Mad Cows and Mother's Milk: The Perils of Poor Risk Communication

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 1997 - Health & Fitness - 308 pages
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The first case study deals with the mad cow fiasco of 1996, one of the most expensive and tragic examples of poor risk management in the last twenty-five years. For ten years the British government failed to acknowledge the possibility of a link between mad cow disease and Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human equivalent, until increased scientific evidence and public pressure forced them to take action, resulting in the slaughter of more than one million cattle. The second study looks at what is commonly known as hamburger disease, caused by a virulent form of the E. coli bacterium, which has struck thousands and killed over thirty people in the last few years. Despite its widespread effects, it is unclear whether scientific knowledge on preventing the disease is reaching the public. Other case studies include the use of a genetically engineered hormone to increase milk production in cows, health risks associated with silicone breast implants, public controversies surrounding dioxins and PCBs, and the introduction of agricultural biotechnology. These case studies show that institutions routinely fail to communicate the scientific basis of various high-profile risks. These failures to inform the public make it difficult for governments, industry, and society to manage risk controversies sensibly and often result in massive costs. With its detailed analyses of specific risk management controversies, Mad Cows and Mother's Milk will help us avoid future mistakes.
 

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Contents

Mad Cows or Crazy Communications?
3
A Diagnostic for Risk Communication Failures
26
Dioxins or Chemical Stigmata
41
Hamburger Hell
77
Silicone Breasts
99
TEST
123
Gene Escape
153
Mothers Milk
182
Ten Lessons 21
227
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About the author (1997)

D. A. POWELL is the author of Chronic (Graywolf Press, 2009); Cocktails (Graywolf Press, 2004), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry; Lunch (Wesleyan University Press, 2000); and Tea (Wesleyan University Press, 1998). He teaches at the University of San Francisco and lives in the Bay Area.

Queen's University, research chair in Risk Communication and Public Policy, Faculty of Management, University of Calgary

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