in force. Cows that can't walk to their deaths don't get slaughtered. Personally, we distrust the judgment of those who would ever think that a sick cow was safe to eat.


But that's not the only reason for our distrust. Back in southern Alabama we visited a chicken farmer because we were curious why he left the lights on in his huge coops late into the night. He told us that was so the chickens would sleep less, eat more, and grow faster.

He also told us how sometimes some of his cooped-up chicks die because of loud noises, like the noise of the motor that brings their food into the chicken houses. We wondered if their nerves being that shot meant that they weren't all that healthy.

But that wasn't as bad as what he told us when we asked him what was in the feed. Antiobiotics? Hormones? "Arsenic," he said. "It stimulates their appetites so that they eat more and grow faster."

However, that wasn't near as bad as what another chicken farmer told us in early 1989. He was cleaning out the litter from his chicken houses, getting ready for a new batch of chicks. "What do they do with the chicken litter?" we asked. "They ship it out west to the cattle feed lots. The cows eat it like candy. They get more nourishment from the grain pre-digested by the chickens than they would get from straight grain." Then he told us how they mix the stuff with oats and molasses, and that explained why the cows eat it like candy.

"Stop! . . . a little"

Since 1997, the U.S. has prohibited the feeding of cows to cows. (This ban does not include "plate waste"; gelatin, milk products; blood and blood products; tallow, grease, fat, and oil; aminoacids and dicalcium phosphate; and mammilian protein from pigs and horses. See Harvard's 2001 BSE risk assessment, pp. 31 ff., where it is stated that all these products "have the potential of harboring infectivity," but the report concludes that the risk is small.) It took so long to stop feeding cows to cows because the industries involved dragged their feet. But you can still feed cooked-down cows to chickens, even though God didn't create them to be buzzards, because chickens don't get Mad Cow Disease. They just don't live long enough to develop symptoms (Ibid., p. 31).

Do you see the problem? If you feed infectious prions to chickens, and then feed their litter back to cows, you can potentially infect the cows. That's why former Secretary Veneman's colleague at the FDA, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, said in November of 2001 that they would be looking at the practice of feeding chicken litter to cows. "Advanced notice of proposed rulemaking" would be going out in the "first part" of 2002, he said (USDA & Harvard Announce Results of BSE Risk Assessment). And he was obviously concerned about this matter, as others had been for years, for in May of 2003 he indicated that they just might eventually ban the practice altogether (Transcript of Teleconference).


Even if chickens-turned-buzzards eat infectious cattle, there is no evidence at present that their flesh or eggs becomes infectious. This is true even if you take the feathers, bills, and feet of the slaughtered chickens, cook them down, and feed them back to the chickens, as is commonly done. But the resulting salmonella in both chickens and uncracked eggs by this kind of feed is a definite problem.

Generally, animal proteins have higher levels of salmonella contamination than do plant proteins. Poultry offal meal and feather meal should be considered high risk ingredients. These products often contain the same serotypes that are concurrently identified as causing contamination in local poultry populations.—"Minimizing Microbial Contamination in Feed Mills Producing Poultry Feed," Univ. of Fl. Cooperative Extension Service.

It used to be that cases of salmonella poisoning could be traced back to the use of cracked eggs, but not no more. Unnatural feeding practices are contaminating both the chickens and their uncracked eggs with that nasty bacterium. So make sure you cook those eggs well or you might end up ill, . . . or worse.

Let's prove her wrong

If we want to prove Ellen White to be a false prophet regarding this prediction, perhaps the easiest way would be to sacrifice our greed and return to the God-ordained way of raising animals. Let's feed cows like cows, not pigs, and chickens like chickens, not buzzards. Then cases of Mad Cow Disease and salmonella-contaminated, uncracked eggs, and other yet-unknown diseases lurking around the corner, might entirely disappear.

But then again, even if things returned to the way they used to be, perhaps her apologists would simply say that that this prediction has already come true, and that if American farmers and government officials had only taken this prediction seriously long ago, all these problems would have been avoided. And what could be said to that?

Was Ellen White correct? Are animal products becoming unsafe?
Send those mad cows to me. I'll eat them.
Ellen White seems more correct than Secretary Veneman to me.
I believe Secretary Veneman to be more correct than Ellen White on this one.
Ellen White lucked out this time. This thing is entirely a coincidence.
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