Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Safe eating and mad cow disease: Don't trust Bush's agriculture department to take meaningful action to deal promptly enough with the mad cow menace. As Newsweek reports, the food safety system is about 100 years out of date, and the lax regulation has fit in well with the agendas of the Bush administration and corporate agriculture. It's worth noting the concerns of John Stauber, a debunker of false claims by corporations and agribusinesses, who was an early critic of the U.S. meat industry's handling of the mad cow threat. Now his forecasts are coming true, and he's outlined the steps we really need to take to stop its spread. Some of his pointers:

"The feed rules that the United States must adopt can be summarized this way: You might not be a vegetarian, but the animals you eat must be.

"The United States must also institute an immediate testing regime that will test millions of cattle, not the 20,000 tested out of 35 million slaughtered in the past year in the United States. Japan now tests all cattle before consumption, and disease experts recommend this goal for the United States.

"And of course, no sick `downer' cows, barely able to move, should be fed to any human. These are the type of animals most likely to be infected with mad cow and other ailments - although mad cows can also seem completely healthy at the time of slaughter, which is why testing all animals must be the goal.

"Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and the Bush administration, unfortunately, currently have no plans to do the right thing. The U.S. meat industry still believes that the millions of dollars in campaign contributions over the years will continue to forestall the necessary regulations, and that soothing PR assurances will convince the consuming public that this is just some vegetarian fear-mongering conspiracy concocted by the media to sell organic food."

The administration has finally banned the use of sick cows, but has not solved the broader problem of an ill-regulated food supply. Here's Stauber's full story:
US Needs to do Right Thing to Stop Mad Cow Disease

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