Tuesday, January 06, 2004

I told you this was a good thing. The media is starting to grasp some of the underlying absurdities of our industrial beef system. The Times almost brings itself to acknowledge that there is no meaningful difference between Canadian and US beef. Today's Chron discovers that "federal agencies have more power to recall defective toys and auto parts than they do tainted beef." Of course, we're still waiting for someone else to notice this:
When the FDA banned the use of most mammalian protein in cattle feed, it was little more than a symbolic gesture. Fat and blood from cattle could still be fed to cattle, and often, they are the main ingredients in protein supplements for calves. Calf milk replacers often contain dried bovine blood plasma, a reason for concern, as there is experimental proof that prions can be transmitted through blood. Over 300 feed manufactures have been found in violation of the 1997 feed ban for failing to guarantee that ruminant protein is kept out of cattle feed. So how many cattle have been fed parts of other potentially infected cattle? Pigs and poultry can be fed ruminant protein and cattle can be fed the remains of pigs and poultry. Another unsavory practice allows the feeding of poultry manure directly to cattle. Is undigested ruminant protein being fed directly to cattle through this practice? "
Alan Guebert summarizes:
The hard-to-digest fact is, however, that USDA did not begin a serious effort to look for mad cow until Canada discovered its vulnerability to the brain-eating, market-devastating disease May 20, 2003. Despite the Dec. 30 announced plans to step-up mad cow testing, the US barely looked for illness in years past and the new program will do little better....

Also, if USDA is to believed, the estimated 20,000 animals tested in 2003 actually means that only about one in every 10 �downer cows� that are sold into the American food chain last year were tested during the increase.

What about the other nine of every 10? We ate �em. Yum-yum.

(And as long as we're talking about about complacency, how many people do you think bothered to wade through the Times's front-page story on price-fixing by Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred? People are so alienated from the means of agricultural production that the don't even realize that everything they eat is affected by deals like this. Of course, such complacency is easier when the cost of commodity crops is an arbitrary fiction that bears no relationship to the cost of production.)


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