Treatment of Cows in England and Scotland
DSF filmed extensively throughout England and Scotland for its feature documentary, “Mad Cowboy”, beginning at Hastings, where host, Howard Lyman’s ancestors arrived over nine hundred years ago to engage in a grim battle wielding sword and spear. Today’s battles, says Howard, are waged with a fork.
In tracking the terrible disease commonly referred to as Mad Cow Disease, DSF interviewed farmers throughout the British countryside as they described the horrors associated with massive disease outbreaks among their herds.
Most poignant of all were the many parents who spoke to us on camera of the deaths of their children from New Variant CJD, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Mad Cow Disease’s human form. Great Britain is where the first cases of this fatal illness were first documented, after years of denial by the British government. In Edinburgh, we went to the national center of research where scientists are continuing to track the disease and study its elusive incubation period. The youngest person as yet to contact the disease did so at the age of twelve and was dead two years later.
Crossing the animal-to-human barrier, such transmissible diseases force humanity to reassess its culinary priorities and agricultural practices. To underscore the reality of modern day factory farming, versus organic, holistic small-scale family farming, the DSF film team visited the town of Dunbar Scotland, birthplace of John Muir. Muir’s early years were imprinted with the pastoralist sensibility of this gorgeous countryside overlooking the sea, near important seabird colonies and steeped in the century’s old traditions of country farming.
Today, that legacy has been replaced by systems no longer in harmony with nature. Confronted with the prospect of continued abuse and cruelty towards farm animals globally, philosopher and Professor Tom Regan, Ph.D., speaks eloquently of the power and promise of activism that seeks to effect important, positive change for the world. Regan says at the end of the film, “How do you get up in the morning in the face of the news that you’re readings that things are getting worse? And here I think is where we can turn to history for encouragement and instruction. If we look at how Native American people were once feared and treated by the conquistadores, when they were not even viewed as human beings: it’s unthinkable today. And when we look at slavery in America, when you could buy and sell and beat with impunity people of African descent: unthinkable today. When women couldn’t divorce or own property or get an education or vote: unthinkable today. What history teaches us is that a few good people who are determined and who are persistent, who don’t give up, can change the world. So what we have to believe as activists is that we’re not going to do this tomorrow. The wall of oppression has to be taken apart a brick at a time. When we get a critical mass of people, change will occur. That’s how I go to sleep at night, that’s how I get up the next morning, that’s my faith.”
For more information:
> Mad Cowboy website