Saturday, June 02, 2007

A whole new kind of "Jungle"

From the May 29th edition of the International Herald Tribune:

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Arkansas City-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too.

A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was to take effect Friday, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal -- effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge plays out.

Mad cow disease is linked to more than 150 human deaths worldwide, mostly in Britain.

There have been three cases of mad cow disease identified in cattle in the U.S. The first, in December 2003 in Washington state, was in a cow that had been imported from Canada. The second, in 2005, was in a Texas-born cow. The third was confirmed last year in an Alabama cow.

The Agriculture Department argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry. U.S. District Judge James Robertson noted that Creekstone sought to use the same test the government relies on and said the government didn't have the authority to restrict it.

It disturbs me greatly that ANY government would make a move to prevent a private company from testing to make it's own products better or safer. This is an attack on the principles of free trade that built this country, and furthermore, it's a transparent attempt to protect market share of the administration's cronies.

They claim to be all for free enterprise and private business, yet they thwart small business at every turn, and put the American people at risk. Shame on them!

Here is Creekstone Beef's response to the ruling:

Dennis Buhlke, Creekstone’s President and CEO had these comments regarding the USDA’s appeal. “In refusing to allow Creekstone Farms to respond to its customers’ preference for beef from animals that have been tested for BSE, the USDA is doggedly pursuing a course that scientists, consumer groups, trade associations and business, and members of Congress regard as a bad policy.” “While Creekstone Farms has taken a lead role in this effort, it is not alone in believing that the government should not prevent private companies from voluntarily testing cattle for BSE.”

Mr. Buhlke added, “Although we are disappointed, we are not surprised by USDA’s decision to appeal.” “Beginning in February 2004, Creekstone has tried to work with USDA to find a way to voluntarily test its cattle for BSE.” “For more than two years prior to filing our lawsuit, we attempted to work cooperatively with USDA.” “We still hope to convince USDA to work with Creekstone on a voluntary BSE testing program. However, Creekstone Farms will continue to pursue our right to test even in the wake of this latest action by the USDA.”

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At 12:54 AM, June 03, 2007, Blogger MagicTofu said...

Thanks for this post. This is highly disturbing. We all know that food production these days is plagued with weird political and semi-legal interventions but this example just beats the usual subsidies and price management stories hands down.


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