Risk is about these political and cultural identity processes as well as about physical harm, as the normal culturally sustained contours of trust and responsibility in existing institutions are exposed and challenged by – and reflected in the construction of – new kinds of risk issues. One such issue was that of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a previously unknown cattle disease that emerged in the United Kingdom in the mid1980s. Normally such new connections between human practices, natural agents, and physical processes are first encountered in arenas where their implications and reverberations can be limited, and institutions are allowed time to adapt to and shape the new realities with minimal disruption to existing commitments and identities. In the BSE case, however, the United Kingdom’s reactions, which in the prevailing political culture were assumed to be adequate to contain the problem, proved to be utterly inadequate despite considerable assistance from the European Commission (EC). The ramifications generated a profound international crisis of political trust and mutual loyalty among EU member states that went far beyond the immediate issue of public safety which became its focus.