Farmers in the U.S. state of Michigan have accused the state's Farm Bureau of an?
Farmers in the U.S. state of Michigan have accused the state's Farm Bureau of an attempted cover up over the poisoning of hundreds of cattle from a toxic chemical that was accidentally mixed with animal feed in 1973.
The row has provoked a bitter controversy over the effect of the chemical not only on animals but on humans. The chemical, Polybrominated Biphenol (P.B.B.) is a flame resistant used in agriculture.
Although it was accidentally mixed with the animal feed by the Farm Bureau almost four years ago, animals eating it them are said to have retained the poison in their bodies. News of the accident only became public recently.
The farmers' leader, Mr. Jerry Woltjer and his colleagues have dubbed the row, Cattlegate, after the Watergate scandal. They claim the Bureau has deliberately tried to conceal its mistakes and by doing so is placing the peoples' lives at risk.
Some cattle have died, and, according to Mr. Woltjer others have been driven crazy by the poison. He claimed dairy cows affected by the poison have produced contaminated milk which has been knowingly sold for consumption with the Bureau's consent.
Some farmers including, Mr. Woltjer, have already taken drastic action. Mr. Woltjer has shot dead his entire herd of 235 prime cattle although he now faces the possible threat of criminal prosecution from the Bureau for doing so.
He also claimed that people have been eating the poisoned beef. The farmers have formed an action group to ban the sale of P.B.B.
However, Farm Bureau said there is no evidence of any human illness resulting from the P.B.B. and said there are strict controls on the sale of the chemical.
Despite the assurances, the farmers say that they will kill their herds rather than risk poisoning people.
This film is serviced with a commentary in English by NBC reporter Brian Ross, a transcript of which appears overpage.
This film is also serviced with sound on film interviews with Mr. Jerry Woltjer and Mr. Robert Lewing, transcripts of which appears overpage.
SYNOPSIS: In the US state of Michigan there have been claims of a coverup attempt. Dubbed - Cattlegate, - it has provoked a bitter controversy over dangerous chemicals and their alleged misuse.
Brian Ross reports from Coopersville, Michigan: