Animal Pharm

One Man’s Struggle to Discover the Truth about Mad Cow Disease and Variant CJD

Animal Pharm
Mark Purdey Edited by
Nigel Purdey Edited by
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Clairview Books

Limited ***

5.5 X 8.5 in
288 pg

NATURE / Animal Rights


Mark Purdey’s life changed one day in 1984, when a Ministry of Agriculture inspector told him he must administer a toxic organophosphate pesticide to his dairy herd. Passionately committed to organic farming and convinced of the harmful effects of chemicals in the environment, he refused to comply. “It was as if my whole life became focused,” he explained later. Before they had a chance to prosecute, Purdey took the Ministry to court and won his case. Those experiences led him to challenge the orthodox line on the origins of Mad Cow Disease and its human counterpart, variant CJD. Could the insecticide used in the official program have precipitated the spread of the disease?

Purdey’s quest to discover the truth was hampered at every turn by government bureaucracies and self-serving scientific cliques who sought to smear and marginalize him. Dogged by dirty tricks and forced to work alone as something of a scientific sleuth, he struggled to reveal hidden interests and dangerous secrets. His supporters included many members of the public, as well as Prince Charles, as well as the poet Ted Hughes, who wrote to him expressing “a million congratulations.”

Increasingly sceptical of the official narrative, Purdey was certain that toxic environmental factors would provide answers, and so embarked on a self-funded worldwide odyssey to investigate. Animal Pharm follows him on these eco-detective trails to locations as diverse as Iceland, Sardinia, Colorado, and Australia. Purdey uncovers contamination from industry, munitions, pesticides, nuclear experiments, and natural geology, linking these with the emergence of a range of neurodegenerative diseases. His research is at once compelling and disturbing, helping to create a paradigm shift in our understanding of the relationship of pollutants to disease and health.


“Next to weapons of mass destruction, BSE or Mad Cow Disease was the Blair government's biggest scare. Mark Purdey’s investigation is urgent, required reading.” —John Pilger, journalist, author, and documentary filmmaker

“If Purdey is right, he deserves a Nobel Prize for medicine. Instead he has been shot at, his phone lines have been cut and his house has been burnt down. The Ministry of Agriculture, which for 50 years has enjoyed a dangerously close relationship with the agrochemical industry, has repeatedly sought to discredit him.” —George Monbiot, author of Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning 

Author Bio

Mark Purdey, born in 1953, turned down a university place to start his own organic farm at the age of nineteen. In the late 1980s, he started to teach himself neurobiology, and in the mid-1990s began worldwide field research to discover the truth behind BSE, CJD and other neurodegenerative diseases. He was a vociferous campaigner on these issues, making television programs, publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals, and lecturing at prestigious institutions. He died November 2006 of a brain tumour and is survived by his wife and eight children.

Nigel Purdey was born in 1951 and attended the Universities of London and South Bank. He taught classical guitar and, for the last twenty-five years, has worked in architecture. He has had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for eighteen years, which led him to research its links with toxic exposure. He quickly developed an interest in his brother’s work and accompanied him on several research trips, making several short films of their journeys.