Don’t Test ALL Cows For Mad Cow Disease?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Bad Decisions, Corporate Business, Environment, General Politics

More twisted logic from the administration that keeps me in stitches nearly every single day.

From IHT:

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

The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.

The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. 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. -
A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was scheduled to take effect June 1, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal, effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge has played out.

So wait…they don’t want to make absolutely sure that our meat supply is safe, they just want to make sure that the industry’s image doesn’t get harmed.

One word: furious.


This entry was posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2007 and is filed under Bad Decisions, Corporate Business, Environment, General Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “Don’t Test ALL Cows For Mad Cow Disease?”

  1. Lauren Says:

    just another reason not to eat meat!

  2. Jeremy Says:

    “So wait…they don’t want to make absolutely sure that our meat supply is safe, they just want to make sure that the industry’s image doesn’t get harmed.”

    That’s precisely what they want to do. This is a cut-and-dry example of a U.S. regulatory body entrusted to safeguard the public is instead engaging in behind-the-scene dealings with the corporate interests in which they were initially charged to regulate. In other words, money talks!

    Is your meat safe? Lol, who really knows? The Bush Administration seems to think its more important that the meat industries’ “perception of safety” is more important than actual safety.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s track record in this area is dreadful at best and criminal at worst. There have been 3 known cases of Mad Cow Disease within the U.S. since 2003. Although the United States’ experience with BSE pales in comparison to the UK’s of the 1980s and 1990s there is clear evidence that farming
    practices in the U.S. are not effectively regulated or monitored to
    combat rare cases of BSE.

    What people need to keep in mind here, is that the incubation period for Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is about 10 years and beyond. That is to say, if you have eaten meat which was infected with BSE in 2003 you wont know whether you have BSE until 2013 due to the long incubation period. BSE carries a relatively short clinical course of neurological signs, and 100 percent mortality. There is some food for thought.

    Like the poster stated before, only 1 percent or less of our meat supply is tested for the presence of Mad Cow Disease.

    Here’s a quote from Wikipedia- “Soybean meal is cheap and plentiful in the United States. As a result, the use of animal byproduct feeds was never common, as it was in Europe. However, U.S. regulations only partially prohibit the use of animal byproducts in feed. In 1997, regulations prohibited the feeding of mammalian byproducts to ruminants such as cows and goats. However, the byproducts of ruminants can still be legally fed to pets or other livestock such as pigs and poultry such as chickens. In addition, it is legal for ruminants to be fed byproducts from some of these animals.”

    So that begs the question, if the possibility exists for BSE to infect
    U.S. cows, which it already has then why would the government put a moratorium on testing cows for BSE? especially when the meat packer decides to do it at their own cost?

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture has gone so far as to stop the distribution and sale of the test kit which tests for BSE. If they can’t implore a company from testing their cows for Mad Cow Disease they will do the next best thing, they will keep the test off the market so no one can obtain it.

    Is it just me? or do we live in a world where black is white and up is down? Is the measly cost of testing cattle so high that it’s worth risking the lives of innocent consumers? The government seems to think so and so does big agri-business.

    Also worth noting is the fact that no where on the USDAs website do they make mention of the forced moratorium on BSE testing, nowhere!

  3. Jeremy Says:

    Thanks for censoring out my post. Glad to see that you are showing all sides of the story. Not!

  4. Justin Gardner Says:

    Jeremy, did you fill out the reCAPTCHA below before you submitted your comment? If not, your comment got caught in the spam filter/moderation queue.

    Next time I’d appreciate it if you didn’t assume I’m censoring your comments. All sides are welcome here, but I have a day job and I can’t continually monitor the moderate queue.

  5. Jeremy Says:

    I was too quick to assume you had censored my post. My most sincere apologies. Thanks Justin.

