By now, you've no doubt heard that the second case of "mad cow disease" was confirmed in the U.S. In typical BushCo fashion, the announcement was made after the close of market trading yesterday, and also in typical BushCo fashion, given a real soft treatment. I think the boys and girls in the Department of Agriculture remember all too well what happened when a cow was found infected with BSE in 2003 - the U.S. beef market collapsed.
There's some subtle differences between this latest incident and the earlier one, though. In the 2003 incident, the Bush administration could pull a South Park - BLAME CANADA. If you recall, the bovine in question was traced back to Canada, even though it was part of a herd in the U.S. at the time of discovery.
Well, Taiwan is already making noise about stopping imports of U.S. beef
, and other countries are sure to follow. BushCo remembers what happened in 2003, so when the announcement was made, the USDA talking points were ready...
(more after the flip)
- The cow was isolated
- It never entered the food chain
- It was originally tested because it was "identified as high risk" (whatever that means)
- The U.S. beef supply is safe
- The system worked
...or, did it? There's a lot more to the story.
Here's how an NPR report
on the latest mad cow finding laid out the process that took place in finding this infected cow:
In November, 2004 this particular cow was slaughtered because, again, it was at "high risk". A field test was conducted on the cow, and came back positive. So then, a tissue sample was sent to USDA's lab in Ames, Iowa for confirmatory testing. NPR termed the confirmatory testing "inconclusive" - which to me means, neither positive or negative. So, we have one positive test and one that couldn't nail it down one way or the other.
What's the USDA's response? "Nothing to see here. The test was inconclusive, ergo, the cow didn't have BSE."
Apparently, that wasn't good enough for the Consumer's Union. Two months after the initial finding, the CU petitioned the USDA for further analysis
on this particular cow. The USDA said, 'No'. Only after the USDA Inspector General ordered the USDA to further test the sample, 7 months after the initial finding, did the USDA send a sample to a lab in the UK which specializes in such testing. The UK lab came back with a positive result. And that's where we are today.
If one was a skeptic, one could draw the conclusion that the USDA was operating with the beef industry's best interests at heart, not yours or mine. It makes you wonder how many other such circumstances have occured over the years.
And it might also make you a vegetarian.
What can you do to make sure this kind of coverup doesn't happen again? How about clicking over to NotInMyFood.org and sign a letter
? Tell USDA Secretary Mike Johanns that you are supporting the Consumer Union's call for mandatory BSE testing of all cattle over 20 months of age at the time of slaughter.
Cross posted at All Spin Zone