Big Food/Tobacco/Booze Lobbyist Attacks “Mad Cow USA” and Author


There he goes again. It was just a matter of time before tobacco, booze and food industry lobbyist Rick Berman started back in with his personal attacks on me and the organization I work for, and our praised and somewhat prescient 1997 book Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?

Berman’s organization “Center for Consumer Freedom” was begun in the mid-1990s with $900,000 from Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company (and now also the largest food company in the US). For this and other info on his industry front group visit our PRWatch website.

Feel free to contact me directly, I’ll be happy to respond to any of Berman’s charges, smears, misrepresentations and attacks.

Our book Mad Cow USA is now available as a free PDF download at: Read it for yourself; it was given very positive reviews by such “radical” journals as Chemical and Engineering News, Journal of the American Medical Association, New Scientist and Library Journal.

“Most accessible and informative… a lively account…The language is clear and straightforward… Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber tell this larger tale with style, aided by accounts of some richly colourful characters. … Their exhaustive exploration of the people, the ideas and the growing understanding of TSEs is thought-provoking… dancing prose.” New Scientist, April 4, 1998

“Will be received with interest by a large number of readers of different backgrounds and perspectives.” Journal of the American Medical Association, June 24, 1998

“The kind of book you can’t put down. It tells with great clarity a complicated story that interweaves intrigue, horror, massive economic interests, cannibalism, death, and some rather curious science. … [The authors] have done the legwork and research necessary to produce a solid accounting of the affliction of mad cow disease, the mess that was made of handling it in Britain, and its implications for the U.S. … required reading.” Chemical & Engineering News, April 20, 1998

Here is Berman’s piece, emailed today and posted on his industry-sponsorerd website:


Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 13:24:39 -0500

For more headlines, indepth articles and editorials, visit our home page:

May 2, 2002 Oh Deer: Unjustified Fear The death of two young Michigan men due to the rare brain condition Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) “raised fears that the human form of mad cow disease, or something similar, had emerged in the USA,” USA Today reported earlier this week <> . But according to University of Michigan neurologist Norman Foster, the men seem to have suffered from traditional CJD, not the new variant vCJD that some have linked to mad cow. Foster, who treated both men, adds: “We feel as comfortable as anyone can that this is not related to either CWD or [mad cow disease].”

But anti-meat and anti-industry activists never let the facts never stand in the way of a good rant. John Stauber of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), who wrote a book called Mad Cow USA, has a lot of publicity to gain from the mad cow scare campaign , and he has trumpeted the Michigan cases as well as a recent Midwest spate of chronic wasting disease, an ailment impacting deer and elk (and one that, according to USA Today’s report, “is not known to cause illness in humans.”)

Stauber suggests omniscience when he claims the men must have eaten “venison, after living their entire lives in that state,” and that chronic wasting disease was the culprit in their deaths. This is just his latest effort to exploit fear and illness to promote his message.

In 1997, CMD warned that a mad cow-type disease could already be infecting U.S. livestock. (Stauber did not provide documentation to back this up.) And now, he is pushing “mad deer scares” — despite a report last month from Dr. Stanley Prusiner, who won the Nobel Prize for discovering the proteins thought to cause CWD and mad cow, which concluded that “those who eat the meat of deer infected with chronic wasting disease [CWD] are in no danger.”

What’s Stauber’s motive? “By the time we see people confirmed as dying of CWD, those deaths are just going to be the tip of the iceberg,” he has said. And if he can make people think those deaths are real, it’s very good for Stauber’s own PR.

John Stauber is an independent writer, activist and author.  His books include Toxic Sludge Is Good for YouMad Cow USA and Weapons of Mass Deception.  In 1993 he founded the Center for Media and Democracy to exposed corporate, political and media propaganda campaigns.  He retired from the Center in 2008.