BSE - I blame the French.
The mad cow disease epidemic could have been caused by the feeding of material containing human remains to cattle, a scientist claimed yesterday.
Sometime ago, and I have looked and failed to find the reference, I cam across an account of a firm of Yorkshire Renderers who were producing Bone Meal in 18th and 19th Century. Their speciality was touring round Europe and clearing up Battlefields.
So on the morning after Waterloo and the local Mayor is looking out across a bloody field piled high with dead horses and soldiers a little man with a bowler hat on would turn up, whistle through his lips and say " Aye, nasty mess that Sir, wants some proper clearing before it gets too rank. Happen I know a champion bunch of lads who would do that for you. Nasty job, cost a bit but I could probably do you a deal..."
Of course the victors, the British would gather their own dead, and the women would search the French corpses but would they have buried them all? I think one or two would have got scooped up with the horses in to the Renderer's waggon. And that is how the Blood and Bone Meal that was feed to cattle as far back as then got infected.