By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
"Could the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease affecting global beef markets be an act of industrial espionage rather than nature? Could Tyson Foods Inc., the world's leading meat supplier, be behind the deadly slaughter?" These concerns are voiced by Dr. Leonard Horowitz, who claims to have previously traced the origins of mad cow disease to a CIA "industrial espionage" op, allegedly part of a broader bioterrorist move to reinvigorate the agency by turning it into a corporate gun for hire. Horowitz points the finger at Tyson only in part because execs in the firm were close to the Clintons. He thinks another connection can be found in a supposed E. coli outbreak, which he claims made it easier for the big chicken processor to take over a beef company by driving down its stock price. Then there was the 1997 outbreak of chicken flu in Chinayet another sign, in Horowitz's view, of Tyson's hidden hand. All of this undertaken, in Horowitz's view, to drive down competing agribusiness and extend the tentacles of Tyson's chicken monopoly around the world. As of Monday evening, Tyson had no comment.
According to conspiracy buffs, that's just the beginning of the CIA's dirty work. Another theory has it that the U.S. set off a hoof-and-mouth epidemic in Iraq in 1993 during the Persian Gulf war by blowing up a lab that made vaccine to fight the disease. This, too, was a CIA bioterrorist move, killing or crippling millions of animals and contributing to the misery of Iraq's civilian population. At the time, the U.S. claimed the supposed lab was engaged in making germ and biological warfare agents.
British officials struggling to get a grip on the hoof-and-mouth epidemic by intensifying the slaughter of cows, pigs, and sheep may get a boost from American researchers who recommend using napalm to burn carcasses cheaply and quickly. Napalm burns up a carcass in 60 minutes, compared to current methods requiring three days. Cost is a few dollars per animal compared to the current cost of $2800. "We are talking pennies," Louisiana State University expert Martin Hugh-Jones told the magazine New Scientist. "Napalm does not vaporize easily and so does not produce dangerous fumes," he said. "Nor does it produce any dangerous by-products as a result of burning." But a spokeswoman at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food said the Brits have no plans to use napalm. "It is not an option that has been looked at so far," she said. "There are likely to be safety concerns that we would need to look at first, and we would need to have a lot of discussion about the risks."
Additional reporting: Rouven Gueissaz and Adam Gray