The Full Story

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Some ten thousand years ago humans began bringing wild animals into captivity. The animals and the agricultural practices were soon taken for granted, as was domestication’s lethal companion: We have unwittingly created most of the diseases and most of the pandemics in our history. Agriculture may well be our greatest invention, and has brought phenomenal benefits; but there have also been unintended consequences—disease. It reads like a shopping list:

Tuberculosis - (goats, cattle,camels)

Leprosy (water buffalo)

Anthrax (sheep)

Measles (cattle)

Mumps (pigs)

Small Pox (cattle, camels)

Influenza (fowl, swine)

AIDS (apes, monkeys)

Mad Cow (cattle)

SARS (palm civets)

Even the common cold falls into this category… an invisible companion from one of our most beloved and useful animals—the horse. Today, these diseases affect hundreds of millions of people every year. Health care costs are into the trillions of dollars and the economic impacts are staggering. Yet instead of addressing the problems that caused these diseases of domestication in the first place, we face an unrelenting lobby to bring ever more wild species into captivity. In the late 1980s, world-renowned scientists warned that schemes to domesticate wildlife (capturing wild animals and farming them like cattle) would spread diseases and seriously

compromise conservation efforts. Politicians ignored the facts, called the scientists radicals and extremists, and proceeded to legalize and promote game farming across much of North America.

In doing so, they ignorantly set in motion a domino effect of disease transmission of disastrous proportions.

 

As predicted, epidemics like tuberculosis sprang up almost immediately, and quickly spread to cattle, bison, pigs and people. Then chronic wasting disease (CWD), an elk and deer version of ‘mad cow disease’ emerged. It is untestable, untreatable, and always fatal. CWD spread from game farms and beyond the fences to wildlife. It is transmitted through feces, urine and saliva, transfer from plants has been documented, it can persist in soil, in water, on surfaces, on medical instruments. What scientists fear most is this brain-wasting disease jumping to humans, as mad cow did; the implications are unthinkable, because unlike mad cow disease, CWD is highly contagious. No Accident is a riveting exposé that chronicles the emergence of chronic wasting disease in North America: the cause behind its spread, the negative economic impact and priceless conservation principles at stake, and the public health risk this disease poses to us all. Some claim it has already jumped the species barrier to us.

 

The story is rooted in the history and unlearned lessons from thousands of years of domestication. Telling this complex story through the emergence of this new disease, CWD, is our window to the much larger issues every one of us faces today.

The documentary has access to and support from world-renowned scientists, the Assembly of First Nations, and wildlife conservation organizations in the United States and Canada.

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