  6. Justin Gardner Says:

    Much obliged. :-)

  7. Fresh Off the Presh » Blog Archive » Testing for Mad Cow Disease Says:

    [...] I was initially outraged, like many other bloggers, partly because I’ve become accustomed to getting outraged at the current administration. But on further reflection, and I really hate to say this, the Bush administration does have a basis: despite how appealing it is to test every cow, there are practical statistical problems. [...]

  8. SaneInSF Says:

    So, how much does it cost to test all the cows in the US?

  9. Jeremy Says:

    A lot less than if we were to have another case of BSE in the United States.

    “The most significant economic impact of BSE is from lost beef export markets,” said Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Adrian Polansky. “Alone, they accounted for a $3.2 to $4.7 billion revenue loss to the U.S. beef industry last year.”

    While testing 100% percent of the cows destine for the meat market is laudable it might be unrealistic, however, we need to test a hell of a lot more than “less than 1 percent” and we need a USDA that actual performs its duties as a non-venal regulatory body.

    “According to the research, if voluntary testing of 25 percent of U.S. slaughter cattle allowed the industry to regain access to the Japanese and South Korean export markets, and the U.S. was able to ship just one-half the quantity shipped during 2003, the potential return to the beef industry would have been nearly $750 million,” Polansky said.”

    So, it goes without saying, the price of testing any number of cattle is far better than the alternative–which is the barred export of our meat which is in the billions of billions of dollars.

    If a company says they want to test their cows to ensure that their meat is safe then why in the heck would the USDA stop them? The answer is corruption. The biggest meatpacking corporations don’t want to have to cut into their profit margin, so they lean on the USDA (which “has” their ear) pressures smaller companies to not test all their cattle for fear that the public might actually for some odd reason prefer beef that is known not to be infected with BSE, gasp! i-m-a-g-i-n-e that.

    Let’s just call a spade a spade. These big companies are using their money which no doubt funds part of the USDA’s budget to pressure the USDA to put pressure on these smaller meatpackers to NOT test their cows. It all comes back to profit, not what is right or in the best interest of the public.

  10. Burr Says:

    What I want to know is: how often does the test result in a false positive?

    And please treat this as an aside (and not an attempt to dismiss/argue your underlying point) but quoting Wikipedia does not make a solid basis for proof.

  11. Jeremy Says:

    Burr, here’s some information provided by Alberta, Canadian authorities on BSE Rapid Testing.

    “Many European countries, the United Kingdom (UK), Japan and the US also currently use the Bio-Rad TeSeE ELISA for BSE screening. Due to the test’s widespread usage, the international community should readily accept results generated by Alberta’s FSD laboratory.

    Sensitivity is a measure of a test’s ability to detect truly infected subjects. A test with a high sensitivity will have a high probability of detecting truly infected subjects. For example, if a screening test is used to detect BSE in 100 samples known to have BSE and identifies a positive result in 99 of them, its sensitivity would be 99/100 x 100 = 99%. A test with 99% sensitivity would have a 99% chance of detecting one infected sample, even if there was only one positive case in one million negative cases.

    Specificity is a measure of as a test’s ability to correctly classify subjects as being uninfected in the absence of disease. A test with a high specificity generates few false positive results. For example, if a screening test is used to detect BSE in 100 samples known to be uninfected with BSE and produced a negative result in 99 of them, its specificity would be 99/100 x 100 = 99%. A test with 99% specificity would be expected to produce false positive results 1% of the time.

    Research shows that the probability of Bio-Rad TeSeE ELISA failing to detect a single case of BSE in a large group of samples is in the range of 1.1 – 3.6 per 1000 tests (p

  12. Jim S Says:

    Many companies want to test all of their cattle so that their meat will be accepted by foreign markets that are leery of American providers that do as little as possible.

  13. DosPeros Says:

    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/bse/bsesum.pdf

    Here is the USDA’s Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Response Plan Summary. 100 points if you know what the acronym APIS and FSIS stand for.

    http://www.bseinfo.org/

    Here is a link provided by the Cattlemen’s Association declaring, “progressive steps taken by the U.S. government over the past 15 years, all U.S. beef is safe from BSE.”

    and

    “Industry experts conservatively estimate BSE has cost the U.S. cattle industry more than $4 billion in lost export value on beef, beef variety meats, hides and tallow.”

