Friday, March 12, 2004

in case you missed it

Scott Killman, WSJ p. A1, on Tues:
Susan Brownawell, a mother of three, wants to be able to have her family's beef screened for mad-cow disease. And Missouri rancher David Luker, who supplies much of the family's meat, is willing to do just that.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is all that stands in their way....

"This is ridiculous. If people want to have their beef tested, they should be able to," says Ms. Brownawell, a Web page designer in Fulton, Missouri. "Isn't this how the free market works?"....

The USDA's qualms about allowing private testing reflects the agency's sometimes conflicting missions to promote the $27 billion cattle industry at the same time it is supposed to protect consumers from bad meat. Indeed, the USDA is respecting the wishes of most big meatpackers, which want a tight lid on mad-cow testing. The USDA also has a vested interest in keeping testing out of the hands of private companies, since their work could challenge the Bush administration's position that mad cow isn't a problem in the U.S.

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