The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently confirmed the country’s fourth known case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE, which is popularly known as Mad Cow Disease.
The highly publicized BSE case was discovered during a random test of a dairy cow carcass that was located at an animal rendering facility owned by Baker Commodities Inc., a business which removes dead animals from farms for processing into animal byproducts.
The discovery was announced on April 23rd and was widely cited as a notable negative factor in U.S. cattle related futures, which fell sharply on the news as several countries expressed concerns about the safety of the U.S. beef and dairy industry.
Deadly Mad Cow Disease Also Infects Humans
Mad Cow Disease had received considerable publicity after an outbreak in the United Kingdom due to its apparent ability to be transmitted to humans and the fact that it could survive the cooking process. The disease is thought to be related to the illness known as scrapie that affects sheep.
From the 1980’s when BSE was initially identified until late 2009, the deaths of roughly 166 Britons and 44 others were attributed to the deadly brain disease. The malady is known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease when it occurs in humans and causes severe psychiatric disturbances.
The infectious agent in Mad Cow Disease is apparently a prion, which is a mis-folded protein capable of transmitting its improper structure to other healthy proteins. It seems that the prions prompt a chain reaction in infected hosts that typically affects brain structure resulting in a spongy appearance. The severe neurological disease is currently both untreatable and fatal.
Negative Silver Futures Reaction Unwarranted as Fundamentals Remain Bullish
Other commodity futures prices also declined in sympathy with the drop in cattle related futures. Silver futures were no exception, despite no significant change in the underlying fundamental picture for silver.
Perhaps if the price of silver futures were not managed by the few players who make up the short side, it too might respond to normal market fundamentals. Of course, in this case silver prices would skyrocket.