- I sense that with every passing week, more people are
concerned about this hot issue. This Sunday afternoon, so many have called
to register for my meat & milk safety seminar that it will probably
be packed, many driving from south and East bay. I have over 60 transparencies
with information not reported by the mainstream media.
- Ms. Harrison may well be a sincere person who feels she
has the public's best interest at heart. Nonetheless, her effortless transition
from the cattlemen's lobby to the Agriculture Department is a fine symbol
of all that is wrong with America's food safety system. Right now you'd
have a hard time finding a federal agency more completely dominated by
the industry it was created to regulate. Dale Moore, Ms. Veneman's chief
of staff, was previously the chief lobbyist for the cattlemen's association.
Other veterans of that group have high-ranking jobs at the department,
as do former meat-packing executives and a former president of the National
Pork Producers Council.
- The Agriculture Dept. has a dual conflict of interest.
The USDA is by no means the first such body to be captured by industry
groups. In Europe and Japan the spread of disease was facilitated by the
repeated failure of government ministries to act on behalf of consumers.
- In Britain, where mad cow disease was discovered, the
ministry of agriculture misled the public about the risks of the disease
from the very beginning. In December 1986, the first government memo on
the new pathogen warned that it might have "severe repercussions to
the export trade and possibly also for humans" and thus all news of
it was not to be leaked to the media or public.
- An investigation by the French Senate in 2001 found that
the Agriculture Ministry minimized the threat of mad cow and "constantly
sought to prevent or delay the introduction of precautionary measures"
that "might have had an adverse effect on the competitiveness of the
agri-foodstuffs industry." In Tokyo, a similar mad cow investigation
in 2002 accused the Japanese Agriculture Ministry of "serious maladministration"
and concluded that it had "always considered the immediate interests
of producers in its policy judgments."
- Instead of learning from the mistakes of other countries,
America now seems to be repeating them. In the past weeks much has been
made of the "firewall" now protecting American cattle from infection
with mad cow disease - the ban on feeding rendered cattle meat or beef
byproducts to cattle that was imposed by the FDA in 1997. That ban has
been cited again and again by USDA and industry spokesmen as some sort
of guarantee that mad cow has not taken hold here. Unfortunately, this
firewall may have gaps big enough to let a herd of steer wander through
- According to the report, more than a quarter of feed
manufacturers in Colorado, one of the top beef-producing states, were not
even aware of the F.D.A. measures to prevent mad cow disease, four years
after their introduction! My!
- A follow-up study by the accounting office in 2002 said
that the F.D.A.'s "inspection database is so severely flawed"
that "it should not be used to assess compliance" with the feed
- The Government-Media Complex has heavily relied on and
quoted the work by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis to determine how
much of a threat mad cow disease poses to the US. For the past week the
USDA has emphasized the reassuring findings of these studies, but did anyone
tell you that this outfit is funded heavily by the meat industry? Their
computer model is flawed.
- As of now all meat recalls are voluntary and remarkably
ineffective at getting bad meat off supermarket shelves.
- The latest "tougher ban" of cow blood and pig
manure is welcome, but it does not go far enough. Time will tell whether
it will be enforced with penalty.
- Raymond Kwong