In March 1996 British food specialists traveled to Brussels in a last ditch effort to stem the growing panic over the threat posed by ‘mad cow’ disease (the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE). The fear that this disease, which has led to the destruction of over 16,000 cattle in Britain in the last ten years, can cause a similar disease in humans led to the European Union ordering the British government to stop exporting beef. The furor created by the crisis has had wide ranging economic and political implications. Within the United Kingdom, Conservative and Labour governments have been under pressure to calm public fears and balance calls for the costly destruction of existing cattle stocks with the economic concerns of farmers and agricultural specialists. Furthermore, the BSE crisis became an important element in the heated debate over Britain’s future role in Europe. Members of Parliament skeptical over the deepening of the European Union (EU) blasted the ban as part of a series of overreactions by European bureaucrats before scientists are able to determine any link between the disease in cattle and in humans. British farmers argue the competition from continental Europe has shaped cattle policy rather than BSE itself. For the other members of the EU, the fear of British cattle has had damaging effects of reducing domestic demand for beef and also led to moves by non-EU states, such as Iran and Egypt to stop importing beef from the whole of the EU. 1