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Cows, Cash & Cover-Ups? Investigating vCJD film review




Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or “Mad Cow Disease”, will certainly resurrect horrifying images for many a reader of a certain era, as the situation surrounding this disease arguably reached its apex in the ‘90s. Newspaper headlines, terminally ill and suffering animals, moral panic, governmental chaos and mass anxiety were rampant and people were scared. Yet, as the decades have rolled on, the Mad Cow disease epidemic has been seemingly consigned to history, when the reality is even more unsettling, as it is one stained in lies, quick money, death and blood.

Director Joseph Andrew Mclean’s eye-opening documentary film, Cows, Cash & Cover-Ups? Investigating vCJD, delves into that very dark story and in doing so, provides a chilling but important document of a subject we all deserve to know about but few of us really do. Tackling BSE, the origins of the outbreak and predominantly the deadly and degenerative Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakkob Disease (vCJD) which has impacted a percentage of the population ever since, this film also looks at abuses in the meat industry, the heinous cover-ups since the late ‘80s by every respective government and the continuing heartache of families and victims.

Utilising an impressive collection of research backed by some especially damning quotes from respected sources, a graphic assembly of images/footage and some emotionally shattering testimonies by those who have lost family to this horrendous disease, this film is attention grabbing and really quite sickening to see unfurl. #MartinHeron has edited all the impressive material so expertly together that the documentary flows seamlessly, making a point and almost immediately backing it up with video proof, documented (and ignored) evidence or a poignant human experience.

Journalist Christine Lord, author of Who Killed My Son? Who also runs, acts as associate producer to this project and, having lost her son to vCJD, her passion and drive for the truth and defence of future generations remains a hopeful leg to the film. As does the strength of all the families who interviewed, families who still persist in attaining what they are explanation. And this brief but detailed film goes some way into perhaps getting just that for all of us, as it raises this issue at a timely point in British history, whereby Brexit could see an escalation of such problems.

Narrated clearly and brilliantly by #IanReddington, this film is a hard watch but a necessary one and it asks some serious questions about what goes in our food, how much we know about this (and for that matter...anything), the international aspects of meat management and the reprehensible ethics of those running the show. Animal welfare and humanity are paramount in these industries supposedly. How is it then that we have a tale here, not about what is being done but rather what isn’t, as the film shows just how far powers that be have gone to slash prices, protect industries built of negligence and cruelty, or to just hope the problems go away, as they hide away the facts from the public eye in the meantime. From blood transfusions to meat to medication, this is a story that is not even confined to one industry but breaches several!

Cows, Cash & Cover-Ups? ends with thanks to the The Goodwin Family, John Middleton, The Richer Family and The Smith Family for telling their stories onscreen and is dedicated not only to Andrew Black, Grant Goodwin, Matthew Parker, Kate Richer, Billy Smith (all of whom have their tragic stories told here) but to all victims of vCJD and BSE...human and animal. This is not so much a film as a sounding of the alarm and it is a vital, urgent and frightening raising of an issue that we should all make it our duty to know about. This documentary should be televised on the grandest scale and its story shared with as wide an audience as possible.

Scary and upsetting, Cows, Cash & Cover-Ups? Investigating vCJD is essential coverage of a important but under-discussed subject people would rather believe a tragedy of the past, than a fear of the future. Mclean’s film is the first step into changing this mindset and is one hell of a powerful and well researched achievement.



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