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The shifting sands of uncertainty: Risk construction and BSE/vCJD

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JournalHealth, Risk and Society
DatePublished - 2008
Issue number2
Volume10
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)133-148
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

It is more than a decade since scientists in the UK put forward evidence of a link between the emergence of a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans, and a diminishing epidemic of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, in cattle. In the wake of this anniversary, the paper revisits two scientific narratives of risk, forged at different points along the developmental pathway of BSE science, including a series of advisory reports provided to the UK government between 1989 and 1994, and a symposium held in 2001 to assess the impact of the Phillips Inquiry. While the primary pathology of BSE became apparent relatively early on, uncertainties remain about the origins of BSE and its human variant, vCJD. The paper examines the handling of this sensitivity, and its communication, within these key documents, noting changes in patterns of uncertainty construction over time.

    Research areas

  • risk, uncertainty, health risks, BSE, vCJD, discourse, science, CREUTZFELDT-JAKOB-DISEASE, PESTICIDE-INITIATED MODIFICATION, PRION PROTEIN, PUBLIC-HEALTH, UK EPIDEMIC, SLOW VIRUS, SCIENCE, POLICY, COMMUNICATION

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