    It goes on explain that after three years, the U.S. has rebuilt the value of foreign beef markets. BSE causes the value of our beef to foreign countries (such as Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Canada) to drop and markets close. “Currently 42 open markets and 29 closed markets to U.S. beef.”

    http://www.beef.org/NEWSECONOMICIMPORTANCEOFMISSOURISCATTLEINDUSTRY2710.aspx

    Beef is good business in Missouri.

    In addition to the aggregate economic effects of cash
    receipts from marketings, the cattle industry generates a large
    economic impact through its forward and backward linkages in the
    economy. The backward linkages include purchased inputs,
    supplies, and services used by cattle producers. The forward
    linkages include further value-added economic activities
    occurring beyond the farmgate such as meat preparation and
    processing. Total inputs used by the Missouri cattle industry
    are estimated using a budgeting approach that aggregates average
    beef production costs for the total number of cattle marketed in
    Missouri in 1992. The aggregate costs of inputs used in the
    cattle industry are based on average livestock budgets for 1993
    representing local costs. Individual producer costs and
    efficiencies may vary (Table 1).

    BSE is an public health issue. Missouri should implement a plan to test all Missouri beef. Obviously, BSE-testing adds value to the beef and at this point I don’t think the state is pre-empted by federal law. It also adds to the “backward linkages” inputs.

  14. Donklephant » Blog Archive » Mad Cow False Negatives: A Retraction Says:

    [...] The AP reported that the government was suing a farmer for testing all of his cows for Mad Cow disease. I thought that was pretty stupid. [...]

  15. Jay Says:

    Help us Oprah, help us! Elsie; Just say No, to steriods and antibiotics!
    Shalom! Sincerely, [email protected]

  16. Lokaroo Says:

    Isn’t it interesting how Japan only makes up 10 percent of the beef export market yet everything sent to them has to be tested. The beef producers fought hard for that market. Yet they could care less about our families. I spoke with a rancher in Oklahoma a couple years ago and he said it would cost him about 6 cents a pound. Wonder if the beef their families are eating have been testing. Reminds me of the story about a pharmecutical company producing a children’s vaccine, but wouldn’t use it on their own family.

    How about that poor spanish fellow that was shocking the sick cow to get it to stay up? reckon he was doing it for fun or how about not losing his job or being deported.

    Severe Cow Abuse Triggers Largest Beef Recall In U.S. History

    Source: http://www.kutv.com/content/news/national/story.aspx?content_id=4642e239-ea52-45e6-9fe3-3207d298f70f

    “Four companies already offer test kits that can, within four hours, tell if a slaughtered cow carries bovine spongiform encephalopathy, otherwise known as BSE or mad-cow disease. It wouldn’t cost much: Test kits cost about $10 a pop. The large meat companies excuse is it will raise the price in the meat case. That is a fact, but by only six to ten cents per pound!”

    Source: http://tpzoo.wordpress.com/2008/08/30/us-bars-kansas-meatpacker-from-mad-cow-testing/

    Just another log to add to the government corruption fire.

    More wood, several US packing companies are hiring hundreds of Illegals. Swift packing (Conagra) Cactus, TX, Tyson foods throughout the south, and other companies like the one in MS this week.
    Early on in NAFTA world the businesses and jobs went south of the border. Now the people are coming north to reap even more NAFTA benefits. Some one needs to look at how many jobs have been lost since it took effect due to companies leaving the country or downsizing their US offices to a wharehouse.

    Jeremy, Thanks!

  17. nick Says:

    your article is spot on. the usda does a good job of pulling the curtains down on important topics. bse ,map and a myriad of other organisms are in products and there is no mandatory testing for any of them.

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