Monday, February 09, 2004

Dave Louthan has his own website. Furthermore, he sent me the name and phone number of the USDA agent he says tried to intimidate him. More on Dave at MSNBC.

And today's Times explains the rather serious flaws in the USDA's improved" testing regime:

Some critics contend the United States' program indicates the Agriculture Department does not want to find a diseased cow, for fear of losing $4 billion in exports. "I'd say they were designing it to minimize the chance of finding any," said Dr. Michael C. Hansen, who studies food safety for Consumers Union.
More from the Bee:
Harvard risk analyst Joshua Cohen said that the number of BSE-infected cattle in the national herd could range between "zero and a few thousand." The reason for the wide swing, he said, is that the USDA targeted downer cows, skewing the math.

"Those factors taken together mean that (the Washington cow) could be an unusual case," Cohen said. "This wasn't a random sample. It was a sample targeted at a particular kind of cow. That means you can't project with any certainty how many other cows in the general population are sick."

Cohen co-authored a 2001 study on mad cow disease by Harvard's Center for Risk Analysis. The USDA often cites the study as proof their system is adequate.

Finally, Alan Guebert asks the $4 billion dollar question:
We may not be the sharpest butcher knife in the drawer, so please explain this brain-breaking dilemma: If USDA has found just 28 of the 81 cattle imported into the US with the Dec. 23 Washington state mad cow, why does it fervently believe the 50 or so nations that banned US beef imports after Dec. 23 will swiftly remove those bans even though we can�t account for the MICs--missing in action cows--let alone one of the other 300,000 Canadian cows now in the US?

If you have an answer, please write it on the back of a current Tyson Foods annual report--or its most recent quarterly profit statement that shows a 46% increase in earnings for the �mad cow� quarter just ended--and send it to either us or Ann Veneman.

and another thing [Post]
"Our investigation is now complete," Dr. Ron DeHaven, the department's chief veterinarian, said Monday. "We feel very confident the remaining animals, the ones we have not been able to positively identify, represent little risk."

The closure leaves officials not knowing what happened to 11 head of cattle among 25 that authorities say were most likely to have eaten the same feed as that given to a Holstein diagnosed in Washington state with mad cow after it was slaughtered on Dec. 9.

Nothing to see here people. Move along.

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